116“These kind condescensions of his majesty,” writes M. D’Arget, “emboldened me to represent to him the brilliant position he now held, and how noble it would be, after being the hero of Germany, to become the pacificator of Europe.”
“Frederick.”199 Frederick was very desirous of visiting France, whose literature, science, and distinguished men he so greatly admired. Early Monday morning, the 15th of August, the king left Potsdam to visit his sister Wilhelmina, intending then to continue his journey incognito into France, and, if circumstances favored, as far as Paris. The king assumed the name of the Count Dufour. His next younger brother, William, eighteen years of age, accompanied him, also under an assumed name. William was now Crown Prince, to inherit the throne should Frederick leave no children. Six other gentlemen composed the party. They traveled in two coaches, with but few attendants, and avoided all unnecessary display.“It is a monument for the latest posterity; the only book worthy of a king for these fifteen hundred years.”33
“The next day there was a great promenade. We were all in phaetons, dressed out in our best. All the nobility followed in carriages, of which there were eighty-five. The king, in a Berline, led the procession. He had beforehand ordered the round we were to take, and very soon fell asleep. There came on a tremendous storm of wind and rain, in spite of which we continued our procession at a foot’s pace. It may easily be imagined what state we were in. We were as wet as if we had been in the river. Our hair hung about our ears, and our gowns and head-dresses were destroyed. We got out at last, after three hours’ rain, at Monbijou, where there was to be a great illumination and ball. I never saw any thing so comical as all these ladies, looking like so many Xantippes, with their dresses sticking to their persons. We could not even dry ourselves, and were obliged to remain all the evening in our wet clothes.
Frederick’s army was now in a state of great destitution. The region around was so stripped of its resources that it could afford his foragers no more supplies. It was difficult for him to fill his baggage-trains even in Silesia, so much had that country been devastated by war; and wherever any of his supply wagons appeared, swarms of Austrian dragoons hovered around, attacking and destroying them. To add to the embarrassments of the Prussian king, his purse was empty. His subjects could endure no heavier taxation. All the plate which Frederick William had accumulated had been converted into coin and expended.357 Even the massive silver balustrades, which were reserved until a time of need, were melted and gone. He knew not where to look for a loan. All the nations were involved in ruinous war. All wished to borrow. None but England had money to lend; and England was fighting Frederick, and furnishing supplies for his foes.Prince Charles, as he was leading the main body of his army to the assault, sent a squadron of his fleet-footed cavalry to burn the Prussian camp, and to assail the foe in their rear. But the troops found the camp so rich in treasure that they could not resist the temptation of stopping to plunder. Thus they did not make the attack which had been ordered, and which would probably have resulted in the destruction of the Prussian army. It is said that when Frederick, in the heat of the battle, was informed that the Pandours were sacking his camp, he coolly replied, “So much the better; they will not then interrupt us.”
Scarcely had the conflict upon the extreme left commenced ere it was evident that by the military sagacity of Frederick the442 doom of the Austrian army was sealed. With thirty thousand men he had attacked ninety thousand on the open field, and was utterly overwhelming them. An Austrian officer, Prince De Ligne, describing the battle, writes:To his mother he was very considerate in all his manifestations of filial affection, while, at the same time, he caused her very distinctly to understand that she was to take no share whatever in the affairs of government. When she addressed him, upon his accession to the throne, as “Your Majesty,” he replied, “Call me son. That is the title of all others most agreeable to me.” He decreed to her the title of “Her Majesty the Queen-mother.” The palace of Monbijou was assigned her, where she was surrounded with every luxury, treated with the most distinguished attention, and her court was the acknowledged centre of fashionable society.
FREDERICK ON THE FIELD OF BAUMGARTEN.Again he wrote a few months after, while absent from home: “I set off on the 25th to return to my dear garden at Ruppin. I burn with impatience to see again my vineyards, my cherries, and my melons. There, tranquil and free from all useless cares, I shall live really for myself. I become every day more avaricious of my time, of which I render an account to myself, and never lose any of it without much regret. My mind is now wholly turned toward philosophy. That study renders me wonderful services, which are repaid by me with affection. I find myself happy because I am more tranquil than formerly. My167 soul is much less agitated with violent and tumultuous emotions. I suppress the first impulses of my passions, and do not proceed to act upon them till after having well considered the question before me.”
It is probable that the princess, in the strangeness of her position, very young and inexperienced, and insulted by cruel neglect, in the freshness of her great grief dared not attempt to utter a syllable, lest her voice should break in uncontrollable sobbings. The Crown Prince returned to Ruppin, leaving the princess at Berlin. Charles, the heir-apparent to the ducal crown of Brunswick, and brother of the Princess Elizabeth, about a152 week after the arrival of the princess in Berlin, was married to Fritz’s sister Charlotte—that same wicked Charlotte who had flirted with Wilhelmina’s intended, and who had so shamelessly slandered the betrothed of her brother. Several fêtes followed these marriages, with the usual concomitants of enjoyment and disappointment. Wilhelmina thus describes one of them:Early in October, the Crown Prince, not socially or morally improved by his campaigning, set out on his return to Berlin. He was by no means insensible to the fact that the crown of Prussia would soon rest upon his brow. On the 5th he called again upon his sister at Baireuth. She was sick and very sad. The following is Wilhelmina’s account of the interview:THE BATTLE OF PRAGUE, MAY 6, 1757.
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“The ‘Polish Dialogues’ you speak of are not known to me. I think of such satires with Epictetus, ‘If they tell any truth of thee, correct thyself. If they are lies, laugh at them.’ I have learned, with years, to become a steady coach-horse. I do my stage like a diligent roadster, and pay no heed to the little dogs that will bark by the way.”The king, smothering his wrath, did not immediately seek an interview with his son. But the next day, encountering him, he said, sarcastically, “Ah! you are still here, then; I thought that by this time you would have been in Paris.” The prince, somewhat emboldened by despair, ventured to reply, “I certainly could have been there had I wished it.”
“The queen made me a sign to follow her, and passed into a neighboring apartment, where she had the English and Germans of King George’s suite successively presented to her. After some talk with these gentlemen she withdrew, leaving me to entertain them, and saying, ‘Speak English to my daughter; you will find she speaks it very well.’ I felt much less embarrassed when the queen was gone, and, picking up a little courage, entered into conversation with these English. As I spoke their language like my mother tongue I got pretty well out of the affair, and every body seemed charmed with me. They made my eulogy to the queen; told her I had quite the English air, and was made to be their sovereign one day. It was saying a great deal on their part; for these English think themselves so much above all other people that they imagine that they are paying a high compliment when they tell any one he has got English manners.“Nothing touched me so much as that you had not any trust in me. All this that I was doing for the aggrandizement of the house, the army, and the finances, could only be for you, if you made yourself worthy of it. I here declare that I have done all things to gain your friendship, and all has been in vain.”543 “I look upon this day,” the king replied, “as the fairest of my life; for it will become the epoch of uniting two houses which have been enemies too long, and whose mutual interests require that they should strengthen, not weaken, one another.”详情
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