It was supposed, that Frederick would remain in Saxony on the defensive against the Austrians, who were rapidly gathering their army at Prague, in Bohemia. The city was situated upon the River Moldau, one of the tributaries of the Elbe, and was about sixty miles south of Dresden.“All that I ever wanted, more than I ever demanded, Austria now offers me. Can any one blame me that I close such an alliance as ours all along has been, when such terms are presented to me as Austria now proposes?”
The Crown Prince met the masons by agreement at “Korn’s Hotel.” On the night of Tuesday, August 14th, 1738, the king having that evening continued his journey, Frederick, after adopting177 extreme precautions to prevent any publicity of the act, fearing probably only lest it should reach his father’s ears, passed through the mysterious rites of initiation. It does not, however, appear that subsequently he took any special interest in the society.28“But, after this avowal, allow me to entreat you to look back at what was the pitiable state of your enemy when you lay before Prague. It is the sudden whirl of fortune for both parties. The like can occur again when one is the least expecting it. C?sar was the slave of pirates, and yet he became master of the world. A great genius like yours finds resources even when all is lost.
“If my destiny is finished, remember a friend who loves thee always tenderly. If Heaven prolong my days, I will write to thee after to-morrow, and thou shalt hear of our victory. Adieu, dear friend; I shall love thee till death.All the friends of Fritz were treated by the infuriate father with the most cruel severity. No mercy was shown to any one who had ever given the slightest indication of sympathy with the Crown Prince. A bookseller, who had furnished Fritz with French books, was cruelly exiled to the remote shores of the Baltic, on the extreme northern frontiers of Prussia. A French gentleman, Count Montholieu, who had loaned the Crown Prince money, would probably have perished upon the scaffold had he not escaped by flight. His effigy was nailed to the gallows.
The Crown Prince did not fancy this connection at all. His first wish was to journey about, through the courts of Europe, to select him a wife. But that measure his father would not think of. Frederick professed a willingness to submit to marry Anna, Princess of Mecklenburg, or the Princess of Eisenach. Seckendorf, the embassador of the emperor, aided by Grumkow, who had been bribed, urged the marriage with Elizabeth. The king adopted their views. His decision was like a decree of fate. The following letter, written by the king to his son, dated Potsdam, February 4, 1732, very clearly expresses his views:The king had a logical mind. He could keenly feel where the argument pinched. He seemed quite troubled. After a moment’s pause, he said, “Well, I will do it.” Then, turning to the queen, he said, “You, Phiekin, may write to your brother, after I am dead, and tell him that I forgave him, and died at peace with him.”“But, after this avowal, allow me to entreat you to look back at what was the pitiable state of your enemy when you lay before Prague. It is the sudden whirl of fortune for both parties. The like can occur again when one is the least expecting it. C?sar was the slave of pirates, and yet he became master of the world. A great genius like yours finds resources even when all is lost.
“‘Let the parsons who make for themselves a cruel and barbarous God be eternally damned, as they desire and deserve; and let those parsons who conceive God gentle and merciful enjoy the plenitude of his mercy.’Frederick.”
“I am, for the rest, your well-affectioned king,Sir Thomas hastened back to Presburg in despair. Feeling the “game was up,” and that there was no more hope, he asked permission to return home. The British cabinet was in a state of consternation. France, the dreaded rival of England, was attaining almost sovereign power over the Continent of Europe. Frederick himself was uneasy. He had sufficient penetration to be fully aware that he was aiding to create a resistless power, which might, by-and-by, crush him. Sir Thomas, in a state of great agitation, which was manifest in his disordered style, wrote from Presburg to Lord Hyndford at Breslau as follows. The letter was dated September 8, 1741.At half past three o’clock on Friday morning, Frederick, with his whole army, was again upon the march. He swept quite around the eastern end of the Russian square, and approached it from the south. By this sagacious movement he could, in case of disaster, retreat to Cüstrin.
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.The Marquis of Schwedt was a very indifferent young man, living under the tutelage of his dowager mother. She was a cousin of the King of Prussia, and had named her son Frederick74 William. Having rendered herself conspicuously ridiculous by the flaunting colors of her dress, which tawdry display was in character with her mind, both she and her son were decidedly disagreeable to Wilhelmina.
For seven weeks the siege of Olmütz was prosecuted with great vigor. With much skill Frederick protected his baggage trains in their long and exposed route of ninety miles through forests and mountain defiles. General Keith was intrusted with the details of the siege facing the town toward the east; Frederick, with a vigilant corps of horse and foot, was about twenty miles to the west, watching every movement of General Daun, so far as he was able through the thick cloud of Pandours, behind which the Austrian commander endeavored to conceal all his man?uvres.If we can rely upon the testimony of Frederick, an incident occurred at this time which showed that the French court was as intriguing and unprincipled as was his Prussian majesty. It is quite evident that the Austrian court also was not animated by a very high sense of honor.
308In accordance with this request, Voltaire repaired to Cleves to visit the king. Many years afterward, having quarreled with Frederick, and being disposed to represent him in the most unfavorable light, he gave the following account of this interview in his Vie Privée:
“‘You are right,’ answered he; ‘one can only criticise what one is thoroughly acquainted with.’The Russians marched to Poland. The Austrians returned to Saxony. As soon as Frederick heard of their retreat, instead of continuing his march to Berlin, he also turned his columns southward. On the 27th of October he crossed the Elbe, about sixty miles above Dresden, and found himself in the vicinity of General Daun, whose army outnumbered that of Frederick two to510 one. The situation of Frederick was extremely critical. Under these circumstances, he wrote to D’Argens on the 28th:Soon after this an event occurred very characteristic of the king—an event which conspicuously displayed both his good and bad qualities. A miller was engaged in a lawsuit against a nobleman. The decree of the court, after a very careful examination, was unanimously in favor of the nobleman; the king, who had impulsively formed a different opinion of the case, was greatly exasperated. He summoned the four judges before him, denounced them in the severest terms of vituperation, would listen to no defense, and dismissed them angrily from office.详情
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