Frederick paid no regard to the remonstrance of the emperor. The bishop, in his distress, applied to the French for aid, and then to the Dutch, but all in vain. He then sent an embassy to Berlin, proposing to purchase Herstal. The king consented to sell upon the same terms his father had offered, adding to the sum the expenses of his military expedition and other little items, bringing the amount up to one hundred and eighty thousand dollars. The money was paid, and the Herstal difficulty was settled. This was Frederick’s first act of foreign diplomacy. Many severely censured him for the violent course he pursued with a power incapable of resistance. All admitted the energy and sagacity which he had developed in the affair.Frederick was indignant. Scornfully he rejected the proposal, saying, “Such a paltry sum might with propriety, perhaps, be offered to a petty duke of Hesse-Darmstadt, but it is not suitable to make such a proposition to the King of Prussia.
The king’s brother Henry was in command in Saxony, at the head of thirty thousand troops. Frederick wrote to him the characteristic and very judicious advice, “Do as energetically as possible whatever seems wisest to you. But hold no councils of war.”But, immediately after these ceremonies were over, the new monarch, who assumed the crown with the title of Frederick William, not with that of Frederick II., to the utter consternation of the court, dismissed nearly every honorary official of the palace, from the highest dignitary to the humblest page. His flashing eye and determined manner were so appalling that no one ventured to remonstrate. A clean sweep was made, so that the household was reduced to the lowest footing of economy consistent with the supply of indispensable wants. Eight servants were retained at six shillings a week. His father had thirty pages; all were dismissed but three. There were one thousand saddle-horses in the royal stables; Frederick William kept thirty. Three fourths of the names were struck from the pension-list. Thus rigidly the king went on through every department of administrative and household expenses, until they were reduced to below a fifth of what they had been under his father.
“Believe, my charming sister, that never brother in the world loved with such tenderness a sister so charming as mine.”
“Monsieur,—I believe that it is of the last importance that I should write to you, and I am very sad to have things to say which I ought to conceal from all the earth. But one must take that bad leap, and, reckoning you among my friends, I the more easily resolve to open myself to you.
“I do not love Luc; far from it. I never will pardon him his infamous procedure with my niece,145 nor the face he has to write me flattering things twice a month without having ever repaired his wrongs. I desire much his entire humiliation, the chastisement of the sinner; whether his eternal damnation I do not quite know.
Frederick dispatched messengers to Ohlau to summon the force there to his aid; the messengers were all captured. The Prussians were now in a deplorable condition. The roads were encumbered and rendered almost impassable by the drifted snow. The army was cut off from its supplies, and had provisions on hand but for a single day. Both parties alike plundered the poor inhabitants of their cattle, sheep, and grain. Every thing that could burn was seized for their camp-fires. We speak of the carnage of the battle-field, and often forget the misery which is almost invariably brought upon the helpless inhabitants of the region through which the armies move. The schoolmaster of Mollwitz, a kind, simple-hearted, accurate old gentleman, wrote an account of the scenes he witnessed. Under date of Mollwitz, Sunday, April 9, he writes:Sir Thomas, deeply chagrined, hastened back to Presburg. Acting in behalf of the English cabinet, he trembled in view of the preponderance of the French court and of the loss of Hanover. With the most impassioned earnestness he entreated the queen to yield to the demands of Frederick, and thus secure his alliance.详情
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