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185 On the 26th of May the Crown Prince received an express informing him that his father was dying, and that he must hasten to Potsdam with the utmost speed if he would ever again see him alive. Reinsberg was about thirty miles north from Potsdam. It took the courier some hours to reach the place. Frederick, with emotions not easily imagined, started before the dawn of the morning, followed by a train of attendants, to hasten to the death-bed of his father, and to receive the kingly crown of Prussia. England furnished him with a subsidy of about four million dollars. He immediately melted this coin, gold and silver, and adulterated it with about half copper, thus converting his four476 millions into nominally eight millions. But a few weeks of such operations as he was engaged in would swallow up all this. The merciless conscription, grasping nearly every able-bodied man, destroyed nearly all the arts of industry. The Prussian realms, thus impoverished by wars ravages and taxation, could furnish the king with very meagre supplies. When the king invaded any portion of the territory of the allies, he wrenched from the beggared people every piece of money which violence or terror could extort. Wealthy merchants were thrown into prison, and fed upon bread and water until they yielded. The most terrible severities were practiced to extort contributions from towns which had been stripped and stripped again. Still violence could wrench but little from the skinny hand of beggary. These provinces, swept by wars surges year after year, were in the most deplorable state of destitution and misery.

While Frederick William was confined to his room, tormented by the gout, he endeavored to beguile the hours in painting in oil. Some of these paintings still exist, with the epigraph, Painted by Frederick William in his torments. Wilhelmina writes:

The distinguished philosopher Maupertuis accompanied Frederick264 on this campaign. Following the king to the vicinity of the field of battle, he took a post of observation at a safe distance, that he might witness the spectacle. Carlyle, in his peculiar style of word-painting, describes the issue as follows:

The king, in utter exhaustion from hunger, sleeplessness, anxiety, and misery, for a moment lost all self-control. As with his little band of fugitives he vanished into the gloom of the night, not knowing where to go, he exclaimed, in the bitterness of his despair, O my God, my God, this is too much!

400 This polite address put an end to all anger; and, as the singular manner of the man excited my curiosity, I took advantage of the invitation. We sat down and began to speak confidentially with one another.

At the bridges Frederick found but three thousand men of his late army. The huts around were filled with the wounded and the dying, presenting an aspect of misery which, in these hours of terrible defeat, appalled his majesty. In one of these huts, surrounded by mutilated bodies, groans, and death, Frederick wrote the following dispatch to his minister (Finckenstein) at Berlin. It was dated Oetscher, August 12, 1759:

And what aim has the king? If it is to assure himself of me, that is not the way. Madam of Eisenach might do it, but a fool not. On the contrary, it is morally impossible to love the cause of our misery. The king is reasonable, and I am persuaded he will understand this himself.

On the 19th of December the king wrote, from the vicinity of Glogau, to M. Jordan. Perhaps he would not so frankly have revealed his ambition and his want of principle had he supposed that the private letter would be exposed to the perusal of the whole civilized world.

545 These Russian encroachments upon the Turk, said Kaunitz, are dangerous to the repose of Europe. His imperial majesty can never consent that Russia should possess the provinces of Moldavia and Wallachia. He will much rather go to war. These views of Russia are infinitely dangerous to every body. They are as dangerous to your majesty as to others. I can conceive of no remedy against them but this. Prussia and Austria must join frankly in protest and absolute prohibition of them.

Alive to it, he? Yes, with a witness, were there hope in the world! which threw G?rtz upon instant gallop toward Zweibrück Schloss in search of said heir, the young Duke August Christian; who, however, had left in the interim (summoned by his uncle, on Austrian urgency, to consent along with him), but whom G?rtz, by dexterity and intuition of symptoms, caught up by the road, with what a mutual joy! As had been expected, August Christian, on sight of G?rtz, with an armed Frederick looming in the distance, took at once into new courses and activities. From him no consent now; far other: treaty with Frederick; flat refusal ever to consent: application to the Reich, application even to France, and whatever a gallant young fellow could do.