“I was sitting quiet in my apartment, busy with work, and some one reading to me, when the queen’s ladies rushed in, with a torrent of domestics in their rear, who all bawled out, putting one knee to the ground, that they were come to salute the Princess of Wales. I fairly believed these poor people had lost their wits. They would not cease overwhelming me with noise and tumult; their joy was so great they knew not what they did. When the farce had lasted some time, they told me what had occurred at the dinner.The Austrians, on the careless and self-confident march toward Parchwitz, had crossed the Schweidnitz River, or Water, as it438 was called, when they learned that Frederick, with a tiger-like spring, had leaped upon Neumarkt, an important town fourteen miles from Parchwitz. Here the Austrians had a bakery, protected by a guard of a thousand men. Seven hundred of the guard were instantly sabred or taken prisoners. The rest fled wildly. Frederick gathered up eighty thousand hot bread rations, with which he feasted his hungry troops.
Though General Soltikof had lost an equal number of men, he was still at the head of nearly eighty thousand troops flushed with victory. He could summon to his standard any desirable re-enforcements. An unobstructed march of but sixty miles would lead his army into the streets of Berlin. The affairs of Frederick were indeed desperate. There was not a gleam of hope to cheer him. In preparation for his retirement from the army, from the throne, and from life, he that evening drew up the following paper, placing the fragments of the army which he was about to abandon in the hands of General Finck. By the death of the king, the orphan and infant child of his brother Augustus William (who had died but a few months before) would succeed to the throne. Frederick appointed his brother Henry generalissimo of the Prussian army.Frederick made several unavailing efforts during the winter to secure peace. He was weary of a war which threatened his utter destruction. The French were also weary of a struggle in which they encountered but losses and disgraces. England had but little to hope for from the conflict, and would gladly see the exhaustive struggle brought to a close.
About two hundred miles south of Berlin there was quite an important marquisate called Baireuth. The marquis had a good-looking young son, the heir-apparent, who had just returned from the grand tour of Europe. Upon the death of his father he would enter upon quite a rich inheritance. This young marquis, Frederick by name, Baron Borck proposed as a substitute for77 the Duke of Weissenfels. It was understood that Wilhelmina was such a prize that kings, even, would be eager to obtain her hand. There could therefore be no doubt but that the Marquis of Baireuth would feel signally honored by such nuptials. The worn and weary mother eagerly accepted this proposal. She suggested it to the king. Sullenly he gave it his assent, saying, “I will passively submit to it, but will take no active part whatever in the affair. Neither will I give Wilhelmina one single copper for dowry.
After much diplomatic toil, the ultimatum obtained from Frederick William was the ever inflexible answer: “1. The marriage of the Prince of Wales to Wilhelmina I consent to. 2. The marriage of the Crown Prince Frederick with the Princess Amelia must be postponed. I hope it may eventually take place.”
“He now began to speak of religion; and, with eloquent tongue, to recount what mischiefs scholastic philosophy had brought upon the world; then tried to prove that creation was impossible.
“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.”
“Of the coronation itself,” she writes, “though it was truly grand, I will say nothing. The poor emperor could not enjoy it much. He was dying of gout and other painful diseases, and could scarcely stand upon his feet. He spends most of his time302 in bed, courting all manner of German princes. He has managed to lead my margraf into a foolish bargain about raising men for him, which bargain I, on fairly getting sight of it, persuade my margraf to back out of; and, in the end, he does so. The emperor had fallen so ill he was considered even in danger of his life. Poor prince! What a lot he had achieved for himself!”The withdrawal of Russia from the alliance against Frederick, though hailed by him with great joy, still left him, with wasted armies and exhausted finances, to struggle single-handed against Austria and France united, each of which kingdoms was far more powerful than Prussia. The winter passed rapidly away without any marked events, each party preparing for the opening of the campaign in the ensuing spring. On the 8th of June, 1762, Frederick wrote to D’Argens:
A man’s moral nature must be indeed obtuse who could thus recommend the compulsion of a peaceable citizen to act the part of a traitor to his own country, under the alternative of having his house fired and his wife and children massacred.
In carrying forward these intrigues at the camp of Frederick, the Count of Belleisle had an associate minister in the embassy, M. De Valori. A slight incident occurred in connection with this minister which would indicate, in the view of most persons, that Frederick did not cherish a very high sense of honor. M. Valori was admitted to an audience with his Prussian majesty. During the interview, as the French minister drew his hand from his pocket, he accidentally dropped a note upon the floor. Frederick, perceiving it, slyly placed his foot upon it. As soon as the minister had bowed himself out, Frederick eagerly seized the273 note and read it. It contained some secret instructions to M. Valori from the French court, directing him not to give Glatz to his Prussian majesty if it could possibly be avoided. Frederick did not perceive any thing ignoble in this act of his, for he records it himself;56 neither does Mr. Carlyle condemn him.57 Most readers will probably regard it as highly dishonorable.详情
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