Should it chance that my army in Saxony were beaten, or that the French should get possession of Hanover, and threaten us with invasion from that quarter, or that the Russians should get through by Neumark, you are to save the royal family and the archives. Should we be beaten in Saxony, remove the royal family to Cüstrin. Should the Russians enter by Neumark, or a misfortune befall us in the Lausitz, all must go to Magdeburg, but not till the last extremity. The garrison, the royal family, and the treasure must be kept together. In such a case, the silver plate and the gold plate must at once be coined into money. For a long time my heart had been swelling. I could not restrain my tears at hearing all these indignities. Why do you cry? said he. Ah! ah! I see that you are in low spirits. We must dissipate that dark humor. The music waits us. I will drive that fit out of you by an air or two on the flute. He gave me his hand and led me into the other room. I sat down to the harpsichord, which I inundated with my tears. Is there any battalion which has a mind to follow me to Lissa?

As this magnificent army entered upon the smooth and beautiful fields of Southern Silesia they shook out their banners, and with peals of music gave expression to their confidence of victory. The Austrian officers pitched their tents on a hill near Hohenfriedberg, where they feasted and drank their wine, while, during the long and beautiful June afternoon, they watched the onward sweep of their glittering host. The Austrian and Saxon army, writes an eye-witness, streamed out all the afternoon, each regiment or division taking the place appointed it; all the afternoon, till late in the night, submerging the country as in a deluge.

F. Toward the end of the year 1775 the king had an unusually severe attack of the gout. It was erroneously reported that it was a dangerous attack of the dropsy, and that he was manifestly drawing near to his end. The Crown Prince, who was to succeed him, was a man of very little character. The Emperor551 of Germany, Joseph II., thought the death of Frederick would present him an opportunity of regaining Silesia for Austria. The Austrian army was immediately put in motion and hurried to the frontiers of Silesia, to seize the province the moment the king should expire. This was openly done, and noised abroad. Much to the disappointment of the emperor, the king got well. Amidst much ridicule, the troops returned to their old quarters.190

The chagrin of Frederick in view of this adventure may be inferred from the fact that, during the whole remainder of his life, he was never known to make any allusion to it whatever.


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.

Retracing his steps in the darkness some fifteen miles, he returned to Lowen, where, by a bridge, a few hours before, he had crossed the Neisse. Taught caution by the misadventure at Oppeln, he reined up his horse, before the morning dawned, at the mill of Hilbersdorf, about a mile and a half from the town. The king, upon his high-blooded charger, had outridden nearly all his escort; but one or two were now with him. One of these attendants he sent into the town to ascertain if it were still held by the Prussians. Almost alone, he waited under the shelter of the mill the return of his courier. It was still night, dark and cold. The wind, sweeping over the snow-clad plains, caused the exhausted, half-famished monarch to shiver in his saddle.

About the middle of October Wilhelmina came to Berlin to see her brothers again. Nine years had passed since her marriage, and seven since her last sad visit to the home of her childhood, in which inauspicious visit the wretchedness of her early years had been renewed by the cruelty of her reception. In211 Wilhelminas journal we find the following allusion to this her second return to Berlin:


The empress had fainted away at the bedside, and had been borne, in the arms of the attendants, into her daughter Maria Theresas chamber. She was now summoned, with the younger children, for the final adieu. As the empress, almost delirious with grief, re-entered the apartment, she threw herself upon the bed of her dying husband, and exclaimed, in frenzied tones, Do not leave me! Do not leave me!