Several years now passed away with nothing specially worthy of record. Frederick did not grow more amiable as he advanced in years. Though Frederick was often unreasonable, petulant, and unjust, and would seldom admit that he had been in the wrong, however clear the case, it can not be doubted that it was his general and earnest desire that justice should be exercised in all his courts.
“At table his majesty told the queen that he had letters from Anspach; the young marquis to be at Berlin in May for his wedding; that M. Bremer, his tutor, was just coming with the ring of betrothal for Louisa. He asked my sister if that gave her pleasure, and how she would regulate her housekeeping when married. My sister had got into the way of telling him whatever she thought, and home truths sometimes, without his taking it ill. She answered, with her customary frankness, that she would have a good table, which should be delicately served, and, added she, ‘which shall be better than yours. And if I have children I will not maltreat them like you, nor force them to eat what they have an aversion to.’Prince Leopold was keenly wounded by this reproof. Though he uttered not a word in self-defense, he was ever after, in the presence of his majesty, very silent, distant, and reserved. Though scrupulously faithful in every duty, he compelled the king to feel that an impassable wall of separation had risen up between them. He was seeking for an honorable pretext to withdraw from his majesty’s service.
“The worst which can happen to those who wish to travel in Silesia is to get spattered with the mud.”“I am firmly resolved on the utmost efforts to save my country. Happy the moment when I took to training myself in philosophy. There is nothing else that can sustain a soul in a situation like mine. I spread out to you, my dear sister, the detail of my sorrows. If these things regarded myself only, I could stand it with composure. But I am the bound guardian of the happiness of a people which has been put under my charge. There lies the sting of it. And I shall have to reproach myself with every fault if, by delay or by overhaste, I occasion the smallest accident.
“A general discontent,” writes Wilhelmina, “reigned in the country. The love of his subjects was pretty much gone. People spoke of him in no measured terms. Some accused him of caring nothing about those who helped him as Prince Royal. Others complained of his avarice as surpassing that of the late king. He was accused of violence of temper, of a suspicious disposition, of distrust, haughtiness, dissimulation. I would have spoken to him about these had not my brother Augustus William and the queen regnant dissuaded me.”
With the utmost secrecy Frederick matured his plans. It could not be concealed that he was about to embark in some important military enterprise. The embassadors from other courts exerted all their ingenuity, but in vain, to ascertain in what direction the army was to march. Though the French had an embassador at Berlin, still it would seem that Voltaire was sent as a spy, under the guise of friendship, to attempt to ferret out the designs of the king. These men, who did not profess any regard to the principles of religion, seem also to have trampled219 under feet all the instincts of honor. Voltaire endeavored to conceal his treachery beneath smiles and flattery, writing even love verses to the king. The king kept his own secret. Voltaire was not a little chagrined by his want of success. In his billet of leave he wrote:While these scenes were transpiring, the Crown Prince was at Cüstrin, upon probation, being not yet admitted to the presence of his father. He seems to have exerted himself to the utmost to please the king, applying himself diligently to become familiar with all the tedious routine and details of the administration of finance, police, and the public domains. Fritz was naturally very amiable. He was consequently popular in the little town in which he resided, all being ready to do every thing in their power to serve him. The income still allowed him by his father was so small that he would have suffered from poverty had not the gentry in the neighborhood, regardless of the prohibition to lend money to the prince, contributed secretly to replenish his purse.“From day to day I grow more weary of dwelling in a body worn out and condemned to suffer. I am writing to you in the first moment of my grief. Astonishment, sorrow, indignation, and scorn, all blended together, lacerate my soul. Let us get to the end, then, of this execrable campaign. I will then write to you what is to become of me, and we will arrange the rest. Pity me, and make no noise about me. Bad news goes fast enough of itself. Adieu, dear marquis.”
On Friday, the 11th of August, Frederick, leaving forty thousand men to guard Silesia, took fifteen thousand troops, and commenced a very rapid march to attack the fifty thousand Russians. Upon the eve of his departure he wrote to his brother Henry:
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THE DEATH-SCENE OF THE EMPEROR.In this assembly of gay young men religion was generally a topic of ridicule. Even Jordan, the ex-preacher, was either willingly or unwillingly borne along by the current. Subsequently, when youth and health had fled, and he was on a sick-bed suffering from lingering disease, he felt the need of those consolations which Christianity alone can give. He wrote, under date of April, 1745, to Frederick, who was then king, and whose friendship continued unabated:On Tuesday, the 16th, the King and Queen of Prussia left Salzdahlum to return to Potsdam. At the close of the week the Crown Prince and his bride, escorted by a brilliant retinue of Brunswick notabilities, set out on their return. In most of the intervening towns they were received with great pomp. On151 the 27th, the last day of the next week, the bridal pair had a grand entrance into Berlin. The troops were all out upon parade. The clang of bells, the roar of cannon, and peals of martial music filled the air. All the inhabitants of Berlin and the surrounding region were in the streets, which were spanned by triumphal arches, and garlanded with flowers. Gladly would the princess have exchanged all this for one loving word from her husband. But that word was not uttered. Two days before the grand reception at Berlin the princess arrived at Potsdam. Here Wilhelmina, for the first time, met her cruelly-wronged and heart-crushed sister-in-law. In the following terms she describes the interview:
It seems that the Crown Prince had an inquiring mind. He was interested in metaphysical speculations. He had adopted, perhaps, as some excuse for his conduct, the doctrine of predestination, that God hath foreordained whatsoever cometh to pass. The idea that there is a power, which Hume calls philosophical necessity, which Napoleon calls destiny, which Calvin calls predestination, by which all events are controlled, and that this necessity is not inconsistent with free agency, is a doctrine which ever has commanded the assent, and probably ever will, of many of the strongest thinkers in the world.Frederick speedily concentrated all his strength at Bautzen, and strove to draw the Austrians into a battle; but in vain. The heights upon which they were intrenched, bristling with cannon, he could not venture to assail. After three weeks of impatient man?uvring, Frederick gathered his force of fifty thousand424 men close in hand, and made a sudden rush upon Bernstadt, about fifty miles to the east of Bautzen. Here he surprised an Austrian division, scattered it to the winds, seized all its baggage, and took a number of prisoners. He also captured the field equipage, coach, horses, etc., of General Nadasti, who narrowly escaped.详情
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