Wilhelmina was appalled in view of the difficulty and danger of the enterprise. It was a long distance from Dresden to the coast. Head winds might detain the vessel. The suspicious king would not long remain ignorant that he was missing. He would be pursued with energy almost demoniac. Being captured,80 no one could tell how fearful would be his doom. The sagacious sister was right. Fritz could not but perceive the strength of her arguments, and gave her his word of honor that he would not attempt, on the present occasion, to effect his flight. Fritz accordingly went to Dresden with his father, and returned.The decisive battle of Hohenfriedberg, by which victory Frederick probably escaped utter destruction, was fought on the 4th of June, 1745. From early dawn to the evening twilight of the long summer’s day the dreadful work of slaughter had continued without a moment’s intermission. As the Austrians, having lost nearly one fourth of their number, retreated, the Prussians, in utter exhaustion, threw themselves upon the ground for sleep. The field around them was covered with fourteen thousand of the wounded, the dying, and the dead.
“Gentlemen, gentlemen, it is of no use to think about it.“Potsdam, April 1, 1744.”“Your majesty,” Sir Thomas rejoined, “by a little engineering art, could render Limburg impregnable to the French or any others.”
a a a. First Position of the Austrian Army. b b. Extreme Left, under Loudon. c c. Austrian Reserve, under Baden-Durlach. d d d. Prussian Army. e e. The two main Prussian Batteries. f. Ziethen’s Cavalry. g g. Prussian Vanguard, under Retzow. h h h. Advance of Austrian Army. i. Right Wing, under D’Ahremberg. k k k. Position taken by the Prussians after the battle.“My dearest Brother,—Death and a thousand torments could not equal the frightful state I am in. There run reports that make me shudder. Some say that you are wounded, others that you are dangerously ill. In vain have I tormented myself to have news of you. I can get none. Oh, my dear brother, come what may, I will not survive you. If I am to continue in this frightful uncertainty, I can not stand it. In the name of God, bid some one write to me.
The king smiled, and immediately entered very vigorously upon business. It was not possible, under these circumstances, for him deeply to mourn over the death of so tyrannical a father. Frederick was twenty-eight years of age. He is described as a handsome young man, five feet seven inches in stature, and of graceful presence. The funeral ceremonies of the deceased monarch were conducted essentially according to the programme already given. The body of the king mouldered to dust in the sepulchre of his fathers. His spirit returned to the God who gave it.
Frederick returned to Ruppin. Though he treated his wife with ordinary courtesy, as an honored member of the court, his attentions were simply such as were due to every lady of the royal household. It does not appear that she accompanied him to Ruppin or to Reinsberg at that time, though the apartments to which we have already alluded were subsequently provided for her at Reinsberg, where she was ever treated with the most punctilious politeness. Lord Dover says that after the accession of the prince to the throne he went to see his wife but once a year, on her birthday. She resided most of the time at Berlin, surrounded by a quiet little court there. However keen may have been her sufferings in view of this cruel neglect, we have165 no record that any word of complaint was ever heard to escape her lips. “This poor Crown Princess, afterward queen,” says Carlyle, “has been heard, in her old age, reverting in a touching, transient way to the glad days she had at Reinsberg. Complaint openly was never heard of her in any kind of days; but these, doubtless, were the best of her life.”
Early in the morning Frederick’s whole army was on the rapid march for Breslau, which was scarcely twenty miles distant from the battle-field. The Austrians had collected immense military stores in the city. Prince Charles, as he fled through the place with the wreck of his army, left a garrison of seventeen thousand men for its defense. In a siege of twelve days, during which there was an incessant bombardment and continual assaults, the city was carried. A few days after this, Liegnitz, which the Austrians had strongly fortified, was also surrendered to the victor. Frederick had thus reconquered the whole of Silesia excepting the single fortress of Schweidnitz.Frederick.”122Frederick cautiously refused to sign his name to any paper. Verbally, he agreed that in one week from that time, on the 16th, General Neipperg should have liberty to retire to the south through the mountains, unmolested save by sham attacks in his rear. A small garrison was to be left in Neisse. After maintaining a sham siege for a fortnight, they were to surrender the291 city. Sham hostilities, to deceive the French, were to be continued until the year was out, and then a treaty was to be signed and ratified.
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During this time, in May, the king wrote a very bitter and satirical ode against Louis XV.—“the plaything of the Pompadour,” “polluted with his amours,” “and disgracefully surrendering the government of his realms to chance.” The ode he sent to Voltaire. The unprincipled poet, apprehending that the ode might come to light, and that he might be implicated, treacherously sent it to the prime minister, the Duke De Choiseul, to be shown to the king. At the same time, he wrote to Frederick that he had burned the ode. In the account which Voltaire himself gives of this disgraceful transaction, he writes:
“Monsieur,—Although I have not the satisfaction of knowing you personally, you are not the less known to me through your works. They are treasures of the mind, if I may so express myself; and they reveal to the reader new beauties at every perusal. I think I have recognized in them the character of their ingenious author, who does honor to our age and to human nature. If ever the dispute on the comparative merits of the moderns and the ancients should be revived, the modern great men174 will owe it to you, and to you only, that the scale is turned in their favor. With the excellent quality of poet you join innumerable others more or less related to it.详情
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