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CHAPTER XVII. THE CAMPAIGN OF MORAVIA.My Cousin,Knowing all the assaults made by you upon my indisputable rights over my free barony of Herstal, and how the seditious ringleaders there, for several years past, have been countenanced by you in their detestable acts of disobedience against me, I have commanded my privy counselor, Rambonet, to repair to your presence, and in my name to require from you, within two days, a distinct and categorical answer to this question:

Et des paysans en postillons masqus,

Should it chance that my army in Saxony were beaten, or that the French should get possession of Hanover, and threaten us with invasion from that quarter, or that the Russians should get through by Neumark, you are to save the royal family and the archives. Should we be beaten in Saxony, remove the royal family to Cüstrin. Should the Russians enter by Neumark, or a misfortune befall us in the Lausitz, all must go to Magdeburg, but not till the last extremity. The garrison, the royal family, and the treasure must be kept together. In such a case, the silver plate and the gold plate must at once be coined into money.On Tuesday evening, October 24, 1758, Frederick, in a rapid and secret march, protected by darkness, pushed his whole army around the right wing of the Austrian encampment, and took a very strong position at Reichenbach, in the rear of Marshal Daun, and on the road to Neisse. The Austrian general, astonished at this bold and successful man?uvre, now found that the march of Frederick to Neisse could by no possibility be prevented except by attacking him on his own chosen ground. This he did not dare to do. He therefore resolved to make a rush with his whole army to the west for the capture of Dresden. Frederick, in the mean time, by forced marches, was pressing forward to the east for the relief of Neisse. Thus the two armies were flying from each other in opposite directions.

CHAPTER XXII. THE PEACE OF DRESDEN.Preparations were now made for the capture of Neisse. This was an opulent, attractive, well-fortified town of about seven thousand inhabitants. It then occupied only the left or north bank of the stream, which runs from the west to the east. The region around, being highly cultivated, presented a beautiful aspect of rich meadows, orchards, and vineyards. It was the chief fortress of Southern Silesia, and, being very near the frontier of Austria proper, was a position of great importance. Frederick, having encountered so little opposition thus far, was highly elated, expecting that Neisse would also immediately fall into his hands. From Ottmachau he wrote, on the 14th of January, to M. Jordan as follows:

You have reason to curse your mother, for it is she who causes your being an ill-governed fellow. I had a preceptor, continued he, who was an honest man. I remember always a story which he told me in his youth. There was a man at Carthage who had been condemned to die for many crimes he had committed. While they were leading him to execution he desired he might speak to his mother. They brought his mother. He came near, as if to whisper something to her, and bit away a piece of her ear. I treat you thus, said he, to make you an example to all parents who take no heed to bring up their children in the practice of virtue. Make the application, continued he, always addressing my brother; and, getting no answer57 from him, he again set to abusing us till he could speak no longer.

Loss of time was one of the losses Frederick could least stand. In visits, even from his brothers and sisters, which were always by his own express invitation, he would say some morning (call it Tuesday morning), You are going on Wednesday, I am sorry to hear (what you never heard before). Alas! your majesty, we must. Well, I am sorry; but I will lay no constraint on you. Pleasant moments can not last forever. This trait is in the anecdote-books; but its authenticity does not rest on that uncertain basis. Singularly enough, it comes to me individually, by two clear stages, from Fredericks sister, the Duchess of Brunswick, who, if any body, would know it well.My situation changes every moment. Sometimes I am in favor, sometimes in disgrace. My chief happiness consists in my being absent from him. I lead a quiet and tranquil life with my regiment at Ruppin. Study and music are my principal occupations. I have built me a house there, and laid out a garden where I can read and walk about.

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I was conducted into his majestys apartment, where there was nothing but the bare walls. I perceived in a closet, lit by a single wax candle, a small bed, two feet and a half wide, on204 which lay a little man wrapped up in a cloak of coarse blue cloth. It was the king, who perspired and shivered, under a miserable coverlet, in a violent access of fever. I made my bow, and began the acquaintance by feeling his pulse, as if I had been his first physician. When the fit was passed he dressed himself and came to supper. Algarotti, Keyserling, Maupertuis, and the kings embassador to the States General made up the party. We talked learnedly respecting the immortality of the soul, liberty, and the Androgynes of Plato, and other small topics of that nature.

During the war, writes Frederick, the councilors and ministers540 had successively died. In such time of trouble it had been impossible to replace them. The embarrassment was to find persons capable of filling these different employments. We searched the provinces, where good heads were found as rare as in the capital. At length five chief ministers were pitched upon.



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