At that time the family consisted of nine children. Next to Wilhelmina and Fritz came Frederica, thirteen; Charlotte, eleven; Sophie Dorothee, eight; Ulrique, seven; August Wilhelm, five; Amelia, four; and Henry, a babe in arms.
“My dear Monsieur Jordan, my sweet Monsieur Jordan, my quiet Monsieur Jordan, my good, my benign, my pacific, my most humane Monsieur Jordan,—I announce to thy serenity the conquest of Silesia. I warn thee of the bombardment of Neisse, and I prepare thee for still more projects, and instruct thee of the happiest successes that the womb of fortune ever bore.”47
414 “This battle,” writes Frederick, “which began toward nine in the morning, was one of the bloodiest of the age. The enemy lost twenty-four thousand men, of whom four thousand were prisoners. The Prussian loss amounted to eighteen thousand fighting men, without counting Marshal Schwerin, who was alone worth above ten thousand. This day saw the pillars of the Prussian infantry cut down.”
“Partez, ma s?ur, partez; La Suède vous attend, la Suède vous désire.”Torrents of water spread over the earth
By order of the king, Fritz, who had also been condemned to die and was awaiting his doom, was brought down into a lower room of the fortress, before whose window the scaffold was erected, that he might be compelled “to see Katte die.” At his entrance the curtains were closed, shutting out the view of the court-yard. Upon the drawing of the curtains, Fritz, to his horror, beheld the scaffold draped in black on a level with the window, and directly before it.
Frederick, having obtained all that, for the present, he could hope to obtain, deemed it for his interest to attempt to promote the peace of Europe. His realms needed consolidating, his army recruiting, his treasury replenishing. But he found it much easier to stir up the elements of strife than to allay them.Lafayette, Lord Cornwallis, and the Duke of York were his565 guests at the dinner-table that day. The king suffered from his exposure, was very feverish, and at an early hour went to bed. The next day he completed his review; and the next day “went—round by Neisse, inspection not to be omitted there, though it doubles the distance—to Brieg, a drive of eighty miles, inspection work included.”196General Neipperg cautiously advanced toward him, and encamped in the vicinity of Steinau—the same Steinau which but a few weeks before had been laid in ashes as the Prussian troops284 passed through it. The two armies were now separated from each other but by an interval of about five miles. The country was flat, and it was not probable that the contest which Frederick so eagerly sought could long be avoided.
With great courtesy of words, but pitiless energy of action, General Borck, who was in command, fulfilled his commission. A contribution was exacted of fifteen thousand dollars, to be paid within three days; sufficient rations were to be furnished daily for the troops, or the general, it was stated, would be under the painful necessity of collecting them for himself. Two hundred and fifty dollars a day were to be provided for the general’s private expenses. Remonstrances were of no avail. Resistance was not to be thought of.It is unquestionable that the mental discipline acquired by this elevated course, to which he consecrated so diligently his hours, prepared him for the wonderful career upon which he soon entered, and enabled him to act with efficiency which filled Europe with his renown.
“Voltaire has conducted himself like a blackguard and a consummate rascal. I have talked to him as he deserved. He is a sad fellow. I am quite ashamed for human abilities that a man who has so much of them should be so full of wickedness. I am not surprised that people talk at Paris of the quarrel of our beaux esprits. Voltaire is the most mischievous madman I ever knew. He is only good to read. It is impossible for you to388 imagine the duplicities, the impositions, the infamies he practiced here. I am quite indignant that so much talent and acquirement do not make men better. I took the part of Maupertuis because he is a good sort of man, and the other had determined upon ruining him. A little too much vanity had rendered him too sensitive to the man?uvres of this monkey, whom he ought to have despised after having castigated him.”95
On the 7th of May, three days after the capture of Brieg, Lord Hyndford, the English embassador, arrived at the camp of Frederick, and obtained an audience with his majesty. It was eleven o’clock in the forenoon. He gave his government a very minute narrative of the interview. The following particulars, gleaned from that narrative, will interest the reader. It will be remembered that Frederick cherished a strong antipathy against his uncle, George II. of England.The king, as we have mentioned, allotted to his son a very moderate income, barely enough for the necessary expenses of his establishment. But the prince borrowed money in large sums from the Empress of Germany, from Russia, from England. It was well known that, should his life be preserved, he would soon have ample means to repay the loan. Frederick William probably found it expedient to close his eyes against these transactions. But he did not attempt to conceal the chagrin with which he regarded the literary and voluptuous tastes of his son.详情
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