On the 12th of June, but a fortnight after his accession, Frederick198 wrote from Charlottenburg to Voltaire, who was then at Brussels, as follows:
“We arrived at Berlin the end of October. My younger brothers, followed by the princes of the blood and by all the court, received us at the bottom of the stairs. I was led to my apartment, where I found the reigning queen, my sisters, and the princesses. I learned, with much chagrin, that the king was ill of tertian ague. He sent me word that, being in his fit, he could not see me, but that he depended on having that pleasure to-morrow. The queen-mother, to whom I went without delay, was in a dark condition. Her rooms were all hung in their lugubrious drapery. Every thing was as yet in the depth of mourning for my father. What a scene for me! Nature has her rights. I can say with truth I have almost never in my life been so moved as on this occasion. My interview with my mother was very touching.”The king, as we have mentioned, allotted to his son a very moderate income, barely enough for the necessary expenses of his establishment. But the prince borrowed money in large sums from the Empress of Germany, from Russia, from England. It was well known that, should his life be preserved, he would soon have ample means to repay the loan. Frederick William probably found it expedient to close his eyes against these transactions. But he did not attempt to conceal the chagrin with which he regarded the literary and voluptuous tastes of his son.
The king’s intimate friend, Jordan, had accompanied him as far as Breslau. There he remained, anxiously awaiting the issue of the conflict. On the 11th, the day succeeding the battle, he wrote from Breslau to the king as follows:
“Thus,” writes Voltaire, “Frederick invaded Saxony under the pretense of friendship, and that he might make war upon Maria Theresa with the money of which he should rob the Saxons.”
109 The body of Katte remained upon the scaffold during the short wintry day, and at night was buried in one of the bastions of the fortress. This cruel tragedy was enacted more than a century ago; but there are few who even now can read the record without having their eyes flooded, through the conflicting emotions of sympathy for the sufferers and indignation against the tyrant who could perpetrate such crimes.These were his last words. He fainted, and, after a few gasps, died. It was about two o’clock in the afternoon of Tuesday, the 31st of May, 1740. Thus the soul of Frederick William passed to the spirit land, in the fifty-first year of its sojourn here on earth.Early in the morning Frederick’s whole army was on the rapid march for Breslau, which was scarcely twenty miles distant from the battle-field. The Austrians had collected immense military stores in the city. Prince Charles, as he fled through the place with the wreck of his army, left a garrison of seventeen thousand men for its defense. In a siege of twelve days, during which there was an incessant bombardment and continual assaults, the city was carried. A few days after this, Liegnitz, which the Austrians had strongly fortified, was also surrendered to the victor. Frederick had thus reconquered the whole of Silesia excepting the single fortress of Schweidnitz.
The alarm in Berlin was very great. The citizens were awake to the consciousness that there was danger; that the city itself would be assaulted. Great was the consternation in the capital when minute directions came from Frederick respecting the course to be pursued in the event of such a calamity, and the places of refuge to which the royal family should retreat.
It will generally be admitted by military men that Frederick did not display much ability of generalship in this campaign. He was fearless, indomitable in energy, and tireless in the endurance of fatigue, but in generalship he was entirely eclipsed by his formidable rival. Indeed, Frederick could not be blind to this, and he had sufficient candor to confess it. Subsequently, giving an account of these transactions in his “Works,” he writes:
When near Augsburg, Fritz wrote a letter to Lieutenant Katte, stating that he should embrace the first opportunity to escape to the Hague; that there he should assume the name of the Count of Alberville. He wished Katte to join him there, and to bring with him the overcoat and the one thousand ducats which he had left in his hands. On Thursday, August 3d, the royal party reached the little hamlet of Steinfurth, not far from the Rhine. Here, as was not unfrequently the case, they slept in barns, carefully swept and prepared for them. The usual hour of starting was three o’clock in the morning.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.
507 “I live here the life of a literary monk. I have much to think of about my affairs. The rest of my time I give to literature, which is my consolation. I know not if I shall survive this war. Should it so happen, I am resolved to pass the rest of my days in retirement, in the bosom of philosophy and friendship.
“His Prussian majesty rides much about, often at a rapid rate, with a pleasant business aspect—humane, though imperative; handsome to look upon, though with a face perceptibly reddish. His age, now thirty-eight gone; a set appearance, as if already got into his forties; complexion florid; figure muscular, almost tending to be plump.”“‘Hither this evening, and in all privacy meet me in the palace at such an hour’ (hour of midnight or thereby); which of553 course G?rtz, duly invisible to mankind, does. Frederick explains: an errand to München; perfectly secret, for the moment, and requiring great delicacy and address; perhaps not without risk, a timorous man might say: will your brother go for me, think you? G?rtz thinks he will.详情
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