The next day, December 11, 1779, the king issued the following protocol in the newspapers:
Wilhelmina, in her distress in view of the peril of her brother, wrote to Voltaire, hoping that he might be persuaded to exert an influence in his favor.“Salzdahlum, Noon, June 12, 1733.
Frederick, ever regardless of fatigue and exposure for himself, never spared his followers. It was after midnight of the 28th when the weary column, frostbitten, hungry, and exhausted, reached Olmütz. The king was hospitably entertained in the fine palace of the Catholic bishop, “a little, gouty man,” writes Stille, “about fifty-two years of age, with a countenance open and full of candor.”
“The king, as was not unnatural, had begun to get angry at her first answer. This last put him quite in a fury. But all his anger fell on my brother and me. He first threw a plate at my brother’s head, who ducked out of the way. He then let fly another at me, which I avoided in like manner. A hail-storm of abuse followed these first hostilities. He rose into a passion against the queen, reproaching her with the bad training which she gave her children, and, addressing my brother, said,Incessant Marches and Battles.—Letter from Frederick to D’Argens.—Letter to his Brother Henry.—Berlin summoned to Surrender.—Sacking of the City.—Letter to D’Argens.—Desperate Resolves of Frederick.—The Resort of Suicide.—Remarkable Address of Frederick to his Generals.—Bloody Battle of Torgau.—Dismal Night-scene.—Familiarity of the King with the Soldiers.—Winter Quarters at Freiberg.—Singular Letter to the Countess of Camas.—Death of the Princess Amelia.—Anecdotes of the King.—His domestic Habits.—His unscrupulous Measures to obtain Men and Money.—Letter of Charlotte of Mecklenburg.a a. Prussian Camp, left with fires burning. b b b. Prussian Main Army. c c. Ziethen’s Division. d d. Loudon’s Camp, also left with fires burning. e e e. Loudon’s Army attacked by the Prussians. f f f. Approach of Daun. g g. Lacy’s Cavalry.
At one moment the Russian horse dashed against this line and staggered it. Frederick immediately rushed into the vortex to rally the broken battalions. At the same instant the magnificent squadrons of Seidlitz, five thousand strong, flushed with victory, swept like the storm-wind upon the Russian dragoons. They were whirled back like autumn leaves before the gale. About four o’clock the firing ceased. The ammunition on both sides was nearly expended. For some time the Prussians had been using the cartridge-boxes of the dead Russians.
“A new career came to open itself to me. And one must have been either without address or buried in stupidity not to have profited by an opportunity so advantageous. I seized this unexpected opportunity by the forelock. By dint of negotiating and intriguing, I succeeded in indemnifying our monarchy for its past losses by incorporating Polish Prussia with my old provinces. This acquisition was one of the most important we could make, because it joined Pommern to East Prussia, and because, rendering us masters of the Weichsel River, we gained the double advantage of being able to defend that kingdom (East Prussia), and to draw considerable tolls from the Weichsel, as all the trade of Poland goes by that river.”The situation of the castle was admirable. A beautiful sheet of water bathed its walls on one side, while a dense forest of oaks and beeches rose like an amphitheatre upon the other. The whole edifice assumed the form of a square, with two towers connected by a double colonnade, richly ornamented with vases and statuary. Over the majestic portal was inscribed the motto, Frederico, tranquillitatem colenti.23 The interior of the palace, in the magnitude and arrangement of the apartments, their decoration and furniture, was still more imposing than the exterior. The grand saloon was a superb hall, the walls lined with mirrors and costly marbles, and the ceiling painted by the most accomplished artists of the day. The garden, with its avenues, and bowers, and labyrinth of bloom, extended the whole length of the lake, upon whose waters two beautiful barges floated, ever ready, under the impulse of sails or oars, to convey parties on excursions of pleasure.“‘The monarchic, if the king is just and enlightened.’
All eyes were dimmed with tears as, after a week of brilliant festivities, she prepared for her departure. The carriages were at the door to convey her, with her accompanying suite of lords and ladies, to Stralsund, where the Swedish senate and nobles324 were to receive her. The princess entered the royal apartment to take leave of her friends, dressed in a rose-colored riding-habit trimmed with silver. The vest which encircled her slender waist was of sea-green, with lappets and collar of the same. She wore a small English bonnet of black velvet with a white plume. Her flowing hair hung in ringlets over her shoulders, bound with rose-colored ribbon.On the 20th of April he wrote: “Our situation is disagreeable, but my determination is taken. If we needs must fight, we will do it like men driven desperate. Never was there a greater peril than that I am now in. Time, at its own pleasure, will untie this knot, or destiny, if there is one, determine the event. The348 game I play is so high, one can not contemplate the issue with cold blood. Pray for the return of my good luck.”“Certainly,” replied the king, in his most courteous tones; “and if he had not come, how could I have paid back the M?hren business of last year?”
Voltaire was, at this time, about forty years of age. His renown as a man of genius already filled Europe. He was residing,173 on terms of the closest intimacy, with Madame Du Chatelet, who had separated from her husband. With congenial tastes and ample wealth they occupied the chateau of Cirey, delightfully situated in a quiet valley in Champagne, and which they had rendered, as Madame testifies, a perfect Eden on earth. It is not always, in the divine government, that sentence against an evil work is “executed speedily.” Madame Du Chatelet, renowned in the writings of Voltaire as the “divine Emilie,” was graceful, beautiful, fascinating. Her conversational powers were remarkable, and she had written several treatises upon subjects connected with the pure sciences, which had given her much deserved celebrity.
In the account which Frederick gave, some years after, of this campaign, in his Histoire de Mons Temps, he wrote:“It is impossible,” writes Lord Dover, “not to perceive that the real reason of his conduct was his enmity to his son, and that the crime of the poor girl was the having assisted in making the son’s existence more supportable. The intention of Frederick William apparently being that the infliction of so infamous a punishment in so public a manner should prevent the possibility of Frederick’s ever seeing her again.”14
But, immediately after these ceremonies were over, the new monarch, who assumed the crown with the title of Frederick William, not with that of Frederick II., to the utter consternation of the court, dismissed nearly every honorary official of the palace, from the highest dignitary to the humblest page. His flashing eye and determined manner were so appalling that no one ventured to remonstrate. A clean sweep was made, so that the household was reduced to the lowest footing of economy consistent with the supply of indispensable wants. Eight servants were retained at six shillings a week. His father had thirty pages; all were dismissed but three. There were one thousand saddle-horses in the royal stables; Frederick William kept thirty. Three fourths of the names were struck from the pension-list. Thus rigidly the king went on through every department of administrative and household expenses, until they were reduced to below a fifth of what they had been under his father.详情
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