It is probable that the princess, in the strangeness of her position, very young and inexperienced, and insulted by cruel neglect, in the freshness of her great grief dared not attempt to utter a syllable, lest her voice should break in uncontrollable sobbings. The Crown Prince returned to Ruppin, leaving the princess at Berlin. Charles, the heir-apparent to the ducal crown of Brunswick, and brother of the Princess Elizabeth, about a152 week after the arrival of the princess in Berlin, was married to Fritz’s sister Charlotte—that same wicked Charlotte who had flirted with Wilhelmina’s intended, and who had so shamelessly slandered the betrothed of her brother. Several fêtes followed these marriages, with the usual concomitants of enjoyment and disappointment. Wilhelmina thus describes one of them:278 “That is your interpretation,” said Frederick. “But the French assert that it was an arrangement made in their favor.
“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.
“My very dear Sister,—It would be impossible to leave this place without signifying, dearest sister, my lively gratitude for all the marks of favor you showed me in the House on the Lake. The highest of all that it was possible to do was that of procuring me the satisfaction of paying my court to you. I beg millions of pardons for so incommoding you, dearest sister, but I could not help it, for you know my sad circumstances well enough. I entreat you write me often about your health. Adieu, my incomparable and dear sister. I am always the same to you, and will remain so till my death.Together the king and his sturdy general returned to Kesselsdorf, and rode over the field of battle, which was still strewn with the ghastly wrecks of war. Large numbers of the citizens of Dresden were on the field searching for their lost ones among the wounded or the dead. The Queen of Poland and her children remained in the city. Frederick treated them with marked politeness, and appointed them guards of honor. The King371 of Poland, who, it will be remembered, was also Elector of Saxony, applied for peace. Frederick replied:
The Crown Prince was quite exasperated that the English court would not listen to his earnest plea for the marriage of Wilhelmina to the Prince of Wales, and accept his vows of fidelity to the Princess Amelia. The stubborn adhesion of the King of England to the declaration of “both marriages or none” so annoyed him that he banished Amelia from his thoughts. In his reckless way he affirmed that the romance of marriage was all over with him; that he cared not much what bride was forced upon him, provided only that she were rich, and that she were not too scrupulous in religious principle. The tongues of all the court gossips were busy upon this theme. Innumerable were the candidates suggested to share the crown of the future Prussian king. The Archduchess Maria Theresa, subsequently the renowned Empress of Germany, was proposed by Prince Eugene. But the imperial court could not wed its Catholic heiress to a Protestant prince. Still the emperor, though unwilling to give his daughter to the Crown Prince, was anxious137 for as close an alliance as possible with Prussia, and recommended a niece of the empress, the young Princess Elizabeth Christina, only daughter of Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick Bevern. She was seventeen years of age, rather pretty, with a fine complexion, not rich, of religious tastes, and remarkably quiet and domestic in her character.“His obstinate perverse disposition which does not love his father; for when one does every thing, and really loves one’s father, one does what the father requires, not while he is there to see it, but when his back is turned too. For the rest he knows very well that I can endure no effeminate fellow who has no human inclination in him; who puts himself to shame, can not ride or shoot; and, withal, is dirty in his person, frizzles his hair like a fool, and does not cut it off. And all this I have a thousand times reprimanded, but all in vain, and no improvement in nothing. For the rest, haughty; proud as a churl; speaks to nobody but some few, and is not popular and affable; and cuts grimaces with his face as if he were a fool; and does my will in nothing but following his own whims; no use to him in any thing else. This is the answer.
Under these circumstances, it was evidently impossible for Frederick to retain Silesia unless he could again rally France and other powers to his aid. It was always easy to rouse France against England, its hereditary foe. Thus influenced, Frederick, early in the spring of 1744, entered into a new alliance with France and the Emperor Charles Albert against Maria Theresa. The two marriages which he had so adroitly consummated constrained330 Russia and Sweden to neutrality. While France, by the new treaty, was engaged to assail with the utmost energy, under the leadership of Louis XV. himself, the triumphant Austrian columns upon the Rhine, Frederick, at the head of one hundred thousand troops, was to drive the Austrians out of Bohemia, and reseat Charles Albert upon his hereditary throne. For this service Frederick was to receive from the Bohemian king three important principalities, with their central fortresses near upon the borders of Silesia.“I do not complain of your heart, but of your incapacity, and of the little judgment you have shown in making your decisions. A man who has but a few days to live need not dissemble. I wish you better fortune than mine has been, and that all the miseries and bad adventures you have had may teach you to treat important matters with greater care, sense, and resolution than you have hitherto done. The greatest part of the calamities which I now apprehend comes only from you. You and your children will suffer more from them than I shall. Be persuaded, nevertheless, that I have always loved you, and that with these sentiments I shall die.On the southern coasts of the Baltic Sea, between the latitudes of 52° and 54°, there lies a country which was first revealed to civilized eyes about three hundred years before the birth of Christ. The trading adventurers from Marseilles, who landed at various points upon the coast, found it a cold, savage region of lakes, forests, marshy jungles, and sandy wastes. A shaggy tribe peopled it, of semi-barbarians, almost as wild as the bears, wolves, and swine which roamed their forests. As the centuries rolled on, centuries of which, in these remote regions, history takes no note, but in which the gloomy generations came and went, shouting, fighting, weeping, dying, gradually the aspect of a rude civilization spread over those dreary solitudes. The savage inhabitants, somewhat tamed, increased in numbers, and there appeared a tall and manly race of fair complexion, light hair, stern aspect, great physical strength, and very formidable in battle.
“How glorious,” he exclaimed, “is my king, the youngest of kings, and the grandest! A king who carries in the one hand an all-conquering sword, but in the other a blessed olive-branch, and is the arbiter of Europe for peace or war.”The last letter which it is supposed that he wrote was the following cold epistle to his excellent wife, whom, through a long life, he had treated with such cruel neglect:
The annoyances to which Wilhelmina was exposed, while thus preparing for her wedding, must have been almost unendurable. Not only her mother was thus persistent and implacable in her hostility, but her father reluctantly submitted to the connection. He had fully made up his mind, with all the strength of his inflexible will, that Wilhelmina should marry either the Margrave of Schwedt or the Duke of Weissenfels. It was with extreme reluctance, and greatly to his chagrin, that the stern old man131 found himself constrained, perhaps for the first time in his life, to yield to others.
“My friends, the disasters which have befallen us here are not unknown to you. Schweidnitz is lost. The Prince of Bevern is beaten. Breslau is gone, and all our war-stores there. A large part of Silesia is lost. Indeed, my embarrassments would be insuperable were it not that I have boundless trust in you. There is hardly one among you who has not distinguished himself by some memorable action. All these services I well know, and shall never forget.Voltaire had already written the epic poem the Henriade, the history of Charles XII., and several tragedies.THE KING’S BIVOUAC.
It would seem that Frederick’s troops must have had iron sinews, and that they needed as little repose as did their master. Those not at work with the spade were under arms to repel an assault. Two or three times there was an alarm, when the whole fifty thousand, in an hour, were in battle-array. Frederick was fully aware of the crisis he had encountered. To be beaten there was irretrievable ruin. No one in the army performed more exhausting labor than the king himself. He seemed to be omnipresent, by day and by night. Near the chief battery, in a clump of trees, there was a small tent, and a bundle of straw in the corner. Here the king occasionally sought a few moments of repose. But his nervous excitement rendered him so restless, that most of the time he was strolling about among the guard parties, and warming himself by their fires.Several well-authenticated anecdotes are given respecting the conduct of Frederick on this occasion, which illustrate the various phases in the character of this extraordinary man. The evening before the battle of Zorndorf, the king, having completed his arrangements for a conflict against vastly unequal numbers, upon whose issue were dependent probably both his throne and his life, sent for a member of his staff of some literary pretensions, and spent some time in criticising and amending one of the poems of Rousseau. Was this an affected display of calmness, the result of vanity? Was it an adroit measure to impress the officers with a conviction of his own sense of security? Was it an effort to throw off the terrible pressure which was upon his mind, as the noble Abraham Lincoln often found it to be a moral necessity to indulge in a jest even amidst scenes of the greatest anguish? Whatever may have been the motive, the fact is worthy of record.In the latter part of June a large train of over three thousand four-horse wagons, laden with all necessary supplies, left Troppau for Olmütz. It is difficult for a reader unfamiliar with such scenes to form any conception of the magnitude of such an enterprise. There are twelve thousand horses to be shod, harnessed, and fed, and watered three or four times a day. There are three thousand wagons to be kept in repair, rattling over the stones and plowing through the mire. Six thousand teamsters are required. There is invariably connected with such a movement one or two thousand camp-followers, sutlers, women, vagabonds. A large armed force is also needed to act as convoy.详情
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