“As the prince was anxious to come up with his majesty again, and knew not where he would meet him, we had to be very swift in the business. We found the king, with Anhalt and Winterfeld, by-and-by, sitting in a village in front of a barn, eating a cold pie there which the Marquis of Anhalt chanced to180 have with him. His majesty, owing to what he had seen on the parade-ground, was in the utmost ill-humor. Next day, Saturday, he went a hundred and fifty or two hundred miles, and arrived in Berlin at ten o’clock at night, not expected there till the morrow, so that his rooms were locked, her majesty being over in Monbijou giving her children a ball.”
SIEGE OF OLMüTZ, MAY 12—JULY 2, 1758.Weissenfels was a small duchy in Saxony. The duke, so called by courtesy, had visited Berlin before in the train of his sovereign, King Augustus, when his majesty returned the visit of Frederick William. He was then quite captivated by the beauty and vivacity of Wilhelmina. He was titular duke merely, his brother being the real duke; and he was then living on his pay as officer in the army, and was addicted to deep potations. Carlyle describes him as “a mere betitled, betasseled, elderly military gentleman of no special qualities, evil or good.” Sophie Dorothee, noticing his attentions to Wilhelmina, deemed it the extreme of impudence for so humble a man to aspire to the hand of her illustrious child. She reproved him so severely that he retired from the court in deep chagrin. He never would have presumed to renew the suit but for the encouragement given by Frederick William.
The region through which this retreat and pursuit were conducted was much of the way along the southern slope of the Giant Mountains. It was a wild country of precipitous rocks, quagmires, and gloomy forests. At length Prince Charles, with his defeated and dispirited army, took refuge at K?nigsgraft, a compact town between the Elbe and the Adler, protected by one stream on the west, and by the other on the south. Here, in an impregnable position, he intrenched his troops. Frederick, finding them unassailable, encamped his forces in a position almost equally impregnable, a few miles west of the Elbe, in the vicinity of a little village called Chlum. Thus the two hostile armies, almost within sound of each other’s bugles, defiantly stood in battle array, each watching an opportunity to strike a blow.116
But, notwithstanding this wonderful victory and narrow escape, it still seemed that Frederick’s destruction was only postponed for a short time. He was in the heart of Silesia, and was surrounded by hostile armies three times more numerous than his own.
FREDERICK AT THE MILL.George II. was far from popular in England. There was but little in the man to win either affection or esteem. The Prince of Wales was also daily becoming more disliked. He was assuming haughty airs. He was very profligate, and his associates were mainly actresses and opera girls. The Prussian minister at London, who was opposed to any matrimonial connection whatever between the Prussian and the English court, watched the Prince of Wales very narrowly, and wrote home quite unfavorable reports respecting his character and conduct. He had searched out the fact that Fritz had written to his aunt, Queen Caroline, pledging to her his word “never to marry any body in the world except the Princess Amelia of England, happen what will.” This fact was reported to the king, greatly exciting his wrath.
“Yesterday, July 3d, the king sent for me, in the afternoon, the first time he has seen any body since the news came. I had the honor to remain with him in his closet. I must own I was most sensibly affected to see him indulging his grief, and giving way to the warmest filial affections; recalling to mind the many obligations he had to her late majesty; all she had suffered, and how nobly she had borne it; the good she did to every body;419 the one comfort he now had, that he tried to make her last years more agreeable.”“It being his majesty’s birthday,” writes Grumkow, “the prince, in deep emotion, followed his father, and, again falling prostrate, testified such heartfelt joy, gratitude, and affection over this blessed anniversary as quite touched the heart of the king, who at last clasped him in his arms, and hurried out to avoid sobbing aloud. The Crown Prince followed his majesty, and, in the presence of many hundred people, kissed his majesty’s feet, and was again embraced by his majesty, who said, ‘Behave well, as I see you mean, and I will take care of you.’ Which words,” writes Grumkow, “threw the Crown Prince into such an ecstasy of joy as no pen can express.”Wilhelmina endeavored to reply. But the angry mother sternly exclaimed, “Silence!” and the tortured girl left the apartment, weeping bitterly. Even Fritz took his mother’s part, and reproached Wilhelmina for not acceding to her plan. New troubles were thickening around him. He was in debt. The king had found it out. To his father’s stern questioning, Fritz, in his terror, had uttered deliberate falsehood. He confessed a debt of about eight hundred dollars, which his father had detected, and solemnly declared that this was all. In fact, he owed an additional sum of seven thousand dollars. Should the king discover this debt, and thus detect Fritz in a lie, his rage would be tremendous. The king paid the eight hundred dollar debt of his son, and then issued a decree declaring that to lend money to any princes of the blood, even to the prince royal, was a high crime, to be punished, not only by forfeiture of the money, but78 by imprisonment. The king had begun to suspect that Fritz intended to escape. He could not escape without money. The king therefore took special precautions that his purse should be ever empty, and watched him with renewed vigilance.
Ere long a company of Austrian scouts approached. From a distance they eyed the sentinel, moving to and fro as he guarded his post. A sharp-shooter crept near, and, taking deliberate aim at his supposed victim, fired. A twitch upon the rope caused the image to fall flat. The whole band of Austrians, with a shout, rushed to the spot. The Prussians, from their ambuscade, opened upon them a deadly fire of bullets. Then, as the ground was covered with the mutilated and the dead, the Prussians, causing the welkin to ring with their peals of laughter, rushed with fixed bayonets upon their entrapped foes. Not a single Austrian had escaped being struck by a bullet. Those who were not killed outright were wounded, and were taken captive. This is one of the “slight pleasantries” of war.
The letter was as follows:
Within three months after the divorce, the Crown Prince, anxious for an heir, married, on the 18th of April, 1769, the Princess Frederica Louisa, of Hesse-Darmstadt. A son was born to them, who became Frederick William III.“Alas! your majesty,” the man replied, “we are so few, and the Austrians are so many, that defeat is certain.”详情
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