FREDERICK THE GREAT AND HIS FAMILY
Part 7 out of 16
mother, a sweetheart--to meet them with tears of joy, to greet them
tenderly. I shall be alone."
"Your people will advance, gladly, to meet you; they will greet you
with tears of joy."
"Ah, yes," cried the king, with a bitter smile, "they will advance
to meet me joyfully; but, were I to die the same day, they would
cry: 'Le roi est mort--vive le roi!' and would greet my successor
with equal delight. There is nothing personal in the love of a
people to its sovereign; they love not in me the man, but the king.
But my mother loved not the king the warrior; she loved her son with
her whole heart, and God knows he had but that one heart to trust
in. Leave me, Le Catt. Seek not to console me. Soon the king will
gain the mastery. Now I am but the son, who wishes to be alone with
the mother. Go." Fearing he had wounded Le Catt, he pressed his hand
Le Catt raised it to his lips and covered it with kisses and tears.
The king withdrew it gently, and signed to him to leave the room.
Now he was alone--alone with his pain, with his grief--alone with
his mother. And, truly, during this hour he was but the loving son;
his every thought was of his mother; he conversed with her, he wept
over her; but, as his sorrow became more subdued, he took his flute
from the table, the one constant companion of his life. As the soft,
sweet tones were wafted through the tent, he seemed to hear his
mother whispering words of love to him, to feel her hallowed kiss
upon his brow. And now he was king once more. As he heard without
the sound of trumpets, the beating of drums, the loud shouts and
hurrahs of his soldiers, a new fire burned in his eyes, he laid his
flute aside, and listened for a time to the joyous shouts; then
raising his right hand, he said: "Farewell, mother; you died out of
despair for my defeat at Collin, but I swear to you I will revenge
your death and my defeat tenfold upon my enemies when I stand before
them again in battle array. Hear me, spirit of my mother, and give
to your son your blessing!"
IN THE CASTLE AT DRESDEN.
The Queen Maria Josephine of Poland, Princess elect of Saxony, paced
her room violently; and with deep emotion and painful anxiety she
listened to every noise which interrupted the stillness that
"If he should be discovered," she murmured softly, "should this
letter be found, all is betrayed, and I am lost."
She shuddered, and even the paint could not conceal her sudden
pallor. She soon raised herself proudly erect, and her eyes resumed
their usual calm expression.
"Bah! lost," she said, shrugging her shoulders, "who will dare to
seize a queen and condemn her for fighting for her honor and her
country? Only the insolent and arrogant Margrave of Brandenburg
could have the temerity to insult a queen and a woman in my person,
and he, thank God, is crushed and will never be able to rally. But
where is Schonberg," she said, uneasily; "if he does not come to-
day, all is lost--all!"
Loud voices in the antechamber interrupted her; she listened in
breathless expectation. "It is he," she murmured, "it is Schonberg;
the officer on guard forbids his entrance. What insults I endure! I
am treated as a prisoner in my own castle; I am even denied the
right of seeing my own servants."
She ceased, and listened again; the voices became louder and more
violent. "He is, apparently, speaking so loudly to attract my
attention," she said; "I will go to his relief." She crossed the
chamber hastily, and opened the door leading into the anteroom.
"What means this noise?" she said, angrily; "how dare you be guilty
of such unseemly conduct?"
Silence followed this question. The two gentlemen, who had just
exchanged such angry words, were dumb, approached the queen, and
"I beg your majesty's forgiveness," said the Prussian officer, "my
commander ordered me this morning to admit no one until he had seen
your highness himself."
"I wished to announce to your majesty," said Schonberg, "that I had
returned from my estate, and desired the favor of being again
received into your service; this gentleman refused to allow me to
The queen turned upon the officer with an expression of contempt.
"Am I a prisoner, sir, allowed to see no one but my jailer?"
"Your majesty favors me with a question I am unable to answer," said
the officer; "I am a soldier; and must obey the command of those
above me. I know not whether your majesty is a prisoner."
The queen reddened; she felt that, in the excitement of passion, she
had forgotten her rank and dignity.
"It is true," she said, "it is not for you to answer this question.
I must demand a reply from your king. You are but a machine, moved
by foreign power. I think you will not dare to keep my servants from
me;" and, without allowing the confused officer time to answer, she
turned to the chamberlain, Baron von Schonberg. "I am delighted to
receive you again; you shall resume your service immediately, as you
desire it; follow me to my room, I have an important letter to
dictate to you."
She stepped over the sill of the door, and gave the chamberlain a
sign to follow her; as he approached the door, however, the officer
stepped before him.
"Forgive me," he said, in a pleading tone; "I have strict orders to
admit only those who usually surround the queen; do you understand,
sir, to admit no one to her majesty this morning? I can make no
"I belong to those who usually surround her majesty," said the
chamberlain; "I have had an eight days' leave of absence; that
cannot make an exception against me."
"Baron von Schonberg, did I not order you to resume your service,
and to follow me?" said the queen; "why do you not enter?"
"Your majesty sees that I am prevented."
"Mercy, your highness, mercy," pleaded the officer, "I know I am
seemingly wanting in reverence toward the holy person of the queen,
but I cannot act otherwise." Maria Josephine looked proud and
commanding; her eyes flashed angrily, and, with a loud voice, she
"I command you to allow my servant to enter! do you hear? command it
as a sovereign!"
The officer stepped back.
"Go in, sir, I have not the courage to withstand this command."
For a moment the queen's pale face crimsoned with joy, but she
suppressed her emotion immediately and motioned the chamberlain,
with proud dignity, to follow.
Schonberg passed the officer, and entered the room.
"At last," sighed Maria Josephine, as the door closed behind him--
"at last this torture is at an end, and I breathe again. Speak,
baron--your news!" Exhausted, she fell upon the sofa, and gazed
breathlessly at the chamberlain.
"Before speaking, with your majesty's permission, I will see if we
are entirely alone--if no one is listening."
He stepped softly around the room, and searched behind the curtains
and furniture; then went to the door, and looked through the key-
hole, to see if any one was without. He saw the officer sitting
motionless, at the other end of the anteroom. Satisfied with this,
he was about to open the other door, but the queen called him back.
"That is unnecessary; no one can be concealed there. Now let me hear
quickly what you have to say."
"I have many things to tell you," said the chamberlain,
triumphantly. "All our undertakings have been most successful. We
may hope they will be crowned with the most desirable results."
"Praise to God and the holy saints!" murmured the queen. "Speak,
speak! tell me all!"
"After I left your majesty, eight days ago, I went first to my
estate, which, as your highness knows, lies near Bautzen, and in the
immediate neighborhood of the King of Prussia's camp. Disguised as a
peasant, with my little flock of sheep, I entered the Prussian camp
unchallenged. I wish your majesty could have had the satisfaction of
seeing what I saw. Your royal heart would have been gladdened at the
sight of those starved, exhausted, and desperate troops which Prince
Augustus William led back from Zittau to his august brother, the
great Frederick. You would have acknowledged with delight that such
discouraged, demoralized troops could no longer withstand the
splendid and victorious army of the confederates. The battle of
Collin dug their graves, and the pass of Gabol made their coffins."
"And the Saxon dragoons decided the battle of Collin?" said the
queen, with sparkling eyes. "Go on! tell me more. Did you speak with
the king's chamberlain, Anderson?"
"Yes, your majesty, and I found him faithful. I gave him the diamond
ring which your majesty was so gracious as to send him. He was
delighted with this costly present, and swore he would let no
opportunity pass of serving you. I told him how he might safely
write to me. He will inform us of all that takes place in the
Prussian camp, and of all the important movements of the king."
"You are convinced of his integrity?" said the queen. "Entirely
convinced; he loves money, and serves us for his own interests. He
will be ready for any act, if we balance it with gold." The eyes of
the queen sparkled, and her countenance had a threatening and
passionate expression; her Spanish blood was moved, and rushed in
fever streams to her heart. "Is he ready for any act?" she repeated.
"Perhaps we could make a decisive trial of his willingness; but of
"I learned from Anderson, that King Frederick intends to force the
confederates to another battle. When I left the camp, the king had
distributed rations to his army, and was to leave the next morning,
to encounter Daun and Radasdy." The queen laughed mockingly. "He
then thirsts for a second Collin. As his grave is open and his
coffin made, he wishes to get the Austrian grave-diggers to bury
him. Well, we will not deny him this last service of love."
"After leaving the Prussian camp," continued the chamberlain, "I
threw off my disguise, and hastened with post-horses to where Daun
and Radasdy were quartered."
"And you saw them?"
"I saw them; I was fortunate enough to be able to deliver your
majesty's letters to General Radasdy, and I can now give your
highness the general's answer, and some other important papers." He
drew a small etui from his bosom, out of which he took a penknife;
then taking his hat, ripped off the gold galloon, cut the rim, and
drew a paper from between the fur and the inner lining, which he
handed to the queen, with a profound bow. While the queen was
occupied breaking the seal and reading the letter, the chamberlain
was busily engaged in restoring his hat to its former proportions.
The queen's pale face brightened more and more as she read; with joy
and triumph she glanced from the paper at the chamberlain, and said,
with a brilliant smile: "You are really a messenger of peace; a time
will come when I can better reward your faithful services than by
words. I beg you to open that door, and call Father Guarini." The
chamberlain obeyed her command, and Father Guarini entered. He
greeted Schonberg with a gracious nod, then fixed his dark and
piercing eyes upon the queen, who arose humbly to receive him. "I
hope, venerable father, that you have heard the news, brought by our
faithful baron?" said the queen, in a soft voice. "I have heard!"
replied the Jesuit father, solemnly; "I have heard that God has
delivered these heretics into our hands. We are the chosen people to
free the world of these blasphemous adversaries of the Church."
"What is your meaning?" asked the queen, with apparent surprise.
Father Guarini looked at her significantly; a cruel smile played
upon his thin, colorless lips. "My daughter, we understand each
other fully," said he, in a soft, low voice; "soul speaks to soul in
such a crisis as this. When the baron handed you this letter, when
he told you that the chamberlain of the King of Prussia was faithful
to our holy cause, ready for any act you might approve, a door
separated us; I could not look upon your countenance, and yet, my
daughter, I read the secret thoughts of your heart. I saw your eyes
sparkle, your lips smile, and understood your holy purpose." The
queen trembled, and stepped shudderingly back. "Holy father," she
murmured, "have compassion with a sinful thought, which I suppressed
quickly, and which I will never listen to again."
"Why do you call it a sinful thought?" said the priest, with a
diabolical smile. "All weapons are blessed and made holy by God,
when employed against heretics. The poison of the hemlock and the
opium-plant is part of God's holy creation. He made them as weapons
for the just against the unjust, and, when used for pious purposes,
they are sanctified means of grace. Be not ashamed of your great
thought, my daughter; if Anderson is faithful, as the chamberlain
asserts, with God's help we will soon be able to bring this war to a
close, and crush this unbelieving horde."
"Still, I pray you still, my father," murmured the queen; "my whole
soul shudders at this frightful suggestion; let us not speak of this
again, let us forget it."
"Let us not speak of it, but let us not forget it," murmured the
priest, with a malicious smile. The queen said hastily: "Father,
such fearful weapons are not necessary for the destruction of our
enemies. Frederick of Prussia can never rally--he stands alone, has
not a single ally in Germany. This is the important news brought me
by the baron, which I now communicate to you. We have succeeded in a
great enterprise; a mighty work has been completed by us and our
allies in the cloister of Zeven. This has been achieved by our
ambassador, the pious Duke of Lynar, and we will triumph in a
glittering and bloodless victory. Every German prince who has
heretofore stood by the traitor and heretic, Frederick of Prussia,
has, at the command and menace of the emperor, fallen off from him,
and dare no longer lend him help or influence. The men of Hesse, of
Brunswick, of Gotha, who were allied to Prussia, and who were just
from fighting with the Hanoverians against Soubise and Richelieu,
have laid down their arms and returned home. They have solemnly
bound themselves in the convention of the cloister of Zeven never
again to bear arms for the heretical and rebellious King of Prussia,
who is excommunicated by the German emperor and the holy Pope at
Rome. The contest between the Hanoverians and our French ally is
ended, and a cessation of hostilities determined upon. Unconditional
peace is indeed indefinitely declared. The Hanoverians remain
inactive on the Elbe; the Duke of Cumberland, leader of the English
troops, has returned to Loudon, [Footnote: When the Duke of
Cumberland returned to Loudon, after the convention at the cloister
of Zeven, his father, whose favorite he had been up to this time,
received him with great coldness, and said before all his ministers:
"Here is my son who has ruined me and disgraced himself." The duke
had to resign all his honors, and died a few years later, despised
by the whole nation.] and his adversary, the Duke de Richelieu, to
Paris. The French troops now in Germany, under the command of the
Prince Soubise, have no other enemy to attack than Frederick, the
natural enemy of us all. The King of Prussia, who stands alone, has
no other ally."
"No ally but himself," interrupted a loud, powerful voice. The queen
turned and saw General von Fink, the Prussian commander of Dresden.
He had opened the door noiselessly, and had heard the queen's last
words. Maria Josephine paled with anger, and stepping forward to
meet him, with head erect, she looked as if she would trample him
under foot. "Sir," she said, scarcely able to control her passion,
and at the same time trembling with terror, "who gave you permission
to enter this room?"
"My sovereign, the King of Prussia," said the general, placing
himself before her with stiff military courtesy. "I come not from
idle curiosity, but on important business, and your majesty must
pardon me if you find it disagreeable."
He made a sign toward the door, and immediately an officer and four
soldiers appeared at the threshold. The commander pointed to the
chamberlain, Von Schonberg, who, pale and trembling, endeavored to
conceal himself behind the wide dress of the queen.
"Arrest that man, and take him off!" said the general.
Schonberg uttered a cry of alarm, and disappeared behind the satin
robe of the queen.
"What, sir! you dare to force yourself into my room, and to arrest
my servant?" cried the queen, angrily.
The general shrugged his shoulders.
"We are living in perilous times, and every man must defend himself
from his enemies. 'Tis true your chamberlain sold some good sheep to
our army, but it appears to have been a fraudulent transaction; for
this reason, I arrest him, and send him to Berlin for trial. There
it will be difficult for him to carry on his correspondence with the
traitorous chamberlain of the king."
The general ceased speaking, and gazing at the pale, disturbed group
before him, enjoyed their horror and consternation for a moment.
The queen was greatly embarrassed, and pressed her lips firmly
together to suppress a cry of terror. By her side stood Father
Guarini, whose face had assumed a livid pallor, and whose dark eyes
were fixed in bitter hatred upon the general. Behind the queen the
terrified face of the chamberlain was seen, his insignificant figure
being entirely concealed by the queen's robes.
"Baron von Schonberg," said General Fink, "I order you to come
forward and to submit to your arrest. Out of respect to her majesty
the queen, you will be quiet. I should be unfortunately forced to
act with violence if you do not yield without a struggle."
The chamberlain advanced with dignity, bowing profoundly to the
queen. He said, in a trembling voice:
"I must beg your majesty graciously to dismiss me from your service.
I must obey this gentlemen, who, as it appears, is master in the
The queen was for a moment speechless; her voice was lost, and her
eyes were filled with tears. She said, after a long pause:
"Will you rob me of my faithful servant? You dragged Baroness Bruhl
and Countess Ogliva to Warsaw, and now you will deprive me of the
services of this tried and constant friend."
"I obey the commands of my king," said the general, "and I believe
your majesty must see the justice of this arrest. Had the baron been
captured in camp, he would have been shot at once as a spy. I arrest
him here and send him to Berlin, that he may defend himself against
the charge of being a traitor."
The queen breathed heavily, she had regained her composure; turning
to the chamberlain she said, in a voice softer and kinder than had
ever been heard from her before:
"Go, my friend, and when your loyalty is called treason by out
enemies, do not forget that your queen is thinking of you with
gratitude, and praying for you to our heavenly Father."
She offered the chamberlain her small, white hand; he sank upon his
knees, and covered it with his tears and kisses.
"Go, my son," said Father Guarini, laying his hand upon Schonberg's
head--"go; the Lord has chosen you as a blessed martyr for our just
and holy cause. The Lord will be with you, and the holy mother
Church will pray for you."
"I go, my father--may it be granted me to die for my queen!"
Turning to the general, he delivered up his sword rather tragically,
and declared himself ready to depart.
The commandant signed to the officer.
"Conduct this gentleman to the carriage, and send him with a
sufficient guard to Berlin."
THE TE DEUM.
The queen looked sadly after the chamberlain; when he had
disappeared, she turned to the general.
"I now hope," said she, "that you have fulfilled your orders, and
that I will be permitted to have my apartments to myself."
"I beg your majesty's pardon," said the general, bowing
respectfully, "but as yet I have fulfilled but the smallest portion
of my master's commands."
"How? is there still some one here whom you wish to arrest?" said
"No, noble lady, but some one I wish to warn!"
"You are, without doubt, speaking of me, general?" said the priest,
"Yes, sir, of you. I wish to warn you not to occupy your pious
thoughts with that very worldly thing called politics, and to
request you to instruct the members of your Church in religion, in
Christian love and kindness, and not to lure them to murder and
The priest shrugged his shoulders; a contemptuous smile played about
his small, thin lips.
"The words 'religion and Christian love' sound strangely in the
mouth of a Prussian warrior. I decline receiving any advice from
you. I have no fear of you or of your superiors! I am subject only
to God and the Pope!"
"That may be in your own country, but not in the King of Prussia's,"
answered General Fink, quietly. "There every one is subject to the
law; no title, no clerical gown protects the criminal. Two days ago,
a spy was discovered in the Prussian camp, who was a priest; he was
hung like any other spy, although at the last moment, hoping to save
his life, he exclaimed that he was a friend of Father Guarini, the
court confessor. His majesty the King of Prussia commissioned me to
impart to you the death of your friend."
"From my heart I thank you for so doing," said the priest. "I shall
have masses read for my friend, of whom you have made a martyr."
The queen gazed at him with sparkling eyes. "Oh, my father," said
she, "I thank you for your noble example; it shall enable me, in
spite of threats and insults, not to deny the holy cause and the
friends who have suffered for it. And now, general, I hope your
commissions are fulfilled, and that you will take your leave."
"I hope your majesty will believe that I would not venture to
remain, were I not compelled by the commands of my king. I have to
request your majesty to listen while I read aloud some letters, some
historical documents, which may possibly interest your highness."
"You can read," said the queen. "As my ears do not belong to the
King of Prussia, it lies with me to listen or not, as I please." She
sank gently upon the divan, signing to the priest to remain beside
"I flatter myself that I will have your majesty's attention," said
the general, withdrawing to the nearest window and opening a package
of letters. "The first relates to an extremely amusing occurrence,
which my master, knowing that France was your ally, imagined would
interest you. Your highness is aware that Prince Soubise is a brave
soldier. This is Madame Pompadour's opinion; it must, therefore, be
true. About a week ago this brave prince determined to rest for a
while from his heroic deeds, and gave the same privilege to a large
portion of his army. The general, accompanied by his staff and eight
thousand soldiers, then entered that lovely little spot, called
Gotha, to visit the talented and princely duke and duchess. He and
his staff were received by them with great honor; magnificent
preparations were forthwith made for a splendid dinner to welcome
the prince who, happily, was not only fond of laurels, but also of
good eating. Dinner was served, the French generals had finished
their toilets, Prince Soubise had given the duchess his arm to lead
her to her seat, when a loud cry of terror was heard from without,
'The Prussians are at the gates!' Prince Soubise dropped the arm of
the duchess; through the Paris rouge, so artistically put on, the
paleness, which now covered his face, could rot be seen. The doors
leading to the dining-saloon were thrown open, making visible the
sparkling glass, the smoking dishes, the rare service of gold and
silver--, the generals of the prince now hastened forward and
confirmed the wild rumor. Yes; and rumor, for once, was true.
General Seidlitz was there with fifteen hundred brave cavalrymen.
The French are noted for their politeness, and it did not fail them
upon this occasion. Without a word, Prince Soubise and his eight
thousand men made room for General Seidlitz and his fifteen hundred,
and hastened from the ducal palace. Before the rich dishes had time
to cool, General Seidlitz and his staff were seated at the table,
enjoying the magnificent dinner prepared for the French generals.
Many prisoners, many spoils were taken afterward. Not that Prince
Soubise had not taken all his soldiers with him, but there was
another small army by which the French troops are always
accompanied. These, the lackeys, valets, cooks, hair-dressers,
ballet-dancers, actresses, priests, etc., etc., were not able to run
as fast as the French soldiers. The spoils consisted in the
equipages of the prince and his staff, in which were boxes and
chests containing precious things, their large chests full of
delightful perfumes and hair-oils, trunks full of wigs, dressing-
gowns, and parasols. There were several learned parrots who had a
leaning to politics, and who exclaimed continually: 'Vive les
Franqais! A bas les Prussiens!' But the kind-hearted General
Seidlitz did not wish to deprive the French army of the necessities
of life; he therefore sent them their valets, cooks, hair-dressers,
actresses, priests, etc. The perfumes and hair-oils he gave to his
"I trust you have finished," said the queen, playing listlessly with
"Ah, your majesty has then honored me by listening?" said General
The queen preserved a dignified silence.
The general continued reading: "After long deliberation, Prince
Soubise concluded he had carried his politeness too far in vacating
the ducal palace to the Prussians; he determined, therefore, to go
after his perfumes, hair-oils, dressing-gowns, wigs, etc., etc., and
drive the Prussians from Gotha. Prince von Hildburghausen joined him
with his troops. Thus the French advanced to Gotha, secure and
confident of success. But to their terror they found before the city
not two Prussian regiments, as they had expected, but what seemed to
them the entire Prussian army arranged in line of battle, and in
such large numbers that for miles around the bills were covered,
with them. This was so unexpected to the French generals that they
determined to retreat for a while, until they had recovered from
their surprise. They withdrew, leaving the field to the Prussians.
Had they not withdrawn so hastily, they would soon have seen that
the Prussian army consisted only of fifteen hundred, which, thanks
to General Seidlitz's strategy, presented a very imposing view. Thus
Seidlitz gained the day without firing a shot--not by the troops who
were present, but by those who were supposed to be present."
"I have had enough of this," said the queen, rising. "I am weary of
listening to your witty stories. The King of Prussia may triumph for
a while--he may jest over his lost battles--but the hour of his
misfortune is at hand. God, who is just--who thrusts the arrogant
and haughty to the ground--will also punish him, and give victory to
the just cause. The battle of Collin was for Frederick the Second
the first proof of God's anger, and now with increasing strength His
mighty arm will be raised against him."
"I am aware that these are your majesty's sentiments," said the
general, smiling; "and my master is as well informed. I think they
were stated in almost the same words in letters which your majesty
wrote to the Austrian general, Nadasky."
The queen fell back upon her seat trembling, and a deep red suffused
her countenance. Even Father Guarini showed by the quivering of his
lip and his sudden paleness, that the conversation was now taking an
"What do you know of my letters to Nadasky?" said the queen,
breathlessly. "Who says I have written to him?"
"Your own hand, gracious queen," answered the general. "While the
king, my noble sovereign, was in Bernstadt, he was told that General
Nadasky was at Ostriz, and sent General von Werner after him.
Nadasky fled, but his baggage was captured, and amongst his letters
this one from your majesty was discovered."
And he held up the letter in question before the queen, to convince
her of its authenticity.
Maria Josephine endeavored to tear it from him, but the general was
too quick for her.
"By command of my master, this letter is to be returned to you, but
upon one condition."
"Well, what is it?" said the queen, faintly.
"I am to read to your majesty a few sentences from it, selected by
the King of Prussia himself."
"And all my letters shall then be returned to me?"
"All, your majesty."
"You can read," said the queen, seating herself.
General Fink approached the window by which he had been standing
before, and looked out for a few moments. Some one, perhaps, had
passed with whom he was acquainted, for he bowed several times and
raised his hand as if he were beckoning. After this intermission, at
which the queen and her confessor had looked in amazement, he opened
the letter and commenced to read.
It was a demand from Queen Maria Josephine to the Austrian general
to do all in his power to ruin their common enemy. "If we are
energetic," continued the general, reading in a loud voice, "it will
soon be done. At the battle of Collin, God laid his mark upon
Frederick; Prussia will have no more victories; her arrogant ruler
has sung his last Te Deum."
At this moment the bells of the nearest church commenced their
solemn chimes, and from the fort behind the castle the thunder of
cannon was heard. The queen rose from her seat and rushed to the
"What is the meaning of this?" said she, breathlessly. "Why these
bells? Why this cannon? What--"
The renewed thunder of cannon drowned her words. She threw open the
window, and now all the church bells were joined in one harmonious
chant. From beneath the queen's windows there arose a slow, solemn
hymn, and as if borne aloft by invisible spirits, the words "Te Deum
laudamus" were heard by the queen. Her eyes sparkled. "For whom is
this Te Deum?" said she, breathlessly.
"It is for my master," said General Fink, solemnly--"for the King of
Prussia, who at Rossbach, with twenty thousand men, has gained a
victory over sixty thousand French soldiers."
A cry of rage, and Maria Josephine fell fainting to the floor.
It was a cold winter day, and in the Prussian camp at Newmark every
one was occupied making fires.
"Let us get a great deal of wood," said a sprightly-looking, slender
young soldier, to his comrades; "our limbs must not be stiff to-day.
I think to-morrow all will go off bravely, and we will prepare a
strong soup for the Austrians."
"And instead of the noodles, we will send them cannon-balls," said a
comrade, standing near him. "But see here, brother, as we are not
going to fight this evening, I think we should make use of the time
and cook a soup for ourselves. When we have wood enough for a good
fire, we will set the kettle over it, and the best of pastimes will
be ready. Shall we do it, comrades? Every man a groschen, and
Charles Henry Buschman to cook the noodles."
"Yet, Buschman must cook the noodles; no one understands it so well
as he. Charles Henry Buschman! Where hides the fellow? He is
generally sticking to Fritz Kober, and they are chatting together as
if they were lovers. Buschman! Charles Henry Buschman! Where are
"Here I am!" cried a bright, fresh voice, and a slender youth,
belonging to Prince Henry's regiment, stepped forward and joined
them. "Who calls me?--what do you want?"
"We want you to cook noodles for us, Buschman; every man pays a
groschen, and eats to his heart's content. You shall have them for
nothing, because you prepare them."
"I will have nothing that I don't pay for," said Charles Henry,
proudly; "I can pay as well as the rest of you, and perhaps I have
more money than all of you; for while you are drinking, smoking, and
playing, I put my groschens aside for a rainy day."
"Yes, that is true; Buschman is the most orderly, the most
industrious of us all," said Fritz Kober, as he nodded lovingly to
his young friend. "He does not drink, or smoke, or play; and, I can
tell you, he sews like a woman. He mended a shirt for me to-day. A
ball had passed through it at Rossbach, making a hole in the left
sleeve. I tell you, the shirt looks as if a clever woman had mended
"Well, it is a pity he isn't one," said one of the soldiers, with a
merry laugh; "perhaps you have a sister at home, Henry, whom you
could give to Kober."
"No, comrade," said Charles Henry, sadly; "I have neither father,
mother, sister, nor brother. I am alone in the world, and have no
other friend but my comrade, Fritz Kober. Will you not give him to
me, comrades? Will you tease him because he is the friend of a poor,
young fellow, against whom you have nothing to say except that he is
just seventeen years old and has no heard and his voice a little
thin, not able to make as much noise as yourself? Promise me that
you will not laugh at Fritz again because he is kind to, and loves a
poor, forsaken boy. If you tease him, he will become desperate and
run off from me, and then, when I fall in battle, he will not close
my eyes as he has promised to do."
"I will never run away from you, darling brother," said Fritz Kober.
"We two shall stay together in camp and in battle. You have won me
with your soft, black eyes: they remind me of those of my good,
"Well, well, Fritz shall do as he pleases," said one of the boys;
"but enough with our chatting, let us seek the wood for our fire."
"Wood, wood, let us seek wood," cried all, gayly, and the happy
troop separated on all sides. Only Charles Henry remained to prepare
the fire. With busy haste he took the kettle, which the soldiers had
dragged near, ran to the neighboring market and bought a groschen
worth of lard to make the noodles savory, then hastened back to cut
the bacon and mix it with the noodles. Some of the soldiers returned
empty-handed--no wood was to be found; the soldiers, who had
searched before them, had taken it all.
"It would be horrible not to have noodles this evening," said Fritz
Kober, furiously. "Who knows but they may be the last we shall eat
in this world? The balls may take our heads off to-morrow, and we
never could eat Charles Henry's noodles again."
"What you can do to-day never put off until to-morrow," cried one of
the soldiers. "We must eat noodles to-day, and we must have wood,
even if we have to steal it from the devil's kitchen." And, as he
turned around, his eye fell upon a little hut which stood on the
other side of the camp. "Boys." he cried, gleefully, "do you see
"Certainly; that hut is the king's quarters."
"I am willing the king should occupy the hut; but it is covered with
wood, and he does not need that. Come, boys, we will have wood to
cook our noodles."
With a hurrah they started forward to the old forsaken shepherd's
hut in which the king had taken refuge. They climbed the rook as
nimbly as cats, and now the old boards cracked and groaned and flew
in every direction, and were received with shouts of joy by the
surrounding soldiers. Suddenly a guard officer stepped from the hut,
and saw with horror its destruction; he ordered the soldiers to lay
the boards as they had found them, and to go off at once. The
soldiers mocked at him, and continued at their work quietly.
"We are going to eat noodles," they said, "common noodles, of meal
and lard, that we may have the courage to swallow iron noodles to-
morrow. To cook noodles, we need wood. We find it here, and we shall
"What!" cried the officer, "I forbid it, and you refuse to obey?--
The four guards, who, until now, had walked quietly to and fro
before the hut, placed themselves at the door and shouldered arms.
"Fire at the first one who dares to touch another piece of wood,"
commanded the officer. But the wanton soldiers paid no attention to
this order; they regarded it as an empty threat.
"Fire," cried one, laughing, "fire is just what we want--without
fire, no noodles; and to make fire we must have wood."
"Whew! I have a big splinter in my finger," cried another soldier,
who was on the roof, and had just broken off a plank; "I must draw
it out and put it back, mustn't I, lieutenant?"
At this question the gay group broke into a loud laugh; but it was
interrupted by the angry words of the officer.
Suddenly a mild voice asked: "What is the matter?" At the first
sound of this voice the soldiers seemed dismayed; they stopped their
work, and their merry faces became earnest and thoughtful. Stiff and
motionless they remained on the roof awaiting their punishment; they
knew that voice only too well, they had heard it in the thunder of
battle. The king repeated his question. The officer approached him.
"Sire, these dragoons are tearing the roof from your majesty's
quarters, all my threats are useless; therefore I ordered the
"What do you want with the sentinels?" asked the king.
"To fire amongst them, if they do not desist."
"Have you tried kindness?" said the king, sternly; "do you think, on
the day before a battle, I have soldiers to spare, and you may shoot
them down because of a piece of wood?"
The officer murmured a few confused words; but the king paid no
attention to him; he looked up at the soldiers sitting stiff and
motionless upon the roof.
"Listen, dragoons," said the king; "if you take off my roof, the
snow will fall in my bed to-night, and you do not wish that, do
"No, we do not wish it, sire," said Fritz Kober, ashamed, slipping
softly from the roof; the others followed his example, and prepared
to be off, giving melancholy glances at the wood lying on the
ground. The king looked thoughtfully after them, and murmured,
softly, "Poor fellows, I have deprived them of a pleasure.--Halloo,
dragoons," he cried aloud, "listen!"
The soldiers looked back, frightened and trembling.
"Tell me," said the king. "what use were you going to make of the
"Cook noodles, sire," said Fritz Kober; "Henry Buschman promised to
cook noodles for us, and the bacon is already cut; but we have no
"Well, if the bacon is cut," said the king, smiling, "and if Henry
Buschman has promised to make the noodles, he must certainly keep
his word; take the wood away with you."
"Hurrah! long life to our king and to our good Fritz Kober," cried
the soldiers, and, collecting the wood, they hastened away.
The king stepped back, silently, into the small, low room of the
hut. Alone, there once more the smile disappeared, and his
countenance became sad and anxious. He confessed to himself what he
had never admitted to friend or confidant, that it was a daring and
most dangerous undertaking to meet the Austrian army of seventy
thousand with his thirty-three thousand men.
"And should I fail," said the king, thoughtfully, "and lead these
brave troops to their death without benefit to my country--should
they die an unknown death--should we be conquered, instead of
conquering! Oh, the fortune of battles lies in the hands of
Providence; the wisest disposition of troops, the most acute
calculations are brought to naught by seeming accident. Should I
expose my army to the fearful odds, should I hazard so many lives to
gratify my ambition and my pride? My generals say it will be wiser
not to attack, but to wait and be attacked. Oh, Winterfeldt,
Winterfeldt, were you but here, you would not advise this, not you!
Why have you been taken from me, my friend? Why have you left me
alone among my enemies? I can find, perhaps, resources against my
enemies, but I will never find another Winterfeldt." [Footnote: The
king's own words.--Retzow, vol. i.. p. 220.] The king leaned his
head upon his breast, and tears rolled down his cheeks.
"How solitary, how joyless life is! how rich I was once in friends,
how poor I am now! and who knows how much poorer I may be to-morrow
at this hour--who knows if I shall have a place to lay my head?--I
may be a fugitive, without home or country. Verily, I have the
destiny of Mithridates--I want only two sons and a Monima. Well,"
continued he, with a soft smile, "it is still something to stand
alone--misfortunes only strike home. But do I stand alone? have I
not an entire people looking to me and expecting me to do my duty?
Have I not brave soldiers, who call me father, looking death
courageously in the face and hazarding their lives for me? No, I am
not alone--and if Mithridates had two sons, I have thirty-three
thousand. I will go and bid them good-evening. I think it will
refresh my sad heart to hear their cheerful greetings."
The king threw on his mantle and left his quarters, to make, as he
was often accustomed to do, a tour through the camp. Only the
officer on guard followed him, at a short distance.
It was now dark, and fires, which were lighted everywhere, gave a
little protection against the biting cold. It was a beautiful sight-
-the wide plain, with its numberless, blazing, flickering fires,
surrounded by groups of cheerful soldiers, their fresh faces glowing
with the light of the flames. In the distance the moon rose grand
and full, illuminating the scene with its silver rays, and blending
its pale shimmer with the ruddy flames.
The king walked briskly through the camp, and, when recognized, the
soldiers greeted him with shouts and loving words. As he approached
a large fire, over which hung a big kettle, the contents of which
filled the air with savory odors, he heard a brisk voice say:
"Now, comrades, come and eat, the noodles are done!"
"Hurrah! here we are," cried the boys, who were standing not far
off, chatting merrily. They sprang forward joyfully, to eat the
The king, recognizing the soldiers who had uncovered his roof, drew
near to the fire.
"Shall I also come and eat with you?" he said, good-humoredly.
The soldiers looked up from the tin plates, in which the noodles
"Yes, sire," said Fritz Kober, jumping up and approaching the king;
"yes, you shall eat with us; here is my spoon and knife, and if you
reject it, and are only mocking us, I shall be very angry indeed."
The king laughed, and turning to the officer who had followed him,
said as if to excuse himself:
"I must really eat, or I shall make the man furious.--Give me your
spoon; but listen, I can tell you, if the noodles are not good, I
shall be angry." He took the plate and began to eat.
The soldiers all stopped, and looked eagerly at the king. When he
had swallowed the first bite, Fritz Kober could no longer restrain
"Well, sire," he said, triumphantly, "what do you say to it! Can't
Buschman prepare better noodles than your cleverest cook?"
"Verily," said the king, smiling, "he never cooked such noodles for
me, and I must say they are good, but, now I have had enough, and I
am much obliged to you."
He wished to return his plate to Fritz Kober, but Fritz shook his
"See here, your majesty, no one gets off from us with just a 'thank
you,' and you, least of all, sire; every one must pay his part."
"Well," said the king, "how much is my share?"
"It cost each of us three groschen; the king may pay what he
"Will you credit me, dragoon?" said the king, who searched his
pockets in vain for money.
"Oh! yes, your majesty, I will credit you, but only until tomorrow
morning, early; for, if a cannon-ball took my head off, I could not
dun your majesty, and you would be my debtor to all eternity."
"It would then be better to settle our accounts to-day," said the
king, and nodding to the soldiers, he left them.
The officer who had accompanied the king, returned in an hour to the
watch-fire of the dragoons, and handed five gold pieces to Fritz
Kober, which had been sent by the king to pay for his portion of the
noodles; then, without giving the surprised soldier time to thank
him, he withdrew.
Fritz looked long and thoughtfully at the gold pieces, which, in the
light of the flickering fire, shone beautifully in his hand.
"It is very well--very well that the king kept his word, and paid me
punctually to-night," said he to Charles Henry Buschman, who sat
near, and with his elbow resting on his knee, watched his friend
"And why so, Fritz?" said Charles.
"I will tell you, Charles Henry. If I fall to-morrow, I will have
something in my pocket that you will inherit from me. I declare to
you, no one but you alone shall be my heir; all that I have belongs
to you. Thunder and lightning! I am rich! it is better I should make
my testament; I don't know what may happen to me to-morrow. I have
neither pen nor paper; well, I will make it verbally! I will wake
some of my comrades, and they shall witness my last will and
testament." He reached over to the sleeping soldiers, who lay near
him on the ground, but Charles held him back.
"Let them sleep, friend," said he, pleadingly; "it is not necessary
you should have witnesses. God, and the moon, and a thousand stars
hear what we say to each other; and why speak of your will and your
fortune, friend? Do you think I would care for that miserable gold,
if you were no longer by my side? Do you think I would use it for
any other purpose than to buy your tombstone, and write on it in
"What? a tombstone!" said Fritz Kober, with an astonished look; "and
why would you place a tombstone over a poor, simple, unknown fellow
like myself, Charles Henry? Many gallant generals and officers fall
in battle; the earth drinks their blood, and no one knows where they
lie. And with golden letters, did you say, Charles? Well, I am
curious to know what you would place upon my tombstone."
"I will tell you, Fritz. I will write on your tombstone--'Here lies
Fritz Kober; the most faithful friend, the best soul, the most
honest heart; good and simple as a child, brave as a hero, constant
as a dove, and true as a hound.'"
"But am I all that?" said Fritz, amazed.
"Yes, you are all that!" said Charles, with a trembling voice. "You
have been more than this to me, and I will never forget it. I was a
poor, shrinking youth when I came to this camp; I knew nothing--
could do nothing. My comrades, who soon found me out, mocked and
complained of me, and played all manner of jokes upon me. They
ridiculed me, because I had no beard; they mimicked me, because my
voice was soft and unsteady; they asserted that I would make a
miserable soldier, because I grew deadly pale at parade. Who was it
took pity on me, and opposed themselves to my rude, unfeeling
companions? Who scolded and threatened to strike them, if they did
not allow me to go my own way, in peace and quiet? Who was patient
with my stupidity, and taught me how to go through with my military
duties creditably, and how to manage my horse? You! you, dear Fritz!
you alone. You were always at my side, when others threatened. You
were patient as a mother when she teaches her dear little boy his
letters, and looks kindly upon him, and is good to him, even when he
is dull and inattentive."
"Well," said Fritz Kober, thoughtfully, "one can do nothing better
than to be good to a man who deserves it, and who is himself so
kind, and pure, and brave, that a poor fellow like myself feels
ashamed, and looks down when the soft eyes are fixed upon him. I
tell you what, Charles Henry, there is a power in your eyes, and
they have subdued me. I think the angels in heaven have just such
eyes as yours, and when you look upon me so softly and kindly, my
heart bounds with delight. I have dreamed of your eyes, Charles
Henry; I have blushed in my sleep when I thought I had uttered a
coarse curse, and you looked upon me sorrowfully. I know you cannot
endure cursing, or drink, or even tobacco."
"My father was a poor schoolmaster," said Charles Henry; "we lived
quietly together, and he could not bear cursing. He used to say,
'When men cursed, it hurt God like the toothache.' He said--'God had
not made the corn to grow, that men might make brandy, but bread.'
We were too poor to buy beer and wine, so we drank water, and were
"Your father was right," said Fritz, thoughtfully. "I believe,
myself, corn was not intended to make brandy, and I don't care for
it; I will give it up altogether. If we live through this war, and
receive good bounty money, we will buy a few acres, and build us a
little house, and live together, and cultivate our land, and plant
corn; and, in the evening, when our work is done, we will sit on the
bench before the door, and you will relate some of your beautiful
little stories; and so we will live on together till we are old and
"But you have forgotten one thing, Fritz."
"What is that, Charles Henry?"
"You have forgotten that you will take a wife into your little
house, and she will soon cast me out."
"Let her try it!" cried Fritz, enraged, and doubling his flat
threateningly. "Let her try only to show the door to Charles Henry,
and I will shut her out, and she shall never return--never! But,"
said he, softly, "it is not necessary to think of this; I will never
take a wife. We will live together; we need no third person to make
strife between us."
Charles said nothing. He looked smilingly into the glowing fire, and
then at his comrade, with an amused but tender expression.
If Fritz had seen it, his heart would have bounded again, but he was
too much occupied then with his own thoughts to look up.
"Listen, Charles. If nothing comes of our little piece of ground and
our house--if my last ball comes to-morrow and carries me off--"
"Stop, stop, Fritz; I will hold my head so that the same ball will
carry it off!"
"If you do that, I will be very angry with you," cried Fritz. "You
are too young to die, and I will be glad even in my grave to know
that you are walking on the green earth. In order to do well, you
must have gold; therefore you must be my heir. If I fall, these
beautiful gold pieces belong to you; you shall not put a tombstone
over me. Buy yourself a few acres, Charles Henry, and when your corn
grows and blossoms, that shall be my monument."
Charles took his hand, and his eyes were filled with tears. "Speak
no more of death," said he, softly; "it makes my heart heavy, and I
shall lose my courage in the battle to-morrow when I think of all
you have said. Ugh! how cold it is! My soul feels frosted!"
"I will go and seek a little more wood," said Fritz, springing up,
"and make a good fire, and then you shall be warmed."
He hurried off, and Charles remained alone by the tire, looking
gravely on the glowing coals; he smiled from time to time, and then
he breathed heavily, as if oppressed by some weighty secret.
Suddenly he heard a voice behind him.
"Ah! I have found the fire again! Good-evening, children."
"Good-evening, sir king. Comrades, wake up; the king is here!"
"No, no; let your comrades sleep," said the king, softly. "The fire
will do me good. I found the right path to the fire, as I said Your
dragoons have uncovered my quarters, and the cold blasts of wind
whistle through them and freeze the water in my room. I prefer to
sit by the fire and warm myself." He was about to seat himself on
the straw near the fire, when a harsh voice called out:
"March on!--every lazy scamp wants a place by the fire, but not one
of them brings a splinter of wood."
Fritz Kober was behind them with the wood; he had found it with
great difficulty, and he was angry when he saw a strange soldier in
his place by the side of Charles Henry.
The king turned to him quietly.
"You are right, my son!--come on! I will make room for you."
"It is the king!" exclaimed Fritz, turning as if to fly. But the
king held him.
"Remain where you are, my son; you brought the wood, and you have
the best right. I only wish to warm myself a little, and I think
there is room for us all."
He seated himself upon the straw, and nodded to Fritz Kober to take
a seat by him. Fritz tremblingly obeyed, and Charles stirred the
fire, which flamed up beautifully.
King Frederick gazed at the flickering flames. Charles and Fritz sat
on each side of him, and watched him in respectful silence; around
the watch-fire lay the sleeping dragoons. After a long pause the
king raised his head and looked about him.
"Well, children, to-morrow will be a hot day, and we must strike the
"Yes, as we struck the French at Rossbach, your majesty," said
Fritz. "Mark me! it will go off bravely, and when we are done with
the Austrians we will march to Constantinople."
"What will we do in Constantinople?" said the king.
"Nothing, your majesty, but march there with you, whip the Turks,
and take all their gold!"
"Not quite so fast, my son."
"Why not, sir king? We have chopped up the French army; to-morrow we
will do the same for the Austrians; and then, why not whip the
The king smiled, and said: "Well, well, but first we must give the
Austrians a good drubbing."
"And, by my soul, we will do that," said Fritz, eagerly. "Your
majesty may believe me--I will march with you to the end of the
earth, and so will my friend Charles Buschman. If we have only a
little to eat, we will find water everywhere; so lead us where you
The king's eyes flashed: "By heaven! it is a pleasure to lead such
soldiers to battle!" Then turning, with a kindly expression, to
Fritz Kober, he said: "Can you write?"
"Not well, your majesty; but Charles Henry Buschman can write much
better than I. He is a scholar."
"Is that true?" said the king, gayly, to Charles.
"He will say 'No,' sir king; he cannot bear to be praised. But the
truth remains, the truth even when denied--Charles is the bravest
and wisest soldier in the army, and if there is justice in the world
he will be made an officer."
"You must get your commission first, Fritz," said Charles,
indifferently; "you earned it long ago, and if the king only knew
all that you did at Rossbach, you would have it now."
"What did he do?" said the king.
"Nothing, your majesty," said Fritz.
"Yes, your majesty," said Charles, zealously; "he hewed right and
left until the sparks flew in every direction. Our commander had
told us the disgusting Frenchmen wanted to take our winter quarters,
and even when Fritz Kober's sword was still whizzing among them,
they had the insolence to cry out, 'Quartier! quartier!'--then was
Fritz enraged, and cut them down like corn-stalks, and cried out,
'Yes, yes! I will give you quarters, but they will be underground!'"
"Only think," said Fritz, "they were flying before us, and the
impudent scamps, when we captured them, would still twit us with the
winter quarters they had intended to rob us of. How could I help
cutting them to pieces?"
"But he spared those who cried 'Pardon,' your majesty," said Charles
Henry, "he only took them prisoners. Nine prisoners did Fritz Kober
take at Rossbach." [Footnote: The Prussians had been told that the
Frenchmen intended to take possession of their winter quarters, and
this enraged them greatly. When the French cavalry were flying at
Rossbach, they used the German word quartier, thinking they would be
better understood. The Prussians looked upon this as an insolent
jest, and gave no quarter.--Nicolai's Characteristics and Anecdotes
] "I suppose the five prisoners you took were men of straw, that you
say nothing of them," cried Fritz.
The king looked well pleased from one to the other.
"It appears to me you are both brave soldiers, and the braver be
cause you do not boast of your deeds. Are you always such good
friends as to seek to do each other kindly service?"
"Your majesty, Charles Henry is my truest friend, and if you wish to
do me a service, make him an officer."
"But be says he will not be made an officer unless you are made one,
so there is nothing left for me to do but to promote both! If in the
battle to-morrow you fight like heroes, you shall both be made
officers. Now, children, be quiet, let me rest a little. I do not
want to sleep--cannot you tell me some little story, some pretty
little fairy tale to keep my heavy eyes from closing?"
"Charles knows many fairy tales, sir king, and if you command it he
must relate one."
"Oh, yes, your majesty, I know the history of a fairy who knew and
loved the brave son of a king, and when the prince went into battle
she transformed herself into a sword, that she might be always by
the side of him she loved."
"Tell me this pretty story, my son."
Charles Henry began to relate. Deep silence reigned about the camp.
Here and there a word was spoken in sleep, a loud snore, or the
neighing of a horse. The fires were burned down, and the coals
glowed like fire-flies upon the dark ground.
The moon stood over the camp and illuminated the strange and parti-
colored scene with her soft rays, and called out the most wonderful
contrasts of light and shade. Far, far away, in the dim distance,
one blood-red point could be seen; it looked like a crimson star in
the east. This was the camp-fire of the Austrians. This mighty army
was encamped behind Leuthen. The king gazed in that direction with
eager expectation, and listened with painful attention to every
The silence of death reigned there; no sound or voice was heard. The
king, being convinced of this, sank back once more upon the straw,
and listened to Charles Henry Buschman.
It was indeed a beautiful fairy tale; so wild and so fantastic that
Fritz listened with eyes extended and almost breathless to every
word. At last, as the handsome prince was drawing his last breath,
the lovely fairy sprang from his sword and brought the dead to life
with her warm kisses, Fritz was in an ecstasy of excitement, and
interrupted Charles by an outcry of rapture.
"This is a true story, sir king!" cried he, passionately; "every
word is true, and he who don't believe it is a puppy!"
"Well, well," said the king, "I believe every word, friend."
Charles Henry went on with his fairy tales; but, notwithstanding the
wonders he related, sleep at last overcame his friend! Fritz's eyes
closed, but he murmured in his sleep: "It is all true--all true!"
Charles Henry himself, wearied by the exertions of the last few
days, felt his eyelids to be as heavy as lead, his words came
slowly, then ceased altogether.
The king looked at his slumbering soldiers, then far away toward the
watch-fires of the Austrian camp.
Silence still reigned. The moon showed distant objects in the
clearest light, and nothing suspicious or alarming could be seen.
"It was false intelligence which was brought to me," said the king.
"It is not true that the Austrians are on the march and intend to
surprise me. They sleep!--we will not see them till tomorrow. I will
withdraw to my quarters."
King Frederick stepped slowly through the ranks of the sleepers, and
gave a sign to the officer and the four soldiers who had accompanied
him, but remained at a distance from the fire, to move lightly and
awaken no one.
THE BATTLE OF LEUTHEN.
Early the next morning the king left his tent. The generals were
anxiously awaiting him. His countenance glowed with energy and
determination, and his brilliant eyes flashed with a sparkling
light. Inspired by the appearance of their hero, the clouded brows
of the assembled generals became clearer. They felt that his lofty
brow was illumined by genius, and that the laurels which crowned it
could never fade. They were now confident, courageous, ready for the
battle, and, although they had at first disapproved of the king's
plan of attacking the enemy who had twice overcome them, now that he
was in their midst they felt secure of success.
Spies reported that the Austrian army had left their camp at sunrise
and advanced toward Leuthen; they spoke much and loudly of the
strength of the enemy, and of the eagerness of the soldiers to fall
upon the weak Prussian army.
At a sign from the king, Seidlitz approached him, and informed him
of the latest rumors.
"It is a fearful army we are to attack," said Seidlitz; "more than
twice our number."
"I am aware of the strength of the enemy," said the king, quietly,
"but nothing is left for me but victory or death. Were they
stationed upon the church-tower of Breslau I would attack them."
Then approaching the other generals, he continued in a loud voice:
"You are aware, gentlemen, that Prince Charles, of Lothringen,
succeeded in taking Schweidnitz, defeating the Duke of Bevern, and
has made himself master of Breslau, while I was protecting Berlin
from the French army. The capital of Silesia, and all the munitions
of war stowed there, have been lost. All these circumstances are
calculated to distress me deeply, had I not a boundless confidence
in your courage, your resolution, and your devoted love to your
country. There is, I think, not one among us who has not been
distinguished for some great, some noble deed. I feel assured that
your courage will not now fail in this hour of direst need. I would
feel as if I had accomplished nothing were I to leave Silesia in the
possession of the Austrians. Against all acknowledged rules of war,
I am determined to attack the army of Charles of Lothringen, though
it is three times as strong as my own. Notwithstanding the number of
the enemy, or its advantageous position, I feel confident of
success. This step must be taken, or all is lost! We must defeat the
Austrians, or fall beneath their batteries! This is my opinion, and
thus I shall act. Make my determination known to every officer.
Acquaint the soldiers with the events that will soon occur--tell
them that I require unconditional obedience! Remember that you are
Prussians!--do not show yourselves unworthy of the name! But should
there be any among you who fear to share these dangers with us, they
can leave at once, and shall not be reproached by me."
The king ceased speaking, and looked inquiringly at his listeners.
Upon every countenance he read determination, courage, and
inspiration, but here and there were some whose brows became clouded
at the king's last suggestion, and tears were sparkling in old
General Rohr's eyes. The king pressed the general's hand almost
"Ah, my dear friend," said he, "I did not suspect you. But I again
say, that if any amongst you wishes leave of absence, he shall have
Profound quiet followed these words. No one approached the king--no
sound disturbed the solemn stillness. At a distance, the loud shouts
and hurrahs of the soldiers, preparing for battle, could be heard.
The king's countenance became clear, and he continued with
"I knew beforehand that none of you would leave me. I counted upon
your assistance; with it, I shall be victorious. Should I fall in
this battle, you must look to your country for reward; and now, away
to the camp, and repeat to your men what I have said to you.
Farewell, gentlemen, before long we will either have defeated the
enemy, or we will see one another no more."
And now there arose from the generals and officers loud, joyous
"We will conquer or die!" cried Seidlitz, whose daring, youthful
countenance sparkled with delight. "We will conquer or die!" was
repeated by all.
At last the brave words reached the camp, and were re-echoed by
thirty thousand lusty throats. There was universal joy. Old gray-
headed warriors, who had followed the king into many battles, who
had conquered repeatedly with him, shook hands with and encouraged
each other, and warned the younger soldiers to be brave and
Resting upon his horse, the king had been a joyful witness to all
this enthusiasm. At this moment, a troop of soldiers, numbering
about fifty, approached him. The commanding officer was greeted with
a kindly smile.
"You are Lieutenant von Frankenberg?" said the king. And as the
lieutenant bowed in answer, he continued: "General Kleist has spoken
of you as being a brave and trustworthy officer. I have therefore a
strange commission for you. Listen well! do not lose a word of what
I say. Come nearer. And now," said the king, in a low voice, "be
attentive. In the approaching battle, I will have to expose myself
more than usual; you and your fifty men shall guard me. You must
watch over me, and be careful that I fall not into the hands of the
enemy. Should I fall, cover my body with your mantle, and carry me
to the wagon, which shall be stationed behind the first battalion.
Leave me there, and tell no one of what has occurred. The battle
must continue--the enemy must be defeated."
When the king had thus made his testament, he dismissed the
lieutenant, and advanced toward his body-guard.
"Good-morning!" cried the king, cheerfully.
"Good-morning, father!" was the universal answer. Then the old
graybeards, standing beside the king, said again:
"Good-morning, father! it is very cold to-day."
"It will be warm enough before the day is over, boys!" said the
king. "There is much to be done. Be brave, my children, and I will
care for you as a father."
An old soldier, with silver hair, and the scars of many wounds upon
his face, approached the king.
"Your majesty," said he, in an earnest voice, "if we are crippled
what will become of us?"
"You shall be taken care of," said the king.
"Will your majesty give me your hand upon this promise?"
This question was followed by deep silence. All present were gazing
anxiously at the king and the old guard. The king advanced, and laid
his hand in that of the old soldier.
"I swear, that any of you who are crippled, shall be taken care of."
The old warrior turned with tearful eyes to his comrades.
"Well," said he, "you hear him? he is and will continue to be the
King of Prussia and our father. The one who deserts is a rascal."
"Long live our Fritz!" and throughout the whole camp resounded the
cry--"Long live our Fritz! Long live our king!"
"Onward! onward!" was the cry, for at the end of the plain the enemy
could be seen approaching.
"Forward!" cried the soldiers, falling one by one into their places,
as the king, followed by Lieutenant Frankenberg and his men,
galloped past them.
A turn in the road showed the Prussians the enormous size of the
enemy's army. Silence prevailed for a few moments. Suddenly, here
and there a voice could be heard singing a battle-hymn, and soon,
accompanied by the band, the whole army was breathing out in song an
earnest prayer to God.
A guard, approaching the king, said:
"Is it your majesty's desire that the soldiers should cease
The king shook his head angrily.
"No!" said he, "let them alone. With such an army, God can but give
Nearer and nearer came the enemy, covering the plain with their
numbers, and gazing with amazement at the little army that dared to
oppose them. By the Austrian generals, smiling so contemptuously
upon their weak opponents, one thing had been forgotten. The
Austrians, confident of success, were not in the least enthusiastic;
the Prussians, aware of their danger, and inspired by love for their
king, had nerved themselves to the contest. The armies now stood
before each other in battle array. The king was at the front, the
generals were flying here and there, delivering their orders. In
obedience to these orders, the army suddenly changed its position,
and so strange, so unsuspected was the change, that General Daun,
turning to the Prince Lothringen, said:
"The Prussians are retreating! we will not attack them."
Certain of this fact, they were off their guard, and disorder
reigned in their camp. This security was suddenly changed to terror.
They saw the Prussians rapidly approaching, threatening at once both
wings of their army. Messenger upon messenger was sent, imploring
help from General Daun and Charles of Lothringen. The Prussians were
upon them, felling them to the earth, regardless of danger
regardless of the numerous cannon which were playing upon them.
Daun, with a part of his command, hurried to the aid of General
Luchesi, but he was too late; Luchesi had fallen, and terror and
disorder were rapidly spreading in the right wing, while from the
left, Nadasky had already dispatched ten messengers, imploring
assistance from Charles of Lothringen. In doubt as to which most
needed help, he at last determined upon the right wing, whose ranks
were thinning rapidly; he sent them aid, and took no notice of
Nadasky's messengers. And now the Prussians fell upon the left wing
of the Austrians. This attack was made with fury, and the Austrians
retreated in wild disorder. It was in vain that other regiments came
to their aid; they had no time to arrange themselves before they
were forced back. They stumbled upon one another, the flying
overtaking and trampling upon the flying. Again and again the
imperial guards endeavored to place themselves in line of battle;
they were at once overpowered by the Prussian cavalry, who,
intoxicated with victory, threw themselves upon them with demoniac
strength. Yes, intoxicated--mad with victory, were these Prussians.
With perfect indifference they saw their friends, their comrades,
fall beside them; they did not mourn over them, but revenged their
death tenfold upon the enemy. Those even who fell were inspired by
enthusiasm and courage. Forgetful of their wounds, of their torn and
broken limbs, they gazed with joy and pride at their comrades,
joining in their shouts and hurrahs, until death sealed their lips.
A Prussian grenadier, whose left leg had been shot off in the early
part of the battle, raised himself from the ground: using his gun as
a crutch, he dragged himself to a spot which the army had to pass,
and cried to the comrades who were looking pityingly upon his
bleeding limb: "Fight like brave Prussians, brothers! Conquer or die
for your king!"
Another grenadier, who had lost both legs, lay upon the ground
weltering in his blood, quietly smoking his pipe. An Austrian
general galloping by held in his horse and looked in amazement at
the soldier. "How is it possible, comrade," said he, "that in your
fearful condition you can smoke? Death is near to you."
Taking the pipe from his mouth, the grenadier answered with white,
trembling lips: "Well, and what of it? Do I not die for my king?"
Where the danger was the greatest, there was the king encouraging
his soldiers. When a column was seen to reel, there was Frederick in
their midst inspiring new courage by his presence. The king was the
soul of his army, and as his soul was sans peur et sans reproche,
the army was victorious. Napoleon, speaking of this battle, says:
"Cette bataille de Leuthen est propre a immortaliser le caractere
moral de Frederic, et met a jour ses grands talents militaires." And
somewhat later, he says: "Cette bataille etait un chef d'oeuvre de
mouvements, de manoeuvres, et de resolution, seul elle suffirait
pour immortaliser Frederic, et lui donne un rang parmi les plus
The victory was gained. The defeated Austrians fled in haste,
leaving a hundred cannon, fifty banners, and more than twenty
thousand prisoners in the hands of the Prussians; while upon the
battle-field six thousand of their dead and wounded were lying, with
but two thousand dead and wounded Prussians. The victory belonged to
Prussia. They had all distinguished themselves; the king and every
common soldier had done his duty. Frederick, accompanied by his
staff, to which Lieutenant Frankenberg and his fifty men did not now
belong, passed the bloody, smoking battle-field. His countenance was
sparkling with joy--his eyes shone like stars. He seemed looking for
some one to whom to open his grateful heart.
He who had given most assistance in the battle was Prince Moritz von
Dessau, whom at the battle of Collin the king had threatened with
his sword, and with whom he had ever since been angry because his
prophecy proved true. But there was no anger now in the king's
heart; and as he had, in the presence of all his staff, threatened
the prince, he wished also in their presence to thank and reward
him. The prince was at a slight distance from him, so busily engaged
in giving orders that he did not perceive the king until he was
quite close to him.
"I congratulate you upon this victory," said the king, in a loud
voice--"I congratulate you, field-marshal."
The prince bowed in a silent, absent manner, and continued to give
The king, raising his voice, said: "Do you not hear, field-marshal?
I congratulate you!"
The prince looked hastily at the king. "How? Your majesty," said he,
doubtfully, "has appointed me--"
"My field-marshal," said the king, interrupting him. "And well have
you deserved this promotion; you have assisted me in this battle as
I have never before been assisted." He grasped the prince's hand and
pressed it tenderly, and there were tears of emotion not only in the
eyes of the new field-marshal, but also in those of the king.
A fearful day's work was finished--how fearful, could be seen by the
wounded, the dying lying pell-mell upon the battle-field amidst the
dead, too exhausted to move. But the day had passed. The cries and
shouts of the flying enemy had now ceased--the victory, the battle-
field, belonged to the Prussians. What was now most needed by them
was an hour's rest. Above the bloody battle-field, above the dying,
the sleeping, the groaning, the sighing, now rose the moon grandly,
solemnly, as if to console the dead and to lead the living to raise
their grateful prayers to heaven. And grateful praise ascended above
that night--thanks for the preservation of their own and their
friends' lives--thanks for their hero's victory. Side by side,
whispering in low tones, lay the soldiers--for the hour seemed to
all too solemn to be broken by any loud sound.
No hearts were so full of gratitude and joy as those of Charles
Henry Buschman and Fritz Kober. In the pressure of the battle they
had been separated and had not again met during the engagement. In
vain they had sought and called upon one another, and each one
thought of the fearful possibility that the other had fallen. At
last they stumbled upon each other. With shouts of joy they rushed
into each other's arms.
"You are not wounded, Fritz Kober?" said Charles Henry, with a
"I am unharmed; but you, my friend?"
"Only a little cut in the hand, nothing more. How many prisoners did
"Seven, Charles Henry."
"You will be promoted! You will be an officer!"
"Not unless you are also. How many prisoners did you take?"
"I am not sure, Fritz; I think there were nine. But the captain will
"We will both be promoted, the king promised it, and now I am
willing to accept it."
"But what is this to us now, my friend?" said Charles Henry; "we
have found one another, and I am indifferent to all else."
"You are right, Charles Henry; this has been a fearful, a terrible
day. My knees tremble beneath me--let us rest a while."
He laid himself upon the ground. Charles Henry knelt beside him,
laying one hand upon his shoulder, and looked at the starry sky; a
holy smile glorified his countenance. As he gazed at the moon,
tender feelings were at work in his heart. He thought of his distant
home--of the graves of his loved parents, upon which the moon was
now shining as brightly as upon this bloody battle-field. He thought
how kind and merciful God had been to preserve his friend, his only
consolation, the one joy of his weary, lonesome life. The solemn
stillness by which he was surrounded, the bright moon, light which
illuminated the battle-field, the thought of the hard struggle of
the past day, all acted strongly upon his feelings. The brave,
daring soldier, Charles Henry Buschman, was once more transformed
into the gentle, soft-hearted Anna Sophia Detzloff; now, when danger
was past, she felt herself a weak, trembling woman. Deep,
inexpressible emotion, earnest prayers to God, were busy in Anna
Kneeling upon the ground, resting on her friend, she raised her eyes
heavenward, and commenced singing in an earnest, impassioned tone
that glorious hymn, "Thanks unto God!" Fritz Kober, actuated by the
same feelings, joined in the hymn, and here and there a comrade lent
his voice to swell the anthem; it became stronger, louder, until at
last, like a mighty stream, it passed over the battle-field,
knocking at every heart, and urging it to prayer, finding everywhere
an open ear.
The moon stood smiling above the battle-field, upon which eight
thousand dead and wounded men were lying. Even the wounded, who a
short time before filled the air with groans of pain and agony,
raised themselves to join in the song of praise which was now sung,
not by a hundred, not by a thousand, but by thirty thousand
soldiers, thirty thousand heroes, who, after that bloody day had
earned the right to sing "Thanks unto God."
WINTER QUARTERS IN BRESLAU.
Faint and exhausted, the king had withdrawn to his room; he was
alone. To-day was the twenty-fourth of January, Frederick's
birthday, and, although he had forbidden all congratulations, he
could not avoid receiving the highest tribunals of Breslau, and also
a few deputations of the citizens of this reconquered city. These
visits wearied the king; he was grave and out of spirits. Once more
alone, he could indulge in the sad memories that came over him
involuntarily and forcibly. For here in Breslau he had lately
experienced a bitter disappointment; every thing in the castle
reminded him of the treacherous friend whom he bad loved so dearly,
and who had so shamefully betrayed him.
The king was now thinking of the Bishop von Schaffgotsch. An
expression of painful gloom clouded his face, he felt solitary and
deserted; the cold, silent room chilled his heart, and the snow
blown against the window by the howling winds, oppressed him
strangely. He was more dejected and anxious than he had ever felt
before a battle.
"The marquis cannot travel in such weather," he said, sighing, "and
my musicians will be careful not to trust themselves upon the
highway; they will imagine the snow has blocked up the way, and that
it is impossible to come through. They will remain in Berlin, caring
but little that I am counting the weary hours until they arrive.
Yes, yes, this is an example of the almighty power of a king; a few
snow-flakes are sufficient to set his commands aside, and the king
remains but an impotent child of the dust. Of what avail is it that
I have conquered the Austrians and the French? I have sown dragons'
teeth from which new enemies will arise, new battles, perhaps new
defeats. What have I gained by consecrating my heart to my friends?
They are but serpents--I have nourished them in my breast, and they
will sting when I least suspect them. Even those whom I still trust,
forsake me now when I most need them!"
The wild storm increased, and blew a cloud of snow-flakes against
the window, and the wind whistled mournfully in the chimney.
"No," murmured the king, "D'Argens will certainly not come; he will
remain quietly in his beloved bed, and from there write me a
touching epistle concerning the bonds of friendship. I know that
when feeling does not flow from the hearts of men, it flows
eloquently from ink as a pitiful compensation. But," he continued
after a pause, "this is all folly! Solitude makes a dreamer of me--I
am sighing for my friends as a lover sighs for his sweetheart! Am I
then so entirely alone? Have I not my books? Come, Lucretius, thou
friend in good and evil days; thou sage, thou who hast never left me
without counsel and consolation! Come and cheer thy pupil--teach him
how to laugh at this pitiful world as it deserves!"
Taking Lucretius from the table, and stretching himself upon the
sofa, he commenced reading. Deep stillness surrounded him. Bells
were ringing in the distance in honor of the royal birthday. The
Breslauers, who had so shortly before joyfully welcomed the
conquering Austrians, now desired to convince the King of Prussia
that they were his zealous subjects. The evening of the kingly
birthday they wished to show the joy of their hearts by a brilliant
The king still read, and became so absorbed that he did not hear the
door gently opened. The tall, slender form of the Marquis d'Argens
appeared at the threshold. Overcome with joyful emotions, he
remained standing, and gazing with clouded eyes at the king.
Composing himself, he closed the door softly behind him and
"Sire, will you forgive me for entering unannounced?"
The king sprang from his seat and held out both his hands. "Welcome,
welcome! I thank you for coming."
The marquis could not reply; he pressed his lips silently upon the
king's hands. "My God," he said, in a trembling voice, "how my heart
has longed for this happy moment--how many offerings I have vowed to
Heaven if allowed to see the king once more."
"You did not win Heaven by promises alone, friend, but you have
offered up a victim. You have left that precious bed which you have
occupied for the past eight months--you have gained a victory over
yourself which is of more value than many victories."
"Ah, your majesty," cried the marquis, whose black eyes were again
sparkling with mirth, "I now feel that my poor heart spoke the truth
when it declared that you were ever by its side. We have really not
been separated, and your majesty begins with me to-day where you
left off but yesterday. You laugh now as then at me, and my poor
bed, which has heard for more than a year past only my sighs and
prayers for your majesty's success. It was not difficult for me to
leave it and to obey the summons of my king. If you think this
conquest over myself worth more than a victory over our enemies, how
lightly the hero of Rosbach and Leuthen regards victories!"
"Not so, marquis; but you know what the renowned King of the Hebrews
said--that wise king who rejoiced in a thousand wives: 'He who
conquers himself is greater than he who taketh a city.' You,
marquis, are this rare self-conqueror, and you shall be rewarded
right royally. I have had rooms prepared as warm and comfortable as
the marquise herself could have arranged for you. The windows are
stuffed with cotton, furs are lying before the stove, cap and foot-
muff, so your faithful La Pierre may wrap and bundle you up to your
heart's content. Not a breath of air shall annoy you, and all your
necessities shall be provided for with as much reverence as if you
were the holy fire in the temple of Vesta, and I the priestess that
The marquis laughed heartily. "Should the fire ever burn low and the
flame pale, I beg my exalted priestess to cast her burning glance
upon me, and thus renew my heat. Sire, allow me, before all other
things, to offer my congratulations. May Heaven bless this day which
rose like a star of hope upon all who love the great, the beautiful,
the exalted, and the--"
"Enough, enough," cried Frederick; "if you begin in this way, I
shall fly from you; I shall believe you are one of those stupid
deputations with which etiquette greets the king. In this room,
friend, there is no king, and when we are here alone we are two
simple friends, taking each other warmly by the hand and
congratulating ourselves upon having lived through another weary
year, and having the courage bravely to meet the years that remain.
Should you still desire to add a wish to this, marquis, pray that
the war fever which has seized ail Europe, may disappear--that the
triumvirate of France, Russia, and Austria, may be vanquished--that
the tyrants of this universe may not succeed in binding the whole
world in the chains they have prepared for it."
"Your majesty will know how to obtain this result--to break this
chain--and if they will not yield willingly, the hero of Rossbach
and Leuthen will know how to crush them in his just rage."
"God grant it!" sighed the king; "I long for peace, although my
enemies say I am the evil genius that brings discord and strife into
the world. They say that if Frederick of Prussia did not exist, the
entire world would be a paradise of peace and love. I could say to
them, as Demosthenes said to the Athenians: 'If Philip were dead,
what would it signify? You would soon make another Philip.' I say to
the Austrians: 'Your ambition, your desire for universal reign,
would soon rouse other enemies. The liberties of Germany, and indeed
of all Europe, will always find defenders.' We will speak no more of
these sad themes; they belong to the past and the future. Let us try
to forget, friend, that we are in winter quarters at Breslau, and
imagine ourselves to be at our dear Sans-Souci."
"In our beautiful convent," said the marquis, "whose abbot has so
long been absent, and whose monks are scattered to the four winds."
"It is true," sighed the king, gloomily, "widely scattered; and when
the abbot returns to Sans-Souci, every thing will be changed and
lonely. Oh, marquis, how much I have lost since we parted!"
"How much you have gained, sire! how many new laurels crown your
"You speak of my victories," said the king, shaking his head; "but
believe me, my heart has suffered defeats from which it will never
recover. I am not speaking of the death of my mother--although that
is a wound that will never heal; that came from the hand of
Providence; against its decrees no man dare murmur. I speak of more
bitter, more cruel defeats, occasioned by the ingratitude and
baseness of men."
"Your majesty still thinks of the unworthy Abbot of Prades," said
"No, marquis; that hurt, I confess. I liked him, but I never loved
him--he was not my friend, his treachery grieved but did not
surprise me. I knew he was weak. He sold me! Finding himself in my
camp, he made use of his opportunity and betrayed to the enemy all
that came to his knowledge. He had a small soul, and upon such men
you cannot count. But from another source I received a great wrong--
this lies like iron upon my heart, and hardens it. I loved Bishop
Schaffgotsch, marquis; I called him friend; I gave him proof of my
friendship. I had a right to depend on his faithfulness, and believe
in a friendship he had so often confirmed by oaths. My love, at
least was unselfish, and deserved not to be betrayed. But he was
false in the hour of danger, like Peter who betrayed his Master. The
Austrians had scarcely entered Breslau, when he not only denied me,
but went further--he trampled upon the orders of my house, and held
a Te Deum in the dome in honor of the Austrian victory at Collin."
The king ceased and turned away, that the marquis might not see the
tears that clouded his eyes.
"Sire," cried the marquis, deeply moved, "forget the ingratitude of
these weak souls, who were unworthy of a hero's friendship."
"I will; but enough of this. You are here, and I still believe in
you, marquis. You and the good Lord Marshal are the only friends
left me to lean upon when the baseness of men makes my heart fail."
"These friends will never fail you, sire," said the marquis, deeply
moved; "your virtues and your love made them strong."
The king took his hand affectionately. "Let us forget the past,"
said he, gayly; "and as we both, in our weak hours, consider
ourselves poets, let us dream that we are in my library in our
beloved Sans-Souci. We will devote this holy time of peace to our
studies, for that is, without doubt, the best use we can make of it.
You shall see a flood of verses with which I amused myself in camp,
and some epigrams written against my enemies."
"But if we were even now in Sans-Souci, sire, I do not think you
would give this hour to books. I dare assert you would be practising
with Quantz, and preparing for the evening concerts."
"Yes, yes; but here we are denied that happiness," said the king,
sadly. "I have written for a part of my band, and they will be here
I hope in eight days; but Graun and Quantz will certainly not--" The
king paused and listened attentively. It seemed to him as if he
heard the sound of a violin in the adjoining room, accompanied by
the light tones of a flute. Yes, it was indeed so; some one was
tuning a violin and the soft sound of the flute mingled with the
violoncello. A flush of rosy joy lighted the king's face--he cast a
questioning glance upon the marquis, who nodded smilingly. With a
joyful cry the king crossed the room--an expression of glad surprise
burst from his lips.
There they were, the loved companions of his evening concerts. There
was Graun, with his soft, dreamy, artistic face; there was Quantz,
with his silent, discontented look--whose grumbling, even Frederick
was compelled to respect; there was the young Fasch, whom the king
had just engaged, and who played the violoncello in the evening
As the king advanced to meet them, they greeted him loudly. "Long
live our king!--our great Frederick!" Even Quantz forgot himself for
a moment, and laughed good-humoredly.
"Listen, sire; it will be a mortal sin if you scold us for coming to
you without being summoned by your majesty. This is through--out all
Prussia a festal day, and no one should desecrate it by scolding or
fault-finding--not even the king."
"Oh, I am not disposed to scold," said Frederick, in low tones; he
did not wish them to hear how his voice trembled--"I do not scold--I
thank you heartily."
"We had nothing better to send your majesty on your birthday than
our unworthy selves," said Graun; "we come, therefore, to lay
ourselves at our king's feet, and say to him: 'Accept our hearts,
and do not spurn the gift.' A warm, human heart is the richest gift
one man can offer another. Your majesty is a great king, and a good
and great man, and we dare approach you, therefore, as man to man."
"And my Graun is so renowned a composer, that any man must count it
an honor to be beloved by him," said Frederick, tenderly.
"For myself," said Quantz, gravely, handing the king a small roll
carefully wrapped up, "I have brought something more than my naked
heart in honor of my king's birthday. I pray your majesty to accept
it graciously." [Footnote: Pocus, "Frederick the Great and his
The king opened it hastily. "A flute!" cried he, joyfully, "and a
flute made for me by the great master Quantz, I am sure."
"Yes, your majesty; all the time you were in the field, I have
worked upon it. As the courier brought the news of the battle of
Leuthen, all Berlin shouted for joy, and the banners floated in
every street and at every window. Then this flute broke its silence
for the first time--its first music was a hosanna to our great
"From this time forth," said Frederick, "let no man dare to say that
battles are in vain. The bloody field of Leuthen produced a flute
from Quantz; and by Heaven, that is a greater rarity than the most
complete victory in these warlike days!"
"Sire," said the marquis, drawing some letters from his pocket, "I
have also some gifts to offer. This is a letter from Algarotti, and
a small box of Italian snuff, which he begs to add as an evidence of
his rejoicing in your victories. [Footnote: Ibid.] Here is a letter
from Voltaire, and one from Lord Marshal."
"From all my distant friends--they have all thought of me," said
Frederick, as he took the letters.
"But I have no time to read letters now; we will have music, and if
agreeable to you, messieurs, we will practise a quartet which I
composed during my solitude these last few days."
"Let us try it," said Quantz, carelessly opening the piano.
Frederick went to his room to seek his note-book, and place his
letters upon the table, but, before he returned, he called the
marquis to him.
"D'Argens," said he, "may I not thank you for this agreeable
"Yes, sire, I proposed it, and took the responsibility upon myself.
If your majesty is displeased, I am the only culprit!"
"And why have you made yourself the postilion, and brought me all
these letters, marquis?"
"I will tell you, marquis," said Frederick, with a loving glance,
and laying his hand upon D'Argens' shoulder; "you did this, because
you knew my poor heart had received a deep wound, and you wished to
heal it. You wished to surround me with many friends, and make me
forget the one who fails, and who betrayed me. I thank you, marquis!
Yours is a great heart, and I believe your balsam has magic in it. I
thank you for this hour, it has done me good; and though the world
may succeed in poisoning my heart, I will never--never distrust you;
I will never forget this hour!"
"And now, messieurs," said Frederick, as he returned to the
musicians, "we will take our parts, and you, Quantz, take your place
at the piano."
The concert began. Frederick stood behind the piano, at which Quantz
sat; Graun and Fasch had withdrawn to the window, in order to enjoy
the music, as Frederick was first to play a solo on his flute, with
a simple piano accompaniment.
The king played artistically, and with a rare enthusiasm. The
marquis was in ecstasy, and Graun uttered a few low bravos.
Suddenly, all the musicians shuddered, and Quantz was heard to
mutter angrily. The king had committed a great fault in his
composition--a fault against the severest rules of art. He played
on, however, quietly, and said, when he had completed the page--"Da
capo!" and recommenced. Again came the false notes, frightful to the
ears of musicians. And now Graun and Fasch could not keep time. The
king held his breath.
"Go on, Quantz," said he, zealously, placing the flute again to his
Quantz cast a sullen look at him.
"As your majesty pleases," said he, and he played so fiercely that
Graun and Fasch shivered, and Quantz himself whistled to drown the
discord. The unlearned marquis looked in blessed ignorance upon his
royal friend, and the beautiful music brought tears to his eyes.
When the piece was ended, the king said to Quantz:
"Do you find this text false?"
"Yes, your majesty, it is false!"
"And you two also believe it false?"
"Yes, your majesty, it is false!" said Graun and Fasch.
"But, if the composer will have it so?"
"It is still false!" said Quantz, sullenly.
"But if it pleases me, and I think it melodious?"
"Your majesty can never find it so," said Quantz, angrily. "The
notes are false, and what is false can never please your majesty."
"Well, well!" said the king, good-humoredly; "don't be quite so
angry! it is, after all, not a lost battle! [Footnote: The king's
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