MAP OF SILESIA.“I am obliged to tell you that I have long forbid counts to be received, as such, into my army; for when they have served one or two years they retire, and merely make their short military career a subject of vain boasting. If your son wishes to serve, the title of count can be of no use to him. But he will be promoted if he learn his profession well.”The betrothal took place in the Berlin palace on Monday evening, March 10, 1732. Many distinguished guests from foreign courts were present. The palace was brilliantly illuminated. The Duke and Duchess of Bevern, with their son, had accompanied their daughter Elizabeth to Berlin. The youthful pair, who were now to be betrothed only, not married, stood in the centre of the grand saloon, surrounded by the brilliant assemblage. With punctilious observance of court etiquette, they exchanged rings, and plighted their mutual faith. The old king embraced the bride tenderly. The queen-mother, hoping that the marriage would never take place, saluted her with repulsive coldness. And, worst of all, the prince himself scarcely treated143 her with civility. The sufferings of this lovely princess must have been terrible. The testimony to her beauty, her virtues, her amiable character, is uncontradicted. The following well-merited tribute to her worth is from the pen of Lord Dover:
As the king’s infirmities and sufferings increased, the sympathies of his son were more and more excited. He seemed to forget all his father’s cruel treatment, and to remember only his kingly energies. The thought of his death became very painful to him, and at times he recoiled from the oppressive cares he must of necessity assume with the crown.
General Neipperg had advanced as far as Baumgarten when283 he heard of this entire circumvention of his plans. Exasperated by the discomfiture, he pushed boldly forward to seize Schweidnitz, where Frederick had a large magazine, which was supposed not to be very strongly protected. But the vigilant Frederick here again thwarted the Austrian general. Either anticipating the movement, or receiving immediate information of it, he had thrown out some strong columns to Reichenbach, where they so effectually intrenched themselves as to bar, beyond all hope of passage, the road to Schweidnitz. General Neipperg had advanced but half a day’s march from Baumgarten when he heard of this. He ordered a halt, and retraced his steps as far as Frankenstein, where he had a very strongly intrenched camp.
In this assembly of gay young men religion was generally a topic of ridicule. Even Jordan, the ex-preacher, was either willingly or unwillingly borne along by the current. Subsequently, when youth and health had fled, and he was on a sick-bed suffering from lingering disease, he felt the need of those consolations which Christianity alone can give. He wrote, under date of April, 1745, to Frederick, who was then king, and whose friendship continued unabated:“‘Hither this evening, and in all privacy meet me in the palace at such an hour’ (hour of midnight or thereby); which of553 course G?rtz, duly invisible to mankind, does. Frederick explains: an errand to München; perfectly secret, for the moment, and requiring great delicacy and address; perhaps not without risk, a timorous man might say: will your brother go for me, think you? G?rtz thinks he will.
Frederick, while equally complimentary, while lavishing gifts and smiles upon his guest, to whom he had written that as there “could be but one God, so there could be but one Voltaire,” wrote from Ruppin to M. Jordan, on the 28th of November, just before Voltaire took his leave.All negotiation in reference to the marriages was now apparently88 at an end. Lieutenant Katte remained at Potsdam. In the absence of Lieutenant Keith he became more than ever the friend and confidant of the Crown Prince. Wilhelmina, aware of the dissipated character of Katte, mourned over this intimacy. The king was very much annoyed by the blunder of which he himself had been guilty in insulting the court of England in the person of its embassador. He declared, in his vexation, that he would never again treat in person with a foreign minister; that his hot temper rendered it unsafe for him to do so.“Mais le ciel, qui de tout dispose,
“Friedrich Wilhelm feels this sad contrast very much; the127 more, as the soldier is his own chattel withal, and of superlative inches. Friedrich Wilhelm flames up into wrath; sends off swift messengers to bring these judges, one and all, instantly into his presence. The judges are still in their dressing-gowns, shaving, breakfasting. They make what haste they can. So soon as the first three or four are reported to be in the anteroom, Friedrich Wilhelm, in extreme impatience, has them called in; starts discoursing with them upon the two weights and two measures. Apologies, subterfuges, do but provoke him farther. It is not long till he starts up growling terribly, ‘Ye scoundrels, how could you?’ and smites down upon the crown of them with the royal cudgel itself. Fancy the hurry-scurry, the unforensic attitudes and pleadings! Royal cudgel rains blows right and left. Blood is drawn, crowns cracked, crowns nearly broken; and several judges lost a few teeth and had their noses battered before they could get out. The second relay, meeting them in this dilapidated state on the staircases, dashed home again without the honor of a royal interview. This is an actual scene, of date, Berlin, 1731, of which no constitutional country can hope to see the fellow. Schlubhut he hanged, Schlubhut being only Schlubhut’s chattel. This musketeer, his majesty’s own chattel, he did not hang, but set him shouldering arms again after some preliminary dusting.”“The public affairs in France,” writes Voltaire, “continued in as bad a state after the death of Cardinal De Fleury as during the last two years of his administration. The house of Austria rose again from its ashes. France was cruelly pressed upon by that power and by England. No other resource remained to us but the chance of regaining the King of Prussia, who, having drawn us into the war, had abandoned us as soon as it was convenient to himself so to do. It was thought advisable, under these circumstances, that I should be sent to that monarch to sound his intentions, and, if possible, persuade him to avert the storm which, after it had first fallen on us, would be sure, sooner or later, to fall from Vienna upon him. We also wished to secure from him the loan of a hundred thousand men, with the assurance that he could thus better secure to himself Silesia.
In a very triumphant mood, the king, on the 19th of November, wrote a boastful and irreverent “Ode to Fortune,” in that easy rhyme which he called poetry. The substance of this ode, translated into prose, was as follows:“Done, that Sterbohol work; those foot-chargings, horse-chargings; that battery of Homoly Hill; and, hanging upon that, all manner of redoubts and batteries to the rightward and rearward; but how it was done no pen can describe, nor any intellect in clear sequence understand. An enormous mêlée there: new Prussian battalions charging, and ever new, irrepressible by case-shot, as they successively get up; Marshal Browne, too, sending for new battalions at double-quick from his left, disputing stiffly every inch of his ground, till at length (hour not given), a cannon shot tore away his foot, and he had to be carried into Prague, mortally wounded. Which probably was a most important circumstance, or the most important of all.”
“The queen made me a sign to follow her, and passed into a neighboring apartment, where she had the English and Germans of King George’s suite successively presented to her. After some talk with these gentlemen she withdrew, leaving me to entertain them, and saying, ‘Speak English to my daughter; you will find she speaks it very well.’ I felt much less embarrassed when the queen was gone, and, picking up a little courage, entered into conversation with these English. As I spoke their language like my mother tongue I got pretty well out of the affair, and every body seemed charmed with me. They made my eulogy to the queen; told her I had quite the English air, and was made to be their sovereign one day. It was saying a great deal on their part; for these English think themselves so much above all other people that they imagine that they are paying a high compliment when they tell any one he has got English manners.“The seventh day after our accession to the throne of all the Russias we received information that the late emperor, Peter III., was attacked with a violent colic. That we might not be wanting in Christian duty, or disobedient to the divine command by which we are enjoined to preserve the life of our neighbor, we immediately ordered that the said Peter should be furnished with every thing that might be judged necessary to restore his health by the aids of medicine. But, to our great regret and affliction, we were yesterday evening apprized that, by permission of the Almighty, the late emperor departed this life.”“Those that come after me,” said the king, “will do as they like. The future is beyond man’s reach. I have acquired; it is theirs to preserve. I am not in alarm about the Austrians. They dread my armies—the luck that I have. I am sure of their sitting quiet for the dozen years or so which may remain to me of life. There is more for me in the true greatness of laboring for the happiness of my subjects than in the repose of Europe. I have put Saxony out of a condition to hurt me. She now owes me twelve million five hundred thousand dollars. By the defensive alliance which I form with her, I provide myself a help against Austria. I would not, henceforth, attack a cat, except to defend myself. Glory and my interests were the occasion of my first campaigns. The late emperor’s situation, and my zeal for France, gave rise to the second. Always since, I have been fighting for my own hearths—for my very existence. I know the state I have got into. If I now saw Prince Charles at the gates of Paris, I would not stir.”
“Constantinople! never. It is the empire of the world.“Würben, in the centre, is like a citadel looking down upon Striegau Water. Heavy cannon, plenty of them, we have brought from Schweidnitz. We have four hundred and eighty cannon in all, and one hundred and eighty-two mines. Würben, our citadel and centre, is about five miles from Schweidnitz. Before our lines are palisades and chevaux-de-frise. Woods we have in abundance in our circuit, and axes for carpentries of that kind. There are four intrenched knolls; twenty-four big batteries capable of playing beautifully, all like pieces in a concert.”168
Affairs were now assuming throughout Europe a very threatening aspect. The two French armies, of forty thousand each, had already crossed the Rhine to join their German allies in the war against Austria. One of these armies, to be commanded by Belleisle, had crossed the river about thirty miles below Strasbourg to unite with the Elector of Bavaria’s troops and march upon Vienna. The other army, under Maillebois, had crossed the Lower Rhine a few miles below Düsseldorf. Its mission was, as we have mentioned, to encamp upon the frontiers of Hanover, prepared to invade that province, in co-operation with the Prussian troops in the camp at G?ttin, should the King of England venture to raise a hand in behalf of Austria. It was also in position to attack and overwhelm Holland, England’s only ally, should that power manifest the slightest opposition to the designs of Prussia and France. At the same time, Sweden, on the 4th of August, had declared war against Russia, so that no help could come to Austria from that quarter. Great diplomatic ability had been displayed in guarding every point in these complicated measures. The French minister, Belleisle, was probably the prominent agent in these wide-spread combinations.60详情
Copyright © 2020