Through the efforts of Maria Theresa there was another brief conference, but it amounted to nothing. Neither party wished for war. But Austria craved the annexation of Bavaria, and Frederick was determined that Austria should not thus be enlarged.557 Thus the summer passed away in unavailing diplomacy and in equally unavailing military man?uvrings. While engaged in these adventures, Frederick received the tidings of the death of Voltaire, who breathed his last on the 20th of May, 1778. The soul of Frederick was too much seared by life’s stern conflicts to allow him to manifest, or probably to feel, any emotion on the occasion. He, however, wrote a eulogy upon the renowned littérateur, which, though written by a royal pen, attracted but little attention.“Thus,” writes Voltaire, “Frederick invaded Saxony under the pretense of friendship, and that he might make war upon Maria Theresa with the money of which he should rob the Saxons.”
Frederick William, through spies, kept himself informed of every thing which was said or done at Reinsberg. Such orgies as the above excited his contempt and abhorrence. But, notwithstanding the above narrative, there is abundant testimony that the prince was not ordinarily addicted to such shameful excesses. The Italian Count Algarotti, distinguished alike for his familiarity with the sciences and his cultivated taste for the fine arts, was an honored guest at Reinsberg. In a letter addressed to Lord Hervey, under date of September 30th, 1739, the count writes:
The French, who, through their shrewd embassador, kept themselves informed of all that was transpiring, were quite alarmed in view of the approaching accommodation between Prussia and Austria. It is said that Frederick, on the 6th of June, in reply to the earnest remonstrances of the French minister, Marshal Belleisle, against his withdrawal from the alliance, frankly said to him,
Frederick angrily replied, “You can have no instructions to ask that question. And if you had, I have an answer ready for you. England has no right to inquire into my designs. Your great sea armaments, did I ask you any question about them? No! I was, and am, silent on that head.”40
“On reaching Berlin I went at once to the custom-house, and handed them my royal order. The head man opened the seal. In reading, he changed color—went from pale to red; said nothing, and gave it to the second man to read. The second put on his spectacles, read, and gave it to the third. However, the head man rallied himself at last. I was to come forward and be so good as to write a receipt that I had received for my four hundred thalers, all in batzen, the same sum in Brandenburg coin, ready down, without the least deduction. My cash was at once accurately paid, and thereupon the steward was ordered to go with me to the ‘White Swan,’ and pay what I owed there, whatever my score was. That was what the king had meant when he said ‘you shall have your money back, and interest too.’”“The Crown Prince manifests in this tender age an uncommon capacity, nay, we may say, something quite extraordinary. He31 is a most alert and vivacious prince. He has fine and sprightly manners, and shows a certain kindly sociality and so affectionate a disposition that all things may be hoped of him. The French lady who has had charge of him hitherto can not speak of him without enthusiasm. ‘He is a little angel,’ she is wont to say. He takes up and learns whatever is placed before him with the greatest facility.”
135 As the king was about to take leave of his child, whom he had treated so cruelly, he was very much overcome by emotion. It is a solemn hour, in any family, when a daughter leaves the parental roof, never to return again but as a visitor. Whether the extraordinary development of feeling which the stern old monarch manifested on the occasion was the result of nervous sensibility, excited by strong drink or by parental affection, it is not easy to decide. Wilhelmina, in a few words of intense emotion, bade her father farewell.a a. Austrian Army. b. Prince Weissenfels. c c. Prussian Army. d. Dumoulin. e. Gesler’s Dragoons.
“God give his blessing to it, and bless you and your posterity, and keep you as a good Christian. And have God always before your eyes, and don’t believe that damnable predestination tenet; and be obedient and faithful. So shall it here in time, and there in eternity, go well with thee. And whosoever wishes that from the heart, let him say Amen.
But it so happened that the beautiful dancer had in the train of her impassioned admirers a young English gentleman, a younger brother of the Earl of Bute. He was opposed to Barberina’s going to Prussia, and induced her to throw up the engagement. Frederick was angry, and demanded the execution of the contract. The pretty Barberina, safe in Venice, made herself merry with the complaints of the Prussian monarch. Frederick, not accustomed to be thwarted, applied to the doge and the Senate of Venice to compel Barberina to fulfill her contract. They replied with great politeness, but did nothing. Barberina319 remained with her lover under the sunny skies of Italy, charming with her graceful pirouettes admiring audiences in the Venetian theatres.详情
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