“Well,” the king replied, kindly, “try it one day more. If we do not mend matters, you and I will both desert together.”It is probable that the suspicions of the king were excited, for suddenly he sent Lieutenant Keith to a garrison at Wesel, at a great distance from Berlin, in a small Prussian province far down the Rhine. The three had, however, concocted the following plan, to be subsequently executed. Immediately after the return from Mühlberg the king was to undertake a long journey to the Rhine. The Crown Prince, as usual, was to be dragged along with him. In this journey they would pass through Stuttgart, within a few miles of Strasbourg, which was on the French side of the river. From Stuttgart the prince was to escape in disguise, on fleetest horses, to Strasbourg, and thence proceed to London. Colonel Hotham, who had accompanied the Prussian king to the camp of Mühlberg, was apprised of all this by his secretary. He immediately dispatched the secretary, on the 16th of June, to convey the confidential intelligence to London.“His very flute,” Carlyle writes, “most innocent ‘Princess,’ as he used to call his flute in old days, is denied him ever since he came to Cüstrin. But by degrees he privately gets her back, and consorts much with her; wails forth, in beautiful adagios, emotions for which there is no other utterance at present. He has liberty of Cüstrin and the neighborhood. Out of Cüstrin he is not to lodge any night without leave had of the commandant.”
The victory of Sohr filled Europe with the renown of Frederick. Still his peril was great, and the difficulties before him apparently insurmountable. His treasury was exhausted. His only ally, France, would furnish him with no money, had no confidence365 in him, and was in heart exasperated against him. Not a single court in Europe expressed any friendship for Frederick. On the contrary, nearly all would have rejoiced at his downfall. There seemed to be no end to the campaigns which were opening before him. Yet Frederick knew not where to obtain the money to meet the expense even of a single campaign.“‘Yes, I tell you,’ the king replied; ‘but I must have his writing-case.’ For he had already informed himself that it was in the queen’s possession.F.”
FREDERICK AND LINSENBARTH.521 This letter was extensively circulated in England. It was greatly admired. It so happened that the court was then looking around for a bride for their young king. The result was that in the course of a few months Charlotte became Queen of England, as the wife of George III.
Establishment of the Berlin Academy of Sciences.—Religious Toleration.—A Free Press.—Sternness of the young King.—Domestic Habits of the King.—Provision for the Queen-mother.—Absolutism of the King.—Journey to Strasbourg.—First Interview with Voltaire.
Even Wilhelmina had accepted the Prince of Baireuth, whom she had never seen, only to avoid being sacrificed to men whom she utterly loathed. Fortunately for the princess, her affections were not otherwise engaged, and when introduced to her intended she became quite reconciled to the idea of accepting him as her husband.
THE DEATH-SCENE OF THE EMPEROR.
The Emperor Charles VI. left no son. He therefore promulgated a new law of succession in a decree known throughout213 Europe as the “Pragmatic Sanction.” By the custom of the realm the sceptre could descend only to male heirs. But by this decree the king declared that the crown of the house of Hapsburg should be transmitted to his daughter, Maria Theresa. This law had been ratified by the estates of all the kingdoms and principalities which composed the Austrian monarchy. All the leading powers of Europe—England, France, Spain, Prussia, Russia, Poland, Sweden, Denmark, and the Germanic body—had bound themselves by treaty to maintain the “Pragmatic Sanction.” It was a peaceable and wise arrangement, acceptable to the people of Austria and to the dynasties of Europe as a means of averting a war of succession, which might involve all the nations of the Continent in the conflict.
There can be but little doubt, however, that the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles will ere long be in the hands of Russia. “I know that I or my successors,” said the Czar Nicholas, “must547 have Constantinople. You might as well arrest a stream in its descent from a mountain as the Russians in their advance to the Hellespont.”184“I will defend myself,” he said, “by the known rules of war and honor to the last possible moment.”
There was not a moment to be lost. General Neipperg was moving resolutely forward with a cloud of skirmishers in the advance and on his wings. With the utmost exertions Frederick immediately rendezvoused all his remote posts, destroying such stores as could not hastily be removed, and by a forced march of twenty-five miles in one day reached Neustadt. General Neipperg was marching by a parallel road about twenty miles west of that which the Prussians traversed. At Neustadt the king was still twenty miles from Neisse. With the delay of but a few hours, that he might assemble all the Prussian bands from the posts in that neighborhood, the king again resumed his march. He had no longer any hope of continuing the siege of Neisse. His only aim was to concentrate all his scattered forces, which had been spread over an area of nearly two thousand square miles, and, upon some well-selected field, to trust to the uncertain issues of a general battle. There was no choice left for him between this course and an ignominious retreat.But this war, into which the Prussian king had so recklessly plunged all Europe, was purely a war of personal ambition. Even Frederick did not pretend that it involved any question of human rights. Unblushingly he avowed that he drew his sword and led his hundred thousand peasant-boys upon their dreadful career of carnage and misery simply that he might enlarge his territories, gain renown as a conqueror, and make the world talk about him. It must be a fearful thing to go to the356 judgment seat of Christ with such a crime weighing upon the soul.BATTLE OF详情
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