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On the River Maas, a few miles north of the present city of Liege, there was a celebrated castle called Herstal. For many generations feudal lords had there displayed their pomp and power; and it had been the theatre not only of princely revelry, but of many scenes of violence and blood. A surrounding territory of a few thousand acres, cultivated by serfs, who were virtually slaves, was the hereditary domain of the petty lords of the castle. A few miles south of the castle there was a monastery called Liege, which was a dependency of the lords of Herstal. It would be better, M. Roloff mildly suggested, that your majesty should write at once.

The Prussian minister condescended then so importunately to urge an audience, in view of the menacing state of affairs, that M. Hartoff returned to the council-chamber, and in seven minutes came back with an evasive answer, still refusing to grant an audience. The next day M. Kannegiesser called again at the council-chamber. I let them know in the mildest terms, he writes in his dispatch home, that I desired to be admitted to speak with them, which was refused me a second time. He then informed M. Hartoff that the Prussian court expected a definite answer to some propositions which had previously been sent to the council at Hanover; that he would remain two days to receive it; that, in case he did not receive it, he would call again, to remind them that an answer was desired.

Each of these ministers makes a most brilliant figure, and never have I seen one travel with more ease and convenience, more elegance and grandeur, than does the Marquis of Montijo. Wherever he stops to dine or sup, he finds a room hung with the richest tapestry, and the floor covered with Turkey carpets, with velvet chairs, and every other kind of convenience; a table sumptuously served, the choicest wines, and a dessert of fruit and confectionery that Paris itself could not excel. This kind of enchantment, this real miracle in Germany, is performed by means of three baggage-wagons, of which two always go before the embassador, and carry with them every thing necessary for his reception. When they arrive in some poor village, the domestics268 that accompany each wagon immediately clear and clean some chamber, fix the tapestry by rings to the walls, cover the floor with carpets, and furnish the kitchen and cellar with every kind of necessary.54 The secret was now out. The tidings flew in all directions that the King of Prussia was in Strasbourg incognito. The king, not yet aware of the detection, called upon the marshal. A crowd of officers gathered eagerly around. The marshal was much embarrassed in his desire to respect the incognito, and also to manifest the consideration due to a sovereign. No one yet ventured to address him as king, though there were many indications that his rank was beginning to be known. Frederick therefore decided to get out of the city as soon as possible. To conceal his design, he made arrangements to attend the theatre with the marshal in the evening. The marshal went to the theatre with all his officers. The building was crowded with the multitude hoping to see the king. Bonfires began to blaze in the streets, and shouts were heard of Long live the King of Prussia. Frederick hastily collected his companions, paid his enormous bill at the Raven, shot off like lightning, and was seen in Strasbourg no more.

385 This good old man died in Berlin on the 24th of August, 1777, eighty-eight years of age.

Mr. Carlyle, who, with wonderful accuracy, and with impartiality which no one will call in question, has recorded the facts in Fredericks career, gives the story as it is here told. In the following terms Mr. Carlyle comments upon these events: The evenings are devoted to music. The prince has a concert in his saloon, where no one enters who is not invited, and such invitation is regarded as an extraordinary favor. The prince has commonly performed a sonata and a concert for the flute, on which he plays in the greatest perfection. He fills the flute admirably well, has great agility with the fingers, and a vast fund of music. He composes himself sonatas. I have had the honor of standing behind him more than once while he was playing, and was charmed with his taste, especially in the adagio. He has a continual creation of new ideas.

Soon after Frederick wrote to Voltaire upon this subject again, still more severely, but in verse. The following is almost a literal translation of this poetic epistle:

On Sunday he is to rise at seven oclock, and, as soon as he has got his slippers on, shall kneel at his bedside and pray to God, so as all in the room may hear, in these words:

Maria Theresa was much encouraged by the subsidy she had received from England. She was not yet informed of the formidable alliance into which France, with a portion of Germany, had entered for her destruction. About the 20th of June she left Vienna for Presburg, in Hungary, a drive of about fifty miles. Here, on the 25th of June, 1741, she was crowned Queen of Hungary. She was a very beautiful woman in person, devout in spirit, and those who admire manly developments in the female character must regard her as presenting the highest type of womanhood. She merits the following beautiful tribute to her worth from the pen of Carlyle:

307 Elsewhere, Frederick, speaking of these two winter campaigns, says: Winter campaigns are bad, and should always be avoided, except in cases of necessity. The best army in the world is liable to be ruined by them. I myself have made more winter campaigns than any general of this age. But there were reasons. In 1740 there were hardly above two Austrian regiments in Silesia, at the death of the Emperor Charles VI. Being determined to assert my right to that duchy, I had to try it at once, in winter, and carry the war, if possible, to the banks of the Neisse. Had I waited till spring, we must have begun the war between Crossen and Glogau. What was now to be gained by one march would then have cost us three or four campaigns. A sufficient reason, this, for campaigning in winter. If I did not succeed in the winter campaigns of 1742, a campaign which I made to deliver Moravia, then overrun by Austrians, it was because the French acted like fools, and the Saxons like traitors.64

There were some gross vulgarities in Voltaires letter which we refrain from quoting. Both of these communications were printed and widely circulated, exciting throughout Europe contempt and derision. Voltaire had still the copy of the kings private poems. Frederick, quite irritated, and not knowing what infamous use Voltaire might make of the volume, which contained some very severe satires against prominent persons, and particularly against his uncle, the King of England, determined, at all hazards, to recover the book. He knew it would be of no avail to write to Voltaire to return it.

While in this deplorable condition, Maupertuis was found by the Prince of Lichtenstein, an Austrian officer who had met him in Paris. The prince rescued him from his brutal captors and supplied him with clothing. He was, however, taken to Vienna as a prisoner of war, where he was placed on parole. Voltaire, whose unamiable nature was pervaded by a very marked vein of malignity, made himself very merry over the misfortunes of the philosopher. As Maupertuis glided about the streets of Vienna for a time in obscurity, the newspapers began to speak of his scientific celebrity. He was thus brought into notice. The queen treated him with distinction. The Grand-duke Francis drew his own watch from his pocket, and presented it to Maupertuis265 in recompense for the one he had lost. Eventually he was released, and, loaded with many presents, was sent to Brittany.

No man of kindly sympathies could have thus wantonly wounded the feelings of a poor old man who had, according to his capacity, served himself, his father, and his grandfather, and who was just dropping into the grave. A generous heart would have forgotten the foibles, and, remembering only the virtues, would have spoken words of cheer to the world-weary heart, seeking a sad refuge in the glooms of the cloister. It must be confessed that Frederick often manifested one of the worst traits in human nature. He took pleasure in inflicting pain upon others.