The English minister at Berlin, Dubourgay, wrote to Hanover, urging that some notification of the king’s arrival should be sent60 to the Prussian court to appease the angry sovereign. George replied through Lord Townshend that, “under the circumstances, it is not necessary.” Thus the two kings were no longer on speaking terms. It is amusing, while at the same time it is humiliating, to observe these traits of frail childhood thus developed in full-grown men wearing crowns. When private men or kings are in such a state of latent hostility, an open rupture is quite certain soon to follow. George accused Frederick William of recruiting soldiers in Hanover. In retaliation, he seized some Prussian soldiers caught in Hanoverian territory. There was an acre or so of land, called the “Meadow of Clamei,” which both Hanover and Brandenburg claimed. The grass, about eight cart-loads, had been cut by Brandenburg, and was well dried.37 There seems to have been but little which was attractive about this castle. It was surrounded by a moat, which Wilhelmina describes as a “black, abominable ditch.” Its pets were shrieking eagles, and two black bears ugly and vicious. Its interior accommodations were at the farthest possible remove from luxurious indulgence. “It was a dreadfully crowded place,” says Wilhelmina, “where you are stuffed into garrets and have not room to turn.”
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:“The King of Prussia is thought to be dying. I am weary of the political discussions on this subject as to what effects his death must produce. He is better at this moment, but so weak he can not resist long. Physique is gone. But his force and energy of soul, they say, have often supported him, and in desperate crises have even seemed to increase. Liking to him I never had. His ostentatious immorality has much hurt public virtue, and there have been related to me barbarities which excite horror.
“‘Oh, spare my brother,’ I cried, ‘and I will marry the Duke of Weissenfels.’ But in the great noise he did not hear me. And while I strove to repeat it louder, Madam Sonsfeld clapped99 her handkerchief on my mouth. Pushing aside to get rid of the handkerchief, I saw Katte crossing the square. Four soldiers were conducting him to the king. My brother’s trunks and his were following in the rear. Pale and downcast, he took off his hat to salute me. He fell at the king’s feet imploring pardon.”The King of Poland, who was also Elector of Saxony, had strong feelings of personal hostility to Frederick. His prime minister, Count Von Brühl, even surpassed his royal master in the bitter antagonism with which he regarded the Prussian monarch. Frederick, whose eagle eye was ever open, and whose restless mind was always on the alert, suspected that a coalition was about to be formed against him. He had false keys made to the royal archives at Dresden; bribed one of the officials there, M. Menzel, stealthily to enter the chamber of the archives, and copy for him such extracts as would throw any light upon the designs of the court. Among other items of intelligence, he found that Austria, Russia, and Poland were deliberating upon the terms of a coalition against him.
At six o’clock in the evening the whole city was illuminated. Frederick entered his carriage, and, attended by his two brothers, the Prince of Prussia and Prince Henry, rode out to take the circuit of the streets. But the king had received information that one of his former preceptors, M. Duhan, lay at the point of death. He ordered his carriage to be at once driven to the residence of the dying man. The house of M. Duhan was situated in a court, blazing with the glow of thousands of lamps.This visit to Dresden, so fatal to Fritz, was closed on the 12th of February. The dissipation of those four weeks introduced the Crown Prince to habits which have left an indelible stain upon his reputation, and which poisoned his days. Upon his return to Potsdam he was seized with a fit of sickness, and for many years his health remained feeble. But he had entered upon the downward course. His chosen companions were those who were in sympathy with his newly-formed tastes. The career of dissipation into which the young prince had plunged could not be concealed from his eagle-eyed father. The king’s previous dislike to his son was converted into contempt and hatred, which feelings were at times developed in almost insane ebullitions of rage.FLIGHT OF FREDERICK.
How soon Henry learned that he had been conversing with the King of Prussia we do not know. It is evident that Frederick was pleased with the interview. He soon after invited Henry de Catt to his court, and appointed him reader to the king. In this capacity he served his Prussian majesty for about twenty years. He left a note-book in the royal archives of Berlin from which the above extracts are taken.
“Lean indeed I am,” the king replied. “And what wonder, with three women163 hanging on the throat of me all this while!”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.65 “After this I went home, but had scarcely entered my apartment when a messenger returned me, by order of the ministers, the declaration, still sealed as I left it; and perceiving that I was not inclined to receive it, he laid it on my table, and immediately left the house.
“Friedrich Wilhelm feels this sad contrast very much; the127 more, as the soldier is his own chattel withal, and of superlative inches. Friedrich Wilhelm flames up into wrath; sends off swift messengers to bring these judges, one and all, instantly into his presence. The judges are still in their dressing-gowns, shaving, breakfasting. They make what haste they can. So soon as the first three or four are reported to be in the anteroom, Friedrich Wilhelm, in extreme impatience, has them called in; starts discoursing with them upon the two weights and two measures. Apologies, subterfuges, do but provoke him farther. It is not long till he starts up growling terribly, ‘Ye scoundrels, how could you?’ and smites down upon the crown of them with the royal cudgel itself. Fancy the hurry-scurry, the unforensic attitudes and pleadings! Royal cudgel rains blows right and left. Blood is drawn, crowns cracked, crowns nearly broken; and several judges lost a few teeth and had their noses battered before they could get out. The second relay, meeting them in this dilapidated state on the staircases, dashed home again without the honor of a royal interview. This is an actual scene, of date, Berlin, 1731, of which no constitutional country can hope to see the fellow. Schlubhut he hanged, Schlubhut being only Schlubhut’s chattel. This musketeer, his majesty’s own chattel, he did not hang, but set him shouldering arms again after some preliminary dusting.”With wonderful skill, Frederick conducted his retreat about four miles to the northwest. Here he took a strong position at Doberschütz, and again bade defiance to the Austrians. Slowly, proudly, and in perfect order he retired, as if merely shifting his ground. His cavalry was drawn up as on parade, protecting his baggage-wagons as they defiled through the pass of Drehsa. The Austrians gazed quietly upon the movement, not venturing to renew the attack by daylight upon such desperate men.545 “These Russian encroachments upon the Turk,” said Kaunitz, “are dangerous to the repose of Europe. His imperial majesty can never consent that Russia should possess the provinces of Moldavia and Wallachia. He will much rather go to war. These views of Russia are infinitely dangerous to every body. They are as dangerous to your majesty as to others. I can conceive of no remedy against them but this. Prussia and Austria must join frankly in protest and absolute prohibition of them.”
The rich abbeys of the Roman Catholics were compelled to establish manufactures for weaving damasks and table-cloths. Some were converted into oil-mills, or “workers in copper, wire-drawers, the flaxes and metals, with water-power, markets, and so on.”
“My dear General and Friend,—I was charmed to learn, by your letter, that my affairs are on so good a footing. You may depend on it I am prepared to follow your advice. I will lend myself to whatever is possible for me. And, provided I can secure the king’s favor by my obedience, I will do all that is within my power.“But he interrupted me hastily with the word, ‘Nothing more of kings, sir—nothing more. What have we to do with them? We will spend the rest of our voyage on more agreeable and cheering objects.’ And now he spoke of the best of all possible worlds, and maintained that in our planet, earth, there was more evil than good. I maintained the contrary, and this discussion brought us to the end of the voyage.详情
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