Two days after committing this important document to Count Finck, Frederick took leave of his mother and his brother. His mother he never saw again. We have no evidence that on this visit he even called upon his irreproachable, amiable, neglected wife. In preparation for the worst, Frederick had provided poison for himself, and wore it constantly about his person. It consisted of several small pills in a glass tube. This fact is fully established.“As a fit of illness has come on me, which I do not think will have dangerous results, I have, for the present, left the command of my troops to Lieutenant General Von Finck, whose orders you are to execute as if coming directly from myself. On this I pray God139 to have you in his holy and worthy keeping.A son was born and died. A daughter came, Wilhelmina. But a daughter could not inherit the crown. Another son was born and died. There was great anxiety at court, from fear that the direct line of succession might not be preserved. But on the 24th of January, 1712, when the monarchy was but twelve years old, the little prince was born who subsequently obtained such renown as Frederick the Great. The king, his grandfather, was aged and infirm. The excessive joy with which he greeted little Fritz, as he fondly called the child, was cordially reciprocated throughout the Prussian nation. The realm blazed with bonfires and illuminations, and resounded with every demonstration of public joy. The young prince was christened with great pomp, Charles Frederick. The emperor, Charles VI., was present on the occasion, and in the solemnities there were blended the most imposing civil, military, and ecclesiastical rites. The baptism took place on the 31st of January, 1712, when the babe was a week old. The young prince subsequently dropped the name of Charles, and Frederick became his sole designation. Wilhelmina, Frederick’s sister, was about three years older than himself. We shall have frequent occasion to allude to her in the course of this history, as between her and her brother there sprang up a warm attachment, which was of life-long continuance. Ten children were subsequently born to the royal pair, making fourteen in all, most of whom attained mature years.
491 The rumor that Daun was marching upon Berlin proved a false alarm. On the 4th of September the king again wrote D’Argens from his encampment at Waldau, a few leagues south of his last position, just over the border in Saxony:
209 The poor old bishop called loudly upon the Emperor of Germany for help. The territory of the Bishop of Liege was under the protection of the empire. The Emperor Charles VI. immediately issued a decree ordering Frederick to withdraw his troops, to restore the money which he had extorted, and to settle the question by arbitration, or by an appeal to the laws of the empire. This was the last decree issued by Charles VI. Two weeks after he died.
CHAPTER XIV. THE DEFEAT AND FLIGHT OF FREDERICK.
“My children, I could not come to you sooner, or this calamity should not have happened. Have a little patience, and I will cause every thing to be rebuilt.The king seemed surprised, raised his hand, opening and shutting the fingers, and then said, “It is impossible. How could I move my fingers so if the pulse were gone?”Orders had been issued for all the Prussian troops to be rendezvoused by the 5th of February at Wischau. They were then to march immediately about seventy-five miles west, to Trebitsch, which was but a few miles south of Iglau, the point of attack. Here they were to join the French and Saxon troops. The force thus concentrated would amount to twenty-four thousand Prussian301 troops, twenty thousand Saxons, and five thousand French horsemen. With this army—forty-nine thousand strong—Frederick was to advance, by one short day’s march, upon Iglau, where the Austrian garrison amounted to but ten thousand men.
CHAPTER XVI. THE CONQUEST OF SILESIA.“God does not always follow the impulse of his justice toward sinners, but often, by his mercy, reclaims those who have gone astray. And will not your majesty, sire, who are a resemblance of the divinity, pardon a criminal who is guilty of disobedience to his sovereign? The hope of pardon supports me, and I flatter myself that your majesty will not cut me off in the flower of my age, but will give me time to prove the effect your majesty’s clemency will have on me.In truth, when General Daun approached, and Frederick saw that there was no possibility of his taking the city, he, in the wantonness of his rage, set fire to upward of a hundred houses in the suburbs which had hitherto escaped the flames. Three hundred and fifty houses were destroyed within the walls. More than that number were half destroyed, shattered by bombs, and scorched with flames. These were terrible calamities falling upon a city already exhausted by four years of the most desolating war. The King of Poland closed his appeal by saying,
General Neipperg cautiously advanced toward him, and encamped in the vicinity of Steinau—the same Steinau which but a few weeks before had been laid in ashes as the Prussian troops284 passed through it. The two armies were now separated from each other but by an interval of about five miles. The country was flat, and it was not probable that the contest which Frederick so eagerly sought could long be avoided.“The snow lies ell-deep,” writes Archenholtz; “snow-tempests, sleet, frost. The soldiers bread is a block of ice, impracticable to human teeth till you thaw it.The king, Frederick I., had for some time been in a feeble state of health. The burden of life had proved heavier than he was able to bear. His wife was crazed, his home desolate, his health broken, and many mortifications and disappointments had so crushed his spirits that he had fallen into the deepest state of melancholy. As he was sitting alone and sad in a chill morning of February, 1713, gazing into the fire, absorbed in painful musings, suddenly there was a crash of the glass door of the apartment. His frenzied wife, half-clad, with disheveled hair,23 having escaped from her keepers, came bursting through the shattered panes. Her arms were gashed with glass, and she was in the highest state of maniacal excitement. The shock proved a death-blow to the infirm old king. He was carried to his bed, which he never left, dying in a few days. His grandson Frederick was then fourteen months old.
The freezing gales of winter soon came, when neither army could keep the open field. Frederick established his winter quarters at Breslau. General Loudon, with his Austrians, was about thirty miles southwest of him at Kunzendorf. Thus ended the sixth campaign.At Frankfort-on-the-Main the party were to take boats to descend the river. The prince was informed that the king had given express orders that he should not be permitted to enter the town, but that he should be conducted immediately to one of the royal yachts. Here the king received an intercepted letter from the Crown Prince to Lieutenant Katte. Boiling with indignation, he stalked on board the yacht, and assailed his captive son in the coarsest and most violent language of abuse. In the frenzy of his passion he seized Fritz by the collar, shook him, hustled him about, tore out handfuls of hair, and thrust his cane into his face, causing the blood to gush from his nose. “Never before,” exclaimed the unhappy prince, pathetically, “did a Brandenburg face suffer the like of this.”
“Here his whole conversation consisted in quizzing whatever he saw, and repeating to me, above a hundred times over, the words ‘little prince,’ ‘little court.’ I was shocked, and could not understand how he had changed so suddenly toward me. The etiquette of all courts in the empire is, that nobody who has not at least the rank of captain can sit at a prince’s table. My brother put a lieutenant there who was in his suite, saying, ‘A king’s lieutenant is as good as a margraf’s minister.’ I swallowed this incivility, and showed no sign.“My dear Sister,—Here I am, within six leagues of a sister I love, and I have to decide that it will be impossible to see her after all. I have never so lamented the misfortune of not depending on myself as at this moment. The king being very sour sweet on my score, I dare not risk the least thing. A week from next Monday, when he arrives himself, I should be queerly treated in the camp if I were found to have disobeyed orders.详情
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