“My son must be impressed with love and fear of God, as the foundation of our temporal and eternal welfare. No false religions or sects of Atheist, Arian, Socinian, or whatever name the poisonous things have, which can so easily corrupt a young mind, are to be even named in his hearing. He is to be taught a proper abhorrence of papistry, and to be shown its baselessness and nonsensicality. Impress on him the true religion, which consists essentially in this, that Christ died for all men. He is to learn no Latin, but French and German, so as to speak and write with brevity and propriety.
No man of kindly sympathies could have thus wantonly wounded the feelings of a poor old man who had, according to his capacity, served himself, his father, and his grandfather, and who was just dropping into the grave. A generous heart would have forgotten the foibles, and, remembering only the virtues, would have spoken words of cheer to the world-weary heart, seeking a sad refuge in the glooms of the cloister. It must be confessed that Frederick often manifested one of the worst traits in human nature. He took pleasure in inflicting pain upon others.
“The poor courtier,” Wilhelmina adds, “obliged to become possessor of this miserable performance, and to pay so dear for it, determined for the future to be more circumspect in his admiration.”“It is of no use. I impute nothing of crime to you. But after such a mishap it would be dangerous to trust you with any post or command.”
Delighted with this plan, and sanguine in the hope of its successful accomplishment, the czarina named her next grandson Constantine. Austria and Russia thus became allied, with all their sympathies hostile to Frederick. Old age and infirmities were stealing upon the king apace. Among the well-authenticated561 anecdotes related of him, the following is given by Carlyle:
As he reached Potsdam and turned the corner of the palace, he saw, at a little distance, a small crowd gathered around some object; and soon, to his inexpressible surprise, beheld his father, dressed, in his wheel-chair, out of doors, giving directions about laying the foundations of a house he had undertaken to build. The old king, at the sight of his son, threw open his arms, and Frederick, kneeling before him, buried his face in his fathers lap, and they wept together. The affecting scene forced tears into the eyes of all the by-standers. Frederick William, upon recovering from a fainting-fit, had insisted that he would not die, and had compelled his attendants to dress him and conduct him to the open air.
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.
This lasted till nightfall. As darkness veiled the awful scene the exhausted soldiers dropped upon the ground, and, regardless of the dead and of the groans of the wounded, borne heavily upon the night air, slept almost side by side. It is appalling to reflect upon what a fiend to humanity man has been, as revealed in the history of the nations. All the woes of earth combined are as nothing compared with the misery which man has inflicted upon his brother.“I must observe that hitherto the King of Prussia does, as it were, every thing himself; and that, excepting the finance minister, who preaches frugality, and finds for that doctrine uncommon acceptance, his majesty allows no counseling from any minister; so that the minister for foreign affairs has nothing to do but to expedite the orders he receives, his advice not being asked upon any matter. And so it is with the other ministers.”
475 During this dismal winter of incessant and almost despairing labor the indefatigable king wrote several striking treatises on military affairs. It is manifest that serious thoughts at times occupied his mind. He doubtless reflected that if there were a God who took any cognizance of human affairs, there must be somewhere responsibility to Him for the woes with which these wars were desolating humanity. To the surprise of De Catt, the king presented him one evening with a sermon upon “The Last Judgment,” from his own pen. He also put upon paper his thoughts “On the new kind of tactics necessary with the Austrians and their allies.” He seems himself to have been surprised that he had been able so long to resist such overpowering numbers. In allusion to the allies he writes:The Austrian army, which outnumbered the Prussian over three to one, was in a camp, very strongly fortified, near Breslau. A council of war was held. Some of the Austrian officers, dreading the prowess of their redoubtable opponent, advised that they should remain behind their intrenchments, and await an attack. It would, of course, be impossible for less than thirty thousand men to storm ramparts bristling with artillery, and defended by nearly ninety thousand highly disciplined and veteran troops.
These were terrible tidings for Frederick. The news reached him at Gorlitz when on the rapid march toward Silesia. Prince Charles had between eighty and ninety thousand Austrian troops in the reconquered province. Frederick seemed to be marching to certain and utter destruction, as, with a feeble band of but about twenty thousand men, he pressed forward, declaring, “I will attack them if they stand on the steeples of Breslau.”In July, 1756, Frederick, for form’s sake, inquired, through his embassador at Vienna, why Maria Theresa was making such formidable military preparations. At the same time he conferred with two of his leading generals, Schwerin and Retzow, if it would not be better, since it was certain that Austria and Russia would soon declare war, to anticipate them by an attack upon Austria. The opinion of both, which was in perfect accord with that of the king, was that it was best immediately to seize upon Saxony, and in that rich and fertile country to gather magazines, and make it the base for operations in Bohemia.
Poland, ever in turmoil, was at this time choosing a king. The emperor advocated the claims of August of Saxony. France urged Stanislaus, a Polish noble, whose daughter had married the French dauphin. War ensued between France and Germany. Frederick William became the ally of the emperor. An army of ten thousand men, admirably equipped and organized, was upon the march for the Rhine, to act with the emperor against France. The Crown Prince was very eager to join the expedition, and obtained permission to do so.详情
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