The return mail brought back, under date of May 22, the stereotype British answer: “Both marriages or none.” Just before the reception of this reply, as Colonel Hotham was upon the eve of leaving Berlin, the Crown Prince addressed to him, from Potsdam, the following interesting letter:The Queen of Hungary had purchased the co-operation of the Polish king by offering to surrender to him a generous portion of Silesia after the province should have been reconquered. Indeed, there was a great cause of apprehension that the allied army would make a rush upon Berlin itself. The aspect of his Prussian majesty’s affairs was now gloomy in the extreme.
While in health and prosperity, quaffing the wines of Frederick, he was an avowed infidel, and eagerly joined the ribald companions of the king in denouncing all religion as the fanaticism of weak minds. But in these hours of pain, of loneliness, and of approaching death he could find no consolation in the teachings of philosophy. He sent for two Christian ministers to visit497 him daily, and daily had the Bible read to him. It was a death-bed repentance. Bitterly he deplored a wasted life. Sincerely he seemed to embrace the doctrines of Christianity.143 He died, after a lingering sickness, far from home and friends, on the 27th of July, 1759.It was apparently easy for the Crown Prince to relinquish Amelia. But the English princess, being very unhappy at home, had fixed her affections upon Frederick with the most romantic tenderness. In beauty of person, in chivalric reputation, in exalted rank, he was every thing an imaginative maiden could have desired. She regarded him probably as, in heart, true to her. He had often sent his protestations to the English court that he would never marry any one but Amelia. Though the marriage ceremony had been performed with Elizabeth, he recognized only its legal tie. Poor Amelia was heart-crushed. Earth had no longer any joys for her. She never married, but wore the miniature of the prince upon her breast for the rest of her days. We have no record of the weary years during which grief was consuming her life. Her eyelids became permanently swollen with weeping. And when, at the age of sixty, she died, the miniature of the Crown Prince was still found resting upon her true and faithful heart. Amelia and Elizabeth—how sad their fate! Through no fault of their own, earth was to them both truly a vale of tears. The only relief from the contemplation of the terrible tragedies of earth is found in the hope that the sufferers may find compensation in a heavenly home.Voltaire and the Jew.—Letter from Frederick to D’Arget.—Letter to Wilhelmina.—Caustic Letters to Voltaire.—Partial Reconciliation.—Frederick’s brilliant Conversational Powers.—His Neglect of his Wife.—All Females excluded from his Court.—Maupertuis and the Academy.—Voltaire’s Malignity.—Frederick’s Anger.—Correspondence between Voltaire and Maupertuis.—Menaces of War.—Catt and the King.
MAP OF SILESIA.
The next morning Frederick hastened to greet his sister. Wilhelmina was not pleased with his appearance. The cares of his new reign entirely engrossed his mind. The dignity of an absolute king did not sit gracefully upon him. Though ostentatiously demonstrative in his greeting, the delicate instincts of Wilhelmina taught her that her brother’s caresses were heartless. He was just recovering from a fit of the ague, and looked emaciate and sallow. The court was in mourning. During those funereal days no festivities could be indulged in. The queen-mother was decorously melancholy; she seems to have been not only disappointed, but excessively chagrined, to find that she was excluded by her son from the slightest influence in public affairs. The distant, arrogant, and assuming airs of the young king soon rendered him unpopular.The officer drew up a statement of the facts, and sent it to the king, with the complaint that he had been dishonored in discharging the duties intrusted to him by his majesty. The king sent the following reply:“Guarantee me the possession of Silesia, and pay me seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars for the expenses of this campaign, and I will withdraw my army.”
“This finished, his domestics and preceptor, Duhan, shall come in and perform family worship. Prayer on their knees. Duhan to read a chapter of the Bible, and sing some proper psalm or hymn. All the domestics then withdraw, and Duhan reads my son the Gospel of the Sunday, expounds it a little, adducing the main points of Christianity, and questioning him from Noltenius’s Catechism. It will then be nine o’clock.CHAPTER XXIV. THE QUARREL.ATTACK UPON NEISSE.
The court at Vienna received with transports of joy the tidings of the victory of Hochkirch. The pope was greatly elated. He regarded the battle as one between the Catholic and Protestant powers. The holy father, Clement XIII., sent a letter of congratulation to Marshal Daun, together with a sword and hat, both blessed by his holiness. The occurrence excited the derision of Frederick, who was afterward accustomed to designate his opponent as “the blessed general with the papal hat.” Frederick remained at Doberschütz ten days. During this time his brother Henry joined him from Dresden with six thousand foot470 and horse. This raised his force to a little above thirty thousand men. General Finck was left in command of the few Prussian troops who remained for the defense of the capital of Saxony.
“By no means,” the king replied. “With men like these I shall be sure of victory to-day!”114It will be remembered that Breslau, whose inhabitants were mainly Protestant, and which was one of the so-called free cities of Germany, was surrendered to Frederick under peculiar conditions. It was to remain, in its internal government, in all respects exactly as it had been, with the simple exception that it was to recognize the sovereignty of Prussia instead of that of Austria. Its strict neutrality was to be respected. It was to be protected by its own garrison. No Prussian soldier could enter with any weapons but side-arms. The king himself, in entering the city, could be accompanied only by thirty guards.The authorship of the article could not be concealed. Frederick was indignant. He angrily seized his pen, and wrote a reply, which, though anonymous, was known by all to have been written by the king. In this reply he accused the writer of the article, whom he well knew to be Voltaire, of being a “manifest retailer of lies,” “a concocter of stupid libels,” and as “guilty of conduct more malicious, more dastardly, more infamous” than he had ever known before.
At Geldern, when within a few miles of Wesel, the king’s wrath flamed up anew as he learned that Lieutenant Keith had escaped. The imperiled young officer, warned of his danger, had saddled his horse as if for an evening ride in the country. He passed out at one of the gates of the city, and, riding gently till darkness came, he put spurs to his horse and escaped to the Hague. Here, through the friendly offices of Lord Chesterfield,93 the British embassador, he embarked for England. The authorities there received him kindly, and he entered the British army. For ten years he was heard of no more. The king dispatched officers in pursuit of the fugitive, and redoubled the vigilance with which Fritz was guarded.
“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.详情
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