The chagrin of Frederick in view of this adventure may be inferred from the fact that, during the whole remainder of his life, he was never known to make any allusion to it whatever.
A son was born and died. A daughter came, Wilhelmina. But a daughter could not inherit the crown. Another son was born and died. There was great anxiety at court, from fear that the direct line of succession might not be preserved. But on the 24th of January, 1712, when the monarchy was but twelve years old, the little prince was born who subsequently obtained such renown as Frederick the Great. The king, his grandfather, was aged and infirm. The excessive joy with which he greeted little Fritz, as he fondly called the child, was cordially reciprocated throughout the Prussian nation. The realm blazed with bonfires and illuminations, and resounded with every demonstration of public joy. The young prince was christened with great pomp, Charles Frederick. The emperor, Charles VI., was present on the occasion, and in the solemnities there were blended the most imposing civil, military, and ecclesiastical rites. The baptism took place on the 31st of January, 1712, when the babe was a week old. The young prince subsequently dropped the name of Charles, and Frederick became his sole designation. Wilhelmina, Frederick’s sister, was about three years older than himself. We shall have frequent occasion to allude to her in the course of this history, as between her and her brother there sprang up a warm attachment, which was of life-long continuance. Ten children were subsequently born to the royal pair, making fourteen in all, most of whom attained mature years.“I have been unhappy all my life, and I think it is my destiny to continue so. One must be patient, and take the time as it comes. Perhaps a sudden tract of good fortune, on the back of all the chagrins I have encountered since I entered this world, would have made me too proud. I have suffered sufficiently, and I will not engage myself to extend my miseries into future times. I have still resources. A pistol-shot can deliver me from my sorrows and my life, and I think a merciful God would not damn me for that, but, taking pity on me, would, in exchange for a life of wretchedness, grant me salvation. This is whitherward despair can lead a young person whose blood is not so quiescent as if he were seventy.
The unhappy princess, distracted by these griefs, had grown thin and pale. It was soon rumored throughout the court that the king had written to Weissenfels, and that the duke was on his way to seize his reluctant bride. In this emergence, the queen’s friend, Baron Borck, suggested to her that, in order to get rid of the obnoxious Weissenfels, she should so far yield to the wishes of the king as to give up the English alliance, and propose a third party, who might be more acceptable to Wilhelmina. But who shall this substitute be?“I arrived at last about one in the morning. I instantly threw myself on a bed. I was like to die of weariness, and in mortal terror that something had happened to my brother or the hereditary prince. The latter relieved me on his own score. He arrived at last about four o’clock; had still no news of my brother. I was beginning to doze a little, when they came to inform me that M. von Knobelsdorf wished to speak to me from the Prince Royal. I darted out of bed and ran to him.“You are quite right,” responded the king. “We will manage Daun. What I lament is the number of brave men who have died this morning.
“Yesterday noon,” said he, “I had Prince Charles in my parlor. His adjutants and people were all crowding about. Such a questioning and bothering. Hundreds came dashing in, and other hundreds were sent out. In and out they went all night. No sooner was one gone than ten came. I had to keep a roaring fire in the kitchen all night, so many officers were crowding to it to warm themselves. They talked and babbled. One would say that our king was marching upon them with his Potsdam parade guard. Another would say, ‘No, he dare not come. He will turn and run.’ But my delight is that our king has paid them for their fooleries so prettily this afternoon.”The battle, thus commenced, continued to rage for four long312 hours, with all its demon energies, its blood, its wounds, its oaths, its shrieks, its death; on the right wing, on the left wing, in the centre; till some ten or twelve thousand, some accounts say more, of these poor peasant soldiers lay prostrate upon the plain, crushed by the hoof, torn by the bullet, gashed by the sabre. Many were dead. Many were dying. Many had received wounds which would cripple them until they should totter into their graves. At the close of these four hours of almost superhuman effort, the villages all around in flames, the Austrians slowly, sullenly retired from the contest. Prince Charles, having lost nearly seven thousand men, with his remaining forces breathless, exhausted, bleeding, retired through Czaslau, and vanished over the horizon to the southwest. Frederick, with his forces almost equally breathless, exhausted, and bleeding, and counting five thousand of his soldiers strewn over the plain, in death or wounds, remained master of the field. Such was the famous battle of Chotusitz.ROYALTY AT DINNER.
“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.”“Nobody here, great or small, dares make any representation to this young prince against the measures he is pursuing, though all are sensible of the confusion which must follow. A prince who had the least regard to honor, truth, and justice, could not act the part he is going to do. But it is plain his only view is to deceive us all, and conceal for a while his ambitious and mischievous designs.”
Augustus had formed apparently the deliberate resolve to test his visitor by the most seductive and adroitly-arranged temptations. But, so far as Frederick William was concerned, he utterly failed. Upon one occasion his Prussian majesty, when conducted by Augustus, whirled around and indignantly left the room. That evening, through his minister, Grumkow, he informed the King of Poland that if there were any repetition of such scenes he would immediately leave Dresden.
“Your excellency does not know that wily enemy, the King of Prussia, as well as I do. By no means get into a battle with him. Cautiously man?uvre about. Detain him there till I have got my stroke in Saxony done. Don’t try fighting him.ATTACK UPON NEISSE.
CHAPTER XXX. FOURTH CAMPAIGN OF THE SEVEN YEARS’ WAR.The Prussians had a detached post at Smirzitz. The little garrison there was much harassed by lurking bands of Austrians, who shot their sentries, cut off their supplies, and rendered it almost certain death to any one who ventured to emerge from the ramparts. Some inventive genius among the Prussians constructed a straw man, very like life, representing a sentinel with his shouldered musket. By a series of ropes this effigy was made to move from right to left, as if walking his beat. A well-armed band of Prussians then hid in a thicket near by.
“Hurl them out,” he wrote. “Gather twenty, thirty thousand men, if need be. Let there be no delay. I will as soon be pitched out of Brandenburg as out of Silesia.”
“We can not afford the least narrative of G?rtz and his courses: imagination, from a few traits, will sufficiently conceive them. He had gone first to Karl Theodor’s minister: ‘Dead to it, I fear; has already signed?’ Alas! yes. Upon which to Zweibrück, the heir’s minister, whom his master had distinctly ordered to sign,554 but who, at his own peril, gallant man, delayed, remonstrated, had not yet done it; and was able to answer:“All religions must be tolerated, and the king’s solicitor must have an eye that none of them make unjust encroachments on the other; for in this country every man must get to heaven his own way.”详情
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