Two events occurred at this time highly characteristic of the king. There was a nobleman by the name of Schlubhut, occupying a high official position, who was found a defaulter to the amount of a sum equal to twenty-five thousand dollars. The supreme court sentenced him to three or four years’ imprisonment. The king was indignant at the mildness of the sentence. “What,” said he, “when the private thief is sent to the gallows, shall a nobleman and a magistrate escape with fine and imprisonment?” Schlubhut was immediately sent to prison. All night long he was disturbed with the noise of carpentering in the castle square in front of his cell. In the morning he saw directly before his window a huge gallows erected. Upon that126 gallows he was immediately hung, and his body was left to swing in the wind for several days, some say for weeks.
Kannegiesser, at Hanover, received the king’s propositions for reconciliation at ten o’clock in the morning of the 15th of August, 1729. George II. was then absent on a hunting excursion. The Prussian embassador called immediately at the council-chamber of the Hanoverian court, and informed M. Hartoff, the privy secretary, that he wished an audience with the ministry, then in session, to make a proposition to them from the Prussian court. Hartoff, who had met Kannegiesser in a room adjoining the council-chamber, reported the request to the council, and returned with the disrespectful answer that “M. Kannegiesser must defer what he has to say to some other time.”“Leave the cold ashes of Maupertuis in peace. He was noble and faithful. He pardoned you that vile libel of Doctor Akakia which your criminal fury scribbled against him. And what return are you making? Shame on such delirious ravings as those of Voltaire! Shall this grand genius, whom I have admired, soil himself with calumny, and be ferocious on the dead? Shall he, like a vile raven, pounce upon the sepulchre, and make prey upon its corpses?”“Some countries take six months, some twelve, to get in motion for war. But in three weeks Prussia can be across the frontiers and upon the throats of its enemy. Some countries have a longer sword than Prussia, but none can unsheath it so soon.
At three o’clock of a dark and misty morning, the Austrians from the west, the south, and the east rushed upon the sleeping Prussians. At the same time, an attack was made upon the left wing of the Prussians, which was a feint to bewilder them, and to prevent re-enforcements from being sent to the right wing. For five hours there was a scene of tumult, confusion, and horror which can neither be described nor imagined. The morning was dark, the fog dense, and the Prussians, though ever on the alert, were taken by surprise. No one in the army of Frederick467 thought either of running or of surrendering. It was a hand-to-hand fight, with bayonets, and sabres, and butts of muskets. Marshal Keith, after receiving two bullet-wounds which he did not regard, was shot through the heart.“The pulse is gone,” the physician said, sadly.
“My discourse,” she writes, “produced its effect. He melted into tears, and could not answer me for sobs. He explained his thoughts by his embracings of me. Making an effort at length, he said, ‘I am in despair that I did not know thee. They had told me such horrible tales—I hated thee as much as I now love thee. If I had addressed myself direct to thee I should have escaped much trouble, and thou too. But they hindered me from speaking. They said that thou wert ill-natured as the devil, and wouldst drive to extremities, which I wanted to avoid. Thy mother, by her intriguings, is in part the cause of the misfortunes of the family. I have been deceived and duped on every side. But my hands are tied. Though my heart is torn in pieces, I must leave these iniquities unpunished.’The king, upon receiving these strange and unexpected tidings, immediately rode into Lowen. It was an early hour in the261 morning. He entered the place, not as a king and a conqueror, but as a starving fugitive, exhausted with fatigue, anxiety, and sleeplessness. It is said that his hunger was so great that he stopped at a little shop on the corner of the market-place, where “widow Panzern” served him with a cup of coffee and a cold roast fowl. Thus slightly refreshed, the intensely humiliated young king galloped back to his victorious army at Mollwitz, having been absent from it, in his terror-stricken flight, for sixteen hours.In the month of October, 1747, Field-marshal Keith visited his Prussian majesty at Sans Souci. In a letter to his brother he thus describes the results of his observations:
Four days after, in anticipation of an immediate attack from the Russians, he again wrote to the same address, “Remain at Berlin, or retire to Potsdam. In a little while there will come some catastrophe. It is not fit that you suffer by it. If things take a good turn, you can be back to Berlin. If ill luck still pursue us, go to Hanover, or to Zelle, where you can provide for your safety.”
“My dear Voltaire,—You wish to know what I have been about since leaving Berlin. Annexed you will find a description of it.This rude, coarse discipline was thoroughly uncongenial to the Crown Prince. He was a boy of delicate feelings and sensitive temperament. The poetic nature very decidedly predominated in him. He was fond of music, played the flute, wrote verses, and was literary in his tastes. He simply hated chasing boars, riding on the sausage car, and being drenched with rain and spattered with mud. The old king, a mere animal with an active intellect, could not appreciate, could not understand even, the34 delicate mental and physical organization of his child. It is interesting to observe how early in life these constitutional characteristics will develop themselves, and how unavailing are all the efforts of education entirely to obliterate them. When Frederick William was a boy, he received, as a present, a truly magnificent dressing-gown, of graceful French fashion, richly embroidered with gold. Indignantly he thrust the robe into the fire, declaring that he would wear no such finery, and demanded instead a jacket of wholesome homespun. Fritz, on the contrary, could not endure the coarse homespun, but, with almost girlish fondness, craved handsome dress. He had no money allowance until he was seventeen years of age. A minute account was kept of every penny expended for him, and the most rigid economy was practiced in providing him with the mere necessaries of life. When Fritz was in the tenth year of his age, his father gave the following curious directions to the three teachers of his son in reference to his daily mode of life. The document, an abridgment of which we give, was dated Wusterhausen, September 3, 1721:
“His Prussian majesty rides much about, often at a rapid rate, with a pleasant business aspect—humane, though imperative; handsome to look upon, though with a face perceptibly reddish. His age, now thirty-eight gone; a set appearance, as if already got into his forties; complexion florid; figure muscular, almost tending to be plump.”Such was the Tobacco Parliament in its trivial aspects. But it had also its serious functions. Many questions were discussed there which stirred men’s souls, and which roused the ambition or the wrath of the stern old king to the utmost pitch.
After a long series of intrigues, a narrative of which would not interest the reader, Frederick William was induced to enter into an alliance, offensive and defensive, with the Emperor Charles VI. of Germany. This was renouncing the alliance with England, and threw an additional obstacle in the way of the double marriage. Sophie Dorothee was bitterly disappointed, and yet pertinaciously struggled on to accomplish her end.478 The latter part of June, an army of a hundred thousand Russians, having crossed the Vistula, was concentrated, under General Soltikof, at Posen, on the River Warta, in Poland. They were marching from the northeast to attack the Prussian forces near Landshut in their rear. General Daun, with a still larger force of Austrians, was confronting Frederick on the southwest. The plan of the allies was to crush their foe between these two armies. Frederick had lost the ablest of his generals. The young men who were filling their places were untried.“And twenty-five thousand spades and picks are at work, under such a field engineer as there is not in the world when he takes to that employment. At all hours, night and day, twenty-five thousand of them: half the army asleep, other half digging, wheeling, shoveling; plying their utmost, and constant as Time himself: these, in three days, will do a great deal of spadework. Batteries, redoubts, big and little; spare not for digging. Here is ground for cavalry, too. Post them here, there, to bivouac in readiness, should our batteries be unfortunate. Long trenches are there, and also short; batteries commanding every ingate, and under them are mines.”详情
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