FREDERICK IN THE GARDEN.
“His contempt,” writes Sir Thomas in his narrative, “was so great, and was expressed in such violent terms, that now, if ever, was the time to make the last effort. A moment longer was not to be lost, to hinder the king from dismissing us.”“Magnanimous I can by no means call Frederick to his allies288 and neighbors, nor even superstitiously veracious in this business; but he thoroughly understands, he alone, what just thing he wants out of it, and what an enormous wigged mendacity it is he has got to deal with. For the rest, he is at the gaming-table with these sharpers, their dice all cogged, and he knows it, and ought to profit by his knowledge of it, and, in short, to win his stake out of that foul, weltering melley, and go home safe with it if he can.”“‘My dogs destroy my chairs; but how can I help it? And if I were to have them mended to-day, they would be torn again to-morrow. So I suppose I must bear with the inconvenience. After all, a Marquise De Pompadour would cost me a great deal more, and would neither be as attached nor as faithful.’”
While these scenes were transpiring the Crown Prince was habitually residing at Potsdam, a favorite royal residence about seventeen miles west from Berlin. Here he was rigidly attending to his duties in the giant regiment. We have now, in our narrative, reached the year 1727. Fritz is fifteen years of age. He is attracting attention by his vivacity, his ingenuous, agreeable manners, and his fondness for polite literature. He occasionally is summoned by his father to the Smoking Cabinet. But the delicacy of his physical organization is such that he loathes tobacco, and only pretends to smoke, with mock gravity puffing from his empty, white clay pipe. Neither has he any relish for the society which he meets there. Though faithful to the mechanical duties of the drill, they were very irksome to him. His books and his flute were his chief joy. Voltaire was just then rising to celebrity in France. His writings began to attract the attention of literary men throughout Europe. Fritz, in his youthful enthusiasm, was charmed by them. In the latter part of June, 1729, a courier brought the intelligence to Berlin that George I. had suddenly died of apoplexy. He was on a journey to Hanover when he was struck down on the road. Almost insensible, he was conveyed, on the full gallop, to Osnabrück, where his brother, who was a bishop, resided, and where medical aid could be obtained. But the shaft was fatal. At midnight his carriage reached Osnabrück. The old man, sixty-seven years of age, was heard to murmur, “It is all over with me,” and his spirit passed away to the judgment.About thirty miles southeast of Breslau is the pleasant little town of Ohlau, situated in the delta formed by the junction of the Ohlau River with the Oder. It was a place of some strength, and the Austrian authorities had thrown into it a garrison of three hundred men. Frederick appeared before its gates on the morning of January the 9th. He immediately sent in the following summons to the garrison:
MAP OF THE SECOND SILESIAN CAMPAIGN.But the assailants were already so near the walls that the shot passed harmlessly over their heads. Without firing a gun or uttering a sound, these well-drilled soldiers of Frederick William hewed down the palisades, tore out the chevaux-de-frise, and clambered over the glacis. With axe and petard they burst open the gates and surged into the city.
“He appeared,” she writes, “quite discountenanced at this last part of my narrative. He returned thanks for the obligations I have laid on him, with some caressings which evidently did not proceed from the heart. To break this conversation he started some indifferent topic, and, under pretense of seeing my apartment, moved into the next room, where the prince, my husband, was. Him he surveyed with his eyes from head to foot for some time; then, after some constrained civilities to him, he went his way.”
Toward the end of the year 1775 the king had an unusually severe attack of the gout. It was erroneously reported that it was a dangerous attack of the dropsy, and that he was manifestly drawing near to his end. The Crown Prince, who was to succeed him, was a man of very little character. The Emperor551 of Germany, Joseph II., thought the death of Frederick would present him an opportunity of regaining Silesia for Austria. The Austrian army was immediately put in motion and hurried to the frontiers of Silesia, to seize the province the moment the king should expire. This was openly done, and noised abroad. Much to the disappointment of the emperor, the king got well. Amidst much ridicule, the troops returned to their old quarters.190
410 It became more and more manifest to Frederick that he must encounter a terrible conflict upon the opening of the spring. Early in January he took a short trip to Berlin, but soon returned to Dresden. Though he avoided all appearance of anxiety, and kept up a cheerful air, he was fully conscious of his peril. This is evident from the secret instructions he left with his minister, Count Finck, upon his departure from Berlin. The dispatch was dated January 10th, 1757:There was no alternative left the young princess. Unless there were an immediate consummation of the marriage contract with the English Frederick, she was, without delay, to choose between Weissenfels and Schwedt. The queen, in response to this communication, said, “I will immediately write to England; but, whatever may be the answer, it is impossible that my daughter should marry either of the individuals whom the king has designated.” Baron Grumkow, who was in entire accord with the king, “began,” says Wilhelmina, “quoting Scripture on her majesty, as the devil can on occasion. ‘Wives, be obedient to your husbands,’ said he. The queen very aptly replied, ‘Yes; but did not Bethuel, the son of Milcah, when Abraham’s servant asked his daughter in marriage for young Isaac, answer, “We will call the damsel, and inquire of her mouth?” It is true, wives must obey their husbands, but husbands must command things just and reasonable.’
“Berlin, 1st of March, 1743.
“Old Leopold is hardly at home at Dessau,” writes Carlyle, “when the new Pandour tempests, tides of ravaging war, again come beating against the Giant Mountains, pouring through all passes, huge influx of wild riding hordes, each with some support of Austrian grenadiers, cannoniers, threatening to submerge Silesia. Precursors, Frederick need not doubt, of a strenuous, regular attempt that way. Hungarian majesty’s fixed intention,347 hope, and determination is to expel him straightway from Silesia.”81详情
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