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.“My children, I could not come to you sooner, or this calamity should not have happened. Have a little patience, and I will cause every thing to be rebuilt.”A comfortable house, with garden and summer-house, was provided for the Crown Prince. He occasionally gave a dinner-party to his brother officers; and from the summer-house rockets were thrown into the sky, to the great gratification of the rustic peasantry.
The king, in his anger, ordered all the pamphlets in Berlin to be collected and burned by the common hangman, in front of Voltaire’s windows. Three months passed away, during which the parties remained in this deplorable state of antagonism. Voltaire was wretched, often confined to his bed, and looked like a skeleton. He was anxious to leave Berlin, but feared that the king would not grant him leave. He wrote to Frederick, stating that he was very sick, and wished to retire to the springs of Plombières for his health. The king curtly replied,
“God give his blessing to it, and bless you and your posterity, and keep you as a good Christian. And have God always before your eyes, and don’t believe that damnable predestination tenet; and be obedient and faithful. So shall it here in time, and there in eternity, go well with thee. And whosoever wishes that from the heart, let him say Amen.
In his “epistle” Frederick had expressed the opinion that428 there was no God who took any interest in human affairs. He had also repeatedly expressed the resolve to Wilhelmina, and to Voltaire, to whom he had become partially reconciled, that he was prepared to commit suicide should events prove as disastrous as he had every reason to expect they would prove. He had also urged his sister to follow his example, and not to survive the ruin of the family. Such was the support which the king, in hours of adversity, found in that philosophy for which he had discarded the religion of Jesus Christ.But the ever-vigilant Frederick had smuggled a “false sister” into the society of the Catholic ladies, who kept him informed of every measure that was proposed. At the very hour when Frederick was dining with the two English ministers, and making282 himself so merry with jests and banter, he was aware that General Neipperg, with the whole Austrian army, was crossing the River Neisse, on the march, by a route thirty miles west of his encampment, to take Breslau by surprise. But he had already adopted effectual measures to thwart their plans.
fff. Austrian Cavalry.The prince retired to his chamber, to be presented to the royal family at the review the next day. Wilhelmina passed a miserable night. She could not sleep, and in the morning found herself so ill that she begged to be excused from the review. She also greatly dreaded encountering the coarse jests of her father. But she could not be released from the review. Both she and her mother were compelled to go. In an open carriage, the queen and princess, with attendant ladies of the court, passed before the line. The Marquis of Schwedt, whom the princess had so emphatically discarded, was at the head of his regiment. He seemed “swollen with rage,” and saluted the royal party with his eyes turned away. The royal carriages were then withdrawn to a little distance that the ladies might witness the spectacle.
“You have cut me to the heart, and have inflicted on me the greatest misery I ever endured. I had placed all my hope in you, in consequence of my ignorance of your character. You have had the address to disguise to me the bad propensities of your heart, and the baseness of your disposition. I repent a thousand times the kindness I have shown you, the care I have taken of your education, and all that I have suffered on your account. I no longer acknowledge you as my daughter, and shall, in future, never regard you but as my most cruel enemy, since it is you who have sacrificed me to my persecutors, who now triumph over me. Never count upon me again. I vow eternal hatred to you, and will never forgive you.”
“I knew that the Duke De Choiseul would content himself with persuading the King of France that the King of Prussia was an irreconcilable enemy, whom it was therefore necessary, if possible, to annihilate.As General Daun approached the city, the Prussian general who had been left in command of the small garrison there sent word to him that, should he menace Dresden with his forces, the Prussian commander would be under the necessity of setting fire to the suburbs, as a measure of self-defense. Daun, expostulating vehemently against so cruel an act, regardless of the menace, approached the city on the 9th of November, and at midnight commenced rearing his batteries for the bombardment. In the mean time the Prussian general had filled many of the largest houses with combustibles. As the clock struck three in the morning the torch was applied. The unhappy inhabitants had but three hours’ notice that their houses were to be surrendered to destruction. Instantly the flames burst forth with terrific fury in all directions. Sir Andrew Mitchel, who witnessed the conflagration, writes:The Elbe was now frozen. The storms of winter covered the icy fields with snow. Daun retired to Dresden. Frederick established himself in the little town of Freiberg, about thirty miles southwest from Dresden. His troops were in cantonments in the adjoining villages. Here he took up his abode in a humble cottage. Thus terminated the fourth campaign of the Seven Years’ War.详情
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