“My dear Monsieur Jordan, my sweet Monsieur Jordan, my quiet Monsieur Jordan, my good, my benign, my pacific, my most humane Monsieur Jordan,—I announce to thy serenity the conquest of Silesia. I warn thee of the bombardment of Neisse, and I prepare thee for still more projects, and instruct thee of the happiest successes that the womb of fortune ever bore.”47
549 Frederick had cultivated a supreme indifference to public opinion. Not believing in any God, in any future retribution, or in any immortality, and regarding men merely as the insects of an hour, like the myriad polyps which, beneath the ocean, rear their stupendous structures and perish, his sense of right and wrong must necessarily have been very different from that which a believer in the Christian faith is accustomed to cherish. In allusion to this subject, he writes:Notwithstanding the opposition, Parliament voted to continue the subsidy to Frederick of about three million four hundred thousand dollars (￡670,000). This sum was equal to twice or three times that amount at the present day.
“The sword and death have made frightful ravages among us. And the worst is that we are not yet at the end of the tragedy. You may judge what effect these cruel shocks make on me. I wrap myself in my stoicism the best I can. Flesh and blood revolt against such tyrannous command, but it must be followed. If you saw me you would scarcely know me again. I am old, broken, gray-headed, wrinkled. I am losing my teeth and my gayety. If this go on, there will be nothing of me left but the mania of making verses, and an inviolable attachment to my duties, and to the few virtuous men whom I know.”
“These kind condescensions of his majesty,” writes M. D’Arget, “emboldened me to represent to him the brilliant position he now held, and how noble it would be, after being the hero of Germany, to become the pacificator of Europe.”The assault was as sudden and resistless as the sweep of the avalanche. The Austrian division was annihilated. Scarcely a man escaped. This achievement was deemed a very brilliant367 passage of war. It cut the Austrian army in twain and secured its ruin.“But it is time to end this long, dreary letter. I have had some leisure, and have used it to open to you a heart filled with admiration and gratitude toward you. Yes, my adorable sister, if Providence troubled itself about human affairs, you ought to be the happiest person in the universe. Your not being such confirms me in the sentiments expressed in my epistle.”
One clause in the king’s will was judiciously disregarded. As a last mark of his contempt for his own species, Frederick had directed that he should be buried at Sans Souci by the side of his dogs.
The next day M. Hartoff called at the residence of M. Kannegiesser, and informed him “that the ministers, understanding that he designed to ask an audience to-morrow to remind them64 of the answer which he demanded, wished to say that such applications were not customary among sovereign princes; that they dared not treat farther in that affair with him; that, as soon as they received instructions from his Britannic majesty, they would communicate to him the result.”On another occasion, an Austrian gentleman, M. Von Bentenrieder, who was exceedingly tall, was journeying from Vienna to Berlin as the embassador from the Emperor Charles VI. to the Congress of Cambrai. When near Halberstadt some part of his carriage broke. While the smith was repairing it, M. Bentenrieder walked on. He passed a Prussian guard-house, alone, in plain clothes, on foot, an immensely tall, well-formed man. It was too rich a prize to be lost. The officials seized him, and hurried him into the guard-house. But soon his carriage came along with his suite. He was obsequiously hailed as “Your Excellency.” The recruiting officers of Frederick William, mortified and chagrined, with many apologies released the embassador of the emperor.
“My dearest Brother,—Your letter and the one you wrote to Voltaire have nearly killed me. What fatal resolutions, great God! Ah! my dear brother, you say you love me, and you drive a dagger into my heart. Your epistle, which I did receive, made me shed rivers of tears. I am now ashamed of such weakness. My misfortune would be so great that I should find worthier resources than tears. Your lot shall be mine. I shall not survive your misfortunes, or those of the house I belong to. You may calculate that such is my firm resolution.Leopold was now seventy years of age. On the 5th of February his much-loved wife died at Dessau. Leopold, infirm in health, and broken with grief, entreated the king to allow him to go home. He could not, of course, be immediately spared.
One week after the reception of this letter the Crown Prince wrote to Baron Grumkow in the following flippant and revolting strain. He probably little imagined that the letter was to be read by all Europe and all America. But those whose paths through life lead over the eminences of rank and power can not conceal their words or deeds from the scrutiny of the world. Grumkow, a very shrewd man, had contrived to secure influence over both the father and the son. The prince’s letter was dated Cüstrin, February 11, 1732:Ruppin, where the Crown Prince continued to reside for several years, was a small, dull town of about two thousand inhabitants. The only life it exhibited was found in the music and drillings of the garrison. The only important event in its history was the removal of the Crown Prince there. Of what is called society there was none. The hamlet was situated in the midst of a flat, marshy country, most of it quite uncultivated. The region abounded in peat bogs, and dark, still lakes, well stocked with fish.
ATTACK UPON NEISSE.
“How is it possible, my lord, to believe things so contradictory? It is mighty fine, all this that you now tell me, on the part of the King of England. But how does it correspond with his last speech in Parliament, and with the doings of his ministers at Petersburg and at the Hague, to stir up allies against me? I have reason to doubt the sincerity of the King of England. Perhaps he means to amuse me. But” (with an oath55)269 “he is mistaken. I will risk every thing rather than abate the least of my pretensions.”详情
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