There was no alternative left the young princess. Unless there were an immediate consummation of the marriage contract with the English Frederick, she was, without delay, to choose between Weissenfels and Schwedt. The queen, in response to this communication, said, “I will immediately write to England; but, whatever may be the answer, it is impossible that my daughter should marry either of the individuals whom the king has designated.” Baron Grumkow, who was in entire accord with the king, “began,” says Wilhelmina, “quoting Scripture on her majesty, as the devil can on occasion. ‘Wives, be obedient to your husbands,’ said he. The queen very aptly replied, ‘Yes; but did not Bethuel, the son of Milcah, when Abraham’s servant asked his daughter in marriage for young Isaac, answer, “We will call the damsel, and inquire of her mouth?” It is true, wives must obey their husbands, but husbands must command things just and reasonable.’Frederick had become very ambitious of high intellectual culture and of literary renown. He gathered around him a numerous class of scholarly men, and opened an extensive correspondence with the most distinguished philosophers, poets, and historians all over Europe. He commenced and persevered in a course of very rigorous study, rising at an early hour, and devoting the unbroken morning to intellectual pursuits. The renowned men of earth have not attained their renown but by untiring exertions.166 For six or seven consecutive hours every day the prince was busy in his library, when no one was allowed to interrupt him. He wrote to a friend about this time:
“I forget how the conversation changed. But I know that it grew so free that, seeing somebody coming to join in it, the king warned him to take care, saying that it was not safe to converse with a man doomed by the theologians to everlasting fire. I felt as if he somewhat overdid this of his ‘being doomed,’ and that he boasted too much of it. Not to hint at the dishonesty of these free-thinking gentlemen, who very often are thoroughly afraid of the devil, it is at least bad taste to make display of such things. And it was with the people of bad taste whom he had about him, and some dull skeptics of his own academy, that he had acquired the habit of mocking at religion.”
“Tell your unworthy daughter,” said the king to the queen, “that her room is to be her prison. I shall give orders to have the guard there doubled. I shall have her examined in the most rigorous manner, and will afterward have her removed to some fit place, where she may repent of her crimes.”
The queen summoned firmness to reply: “You can inform the king that he will never make me consent to render my daughter miserable; and that, so long as a breath of life remains in me, I will not permit her to take either the one or the other of these persons.”M. Pitsch made no reply. The king, probably feeling at the moment some physical monition of approaching death, cried out, “Lord Jesus, to thee I live. Lord Jesus, to thee I die. In life and in death thou art my gain.We now enter upon the third Silesian war, usually termed in history The Seven Years’ War. For four years Frederick had been aware that a coalition was secretly forming against him. Maria Theresa wished, with ardor which had never for one moment abated, to regain Silesia. All the other European powers, without exception, desired to curb Frederick, whose ambition they feared. They were well aware that he was taking advantage of a few years of peace to replenish his treasury, and to enlarge his army for new conquests. As we have before stated, Frederick, by bribery, had fully informed himself of the secret arrangements into which Austria, Russia, Poland, and other powers were entering for the dismemberment of his realms. It is in vain to attempt to unravel the intricacies of the diplomacy which ensued.
“I took my brother by the hand, and implored the king to restore his affection to him. This scene was so touching that it drew tears from all present. I then approached the queen. She was obliged to embrace me, the king being close opposite. But I remarked that her joy was only affected. I turned to my brother again. I gave him a thousand caresses, to all which he remained cold as ice, and answered only in monosyllables. I presented to him my husband, to whom he did not say one word. I was astonished at this; but I laid the blame of it on the king, who was observing us, and who I judged might be intimidating my brother. But even the countenance of my brother surprised me. He wore a proud air, and seemed to look down upon every body.”L’airs émus par le bruyant tonnere.“The proposal,” Sir Thomas replied, “is to give guarantees at once.”
Weissenfels was a small duchy in Saxony. The duke, so called by courtesy, had visited Berlin before in the train of his sovereign, King Augustus, when his majesty returned the visit of Frederick William. He was then quite captivated by the beauty and vivacity of Wilhelmina. He was titular duke merely, his brother being the real duke; and he was then living on his pay as officer in the army, and was addicted to deep potations. Carlyle describes him as “a mere betitled, betasseled, elderly military gentleman of no special qualities, evil or good.” Sophie Dorothee, noticing his attentions to Wilhelmina, deemed it the extreme of impudence for so humble a man to aspire to the hand of her illustrious child. She reproved him so severely that he retired from the court in deep chagrin. He never would have presumed to renew the suit but for the encouragement given by Frederick William.
It is said that Frederick, determined not to lose his dancer in that manner, immediately informed the young gentleman’s friends that he was about to form a mesalliance with an opera girl. The impassioned lover was peremptorily summoned home. Hatred for Frederick consequently rankled in young Mackenzie’s heart. This hatred he communicated to his brother, Lord Bute, which subsequently had no little influence in affairs of national diplomacy.Under Frederick William the newspaper press in Berlin amounted to nothing. The capital had not a single daily paper. Speedy destruction would crush any writer who, in journal, pamphlet, or book, should publish any thing displeasing to the king. Frederick proclaimed freedom of the press. Two newspapers were established in Berlin, one in French and one in German. Distinguished men were selected to edit them. One was a noted writer from Hamburg. Frederick, in his absolutism, had adopted the resolve not to interfere with the freedom of the press unless there were some gross violation of what he deemed proper. He allowed very bitter satires to be circulated in Berlin against himself, simply replying to the remonstrances of his ministers, “The press is free.”
On the 26th of June this vast train commenced its movement from Troppau. A convoy of about seven thousand infantry and eleven hundred cavalry guarded the wagons. They were in three bodies, on the front, in the centre, and on the rear. The king also sent forward about six thousand horse and foot from Olmütz to meet the train.“To the custom-house officer at Stettin. The loss of the excise dues shall fall to my score. The dress shall remain with the princess; the slaps to him who received them. As to the pretended dishonor, I entirely relieve the complainant from that. Never can the appliance of a beautiful hand dishonor the face of an officer of customs.”详情
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