“The terror in Vienna was dreadful. I will not attempt to describe the dismay the tidings excited among all ranks of people. Maria Theresa, trembling for her two sons who were in the army, immediately dispatched an autograph letter to Frederick with new proposals for a negotiation.”Monday morning the storm ceased. There was a perfect calm. For leagues the spotless snow, nearly two feet deep, covered all the extended plains. The anxiety of Frederick had been so great that for two nights he had not been able to get any sleep. He had plunged into this war with the full assurance that he was to gain victory and glory. It now seemed inevitable that he was to encounter but defeat and shame.
One evening, being too unwell to read his usual devotions, he called upon his valet de chambre to read prayers. In the prayer occurred the words, “May God bless thee.” The servant, not deeming it respectful to use thee in reference to the king, took the liberty to change the phrase, and read it, “May God bless you.” The king, exasperated, hurled something at the head of the speaker, exclaiming, “It is not so; read it again.” The terrified servant, not conceiving in what he had done wrong, read again, “May God bless you.” The irascible monarch, having nothing else he could grasp, took off his night-cap and threw it into the man’s face, exclaiming, “It is not so; read it over again.” The servant, frightened almost out of his senses, read for the third time, “May God bless you.” “Thee, rogue,” shouted the king. “‘May God bless thee.’ Dost thou not know, rascal, that, in the eyes of God, I am only a miserable rascal like thyself?”
“Yesterday I wrote to you to come; to-day I forbid it. Daun is marching upon Berlin. Fly these unhappy countries. This news obliges me again to attack the Russians between here and Frankfort. You may imagine if this is a desperate resolution. It is the sole hope that remains to me of not being cut off from Berlin on the one side or the other. I will give these discouraged troops brandy, but I promise myself nothing of success. My one consolation is that I shall die sword in hand.
George was a taciturn, jealous, sullen old man, who quarreled with his son, who was then Prince of Wales. The other powers of Europe were decidedly opposed to this double marriage, as it would, in their view, create too intimate a union between Prussia and England, making them virtually one. Frederick William also vexatiously threw hinderances in the way. But the heart of the loving mother, Sophie Dorothee, was fixed upon these nuptials. For years she left no efforts of diplomacy or intrigue untried to accomplish her end. George I. is represented40 by Horace Walpole as a stolid, stubborn old German, living in a cloud of tobacco-smoke, and stupefying his faculties with beer. He had in some way formed a very unfavorable opinion of Wilhelmina, considering her, very falsely, ungainly in person and fretful in disposition. But at last the tact of Sophie Dorothee so far prevailed over her father, the British king, that he gave his somewhat reluctant but positive consent to the double matrimonial alliance. This was in 1723. Wilhelmina was then fourteen years of age. Fritz, but eleven years old, was too young to think very deeply upon the subject of his marriage. The young English Fred bore at that time the title of the Duke of Gloucester. He soon sent an envoy to Prussia, probably to convey to his intended bride presents and messages of love. The interview took place in the palace of Charlottenburg, a few miles out from Berlin. The vivacious Wilhelmina, in the following terms, describes the interview in her journal:It is evident that the king, thus surrounded with perils and threatened with utter destruction, was anxious for the termination of the war. But still this inflexible man would not listen to any suggestions for peace but on his own terms. He wrote to Voltaire, urging him “to bring back peace.” At the same time he said,
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:
Frederick did not pursue the Austrians after this victory. Nine acres of ground were required to bury the dead. He rented this land from the proprietor for twenty-five years. His alienation from his allies was such that, without regard to them, he was disposed to make peace with Austria upon the best terms he could for himself. England also, alarmed in view of the increasing supremacy of France, was so anxious to detach Frederick, with his invincible troops, from the French alliance, that the British cabinet urged Maria Theresa to make any sacrifice whatever that might be necessary to secure peace with Prussia. Frederick,313 influenced by such considerations, buried the illustrious Austrian dead with the highest marks of military honor, and treated with marked consideration his distinguished prisoners of war.The fault-finding character of the king, and his intense devotion to perfecting his army, both increased with his advancing years. After one of his reviews of the troops in Silesia, in the year 1784, he wrote in the following severe strain to the commanding general:
The Crown Prince had for some time been inspired with an ever-increasing ambition for high intellectual culture. Gradually he was gathering around him, in his retreat at Reinsberg, men of high literary reputation, and was opening correspondence with the most distinguished men of letters in all the adjacent countries.
“This I would not do; my awe was too great. They thereupon laid hands upon me. One took me by the right arm, another by the left, and led me to the garden. Having got me there, they looked out for the king. He was among the gardeners examining some rare plant, and had his back to us. Here I had to halt. The officers began in an under tone to put me382 through my drill. ‘Take your hat under your left arm; put your right foot foremost; breast well forward; hold your head up; hold your papers aloft in your right hand; there, so—steady—steady!’
At an early hour on the morning of the 3d Frederick broke up his camp south of the foe, and, by a circuitous route of fourteen513 miles, came down upon the Austrians from the north. General Ziethen marched in almost a straight line for Torgau, to cut off the retreat. It was two o’clock in the afternoon when Frederick, emerging from the forest, ordered his men to charge. The assault was as impetuous and reckless as mortal men could possibly make. Instantly four hundred pieces of artillery opened fire upon them.
“Ah!” said the king, gayly, “we must have them back from him again.”详情
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