THE TOBACCO PARLIAMENT.“The packet had been opened. The king would think I was guilty of high treason, and I should be in disgrace with Madame De Pompadour. I was obliged, in order to prevent my ruin, to make known to the court the character and conduct of their enemy.
And notwithstanding our impatience,
572 His feet and legs became cold. Death was stealing its way toward the vitals. About nine o’clock Wednesday evening a painful cough commenced, with difficulty of breathing, and an ominous rattle in the throat. One of his dogs sat by his bedside, and shivered with cold; the king made a sign for them to throw a quilt over it.
“Indisputably enough to us, if not yet to Frederick, ‘Reinsberg and Life to the Muses’ are done. On a sudden, from the opposite side of the horizon, see miraculous Opportunity rushing hitherward; swift, terrible, clothed with lightning like a courser of the gods; dare you clutch him by the thunder-mane, and fling yourself upon him, and make for the Empyrean by that course rather? Be immediate about it, then; the time is now or never! No fair judge can blame the young man that he laid hold of the flaming Opportunity in this manner, and obeyed the new omen. To seize such an Opportunity and perilously mount upon it was the part of a young, magnanimous king, less sensible to the perils and more to the other considerations than one older would have been.
“I am obliged to tell you that I have long forbid counts to be received, as such, into my army; for when they have served one or two years they retire, and merely make their short military career a subject of vain boasting. If your son wishes to serve, the title of count can be of no use to him. But he will be promoted if he learn his profession well.”
“You speak of Maupertuis. Do not trouble the ashes of the dead. Let the grave, at least, put an end to your unjust hatreds. Reflect that even kings make peace after long battling. Can not you ever make it? I think you would be capable, like Orpheus, of descending to hell, not to soften Pluto, and bring back your beautiful Emilie, but to pursue into that abode of woe an enemy whom your wrath has only too much persecuted in this world. For shame!”144Thus parted these remarkable men, who were never destined to meet again.
About three o’clock the next morning, Sunday, August 12th, Frederick’s army, in two columns, was again in motion. By a slightly circuitous march through the dense forest the king placed his troops in position to approach from the southeast, so as to attack the left flank of the enemy, being the northern extremity of the parallelogram.
But there was another picture which met the eye of the king very different in its aspect. We know not whether it at all touched his heart. It was that of the poor peasants, with their mothers, their wives, their children, hurrying from their hamlets in all directions, in the utmost dismay. Grandmothers tottered beneath the burden of infant children. Fathers and mothers struggled on with the household goods they were striving to rescue from impending ruin. The cry of maidens and children reached the ear as they fled from the tramp of the war-horse and the approaching carnage of the death-dealing artillery.
“Gentlemen, I do not look upon you as my subjects, but as my friends. The troops of Brandenburg have always signalized222 themselves by their courage, and given, on different occasions, the fullest evidences of their bravery. I shall be an eye-witness to all your exploits. You will always fight in my presence. I will recompense those who shall distinguish themselves for their zeal in my service rather as a father than as a sovereign.”详情
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