“Monsieur,—I believe that it is of the last importance that I should write to you, and I am very sad to have things to say which I ought to conceal from all the earth. But one must take that bad leap, and, reckoning you among my friends, I the more easily resolve to open myself to you.On the 15th of September, two days before Frederick had written the despairing letter we have just given, Wilhelmina wrote again to him, in response to previous letters, and to his poetic epistle.
War has its jokes and merriment, but the comedies of war are often more dreadful than the tragedies of peace. Frederick, in his works, records the following incident, which he narrates as “slight pleasantry, to relieve the reader’s mind:”83This ode, “an irrepressible extempore effusion,” as he termed it, the royal poet forwarded to D’Argens. The day but one after writing this, General Daun, having effectually surrounded General Finck with nearly fifty thousand men of the allied troops—nearly four to one—after a severe conflict, compelled the surrender of his whole army. The following plan of the battle of Maxen will show how completely Finck was encircled. General Daun claimed that he marched back into Dresden, as prisoners of war, eight generals, five hundred and twenty-nine officers, and fifteen thousand privates, with all their equipments and appurtenances.141 The next day, the 22d, Frederick wrote to D’Argens:
The Prussian army was so exhausted by its midnight march and its long day of battle that his majesty did not deem it wise to attempt to pursue the retreating foe. For this he has been severely, we think unjustly, censured by some military men. He immediately, that evening, wrote to his mother, saying, “So decisive a defeat has not been since Blenheim,” and assuring her that the two princes, her sons, who had accompanied him to the battle, were safe. Such was the battle of Hohenfriedberg, once of world-wide renown, now almost forgotten.Hotham, quite indignant, sent this dispatch, dated May 13, to London, including with it a very earnest letter from the Crown Prince to his uncle, in which Fritz wrote:
CHAPTER XIII. THE CAMPAIGN OF MOLLWITZ.On the 25th of August, 1756, the king wrote from Potsdam to his brother, the Prince of Prussia, and his sister Amelia, who were at Berlin, as follows:
THE RECONCILIATION.Under Frederick William the newspaper press in Berlin amounted to nothing. The capital had not a single daily paper. Speedy destruction would crush any writer who, in journal, pamphlet, or book, should publish any thing displeasing to the king. Frederick proclaimed freedom of the press. Two newspapers were established in Berlin, one in French and one in German. Distinguished men were selected to edit them. One was a noted writer from Hamburg. Frederick, in his absolutism, had adopted the resolve not to interfere with the freedom of the press unless there were some gross violation of what he deemed proper. He allowed very bitter satires to be circulated in Berlin against himself, simply replying to the remonstrances of his ministers, “The press is free.”
Still the clergymen pressed upon him his sins, his many acts of oppression, his unrelenting and unforgiving spirit. Singularly enough, most of the members of the tobacco parliament were present at this strange interview; and some of them, courtier like, endeavored to defend the king against several of the charges brought against him. The king might emphatically be called a good hater; and he hated his brother-in-law, the King of England, perhaps with passion as implacable as ever took possession of a human heart. In allusion to this, one of the clergymen, M. Roloff, said,“The day before yesterday, in all churches, was prayer to Heaven for success to your majesty’s arms, interest of the Protestant religion being one cause of the war, or the only one assigned by the reverend gentleman. At the sound of these words the zeal of the people kindles. ‘Bless God for raising such a defender! Who dared suspect our king’s indifference to Protestantism?’”
Very vigorous measures were immediately adopted to establish an Academy of Sciences. The celebrated French philosopher Maupertuis, who had just obtained great renown from measuring a degree of the meridian at the polar circle, was invited to organize this very important institute. The letter to the philosopher, written by the king but a few days after his accession, was as follows:
Frederick immediately sent an announcement of the victory to his friend Voltaire. It does not appear that he alluded to his own adventures. Voltaire received the note when in the theatre at Lisle, while listening to the first performance of his tragedy of Mahomet. He read the account to the audience between the acts. It was received with great applause. “You will see,” said Voltaire, “that this piece of Mollwitz will secure the success of mine.” Vous verrez que cette piece de Mollwitz fera réussir la miene.
“Inarticulate notions, fancies, transient aspirations, he might have, in the background of his mind. One day, sitting for a while out of doors, gazing into the sun, he was heard to murmur, ‘Perhaps I shall be nearer thee soon;’ and, indeed, nobody knows what his thoughts were in these final months. There is traceable only a complete superiority to fear and hope; in parts, too, are half glimpses of a great motionless interior lake of sorrow, sadder than any tears or complainings, which are altogether wanting to it.”A spy was sent to Saxony, who reported that there were but twenty thousand troops there. All necessary information was promptly and secretly obtained in reference to roads and fortresses. It required three weeks to receive an answer from Vienna.404 The reply was evasive, as Frederick knew that it would be. In the mean time, his Prussian majesty, with characteristic energy, had mustered on the frontier an army numbering in the aggregate nearly one hundred and fifty thousand men. These troops, in three divisions, with two thousand pieces of artillery, were to make a rush upon Saxony. Among the directions given by Frederick to the leaders of these divisions were the following:The Crown Prince was quite exasperated that the English court would not listen to his earnest plea for the marriage of Wilhelmina to the Prince of Wales, and accept his vows of fidelity to the Princess Amelia. The stubborn adhesion of the King of England to the declaration of “both marriages or none” so annoyed him that he banished Amelia from his thoughts. In his reckless way he affirmed that the romance of marriage was all over with him; that he cared not much what bride was forced upon him, provided only that she were rich, and that she were not too scrupulous in religious principle. The tongues of all the court gossips were busy upon this theme. Innumerable were the candidates suggested to share the crown of the future Prussian king. The Archduchess Maria Theresa, subsequently the renowned Empress of Germany, was proposed by Prince Eugene. But the imperial court could not wed its Catholic heiress to a Protestant prince. Still the emperor, though unwilling to give his daughter to the Crown Prince, was anxious137 for as close an alliance as possible with Prussia, and recommended a niece of the empress, the young Princess Elizabeth Christina, only daughter of Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick Bevern. She was seventeen years of age, rather pretty, with a fine complexion, not rich, of religious tastes, and remarkably quiet and domestic in her character.详情
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