This despondency lasted, however, but a moment. Concealing his emotions, he smoothed his furrowed brow, dressed his face in smiles, and wrote doggerel verses and jocose letters as if he were merely a fashionable man of pleasure. At the same time he rallied all his marvelous energies, and prepared to meet the exigency366 with sagacity and intrepidity rarely surpassed. Orders were immediately dispatched to the Old Dessauer to marshal an army to oppose Grüne and Rutowski, while the king hastened to Silesia to attack Prince Charles. Leopold, though he had nearly numbered his threescore years and ten, according to Frederick, was very glad to fight once again before he died. The veteran general ventured to make some suggestions in reference to the orders he had received. The king sternly replied,
“My dear General Von Zastrow,—The misfortune which has befallen me is very grievous. But what consoles me in it is to see by your letter that you have behaved like a brave officer, and that neither you nor your garrison have brought disgrace or reproach upon yourselves. I am your well-affectioned king.
He drank deeply, wandering about by night as if possessed by fiends. “He has not,” writes Captain Dickens, “gone to bed sober for a month past.” Once he rose, about midnight, and, with a candle in his hand, entered the apartment of the queen, apparently in a state of extreme terror, saying that there was something haunting him. His agitation was so great that a bed was made up for him there.“My dear Sister,—Your letter has arrived. I see in it your regrets for the irreparable loss we have had of the best and worthiest mother in this world. I am so overwhelmed by these blows from within and without that I feel myself in a sort of stupefaction.
“Daun has thrown up his cards, so the game is not yet lost. Let us repose ourselves for some days, and then go to the assistance of Neisse.”123“It is a monument for the latest posterity; the only book worthy of a king for these fifteen hundred years.”33
544 “It is a pity for the human race, madam, that men never can be tranquil. But they never can be any where. Even the little town of Neufchatel has had its troubles. Your royal highness will be astonished to learn how. A parson there had set forth in a sermon that, considering the immense mercy of God, the pains of hell could not last forever. The synod shouted murder at such scandal, and has been struggling ever since to get the parson exterminated. The affair was of my jurisdiction, for your royal highness must know that I am pope in that country. Here is my decision:Voltaire and Madame Du Chatelet.—Letter from Frederick to Voltaire.—The Reply.—Visit to the Prince of Orange.—Correspondence.—The Crown Prince becomes a Mason.—Interesting Letter from the Crown Prince.—Petulance and declining Health of the King.—Scenes in the Death-chamber.—Characteristic Anecdotes.—The Dying Scene.
In the court-yard there was a fountain with stone steps, where Frederick William loved to sit on summer evenings and smoke his pipe. He frequently took his frugal dinner here in the open air under a lime-tree, with the additional protection of an awning. After dinner he would throw himself down for a nap on a wooden bench, apparently regardless of the flaming sun.While on this journey to Holland the Crown Prince was one day dining with a prince of Lippe-Bückeburg. Freemasonry became one of the topics of conversation at the table. King Frederick William denounced the institution in his usual style of coarse vituperation, as tomfoolery, atheism, and every thing else that was bad. But the Prince of Bückeburg, himself a mason and a very gentlemanly man, defended the craft with such persuasive eloquence as quite captivated the Crown Prince. After dinner the prince took him secretly aside, conversed with him more fully upon the subject, expressed his admiration of the system, and his wish to be admitted into the fraternity: But it was necessary carefully to conceal the step from the irate king. Arrangements were immediately made to assemble at Brunswick a sufficient number of masons from Hamburg, where the Crown Prince, on his return, could be received in a secret meeting into the mystic brotherhood.
Here the king quite lost his temper. In a loud tone and with angry gesticulation he exclaimed, “Do you offer me such rags and rubbish, such paltry scrapings, for all my just claims in Silesia?” And so he ran on for quite a length of time, with ever-increasing violence, fanning himself into a flame of indignation.
On the 29th of November, 1780, Maria Theresa died. The extraordinary character which she had developed through life was equally manifested in the hour of death. She died of congestion of the lungs, which created a painful and suffocating difficulty of breathing. Her struggles for breath rendered it impossible for her to lie upon the bed. Bolstered in her chair, she leaned her head back as if inclined to sleep.详情
Copyright © 2020