530It was supposed, that Frederick would remain in Saxony on the defensive against the Austrians, who were rapidly gathering their army at Prague, in Bohemia. The city was situated upon the River Moldau, one of the tributaries of the Elbe, and was about sixty miles south of Dresden.
CHAPTER XVII. THE CAMPAIGN OF MORAVIA.At that time the family consisted of nine children. Next to Wilhelmina and Fritz came Frederica, thirteen; Charlotte, eleven; Sophie Dorothee, eight; Ulrique, seven; August Wilhelm, five; Amelia, four; and Henry, a babe in arms.
Three days after, on the 17th, the king wrote again to M. Jordan:
“I am unfortunate and old, dear marquis. That is why they persecute me. God knows what my future is to be this year. I grieve to resemble Cassandra with my prophecies. But how augur well of the desperate situation we are in, and which goes on growing worse? I am so gloomy to-day I will cut short.474 “Many men in all nations long for peace. But there are three women at the top of the world who do not. Their wrath, various in quality, is great in quantity, and disasters do the reverse of appeasing it.”126Adolph Frederick was the heir to the throne of Sweden. Successful diplomacy brought a magnificent embassy from Stockholm to Berlin, to demand Princess Ulrique as the bride of Sweden’s future king. The course of love, whether true or false, certainly did in this case run smooth. The marriage ceremony was attended in Berlin with such splendor as the Prussian capital had never witnessed before. The beautiful Ulrique was very much beloved. She was married by proxy, her brother Augustus William standing in the place of the bridegroom.
250 General Neipperg, as his men were weary with their long march, did not make an attack, but allowed his troops a short season of repose in the enjoyment of the comforts of Neisse. The next morning, the 6th, Frederick continued his retreat to Friedland, ten miles farther north. He was anxious to get between the Austrians and Ohlau. He had many pieces of artillery there, and large stores of ammunition, which would prove a rich prize to the Austrians. It was Frederick’s intention to cross the River Neisse at a bridge at Sorgau, eight miles from Friedland; but the officer in charge there had been compelled to destroy the bridge, to protect himself from the Austrian horsemen, who in large numbers had appeared upon the opposite banks. Prince Leopold was sent with the artillery and a strong force to reconstruct the bridge and force the passage, but the Austrian dragoons were encountered in such numbers that the enterprise was found impossible.
There was nothing left for his Prussian majesty but to abandon Silesia, and retire within his own original borders, defeated and humiliated, the object of the contempt and ridicule of Europe, or to press forward in the conflict, summoning to his aid all the energies of despair.THE ARSENAL.
“I have nothing to add to this. I will only inform your curiosity that we passed the Elbe the day before yesterday; that to-morrow we march toward Leipsic, where I hope to be on the 31st, where I hope we shall have a battle, and whence you shall receive news of us as it occurs.”Maria Theresa was developing character which attracted the admiration of Europe. She seriously contemplated taking command of her armies herself. She loved Duke Francis, her husband, treated him very tenderly, and was anxious to confer upon him honor; but by nature vastly his superior, instinctively she assumed the command. She led; he followed. She was a magnificent rider. Her form was the perfection of grace. Her beautiful, pensive, thoughtful face was tanned by the weather. All hearts throbbed as, on a spirited charger, she sometimes swept before the ranks of the army, with her gorgeous retinue, appearing and disappearing like a meteor. She was as devout as she317 was brave, winning the homage of all Catholic hearts. We know not where, in the long list of sovereigns, to point to man or woman of more imperial energies, of more exalted worth.
There are many anecdotes of Frederick floating about in the journals whose authenticity can not be vouched for. The two following are doubtless authentic. Frederick, as he was riding through the streets of Berlin, saw a crowd looking upon a picture which was posted high up on a wall. He requested his groom to see what it was. The servant returned with the reply, “It is a caricature of your majesty, seated on a stool, with a coffee-mill between your knees, grinding with one hand, and picking up the beans which have fallen with the other,”This merciless banter from her parents cut the unhappy princess to the heart. With the utmost difficulty she refrained from bursting into convulsive crying. Her husband seems to have been a kind man, inspired with true and tender affection for his wife. But much of the time he was necessarily absent on regimental duty. The old Marquis of Baireuth, her husband’s father, was penurious, irascible, and an inebriate. Wilhelmina often suffered for the necessaries of life. There seemed to be no refuge for her. The home of her step-parents was unendurable, and the home of her childhood was still more so. Few and far between must have been the joys which visited her crushed heart.The ceremony of coronation was attended, near Presburg, on the 25th of June, with much semi-barbaric splendor, as the Iron Crown58 of St. Stephen was placed upon the pale, beautiful brow of the young wife and mother. All the renowned chivalry of Hungary were assembled upon that field. They came in gorgeous costume, with embroidered banners, and accompanied by imposing retinues. At the close of the ceremonies, the queen, who was distinguished as a bold rider, mounted a swift charger, and, followed by a long retinue of Magyar warriors, galloped to the top of a small eminence artificially constructed for the occasion, called the K?nigsburg, or King’s Hill, where she drew her sword, and, flourishing it toward the four quarters of the heavens, bade defiance to any adversary who should venture to question her claims. The knightly warriors who crowded the plain flashed their swords in the sunlight, as with one accord, with chivalric devotion, they vowed fidelity to their queen.
The king was so pleased with the conduct of his son during this journey that, in a moment of unusual good-nature, he made him a present of a very extensive horse-breeding establishment near Tilsit, consisting of seven farms, all in the most perfect order, as every thing was sure to be which was under the control of Frederick William. The profits of this establishment added about ten thousand dollars to the annual income of the Crown Prince. He was quite overjoyed at the unexpected gift, and wrote to his sister Wilhelmina a letter glowing with satisfaction.“Dear Jordan,—I must tell you, as gayly as I can, that we have beaten the enemy soundly, and that we are all pretty well after it. Poor Rothenburg is wounded in the breast and in the arm, but, as it is hoped, without danger. Adieu. You will be happy, I think, at the good news I send you. My compliments to C?sarion.”66CHAPTER XXI. BATTLES AND VICTORIES.
“My dear Sister,—A minute since the whole ceremony was finished. God be praised, it is over. I hope you will take it as a mark of my friendship that I give you the first news of it. I hope that I shall have the honor to see you again soon, and to assure you, my dear sister, that I am wholly yours. I write in great haste, and add nothing that is merely formal. Adieu.178 “Meanwhile Frederick the First died, and with him was buried all his false grandeur, which consisted only in a vain magnificence, and in the pompous display of frivolous ceremonies. My father, who succeeded him, compassionated the general misery. He visited the spot, and saw, with his own eyes, this vast country laid waste, and all the dreadful traces which a contagious malady, a famine, and the sordid avarice of a venal administration leave behind them. Twelve or fifteen towns depopulated, and four or five hundred villages uninhabited, presented themselves to his view. Far from being discouraged by such a sad spectacle, his compassion only became the more lively from it; and he resolved to restore population, plenty, and commerce to this land, which had even lost the appearance of an inhabited country.详情
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