The English minister at Berlin, Dubourgay, wrote to Hanover, urging that some notification of the king’s arrival should be sent60 to the Prussian court to appease the angry sovereign. George replied through Lord Townshend that, “under the circumstances, it is not necessary.” Thus the two kings were no longer on speaking terms. It is amusing, while at the same time it is humiliating, to observe these traits of frail childhood thus developed in full-grown men wearing crowns. When private men or kings are in such a state of latent hostility, an open rupture is quite certain soon to follow. George accused Frederick William of recruiting soldiers in Hanover. In retaliation, he seized some Prussian soldiers caught in Hanoverian territory. There was an acre or so of land, called the “Meadow of Clamei,” which both Hanover and Brandenburg claimed. The grass, about eight cart-loads, had been cut by Brandenburg, and was well dried.
The king was scrupulously clean, washing five times a day. He would allow no drapery, no stuffed furniture, no carpets in27 his apartments. They caught dust. He sat upon a plain wooden chair. He ate roughly, like a farmer, of roast beef, despising all delicacies. His almost invariable dress was a close military blue coat, with red cuffs and collar, buff waistcoat and breeches, and white linen gaiters to the knee. A sword was belted around his loins, and, as we have said, a stout rattan or bamboo cane ever in his hand. A well-worn, battered, triangular hat covered his head. He walked rapidly through the streets which surrounded his palaces at Potsdam and Berlin. If he met any one who attracted his attention, male or female, he would abruptly, menacingly inquire, “Who are you?” A street-lounger he has been known to hit over the head with his cane, exclaiming, “Home, you rascal, and go to work.” If any one prevaricated or hesitated, he would sternly demand, “Look me in the face.” If there were still hesitancy, or the king were dissatisfied with the answers, the one interrogated was lucky if he escaped without a caning.3A few days afterward, in an official document, she writes: “I consent, since so many great and learned men will have it so. But long after I am dead, it will be known what this violating of all that was hitherto held sacred and just will give rise to.”187
Amid the vicissitudes of the revolving centuries the rollicking lords grew poor, and the frugal monks grew rich. A thrifty city rose around the monastery, and its bishop wielded a power, temporal and spiritual, more potent than had ever issued from the walls of the now crumbling and dilapidated castle. In some of the perplexing diplomatic arrangements of those days, the castle of Herstal, with its surrounding district, was transferred to Frederick William of Prussia. The peasants, who had heard of the military rigor of Prussia, where almost every able-bodied man was crowded into the army, were exceedingly troubled by this transfer, and refused to take the oath of allegiance to their new sovereign, who had thus succeeded to the ownership of themselves, their flocks, and their herds. The gleaming sabres of Frederick William’s dragoons soon, however, brought them to terms. Thus compelled to submission, they remained unreconciled and irritated. Upon the withdrawal of the Prussian troops, the authority of Frederick William over the Herstal people also disappeared, for they greatly preferred the milder rule of the Bishop of Liege.Thus his Prussian majesty and the Queen of Hungary met each other like two icebergs in a stormy sea. The allies were exasperated, not conquered, by the defeat of Sohr. Maria Theresa, notwithstanding the severity of winter’s cold, resolved immediately to send three armies to invade Prussia, and storm Berlin itself. She hoped to keep the design profoundly secret, so that Frederick might be taken at unawares. The Swedish envoy at Dresden spied out the plan, and gave the king warning. Marshal Grüne was to advance from the Rhine, and enter Brandenburg from the west. Prince Charles, skirting Western Silesia, was to march upon Brandenburg from the south. General Rutowski was to spring upon the Old Dessauer, who was encamped upon the frontiers of Saxony, overwhelm and crush his army with superior numbers, and then, forming a junction with Marshal Brüne, with their united force rush upon Berlin.
“I have nothing more at heart,” Frederick replied, “than to stand well with Austria. I wish always to be her ally, never her enemy. But the prince sees how I am situated. Bound by express treaty with her czarish majesty, I must go with Russia in any war. I will do every thing in my power to conciliate her majesty with the emperor—to secure such a peace at St. Petersburg as may meet the wishes of Vienna.”183“You will now recall to mind what passed a year and a day ago—how scandalously you behaved, and what a godless enterprise you undertook. As I have had you about me from the beginning, and must know you well, I did all in the world that was in my power, by kindness and by harshness, to make an honorable man of you. As I rather suspected your evil purposes, I treated you in the harshest and sharpest way in the Saxon camp, in hopes you would consider yourself, and take another line of conduct; would confess your faults to me, and beg forgiveness. But all in vain. You grew ever more stiff-necked. You thought to carry it through with your headstrong humor. But hark ye, my lad! if thou wert sixty or seventy instead of eighteen, thou couldst not cross my resolutions. And as up to this date I have managed to sustain myself against any comer, there will be methods found to bring thee to reason too.Establishment of the Berlin Academy of Sciences.—Religious Toleration.—A Free Press.—Sternness of the young King.—Domestic Habits of the King.—Provision for the Queen-mother.—Absolutism of the King.—Journey to Strasbourg.—First Interview with Voltaire.
“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.
The father was now rapidly forming a strong dislike to the character of his son. In nothing were they in harmony. Five princesses had been born, sisters of Fritz. At last another son was born, Augustus William, ten years younger than Frederick. The king turned his eyes to him, hoping that he would be more in sympathy with the paternal heart. His dislike for Fritz grew continually more implacable, until it assumed the aspect of bitter hatred.
“Guarantee me the possession of Silesia, and pay me seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars for the expenses of this campaign, and I will withdraw my army.”“I write from a place where there lived once a great man,27 which is now the Prince of Orange’s house. The demon of ambition sheds its unhappy poisons over his days. He might be the most fortunate of men, and he is devoured by chagrins in his beautiful palace here, in the middle of his gardens and of a brilliant court.”
“Monsieur De Maupertuis, your very affectionate
“Adieu; go and amuse yourself with Horace, study Pausanias, and be gay over Anacreon. As to me, who for amusement have nothing but merlons, fascines, and gabions, I pray God to grant me soon a pleasanter and peacefuler occupation, and you health, satisfaction, and whatever your heart desires.”The next day, the 21st of August, he wrote to D’Argens to come and visit him, and bring his bed with him. “I will have you a little chamber ready.” But the next day he wrote,
At nine o’clock Frederick received one of the general officers, and arranged with him all the military affairs of the day, usually dismissing him loaded with business. At ten o’clock he reviewed some one of the regiments; and then, after attending parade, devoted himself to literary pursuits or private correspondence until dinner-time. This was the portion of the day he usually appropriated to authorship. He was accustomed to compose, both in prose and verse, while slowly traversing the graveled walks of his garden.详情
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