“His affability, his kindliness, to whoever had the honor of speech with this great king, who shall describe it! After talking a good while with the merchants’ deputation from the hill country, he said, ‘Is there any thing more, then, from any body?’ Upon which the president stepped forward and said, ‘The burned-out inhabitants of Greiffenberg have charged me to express once more their most submissive gratitude for the gracious help in rebuilding; their word of thanks is indeed of no importance; but they daily pray God to reward such royal beneficence.’ The king was visibly affected, and said, ‘You don’t need to thank me; when my subjects fall into misfortune, it is my duty to help them up again; for that reason am I here.’”France had no fear of Prussia. Even with the addition of Silesia, it would be comparatively a feeble realm. But France did fear the supremacy of Austria over Europe. It was for the apparent interest of the court of Versailles that Austria should be weakened, and, consequently, that the husband of the queen should not be chosen Emperor of Germany. Therefore France was coming into sympathy with Frederick, and was disposed to aid him in his warfare against Austria.
Sufferings of the Peasantry.—Renown and Peril of Frederick.—New Plan of Maria Theresa.—Despondency of Frederick.—Surprise and Rout of the Austrians.—The “Old Dessauer” enters Saxony.—Battle of Kesseldorf.—Singular Prayer of the Old Dessauer.—Signal Victory of the Prussians.—Elation of Frederick.—The Peace of Dresden.—Death of M. Duhan.
Mr. Carlyle, who, with wonderful accuracy, and with impartiality which no one will call in question, has recorded the facts in Frederick’s career, gives the story as it is here told. In the following terms Mr. Carlyle comments upon these events:
Frederick was accustomed to cover his deep designs of diplomacy322 by the promotion of the utmost gayety in his capital. Never did Berlin exhibit such spectacles of festivity and pleasure as during the winter of 1742 and 1743. There was a continued succession of operas, balls, fêtes, and sleigh-parties. Frederick’s two younger sisters were at that time brilliant ornaments of his court. They were both remarkably beautiful and vivacious. The Princess Louise Ulrique was in her twenty-third year. The following letter to Frederick from these two princesses will be keenly appreciated by many of our young lady readers whose expenses have exceeded their allowance. It shows very conclusively that there may be the same pecuniary annoyances in the palaces of kings as in more humble homes.Hotham, quite indignant, sent this dispatch, dated May 13, to London, including with it a very earnest letter from the Crown Prince to his uncle, in which Fritz wrote:
The result was a congress of three persons, two Prussians and one Austrian, which congress met at Berlin on the 24th of May, 1778. For two months they deliberated. The Austrians improved the delay in making very vigorous preparations for war. Frederick really wished to avoid the war, for he had seen enough of the woes of battle. They could come to no agreement.
35 “At nine o’clock he brings my son down to me, who goes to church and dines with me at twelve o’clock. The rest of the day is his own. At half past nine in the evening he shall come and bid me good-night; shall then go directly to his room; very rapidly get off his clothes, wash his hands, and, as soon as that is done, Duhan shall make a prayer on his knees and sing a hymn, all the servants being there again. Instantly after which my son shall get into bed; shall be in bed at half past ten.On the first of May, 1747, Frederick took formal possession of this beautiful chateau. The occasion was celebrated by quite a magnificent dinner of two hundred covers. Here, for the next forty years, he spent most of his leisure time. He had three other palaces, far surpassing Sans Souci in splendor, which he occasionally visited on days of royal festivities. Berlin and Charlottenburg were about twenty miles distant. The New Palace, so called, at Potsdam, was but about a mile from Sans Souci. He had also his palace at Rheinsberg, some thirty miles north of Berlin, where he had spent many of his early days.Singularly enough, the very next day Frederick received an express from the Divan requesting him, with the aid of Austria, to mediate peace with Russia. The Turks had encountered such reverses that they were anxious to sheathe the sword. Frederick with great joy undertook the mediation. But he found the mediation far more difficult than he had imagined. Catharine and Maria Theresa, so totally different in character, entertained a rooted aversion to each other. The complications were so great that month after month the deliberations were continued unavailingly. Maria Theresa was unrelentingly opposed to the advance of Russia upon Constantinople.
Frederick wished to enlarge his Liliputian realms, and become one of the powers of Europe. This he could only do by taking advantage of the apparent momentary weakness of Austria, and seizing a portion of the territory of the young queen. In order to accomplish this, it was for his interest to oppose the election of Maria Theresa’s husband, the Grand-duke Francis, as emperor. The imperial crown placed upon the brow of Francis would invest Austria with almost resistless power. Still, Frederick was ready to promise his earnest concurrence in this arrangement if Maria Theresa would surrender to him Silesia. He had even moderated his terms, as we have mentioned, to a portion of the province.“It will have been easy for you to conceive my grief when you reflect upon the loss I have had. There are some misfortunes which are reparable by constancy and courage, but there are others against which all the firmness with which one can arm one’s self, and all the reasonings of philosophers, are only vain and useless attempts at consolation.121 Of the latter kind is the one with which my unhappy fate overwhelms me, at a moment the most embarrassing and the most anxious of my whole life. I have not been so sick as you have heard. My only complaints are colics, sometimes hemorrhoidal, and sometimes nephritic.
The captive Crown Prince was conveyed from Wesel to the castle of Mittenwalde, where he was imprisoned in a room without furniture or bed. An old chest which chanced to be there was his only seat. One of the king’s favorite ministers, Grumkow, with other officials, was sent to interrogate him. The prince, probably aware that nothing which he could now do could make matters worse than they actually were, displayed much spirit in the interview. Frankly avowing his intention to escape, he refused to make any disclosures which should implicate his friends. Grumkow insolently informed him that the101 use of the rack was not yet abolished in his majesty’s dominions, and that, if he were not more pliant, the energies of that instrument might be called into requisition. Frederick admitted afterward that his blood ran cold at that suggestion. Still he had the nerve to reply, according to the testimony of Wilhelmina,
“Indeed, how many reasons has one at fifty years of age to despise life! The prospect which remains to me is an old age of infirmity and pain, with disappointments, regrets, ignominies, and outrages to endure. In truth, if you really consider my situation, you ought to blame my intentions less than you do. I have lost all my friends. I am unfortunate in all the ways in which it is possible to be so. I have nothing to hope for. I see my enemies treat me with derision, while their insolence prepares to trample me under foot. Alas!详情
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