“At last, whether by accident or design, the princess broke a glass. This was the signal for our impetuous jollity, and an example that appeared highly worthy of our imitation. In an instant170 all the glasses flew to the several corners of the room. All the crystals, porcelain, mirrors, branches, bowls, and vases were broken into a thousand pieces. In the midst of this universal destruction, the prince stood, like the man in Horace who contemplates the crush of worlds, with a look of perfect tranquillity.
As usual, Frederick wrote a poem upon the occasion. It was vulgar and profane. Carlyle says of it, “The author, with a wild burst of spiritual enthusiasm, sings the charms of the rearward part of certain men. He rises to the height of anti-biblical profanity, quoting Moses on the Hill of Vision; sinks to the bottomless of human or ultra-human depravity, quoting King Nicomedes’s experience on C?sar, happily known only to the learned. A most cynical, profane affair; yet we must say, by way of parenthesis, one which gives no countenance to Voltaire’s atrocities of rumor about Frederick himself in the matter.”111And why was George II. so averse to the single marriage of the Prince of Wales to Wilhelmina? It is supposed that the opposition arose simply from his own mulish obstinacy. He hated his brother-in-law, the Prussian king. He was a weak, ill-tempered man; and having once said “Both marriages or none,” nothing could induce him to swerve from that position. In such a difficulty, with such men, there could be no possible compromise.
Augustus had formed apparently the deliberate resolve to test his visitor by the most seductive and adroitly-arranged temptations. But, so far as Frederick William was concerned, he utterly failed. Upon one occasion his Prussian majesty, when conducted by Augustus, whirled around and indignantly left the room. That evening, through his minister, Grumkow, he informed the King of Poland that if there were any repetition of such scenes he would immediately leave Dresden.
“Frederick.”Accordingly, he made proposals to the Marquise of Schwedt that Wilhelmina should marry her son. The lady replied, in terms very creditable both to her head and her heart, “Such a union, your majesty, would be in accordance with the supreme wish of my life. But how can I accept such happiness against the will of the princess herself? This I can positively never do.” Here she remained firm. The raging king returned to the bedside of his wife, as rough and determined as ever. He declared that the question was now settled that Wilhelmina was to marry the old Duke of Weissenfels.
“‘Ah! yes, yes,’ he added, ‘I’m right. I know the gentlemen.’There were dinner-parties, and military reviews, and operas to beguile the time. The interview lasted three days. The king and the emperor often walked out arm in arm. Frederick wrote:
The eastern half of the immense quadrangle endeavored to reform itself, so as to present a new front to the foe. But, before this could be done, Frederick hurled his right wing, his centre, and all that remained disposable of his left wing upon it. His cavalry plunged into the disordered mass. His batteries, with almost unprecedented rapidity of fire, tore the tumultuous and panic-stricken ranks to shreds; and his line of infantry, like a supernatural wall of bristling steel, unwaveringly advanced, pouring in upon the foe the most deadly volleys.
THE DEATH-SCENE OF THE EMPEROR.
He then adds the philosophical reflection: “Bad is often better for princes than good. Instead of intoxicating them with presumption, it renders them circumspect and modest.”76Frederick immediately and publicly denied that he had ever entered into any such arrangement with Austria, and declared the whole story to be a mere fabrication. Having by the stratagem obtained Neisse, and delivered Silesia from the presence of the Austrian army, he assured the French of his unchanging fidelity to their interests, and with renewed vigor commenced co-operating with them in the furtherance of some new ambitious plans.SOPHIA DOROTHEA.
“Your majesty,” replied the gunner, “the devil stole them all last night.”With great courtesy of words, but pitiless energy of action, General Borck, who was in command, fulfilled his commission. A contribution was exacted of fifteen thousand dollars, to be paid within three days; sufficient rations were to be furnished daily for the troops, or the general, it was stated, would be under the painful necessity of collecting them for himself. Two hundred and fifty dollars a day were to be provided for the general’s private expenses. Remonstrances were of no avail. Resistance was not to be thought of.
“The death of the emperor,” says Frederick, “was the only event wanting to complete the confusion and embroilment which already existed in the political relations of the European powers.”详情
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