234 “Adieu, dear Swan of Padua. Think, I pray, sometimes of those who are getting themselves cut in slices for the sake of glory here; and, above all, do not forget your friends who think a thousand times of you.
The king was not at all pleased either with his son’s studies or his recreations. Philosophy and literature were as obnoxious to the sturdy old monarch as were music and all amusements save the rough pastime of hunting stags and boars. He was a thorough materialist, having no other thought than to drill his troops and develop the resources of his realm. Beer and tobacco, both of which he used inordinately, were almost his only luxuries. He often growled loudly at what he deemed the coxcombry of his son and companions at Reinsberg, and frequently threatened to disperse his associates.They repaired to the carriage, which was immediately ordered. Not a word was spoken until they reached the palace. Wilhelmina did not venture to ask any questions. Fearing that her brother was dead, she was in terrible trepidation. Having arrived at the palace, Madam Sonsfeld informed her of the contents of the dispatch.This letter was addressed to the “reverend, well-beloved, and faithful Müller,” and was signed “your affectionate king.” Though the king had not yet announced any intention of sparing the life of his son, and probably was fully resolved upon his execution, he was manifestly disturbed by the outcry against his proceedings raised in all the courts of Europe. Three days before the king wrote the above letter, the Emperor of Germany, Charles VI., had written to him, with his own hand, earnestly interceding for the Crown Prince. In addition to the letter, the emperor, through his minister Seckendorf, had presented a very firm remonstrance. He announced to Frederick William that112 Prince Frederick was a prince of the empire, and that he was entitled to the protection of the laws of the Germanic body; that the heir-apparent of the Prussian monarchy was under the safeguard of the Germanic empire, and that the king was bound to surrender to this tribunal the accused, and the documents relative to this trial.
Instantly the Prussian troops were ordered to the right about. Rapidly retracing their steps through the streets of Leipe, much to the surprise of its inhabitants, they pressed on seven miles farther toward Ohlau, and encamped for the night. The anxiety of Frederick in these hours when he was retiring before the foe, and when there was every probability of his incurring disgrace instead of gaining honor, must have been dreadful. There was no sleep for him that night. The Prussians were almost surrounded by the Austrians, and it was quite certain that the morrow would usher in a battle. Oppressed by the peril of his position, the king, during the night, wrote to his brother Augustus252 William, who was at Breslau, as follows. The letter was dated at the little village of Pogerell, where the king had taken shelter.Still the queen-mother, Sophie Dorothee, clung to the double marriage. Her brother, George II., was now King of England. His son Fred, who had been intended for Wilhelmina, was not a favorite of his father’s, and had not yet been permitted to go to England. In May, 1728, he was twenty-one years of age. He was living idly in Hanover, impatient to wed his cousin Wilhelmina, who was then nineteen years of age. He seems to have secretly contemplated, in conference with Wilhelmina’s mother, Sophie Dorothee, a trip incognito to Berlin, where he would marry the princess clandestinely, and then leave it with the royal papas to settle the difficulty the best way they could. The plan was not executed. Wilhelmina manifested coquettish indifference to the whole matter. She, however, writes that Queen Sophie was so confidently expecting him that “she took every ass or mule for his royal highness.
“You never can believe, my adorable sister, how concerned I am about your happiness. All my wishes centre there, and every moment of my life I form such wishes. You may see by this that I preserve still that sincere friendship which has united our hearts from our tenderest years. Recognize at least, my dear sister, that you did me a sensible wrong when you suspected me of fickleness toward you, and believed false reports of my listening to tale-bearers—me, who love only you, and whom neither absence nor lying rumors could change in respect of you. At least, don’t again believe such things on my score, and never mistrust me till you have had clear proof, or till God has forsaken me, or I have lost my wits.
At this time the whole disposable force of his Prussian majesty did not exceed eighty thousand men. There were marching against him combined armies of not less, in the aggregate, than four hundred thousand. A part of the Prussian army, about thirty thousand strong, under the king’s eldest brother, Augustus William, Prince of Prussia, was sent north, especially to protect Zittau, a very fine town of about ten thousand inhabitants, where Frederick had gathered his chief magazines. Prince Charles, with seventy thousand Austrians, pursued this division. He outgeneraled the Prince of Prussia, drove him into wild country roads, took many prisoners, captured important fortresses, and, opening a fire of red-hot shot upon Zittau, laid the whole place, with its magazines, in ashes. The Prince of422 Prussia, who witnessed the conflagration which he could not prevent, retreated precipitately toward Lobau, and thence to Bautzen, with his army in a deplorable condition of exhaustion and destitution.
Wilhelmina, in the following graphic narrative, describes the scene: “Mamma had given a ball in honor of papa’s birthday. We recommenced the ball after supper. For six years I had not danced before. It was new fruit, and I took my fill of it, without heeding much what was passing. Madam Bulow, who, with others, had worn long faces all night, pleading illness when one noticed it, said to me several times,And, in addition to all this, the more effectually to hoodwink the eagle eyes of the French minister in the Prussian camp, M. Valori, the following stratagem was arranged. The king was to invite M. Valori to dine with him. While at the table, merry over their wine, a courier was to arrive, and with trumpet blast announce dispatches for the king. They were to be delivered to the king at the table. He was to open them before Valori, to find that they consisted of a bitter complaint and remonstrance, on the part of the British minister, that the king was inflexible in repelling all advances toward an amicable adjustment of their difficulties, that unrelentingly he persisted in co-operating with France in her warfare against Austria. All this farce took place according to the programme. M. Valori was effectually deceived.
The king seemed surprised, raised his hand, opening and shutting the fingers, and then said, “It is impossible. How could I move my fingers so if the pulse were gone?”
England was the hereditary foe of France. It was one of the leading objects in her diplomacy to circumvent that power. “Our great-grandfathers,” writes Carlyle, “lived in perpetual terror that they would be devoured by France; that French ambition would overset the Celestial Balance, and proceed next to eat the British nation.” Strengthening Austria was weakening France. Therefore the sympathies of England were strongly with Austria. In addition to this, personal feelings came in. The puerile little king, George II., hated implacably his nephew, Frederick of Prussia, which hatred Frederick returned with interest.“Your majesty,” replied the gunner, “the devil stole them all last night.”
The distinguished philosopher Maupertuis accompanied Frederick264 on this campaign. Following the king to the vicinity of the field of battle, he took a post of observation at a safe distance, that he might witness the spectacle. Carlyle, in his peculiar style of word-painting, describes the issue as follows:
“Yes,” the Crown Prince replied; “and I promise you that she will drive away your demon as well as mine.”“Then hear what the consequences would have been. Your mother would have got into the greatest misery. I could not but have suspected she was the author of the business. Your sister I would have cast for life into a place where she would never have seen sun or moon again. Then on with my army to Hanover, and burn and ravage—yes, if it had cost me life, land, and people. Your thoughtless and godless conduct, see what it was leading to. I intended to employ you in all manner of business, civil and military. But how, after such action, could I show your face to my officers?”详情
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