“Formerly, my dear marquis, the affair of the 15th would have decided the campaign. At present it is but a scratch. A great battle must determine our fate. Such we shall soon have. Then, should the event prove favorable to us, you may, with good reason, rejoice. I thank you for your sympathy. It has cost much scheming, striving, and address to bring matters to this point. Do not speak to me of dangers. The last action cost me only a coat and a horse. That is buying victory cheap.151Frederick returned to Berlin by a circuitous route, which occupied ten days. His uncle, King George II. of England, whom he exceedingly disliked, was then on a visit to his Hanoverian possessions. Frederick passed within a few miles of his Britannic majesty without deigning to call upon him. The slight caused much comment in the English papers. It was regarded as of national moment, for it implied that in the complicated policy which then agitated the courts of Europe the sympathies of Prussia would not be with England.Voltaire had already written the epic poem the Henriade, the history of Charles XII., and several tragedies.
“His Prussian majesty rides much about, often at a rapid rate, with a pleasant business aspect—humane, though imperative; handsome to look upon, though with a face perceptibly reddish. His age, now thirty-eight gone; a set appearance, as if already got into his forties; complexion florid; figure muscular, almost tending to be plump.”Frederick’s Attempt to Rescue his Brother.—Captured Dispatches.—Battle of Hochkirch.—Defeat and Retreat of Frederick.—Death of Wilhelmina.—Letter to Voltaire.—Rejoicings at Vienna.—The Siege of Neisse.—The Siege of Dresden.—Conflagrations and Terror.—The Siege raised by Frederick.—Results of the Third Campaign.—Unavailing Efforts for Peace.—Despair of Frederick.
Upon the king’s arrival at Wesel he ordered his culprit son to be brought on shore and to be arraigned before him. It was Saturday evening, August 12, 1730. A terrible scene ensued. The despairing Crown Prince, tortured by injustice, was not disposed to humble himself before his father. Receiving no assurance that his friends would be pardoned, he evaded all attempts to extort from him confessions which would implicate them. General Mosel alone was present at this examination.“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.
Frederick, having cantoned his troops at Freiberg and its vicinity, on the 27th of November wrote again to the Countess of Camas:
The Herstal Affair.—The Summons.—Voltaire’s Manifesto.—George II. visits Hanover.—The Visit of Wilhelmina to Berlin.—Unpopularity of the King.—Death of the Emperor Charles VI.Early in November he came to Berlin, languid, crippled, and wretched. The death-chamber in the palace is attended with all the humiliations and sufferings which are encountered in the poor man’s hut. The king, through all his life, had indulged his irritable disposition, and now, imprisoned by infirmities and tortured with pain, his petulance and abuse became almost unendurable. Miserable himself, he made every one wretched around him. He was ever restless—now in his bed, now out of it, now in his wheel-chair, continually finding fault, and often dealing cruel blows to those who came within his reach. He was unwilling to be left for a moment alone. The old generals were gathered in his room, and sat around his bed talking and smoking. He could not sleep at night, and allowed his attendants no repose. Restlessly he tried to divert his mind by whittling, painting, and small carpentry. The Crown Prince dared not visit him too often, lest his solicitude should be interpreted into impatience for the king to die, that he might grasp the crown. In the grossest terms the king insulted his physicians, attributing all his sufferings to their wickedness or their ignorance. Fortunately the miserable old man was too weak to attempt to cane them. A celebrated physician, by the name of Hoffman, was sent for to prescribe for the king. He was a man of much intellectual distinction, and occupied an important position in the university. As his prescriptions failed to give relief to his majesty, he was assailed, like the rest, in the vilest language of vituperation. With great dignity Professor Hoffman replied:
The fourth day after this dreadful defeat the king received the tidings of the death of Wilhelmina. It was apparently the469 heaviest blow he had ever encountered. The anguish which her death caused him he did not attempt to conceal. In a business letter to Prince Henry we find this burst of feeling:“His Prussian majesty requires nothing for himself. He has taken up arms simply and solely with the view of restoring to the empire its freedom, to the emperor his imperial crown, and to all Europe the peace which is so desirable.”Count Wallis, who was intrusted with the defense of the place, had a garrison of about a thousand men, with fifty-eight heavy guns and several mortars, and a large amount of ammunition. Glogau was in the latitude of fifty-two, nearly six degrees north245 of Quebec. It was a cold wintry night. The ground was covered with snow. Water had been thrown upon the glacis, so that it was slippery with ice. Prince Leopold in person led one of the columns. The sentinels upon the walls were not alarmed until three impetuous columns, like concentrating tornadoes, were sweeping down upon them. They shouted “To arms!” The soldiers, roused from sleep, rushed to their guns. Their lightning flashes were instantly followed by war’s deepest thunders, as discharge followed discharge in rapid succession.
At the custom-house the poor man’s coin was seized as contraband. He was informed that the king, had forbidden the circulation of that kind of money in Berlin. The heartless officials laughed at the poor man’s distress, paid no regard to his remonstrances and pleadings, and locked up his confiscated coin.
Frederick wrote to his minister Podewils in Berlin, under date of Neisse, March 29, 1745, as follows: “We find ourselves in a great crisis. If we don’t by mediation of England get peace, our enemies from different sides will come plunging in against me. Peace I can not force them to. But if we must have war, we will either beat them, or none of us will ever see Berlin again.”
“We can not afford the least narrative of G?rtz and his courses: imagination, from a few traits, will sufficiently conceive them. He had gone first to Karl Theodor’s minister: ‘Dead to it, I fear; has already signed?’ Alas! yes. Upon which to Zweibrück, the heir’s minister, whom his master had distinctly ordered to sign,554 but who, at his own peril, gallant man, delayed, remonstrated, had not yet done it; and was able to answer:“Well, my children,” said Frederick, “how do you think that it will be with us now? The Austrians are twice as strong as we.”详情
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