Catharine of Russia had a son, Paul, her heir to the throne. It so chanced that she died just at the time Prince Henry of Prussia was visiting St. Petersburg. Through his agency Paul was induced to take as a second wife a niece of Frederick’s, the eldest daughter of Eugene of Würtemberg. Thus the ties between Russia and Prussia were still more strengthened, so far as matrimonial alliances could strengthen them. The wedding took place in Berlin on the 18th of October, 1776.Frederick himself was chief engineer. The army was divided into two forces of twenty-five thousand each. Carlyle gives a graphic description of this enterprise.
“It is impossible,” writes Lord Dover, “not to perceive that the real reason of his conduct was his enmity to his son, and that the crime of the poor girl was the having assisted in making the son’s existence more supportable. The intention of Frederick William apparently being that the infliction of so infamous a punishment in so public a manner should prevent the possibility of Frederick’s ever seeing her again.”14
Upon the accession of Frederick the Second, as officers were dispatched through the realm to exact oaths of allegiance, the Herstal people, encouraged by the bishop, refused to acknowledge fealty to the new king. Frederick was now in the district of Cleve, in the near vicinity of Herstal. He sent the following very decisive summons to the “Prince Bishop of Liege,” dated Wesel, September 4, 1740:“This, for the present, is her method of looking at the matter; this magnanimous, heroic, and occasionally somewhat female one. Her husband, the grand-duke, an inert but good-tempered, well-conditioned duke, after his sort, goes with her. Now, as always, he follows loyally his wife’s lead, never she his. Wife being intrinsically as well as extrinsically the better man, what other can he do?”
“His obstinate perverse disposition which does not love his father; for when one does every thing, and really loves one’s father, one does what the father requires, not while he is there to see it, but when his back is turned too. For the rest he knows very well that I can endure no effeminate fellow who has no human inclination in him; who puts himself to shame, can not ride or shoot; and, withal, is dirty in his person, frizzles his hair like a fool, and does not cut it off. And all this I have a thousand times reprimanded, but all in vain, and no improvement in nothing. For the rest, haughty; proud as a churl; speaks to nobody but some few, and is not popular and affable; and cuts grimaces with his face as if he were a fool; and does my will in nothing but following his own whims; no use to him in any thing else. This is the answer.“Your majesty,” Sir Thomas rejoined, “by a little engineering art, could render Limburg impregnable to the French or any others.”The prince retired to his chamber, to be presented to the royal family at the review the next day. Wilhelmina passed a miserable night. She could not sleep, and in the morning found herself so ill that she begged to be excused from the review. She also greatly dreaded encountering the coarse jests of her father. But she could not be released from the review. Both she and her mother were compelled to go. In an open carriage, the queen and princess, with attendant ladies of the court, passed before the line. The Marquis of Schwedt, whom the princess had so emphatically discarded, was at the head of his regiment. He seemed “swollen with rage,” and saluted the royal party with his eyes turned away. The royal carriages were then withdrawn to a little distance that the ladies might witness the spectacle.
Four campaigns of the Seven Years’ War have passed. We are now entering upon the fifth, that of 1760. The latter part501 of April Frederick broke up his encampment at Freiberg, and moved his troops about twenty miles north of Dresden. Here he formed a new encampment, facing the south. His left wing was at Meissen, resting on the Elbe. His right wing was at the little village of Katzenh?user, about ten miles to the southwest. Frederick established his head-quarters at Schlettau, midway of his lines. The position thus selected was, in a military point of view, deemed admirable. General Daun remained in Dresden “astride” the Elbe. Half of his forces were on one side and half on the other of the river.
One night, about the middle of August, as the king was tossing restlessly upon his pillow, he sprang from his bed, exclaiming63 “Eureka! I now see what will bring a settlement.” Immediately a special messenger was dispatched, with terms of compromise, to Kannegiesser, the king’s embassador at Hanover. We do not know what the propositions were. But the king was exceedingly anxious to avoid war. He had, in many respects, a very stern sense of justice, and would not do that which he considered to be wrong. When he abused his family or others he did not admit that he was acting unjustly. He assumed, and with a sort of fanatical conscientiousness, detestable as it was, that he was doing right; that they deserved the treatment. And now he earnestly desired peace, and was disposed to present the most honorable terms to avert a war.
The unhappy princess, distracted by these griefs, had grown thin and pale. It was soon rumored throughout the court that the king had written to Weissenfels, and that the duke was on his way to seize his reluctant bride. In this emergence, the queen’s friend, Baron Borck, suggested to her that, in order to get rid of the obnoxious Weissenfels, she should so far yield to the wishes of the king as to give up the English alliance, and propose a third party, who might be more acceptable to Wilhelmina. But who shall this substitute be?An eye-witness writes from near Weissenfels, in a report to the King of Poland, whose allies the French were, and whose territories they were ravaging:
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“It would be better,” M. Roloff mildly suggested, “that your majesty should write at once.
By order of the king, Fritz, who had also been condemned to die and was awaiting his doom, was brought down into a lower room of the fortress, before whose window the scaffold was erected, that he might be compelled “to see Katte die.” At his entrance the curtains were closed, shutting out the view of the court-yard. Upon the drawing of the curtains, Fritz, to his horror, beheld the scaffold draped in black on a level with the window, and directly before it.详情
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