Voltaire hated M. Maupertuis. He was the president of the Berlin Academy, and was regarded by Voltaire as a formidable rival. This hatred gave rise to a quarrel between Frederick and Voltaire, which was so virulent that Europe was filled with the noise of their bickerings. M. Maupertuis had published a pamphlet, in which he assumed to have made some important discovery upon the law of action. M. K?nig, a member of the Academy, reviewed the pamphlet, asserting not only that the proclaimed law was false, but that it had been promulgated half a century before. In support of his position he quoted from a letter of Leibnitz. The original of the letter could not be produced. M. K?nig was accused of having forged the extract. M. Maupertuis, a very jealous, irritable man, by his powerful influence as president, caused M. K?nig to be expelled from the Academy.Immediately he sent a polite note to Count Wallis, assuring him that the attack, if attack were necessary, should be made on the other side of the city, so that no military advantage could be taken of the church. This popular act resounded widely not225 only through the Protestant community of Silesia, but throughout Europe.But Frederick did not seem to think himself at all bound by his treaty obligations with France to refrain from entering into secret arrangements with the foe which would promote his interests, however antagonistic those arrangements might be to his assumed obligations. He was the ally of France in the attempt to wrest territory from the young Queen of Austria, and to weaken her power. His armies and those of France were acting in co-operation. Frederick now proposed to the common enemy that, if Silesia were surrendered to him, he would no longer act in co-operation with his ally; but, that France might not discover his perfidy, he would still pretend to make war. The Austrians were to amuse themselves in defending Neisse from a sham siege until the pleasant weeks of autumn were gone, and then they were to march, with all their guns and ammunition, south to Vienna, there to fight the French. Frederick, still assuming that he was the ally of France, was to avail himself of the excuse that the season of ice and snow was at hand, and withdraw into winter quarters. Such, in general, were the terms which Frederick authorized his minister, Goltz, to propose to Lord Hyndford, as the agent of England and Austria.
At six o’clock in the evening the whole city was illuminated. Frederick entered his carriage, and, attended by his two brothers, the Prince of Prussia and Prince Henry, rode out to take the circuit of the streets. But the king had received information that one of his former preceptors, M. Duhan, lay at the point of death. He ordered his carriage to be at once driven to the residence of the dying man. The house of M. Duhan was situated in a court, blazing with the glow of thousands of lamps.
The next day, December 11, 1779, the king issued the following protocol in the newspapers:
“Have I need of peace? Let those who need it give me what I want, or let them fight me again and be beaten again. Have they not given whole kingdoms to Spain? And to me they can not spare a few trifling principalities. If the queen do not now grant me all I require, I shall, in four weeks, demand four principalities more. I now demand the whole of Lower Silesia, Breslau included. With that answer you can return to Vienna.”“This is the homage you render the rising sun, though you know that the rule in the tobacco parliament is to rise to no one. You think I am dead. But I will teach you that I am yet living.”
“You never can believe, my adorable sister, how concerned I am about your happiness. All my wishes centre there, and every moment of my life I form such wishes. You may see by this that I preserve still that sincere friendship which has united our hearts from our tenderest years. Recognize at least, my dear sister, that you did me a sensible wrong when you suspected me of fickleness toward you, and believed false reports of my listening to tale-bearers—me, who love only you, and whom neither absence nor lying rumors could change in respect of you. At least, don’t again believe such things on my score, and never mistrust me till you have had clear proof, or till God has forsaken me, or I have lost my wits.“She returned to me an hour after, and said, with a vexed air, ‘Will you end, then? You are so engaged you have eyes for nothing.’
On the 19th of February, 1741, Frederick, having been at home but three weeks, again left Berlin with re-enforcements, increasing his army of invasion to sixty thousand men, to complete the conquest of Silesia by the capture of the three fortresses which still held out against him. On the 21st he reached Glogau. After carefully reconnoitring the works, he left directions with Prince Leopold of Dessau, who commanded the Prussian troops there, to press the siege with all possible vigor. He was fearful that Austrian troops might soon arrive to the relief of the place.Wusterhausen, where the young Crown Prince spent many of these early years of his life, was a rural retreat of the king about twenty miles southeast from Berlin. The palace consisted of a plain, unornamented, rectangular pile, surrounded by numerous outbuildings, and rising from the midst of low and swampy grounds tangled with thickets and interspersed with fish-pools. Game of all kinds abounded in those lakelets, sluggish streams, and jungles.
Baron Bielfeld gives the following account of the ordinary employments, and the tone of conversation of the prince: “All the employments and all the pleasures of the prince are those of a man of understanding. He is, at this time, actually engaged in refuting the dangerous political reveries of Machiavel. His conversation at table is charming. He talks much and excellently well. His mind seems to be equal to all sorts of subjects, and his imagination produces on each of them a number of new and just ideas. His genius resembles the fire of the vestals that was never extinct. A decent and polite contradiction is not disagreeable172 to him. He possesses the rare talent of displaying the wit of others, and of giving them opportunity to shine on those subjects in which they excel. He jests frequently, and sometimes rallies, but never with asperity; and an ingenious retort does not displease him.
“I am so stupefied with the misfortune which has befallen494 General Finck that I can not recover from my astonishment. It deranges all my measures. It cuts me to the quick. Ill luck, which persecutes my old age, has followed me from Kunersdorf to Saxony. I will still strive what I can. The little ode I sent you, addressed to Fortune, was written too soon. One should not shout victory until the battle is over. I am so crushed by these reverses and disasters that I wish a thousand times I were dead.About two hundred miles south of Berlin there was quite an important marquisate called Baireuth. The marquis had a good-looking young son, the heir-apparent, who had just returned from the grand tour of Europe. Upon the death of his father he would enter upon quite a rich inheritance. This young marquis, Frederick by name, Baron Borck proposed as a substitute for77 the Duke of Weissenfels. It was understood that Wilhelmina was such a prize that kings, even, would be eager to obtain her hand. There could therefore be no doubt but that the Marquis of Baireuth would feel signally honored by such nuptials. The worn and weary mother eagerly accepted this proposal. She suggested it to the king. Sullenly he gave it his assent, saying, “I will passively submit to it, but will take no active part whatever in the affair. Neither will I give Wilhelmina one single copper for dowry.”
“His Prussian majesty has unquestionably talent, but what361 a character! He is frivolous in the extreme, and sadly a heretic in his religious views. He is a dishonorable man, and what a neighbor he has been! As to Silesia, I would as soon part with my last garment as part with it.Frederick was soon aware that peace was out of the question without farther fighting. Before the 1st of April he had one hundred and forty-five thousand men ready for the field. Of these, fifty-three thousand were in Silesia. Many of the Austrian deserters were induced to join his standards. But the most important event secured was forming a subsidy treaty with England. The British cabinet, alarmed in view of the power which the successful prosecution of the war on the part of the allies would give to France, after much hesitation, came to the aid of Frederick, whom they hated as much as they feared France. On the 11th of April, 1758, a treaty was signed between the English court and Frederick, containing the following important item:
On the 28th of June, 1729, the population of Bühlitz, a Hanoverian border village, sallied forth with carts, escorted by a troop of horse, and, with demonstrations both defiant and exultant, raked up and carried off all the hay. The King of Prussia happened to be at that time about one hundred miles distant from Bühlitz, at Magdeburg, reviewing his troops. He was thrown into a towering passion. Sophie Dorothee, Wilhelmina, Fritz, all felt the effects of his rage. Dubourgay writes, under date of July 30, 1729:We have now reached the year 1726. The Emperor of Germany declares that he can never give his consent to the double marriage with the English princes. Frederick William, who is not at all fond of his wife’s relatives, and is annoyed by the hesitancy which his father-in-law has manifested in reference to it, is also turning his obstinate will against the nuptial alliance. A more imperative and inflexible man never breathed. This year the unhappy wife of George I. died, unreconciled, wretched, exasperated, after thirty years’ captivity in the castle of Ahlden. Darker and darker seemed the gloom which enveloped the path of Sophie Dorothee. She still clung to the marriages as the dearest hope of her heart. It was with her an ever-present thought. But Frederick William was the most obdurate and obstinate of mortals.详情
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