Frederick.”“It was one of the grimmest camps in nature; the canvas roofs grown mere ice-plates, the tents mere sanctuaries of frost. Never did poor young Archenholtz see such industry in dragging wood-fuel, such boiling of biscuits in broken ice, such crowding round the embers to roast one side of you while the other was freezing. But Daun’s people, on the opposite side of the Plauen Dell, did the like. Their tents also were left standing in the frozen state, guarded by alternating battalions no better off than their Prussian neighbors.”142
On Tuesday, the 16th, the King and Queen of Prussia left Salzdahlum to return to Potsdam. At the close of the week the Crown Prince and his bride, escorted by a brilliant retinue of Brunswick notabilities, set out on their return. In most of the intervening towns they were received with great pomp. On151 the 27th, the last day of the next week, the bridal pair had a grand entrance into Berlin. The troops were all out upon parade. The clang of bells, the roar of cannon, and peals of martial music filled the air. All the inhabitants of Berlin and the surrounding region were in the streets, which were spanned by triumphal arches, and garlanded with flowers. Gladly would the princess have exchanged all this for one loving word from her husband. But that word was not uttered. Two days before the grand reception at Berlin the princess arrived at Potsdam. Here Wilhelmina, for the first time, met her cruelly-wronged and heart-crushed sister-in-law. In the following terms she describes the interview:THE MARCH INTO SILESIA.
“The king said that he would come and see me incognito at Brussels. But having fallen ill a couple of leagues from Cleves, he wrote me that he expected I would make the advances. I went accordingly to present my profound homages. I found at the gate of the court-yard a single soldier on guard. The privy councilor Rambonet, Minister of State, was walking about the court, blowing on his fingers to warm them. He had on great ruffles of dirty linen, a hat with holes in it, and an old periwig, one end of which hung down into one of his pockets, while the other hardly covered his shoulder.
At an early hour on the morning of the 3d Frederick broke up his camp south of the foe, and, by a circuitous route of fourteen513 miles, came down upon the Austrians from the north. General Ziethen marched in almost a straight line for Torgau, to cut off the retreat. It was two o’clock in the afternoon when Frederick, emerging from the forest, ordered his men to charge. The assault was as impetuous and reckless as mortal men could possibly make. Instantly four hundred pieces of artillery opened fire upon them.
“I have hardly strength enough to trace these lines. My state is altogether worthy of pity. It is not through any menaces, however violent they may have been, that I have yielded my consent to the king’s wishes. An interest still more dear to me has determined me to this sacrifice. I have been till now the innocent cause of all the unhappiness which your majesty has endured. My too sensible heart has been penetrated by the touching details you have latterly made of them.While affairs were in this posture, the English, eager to crush their hereditary rivals, the French, were very anxious to detach the Prussians from the French alliance. The only way to do360 this was to induce Maria Theresa to offer terms of peace such as Frederick would accept. They sent Sir Thomas Robinson to Sch?nbrunn to endeavor to accomplish this purpose. He had an interview with her Hungarian majesty on the 2d of August, 1745. The queen was very dignified and reticent. Silently she listened to the proposals of Sir Thomas. She then said, with firmness which left no room for further argument,
Grief of the King over his Mother’s Death.—Interesting Letters.—Forces in the Field.—The March upon Dresden.—Devotion of Wilhelmina.—Atheism of the King.—Wilhelmina to Voltaire.—Despair of Frederick.—Great Victory of Rossbach.—Description of the Battle.—Utter Rout of the Allies.—Elation of Frederick.—His Poem on the Occasion.—Ravages of War.For several weeks the Austrians slowly and sullenly retired. Their retreat was conducted in two immense columns, by parallel roads at some distance from each other. Their wings of foragers and skirmishers were widely extended, so that the hungry army swept with desolation a breadth of country reaching out many leagues. Though the Austrian army was traversing the friendly territory of Bohemia, still Prince Charles was anxious to leave behind him no resources for Frederick to glean. Frederick, with his army, pressed along, following the wide-spread trail of his foes. The Austrians, with great skill, selected every commanding position on which to erect their batteries, and hurl back a storm of shot and shell into the bosoms of their pursuers. But Frederick allowed them no rest by day or by night. His solid columns so unremittingly and so impetuously pressed with shot, bullets, bayonet, and sabre-blows upon the rear ranks of the foe that there was almost an incessant battle, continuing for several weeks, crimsoning a path thirty miles wide and more than a hundred miles in length with the blood of the wounded and the slain.
The Queen of Hungary had purchased the co-operation of the Polish king by offering to surrender to him a generous portion of Silesia after the province should have been reconquered. Indeed, there was a great cause of apprehension that the allied army would make a rush upon Berlin itself. The aspect of his Prussian majesty’s affairs was now gloomy in the extreme.The attack was made about eight o’clock, with the whole concentrated force of the Prussians, upon the southwest wing of the quadrilateral. The carnage produced by the Prussian batteries, as their balls swept crosswise through the massed Russians, was terrible. One cannon-shot struck down forty-two men. For a moment the Prussians were thrown into confusion by the destructive fire returned by the foe, and seemed discomfited. The Russians plunged wildly forward, with loud huzzas. In the eagerness of their onset their lines were broken.The unhappy Prince of Prussia, on his dying bed, wrote a very touching letter to his brother Frederick, remonstrating against his conduct, which was not only filling Europe with blood and misery, but which was also imperiling the existence of the Prussian kingdom.
The ceremony of coronation was attended, near Presburg, on the 25th of June, with much semi-barbaric splendor, as the Iron Crown58 of St. Stephen was placed upon the pale, beautiful brow of the young wife and mother. All the renowned chivalry of Hungary were assembled upon that field. They came in gorgeous costume, with embroidered banners, and accompanied by imposing retinues. At the close of the ceremonies, the queen, who was distinguished as a bold rider, mounted a swift charger, and, followed by a long retinue of Magyar warriors, galloped to the top of a small eminence artificially constructed for the occasion, called the K?nigsburg, or King’s Hill, where she drew her sword, and, flourishing it toward the four quarters of the heavens, bade defiance to any adversary who should venture to question her claims. The knightly warriors who crowded the plain flashed their swords in the sunlight, as with one accord, with chivalric devotion, they vowed fidelity to their queen.Frederick was a trig, slender young man of twenty-nine years. He was dressed in a closely-fitting blue coat, with buff breeches and high cavalry boots. He wore a plumed hat, which he courteously raised as the embassadors entered his tent. The scene276 which ensued was substantially as follows, omitting those passages which were of no permanent interest. After sundry preliminary remarks, Sir Thomas Robinson said,
He could not but respect his wife. Her character was beyond all possible reproach. She never uttered a complaint, was cheerful and faithful in every duty. She had rooms assigned her on the second floor of the Berlin palace, where she was comfortably390 lodged and fed, and had modest receptions every Thursday, which were always closed at nine o’clock. A gentleman writes from Berlin at this time:“Of chagrin, your majesty,” was the reply.
The ever-wakeful eye of Frederick detected the movement. His beautiful encampment at Chrudim had lasted but two days. Instantly couriers were dispatched in all directions to rendezvous the Prussian troops on a vast plain in the vicinity of Chrudim. But a few hours elapsed ere every available man in the Prussian ranks was on the march. This movement rendered it necessary for Prince Charles to concentrate the Austrian army also. The field upon which these hosts were gathering for battle was an undulating prairie, almost treeless, with here and there a few hamlets of clustered peasant cottages scattered around.But Wilhelmina evaded the oath upon the ground of religious115 scruples. Anxiety, confinement, and bad diet had so preyed upon her health that she was reduced almost to a skeleton. The following extract from her journal gives a graphic account of her painful condition:详情
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