The Encampment at Brieg.—Bombardment.—Diplomatic Intrigues.—Luxury of the Spanish Minister.—Rising Greatness of Frederick.—Frederick’s Interview with Lord Hyndford.—Plans of France.—Desperate Prospects of Maria Theresa.—Anecdote of Frederick.—Joint Action of England and Holland.—Heroic Character of Maria Theresa.—Coronation of the Queen of Hungary.“There came, in those weeks, one of the Duke of Gloucester’s gentlemen to Berlin. The queen had a soiree. He was presented to her as well as to me. He made a very obliging compliment on his master’s part. I blushed and answered only by a courtesy. The queen, who had her eye on me, was very angry that I had answered the duke’s compliments in mere silence, and rated me sharply for it, and ordered me, under pain of her indignation, to repair that fault to-morrow. I retired all in tears to my room, exasperated against the queen and against the duke. I vowed I would never marry him.The battle soon began, with its tumult, its thunder-roar of artillery and musketry, its gushing blood, its cries of agony, its death convulsions. Both parties fought with the reckless courage, the desperation with which trained soldiers, of whatever nationality, almost always fight.
“After dinner,” writes Voltaire, “the king retired alone into his cabinet, and made verses till five or six o’clock. A concert commenced at seven, in which the king performed on the flute as well as the best musician. The pieces of music executed were also often of the king’s composition. On the days of public ceremonies he exhibited great magnificence. It was a fine spectacle to see him at table, surrounded by twenty princes of the empire, served on the most beautiful gold plate in Europe, and attended by thirty handsome pages, and as many young heyducs, superbly dressed, and carrying great dishes of massive gold. After these banquets the court attended the opera in the great theatre, three hundred feet long. The most admirable singers and the best dancers were at this time in the pay of the King of Prussia.“Now are my wishes fulfilled,” said the emperor, “since I have the honor to embrace the greatest of kings and soldiers.”
“Thus was Silesia reunited to the dominions of Prussia. Two years of war sufficed for the conquest of this important province. The treasure which the late king had left was nearly exhausted. But it is a cheap purchase, where whole provinces are bought for seven or eight millions of crowns. The union of circumstances at the moment peculiarly favored this enterprise. It was necessary for it that France should allow itself to be drawn into the war; that Russia should be attacked by Sweden; that, from timidity, the Hanoverians and Saxons should remain inactive; that the successes of the Prussians should be uninterrupted; and that the King of England, the enemy of Prussia, should become, in spite of himself, the instrument of its aggrandizement. What, however, contributed the most to this conquest was an army which had been formed for twenty-two years, by means of a discipline admirable in itself, and superior to the troops of the316 rest of Europe. Generals, also, who were true patriots, wise and incorruptible ministers, and, finally, a certain good fortune which often accompanies youth, and often deserts a more advanced age.”70“I attacked the enemy this morning about eleven. We beat 485him back to the Jews’ Church-yard, near Frankfort.134 All my troops came into action, and have done wonders. I reassembled them three times. At length I was myself nearly taken prisoner, and we had to quit the field. My coat is riddled with bullets. Two horses were killed under me.135 My misfortune is that I am still alive. Our loss is very considerable. Of an army of forty-eight thousand men, I have at this moment, while I write, not more than three thousand together. I am no longer master of my forces.221 By the 10th of December, within a fortnight of the time that the king received the tidings of the death of the emperor, he had collected such a force on the frontiers of Silesia that there could be no question that the invasion of that province was intended. As not the slightest preparation had been made on the part of Austria to meet such an event, the king could with perfect ease overrun the province and seize all its fortresses. But Austria was, in territory, resources, and military power, vastly stronger than Prussia. It was therefore scarcely possible that Frederick could hold the province, after he had seized it, unless he could encourage others to dispute the succession of Maria Theresa, and thus involve Europe in a general war. Frederick, having made all his arrangements for prompt and vigorous action, sent to Maria Theresa a message which could be regarded only as an insult:
“Here, take that order to General Lossow, and tell him that he is not to take it ill that I trouble him, as I have none in my suite that can do any thing.” It often seemed to give Frederick pleasure, and never pain, to wound the feelings of others.
425 In these hours of trouble the noble Wilhelmina was as true to her brother as the magnet to the pole. She was appalled by no dangers, and roused all her energies to aid that brother, struggling, with the world arrayed against him. The king appreciated his sister’s love. In a poetic epistle addressed to her, composed in these hours of adversity, he wrote:
The wife of George I., the mother of Sophie Dorothee, was the subject of one of the saddest of earthly tragedies. Her case is still involved in some obscurity. She was a beautiful, haughty, passionate princess of Zelle when she married her cousin George, Elector of Hanover. George became jealous of Count K?nigsmark, a very handsome courtier of commanding address. In an angry altercation with his wife, it is said that the infuriate husband boxed her ears. Suddenly, on the 1st of July, 1694, Count K?nigsmark disappeared. Mysteriously he vanished from earth, and was heard of no more. The unhappy wife, who had given birth to the daughter Sophie Dorothee, bearing her mother’s name, and to a son, afterward George II., almost frenzied with42 rage, was divorced from her husband, and was locked up in the gloomy castle of Ahlden, situated in the solitary moors of Luneburg heath. Here she was held in captivity for thirty years, until she died. In the mean time, George, ascending the throne of England, solaced himself in the society of female favorites, none of whom he honored with the title of wife. The raging captive of Ahlden, who seems never to have become submissive to her lot, could, of course, exert no influence in the marriage of her grandchildren.
“All next day the body lay in state in the palace; thousands crowding, from Berlin and the other environs, to see that face for the last time. Wasted, worn, but beautiful in death, with the thin gray hair parted into locks, and slightly powdered.”20166 Just as these troubles were commencing, there was, in May, 1729, a marriage in the Prussian royal family. Some two hundred miles south of Brandenburg there was, at that time, a small marquisate called Anspach, next in dignity to a dukedom. The marquis was a frail, commonplace boy of seventeen, under the care of a young mother, who was widowed, sick, and dying. Much to the dissatisfaction of Sophie Dorothee, the queen-mother, Frederick William had arranged a marriage between this young man, who was far from rich, and his second daughter, Frederica Louisa, who was then fifteen years of age.7
Voltaire hated M. Maupertuis. He was the president of the Berlin Academy, and was regarded by Voltaire as a formidable rival. This hatred gave rise to a quarrel between Frederick and Voltaire, which was so virulent that Europe was filled with the noise of their bickerings. M. Maupertuis had published a pamphlet, in which he assumed to have made some important discovery upon the law of action. M. K?nig, a member of the Academy, reviewed the pamphlet, asserting not only that the proclaimed law was false, but that it had been promulgated half a century before. In support of his position he quoted from a letter of Leibnitz. The original of the letter could not be produced. M. K?nig was accused of having forged the extract. M. Maupertuis, a very jealous, irritable man, by his powerful influence as president, caused M. K?nig to be expelled from the Academy.详情
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