The air agitated by loud thunder.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.
“Take, then,” she exclaimed, “the Grand Turk or the Great Mogul for your husband. Follow your own caprice. Had I known you better I would not have brought so many sorrows upon myself. You may follow the king’s bidding. It is henceforth your own affair. I will no longer trouble myself about your concerns. And spare me, if you please, the sorrows of your odious presence. I can not stand it.”FREDERICK AT KATTE’S EXECUTION.
“About a fortnight ago the prince was in a humor of extraordinary gayety at the table. His gayety animated all the rest; and some glasses of Champagne still more enlivened our mirth. The prince, perceiving our disposition, was willing to promote it, and on rising from table, told us that he was determined that we should recommence our jollity at supper.
Far away in the east the Austrian officers discerned a Prussian column of observation, consisting of about twelve thousand horse and foot, wending along from hollow to height, their polished weapons flashing back the rays of the afternoon sun. Frederick, carefully examining the ground, immediately made arrangements to bring forward his troops under curtain of the night for a decisive battle. His orderlies were silently dispatched in all directions. At eight o’clock the whole army was in350 motion. His troops were so concentrated that the farthest divisions had a march of only nine miles. Silently, not a word being spoken, not a pipe being lighted, and all the baggage being left behind, they crossed the bridge of the Striegau River, and, deploying to the right and the left, took position in front of the slumbering allied troops.
Soon after this, Frederick again wrote to his sister a letter which throws so much light upon his character that we give it almost entire:
THE QUEEN’S APPEAL TO THE HUNGARIAN NOBLES.
“Those that come after me,” said the king, “will do as they like. The future is beyond man’s reach. I have acquired; it is theirs to preserve. I am not in alarm about the Austrians. They dread my armies—the luck that I have. I am sure of their sitting quiet for the dozen years or so which may remain to me of life. There is more for me in the true greatness of laboring for the happiness of my subjects than in the repose of Europe. I have put Saxony out of a condition to hurt me. She now owes me twelve million five hundred thousand dollars. By the defensive alliance which I form with her, I provide myself a help against Austria. I would not, henceforth, attack a cat, except to defend myself. Glory and my interests were the occasion of my first campaigns. The late emperor’s situation, and my zeal for France, gave rise to the second. Always since, I have been fighting for my own hearths—for my very existence. I know the state I have got into. If I now saw Prince Charles at the gates of Paris, I would not stir.”563 The king seemed to think it effeminate and a disgrace to him as a soldier ever to appear in a carriage. He never drove, but constantly rode from Berlin to Potsdam. In the winter of 1785, when he was quite feeble, he wished to go from Sans Souci, which was exposed to bleak winds, and where they had only hearth fires, to more comfortable winter quarters in the new palace. The weather was stormy. After waiting a few days for such a change as would enable him to go on horseback, and the cold and wind increasing, he was taken over in a sedan-chair in the night, when no one could see him.
“It was there that I saw one of the most amiable men in the world, who forms the charm of society, who would be every where sought after if he were not a king; a philosopher without austerity, full of sweetness, complaisance, and obliging ways—not remembering that he is king when he meets his friends; indeed, so completely forgetting it that he made me too almost forget it, and I needed an effort of memory to recollect that I here saw, sitting at the foot of my bed, a sovereign who had an army of a hundred thousand men.”
“I am punctual in answering, and eager to satisfy you. You shall have a breakfast-set, my good mamma; six coffee-cups, very pretty, well diapered, and tricked out with all the little embellishments which increase their value. On account of some pieces which they are adding to the set, you will have to wait a few days. But I flatter myself this delay will contribute to your satisfaction, and produce for you a toy that will give you pleasure, and make you remember your old adorer.Frederick was not unduly elated with his victory. He was still terribly harassed for money. There were campaigns opening before him, in an unending series, requiring enormous expenditure. Even many such victories as he had just gained would only conduct him to irretrievable ruin, unless he could succeed in conquering a peace. In these dark hours the will of this extraordinary man remained inflexible. He would not listen to any propositions for peace which did not guarantee to him Silesia. Maria Theresa would listen to no terms which did not restore to her the lost province.详情
Copyright © 2020