At length the Austrians were routed—utterly routed—broken, dispersed, and driven in wild confusion into the glooms of the forest. The victory of Frederick was complete. As a warrior, he was winning the title he so greatly coveted, of Frederick the Great.
There they informed her that they had each received a letter the night before from the king, the contents of which they were73 forbidden, under penalty of death, from communicating to any one but to her. The king wished them to say to her majesty that he would no longer endure her disobedience in reference to the marriage of Wilhelmina; that, in case this disobedience continued, there should be an entire separation between him and his wife—a divorce—and that she and her daughter should both be banished to the chateau of Oranienburg, about twenty miles from Berlin, and there held in close imprisonment. The king was willing that Sophie Dorothee should write once more, and only once more, to her brother, George II., and demand of him a categorical answer, yes or no, whether he would consent to the immediate marriage of the Prince of Wales and Wilhelmina. The king would wait a fortnight for an answer, or, if the winds were contrary, three weeks; but not a day more. Should no answer in that time be returned, or a negative or an evasive answer, then Wilhelmina was to make her immediate choice of a husband between either the Duke of Weissenfels or the Marquis of Schwedt, and to be married without delay.9On the 8th of June the English and Dutch ministers, not yet aware of the alliance into which Frederick had entered with France, presented the joint resolution of their two courts, exhorting Frederick to withdraw his army from Silesia. Lord Hyndford, who was somewhat annoyed by the apparent impolicy of the measure just at that time, solicited and obtained a private audience with the king, hoping by apologies and explanations to make the summons a little less unpalatable to his majesty. In the brief interview which ensued Lord Hyndford appealed to the magnanimity of the king, declaring that it would be generous and noble for him to accept moderate terms from Austria. The king angrily interrupted him, saying,
“Hurl them out,” he wrote. “Gather twenty, thirty thousand men, if need be. Let there be no delay. I will as soon be pitched out of Brandenburg as out of Silesia.”Indeed, it would seem that, at the time, Voltaire must have been very favorably impressed by the appearance of his royal host. The account he then gave of the interview was very different from that which, in his exasperation, he wrote twenty years afterward. In a letter to a friend, M. De Cideville, dated October 18th, 1740, Voltaire wrote:“The king is more difficult than ever. He is content with nothing. He has no gratitude for whatever favors one can do him. As to his health, it is one day better, another worse; but the legs they are always swelled. Judge what my joy must be to get out of that turpitude; for the king will only stay a fortnight at most in camp.
The king, in utter exhaustion from hunger, sleeplessness, anxiety, and misery, for a moment lost all self-control. As with his little band of fugitives he vanished into the gloom of the night, not knowing where to go, he exclaimed, in the bitterness of his despair, “O my God, my God, this is too much!”FREDERICK AND WILHELMINA.
CHAPTER XI. DIPLOMATIC INTRIGUES.
“The heresy about predestination,” writes Carlyle, “or the election by free grace, as his majesty terms it, according to which a man is preappointed, from all eternity, either to salvation or the opposite, which is Fritz’s notion, and indeed Calvin’s, and that of many benighted creatures, this editor among them, appears to his majesty an altogether shocking one. What! may not deserter Fritz say to himself, even now, or in whatever other deeps of sin he may fall into, ‘I was foredoomed to it? How could I or how can I help it?’ The mind of his majesty shudders as if looking over the edge of an abyss.”On the night of the 14th Frederick had stationed his lines with the greatest care to guard against surprise. At midnight, wrapped in his cloak, and seated on a drum by a watch-fire, he had just fallen asleep. An Irish officer, a deserter from the Austrians, came blustering and fuming into the camp with the announcement that General Lacy’s army was on the march to attack Frederick by surprise. Frederick sprang to his horse. His perfectly drilled troops were instantly in motion. By a rapid movement his troops were speedily placed in battle array upon the heights of the Wolfsberg. They would thus intercept the enemy’s line of march, would take him by surprise, and were in the most admirable position to encounter superior numbers. To deceive the foe, all the Prussian camp-fires were left burning. General Loudon had resorted to the same stratagem to deceive Frederick.
Catharine was at this time engaged vigorously in a war with the Turks. Frederick, by his treaty with the czarina, was compelled to assist her. This ambitious woman, endowed with extraordinary powers, was pushing her conquests toward Constantinople, having formed the resolve to annex that imperial city to the empire, and thus to open through the Straits of the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles new avenues for Russian commerce.There is something truly sublime in the devotion with which he, in disregard of sleeplessness, exhaustion, and pain, gave himself to work. His three clerks were summoned to his room each morning at four o’clock.“If these terms are not accepted within a fortnight, I will not be bound by them.
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.
(But Heaven, which of all disposes,An ordinary eye would not have seen in the position any peculiar military strength. It was an undulating plain about eight miles long and broad, without any abrupt eminences. A small river bordered it on the west, beyond which rose green hills. On the east was the almost impregnable fortress of Schweidnitz, with its abundant stores. Farm-houses were scattered about, with occasional groves and morasses. There were also sundry villages in the distance.“I have arrested the rascal Fritz. I shall treat him as his crime and his cowardice merit. He has dishonored me and all my family. So great a wretch is no longer worthy to live.”详情
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