“The king was accustomed to pass his leisure moments in playing with them, and the room where he sat was strewed with leather balls with which they amused themselves. As they were all much indulged, though there was always one especial favorite, they used to tear the damask covers of the chairs in the king’s apartment, and gnaw and otherwise injure the furniture. This he permitted without rebuke, and used only to say,
Early in January, 1730, the king, returning from a hunt at Wusterhausen, during which he had held a drinking carouse and a diplomatic interview with the King of Poland, announced his intention of being no longer annoyed by matrimonial arrangements for Wilhelmina. He resolved to abandon the English alliance altogether, unless an immediate and unequivocal assent were given by George II. for the marriage of Wilhelmina with the Prince of Wales, without any compact for the marriage of Fritz with the Princess Amelia. Count Finckenstein, Baron Grumkow, and General Borck were sent to communicate this, the king’s unalterable resolve, to the queen. The first two were friends of the queen. Grumkow was understood to be the instigator of the king. Wilhelmina chanced to be with her mother when the gentlemen announced themselves as the bearers of a very important message from the king to her majesty. Wilhelmina trembled, and said in a low tone to her mother, “This regards me. I have a dreading.” “No matter,” the worn and weary mother replied; “one must have firmness, and that is not what I shall want.” The queen retired with the ministers to the audience-chamber.
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.On the 29th of December, the Old Dessauer, with thirty-five thousand men, crossed the frontiers and entered Saxony. He marched rapidly upon Leipsic, and seized the town, from which a division of Rutowski’s army precipitately fled. Leopold found here quite a supply of commissary and ordnance stores. He also replenished his empty army-chest by levying a contribution of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars upon the inhabitants.368 Then, by a rapid march northeast to Torgo, on the Elbe, he captured another imperial magazine. Turning south, he pressed his troops along up the river to Myssen, which was within two days’ easy march of Dresden. Here there was a bridge across the Oder. Frederick was pushing his troops, by forced marches, from Hennersdorf, to effect a junction with Leopold at Myssen. Unitedly they were to fall upon Grüne and Rutowski at Dresden. In the mean time, also, Prince Charles, a despondent man, crushed by domestic woe and humiliating defeats, was moving, by not very energetic steps, to re-enforce the allied troops at Dresden.
The Austrians took position upon the south, at the distance of about six miles. The Russians were at the same distance on the west, with their head-quarters at Hohenfriedberg.
On Saturday, the 15th of July, 1730, the king, with a small train, which really guarded Fritz, set out at an early hour from Potsdam on this memorable journey. Three reliable officers of89 the king occupied the same carriage with Fritz, with orders to keep a strict watch over him, and never to leave him alone. Thus, throughout the journey, one of his guards sat by his side, and the other two on the seat facing him. The king was not a luxurious traveler. He seemed to covet hardship and fatigue. Post-horses were provided all along the route. The meteoric train rushed along, scarcely stopping for food or sleep, but occasionally delayed by business of inspection, until it reached Anspach, where the king’s beautiful daughter, then but sixteen years of age, resided with her uncongenial husband. Here the Crown Prince had some hope of escape. He endeavored to persuade his brother-in-law, the young Marquis of Anspach, to lend him a pair of saddle-horses, and to say nothing about it. But the characterless young man, suspecting his brother, and dreading the wrath of his terrible father-in-law, refused, with many protestations of good-will.
Two Silesian barons called upon him, and presented a protest from the authorities they represented against his meditated invasion, the design of which was now manifest to all. The king received them very courteously, tossed the protest to a secretary223 to file away or to cast into the waste-paper basket, and invited the two gentlemen to dine with him.“The king’s procedure,” added the unhappy mother, “is not in accordance with that law. He is doing violence to my daughter’s inclinations, thus rendering her wretched for the remainder of her days. He wishes to give her for a husband a brutal debauchee, a younger brother, who is nothing but an officer in the army of the King of Poland; a landless man, without the means of living according to his rank. I will write to England. But, whatever the answer, I had rather a thousand times see my child in the grave than hopelessly miserable.”The winter was long, cold, and dreary. Fierce storms swept the fields, piling up the snow in enormous drifts. But for this cruel war, the Prussian, Russian, and Austrian peasants, who had been dragged into the armies to slaughter each other, might have been in their humble but pleasant homes, by the bright fireside, in the enjoyment of all comforts.
“Think of the sounds,” writes Carlyle, “uttered from human windpipes, shrill with rage, some of them, hoarse others with ditto; of the vituperations, execrations, printed and vocal—grating harsh thunder upon Frederick and this new course of his. Huge melody of discords, shrieking, groaning, grinding on that topic through the afflicted universe in general.The Czarina, Anne of Russia, died the 28th of October, 1740,240 just eight days after the death of the emperor. She left, in the cradle, the infant Czar Iwan, her nephew, two months old. The father of this child was a brother of Frederick’s neglected wife Elizabeth. The mother was the Russian Princess Catharine of Mecklenburg, now called Princess Anne, whom Frederick had at one time thought of applying for as his wife. Russia was a semi-barbaric realm just emerging into consideration, and no one could tell by what influences it would be swayed. The minor powers could be controlled by the greater—constrained by terror or led by bribes. Such, in general, was the state of Europe at this time.
There were some gross vulgarities in Voltaire’s letter which we refrain from quoting. Both of these communications were printed and widely circulated, exciting throughout Europe contempt and derision. Voltaire had still the copy of the king’s private poems. Frederick, quite irritated, and not knowing what infamous use Voltaire might make of the volume, which contained some very severe satires against prominent persons, and particularly against his uncle, the King of England, determined, at all hazards, to recover the book. He knew it would be of no avail to write to Voltaire to return it.While these scenes were transpiring, the Crown Prince was at Cüstrin, upon probation, being not yet admitted to the presence of his father. He seems to have exerted himself to the utmost to please the king, applying himself diligently to become familiar with all the tedious routine and details of the administration of finance, police, and the public domains. Fritz was naturally very amiable. He was consequently popular in the little town in which he resided, all being ready to do every thing in their power to serve him. The income still allowed him by his father was so small that he would have suffered from poverty had not the gentry in the neighborhood, regardless of the prohibition to lend money to the prince, contributed secretly to replenish his purse.
“But behold the caprice of Fortune. After a hundred preferences of my rivals, she smiles upon me, and packs off the hero of the hat and sword, whom the pope had blessed, and who had gone on pilgrimages. He skulks out of Saxony, panting like a dog whom the cook has flogged out of the kitchen.”详情
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