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But at length one of the counselors, Baron Borck, urged the following consideration: Swords will be the weapons used. Your majesty has been very sick, is now weak, and also crippled with gout. The King of England is in health and vigor. There is great danger that your majesty may be worsted in the combat. That would render matters tenfold worse.

On the 26th of April Frederick again wrote to M. Podewils: I can understand how you are getting uneasy at Berlin. I have the most to lose of you all, but I am quiet and prepared for events. If the Saxons take part in the invasion of Silesia, and we beat them, I am determined to plunge into Saxony. For great maladies there need great remedies. Either I will maintain my all or else lose my all. To me remains only to possess myself in patience. If all alliances, resources, and negotiations fail, and all conjunctures go against me, I prefer to perish with honor rather than lead an inglorious life, deprived of all dignity. My ambition whispers me that I have done more than another to the building up of my house, and have played a distinguished part among the crowned heads of Europe. To maintain myself there has become, as it were, a personal duty, which I will fulfill at the expense of my happiness and my life. I have no choice left. I will maintain my power, or it may go to ruin, and the Prussian name be buried under it. If the enemy attempt any thing upon us, we will either beat them, or will all be hewed to pieces for the sake of our country and the renown of Brandenburg. No other counsel can I listen to. Perform faithfully the given work on your side, as I on mine. For the rest, let what you call Providence decide as it likes. I prepare myself for every event. Fortune may be kind or be unkind, it shall neither dishearten me nor uplift me. If I am to perish, let it be with honor, and sword in hand.Madam,I am much obliged by the wishes you deign to form; but a heavy fever I have taken hinders me from answering you.

The Prussian minister, Baron P?llnitz, in a letter from Berlin dated June 6, 1729, writes: The kings prime minister is the king himself, who is informed of every thing, and is desirous to know every thing. He gives great application to business, but does it with extraordinary ease; and nothing escapes his penetration nor his memory, which is a very happy one. No sovereign in the world is of more easy access, his subjects being actually permitted to write to him without any other formality than superscribing the letter To the King. By writing underneath, To be delivered into his Majestys own hands, one may be sure that the king receives and reads it, and that the next post he will answer it, either with his own hands or by his secretary. These answers are short, but peremptory. There is no town in all the King of Prussias dominions, except Neufchatel, where he has not been; no province which he does not know full well; nor a court of justice but he is acquainted with its chief members.Frederick William.

At parting, the king bore magnanimous testimony to the fidelity of his spiritual advisers. He said to M. Roloff, who had been the principal speaker, You do not spare me. It is right. You do your duty like an honest Christian man.

Voltaire has given a detailed account of the incidents connected with this visit to his Prussian majesty. It is a humiliating exhibition of the intrigues and insincerity which animated the prominent actors in those scenes.On the night of the 14th Frederick had stationed his lines with the greatest care to guard against surprise. At midnight, wrapped in his cloak, and seated on a drum by a watch-fire, he had just fallen asleep. An Irish officer, a deserter from the Austrians, came blustering and fuming into the camp with the announcement that General Lacys army was on the march to attack Frederick by surprise. Frederick sprang to his horse. His perfectly drilled troops were instantly in motion. By a rapid movement his troops were speedily placed in battle array upon the heights of the Wolfsberg. They would thus intercept the enemys line of march, would take him by surprise, and were in the most admirable position to encounter superior numbers. To deceive the foe, all the Prussian camp-fires were left burning. General Loudon had resorted to the same stratagem to deceive Frederick.

The Crown Prince begs his Britannic majesty not to reject the kings proposals, whatever they may be, for his sister Wilhelminas sake. For, though the Crown Prince is determined to lose his life sooner than marry any body but the Princess Amelia, yet, if this negotiation were broken off, his father would go to extremities to force him and his sister into other engagements.

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The king, my brother, she wrote, supports his misfortunes with a courage and a firmness worthy of him. I am in a frightful state, and will not survive the destruction of my house and family. That is the one consolation that remains to me. I can not write farther of it. My soul is so troubled that I know not what I am doing. To me there remains nothing but to follow his destiny if it is unfortunate. I have never piqued myself on being a philosopher, though I have made many efforts to become so. The small progress I made did teach me to despise grandeur and riches. But I could never find in philosophy any cure for the wounds of the heart, except that of getting done with our miseries by ceasing to live. The state I am in is worse than death. I see the greatest man of his age, my brother, my friend, reduced to the most frightful extremity. I see my whole family exposed to dangers and, perhaps, destruction. Would to Heaven I were alone loaded with all the miseries I have described to you.There has been a revolution in St. Petersburg. The Czar Peter III., your majestys devoted friend, has been deposed, and probably assassinated. The Czarina Catharine, influenced by the enemies of your majesty, and unwilling to become embroiled in a conflict with Austria and France, has ordered me to return instantly homeward with the twenty thousand troops under my command.

Toward the end of the year 1775 the king had an unusually severe attack of the gout. It was erroneously reported that it was a dangerous attack of the dropsy, and that he was manifestly drawing near to his end. The Crown Prince, who was to succeed him, was a man of very little character. The Emperor551 of Germany, Joseph II., thought the death of Frederick would present him an opportunity of regaining Silesia for Austria. The Austrian army was immediately put in motion and hurried to the frontiers of Silesia, to seize the province the moment the king should expire. This was openly done, and noised abroad. Much to the disappointment of the emperor, the king got well. Amidst much ridicule, the troops returned to their old quarters.190CHAPTER XII. THE INVASION OF SILESIA.

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