231 “If you make any resistance, you shall be treated as prisoners of war. If you make no resistance, and promise not to serve against us, you may march out of the city unmolested, with your arms.”
Wusterhausen, where the young Crown Prince spent many of these early years of his life, was a rural retreat of the king about twenty miles southeast from Berlin. The palace consisted of a plain, unornamented, rectangular pile, surrounded by numerous outbuildings, and rising from the midst of low and swampy grounds tangled with thickets and interspersed with fish-pools. Game of all kinds abounded in those lakelets, sluggish streams, and jungles.While these scenes were transpiring the Crown Prince was habitually residing at Potsdam, a favorite royal residence about seventeen miles west from Berlin. Here he was rigidly attending to his duties in the giant regiment. We have now, in our narrative, reached the year 1727. Fritz is fifteen years of age. He is attracting attention by his vivacity, his ingenuous, agreeable manners, and his fondness for polite literature. He occasionally is summoned by his father to the Smoking Cabinet. But the delicacy of his physical organization is such that he loathes tobacco, and only pretends to smoke, with mock gravity puffing from his empty, white clay pipe. Neither has he any relish for the society which he meets there. Though faithful to the mechanical duties of the drill, they were very irksome to him. His books and his flute were his chief joy. Voltaire was just then rising to celebrity in France. His writings began to attract the attention of literary men throughout Europe. Fritz, in his youthful enthusiasm, was charmed by them. In the latter part of June, 1729, a courier brought the intelligence to Berlin that George I. had suddenly died of apoplexy. He was on a journey to Hanover when he was struck down on the road. Almost insensible, he was conveyed, on the full gallop, to Osnabrück, where his brother, who was a bishop, resided, and where medical aid could be obtained. But the shaft was fatal. At midnight his carriage reached Osnabrück. The old man, sixty-seven years of age, was heard to murmur, “It is all over with me,” and his spirit passed away to the judgment.
“I write from a place where there lived once a great man,27 which is now the Prince of Orange’s house. The demon of ambition sheds its unhappy poisons over his days. He might be the most fortunate of men, and he is devoured by chagrins in his beautiful palace here, in the middle of his gardens and of a brilliant court.”
“As God often, by wondrous guidance, strange paths, and thorny steps, will bring men into the kingdom of Christ, so may our divine Redeemer help that this prodigal son be brought into his communion; that his godless heart be beaten until it is softened and changed, and so he be snatched from the claws of Satan. This grant us, the Almighty God and Father, for our Lord Jesus Christ and his passion and death’s sake. Amen.
“You do not know,” said he to M. Bielfeld, “what I have lost in losing my father.”On the 8th of September Fritz returned to Potsdam from this his first military expedition, with his regiment of giants. He was then seventeen years of age. His soldierly bearing had quite rejoiced the king, and he began to think that, after all, possibly something might be made of Fritz.
“My dearest Brother,—I know not if it is not too bold to trouble your majesty on private affairs. But the great confidence my sister and I have in your kindness encourages us to lay before you a sincere avowal of our little finances, which are a good deal deranged just now. The revenues, having for two years and a half past been rather small, amounting to only four hundred crowns (0) a year, could not be made to cover all the little expenses required in the adjustment of ladies. This circumstance, added to our card-playing, though small, which we could not dispense with, has led us into debt. Mine amounts to fifteen hundred crowns (25); my sister’s, to eighteen hundred crowns (50). We have not spoken of it to the queen-mother, though we are sure she would have tried to assist us. But as that could not have been done without some inconvenience to her, and as she would have retrenched in some of her own little entertainments, I thought we should do better to apply directly to your majesty. We were persuaded you would have taken it amiss had we deprived the queen of her smallest pleasure, and especially as we consider you, my dear brother, the father of the family, and hope you will be so gracious as to help us. We shall never forget the kind acts of your majesty. We beg you to be persuaded of the perfect and tender attachment with which we are proud to be, all our lives, your majesty’s most humble sisters and servants,One day the father, returning home, found, to his inexpressible delight, little Fritz strutting about beating a drum, with Wilhelmina marching by his side. The king could scarcely restrain his joy. At last the military element was being developed in his child. He hastened with the tidings to his wife, whom he called30 by the pet name of “Phiekin”—a word apparently coined from Sophie. The matter was talked about all over the palace. A painter was sent for to transfer the scene to canvas. This picture, greatly admired, still hangs upon the walls of the Charlottenburg palace. Of this picture Carlyle writes: “Fritz is still, if not in ‘long-clothes,’ at least in longish and flowing clothes of the petticoat sort, which look as of dark blue velvet, very simple, pretty, and appropriate; in a cap of the same; has a short raven’s feather in the cap, and looks up with a face and eyes full of beautiful vivacity and child’s enthusiasm, one of the beautifulest little figures, while the little drum responds to his bits of drumsticks. Sister Wilhelmina, taller by some three years, looks on in pretty stooping attitude, and with a graver smile. Blackamoor and room-furniture elegant enough; and finally the figure of a grenadier on guard, seen far off through an open window, make up the background.
The dying king strangely decided, at that late hour, to abdicate. All the officials were hurriedly summoned to his chamber. The poor old man, bandaged, with his night-cap on, and a mantle thrown over him, was wheeled into the anteroom where the company was assembled. As he saw P?llnitz he exclaimed, sadly, “It is all over.” Noticing one in tears, he said to him, kindly, “Nay, my friend, this is a debt we all have to pay.” The king then solemnly abdicated in favor of his “good son Frederick.” The deed was made out, signed, and sealed. But scarcely was it executed ere the king fainted, and was carried to his bed. Still the expiring lamp of life flickered in its socket. About eleven o’clock the clergyman, M. Cochius, was sent for. The king was in his bed, apparently speechless. He, however, revived a little, and was in great pain, often exclaiming, “Pray for me; pray for me; my trust is in the Savior.” He called for a mirror, and carefully examined his face for some moments, saying at intervals, “Not so worn out as I thought.” “An ugly face.” “As good as dead already.”31On the first of May, 1747, Frederick took formal possession of this beautiful chateau. The occasion was celebrated by quite a magnificent dinner of two hundred covers. Here, for the next forty years, he spent most of his leisure time. He had three other palaces, far surpassing Sans Souci in splendor, which he occasionally visited on days of royal festivities. Berlin and Charlottenburg were about twenty miles distant. The New Palace, so called, at Potsdam, was but about a mile from Sans Souci. He had also his palace at Rheinsberg, some thirty miles north of Berlin, where he had spent many of his early days.
Again M. Jordan wrote, a week later, on the 20th of December:
“I have as much honor as you have,” the son replied; “and I have only done that which I have heard you say a hundred times you would have done yourself had you been treated as I have been.”“‘Hither this evening, and in all privacy meet me in the palace at such an hour’ (hour of midnight or thereby); which of553 course G?rtz, duly invisible to mankind, does. Frederick explains: an errand to München; perfectly secret, for the moment, and requiring great delicacy and address; perhaps not without risk, a timorous man might say: will your brother go for me, think you? G?rtz thinks he will.详情
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