BAPTISM OF FREDERICK.
“At eleven this day I went to the council-chamber for the third time, and desired Secretary Hartoff to prevail with the ministry to allow me to speak with them, and communicate what the King of Prussia had ordered me to propose. Herr von Hartoff gave them an account of my request, and brought me, for answer, that I must wait a little, because the ministers were not yet all assembled; which I did. But after having made me stay almost an hour, and after the president of the council was come, Herr von Hartoff came out to me and repeated what he had said yesterday, in very positive and absolute terms, that the ministers were resolved not to see me, and had expressly forbid him taking any paper at my hands.There is a gloom of the soul far deeper than any gloom with which nature can ever be shrouded. It is not easy to conceive of a mortal placed in circumstances of greater mental suffering than was the proud, ambitious young monarch during the hour in which he waited, in terror and disgrace, by the side of the mill, for the return of his courier. At length the clatter of hoofs was heard, and the messenger came back, accompanied by an adjutant, to announce to the king that the Prussians still held Lowen, and that the Prussian army had gained a signal victory at Mollwitz.
The king, smothering his wrath, did not immediately seek an interview with his son. But the next day, encountering him, he said, sarcastically, “Ah! you are still here, then; I thought that by this time you would have been in Paris.” The prince, somewhat emboldened by despair, ventured to reply, “I certainly could have been there had I wished it.”
Thus the summer of 1732 passed away. In November Wilhelmina returned from Baireuth to Berlin on a visit. She remained at home for ten months, leaving her babe, Frederica, at Baireuth. There must have been some urgent reason to have147 induced her to make this long visit, for her reception, by both father and mother, was far from cordial. Neither of them had been really in favor of the match with the young prospective Margraf of Baireuth, but had yielded to it from the force of circumstances. The journey to Berlin was long and cold. Her mother greeted her child with the words, “What do you want here? What is a mendicant like you come hither for?” The next day her father, who had been upon a journey, came home. His daughter had been absent for two years. And yet this strange father addressed her in the following cruel and sarcastic words:BAPTISM OF FREDERICK.CHAPTER XXIX. THE THIRD CAMPAIGN OF THE SEVEN YEARS’ WAR.
“Tantalus never suffered so much while standing in the river, the waters of which he could not drink, as I when, having received your package of the translation of Wolff, I was unable to read it. All the accidents and all the bores in the world were, I think, agreed to prevent me. A journey to Potsdam, daily reviews, and the arrival of my brother in company with Messrs. De Hacke and De Rittberg, have been my impediments. Imagine my horror, my dear Diaphanes,30 at seeing the arrival of this caravan without my having in the least expected them. They weigh upon my shoulders like a tremendous burden, and never quit my side, in order, I believe, to make me wish myself at the devil.”
The young sovereign commenced his reign with the utterance of very noble sentiments. The day after his accession he assembled the chief officers of his father to administer to them the oath of allegiance. He urged them to be humane in the exercise of all authority which might be delegated to them.The king had made many efforts to force his son to surrender his rights of primogeniture, and to sign an act renouncing his claim to the succession of the Prussian throne in favor of his next brother. His only answer was, “Declare my birth illegitimate, and I will give up the throne.” But the king could never consent to fix such a stain upon the honor of his wife.
Just after dispatching this letter he received one from D’Argens, to which he immediately, on the same day, returned the following reply:The Battle of Chotusitz.—Letter to Jordan.—Results of the Battle.—Secret Negotiations.—The Treaty of Breslau.—Entrance into Frankfort.—Treachery of Louis XV.—Results of the Silesian Campaigns.—Panegyrics of Voltaire.—Imperial Character of Maria Theresa.—Her Grief over the Loss of Silesia.—Anecdote of Senora Barbarina.—Duplicity of both Frederick and Voltaire.—Gayety in Berlin.—Straitened Circumstances.—Unamiability of Frederick.“I have nothing to add to this. I will only inform your curiosity that we passed the Elbe the day before yesterday; that to-morrow we march toward Leipsic, where I hope to be on the 31st, where I hope we shall have a battle, and whence you shall receive news of us as it occurs.”
The Prussians had a detached post at Smirzitz. The little garrison there was much harassed by lurking bands of Austrians, who shot their sentries, cut off their supplies, and rendered it almost certain death to any one who ventured to emerge from the ramparts. Some inventive genius among the Prussians constructed a straw man, very like life, representing a sentinel with his shouldered musket. By a series of ropes this effigy was made to move from right to left, as if walking his beat. A well-armed band of Prussians then hid in a thicket near by.详情
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