“Your most humble brother and servant,
CHAPTER XVII. THE CAMPAIGN OF MORAVIA.
On the first of May, 1747, Frederick took formal possession of this beautiful chateau. The occasion was celebrated by quite a magnificent dinner of two hundred covers. Here, for the next forty years, he spent most of his leisure time. He had three other palaces, far surpassing Sans Souci in splendor, which he occasionally visited on days of royal festivities. Berlin and Charlottenburg were about twenty miles distant. The New Palace, so called, at Potsdam, was but about a mile from Sans Souci. He had also his palace at Rheinsberg, some thirty miles north of Berlin, where he had spent many of his early days.The next morning Frederick hastened to greet his sister. Wilhelmina was not pleased with his appearance. The cares of his new reign entirely engrossed his mind. The dignity of an absolute king did not sit gracefully upon him. Though ostentatiously demonstrative in his greeting, the delicate instincts of Wilhelmina taught her that her brother’s caresses were heartless. He was just recovering from a fit of the ague, and looked emaciate and sallow. The court was in mourning. During those funereal days no festivities could be indulged in. The queen-mother was decorously melancholy; she seems to have been not only disappointed, but excessively chagrined, to find that she was excluded by her son from the slightest influence in public affairs. The distant, arrogant, and assuming airs of the young king soon rendered him unpopular.
Still the order was given for the assault. The Prussians plunged into the dense ranks of their foes, regardless of being outnumbered nearly three to one. A terrible battle was fought. General Wedell was overpowered and beaten. He retreated across the Oder, having lost six thousand men in killed, wounded, and prisoners. The victorious Russians did not pursue him. They marched down the river to Frankfort, where they effected a junction with other troops, giving them an effective force of ninety-six thousand fighting men.
Character of the Crown Prince.—Stratagem of the Emperor Joseph II.—Death of the Empress Catharine of Russia.—Matrimonial Alliance of Russia and Prussia.—Death of the King of Bavaria.—Attempt to Annex Bavaria to Austria.—Unexpected Energy of Frederick.—Court Intrigues.—Preparations for War.—Address to the Troops.—Declaration of War.—Terror in Vienna.—Irritability of Frederick.—Death of Voltaire.—Unjust Condemnation of the Judges.—Death of Maria Theresa.—Anecdote.—The King’s Fondness for Children.—His Fault-finding Spirit.—The King’s Appearance.—The Last Review.—Statement of Mirabeau.—Anecdote related by Dr. Moore.—Frederick’s Fondness for Dogs.—Increasing Weakness. —Unchanging Obduracy toward the Queen.—The Dying Scene.
“My dearest Brother,—Your letter and the one you wrote to Voltaire have nearly killed me. What fatal resolutions, great God! Ah! my dear brother, you say you love me, and you drive a dagger into my heart. Your epistle, which I did receive, made me shed rivers of tears. I am now ashamed of such weakness. My misfortune would be so great that I should find worthier resources than tears. Your lot shall be mine. I shall not survive your misfortunes, or those of the house I belong to. You may calculate that such is my firm resolution.
On the 11th of October an express courier reached Frederick’s camp with the alarming intelligence that an Austrian division of fifteen thousand men was on the march for Berlin. The city was but poorly fortified, and held a garrison of but four thousand429 troops. Frederick had no doubt that the Austrian army was acting in co-operation with other forces of the allies, advancing upon his metropolis from the east, north, and west. Immediately he collected all his available troops and commenced a rapid march for the protection of his capital. In the mean time Wilhelmina had heard of this new peril. A rumor also had reached her that there had been a battle, and that her brother was wounded. The following letter reveals the anguish of her heart:“My lord, I could desire your lordship to summon up, if it were necessary, the spirit of all your lordship’s instructions, and the sense of the king, of the Parliament, and of the whole British nation. It is upon this great moment that depends the fate, not of the house of Austria, not of the empire, but of the house of Brunswick, of Great Britain, of all Europe. I verily believe the King of Prussia himself does not know the extent of the present danger. With whatever motive he may act, there is not one, not that of the wildest resentment, that can blind him to this degree—of himself perishing in the ruin he is bringing upon others. With his concurrence, the French will, in less than six weeks, be masters of the German empire. The weak Elector of Bavaria is but their instrument. Prague and Vienna may, and probably will, be taken in that short time. Will even the King of Prussia himself be reserved to the last?”
Frederick William was too stern a man to shed many tears over his father’s death. The old king was ostentatious in his tastes, fond of parade and splendor. The son had almost an insane contempt for all court etiquette and all the elegancies of24 life. As he stood by his father’s dying bed, his unamiable, rugged nature developed itself in the disgust, almost rage, with which he regarded the courtly pageantry with which the expiring monarch was surrounded. The remains of the king were allowed to be conveyed to the tomb with that pomp which had been dear to him while living.Secret negotiations were immediately opened at Breslau, in Silesia, between England, Austria, and Prussia. Maria Theresa, harassed by the entreaties of her cabinet and by the importunities of the British court, consented to all that Frederick demanded.Wilhelmina, in the following graphic narrative, describes the scene: “Mamma had given a ball in honor of papa’s birthday. We recommenced the ball after supper. For six years I had not danced before. It was new fruit, and I took my fill of it, without heeding much what was passing. Madam Bulow, who, with others, had worn long faces all night, pleading illness when one noticed it, said to me several times,
a a. First Position of Combined Army. b b. First Position of Prussian Camp. c c. Advance of Prussian Army. d d. Second Position of Combined Army. e e. Prussians retire to Rossbach. f. French Cavalry, under St. Germain. g g. March of Combined Army to attack Prussian Rear. h. Prussian Attack led by Seidlitz. i. Position of Prussian Guns.详情
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