Of these three women who then held the destinies of Europe in their hands, one only, Maria Theresa, in the estimation of the public, had good cause for war. Frederick was undeniably a highway robber, seeking to plunder her. She was heroically, nobly struggling in self-defense. The guilty Duchess of Pompadour, who, having the entire control of the infamous king, Louis XV., was virtually the Empress of France, stung by an insult from Frederick, did not hesitate to deluge Europe in blood, that she might take the vengeance of a woman scorned upon her foe. Catharine II., Empress of Russia, who in moral pollution rivaled the most profligate of kingswhom Carlyle satirizes as a kind of she Louis XIV.also stung by one of Fredericks witty and bitter epigrams, was mainly impelled by personal pique to push forth her armies into the bloody field. Do you see the man in the garden yonder, sitting, smoking his pipe? said he to me. That man, you may depend upon it, is not happy.

England furnished him with a subsidy of about four million dollars. He immediately melted this coin, gold and silver, and adulterated it with about half copper, thus converting his four476 millions into nominally eight millions. But a few weeks of such operations as he was engaged in would swallow up all this. The merciless conscription, grasping nearly every able-bodied man, destroyed nearly all the arts of industry. The Prussian realms, thus impoverished by wars ravages and taxation, could furnish the king with very meagre supplies. When the king invaded any portion of the territory of the allies, he wrenched from the beggared people every piece of money which violence or terror could extort. Wealthy merchants were thrown into prison, and fed upon bread and water until they yielded. The most terrible severities were practiced to extort contributions from towns which had been stripped and stripped again. Still violence could wrench but little from the skinny hand of beggary. These provinces, swept by wars surges year after year, were in the most deplorable state of destitution and misery.

From the schedule which Frederick has given of his resources, it seems impossible that he could have raised more than about fifteen million dollars annually, even counting his adulterated coin at the full value. How, with this sum, he could have successfully confronted all combined Europe, is a mystery which has never yet been solved. It was the great object of both parties in this terrible conflict to destroy every thing in the enemys country which could by any possibility add to military power. All the claims of humanity were ignored. The starvation of hundreds of thousands of peasantsmen, women, and childrenwas a matter not to be taken into consideration. The French minister, in Paris, wrote to Marshal De Contades on the 5th of October, 1758, 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

It was now midwinter. Frederick, having established his troops in winter quarters, took up his residence in Breslau. His troubles were by no means ended. Vastly outnumbering foes still surrounded him. Very vigorous preparations were to be made for the sanguinary conflicts which the spring would surely introduce. Frederick did what he could to infuse gayety into the society at Breslau, though he had but little heart to enter into those gayeties himself. For a week he suffered severely from colic pains, and could neither eat nor sleep. Eight months, he writes, of anguish and agitation do wear one down.

Retracing his steps in the darkness some fifteen miles, he returned to Lowen, where, by a bridge, a few hours before, he had crossed the Neisse. Taught caution by the misadventure at Oppeln, he reined up his horse, before the morning dawned, at the mill of Hilbersdorf, about a mile and a half from the town. The king, upon his high-blooded charger, had outridden nearly all his escort; but one or two were now with him. One of these attendants he sent into the town to ascertain if it were still held by the Prussians. Almost alone, he waited under the shelter of the mill the return of his courier. It was still night, dark and cold. The wind, sweeping over the snow-clad plains, caused the exhausted, half-famished monarch to shiver in his saddle.

Though, as we may see from Fredericks private correspondence, he suffered terribly in these hours of adversity and peril, he assumed in public a tranquil and even a jocose air. Meeting De Catt upon the evening of that dreadful day, he approached him, smiling, and with theatric voice and gesture declaimed a passage from Racine, the purport of which was, Well, here you see me not a conqueror, but vanquished.

However, madam, my sentence has failed to calm the minds. The schism continues, and the number of damnatory theologians prevail over the others.180


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.

I will write to Madame Du Chatelet in compliance with your wish. To speak to you frankly concerning her journey, it is Voltaire, it is you, it is my friend that I desire to see. I can not say whether I shall travel or not travel. Adieu, dear friend, sublime spirit, first-born of thinking beings. Love me always sincerely, and be persuaded that none can love and esteem you more than I.