Olmütz was found very strongly fortified. It was so situated that, with the force Frederick had, it could not be entirely invested. Baron Marshal, a very brave and energetic old man, sixty-seven years of age, conducted the defense.“The prince is tall, well made, and has a noble air. His features are neither handsome nor regular; but his countenance, which is open, engaging, and very agreeable, stands him in the place of beauty. He is of a hasty temper, and replies with quickness and without embarrassment. Though his nature is inclined to anger, he knows so well how to overcome it that it is never perceived, and no one has ever suffered by it. He is very gay. His conversation is very agreeable, though he has some difficulty in making himself intelligible from lisping so much. His conception is quick, and his intellect penetrating. The goodness of his heart gains him the attachment of all who know him. He is generous, charitable, compassionate, polite, engaging, and enjoys very equal spirits. The only fault I know in him is too much levity, which I must mention here, as otherwise122 I should be accused of partiality. He has, however, much corrected himself of it.
In October, 1723, when the prince was eleven years of age, his grandfather, George I., came to Berlin to visit his daughter and his son-in-law, the mother and father of Fritz. From the windows of his apartment he looked out with much interest upon Fritz, drilling his cadet company upon the esplanade in front of the palace. The clock-work precision of the movements of the boy soldiers greatly surprised him.
The king, with a very complaisant smile, said, “Russia, my good sir—It is not proper for me to explain myself, but I have means to keep the Russians employed.”
The death of George I. affected the strange Frederick William very deeply. He not only shed tears, but, if we may be pardoned the expression, blubbered like a child. His health seemed50 to fail, and hypochondria, in its most melancholy form, tormented him. As is not unusual in such cases, he became excessively religious. Every enjoyment was deemed sinful, if we except the indulgence in an ungovernable temper, which the self-righteous king made no attempt to curb. Wilhelmina, describing this state of things with her graphic pen, writes:
The sun had just risen above the horizon when the conflict commenced. It reached its meridian. Still the storm of battle swept the plains and reverberated over the hills. Heights had been taken and retaken; charges had been made and repelled; the surges of victory had rolled to and fro; over many leagues the thunderbolts of battle were thickly flying; bugle peals, cries of onset, shrieks of the wounded crushed beneath artillery wheels, blended with the rattle of musketry and the roar of artillery; riderless horses were flying in all directions; the extended plain was covered with the wreck and ruin of battle, and every moment was multiplying the victims of war’s horrid butchery.
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