A glance which I gave that way filled me with terror. There sat the queen, in a corner of the room, paler than death, in low conference with Madam Sonsfeld and Countess Finckenstein. As my brother was most in my anxieties, I asked if it concerned him. Madam Bulow shrugged her shoulders, answering, I do not know at all. THE RECONCILIATION.

I represented to him that perhaps it was not altogether prudent to print his Anti-Machiavel just at the time that the world might reproach him with having violated the principles he taught. He permitted me to stop the impression. I accordingly took a journey into Holland purposely to do him this trifling service. But the bookseller demanded so much money that his majesty, who was not in the bottom of his heart vexed to see210 himself in print, was better pleased to be so for nothing, than to pay for not being so. I could not avoid feeling some remorse at being concerned in printing this Anti-Machiavelian book at the very moment that the King of Prussia, who had a hundred millions in his coffers, was robbing the poor people of Liege of another, by the hand of the privy counselor Rambonet.35 A few days after her arrival at Berlin, Fritz, on short leave of absence, ran over from Ruppin, and had a brief interview with his sister, whom he had not seen since her marriage. The royal family supped together, with the exception of the king, who was absent. At the table the conversation turned upon the future princess royal, Elizabeth. The queen said, addressing Wilhelmina, and fixing her eyes on Fritz,

What would become of us without philosophy, without this reasonable contempt of things frivolous, transient, and fugitive, about which the greedy and ambitious make such a pother, fancying them to be solid! This is to become wise by stripes, you will tell me. Well, if one do become wise, what matters it how? I read a great deal. I devour my books, and that brings me useful alleviation. But for my books, I think hypochondria would have had me in Bedlam before now. In fine, dear marquis, we live in troublous times and in desperate situations. I have all the properties of a stage heroalways in danger, always on the point of perishing. One must hope that the conclusion will come, and if the end of the piece be lucky, we will forget the rest.169

Thus the last fortress in Silesia fell into the hands of Frederick. There was no longer any foe left in the province to dispute his acquisition. He took possession of Neisse on the 1st of November, celebrating his victory with illuminations and all the approved demonstrations of public rejoicing.

Frederick concentrated his army at Konopischt, very near Beneschau. He could bring into the field sixty thousand men. Prince Charles was at the head of seventy thousand. In vain336 the Prussian king strove to bring his foes to a pitched battle. Adroitly Prince Charles avoided any decisive engagement. Frederick was fifty miles from Prague. The roads were quagmires. November gales swept his camp. A foe, superior in numbers, equal in bravery, surrounded him on all sides. The hostile army was led by a general whose greater military ability Frederick acknowledged.


In the mean time Frederick took positions which commanded the three gates on his, the southern, side of the river; constructed a bridge of boats; and sent four hundred men across the stream, and made preparations to force an entrance. At four oclock in the afternoon of Monday, not a gun having yet been fired, a messenger brought the intelligence that the town would be surrendered. At eight oclock the next morning, Tuesday, 3d of January, 1741, the city authorities came in their coaches, with much parade, to welcome their new sovereign. It was a bitter cold morning. The king had ridden away to reconnoitre the walls in their whole circuit. It was not until near noon that he was prepared to accompany the officials to the palace which was made ready for him. He then, on horseback, attended by his principal officers, and followed by an imposing retinue, in a grand entrance, proudly took possession of his easy conquest.230 He rode a very magnificent gray charger, and wore his usual cocked hat and a blue cloak, both of which were somewhat the worse for wear. Four footmen, gorgeously dressed in scarlet, trimmed with silver lace, walked by the side of his horse. The streets through which he passed were thronged, and the windows and balconies were crowded with spectators of both sexes. Though Frederick did not meet with an enthusiastic reception, he was very gracious, bowing to the people on each side of the street, and saluting with much courtesy those who seemed to be people of note.

Grumkow led me to the young man in gray. Coming near, I recognized him, though with difficulty. He had grown much stouter, and his neck was much shorter. His face also was much changed, and was no longer as handsome as it had been. I fell upon his neck. I was so overcome that I could only speak in an unconnected manner. I wept, I laughed like a person out of her senses. In my life I have never felt so lively a joy. After these first emotions were subsided I went and threw myself at the feet of the king, who said to me aloud, in the presence of my brother,

Is there any battalion which has a mind to follow me to Lissa?

The next morning they learned that Lieutenant Katte had been arrested. All the private papers of Fritz were left, under Kattes charge, in a small writing-desk. These letters would implicate both the mother and the daughter. They were terror-stricken. Count Finckenstein, who was in high authority, was their friend. Through him, by the aid of Madam Finckenstein, they obtained the desk. It was locked and sealed. Despair stimulated their ingenuity. They succeeded in getting the letters. To destroy them and leave nothing in their place would only rouse to greater fury the suspicion and rage of the king. The letters were taken out and burned. The queen and Wilhelmina immediately set to work writing new ones, of a very different character, with which to replace them. For three days they thus labored almost incessantly, writing between six and seven hundred letters. They were so careful to avoid any thing97 which might lead to detection that paper was employed for each letter bearing the date of the year in which the letter was supposed to be written. Fancy the mood, writes Carlyle, of these two royal women, and the black whirlwind they were in. Wilhelminas dispatch was incredible. Pen went at the gallop night and day. New letters of old date and of no meaning are got into the desk again, the desk closed without mark of injury, and shoved aside while it is yet time.

Voltaire seems to have formed a very different estimate of his329 own diplomatic abilities from those expressed by the King of Prussia. Voltaire writes:

Wilhelmina had never seen the Prince of Wales. Her mother had not attempted to conceal from her that he was exceedingly plain in person, slightly deformed, weak in intellect, and debased by his debaucheries. But the ambitious queen urged these considerations, not as objections, but as incentives to the marriage. You will be able, she said, to have him entirely under your direction. You will thus be virtually King of England, and can exert a powerful control over all the nations of Europe. These considerations, however, did not influence the princess so much as they did her mother. She had never taken any special interest in her marriage with the Prince of Wales. Indeed, at times, she had said that nothing should ever induce her to marry him.