After briefly alluding to the many quarrels in which Voltaire had been involved, the king adds:Maximilian Joseph, son of the emperor, was at the time of his father’s death but seventeen years of age. He was titular Elector of Bavaria; but Austrian armies had overrun the electorate, and he was a fugitive from his dominions. At the entreaty of his mother, he entered into a treaty of alliance with the Queen of Hungary. She agreed to restore to him his realms, and to recognize his mother as empress dowager. He, on the other hand, agreed to support the Pragmatic Sanction, and to give his vote for the Grand-duke Francis as Emperor of Germany.
“I was sitting quiet in my apartment, busy with work, and some one reading to me, when the queen’s ladies rushed in, with a torrent of domestics in their rear, who all bawled out, putting one knee to the ground, that they were come to salute the Princess of Wales. I fairly believed these poor people had lost their wits. They would not cease overwhelming me with noise and tumult; their joy was so great they knew not what they did. When the farce had lasted some time, they told me what had occurred at the dinner.“I flatter myself that now nothing will be wanting of that valor which the state has a right to expect of you. The hour is436 at hand. I should feel that I had accomplished nothing were I to leave Silesia in the hands of Austria. Let me then apprise you that I intend to attack Prince Charles’s army, which is nearly thrice the strength of our own, wherever I can find it. It matters not what are his numbers, or what the strength of his position. All this by courage and by skill we will try to overcome. This step I must risk, or all is lost. We must beat the enemy, or perish before his batteries. If there be any one who shrinks from sharing these dangers with me, he can have his discharge this evening.”“The body of Frederick is a ruin, but his soul is still here, and receives his friends and his tasks as formerly. Asthma, dropsy, erysipelas, continual want of sleep; for many months past he has not been in bed, but sits day and night in an easy-chair, unable to get breath except in that posture. He said one morning to somebody entering, ‘If you happened to want a night-watcher, I could suit you well.’”200
The queen, looking reproachfully at Grumkow, remarked, “I know full well to whom I owe all this.” She then excused herself, saying that she was not well, and retired to her apartment. There she communicated to the anxious Wilhelmina the cruel message of the king. Sophie Dorothee then wrote a very earnest letter to Queen Caroline, the wife of George II., imploring that all obstacles in the way of the marriage of Wilhelmina with the Prince of Wales might be withdrawn. The idea of marriage with either Weissenfels or Schwedt was dreadful. But, on the other hand, the wrath of the king, the divorce of the queen, and75 the imprisonment of both mother and daughter in the chateau of Oranienburg, were also dreadful. Fritz was taken into the councils of his mother and sister. It was decided that he should also write to his aunt, urging his suit for the Princess Amelia. It is true that George II. was ready to accede to this marriage, but Frederick William threw obstacles in the way. It was probably the hope of Fritz to secure Amelia, notwithstanding his father’s opposition. The ready pen of Wilhelmina was employed to draft the letter, which her brother submissively copied. As it was not probable, in the intricacies in which the question was now involved, that both marriages could take place together, Fritz wrote pleading for the marriage of Wilhelmina at once, pledging his word that he would remain faithful to the Princess Amelia.“Never have my troops,” writes Frederick, “done such miracles of valor, cavalry as well as infantry, since I had the honor to command them. By this dead-lift achievement I have seen what they can do.”The field of Leuthen—for so this battle-field was called—was a vast undulating plain or rolling prairie, extending for miles in all directions. One or two brooks flowed sluggishly through it. Here and there were expanses of marsh which neither horse nor foot could traverse. A few scraggy firs dotted the dreary landscape,441 and there were also a few hamlets of peasants’ huts scattered around. Frederick concealed his movements as much as possible behind the undulations, and succeeded in deceiving the Austrians into the belief that he was to make an attack upon their right wing. The Austrian officers, on windmills and in church belfries, were eagerly scrutinizing his man?uvres. Deceived into the conviction that their right wing was menaced, they impetuously pushed forward large re-enforcements of horse to the support of the presumed point of attack. Thus the left wing was weakened.
Frederick, who had taken his position upon a windmill, saw, with much satisfaction, the successful operation of his plan. Suddenly, with almost miraculous swiftness of movement, his perfectly drilled troops, horse, foot, and artillery, every man reckless of life, poured forth with a rush and a roar as of a lava-flood upon the extreme left of the Austrians. It was one o’clock of the day. There was neither brook, bush, fence, nor marsh to impede the headlong impetuosity of the assault. At the point of attack the Prussians were, of course, most numerous. There were a few moments of terrible slaughter, and the left wing of the Austrian army was annihilated. The ground was covered with the wounded and the dead, and the fugitives, in dismay, were fleeing across the fields.
“Frederick.A ROYAL EXECUTIONER.
“I have been to see the King of Prussia. I have courageously resisted his fine proposals. He offers me a beautiful house in Berlin, a pretty estate, but I prefer my second floor in Madame Du Chatelet’s here. He assures me of his favor, of the perfect freedom I should have; and I am running to Paris, to my slavery and persecution. I could fancy myself a small Athenian refusing the bounties of the King of Persia; with this difference, however, one had liberty at Athens.”The king then rattled on without waiting for replies: “How do you like your Cüstrin life? Do you still have as much aversion to Wusterhausen, and to wearing your shroud, as you called your uniform? Likely enough my company does not suit you. I have no French manners, and can not bring out witty sayings in the coxcomb way; and I truly consider all that as a thing to be thrown to the dogs. I am a German prince, and mean to live and die in that character. But you can now say what you have got by your caprices and obstinate heart, hating every thing that I liked, and if I distinguished any one, despising him. If an officer was put in arrest, you took to lamenting about him. Your real friends, who intended your good, you hated and calumniated. Those who flattered you and encouraged your bad purpose you caressed. You see what that has come to. In Berlin, in all Prussia, for some time back, nobody asks after you, whether you are in the world or not. And were it not that one or the other coming from Cüstrin reports you as playing tennis or wearing French hair-bags, nobody would know whether you were dead, or alive.The friendship of these two remarkable men must have been of a singular character. Voltaire thus maliciously wrote of the king:
Two days after committing this important document to Count Finck, Frederick took leave of his mother and his brother. His mother he never saw again. We have no evidence that on this visit he even called upon his irreproachable, amiable, neglected wife. In preparation for the worst, Frederick had provided poison for himself, and wore it constantly about his person. It consisted of several small pills in a glass tube. This fact is fully established.“Old Leopold is hardly at home at Dessau,” writes Carlyle, “when the new Pandour tempests, tides of ravaging war, again come beating against the Giant Mountains, pouring through all passes, huge influx of wild riding hordes, each with some support of Austrian grenadiers, cannoniers, threatening to submerge Silesia. Precursors, Frederick need not doubt, of a strenuous, regular attempt that way. Hungarian majesty’s fixed intention,347 hope, and determination is to expel him straightway from Silesia.”81“The worst which can happen to those who wish to travel in Silesia is to get spattered with the mud.”
“I hope to speak to you with open heart at Berlin. You may think, too, how I shall be embarrassed in having to act the lover without being it, and to feign a passion for mute ugliness; for I have not much faith in Count Seckendorf’s taste in this article. Monsieur, once more get this princess to learn by heart the Ecole des Maris and the Ecole des Femmes. That will do her much more good than True Christianity by the late Arndt. If, beside, she would learn steadiness of humor, learn music, become rather too free than too virtuous—ah! then, my dear general, then I should feel some liking for her; and a Colin marrying a Phillis, the couple would be in accordance. But if she is stupid, naturally I renounce the devil and her.详情
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