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The King of Prussia is thought to be dying. I am weary of the political discussions on this subject as to what effects his death must produce. He is better at this moment, but so weak he can not resist long. Physique is gone. But his force and energy of soul, they say, have often supported him, and in desperate crises have even seemed to increase. Liking to him I never had. His ostentatious immorality has much hurt public virtue, and there have been related to me barbarities which excite horror.

Voltaire hated M. Maupertuis. He was the president of the Berlin Academy, and was regarded by Voltaire as a formidable rival. This hatred gave rise to a quarrel between Frederick and Voltaire, which was so virulent that Europe was filled with the noise of their bickerings. M. Maupertuis had published a pamphlet, in which he assumed to have made some important discovery upon the law of action. M. K?nig, a member of the Academy, reviewed the pamphlet, asserting not only that the proclaimed law was false, but that it had been promulgated half a century before. In support of his position he quoted from a letter of Leibnitz. The original of the letter could not be produced. M. K?nig was accused of having forged the extract. M. Maupertuis, a very jealous, irritable man, by his powerful influence as president, caused M. K?nig to be expelled from the Academy. One day the father, returning home, found, to his inexpressible delight, little Fritz strutting about beating a drum, with Wilhelmina marching by his side. The king could scarcely restrain his joy. At last the military element was being developed in his child. He hastened with the tidings to his wife, whom he called30 by the pet name of Phiekina word apparently coined from Sophie. The matter was talked about all over the palace. A painter was sent for to transfer the scene to canvas. This picture, greatly admired, still hangs upon the walls of the Charlottenburg palace. Of this picture Carlyle writes: Fritz is still, if not in long-clothes, at least in longish and flowing clothes of the petticoat sort, which look as of dark blue velvet, very simple, pretty, and appropriate; in a cap of the same; has a short ravens feather in the cap, and looks up with a face and eyes full of beautiful vivacity and childs enthusiasm, one of the beautifulest little figures, while the little drum responds to his bits of drumsticks. Sister Wilhelmina, taller by some three years, looks on in pretty stooping attitude, and with a graver smile. Blackamoor and room-furniture elegant enough; and finally the figure of a grenadier on guard, seen far off through an open window, make up the background.

In May the King of Poland returned the visit of Frederick William. He came with a numerous retinue and in great splendor. During the past year his unhappy wife had died; and he, then fifty-five years of age, was seeking to bargain for the hand of Wilhelmina, hoping, by an alliance with Prussia, to promote53 some of his political schemes. The wicked old Polish king was much broken by age and his terrible debaucheries. He had recently suffered the amputation of two toes from an ulcerated foot, which no medical skill could cure. He was brought into the palace at Berlin in a sedan, covered with red velvet embroidered with gold. Wilhelmina had no suspicion of the object of his visit, and was somewhat surprised by the intensity of his gaze and his glowing compliments. Diplomatic obstacles arose which silenced the question of the marriage before Wilhelmina knew that it had been contemplated.

The next morning the princess received the following cruel epistle from her mother: BATTLE OF HOCHKIRCH, OCTOBER 14, 1758. On the 20th of April he wrote: Our situation is disagreeable, but my determination is taken. If we needs must fight, we will do it like men driven desperate. Never was there a greater peril than that I am now in. Time, at its own pleasure, will untie this knot, or destiny, if there is one, determine the event. The348 game I play is so high, one can not contemplate the issue with cold blood. Pray for the return of my good luck.

Voltaire had already written the epic poem the Henriade, the history of Charles XII., and several tragedies.

The finest day of life is the day on which one quits it.177

Fritz had now attained eighteen years of age, and Wilhelmina twenty-one. Fritz was very fond of music, particularly of his flute, upon which he played exquisitely, being, however, careful never to sound its notes within hearing of his father. A celebrated music-master from Dresden, by the name of Quantz, was his teacher. He came occasionally from Dresden and spent a week or two at Potsdam, secretly teaching the young prince.67 The mother of Fritz was in warm sympathy with her son, and aided him in all ways in her power in this gratification. Still it was a very hazardous measure. The fierce old king was quite uncertain in his movements. He might at any hour appear at Potsdam, and no one could tell to what lengths, in case of a discovery, he might go in the intensity of his rage. Fritz had an intimate friend in the army, a young man of about his own age, one Lieutenant Katte, who, when Fritz was with his music-teacher, was stationed on the look-out, that he might give instant warning in case there were any indications of the kings approach. His mother also was prepared, when Quantz was at Potsdam, promptly to dispatch a messenger to her son in case she suspected his father of being about to turn his steps in that direction.

Certainly I will fight. But do not flatter yourself about the result. A happy chance alone can help us. Go, in Gods name to Tangermünde. Wait there how destiny shall have disposed of us. I will reconnoitre the enemy to-morrow. Next day, if there is any thing to do, we will try it. If the enemy still holds to the Wine Hills of Frankfort, I shall not dare to attack him.