One clause in the king’s will was judiciously disregarded. As a last mark of his contempt for his own species, Frederick had directed that he should be buried at Sans Souci by the side of his dogs.“The public affairs in France,” writes Voltaire, “continued in as bad a state after the death of Cardinal De Fleury as during the last two years of his administration. The house of Austria rose again from its ashes. France was cruelly pressed upon by that power and by England. No other resource remained to us but the chance of regaining the King of Prussia, who, having drawn us into the war, had abandoned us as soon as it was convenient to himself so to do. It was thought advisable, under these circumstances, that I should be sent to that monarch to sound his intentions, and, if possible, persuade him to avert the storm which, after it had first fallen on us, would be sure, sooner or later, to fall from Vienna upon him. We also wished to secure from him the loan of a hundred thousand men, with the assurance that he could thus better secure to himself Silesia.
“I write from a place where there lived once a great man,27 which is now the Prince of Orange’s house. The demon of ambition sheds its unhappy poisons over his days. He might be the most fortunate of men, and he is devoured by chagrins in his beautiful palace here, in the middle of his gardens and of a brilliant court.”
THE DRESSING-GOWN.The loss of Silesia she regarded as an act of pure highway robbery. It rankled in her noble heart as the great humiliation and disgrace of her reign. Frederick was to her but as a hated and successful bandit, who had wrenched from her crown one of318 its brightest jewels. To the last day of her life she never ceased to deplore the loss. It is said that if any stranger, obtaining an audience, was announced as from Silesia, the eyes of the queen would instantly flood with tears. But the fortunes of war had now triumphantly turned in her favor. Aided by the armies and the gold of England, she was on the high career of conquest. Her troops had overrun Bohemia and Bavaria. She was disposed to hold those territories in compensation for Silesia, which she had lost.
“Nothing touched me so much as that you had not any trust in me. All this that I was doing for the aggrandizement of the house, the army, and the finances, could only be for you, if you made yourself worthy of it. I here declare that I have done all things to gain your friendship, and all has been in vain.”
The English minister at Berlin, Dubourgay, wrote to Hanover, urging that some notification of the king’s arrival should be sent60 to the Prussian court to appease the angry sovereign. George replied through Lord Townshend that, “under the circumstances, it is not necessary.” Thus the two kings were no longer on speaking terms. It is amusing, while at the same time it is humiliating, to observe these traits of frail childhood thus developed in full-grown men wearing crowns. When private men or kings are in such a state of latent hostility, an open rupture is quite certain soon to follow. George accused Frederick William of recruiting soldiers in Hanover. In retaliation, he seized some Prussian soldiers caught in Hanoverian territory. There was an acre or so of land, called the “Meadow of Clamei,” which both Hanover and Brandenburg claimed. The grass, about eight cart-loads, had been cut by Brandenburg, and was well dried.“O my God, help me yet this once. Let me not be disgraced in my old days. But if Thou wilt not help me, don’t help those scoundrels, but leave us to try it out ourselves.”
“I intended to have escaped at Steinfurth. I can not endure the treatment which I receive from my father—his abuse and blows. I should have escaped long ago had it not been for the condition in which I should have thus left my mother and sister. I am so miserable that I care but little for my own life. My great anxiety is for those officers who have been my friends, and who are implicated in my attempts. If the king will promise to pardon them, I will make a full confession of every thing. If you can help me in these difficulties, I shall be forever grateful to you.”Circumstances had already rendered Frederick one of the most important personages in Europe. He could ally himself with France, and humble Austria; or he could ally himself with England and Austria, and crush France. All the lesser lights in the Continental firmament circulated around these central luminaries. Consequently Frederick was enabled to take a conspicuous part in all the diplomatic intrigues which were then agitating the courts of Europe.
“The enemy threw such a multitude of bombs and red-hot balls into the city that by nine o’clock in the morning it burned, with great fury, in three different places. The fire could not be extinguished, as the houses were closely built, and the streets narrow. The air appeared like a shower of fiery rain and hail. The surprised inhabitants had not time to think of any thing but of saving their lives by getting into the open fields.In this fiery humor, the king leaped upon his horse and galloped to Schweidnitz. Here he met the Old Dessauer. He must have been not a little mortified to learn that his veteran general was right, and he utterly in the wrong. Prince Charles had returned home. Marshal Traun was in command of the Austrians.342 He had a compact army of 20,000 men, flushed with victory and surrounded by countless thousands of Pandours, who veiled every movement from view. He had established himself in an impregnable position on the south side of the Neisse, where he could not be assailed, with any prospect of success, by the force which Leopold could then summon to his aid.“Go on quietly with your siege. I have the king within my grasp. He is cut off from Silesia except by attacking me. If he does that, I hope to give you a good account of what happens.”124
“Dear Jordan,—I must tell you, as gayly as I can, that we have beaten the enemy soundly, and that we are all pretty well after it. Poor Rothenburg is wounded in the breast and in the arm, but, as it is hoped, without danger. Adieu. You will be happy, I think, at the good news I send you. My compliments to C?sarion.”66While on this journey to Holland the Crown Prince was one day dining with a prince of Lippe-Bückeburg. Freemasonry became one of the topics of conversation at the table. King Frederick William denounced the institution in his usual style of coarse vituperation, as tomfoolery, atheism, and every thing else that was bad. But the Prince of Bückeburg, himself a mason and a very gentlemanly man, defended the craft with such persuasive eloquence as quite captivated the Crown Prince. After dinner the prince took him secretly aside, conversed with him more fully upon the subject, expressed his admiration of the system, and his wish to be admitted into the fraternity: But it was necessary carefully to conceal the step from the irate king. Arrangements were immediately made to assemble at Brunswick a sufficient number of masons from Hamburg, where the Crown Prince, on his return, could be received in a secret meeting into the mystic brotherhood.
“I have as much honor as you have,” the son replied; “and I have only done that which I have heard you say a hundred times you would have done yourself had you been treated as I have been.”FREDERICK IN THE GARDEN.详情
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