“A fortnight after a funeral sermon shall be preached for me in all the churches. The text shall be, ‘I have fought a good fight; I have finished my course; I have kept the faith.’ They shall not speak any thing of my life, of my actions, nor any thing personal of me. But they shall tell the people that I confessed my sins, and that I died in full confidence of the goodness of God and of my Savior.”It turned out that the rumor of the march upon Berlin was greatly exaggerated. General Haddick, with an Austrian force of but four thousand men, by a sudden rush through the woods, seized the suburbs of Berlin. The terrified garrison, supposing that an overwhelming force of the allied army was upon them, retreated, with the royal family and effects, to Spandau. General Haddick, having extorted a ransom of about one hundred and forty thousand dollars from the city, and “two dozen pair of gloves for the empress queen,” and learning that a division of Frederick’s army was fast approaching, fled precipitately. Hearing of this result, the king arrested his steps at Torgau, and returned to Leipsic. The Berliners asserted that “the two dozen pair of gloves were all gloves for the left hand.”He had hardly arrived at Leitmeritz ere he received the tidings of the death of Sophia Dorothea, his mother. She died at Berlin on the 28th of June, 1757, in the seventy-first year of her age. This grief, coming in the train of disasters which seemed to be overwhelming his Prussian majesty, affected him very deeply. Frederick was subdued and softened by sorrow. He remembered the time when a mother’s love rocked his cradle, and wrapped him around with tender care. The reader will be surprised to learn that his grief—perhaps with some comminglings of remorse—was so great that he shut himself in his closet, and wept with sobbings like a child.
The king hesitated, as though he had forgotten. But his secretary answered, “Three million florins (,500,000).Many anecdotes are related illustrative of the kind feelings of378 the king toward the peasants. He was much interested in ameliorating their condition, and said to the Bishop of Varmia, “Believe me, if I knew every thing—if I could read every thing myself—all my subjects should be happy. But alas! I am but a man.”
The young king, all unaccustomed to those horrors of war which he had evoked, was swept along with the inundation. The danger of his falling in the midst of the general carnage, or of his capture, which was, perhaps, still more to be dreaded, was imminent. His friends entreated him to escape for his life. Even Marshal Schwerin, the veteran soldier, assured him that the battle was lost, and that he probably could escape capture only by a precipitate flight.Poor Valori, the French embassador, was placed in a very embarrassing situation. The anger of the Prussian king vented itself upon him. He was in complete disgrace. It was his duty daily to wait upon Frederick. But the king would seldom speak to him, or even look upon him; and if he did favor him with a glance, it was with an expression of scorn.
Thus influenced, she yielded. Tears flooded her eyes, and her voice was broken with sobs as she said, “I am ready to sacrifice myself for the peace of the family.” The deputation withdrew, leaving the princess in despair. Baron Grumkow conveyed to the king the pleasing intelligence of her submission.Blockheads of race impertinent,On the 20th of January, 1745, Charles Albert, the unhappy344 and ever-unfortunate Emperor of Germany, died at Munich, in the forty-eighth year of his age. Tortured by a complication of the most painful disorders, he had seldom, for weary years, enjoyed an hour of freedom from acute pain. An incessant series of disasters crushed all his hopes. He was inextricably involved in debt. Triumphant foes drove him from his realms. He wandered a fugitive in foreign courts, exposed to humiliation and the most cutting indignities. Thus the victim of bodily and mental anguish, it is said that one day some new tidings of disaster prostrated him upon the bed of death. He was patient and mild, but the saddest of mortals. Gladly he sought refuge in the tomb from the storms of his drear and joyless life. An eye-witness writes, “Charles Albert’s pious and affectionate demeanor drew tears from all eyes. The manner in which he took leave of his empress would have melted a heart of stone.”
135 As the king was about to take leave of his child, whom he had treated so cruelly, he was very much overcome by emotion. It is a solemn hour, in any family, when a daughter leaves the parental roof, never to return again but as a visitor. Whether the extraordinary development of feeling which the stern old monarch manifested on the occasion was the result of nervous sensibility, excited by strong drink or by parental affection, it is not easy to decide. Wilhelmina, in a few words of intense emotion, bade her father farewell.On Monday, the 22d of August, the great review commenced near Strehlen. It lasted four days. All the country mansions around were filled with strangers who had come to witness the spectacle.
It was the aim of Prince Charles to get between Frederick’s encampment at Chrudim and his French allies, under Marshal Broglio, at Prague. When discovered by Frederick, the Austrian army was on the rapid march along a line about fifteen miles nearly southwest of Chrudim. It thus threatened to cut Frederick’s communication with Prague, which was on the Moldau, about sixty miles west of the Prussian encampment. The310 forces now gathering for a decisive battle were nearly equal. The reader would not be interested in the description of the strategic and tactical movements of the next two days. The leaders of both parties, with great military sagacity, were accumulating and concentrating their forces for a conflict, which, under the circumstances, would doubtless prove ruinous to the one or the other. A battle upon that open plain, with equal forces, was of the nature of a duel, in which one or the other of the combatants must fall.The air agitated by loud thunder.The king was not a man of refined sensibilities. Not unfrequently his letters contained coarse and indelicate expressions. He was very profane. Voltaire says of him, “He has a pleasing tone of voice even in swearing, which is as familiar to him as to a grenadier.”
“Unless one day the tumult of business and the wickedness of men alter so divine a character, you will be worshiped by your people and loved by the whole world. Philosophers, worthy of the name, will flock to your states. The illustrious Queen Christina quitted her kingdom to go in search of the arts. Reign you, Monseigneur, and the arts will come to seek you.
“Never was there a place in the world where liberty of speech was so fully indulged, or where the various superstitions of men were treated with so much ridicule and contempt. God was respected. But those who, in His name, had imposed on mankind, were not spared. Neither women nor priests ever entered the palace. In a word, Frederick lived without a court, without a council, and without a religion.”The city took fire in many places; magazines were consumed; the ducal palace was wrapped in flames. Nearly fifteen thousand cannon-balls, and over two thousand bombs, were hurled crashing through the thronged dwellings. Many of the Austrian guns were silenced. General Piccolomini, who was intrusted with the defense of the place, could stand it no longer. On the 4th of May he raised above the walls the white flag of surrender. The gallant general was treated magnanimously. He was invited to dine with Frederick, and, with the garrison, was permitted to retire to Neisse, pledged not to serve against the Prussians for two years. The town had been nearly demolished by the war-tempest which had beat so fiercely upon it. Frederick immediately commenced repairing the ruins and strengthening the fortifications.“‘It is late. I wish you had done.’详情
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