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

It is the common rumor now, Sir Thomas replied, that your majesty, after the 12th of August, will join the French. Sire, I venture to hope not. Austria prefers your friendship; but if your majesty disdain Austrias advances, what is it to do? Austria must throw itself entirely into the hands of France, and endeavor to outbid your majesty.

But the young King Frederick was very ambitious of enlarging the borders of his Liliputian realm, and of thus attaining a higher position among the proud and powerful monarchs who surrounded him. Maria Theresa, who had inherited the crown of Austria, was a remarkably beautiful, graceful, and accomplished216 young lady, in the twenty-fourth year of her age. She was a young wife, having married Francis, Duke of Lorraine. Her health, as we have mentioned, was at that time delicate. Frederick thought the opportunity a favorable one for wresting Silesia from Austria, and annexing it to his own kingdom. The queen was entirely inexperienced, and could not prove a very formidable military antagonist. Her army was in no respect, either in number, discipline, or materiel, prepared for war. Her treasury was deplorably empty. There was also reason for Frederick to hope that several claimants would rise in opposition to her, disputing the succession. France had no fear of Prussia. Even with the addition of Silesia, it would be comparatively a feeble realm. But France did fear the supremacy of Austria over Europe. It was for the apparent interest of the court of Versailles that Austria should be weakened, and, consequently, that the husband of the queen should not be chosen Emperor of Germany. Therefore France was coming into sympathy with Frederick, and was disposed to aid him in his warfare against Austria.

I have the labors of Hercules to perform, at an age, too, when my strength is leaving me, when my infirmities increase, and, to speak the truth, when hope, the only consolation of the unhappy, begins to desert me. You are not sufficiently acquainted with the posture of affairs to know the dangers which threaten the state. I know them, but conceal them. I keep all my fears to myself, and communicate to the public only my hopes and the trifle of good news I may now and then have. If the blow I now meditate succeeds, then, my dear marquis, will be the time to express our joy. But, till then, do not let us flatter ourselves, lest unexpected bad news deject us too much. FREDERICK THE GREAT.

Believe, my charming sister, that never brother in the world loved with such tenderness a sister so charming as mine.

Forming his army in two parallel lines, nearly five miles long, facing the foe, he prepared to open the battle along the whole369 extent of the field. While thus engrossing the attention of the enemy, his main attempt was to be directed against the village of Kesselsdorf, which his practiced eye saw to be the key of the position. It was two oclock in the afternoon ere all his arrangements were completed. The Old Dessauer was a devout manin his peculiar style a religious man, a man of prayer. He never went into battle without imploring Gods aid. On this occasion, all things being arranged, he reverently uncovered his head, and in presence of the troops offered, it is said, the following prayer:

Frederick, in his Histoire de mon Temps, states that, in the negotiations which at this time took place in Berlin, France pressed the king to bring forward his armies into vigorous co-operation; that England exhorted him to make peace with Austria; that Spain solicited his alliance in her warfare against England; that Denmark implored his counsel as to the course it was wise for that kingdom to pursue; that Sweden entreated his aid against Russia; that Russia besought his good offices to make298 peace with the court at Stockholm; and that the German empire, anxious for peace, entreated him to put an end to those troubles which were convulsing all Europe.

When Frederick returned to consciousness his misery plunged him into a high fever. Delirium ensued, during which Chaplain Müller, who remained with him, says that he frequently attempted to destroy himself. As the fever abated and he became more tranquil, floods of tears gushed from his eyes. He for some time refused to take any nourishment. It seemed to him now that every hope in life was forever blighted. He had no doubt that his own death was fully decided upon, and that he would soon be led to his execution. In his moments of delirious anguish he at times longed for death to come as speedily as possible. And again it seemed awful to have his young lifefor he was then but eighteen years of agecut off by the bloody sword.17

21 Sophie Dorothee was a very pretty child. The plan was probably already contemplated by the parents that the two should be married in due time. Soon after this Frederick William lost his mother, and with her all of a mothers care and gentle influences. Her place was taken by a step-mother, whose peevishness and irritability soon developed into maniacal insanity. When Frederick William was eighteen years of age he was allowed to choose between three princesses for his wife. He took his pretty cousin, Sophie Dorothee. They were married with great pomp on the 28th of November, 1706.

There they informed her that they had each received a letter the night before from the king, the contents of which they were73 forbidden, under penalty of death, from communicating to any one but to her. The king wished them to say to her majesty that he would no longer endure her disobedience in reference to the marriage of Wilhelmina; that, in case this disobedience continued, there should be an entire separation between him and his wifea divorceand that she and her daughter should both be banished to the chateau of Oranienburg, about twenty miles from Berlin, and there held in close imprisonment. The king was willing that Sophie Dorothee should write once more, and only once more, to her brother, George II., and demand of him a categorical answer, yes or no, whether he would consent to the immediate marriage of the Prince of Wales and Wilhelmina. The king would wait a fortnight for an answer, or, if the winds were contrary, three weeks; but not a day more. Should no answer in that time be returned, or a negative or an evasive answer, then Wilhelmina was to make her immediate choice of a husband between either the Duke of Weissenfels or the Marquis of Schwedt, and to be married without delay.9