“General Finck gets a difficult commission. The unlucky army which I give up to him is no longer in a condition to make head against the Russians. Haddick will now start for Berlin, perhaps Loudon too.136 If General Finck go after these, the Russians487 will fall on his rear. If he continue on the Oder, he gets Haddick on his flank. However, I believe, should Loudon go for Berlin, he might attack Loudon and beat him. This, if it succeeded, would be a stand against misfortune, and hold matters up. Time gained is much in these desperate circumstances. C?per, my secretary, will send him the news from Torgau and Dresden. You must inform my brother137 of every thing, whom I have declared generalissimo of the army. To repair this bad luck altogether is not possible. But what my brother shall command must be done. The army swears to my nephew. This is all the advice in these unhappy circumstances I am in a condition to give. If I had still had resources, I would have staid by them.CHAPTER XIV. THE DEFEAT AND FLIGHT OF FREDERICK.
“The queen had contrived in her bedroom a sort of labyrinth of screens, so arranged that I could escape the king without being seen, in case he suddenly entered. One day the king came and surprised us. I wished to escape, but found myself embarrassed among these screens, of which several fell, and prevented my getting out of the room. The king was at my heels, and tried to catch hold of me in order to beat me. Not being able any longer to escape, I placed myself behind my governess. The king advanced so much that she was obliged to fall back, but, finding herself at length near the chimney, she was stopped. I found myself in the alternative of bearing the fire or the blows. The king overwhelmed me with abuse, and tried to seize me by the hair. I fell upon the floor. The scene would have had a tragical end had it continued, as my clothes were actually beginning to take fire. The king, fatigued with crying out and with his passion, at length put an end to it and went away.”“His majesty’s entrance into Frankfort,” writes M. Bielfeld, who accompanied him, “although very triumphant, was far from ostentatious. We passed like lightning before the eyes of the spectators, and were so covered with dust that it was difficult to distinguish the color of our coats and the features of our faces. We made some purchases at Frankfort, and the next day arrived safely in Berlin, where the king was received with the acclamations of his people.”68
Prince Bevern, aware that the battle would be renewed upon the morrow, and conscious that he could not sustain another435 such struggle, withdrew with his Prussian troops in the night, through the silent streets of Breslau, to the other side of the Oder, leaving eighty cannon behind him. The next morning, in visiting one of the outposts, he was surprised by a party of the Austrians and taken prisoner. It was reported that, fearing the wrath of the king, he had voluntarily allowed himself to be captured. General Kyau, the next in rank, took the command. He rapidly retreated. Breslau, thus left to its fate, surrendered, with its garrison of four thousand men, ninety-eight pieces of cannon, and vast magazines filled with stores of war. The next day was Sunday. Te Deums were chanted by the triumphant Austrians in the Catholic churches in Breslau, and thanks were offered to God that Maria Theresa had reconquered Silesia, and that “our ancient sovereigns are restored to us.”“It is almost touching,” Mr. Carlyle writes, “to reflect how unexpectedly, like a bolt out of the blue, all this had come upon Frederick, and how it overset his fine programme for the winter at Reinsberg, and for his life generally. Not the Peaceable magnanimities, but the Warlike, are the thing appointed Frederick this winter, and mainly henceforth. Those ‘golden or soft radiances’ which we saw in him, admirable to Voltaire and to Frederick, and to an esurient philanthropic world, it is not218 those, it is the ‘steel bright or stellar kind’ that are to become predominant in Frederick’s existence; grim hail-storms, thunders, and tornado for an existence to him instead of the opulent genialities and halcyon weather anticipated by himself and others.
“Cüstrin, November 19, 1730.The queen, looking reproachfully at Grumkow, remarked, “I know full well to whom I owe all this.” She then excused herself, saying that she was not well, and retired to her apartment. There she communicated to the anxious Wilhelmina the cruel message of the king. Sophie Dorothee then wrote a very earnest letter to Queen Caroline, the wife of George II., imploring that all obstacles in the way of the marriage of Wilhelmina with the Prince of Wales might be withdrawn. The idea of marriage with either Weissenfels or Schwedt was dreadful. But, on the other hand, the wrath of the king, the divorce of the queen, and75 the imprisonment of both mother and daughter in the chateau of Oranienburg, were also dreadful. Fritz was taken into the councils of his mother and sister. It was decided that he should also write to his aunt, urging his suit for the Princess Amelia. It is true that George II. was ready to accede to this marriage, but Frederick William threw obstacles in the way. It was probably the hope of Fritz to secure Amelia, notwithstanding his father’s opposition. The ready pen of Wilhelmina was employed to draft the letter, which her brother submissively copied. As it was not probable, in the intricacies in which the question was now involved, that both marriages could take place together, Fritz wrote pleading for the marriage of Wilhelmina at once, pledging his word that he would remain faithful to the Princess Amelia.
“Salzdahlum, Noon, June 12, 1733.After a long pause Lord Hyndford inquired, “Would your majesty consent to an armistice?”
“If it had depended upon me, I would willingly have devoted myself to that death which those maladies sooner or later bring upon one, in order to save and prolong the life of her whose eyes are now closed. I beseech you never to forget her. Collect all your powers to raise a monument to her honor. You need only do her justice. Without any way abandoning the truth, she will afford you an ample and beautiful subject. I wish you more repose and happiness than falls to my lot.
“My dear Sister,—Here I am, within six leagues of a sister I love, and I have to decide that it will be impossible to see her after all. I have never so lamented the misfortune of not depending on myself as at this moment. The king being very sour sweet on my score, I dare not risk the least thing. A week from next Monday, when he arrives himself, I should be queerly treated in the camp if I were found to have disobeyed orders.“To finish my picture—the prince ordered me to come and sit by him. He said many gracious things to me, and let me see into futurity as far as my feeble sight was then capable of discovering. At the same time, he made me drink bumper after bumper of his Lunelle wine. The rest of the company, however, were not less sensible than I of the effects of the nectar which there flowed in such mighty streams.
The absolutism of Frederick placed all legislative, judicial, and executive powers in his hands. He was law-maker, judge, and executioner. The liberty, property, and lives of his subjects were at his disposal. He could call others to assist him in the government, but they were merely servants to do his bidding.
“Indeed I do,” the king responded. “Otherwise I durst not risk a battle. And now, my children, a good night’s sleep to you. We shall soon attack the enemy; and we shall beat him, or we shall all die.”On Saturday, the 15th of July, 1730, the king, with a small train, which really guarded Fritz, set out at an early hour from Potsdam on this memorable journey. Three reliable officers of89 the king occupied the same carriage with Fritz, with orders to keep a strict watch over him, and never to leave him alone. Thus, throughout the journey, one of his guards sat by his side, and the other two on the seat facing him. The king was not a luxurious traveler. He seemed to covet hardship and fatigue. Post-horses were provided all along the route. The meteoric train rushed along, scarcely stopping for food or sleep, but occasionally delayed by business of inspection, until it reached Anspach, where the king’s beautiful daughter, then but sixteen years of age, resided with her uncongenial husband. Here the Crown Prince had some hope of escape. He endeavored to persuade his brother-in-law, the young Marquis of Anspach, to lend him a pair of saddle-horses, and to say nothing about it. But the characterless young man, suspecting his brother, and dreading the wrath of his terrible father-in-law, refused, with many protestations of good-will.详情
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