In this assembly of gay young men religion was generally a topic of ridicule. Even Jordan, the ex-preacher, was either willingly or unwillingly borne along by the current. Subsequently, when youth and health had fled, and he was on a sick-bed suffering from lingering disease, he felt the need of those consolations which Christianity alone can give. He wrote, under date of April, 1745, to Frederick, who was then king, and whose friendship continued unabated:“And so from right wing to left,” writes Carlyle, “miles long there is now universal storm of volleying, bayonet charging, thunder of artillery, case-shot, cartridge-shot, and sulphurous devouring whirlwind; the wrestle very tough and furious, especially on the assaulting side. Here, as at Prague, the Prussian troops were one and all in the fire, each doing strenuously his utmost. There is no reserve left. All is gone up into one combustion. To fan the fire, to be here, there, fanning the fire where need shows, this is now Frederick’s function. This death-wrestle lasted, perhaps, four hours; till seven, or perhaps eight o’clock, of a June evening.”
SACKING THE PALACE.As we have stated, Frederick had declared that if any rumor should be spread abroad of the fact that he had entered into a secret treaty with Austria, he would deny it, and would no longer pay any regard to its stipulations. He had adopted the precaution not to affix his signature to any paper. By this ignoble stratagem he had obtained Neisse and Silesia. The rumor of the secret treaty had gone abroad. He had denied it. And now, in accordance with the principles of his peculiar code of honor, he felt himself at liberty to pursue any course which policy might dictate.
He informed Wilhelmina that the question of her marriage with the Prince of Wales was now settled forever, and that, as she declined taking the Duke of Weissenfels for a husband, she might prepare to retire to the abbey of Hereford, a kind of Protestant nunnery for ladies of quality, who, for any reason, wished to be buried from the world. He mercilessly resolved to make her the abbess of this institution. This living burial was almost the last situation to suit the taste of Wilhelmina. The king was in the worst possible humor. “He bullies and outrages his poor Crown Prince almost worse than ever. There have been rattan showers hideous to think of, descending this very week (July, 1730) on the fine head and far into the high heart of a royal young man, who can not in the name of manhood endure, and must not in the name of sonhood resist, and vainly calls to all the gods to teach him what he shall do in this intolerable, inextricable state of affairs.”11“Tantalus never suffered so much while standing in the river, the waters of which he could not drink, as I when, having received your package of the translation of Wolff, I was unable to read it. All the accidents and all the bores in the world were, I think, agreed to prevent me. A journey to Potsdam, daily reviews, and the arrival of my brother in company with Messrs. De Hacke and De Rittberg, have been my impediments. Imagine my horror, my dear Diaphanes,30 at seeing the arrival of this caravan without my having in the least expected them. They weigh upon my shoulders like a tremendous burden, and never quit my side, in order, I believe, to make me wish myself at the devil.”
“Shall we order that to cease, your majesty?”
Voltaire, in his Memoirs, says that he drew up the manifesto for Frederick upon this occasion. “The pretext,” he writes, “for this fine expedition was certain rights which his majesty pretended to have over a part of the suburbs. It was to me he committed the task of drawing up the manifesto, which I performed as well as the nature of the case would let me, never suspecting that a king, with whom I supped, and who called me his friend, could possibly be in the wrong. The affair was soon brought to a conclusion by the payment of a million of livres, which he exacted in good hard ducats, and which served to defray the expenses of his tour to Strasbourg, concerning which he complained so loudly in his poetic prose epistle.The leader of an Austrian band of five hundred dragoons was on the watch. As the detachment of one hundred and fifty horse approached Baumgarten, the Austrians, from their ambuscade, plunged upon them. There was a short, sharp conflict, when the Prussians fled, leaving ten dead, sixteen prisoners, one standard, and two kettle-drums in the hands of the victors. The king had just sat down at the dinner-table, when he heard, at the distance of a few miles, the tumult of the musketry. He sprang from the table, hurriedly mustered a small force of forty hussars and fifty foot, and hastened toward the scene. Arriving at the field, he found it silent and deserted, and the ten men lying242 dead upon it. The victorious Austrians, disappointed in not finding the king, bore their spoils in triumph to Vienna. It was a very narrow escape for Frederick. Had he then been captured it might have changed the history of Europe, and no one can tell the amount of blood and woe which would have been averted.
The whole city of Berlin was agitated by the rumor of these events. The violent scene in the palace had taken place in an apartment on the ground floor. The loud and angry tones of the king, the shrieks of the queen, the cries of the children, the general clamor, had so attracted the attention of the passers-by that a large crowd had assembled before the windows. It was necessary to call out the guard to disperse them. Difficult as it was to exaggerate outrages so infamous, still they were exaggerated. The report went to all foreign courts that the king, in his ungovernable rage, had knocked down the Princess Wilhelmina and trampled her to death beneath his feet.The Marquis of Botta, the Austrian envoy, endeavoring to penetrate the plans of Frederick, descanted upon the horrible condition of the roads in Silesia, which province he had traversed in coming to Berlin. The king listened with a quiet smile, and then, with much apparent indifference, replied,Louise Ulrique,
Catharine of Russia had a son, Paul, her heir to the throne. It so chanced that she died just at the time Prince Henry of Prussia was visiting St. Petersburg. Through his agency Paul was induced to take as a second wife a niece of Frederick’s, the eldest daughter of Eugene of Würtemberg. Thus the ties between Russia and Prussia were still more strengthened, so far as matrimonial alliances could strengthen them. The wedding took place in Berlin on the 18th of October, 1776.“Inarticulate notions, fancies, transient aspirations, he might have, in the background of his mind. One day, sitting for a while out of doors, gazing into the sun, he was heard to murmur, ‘Perhaps I shall be nearer thee soon;’ and, indeed, nobody knows what his thoughts were in these final months. There is traceable only a complete superiority to fear and hope; in parts, too, are half glimpses of a great motionless interior lake of sorrow, sadder than any tears or complainings, which are altogether wanting to it.”“I have been to Lebus. There is excellent land there; fine weather for the husbandmen. Major R?der passed this way, and dined with me last Wednesday. He has got a fine fellow for my most all-gracious father’s regiment. I depend on my most all-gracious father’s grace that he will be good to me. I128 ask for nothing, and for no happiness in the world but what comes from him; and hope that he will some day remember me in grace, and give me the blue coat to put on again.”
“It is of no use. I impute nothing of crime to you. But after such a mishap it would be dangerous to trust you with any post or command.”详情
Copyright © 2020