FREDERICK’S INTERVIEW WITH VALORI.Frederick, with grim humor characteristic of him, sent back the courier with the following response, as if from the Russian general, signed Fermor, but in the king’s handwriting:He informed Wilhelmina that the question of her marriage with the Prince of Wales was now settled forever, and that, as she declined taking the Duke of Weissenfels for a husband, she might prepare to retire to the abbey of Hereford, a kind of Protestant nunnery for ladies of quality, who, for any reason, wished to be buried from the world. He mercilessly resolved to make her the abbess of this institution. This living burial was almost the last situation to suit the taste of Wilhelmina. The king was in the worst possible humor. “He bullies and outrages his poor Crown Prince almost worse than ever. There have been rattan showers hideous to think of, descending this very week (July, 1730) on the fine head and far into the high heart of a royal young man, who can not in the name of manhood endure, and must not in the name of sonhood resist, and vainly calls to all the gods to teach him what he shall do in this intolerable, inextricable state of affairs.”11
“Monsieur De Maupertuis, your very affectionate
In accordance with this request, Voltaire repaired to Cleves to visit the king. Many years afterward, having quarreled with Frederick, and being disposed to represent him in the most unfavorable light, he gave the following account of this interview in his Vie Privée:CHAPTER III. THE SUFFERINGS OF FRITZ AND WILHELMINA.
“On Monday, as on all week-days, he is to be called at six o’clock, and so soon as he is called he is to rise. You are to stand by him that he do not loiter or turn in bed, but briskly and at once get up and say his prayers the same as on Sunday morning. This done, he shall, as rapidly as he can, get on his shoes and spatterdashes, also wash his face and hands, but not with soap; shall put on his dressing-gown, have his hair combed and queued, but not powdered. While being combed and queued, he shall, at the same time, take breakfast of tea, so that both jobs go on at once; and all this shall be ended before half past six. Preceptor and domestics shall then come in with Bible and hymn-books, and have family worship as on Sunday. This shall be done by seven o’clock.Again, and at the same time, he wrote to another friend:
The wagons had accomplished about half the distance, when, on Friday, the 30th of June, as they were emerging from wild ravines among the mountains, they were simultaneously attacked in front, centre, and rear by three divisions of the Austrians, each about five thousand strong. Then ensued as terrible a scene of panic and confusion as war has ever witnessed. The attack of horsemen with their gleaming sabres, the storm of bullets, thick as hailstones, the thunders of the cannon, as the ponderous balls tore their way through wagons, and horses, and men, soon presented such a spectacle of devastation, ruin, and woe as mortal eyes have seldom gazed upon.
“Would your majesty,” Lord Hyndford replied, “engage to stand by his excellency Gotter’s original offer at Vienna on your part? That is, would you agree, in consideration of the surrender to you of Lower Silesia and Breslau, to assist the Queen of Austria, with all your troops, for the maintenance of the Pragmatic Sanction, and to vote for the Grand-duke Francis as emperor?”
The freezing gales of winter soon came, when neither army could keep the open field. Frederick established his winter quarters at Breslau. General Loudon, with his Austrians, was about thirty miles southwest of him at Kunzendorf. Thus ended the sixth campaign.Frederick.”
On the southeast frontier of Prussia, between that kingdom, and Poland, and Hungary, there was an Austrian realm called Silesia. The country embraced a territory of twenty thousand square miles, being about twice as large as the State of Vermont.215 The population was about two millions. For more than a century Silesia had been a portion of the Austrian kingdom. Time, and the assent of Europe, had sanctioned the title.321 “First he asked me ‘if it were true that the French nation were so angered against him, if the king was, and if you were.’ I answered ‘that there was nothing permanent.’ He then condescended to speak fully upon the reasons which induced him to make peace. These reasons were so remarkable that I dare not trust them to this paper. All that I dare say is, that it seems to me easy to lead back the mind of this sovereign, whom the situation of his territories, his interest, and his taste would appear to mark as the natural ally of France. He said, moreover, ‘that he earnestly desired to see Bohemia in the emperor’s hands, that he renounced all claim on Berg and Jülick, and that he thought only of keeping Silesia.’ He said ‘that he knew well enough that the house of Austria would one day wish to recover that fine province, but that he trusted he could keep his conquest. That he had at that time a hundred and thirty thousand soldiers perfectly prepared for war; that he would make of Neisse, Glogau, and Brieg fortresses as strong as Wesel; that he was well informed that the Queen of Hungary owed eighty million German crowns (,000,000); that her provinces, exhausted and wide apart, would not be able to make long efforts; and that the Austrians for a long time to come could not of themselves be formidable.’”71The 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.
“It was but a few years ago,” she wrote, “that this territory wore the most pleasing appearance. The country was cultivated. The peasants looked cheerful. The towns abounded with riches and festivity. What an alteration at present from such a charming scene! I am not expert at description, neither can my fancy add any horrors to the picture. But sure even conquerors themselves would weep at the hideous prospect now before me.详情
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