How his enemies would have rejoiced, could they have seen him in that wretched hovel! He first wrote to General Fink, to whom he wished to leave the command of his army. He must fulfil the duties of state, before those of friendship. It was not a letter--rather an order to General Fink, and read as follows:
"General Fink will find this a weary and tedious commission. The army I leave is no longer in a condition to defend itself from the Russians. Haddeck will hasten to Berlin. Loudon also, I presume. If you intercept them, the Russians will be in your rear; if you remain by the Oder, Haddeck will surround you. I nevertheless believe, were Loudon to come to Berlin, you could attack and defeat him. This, were it possible, would give you time to arrange matters, and I can assure you, time is every thing, in such desperate circumstances as ours. Koper, my secretary, will give you the dispatches from Torgau and Dresden. You must acquaint my brother, whom I make general-in- chief of the army, with all that passes. In the mean time, his orders must be obeyed. The army must swear by my nephew. This is the only advice I am able to give. Had I any resources, I would stand fast by you. FREDERICK." [Footnote: The king's own words.]
"Yes, I would have stood by them," murmured the king, as he folded and addressed his letter. "I would have borne still longer this life of oppression and privation; but now, honor demands that I should die."
He took another sheet of paper. It was now no order or command, but a tender, loving, farewell letter to his friend, General Finkenstein.
"This morning, at eleven o'clock, I attacked the enemy; we drove them back to Gudenberg. All my men performed deeds of daring and bravery, but, at the storming of Gudenberg, a terrific number of lives were lost. My army became separated. I reassembled them three times, but in vain. At last, they fled in wild disorder. I very nearly became a prisoner, and was obliged to leave the field to the enemy. My uniform was torn by the cannon-balls, two horses were shot underneath me, but death shunned me; I seemed to bear a charmed life; I could not die! From an army of forty-eight thousand men, there now remains three thousand. The consequences of this battle will be more fearful than the battle itself. It is a terrible misfortune, and I will not survive it. There is no one to whom I can look for help. I cannot survive my country's ruin. Farewell!"
"And now," said the king, when he had sealed and directed his letter, "now I am ready; my worldly affairs are settled. I am at the end of my sufferings, and dare claim that last, deep rest granted by Nature to us all. I have worked enough, suffered enough; and if, after a life of stormy disasters, I seek my grave, no one can say it was cowardly not to live--for all the weight of life rolled upon me, forced me to the ground, and the grave opened beneath my feet. I continued to hope, when overwhelmed with defeat at every point. Every morning brought new clouds, new sorrows. I bore it courageously, trusting that misfortune would soon weary, the storms blow over, and a clear, cloudless sky envelop me. I deceived myself greatly; my sorrows increased. And now, the worst has happened; my country is lost! Who dares say I should survive this loss? To die at the proper time is also a duty. The Romans felt this, and acted upon it. I am a true scholar of the old masters, and wish to prove myself worthy of them. When all is lost, the liberty to die should not be denied. The world has nothing more to do with me, and I laugh at her weak, unjust laws. Like Tiberius, will I live and die! Farewell, then, thou false existence; farewell, weak man! Ah! there are so many fools--so few men amongst you; I have found so many faithless friends, so many traitors, so few honest men! In the hour of misfortune they all deserted me! But, no!" said he; "one remained true. D'Argens never deceived me, and I had almost forgotten to take leave of him. Well, death must wait for me, while I write to D'Argens!"
A heavenly inspiration now beamed on his countenance; his eyes shone like stars. The holy muse had descended to comfort the despairing hero, to whisper loving and precious words to him. Thus standing at death's portals, Frederick wrote his most beautiful poem, called "Ami le sort en est jete'." A great wail of woe burst from his soul. The sorrows, the grievances hid until now from all, he portrayed in touching, beautiful words to his absent friend. lie pictured to him his sufferings, his hopes, his struggles, and finally, his determination to die. When all this had been painted in the most glowing colors, when his wounds were laid bare, he wrote a last and touching farewell to his friend:
"Adieu, D'Argens! dans ce tableau, De mon trepas tu vois la cause; Au moins ne pense pas du neant du caveau, Que j'aspire a l'apotheose. Tout ce que l'amitie par ces vers propose, C'est que tant qu'ici-bas le celeste flambeau; Eclairera tes jours tandis que je repose, Et lorsque le printemps paraissant de nouveau. De son sein abondant t'offre les fleurs ecloses, Chaque fois d'un bouquet de myrthes et de roses, Tu daignes parer mon tombeau."