Delighted with this plan, and sanguine in the hope of its successful accomplishment, the czarina named her next grandson Constantine. Austria and Russia thus became allied, with all their sympathies hostile to Frederick. Old age and infirmities were stealing upon the king apace. Among the well-authenticated561 anecdotes related of him, the following is given by Carlyle:With the utmost secrecy Frederick matured his plans. It could not be concealed that he was about to embark in some important military enterprise. The embassadors from other courts exerted all their ingenuity, but in vain, to ascertain in what direction the army was to march. Though the French had an embassador at Berlin, still it would seem that Voltaire was sent as a spy, under the guise of friendship, to attempt to ferret out the designs of the king. These men, who did not profess any regard to the principles of religion, seem also to have trampled219 under feet all the instincts of honor. Voltaire endeavored to conceal his treachery beneath smiles and flattery, writing even love verses to the king. The king kept his own secret. Voltaire was not a little chagrined by his want of success. In his billet of leave he wrote:
“I have nothing more at heart,” Frederick replied, “than to stand well with Austria. I wish always to be her ally, never her enemy. But the prince sees how I am situated. Bound by express treaty with her czarish majesty, I must go with Russia in any war. I will do every thing in my power to conciliate her majesty with the emperor—to secure such a peace at St. Petersburg as may meet the wishes of Vienna.”183It 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.
SACKING THE PALACE.The Austrian general, flushed with victory, at the head of eighty thousand troops, encamped in strong positions a few miles east of Frederick, on the road to Neisse, in Silesia. Narrowly he watched the movements of his Prussian majesty, but he did not venture to molest him. Neisse was at that time closely besieged by the Austrians. It would inevitably soon fall into their hands unless Frederick could march to its succor. The great strategic object of the Austrian commander was so to block up the road as to prevent the advance of the Prussian troops. Frederick, despising the inactivity of his cautious foe, said to his brother,
On the 26th of June this vast train commenced its movement from Troppau. A convoy of about seven thousand infantry and eleven hundred cavalry guarded the wagons. They were in three bodies, on the front, in the centre, and on the rear. The king also sent forward about six thousand horse and foot from Olmütz to meet the train.MARIA THERESA AT THE HEAD OF HER ARMY.As the ladies of the court were gazing upon this spectacle, an121 officer rode up to the royal carriage, cap in hand, and said that he was directed to present to the queen and princess his Highness the Prince of Baireuth. Immediately a tall young man, in rich dress and of very courtly air, rode up to the carriage and saluted his future mother and his destined bride. His reception was very chilling. The queen, with frigid civility, scarcely recognized his low bow. Wilhelmina, faint from fasting, anxiety, and sleeplessness, was so overcome by her emotions that she fell back upon her seat in a swoon.
On the 8th of June the English and Dutch ministers, not yet aware of the alliance into which Frederick had entered with France, presented the joint resolution of their two courts, exhorting Frederick to withdraw his army from Silesia. Lord Hyndford, who was somewhat annoyed by the apparent impolicy of the measure just at that time, solicited and obtained a private audience with the king, hoping by apologies and explanations to make the summons a little less unpalatable to his majesty. In the brief interview which ensued Lord Hyndford appealed to the magnanimity of the king, declaring that it would be generous and noble for him to accept moderate terms from Austria. The king angrily interrupted him, saying,“I do not love Luc; far from it. I never will pardon him his infamous procedure with my niece,145 nor the face he has to write me flattering things twice a month without having ever repaired his wrongs. I desire much his entire humiliation, the chastisement of the sinner; whether his eternal damnation I do not quite know.”
“There was no credit by trading people even for the necessaries of life. There was no police in the towns. To habits of equity and order there had succeeded a vile greed of gain and an anarchic disorder. The silence of the laws had produced in the people a taste for license. Boundless appetite for gain was their main rule of action. The noble, the merchant, the farmer, the laborer, raising emulously each the price of his commodity, seemed to endeavor only for their mutual ruin. Such, when the war ended, was the fatal spectacle over these provinces, which had once been so flourishing. However pathetic the description may be, it will never approach the touching and sorrowful impression which the sight of it produced.”
The Russians marched to Poland. The Austrians returned to Saxony. As soon as Frederick heard of their retreat, instead of continuing his march to Berlin, he also turned his columns southward. On the 27th of October he crossed the Elbe, about sixty miles above Dresden, and found himself in the vicinity of General Daun, whose army outnumbered that of Frederick two to510 one. The situation of Frederick was extremely critical. Under these circumstances, he wrote to D’Argens on the 28th:545 “These Russian encroachments upon the Turk,” said Kaunitz, “are dangerous to the repose of Europe. His imperial majesty can never consent that Russia should possess the provinces of Moldavia and Wallachia. He will much rather go to war. These views of Russia are infinitely dangerous to every body. They are as dangerous to your majesty as to others. I can conceive of no remedy against them but this. Prussia and Austria must join frankly in protest and absolute prohibition of them.
General Schulenburg, trembling in memory of the fact that he had once, in court-martial, given his vote in favor of beheading the Crown Prince, hastened from his post at Landsberg to congratulate the prince upon his accession to the throne. To his extreme chagrin and indignation, he was repelled by the words, “An officer should not quit his post without order. Return immediately to Landsberg.”One week after the reception of this letter the Crown Prince wrote to Baron Grumkow in the following flippant and revolting strain. He probably little imagined that the letter was to be read by all Europe and all America. But those whose paths through life lead over the eminences of rank and power can not conceal their words or deeds from the scrutiny of the world. Grumkow, a very shrewd man, had contrived to secure influence over both the father and the son. The prince’s letter was dated Cüstrin, February 11, 1732:
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“What do you mean?” exclaimed the king, with an air of real or affected surprise. Then, turning to his secretary, M. Podewils, he inquired, “How much of Guelderland is theirs, and not ours already?”
France was first in the field with a superb host of one hundred and ten thousand men. The other powers speedily followed. In four great armies of invasion these hosts pressed upon Prussia from the southeast and southwest, the northeast and northwest. The Russian battalions were one hundred thousand strong. The Austrian army was still more formidable.Frederick was indignant. Scornfully he rejected the proposal, saying, “Such a paltry sum might with propriety, perhaps, be offered to a petty duke of Hesse-Darmstadt, but it is not suitable to make such a proposition to the King of Prussia.详情
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