Distinguished strangers were often admitted to the Tabagie. The Crown Prince Fritz was occasionally present, though always reluctantly. The other children of this numerous family not unfrequently came in to bid papa good-night. Here every thing was talked of, with entire freedom, all court gossip, the adventures of the chase, diplomacy, and the administrative measures of the government. Frederick William had but very little respect for academic culture. He had scarcely the slightest acquaintance with books, and gathered around him mainly men whose knowledge was gained in the practical employments of life. It would seem, from many well-authenticated anecdotes, which have come down to us from the Tabagie, that these smoking companions of the king, like Frederick William himself, must have been generally a coarse set of men.

It was the aim of Prince Charles to get between Fredericks encampment at Chrudim and his French allies, under Marshal Broglio, at Prague. When discovered by Frederick, the Austrian army was on the rapid march along a line about fifteen miles nearly southwest of Chrudim. It thus threatened to cut Fredericks communication with Prague, which was on the Moldau, about sixty miles west of the Prussian encampment. The310 forces now gathering for a decisive battle were nearly equal. The reader would not be interested in the description of the strategic and tactical movements of the next two days. The leaders of both parties, with great military sagacity, were accumulating and concentrating their forces for a conflict, which, under the circumstances, would doubtless prove ruinous to the one or the other. A battle upon that open plain, with equal forces, was of the nature of a duel, in which one or the other of the combatants must fall. You speak of my personal safety. You ought to know, as I do, that it is not necessary for me to live. But while I do live I must fight for my country, and save it if it be possible. In many little things I have had luck; I think of taking for my motto, Maximus in minimis, et minimus in maximis.154

The position of the Austrians on the heights of Siptitz, an eminence which rose two hundred feet above the bed of the river, seemed impregnable. Sixty-five thousand Austrians stood512 upon those heights, protected by earth-works and a formidable abatis. They had four hundred guns in battery, a larger number than had ever before been brought upon a battle-field. To attack then and there was an act of desperation. On the evening of the 2d the king assembled his generals and said to them, His majesty commands me to inform your royal highness that he has cause to be greatly discontented with you; that you deserve to have a court-martial held over you, which would sentence you and all your generals to death; but that his majesty will not carry the matter so far, being unable to forget that in the chief general he has a brother.