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.“Yesterday, July 3d, the king sent for me, in the afternoon, the first time he has seen any body since the news came. I had the honor to remain with him in his closet. I must own I was most sensibly affected to see him indulging his grief, and giving way to the warmest filial affections; recalling to mind the many obligations he had to her late majesty; all she had suffered, and how nobly she had borne it; the good she did to every body;419 the one comfort he now had, that he tried to make her last years more agreeable.
Again the king interrupted him, saying, “The public will be much obliged to you, sir! But hear me. With respect to Russia, you know how matters stand. From the King of Poland I have nothing to fear. As for the King of England, he is my relation. If he do not attack me, I shall not him. If he do attack me, the Prince of Anhalt, with my army at G?tten, will take care of him.”
“I have just been to see the King of Prussia. I have seen him as one seldom sees kings, much at my ease, in my own room, in the chimney-corner, whither the same man who has gained two battles would come and talk familiarly, as Scipio did with Terence. You will tell me I am not Terence. True; but neither is he altogether Scipio.Soon after, the king returned to Berlin and summoned his daughter to his presence. He received her very graciously. The queen, however, remained quite unreconciled, and was loud in the expression of her anger: “I am disgraced, vanquished, and my enemies are triumphant!” she exclaimed. Her chagrin was so great that she fell quite sick. To a few words of sympathy which her child uttered, she replied, “Why do you pretend to weep? It is you who have killed me.”
“The King of Prussia can not sleep. The officers sit up with him every night, and in his slumbers he raves and talks of spirits and apparitions.
Desperate Exertions of Frederick.—Aid from England.—Limited Resources.—Opening of the Campaign.—Disgraceful Conduct of Voltaire.—Letter to Voltaire.—An Act of Desperation.—Letter to Count Finckenstein.—Frankfort taken by the Prussians.—Terrible Battle of Kunersdorf.—Anguish of Frederick.—The Disastrous Retreat.—Melancholy Dispatch.—Contemplating Suicide.—Collecting the Wrecks of the Army.—Consternation in Berlin.—Letters to D’Argens.—Wonderful Strategical Skill.—Literary Efforts of the King.The fourth day after this dreadful defeat the king received the tidings of the death of Wilhelmina. It was apparently the469 heaviest blow he had ever encountered. The anguish which her death caused him he did not attempt to conceal. In a business letter to Prince Henry we find this burst of feeling:
The alarm in Berlin was very great. The citizens were awake to the consciousness that there was danger; that the city itself would be assaulted. Great was the consternation in the capital when minute directions came from Frederick respecting the course to be pursued in the event of such a calamity, and the places of refuge to which the royal family should retreat.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.
“I have begun to settle the figure of Prussia. The outline will be altogether regular; for the whole of Silesia is taken in except one miserable hamlet, which perhaps I shall have to keep blockaded until next spring. Up to this time the whole conquest has cost me only twenty men and two officers.While Frederick was involved in all these difficulties, he was cheered by the hope that the French would soon come to his rescue. Unutterable was his chagrin when he learned, early in October, that the French had done exactly as he would have done in their circumstances. Appalling, indeed, were the tidings soon brought to him, that Prince Charles, with his army, had marched unmolested into Bohemia; that he had already effected a junction with General Bathyani and his countless swarm of Pandours; and, moreover, that a Saxon army, twenty thousand strong, in alliance with the Queen of Hungary, was on the way to join his already overwhelming foes. It was reported, at the same time, that Prince Charles was advancing upon Budweis, and that his advance-guard had been seen, but a few miles off, on the western side of the Moldau.
Though Prince Charles was nominally commander-in-chief of the Austrian forces, Marshal Traun, as we have mentioned, was its military head. He was, at that time, far Frederick’s superior in the art of war. Frederick had sufficient intelligence and candor to recognize that superiority. When he heard of this adroit movement of his foes, he exclaimed, “Old Traun understands his trade.”“Obey the wishes of the king,” said he, “and the royal favor will be restored to you. Refuse to do it, and no one can tell what will be the doom which will fall upon your mother, your brother, and yourself.”
150 The queen behaved very unamiably, “plunged in black melancholy,” and treating her new daughter-in-law with great contempt. There have been many sad weddings, but this was surely one of the saddest. Frederick had often declared that he never would receive the princess as his wife. In the evening, just after the newly-married couple had retired to their room, through the arrangement of the prince, a false alarm of fire was raised by some of his friends. This furnished him with the opportunity to rush from the apartment. He did not return. Ever after he saw the princess but unfrequently, treating her with cold politeness when they met, though on public occasions giving her, with all external forms of civility, the position of honor to which, as his wedded wife, she was entitled.FREDERICK THE GREAT, ?T. 59.
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.详情
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