92 The royal yachts glided down the Main to the Rhine, and thence down the Rhine to Wesel. Probably a heavier heart than that of the prince never floated upon that world-renowned stream. Lost in painful musings, he had no eye to gaze upon the picturesque scenes of mountain, forest, castle, and ruins through which they were gliding. At Bonn he had an interview with Seckendorf, whose influence was great with his father, and whom he hoped to interest in his favor. To him he said,
Notwithstanding the opposition, Parliament voted to continue the subsidy to Frederick of about three million four hundred thousand dollars (￡670,000). This sum was equal to twice or three times that amount at the present day.
The king having breathed his last, Frederick, in tears, retired to a private room, there to reflect upon the sad receding past, and upon the opening future, with the vast responsibilities thus suddenly thrown upon him. He was now King of Prussia; and not only absolute master of himself, but absolute monarch over a realm containing two millions two hundred and forty thousand souls. He was restrained by no Parliament, no Constitution, no customs or laws superior to his own resolves. He could take advice of others, and call energetic men to his aid, but his will alone was sovereign.
Embarrassments of Frederick.—Attempts a Compromise.—New Invasion of Silesia.—Intrigues for the Imperial Crown.—Rivalry between England and France.—Death of Anne of Russia.—Energy of Austria.—Narrow Escape of Frederick.—Frederick’s Antipathy to Christianity.—Capture of Glogau.—Peril of Frederick.—The Siege of Neisse.
“Nobody here, great or small, dares make any representation to this young prince against the measures he is pursuing, though all are sensible of the confusion which must follow. A prince who had the least regard to honor, truth, and justice, could not act the part he is going to do. But it is plain his only view is to deceive us all, and conceal for a while his ambitious and mischievous designs.”
“In this tremor of my heart,” writes Linsenbarth, “there came a valet out of the palace and asked, ‘Where is the man that was with my king in the garden?’ I answered, ‘Here.’ He led me into the palace to a large room, where pages, lackeys, and soldier valets were about. My valet took me to a little table excellently furnished with soup, beef; likewise carp, dressed with garden salad; likewise game, with cucumber salad; bread, knife, fork, plate, spoon were all there. My valet set me a chair, and said,A ROYAL EXECUTIONER.
Frederick remained at Bunzelwitz a fortnight after the retreat of the Russians. In the mean time the French and English were fighting each other with varying success upon the banks of the Rhine. It is not necessary to enter into the details of their struggles. Frederick’s magazines at Schweidnitz were getting low. On the 26th of September he broke up his camp at Bunzelwitz, and in a three days’ march to the southeast reached Neisse. The Austrians did not venture to annoy him. Frederick had scarcely reached Neisse when he learned, to his amazement and horror, that General Loudon, with a panther-like spring, had captured Schweidnitz, with its garrison and all its supplies. It was a terrible blow to the king. The Austrians could now winter in Silesia. The anguish of Frederick must have been great. But he gave no utterance to his gloomy forebodings.
The next Sunday, June 3d, the betrothal took place with great magnificence. The ceremony was attended by a large concourse of distinguished guests. Lord Dover says that the very evening of the day of the betrothing a courier arrived from England with dispatches announcing that the English court had yielded to all the stipulations demanded by the King of Prussia in reference to the marriage of Wilhelmina to the Prince of Wales. It was now too late to retract. Probably both the king and Wilhelmina were gratified in being able to decline the offer. But the chagrin of the queen was terrible. She fell into a violent fever, and came near dying, reproaching her daughter with having killed her.详情
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