“My dear Jordan,—We are going to fight to-morrow. Thou knowest the chances of war. The life of kings is not more regarded than that of private people. I know not what will happen to me.“I have been unhappy all my life, and I think it is my destiny to continue so. One must be patient, and take the time as it comes. Perhaps a sudden tract of good fortune, on the back of all the chagrins I have encountered since I entered this world, would have made me too proud. I have suffered sufficiently, and I will not engage myself to extend my miseries into future times. I have still resources. A pistol-shot can deliver me from my sorrows and my life, and I think a merciful God would not damn me for that, but, taking pity on me, would, in exchange for a life of wretchedness, grant me salvation. This is whitherward despair can lead a young person whose blood is not so quiescent as if he were seventy.
George was a taciturn, jealous, sullen old man, who quarreled with his son, who was then Prince of Wales. The other powers of Europe were decidedly opposed to this double marriage, as it would, in their view, create too intimate a union between Prussia and England, making them virtually one. Frederick William also vexatiously threw hinderances in the way. But the heart of the loving mother, Sophie Dorothee, was fixed upon these nuptials. For years she left no efforts of diplomacy or intrigue untried to accomplish her end. George I. is represented40 by Horace Walpole as a stolid, stubborn old German, living in a cloud of tobacco-smoke, and stupefying his faculties with beer. He had in some way formed a very unfavorable opinion of Wilhelmina, considering her, very falsely, ungainly in person and fretful in disposition. But at last the tact of Sophie Dorothee so far prevailed over her father, the British king, that he gave his somewhat reluctant but positive consent to the double matrimonial alliance. This was in 1723. Wilhelmina was then fourteen years of age. Fritz, but eleven years old, was too young to think very deeply upon the subject of his marriage. The young English Fred bore at that time the title of the Duke of Gloucester. He soon sent an envoy to Prussia, probably to convey to his intended bride presents and messages of love. The interview took place in the palace of Charlottenburg, a few miles out from Berlin. The vivacious Wilhelmina, in the following terms, describes the interview in her journal:“The unsuccessfulest negotiation well imaginable by a public man. Strehlen, Monday, 7th August, 1741—Frederick has vanished into the interior of his tent, and the two diplomatic gentlemen, the wind struck out of them in this manner, remain gazing at one another. Here, truly, is a young, royal gentleman that knows his own mind, while so many do not. Unspeakable imbroglio of negotiations, mostly insane, welters over all the earth; the Belleisles, the Aulic Councils, the British Georges, heaping coil upon coil; and here, notably in that now so extremely sordid murk of wiggeries, inane diplomacies, and solemn deliriums, dark now and obsolete to all creatures, steps forth one little human figure, with something of sanity in it, like a star, like a gleam of steel, sheering asunder your big balloons, and letting out their diplomatic hydrogen. Salutes with his hat, ‘Gentlemen, gentlemen, it is of no use!’ and vanishes into the interior of his tent.”
410 It became more and more manifest to Frederick that he must encounter a terrible conflict upon the opening of the spring. Early in January he took a short trip to Berlin, but soon returned to Dresden. Though he avoided all appearance of anxiety, and kept up a cheerful air, he was fully conscious of his peril. This is evident from the secret instructions he left with his minister, Count Finck, upon his departure from Berlin. The dispatch was dated January 10th, 1757:(But Heaven, which of all disposes,
“The king said that he would come and see me incognito at Brussels. But having fallen ill a couple of leagues from Cleves, he wrote me that he expected I would make the advances. I went accordingly to present my profound homages. I found at the gate of the court-yard a single soldier on guard. The privy councilor Rambonet, Minister of State, was walking about the court, blowing on his fingers to warm them. He had on great ruffles of dirty linen, a hat with holes in it, and an old periwig, one end of which hung down into one of his pockets, while the other hardly covered his shoulder.The queen remained firm in her determination that Wilhelmina should marry the Prince of Wales. The king was equally inflexible in his resolve that she should not marry the Prince of Wales. The queen occasionally had interviews with Wilhelmina, when they wept together over their disappointments and trials. The spirited young princess had no special predilections for the English prince, but she was firm in her resolve not to have a repugnant husband forced upon her. On the night of the 27th of January, 1731, as the queen was about to leave Berlin for Potsdam, she said to her daughter,“It would be easier for me to make peace with France than with Prussia. What good could possibly result now from peace with Prussia? I must have Silesia again. Without Silesia the imperial sceptre would be but a bauble. Would you have us sway that sceptre under the guardianship of Prussia? Prince Charles is now in a condition to fight the Prussians again. Until after another battle, do not speak to me of peace. You say that if we make peace with Prussia, Frederick will give his vote for the grand-duke as emperor. The grand-duke is not so ambitious of an empty honor as to engage in it under the tutelage of Prussia. Consider, moreover, is the imperial dignity consistent with the loss of Silesia? One more battle I demand. Were I compelled to agree with Frederick to-morrow, I would try him in a battle to-night.”85
In July, 1756, Frederick, for form’s sake, inquired, through his embassador at Vienna, why Maria Theresa was making such formidable military preparations. At the same time he conferred with two of his leading generals, Schwerin and Retzow, if it would not be better, since it was certain that Austria and Russia would soon declare war, to anticipate them by an attack upon Austria. The opinion of both, which was in perfect accord with that of the king, was that it was best immediately to seize upon Saxony, and in that rich and fertile country to gather magazines, and make it the base for operations in Bohemia.“I found him much grown; an air of health and gayety about him. He caressed me greatly. We went to dinner. He asked me to sit beside him. Among other things, he said that he liked the great world, and was charmed to observe the ridiculous, weak side of some people.”“‘Do you see the man in the garden yonder, sitting, smoking his pipe?’ said he to me. ‘That man, you may depend upon it, is not happy.’
293 “Of the political morality of this game of fast-and-loose what have we to say, except that the dice on both sides seem to be loaded; that logic might be chopped upon it forever; that a candid mind will settle what degree of wisdom (which is always essential veracity) and what of folly (which is always falsity) there was in Frederick and the others; whether, or to what degree, there was a better course open to Frederick in the circumstances; and, in fine, it will have to be granted that you can not work in pitch and keep hands evidently clean. Frederick has got into the enchanted wilderness populous with devils and their work, alas! It will be long before he get out of it again; his life waning toward night before he get victoriously out, and bequeath his conquest to luckier successors!”
Thus Bavaria turned against Frederick. It was manifest to all that Maria Theresa, aided by the alliances into which she had entered, and sustained by the gold which the English cabinet so generously lavished upon her, would be able to place the imperial crown upon her husband’s brow. It was equally evident that the sceptre of power, of which that crown was the emblem, would be entirely in her own hands.M. Pitsch made no reply. The king, probably feeling at the moment some physical monition of approaching death, cried out, “Lord Jesus, to thee I live. Lord Jesus, to thee I die. In life and in death thou art my gain.
Poor Linsenbarth had a feather bed, a small chest of clothes, and a bag of books. He went to a humble inn, called the “White Swan,” utterly penniless. The landlord, seeing that he could levy upon his luggage in case of need, gave him food and a small room in the garret to sleep in. Here he remained in a state verging upon despair for eight weeks. Some of the simple neighbors advised him to go directly to the king, as every poor man could do at certain hours in the day. He wrote a brief statement of the facts, and started on foot for Potsdam. We give the result in the words of Linsenbarth:The Prussian troops, meeting with no opposition, spread over the country, and a strong division reached Weichau on Saturday, the 17th. There they spent Sunday in rest. Frederick was anxious to win to his cause the Protestant population. He consequently favored their religious institutions, and ordered that Protestant worship should be held in the villages which he occupied, and where there was no Protestant church edifice, one part of the day in the Catholic churches. This plan he continued through the campaign, much to the gratification of the chaplains of his regiments and the Protestant community in Silesia. Though the Austrian government had not been particularly oppressive to the Protestants, still it leaned decidedly against what224 it deemed heresy. The Jesuits, favored by the governmental officials, were unwearied in their endeavors to promote the interests of their Church. Frederick, by allowing the impression to be spread abroad that he was the champion of Protestantism, was enabled to secure the sympathies of quite a strong party in Silesia in his favor. It is said that two thirds of the inhabitants of Silesia were Protestants, and therefore favorable to Frederick.详情
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