Potsdam, April 1, 1744.

The returning messenger took back the following reply. It was, as usual, ungrammatical, miserably spelled, and confused. Contemptuously the king spoke of his son in the third person, writing he and his instead of you and yours. Abruptly he commences:

General Maguire had been left in Dresden with but about fourteen thousand men for its defense. On Saturday, July 13th, the Prussian army appeared before the city. All the night they were erecting their batteries. Early Sunday morning the cannonade began. As Daun might speedily arrive at the head of sixty thousand troops for the relief of the garrison, the bombardment was conducted with the utmost possible energy. Day and night the horrible tempest fell upon the doomed city. Adversity had soured the kings disposition, and rendered him merciless. He had no compassion upon the innocent inhabitants. It was his aim, at whatever cost, to secure the immediate surrender of the place. He cruelly directed his terrific fire upon the thronged dwellings rather than upon the massive fortifications. Street after street blazed up in flames. It was Fredericks relentless503 plan by fire torture to force the citizens to compel Maguire to the surrender. But the Austrian commander hardened his heart against the misery of the Saxon people, and held the place.

384 I was greatly astonished, and knew not what to do; least of all could it come into my head that the kings valet who waited on his majesty should wait on me. I pressed him to sit by me; but, as he refused, I did as bidden.

Sire, I own that I am guilty. Will not your majesty grant me a pardon, which God never refuses to the greatest sinner who sincerely confesses his sins? I shall be always ready to shed even the last drop of my blood to show your majesty what grateful sentiments your clemency can raise in me.

Frederick on the 17th, the day after the departure of the Austrian army, invested Neisse. He had an embarrassing part to play. He was to conduct a sham siege in the presence of M. Valori, who was not only a man of ability, but who possessed much military intelligence. Feigning the utmost zeal, Frederick opened his trenches, and ostentatiously man?uvred his troops. He sent the young Prince Leopold, with fifteen thousand horse and foot, into the Glatz country, many leagues to the east, to guard against surprise from an enemy, where no enemy was to be found. He marked out his parallels, sent imperious summonses for surrender, and dispatched reconnoitring parties abroad. M. Valori began to be surprisedamazed. What does all this mean? he said to himself. They have great need of some good engineers here.


This letter was addressed to the reverend, well-beloved, and faithful Müller, and was signed your affectionate king. Though the king had not yet announced any intention of sparing the life of his son, and probably was fully resolved upon his execution, he was manifestly disturbed by the outcry against his proceedings raised in all the courts of Europe. Three days before the king wrote the above letter, the Emperor of Germany, Charles VI., had written to him, with his own hand, earnestly interceding for the Crown Prince. In addition to the letter, the emperor, through his minister Seckendorf, had presented a very firm remonstrance. He announced to Frederick William that112 Prince Frederick was a prince of the empire, and that he was entitled to the protection of the laws of the Germanic body; that the heir-apparent of the Prussian monarchy was under the safeguard of the Germanic empire, and that the king was bound to surrender to this tribunal the accused, and the documents relative to this trial.

He then gave minute directions as to what he wished to have done in case of his death. Marching rapidly through Liegnitz and Hohenfriedberg, he reached Frankfort-on-the-Oder on Sunday, the 20th of August. He was now within twenty miles of Cüstrin, and the bombardment by the heavy siege guns of the Russians could be distinctly heard. Frederick took lodgings at the house of a clergymans widow. Frequently he arose and went out of doors, listening impatiently to the cannonade. An eye-witness writes:

I am too tired to reply to your delightful verses, and shivering too much with cold to taste all the charm of them. But that will come round again. Do not ask poetry from a man who is actually doing the work of a wagoner, and sometimes even of a wagoner stuck in the mud. Would you like to know my way of life? We march from seven in the morning till four in the afternoon. I dine then; afterward I workI receive tiresome visits; with these comes a detail of insipid matters of business. Tis wrong-headed men, punctiliously difficult, who are to be set right; heads too hot which must be restrained, idle fellows that must be urged, impatient men that must be rendered docile, plunderers to be restrained within the bounds of equity, babblers to hear babbling, dumb people to keep in talk; in fine, one has to drink with those that like it, to eat with those who are hungry; one has to become a Jew with Jews, a pagan with pagans. Such are my occupations, which I would willingly make over to another if the phantom they call glory did not rise on me too often. In truth, it is a great folly, but a folly difficult to cast away when once you are smitten by it.

Soon after this an event occurred very characteristic of the kingan event which conspicuously displayed both his good and bad qualities. A miller was engaged in a lawsuit against a nobleman. The decree of the court, after a very careful examination, was unanimously in favor of the nobleman; the king, who had impulsively formed a different opinion of the case, was greatly exasperated. He summoned the four judges before him, denounced them in the severest terms of vituperation, would listen to no defense, and dismissed them angrily from office.

Monseigneur,A man must be void of all feeling who were not infinitely moved by the letter which your royal highness has deigned to honor me with. My self-love is only too much flattered by it. But my love of mankind, which I have always nourished in my heart, and which, I venture to say, forms the basis of my character, has given me a very much purer pleasure to see that there is now in the world a prince who thinks as a mana Philosopher prince, who will make men happy.