“‘The finest day of life is the day on which one quits it.’”177Frederick was very fond of dogs. This was one of his earliest passions, and it continued until the end of his life. He almost invariably had five or six Italian greyhounds about him, leaping upon the chairs, and sleeping upon the sofas in his room. Dr. Zimmermann describes them as placed on blue satin chairs and couches near the king’s arm-chair, and says that when Frederick, during his last illness, used to sit on his terrace at Sans Souci in order to enjoy the sun, a chair was always placed by his side, which was occupied by one of his dogs. He fed them himself, took the greatest possible care of them when they were sick, and when they died buried them in the gardens of Sans Souci. The568 traveler may still see their tombs—flat stones with the names of the dogs beneath engraved upon them—at each end of the terrace of Sans Souci, in front of the palace.
“The torments of Tantalus, the pains of Prometheus, the doom of Sisyphus, were nothing to the torments I have suffered for the last ten days. Death is sweet in comparison with such a life. Pity me, and believe that I still keep to myself a great many evil things, not wishing to afflict or disquiet any body with them. Believe me that I would not counsel you to fly these unlucky countries if I had any ray of hope. Adieu, mon cher.”“The pulse is gone,” the physician said, sadly.The king was scrupulously clean, washing five times a day. He would allow no drapery, no stuffed furniture, no carpets in27 his apartments. They caught dust. He sat upon a plain wooden chair. He ate roughly, like a farmer, of roast beef, despising all delicacies. His almost invariable dress was a close military blue coat, with red cuffs and collar, buff waistcoat and breeches, and white linen gaiters to the knee. A sword was belted around his loins, and, as we have said, a stout rattan or bamboo cane ever in his hand. A well-worn, battered, triangular hat covered his head. He walked rapidly through the streets which surrounded his palaces at Potsdam and Berlin. If he met any one who attracted his attention, male or female, he would abruptly, menacingly inquire, “Who are you?” A street-lounger he has been known to hit over the head with his cane, exclaiming, “Home, you rascal, and go to work.” If any one prevaricated or hesitated, he would sternly demand, “Look me in the face.” If there were still hesitancy, or the king were dissatisfied with the answers, the one interrogated was lucky if he escaped without a caning.3
Dessau was a little independent principality embracing a few square miles, about eighty miles southwest of Prussia. The prince had a Liliputian army, and a revenue of about fifty thousand dollars. Leopold’s mother was the sister of the great Elector of Brandenburg’s first wife. The little principality was thus, by matrimonial alliance as well as location, in affinity with Prussia.
There they informed her that they had each received a letter the night before from the king, the contents of which they were73 forbidden, under penalty of death, from communicating to any one but to her. The king wished them to say to her majesty that he would no longer endure her disobedience in reference to the marriage of Wilhelmina; that, in case this disobedience continued, there should be an entire separation between him and his wife—a divorce—and that she and her daughter should both be banished to the chateau of Oranienburg, about twenty miles from Berlin, and there held in close imprisonment. The king was willing that Sophie Dorothee should write once more, and only once more, to her brother, George II., and demand of him a categorical answer, yes or no, whether he would consent to the immediate marriage of the Prince of Wales and Wilhelmina. The king would wait a fortnight for an answer, or, if the winds were contrary, three weeks; but not a day more. Should no answer in that time be returned, or a negative or an evasive answer, then Wilhelmina was to make her immediate choice of a husband between either the Duke of Weissenfels or the Marquis of Schwedt, and to be married without delay.9“I shall send you a curious pamphlet, the only work I almost ever knew that changed the opinions of many. It is called ‘Considerations on the present German War.’ The confirmation of the King of Prussia’s victory near Torgau does not prevent the disciples of the pamphlet from thinking that the best thing which could happen for us would be to have that monarch’s head shot off.”162“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.
A letter of the same date as the above, addressed to Count Algarotti,50 contains the following expressions:
The king, weary of the life of turmoil, constructed for himself376 a beautiful villa, which he named Sans Souci (“Free from Care”), which Carlyle characteristically translates “No bother.” It was situated on a pleasant hill-top near Potsdam, in great retirement, yet commanding an enchanting view of land and water.
“The king now admitted that my brother was still alive, but vowed horribly that he would put him to death, and lay me fast within four walls for the rest of my life. He accused me of being the prince’s accomplice, whose crime was high treason. ‘I hope now,’ he said, ‘to have evidence enough to convict the rascal Fritz and the wretch Wilhelmina, and to cut their heads off. As for Fritz, he will always, if he lives, be a worthless fellow. I have three other sons, who will all turn out better than he has done.’详情
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