Still Wusterhausen was but a hunting-lodge, which was occupied by the king only during a few weeks in the autumn. Fritz had many playmates—his brothers and sisters, his cousins, and the children of General Finkenstein. To most boys, the streams, and groves, and ponds of Wusterhausen, abounding with fish and all kinds of game, with ponies to drive and boats to row, with picturesque walks and drives, would have been full of charms. But the tastes of Fritz did not lie in that direction. He does not seem to have become strongly attached to any of his young companions, except to his sister Wilhelmina. The affection and confidence which united their hearts were truly beautiful. They encountered together some of the severest of life’s trials, but heartfelt sympathy united them. The nickname which these children gave their unamiable father was Stumpy.“The old serene highness himself, face the color of gunpowder, and bluer in the winter frost, went rushing far and wide in an open vehicle which he called his ‘cart,’ pushing out his detachments; supervising every thing; wheeling hither and thither as needful; sweeping out the Pandour world, and keeping it out; not much fighting needed, but ‘a great deal of marching,’ murmurs Frederick, ‘which in winter is as bad, and wears down the force of battalions.’”79
The Emperor Joseph had been embarrassed in his ambitious plans by the conscientious scruples of his mother. He now entered into a secret alliance with the Czarina Catharine, by which he engaged to assist her in her advance to Constantinople, while she, in her turn, was to aid him in his encroachments and annexations to establish an empire in the West as magnificent as the czarina hoped to establish in the East.
Charlotte added, in terms still more bitter and unpardonable, “Your majesty is not yet aware of all her merit. I was one morning at her toilet. I remarked that she is deformed. Her gown is stuffed on one side, and she has one hip higher than the other.” The cruel girl even went so far as to accuse the princess of suffering from loathsome ulcers. This discourse was uttered in a loud voice, in presence of the domestics. Fritz was evidently greatly annoyed, and blushed deeply, but said nothing. Immediately after supper he retired. Wilhelmina soon followed him, and they met again privately in Wilhelmina’s room. The princess asked her brother how he was now getting along with his father. He replied,Fritz went in the royal carriage, with suitable escort, to meet the young marquis on the Prussian frontier, as he came to his bridals. They returned together in the carriage to Potsdam with great military display. The wedding took place on the 30th of May, 1729. It was very magnificent. Fritz was conspicuous on the occasion in a grand review of the giant grenadiers. Wilhelmina, in her journal, speaks quite contemptuously of her new brother-in-law, the Marquis of Anspach, describing him as a foolish young fellow. It was, indeed, a marriage of children. The bridegroom was a sickly, peevish, undeveloped boy of seventeen; and the bride was a self-willed and ungoverned little beauty of fifteen. The marriage proved a very unhappy one. There was no harmony between them. Frederick writes: “They hate one another like the fire” (comme le feu). They, however, lived together in incessant petty quarrelings for thirty years. Probably during all that time neither one of them saw a happy day.
The heir to the Russian throne was an orphan boy, Peter Federowitz. The Russian court was looking around to obtain for him a suitable wife. Frederick’s commandant at Stettin, a man of renowned lineage, had a beautiful daughter of fourteen. She was a buxom girl, full of life as she frolicked upon the ramparts of the fortress with her young companions. Frederick succeeded in obtaining her betrothal to the young Prince of Russia. She was solemnly transferred from the Protestant to the Greek religion; her name was changed to Catharine; and she was eventually married, greatly to the satisfaction of Frederick, to the young Russian czar.
“‘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.”As this report was made to the king, he exclaimed, angrily, “Let him lie in ward, then, and await the doom which the laws adjudge to him. He is my colonel. He has attempted to desert. He has endeavored to induce others to desert with him. The law speaks plainly enough as to the penalty for such crimes.”
“Unless one day the tumult of business and the wickedness of men alter so divine a character, you will be worshiped by your people and loved by the whole world. Philosophers, worthy of the name, will flock to your states. The illustrious Queen Christina quitted her kingdom to go in search of the arts. Reign you, Monseigneur, and the arts will come to seek you.
On another occasion, an Austrian gentleman, M. Von Bentenrieder, who was exceedingly tall, was journeying from Vienna to Berlin as the embassador from the Emperor Charles VI. to the Congress of Cambrai. When near Halberstadt some part of his carriage broke. While the smith was repairing it, M. Bentenrieder walked on. He passed a Prussian guard-house, alone, in plain clothes, on foot, an immensely tall, well-formed man. It was too rich a prize to be lost. The officials seized him, and hurried him into the guard-house. But soon his carriage came along with his suite. He was obsequiously hailed as “Your Excellency.” The recruiting officers of Frederick William, mortified and chagrined, with many apologies released the embassador of the emperor.
135 As the king was about to take leave of his child, whom he had treated so cruelly, he was very much overcome by emotion. It is a solemn hour, in any family, when a daughter leaves the parental roof, never to return again but as a visitor. Whether the extraordinary development of feeling which the stern old monarch manifested on the occasion was the result of nervous sensibility, excited by strong drink or by parental affection, it is not easy to decide. Wilhelmina, in a few words of intense emotion, bade her father farewell.Several years now passed away with nothing specially worthy of record. Frederick did not grow more amiable as he advanced in years. Though Frederick was often unreasonable, petulant, and unjust, and would seldom admit that he had been in the wrong, however clear the case, it can not be doubted that it was his general and earnest desire that justice should be exercised in all his courts.“Hurl them out,” he wrote. “Gather twenty, thirty thousand men, if need be. Let there be no delay. I will as soon be pitched out of Brandenburg as out of Silesia.”
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,“Certainly I will fight. But do not flatter yourself about the result. A happy chance alone can help us. Go, in God’s name to Tangermünde. Wait there how destiny shall have disposed of us. I will reconnoitre the enemy to-morrow. Next day, if there is any thing to do, we will try it. If the enemy still holds to the Wine Hills of Frankfort, I shall not dare to attack him.
“Frederick bethinks him that in a late visit to Weimar he had noticed, for his fine qualities, a young gentleman named G?rtz, late tutor to the young Duke Karl August, a wise, firm, adroit-looking young gentleman, who was farther interesting as brother to Lieutenant General Von G?rtz, a respectable soldier of Frederick’s. Ex-tutor at Weimar, we say, and idle for the moment; hanging about court there, till he should find a new function.An eye-witness thus describes the tactics by which Frederick executed his design: “It is a particular man?uvre which, up to the present time, none but Prussian troops can execute with the precision and velocity indispensable to it. You divide your line into many pieces. You can push these forward stair-wise, so that they shall halt close to one another. Forming itself in this way, a mass of troops takes up in proportion very little ground. And it shows in the distance, by reason of the mixed uniforms and standards, a totally chaotic mass of men, heaped one on another. But it needs only that the commander lift his finger, and instantly this living coil of knotted intricacies develops itself in perfect order, and with a speed like that of mountain rivers.”112详情
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