“Nothing can be more elegant than this prince’s library. It has a view of the lake and gardens. A collection, not very numerous, but well chosen, of the best books in the French language are ranged in glass cases, which are ornamented with carvings and gildings in excellent taste. The portrait of M. De Voltaire occupies an honorable place in this library. He is the favorite author of the prince, who has, in general, a high esteem for good French writers both in prose and verse.In reference to the course which the king had allowed himself to pursue in obtaining access to the archives of Saxony by bribing an officer to betray his trust, Augustus William wrote:
From this exhausting journey for so old a man the king returned to Potsdam through a series of state dinners, balls, and illuminations. On the night of the 18th of September he was awoke by a very severe fit of suffocation. It was some time before he could get any relief, and it was thought that he was dying. The next day gout set in severely. This was followed by dropsy. The king suffered severely through the winter. There is no royal road through the sick-chamber to the tomb. The weary months of pain and languor came and went. The renowned Mirabeau visited the king in his sick-chamber on the 17th of April, 1786. He writes:
CHAPTER XXV. COMMENCEMENT OF THE SEVEN YEARS’ WAR.“I beg a thousand pardons, my dear sister. In these three long pages I talk to you of nothing but my troubles and affairs. A strange abuse it would be of any other person’s friendship. But yours, my dear sister, is known to me; and I am persuaded that you are not impatient when I open to you my heart—a heart which is yours altogether, being filled with sentiments of the tenderest esteem, with which I am, my dearest sister, your
“Must there be war?” he said. “I am your majesty’s friend. Can we not, in mutual concession, find agreement?”And why was George II. so averse to the single marriage of the Prince of Wales to Wilhelmina? It is supposed that the opposition arose simply from his own mulish obstinacy. He hated his brother-in-law, the Prussian king. He was a weak, ill-tempered man; and having once said “Both marriages or none,” nothing could induce him to swerve from that position. In such a difficulty, with such men, there could be no possible compromise.George II. was far from popular in England. There was but little in the man to win either affection or esteem. The Prince of Wales was also daily becoming more disliked. He was assuming haughty airs. He was very profligate, and his associates were mainly actresses and opera girls. The Prussian minister at London, who was opposed to any matrimonial connection whatever between the Prussian and the English court, watched the Prince of Wales very narrowly, and wrote home quite unfavorable reports respecting his character and conduct. He had searched out the fact that Fritz had written to his aunt, Queen Caroline, pledging to her his word “never to marry any body in the world except the Princess Amelia of England, happen what will.” This fact was reported to the king, greatly exciting his wrath.
“Salzdahlum, Noon, June 12, 1733.The probable object of the Austrian court in revealing the secret treaty of Schnellendorf was to set Frederick and France at variance. Frederick, much exasperated, not only denied the treaty, but professed increased devotion to the interests of Louis XV. The allies, consisting of France, Prussia, Bavaria, and Saxony, now combined to wrest Moravia from Maria Theresa, and annex it to Saxony. This province, governed by a marquis, was a third larger than the State of Massachusetts, and contained a population of about a million and a half. Moravia bounded Silesia on the south. Frederick made a special treaty with the King of Saxony, that the southern boundary of Silesia should be a full German mile, which was between four and five English miles, beyond the line of the River Neisse. With Frederick’s usual promptitude, he insisted that commissioners should be immediately sent to put down the boundary stones. France was surprised that the King of Saxony should have consented to the surrender of so important a strip of his territory.
On the 15th of November Frederick arrived at Lauban, within a hundred miles of Dresden. General Daun immediately raised the siege and retired into Bohemia. Frederick marched triumphantly into the city. Thus, as the extraordinary result of the defeat at Hochkirch, Frederick, by the exhibition of military ability which astonished Europe, regained Neisse, retained Dresden, and swept both Silesia and Saxony entirely free of his foes. Frederick remained in Dresden about a month. He then retired to Breslau, in Silesia, for winter quarters. The winter was a very sad one to him. Private griefs and public calamities weighed heavily upon his heart.125 Though during the year he had destroyed a hundred thousand of his enemies, he had lost thirty thousand of his own brave little band. It was almost impossible, by any energies of conscription, to replace this waste of war. His treasury was exhausted. Though he wrenched from the wretched Saxons every dollar which military rapacity and violence could extort from them, still they were so impoverished by the long and desolating struggle that but little money could be found in the almost empty purses of a beggared people. Another campaign was soon to open, in which the allies, with almost unlimited resources of men and treasure, would again come crowding upon him in all directions in overpowering numbers.“My dear General and Friend,—I was charmed to learn, by your letter, that my affairs are on so good a footing. You may depend on it I am prepared to follow your advice. I will lend myself to whatever is possible for me. And, provided I can secure the king’s favor by my obedience, I will do all that is within my power.“Let him learn arithmetic, mathematics, artillery, economy, to the very bottom; history in particular; ancient history only slightly, but the history of the last hundred and fifty years to the exactest pitch. He must be completely master of geography, as also of whatever is remarkable in each country. With increasing years you will more and more, to an especial degree, go upon fortification, the formation of a camp, and other war sciences, that the prince may, from youth upward, be trained to act as officer and general, and to seek all his glory in the soldier profession. You have, in the highest measure, to make it your care to infuse into my son a true love for the soldier business, and to impress on him that, as there is nothing in the world which can bring a prince renown and honor like the sword, so he would be a despised creature before all men if he did not love it and seek his glory therein.”
Voltaire had, as a pet, a very vicious ape, treacherous, spiteful, who pelted passers-by with stones, and, when provoked, would bite terribly. The name of this hateful beast was Luc. Voltaire gave his friend Frederick the nickname of Luc. He corresponded freely with the enemies of his Prussian majesty. A few extracts will reveal the character of the friendship of the philosopher. Some days after the battle of Kunersdorf Voltaire wrote to D’Argental:Then came another strain of verse. Thus the prose and the doggerel were interspersed through the long narrative. Though very truthful in character, it was a school-boy performance—a very singular document indeed to be sent to the most brilliant genius of that age, by one who soon proved himself to be the ablest sovereign in Europe.
It was but sixty miles from Prague to Tabor. The march of Frederick’s division led through Kunraditz, across the Sazawa River, through Bistritz and Miltchin. It was not until the ninth332 day of their toilsome march that the steeples of Tabor were descried, in the distant horizon, on its high, scarped rock. Here both columns united. Half of the draught cattle had perished by the way, and half of the wagons had been abandoned.Augustus William, overwhelmed by his disgrace, and yet angered by the rebuke, coldly replied that he desired only that a court-martial should investigate the case and pronounce judgment. The king forbade that any intercourse whatever should take place between his own troops, soldiers, or officers, and those of his brother, who, he declared, had utterly degraded themselves by the loss of all courage and ambition. The prince sent to the king General Schultz to obtain the countersign for the army. Frederick refused to receive him, saying “that he had no countersign to send to cowards.” Augustus William then went himself to present his official report and a list of his troops. Frederick took the papers without saying a word, and then turned his back upon his brother. This cruel treatment fell with crushing force upon the unhappy prince. Conscious of military failure, disgraced in the eyes of his generals and soldiers, and abandoned by the king, his health and spirits alike failed him. The next morning he wrote a sad, respectfully reproachful letter to423 Frederick, stating that his health rendered it necessary for him to retire for a season from the army to recruit. The reply of the king, which was dated Bautzen, July 30, 1757, shows how desperate he, at that time, considered the state of his affairs. Hopeless of victory, he seems to have sought only death.The wrath of the king was now ungovernable. He drew his sword, threatening to thrust it through the heart of his son, and seemed upon the point of doing so, when General Mosel threw himself before the king, exclaiming, “Sire, you may kill me, but spare your son.”12
178 “Meanwhile Frederick the First died, and with him was buried all his false grandeur, which consisted only in a vain magnificence, and in the pompous display of frivolous ceremonies. My father, who succeeded him, compassionated the general misery. He visited the spot, and saw, with his own eyes, this vast country laid waste, and all the dreadful traces which a contagious malady, a famine, and the sordid avarice of a venal administration leave behind them. Twelve or fifteen towns depopulated, and four or five hundred villages uninhabited, presented themselves to his view. Far from being discouraged by such a sad spectacle, his compassion only became the more lively from it; and he resolved to restore population, plenty, and commerce to this land, which had even lost the appearance of an inhabited country.Voltaire, speaking of this conflict, says, “It was the most inconceivable and complete rout and discomfiture of which history433 makes any mention. Thirty thousand French and twenty thousand imperial troops were there seen making a disgraceful and precipitate flight before five battalions and a few squadrons. The defeats of Agincourt, Cressy, and Poitiers were not so humiliating.”110详情
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