Daun, since August 26th, is striding towards Meissen Bridge; without rest, day after day, at the very top of his speed,--which I find is "nine miles a day;" [Tempelhof, ii. 261.] Bos being heavy of foot, at his best. September 1st, Daun has got within ten miles of Meissen Bridge, when--Here is news, my friends; King of Prussia has beaten our poor Russians; will soon be in full march this way! King of Prussia and Margraf Karl both bending hitherward; at the rate, say, of "nineteen miles a day," instead of nine:--Meissen Bridge is not the thing we shall want! Daun instantly calls halt, at this news; waits, intrenches; and, in a day or two, finding the news true, hurries to rearward all he can. From the Russian side too, Daun has heard of Zorndorf, and the grand "Victory" of Fermor there; but knows well, by this sudden re-emergence of the Anti- Fermor, what kind of Victory it is.
Was it here while waiting about Meissen, or where was it, that Daun got his Letter to Fermor answered in that singular way? The Letter of two weeks ago,--carried by Loudon's Hussars, or by whomsoever,-- for certain, it was retorted or returned upon Daun; not as if from the Dead-Letter Office, but with an Answer he little expected! Here is what record I have; very vague for a well-known little fact of sparkling nature:--
"A curious Letter fell into Friedrich's hands [Bearer, I always guess, the Loudon Hussar-Captain with his 500, pretending to form junction with Fermor], Prussian Hussars picking it up somewhere,-- date, place, circumstances, blurred into oblivion in those poor Books; Letter itself indisputable enough, and Answer following on it; Letter and Answer substantially to this effect:--
"DAUN TO FERMOR [Probably from Zittau, by Loudon's Hussars].
"Your Excellenz does not know that wily Enemy as I do. By no means get into battle with such a one. Cautiously manoeuvre about; detain him there, till I have got my stroke in Saxony done: don't try fighting him. DAUN."
"ANSWER AS FROM FERMOR (Zorndorf once done, Daun by the first opportunity got his Answer, duly signed 'Fermor,' but evidently in a certain King's handwriting):--
"Your Excellenz was in the right to warn me against a cunning Enemy, whom you knew better than I. Here have I tried fighting him, and got beaten. Your unfortunate "FERMOR." [Muller,
September 9th, Friedrich and Margraf Karl, correct to their appointment, meet at Grossenhayn, some miles north of Meissen and its Bridge; by which time Daun is clean gone again, back well above Dresden again, strongly posted at Stolpen (a place we once heard of, in General Haddick's time, last Year), well in contact with Daun's Pirna friends across the River, and out of dangerous neighborhoods. Friedrich and the Margraf have followed Daun at quick step; but Daun would pause nowhere, till he got to Stolpen, among the bushy gullets and chasms. September 12th, Friedrich had speech of Henri, and the pleasure of dining with him in Dresden. Glad to meet again, under fortunate management on both parts; and with much to speak and consult about.