“The torments of Tantalus, the pains of Prometheus, the doom of Sisyphus, were nothing to the torments I have suffered for the last ten days. Death is sweet in comparison with such a life. Pity me, and believe that I still keep to myself a great many evil things, not wishing to afflict or disquiet any body with them. Believe me that I would not counsel you to fly these unlucky countries if I had any ray of hope. Adieu, mon cher.
The unhappy Crown Prince was in an agony of despair. Again and again he frantically exclaimed, “In the name of God, I beg you to stop the execution till I write to the king! I am ready to renounce all my rights to the crown if he will pardon Katte!” As the condemned was led by the window to ascend the scaffold, Fritz cried out to him, in anguish as intense as a generous heart can endure, “Pardon me, my dear Katte, pardon me! Oh that this should be what I have done for you!”“My situation changes every moment. Sometimes I am in favor, sometimes in disgrace. My chief happiness consists in my being absent from him. I lead a quiet and tranquil life with my regiment at Ruppin. Study and music are my principal occupations. I have built me a house there, and laid out a garden where I can read and walk about.”
While Frederick was involved in all these difficulties, he was cheered by the hope that the French would soon come to his rescue. Unutterable was his chagrin when he learned, early in October, that the French had done exactly as he would have done in their circumstances. Appalling, indeed, were the tidings soon brought to him, that Prince Charles, with his army, had marched unmolested into Bohemia; that he had already effected a junction with General Bathyani and his countless swarm of Pandours; and, moreover, that a Saxon army, twenty thousand strong, in alliance with the Queen of Hungary, was on the way to join his already overwhelming foes. It was reported, at the same time, that Prince Charles was advancing upon Budweis, and that his advance-guard had been seen, but a few miles off, on the western side of the Moldau.
In the following terms Thiebault describes their parting: The final interview between Frederick and Voltaire took place on the parade at Potsdam, where the king was then occupied with393 his soldiers. One of the attendants announced Voltaire to his majesty with these words:
The early governess of little Fritz was a French lady of much refinement and culture, Madame Racoule. She was in entire sympathy with her pupil. Their tastes were in harmony. Fritz became as familiar with the French language as if it were his mother tongue. Probably through her influence he acquired that fondness for French literature and that taste for French elegance which continued with him through life.
“The queen’s intentions were always good,” Wilhelmina kindly urged. The king replied, “Let us not enter into that detail. What is past is past. I will try to forget it. You are the dearest to me of all the family. I am too sad of heart to take leave of you. Embrace your husband on my part. I am so overcome that I must not see him.”
The fifth campaign of the Seven Years’ War closed with the year 1760. By exertions such as mortal man perhaps never made before, Frederick succeeded, during the winter, in raising an army of ninety-six thousand men. In the mean time the allies had concentrated in Bohemia, to crush him, seventy-two thousand Austrians and sixty thousand Russians. The capture of four fortresses would drive Frederick hopelessly out of Silesia. Early in May, Frederick, leaving his brother Henry with about forty thousand men to protect Saxony, set out with fifty thousand for the relief of Neisse, which was then besieged. General Goltz, probably the most able of the Prussian commanders, was detached to the fortified camp at Glogau.
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CHAPTER XV. THE WAR IN SILESIA.
The King of Prussia had an army of two hundred thousand men under perfect discipline. The Old Dessauer was dead, but many veteran generals were in command. It was manifest that war would soon burst forth. In addition to the personal pique of the Duchess of Pompadour, who really ruled France, Louis XV. was greatly exasperated by the secret alliance into which Frederick had entered with England. The brother of the Prussian king, Augustus William, the heir-apparent to the throne, disapproved of this alliance. He said to the French minister, Valori, “I would give a finger from my hand had it never been concluded.”The king, as we have mentioned, allotted to his son a very moderate income, barely enough for the necessary expenses of his establishment. But the prince borrowed money in large sums from the Empress of Germany, from Russia, from England. It was well known that, should his life be preserved, he would soon have ample means to repay the loan. Frederick William probably found it expedient to close his eyes against these transactions. But he did not attempt to conceal the chagrin with which he regarded the literary and voluptuous tastes of his son.详情
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