BATTLE OF LIEGNITZ, AUGUST 16, 1760.“I am, for the rest, your well-affectioned king,
THE KING’S BIVOUAC.In the following curious proclamation, the Empress Catharine II. announced to her subjects the death of her husband:
Early in November he came to Berlin, languid, crippled, and wretched. The death-chamber in the palace is attended with all the humiliations and sufferings which are encountered in the poor man’s hut. The king, through all his life, had indulged his irritable disposition, and now, imprisoned by infirmities and tortured with pain, his petulance and abuse became almost unendurable. Miserable himself, he made every one wretched around him. He was ever restless—now in his bed, now out of it, now in his wheel-chair, continually finding fault, and often dealing cruel blows to those who came within his reach. He was unwilling to be left for a moment alone. The old generals were gathered in his room, and sat around his bed talking and smoking. He could not sleep at night, and allowed his attendants no repose. Restlessly he tried to divert his mind by whittling, painting, and small carpentry. The Crown Prince dared not visit him too often, lest his solicitude should be interpreted into impatience for the king to die, that he might grasp the crown. In the grossest terms the king insulted his physicians, attributing all his sufferings to their wickedness or their ignorance. Fortunately the miserable old man was too weak to attempt to cane them. A celebrated physician, by the name of Hoffman, was sent for to prescribe for the king. He was a man of much intellectual distinction, and occupied an important position in the university. As his prescriptions failed to give relief to his majesty, he was assailed, like the rest, in the vilest language of vituperation. With great dignity Professor Hoffman replied:“A royal crown was placed upon my head, together with twenty-four curls of false hair, each as big as my arm. I could not hold up my head, as it was too weak for so great a weight. My gown was a very rich silver brocade, trimmed with gold lace, and my train was twelve yards long. I thought I should have died under this dress.”The king, after his apparent reconciliation with Fritz, granted him a little more liberty. He was appointed to travel over and carefully inspect several of the crown domains. He was ordered to study thoroughly the practical husbandry of those domains—how they were to be plowed, enriched, and sown. He was also to devote his attention to the rearing of cattle; to the preparing of malt and the brewing of ale. “Useful discourse,” said the king, “is to be kept up with him on these journeys, pointing out why this is and that, and whether it could not be better.” On the 22d of September the Crown Prince wrote to his father as follows:
“‘Here is his instruction, if so,’ adds the king, handing him an autograph of the necessary outline of procedure—not signed, nor with any credential, or even specific address, lest accident happen. ‘Adieu, then, herr general lieutenant; rule is, shoes of swiftness, cloak of darkness: adieu!CHAPTER XX. THE RETREAT.Fermor.”
“Obey the wishes of the king,” said he, “and the royal favor will be restored to you. Refuse to do it, and no one can tell what will be the doom which will fall upon your mother, your brother, and yourself.”
About seven o’clock in the morning the king ascended an eminence, and carefully scanned the field, where sixty thousand men were facing each other, soon to engage in mutual slaughter. There were two spectacles which arrested his attention. The one was the pomp, and pageantry, and panoply of war, with its serried ranks, its prancing steeds, its flashing armor, its waving banners, its inspiriting bugle-peals—a scene in itself beautiful and sublime in the highest conceivable degree.
Never were the prospects of Frederick more gloomy. He had taken up his residence for the winter in a very humble cottage near the hamlet of Freiberg. He must have been very unhappy. Scenes of suffering were every where around him. It was terribly cold. His troops were poorly clothed, and fed, and housed.But General Neipperg, the Austrian commander-in-chief, proved as watchful, enterprising, and energetic as Frederick.248 His scouting bands swarmed in all directions. The Prussian foraging parties were cut off, their reconnoitrers were driven back, and all the movements of the main body of the Austrian army were veiled from their view. General Neipperg, hearing of the fall of Glogau, decided, notwithstanding the inclemency of the weather and the snow, to march immediately, with thirty thousand men, to the relief of Neisse. His path led through mountain defiles, over whose steep and icy roads his heavy guns and lumbering ammunition-wagons were with difficulty drawn.“If the English Princess Amelia come here as the bride of my son, she will bring with her immense wealth. Accustomed to grandeur, she will look contemptuously upon our simplicity. With her money she can dazzle and bribe. I hate my son. He hates me. Aided by the gold of England, my son can get up a party antagonistic to me. No! I will never, never consent to his marrying the Princess Amelia. If he is never married it is83 no matter. Fortunately I have other sons, and the succession will not be disturbed.”10
Maximilian Joseph, son of the emperor, was at the time of his father’s death but seventeen years of age. He was titular Elector of Bavaria; but Austrian armies had overrun the electorate, and he was a fugitive from his dominions. At the entreaty of his mother, he entered into a treaty of alliance with the Queen of Hungary. She agreed to restore to him his realms, and to recognize his mother as empress dowager. He, on the other hand, agreed to support the Pragmatic Sanction, and to give his vote for the Grand-duke Francis as Emperor of Germany.
“I am delighted, my dear Wilhelmina, that you are so submissive to the wishes of your father. The good God will bless you for it; and I will never abandon you. I will take care of you all my life, and will endeavor to prove to you that I am your very affectionate father.”详情
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