As usual, Frederick wrote a poem upon the occasion. It was vulgar and profane. Carlyle says of it, “The author, with a wild burst of spiritual enthusiasm, sings the charms of the rearward part of certain men. He rises to the height of anti-biblical profanity, quoting Moses on the Hill of Vision; sinks to the bottomless of human or ultra-human depravity, quoting King Nicomedes’s experience on C?sar, happily known only to the learned. A most cynical, profane affair; yet we must say, by way of parenthesis, one which gives no countenance to Voltaire’s atrocities of rumor about Frederick himself in the matter.”111
In a pet Frederick left the room. The heroic general, who had flatly refused to obey a positive command, found it necessary to resign his commission. The next day another officer plundered the castle. Seventy-five thousand dollars of the proceeds of the sale were appropriated to the field hospitals. The remainder, which proved to be a large sum, was the reward of the plundering general.
Again the next day he wrote:241“You must make a desert of Westphalia. With regard to the countries of Lippe and Padeborn, as these are very fertile provinces, you must take great care to destroy every thing in them without exception.”
“How glorious,” he exclaimed, “is my king, the youngest of kings, and the grandest! A king who carries in the one hand an all-conquering sword, but in the other a blessed olive-branch, and is the arbiter of Europe for peace or war.”
The queen, Maria Theresa, still remained at Presburg, in her Hungarian kingdom. The Aulic Council was with her. On the 15th of August Sir Thomas Robinson had returned to Presburg with the intelligence of his unsuccessful mission, and of the unrelenting determination of Frederick to prosecute the war with the utmost vigor unless Silesia were surrendered to him.“The French army so handled this place as not only to take from its inhabitants, by open force, all bread and articles of food, but likewise all clothes, bed-linens, and other portable goods. They also broke open, split to pieces, and emptied out all chests, boxes, presses, drawers; shot dead in the back-yards and on the roofs all manner of feathered stock, as hens, geese, pigeons. They carried off all swine, cows, sheep, and horses. They laid violent hands on the inhabitants, clapped swords, guns, and pistols to their breasts, threatening to kill them unless they brought out whatever goods they had; or hunted them out of their houses, shooting at them, cutting, sticking, and at last driving them away, thereby to have freer room to rob and plunder. They flung out hay and other harvest stock into the mud, and had it trampled to ruin under the horses’ feet.”Saturday night was very dark. A thick mist mantled the landscape. About midnight, the Russians, feigning an artillery attack upon a portion of the Prussian lines, commenced a retreat. Groping their way through the woods south of Zorndorf, they reached the great road to Landsberg, and retreated so rapidly that Frederick could annoy them but little.
It is very evident, from the glimpses we catch of Fritz at this time, that he was a wild fellow, quite frivolous, and with but a feeble sense of moral obligation. General Schulenburg, an old soldier, of stern principles, visited him at Cüstrin, and sent an account of the interview to Baron Grumkow, under date of October 4th, 1731. From this letter we cull the following statement:
Soon after this an event occurred very characteristic of the king—an event which conspicuously displayed both his good and bad qualities. A miller was engaged in a lawsuit against a nobleman. The decree of the court, after a very careful examination, was unanimously in favor of the nobleman; the king, who had impulsively formed a different opinion of the case, was greatly exasperated. He summoned the four judges before him, denounced them in the severest terms of vituperation, would listen to no defense, and dismissed them angrily from office.“I represented to him that perhaps it was not altogether prudent to print his Anti-Machiavel just at the time that the world might reproach him with having violated the principles he taught. He permitted me to stop the impression. I accordingly took a journey into Holland purposely to do him this trifling service. But the bookseller demanded so much money that his majesty, who was not in the bottom of his heart vexed to see210 himself in print, was better pleased to be so for nothing, than to pay for not being so. I could not avoid feeling some remorse at being concerned in printing this Anti-Machiavelian book at the very moment that the King of Prussia, who had a hundred millions in his coffers, was robbing the poor people of Liege of another, by the hand of the privy counselor Rambonet.”35
Early in January, 1730, the king, returning from a hunt at Wusterhausen, during which he had held a drinking carouse and a diplomatic interview with the King of Poland, announced his intention of being no longer annoyed by matrimonial arrangements for Wilhelmina. He resolved to abandon the English alliance altogether, unless an immediate and unequivocal assent were given by George II. for the marriage of Wilhelmina with the Prince of Wales, without any compact for the marriage of Fritz with the Princess Amelia. Count Finckenstein, Baron Grumkow, and General Borck were sent to communicate this, the king’s unalterable resolve, to the queen. The first two were friends of the queen. Grumkow was understood to be the instigator of the king. Wilhelmina chanced to be with her mother when the gentlemen announced themselves as the bearers of a very important message from the king to her majesty. Wilhelmina trembled, and said in a low tone to her mother, “This regards me. I have a dreading.” “No matter,” the worn and weary mother replied; “one must have firmness, and that is not what I shall want.” The queen retired with the ministers to the audience-chamber.
BATTLE OF KUNERSDORF, AUGUST 12, 1759.Voltaire, being safe out of Prussia, in the territory of the King of Poland, instead of hastening to Plombières, tarried in Dresden, and then in Leipsic. From those places he began shooting, through magazines, newspapers, and various other instrumentalities, his poisoned darts at M. Maupertuis. Though these malignant assaults, rapidly following each other, were anonymous, no one could doubt their authorship. M. Maupertuis, exasperated, wrote to him from Berlin on the 7th of April:“The valet took the beef from the table and set it on the charcoal dish until wanted. He did the like with the fish and roast game, and poured me out wine and beer. I ate and drank till I had abundantly enough. Dessert, confectionery, what I could. A plate of big black cherries and a plateful of pears my waiting-man wrapped in paper, and stuffed them into my pockets to be a refreshment on the way home. And so I rose from the royal table, and thanked God and the king in my heart that I had so gloriously dined. At that moment a secretary came, brought me a sealed order for the custom-house at Berlin, with my certificates and the pass; told down on the table five tail-ducats and a gold Friedrich under them, saying, ‘The king sent me this to take me home to Berlin.’93
On Sunday, April 5, 1778, Frederick reviewed these troops, and addressed his officers in a speech, which was published in the newspapers to inform Austria what she had to expect. Eager as Frederick was to enlarge his own dominions, he was by no means disposed to grant the same privilege to other and rival nations. The address of Frederick to his officers was in reality a declaration to the Austrian court.In Berlin you will do well to think of your safety. It is a great calamity. I will not survive it. The consequences of this battle will be worse than the battle itself. I have no resources more; and, to confess the truth, I hold all for lost. I will not survive the destruction of my country. Farewell forever.“Here, take that order to General Lossow, and tell him that he is not to take it ill that I trouble him, as I have none in my suite that can do any thing.” It often seemed to give Frederick pleasure, and never pain, to wound the feelings of others.详情
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