The king himself became much fascinated with the personal loveliness and the sparkling intelligence of the young dancer. He even condescended to take tea with her, in company with others. Not long after her arrival in Berlin she made a conquest of a young gentleman of one of the first Prussian families, M. Cocceji, son of the celebrated chancellor, and was privately married to him. For a time Barberina continued upon the stage. At length, in the enjoyment of ample wealth, she purchased a splendid mansion, and, publicly announcing her marriage, retired with her husband to private life. But the mother of Cocceji, and other proud family friends, scorned the lowly alliance. A320 divorce was the result. Soon after, Barberina was married to a nobleman of high rank, and we hear of her no more.“The king esteems his wife, and can not endure her. It was but a few days ago she handed him a letter petitioning for some things of which she had the most pressing want. Frederick took the letter with that most smiling, gracious air, which he assumes at pleasure, and, without breaking the seal, tore it up before her face, made her a profound bow, and turned his back on her.”
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.
Frederick William was very anxious that little Fritz should be trained to warlike tastes and habits; that, like himself, he should scorn all effeminacy; that, wearing homespun clothes, eating frugal food, despising all pursuits of pleasure and all literary tastes, he should be every inch a soldier. But, to the bitter disappointment of the father, the child manifested no taste for soldiering. He was gentle, affectionate, fond of books and music,4 and with an almost feminine love clung to his sister. The29 stern old king was not only disappointed, but angered. These were qualities which he deemed unmanly, and which he thoroughly despised.
In the mean time, Wilhelmina, disappointed in not finding her brother, wrote to him the following account of her adventures:“When you sent me, inclosed in your letter, those verses for our Marcus Aurelius of the North, I fully intended to pay my court to him with them. He was at that time to have come to Brussels incognito. But the quartan fever, which unhappily he still has, deranged all his projects. He has sent me a courier to Brussels, and so I set out to find him in the neighborhood of Cleves.“I was so little moved by it that I answered, going on with my work, ‘Is that all?’ which greatly surprised them. A while82 after, my sisters and several ladies came to congratulate me. I was much loved, and I felt more delighted at the proofs each gave me of that than at what had occasioned their congratulations. In the evening I went to the queen’s. You may readily conceive her joy. On my first entrance she called me her dear Princess of Wales, and addressed Madam De Sonsfeld as ‘Miladi.’ This latter took the liberty of hinting to her that it would be better to keep quiet; that the king, having yet given no notice of this business, might be provoked at such demonstration, and that the least trifle could still ruin all her hopes.”
A ROYAL EXECUTIONER.In the mean time, Wilhelmina, disappointed in not finding her brother, wrote to him the following account of her adventures:
CHAPTER XVI. THE CONQUEST OF SILESIA.
It was all in vain. On Sunday evening, September 5th, as the condemned young man was sitting alone in his prison cell, sadly awaiting his doom, yet clinging to hopes of mercy, an officer entered with the startling intelligence that the carriage was at the door to convey him to the fortress of Cüstrin, at a few leagues distance, where he was to be executed. For a moment he was greatly agitated. He soon, however, regained his equanimity. It must indeed have been a fearful communication to one in the107 vigor of health, in the prime of youth, and surrounded by every thing which could render life desirable. Two brother-officers and the chaplain accompanied him upon this dismal midnight ride. Silence, pious conversation, prayers, and occasional devotional hymns occupied the hours. The dawn of a cold winter’s morning was just appearing as they reached the fortress.As he reached Potsdam and turned the corner of the palace, he saw, at a little distance, a small crowd gathered around some object; and soon, to his inexpressible surprise, beheld his father, dressed, in his wheel-chair, out of doors, giving directions about laying the foundations of a house he had undertaken to build. The old king, at the sight of his son, threw open his arms, and Frederick, kneeling before him, buried his face in his fathers lap, and they wept together. The affecting scene forced tears into the eyes of all the by-standers. Frederick William, upon recovering from a fainting-fit, had insisted that he would not die, and had compelled his attendants to dress him and conduct him to the open air.212 Frederick invited his sister to visit him at Reinsberg, to which place either business or pleasure immediately called him. After the lapse of two days, Wilhelmina, with the neglected Queen Elizabeth, repaired to the enchanting chateau, hoping to find, amid its rural scenes, that enjoyment which she never yet had been able to find in the sombre halls of the Berlin palace. Here quite a gay company was assembled. Frederick was very laboriously occupied during the day in affairs of state. But in the evening he appeared in the social circles, attracting the attention of all by his conversational brilliance, and by the apparent heartiness with which he entered into the amusements of the court. He took an active part in some private theatricals, and none were aware of the profound schemes of ambition which, cloaked by this external gayety, were engrossing his thoughts.
He could not but respect his wife. Her character was beyond all possible reproach. She never uttered a complaint, was cheerful and faithful in every duty. She had rooms assigned her on the second floor of the Berlin palace, where she was comfortably390 lodged and fed, and had modest receptions every Thursday, which were always closed at nine o’clock. A gentleman writes from Berlin at this time:“My own private conjecture, I confess, has rather grown to be, on much reading of those Rulhières and distracted books, that the czarina—who was a grandiose creature, with considerable magnanimities, natural and acquired; with many ostentations, some really great qualities and talents; in effect, a kind of she Louis Quatorze (if the reader will reflect on that royal gentleman, and put him into petticoats in Russia, and change his improper females for improper males)—that the czarina, very clearly resolute to keep Poland hers, had determined with herself to do something very handsome in regard to Poland; and to gain glory, both with the enlightened philosophe classes and with her own proud heart, by her treatment of that intricate matter.
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.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.详情
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