“Never was there a place in the world where liberty of speech was so fully indulged, or where the various superstitions of men were treated with so much ridicule and contempt. God was respected. But those who, in His name, had imposed on mankind, were not spared. Neither women nor priests ever entered the palace. In a word, Frederick lived without a court, without a council, and without a religion.”
Lord Hyndford here came to the rescue of his colleague, and said, meekly,
“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.gg. Retreat of Austrians.
On the 5th of May, after careful reconnoissance, Frederick crossed the Moldau several miles north of Prague. He went over upon pontoons unopposed, and thus effected a junction with his troops on the east side of the river. The Austrian army was drawn up on some formidable heights but a short distance east of the city. Their position was very strong, and they were thoroughly intrenched. On the 6th of May the dreadful battle of Prague was fought. For many years, as not a few of our readers will remember, it was fought over and over again upon all the pianos in Christendom. They will remember the awe with which, as children, they listened to the tumult of the battle, swelling forth from the ivory keys, with the rattle of musketry, the booming of the cannon, and the groans of the dying—such groans as even the field of battle itself could scarcely have rivaled.“High madam,” he said, fervently, “at this crisis, alliance with Frederick is salvation to Austria. His continued hostility is utter ruin. England can not help your majesty. The slightest endeavor would cause the loss of Hanover.”
“Take, then,” she exclaimed, “the Grand Turk or the Great Mogul for your husband. Follow your own caprice. Had I known you better I would not have brought so many sorrows upon myself. You may follow the king’s bidding. It is henceforth your own affair. I will no longer trouble myself about your concerns. And spare me, if you please, the sorrows of your odious presence. I can not stand it.
These were terrible tidings for Frederick. The news reached him at Gorlitz when on the rapid march toward Silesia. Prince Charles had between eighty and ninety thousand Austrian troops in the reconquered province. Frederick seemed to be marching to certain and utter destruction, as, with a feeble band of but about twenty thousand men, he pressed forward, declaring, “I will attack them if they stand on the steeples of Breslau.
Frederick, establishing his head-quarters at Chrudim, did not suppose the Austrians would think of moving upon him until the middle of June. Not till then would the grass in that cold region afford forage. But Maria Theresa was inspired by energies fully equal to those of her renowned assailant. Undismayed by the powerful coalition against her, she sent Prince Charles, her brother-in-law, early in May, at the head of an army thirty thousand strong, to advance by a secret, rapid flank march, and seize the Prussian magazines beyond the Elbe.Winter was now approaching. The Austrians in Saxony made a desperate attack upon Prince Henry, and were routed with much loss. The shattered Austrian army retired to Bohemia for winter quarters. Under the circumstances, it was a victory of immense importance to Frederick. Upon receiving the glad tidings, he wrote to Henry:
“‘Oh, spare my brother,’ I cried, ‘and I will marry the Duke of Weissenfels.’ But in the great noise he did not hear me. And while I strove to repeat it louder, Madam Sonsfeld clapped99 her handkerchief on my mouth. Pushing aside to get rid of the handkerchief, I saw Katte crossing the square. Four soldiers were conducting him to the king. My brother’s trunks and his were following in the rear. Pale and downcast, he took off his hat to salute me. He fell at the king’s feet imploring pardon.”
“I have already,” he wrote, “given your majesty my word of honor never to wed any one but the Princess Amelia, your daughter. I here reiterate that promise, in case your majesty will consent to my sister’s marriage.”Frederick I. had a son, Frederick William, then twelve years of age. He accompanied his father upon this coronation tour. As heir to the throne he was called the Crown Prince. His mother was a Hanoverian princess, a sister of the Elector George of Hanover, who subsequently became George I. of England. George I. did not succeed to the British crown until the death of Anne, in 1714. When Frederick William was but five years of age he had been taken by his mother to Hanover, to visit her brother, then the elector. George had two children—a little girl, named Sophie Dorothee, a few months older than Frederick William, and a son, who subsequently became George II. of England. The two boys did not love each other. They often quarreled. Though Frederick William was the younger, it is said that on one occasion he severely beat his cousin, the future King of England, causing the blood to flow freely. He developed a very energetic but unamiable character. Among other anecdotes illustrative of his determined spirit, it is recorded that at one time, during this visit, his governess ordered some task which he was unwilling to perform. The headstrong boy sprang out of the third story window of the castle, and, clinging to the sill with his hands, threatened to let himself drop. The terrified Madame Montbail was thus brought to terms.1The king was scrupulously clean, washing five times a day. He would allow no drapery, no stuffed furniture, no carpets in27 his apartments. They caught dust. He sat upon a plain wooden chair. He ate roughly, like a farmer, of roast beef, despising all delicacies. His almost invariable dress was a close military blue coat, with red cuffs and collar, buff waistcoat and breeches, and white linen gaiters to the knee. A sword was belted around his loins, and, as we have said, a stout rattan or bamboo cane ever in his hand. A well-worn, battered, triangular hat covered his head. He walked rapidly through the streets which surrounded his palaces at Potsdam and Berlin. If he met any one who attracted his attention, male or female, he would abruptly, menacingly inquire, “Who are you?” A street-lounger he has been known to hit over the head with his cane, exclaiming, “Home, you rascal, and go to work.” If any one prevaricated or hesitated, he would sternly demand, “Look me in the face.” If there were still hesitancy, or the king were dissatisfied with the answers, the one interrogated was lucky if he escaped without a caning.3
After the concert, which usually continued an hour, he engaged197 in conversation until ten o’clock. He then took supper with a few friends, and at eleven retired to his bed.详情
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