The Prince of Ligne, a very accomplished courtier, about this566 time visited the sick and dying king. During his brief stay he dined daily with the king, and spent his evenings with him. In an interesting account which he gives of these interviews, he writes:ASSASSINATION OF PETER III.
If these words are true, which Milton places in the lips of the apostate fiend, it is appalling to think of the ungoverned and ungovernable spirit with which the king entered the unseen world. We know not that there is any power in the alembic of death to transform the character; and certain it is that if Frederick William carried with him to the abode of spirits the same character which he cherished in this world, there are but few who could be rendered happy by his society. But we must leave him with his God, and return to the stormy scenes upon which his son now entered.It is said that Frederick, determined not to lose his dancer in that manner, immediately informed the young gentleman’s friends that he was about to form a mesalliance with an opera girl. The impassioned lover was peremptorily summoned home. Hatred for Frederick consequently rankled in young Mackenzie’s heart. This hatred he communicated to his brother, Lord Bute, which subsequently had no little influence in affairs of national diplomacy.
“At Potsdam I was lucky enough to see the king. He was on the esplanade drilling his troops. When the drill was over he went into the garden, and the soldiers dispersed. Four officers remained lounging on the esplanade. For fright, I knew not what to do; I drew the papers from my pocket. These were my memorial, two certificates of character, and a Thuringian pass. The officers, noticing this, came directly to me and said, ‘What letters have you there?’ I thankfully imparted the whole. When the officers had read them, they said, ‘We will give you good advice. The king is extra gracious to-day, and is gone alone into the garden. Follow him straight. You will have luck.’
Prince Charles was en route for Berlin—a winter’s march of a hundred and fifty miles. He was not aware that the King of Prussia was near him, or that the king was conscious of his bold design. On Saturday night, November 20, the army of Prince Charles, forty thousand strong, on its line of march, suspecting no foe near, was encamped in villages, extending for twenty miles along the banks of the Queiss, one of the tributaries of the Oder. Four marches would bring them into Brandenburg. It was the design of Frederick to fall with his whole force upon the centre of this line, cut it in two, and then to annihilate the extremities. Early in the morning of Sunday, the 21st, Frederick put his troops in motion. He marched rapidly all that day, and Monday, and Tuesday. In the twilight of Tuesday evening, a dense fog enveloping the landscape, Frederick, with his concentrated force, fell impetuously upon a division of the Austrian army encamped in the village of Hennersdorf.
“It is in such moments that I have felt how small are those advantages of birth, those vapors of grandeur, with which vanity would solace us. They amount to little, properly to nothing. Ah! would glory but make use of me to crown your successes!208 “Whether you are still minded to assert your pretended sovereignty over Herstal, and whether you will protect the rebels at Herstal in their disorders and abominable disobedience?
“The proposal,” Sir Thomas replied, “is to give guarantees at once.”
Frederick regarded the Academy as his pet institution, and was very jealous of the illustrious philosopher, whom he had invited to Berlin to preside over its deliberations. Voltaire, knowing this very well, and fully aware that to strike the Academy391 in the person of its president was to strike Frederick, wrote an anonymous communication to a review published in Paris, in which he accused M. Maupertuis—first, of plagiarism, in appropriating to himself a discovery made by another; secondly, of a ridiculous blunder in assuming that said discovery was a philosophical principle, and not an absurdity; and thirdly, that he had abused his position as president of the Academy in suppressing free discussion, by expelling from the institution a member merely for not agreeing with him in opinion. These statements were probably true, and on that account the more damaging.“Moravia, which is a very bad country, could not be held, owing to want of provisions. The town of Brünn could not be taken because the Saxons had no cannon. When you wish to enter a town, you must first make a hole to get in by. Besides, the country has been reduced to such a state that the enemy can not subsist in it, and you will soon see him leave it. There is your little military lesson. I would not have you at a loss what to think of our operations, or what to say, should other people talk of them in your presence.”
As they marched their voices burst forth simultaneously in a German hymn. The gush of their rude and many-voiced melody was borne distinctly on the wind to the eminence where Frederick stood, anxiously watching those movements which were to decide his own fate, that of his family, and of his kingdom. The following is a translation of one of the verses of this hymn:The apartments prepared for the Princess Royal were also very magnificent. Her parlor was twenty feet high. It had six windows, three opening in the main front toward the town, and the other three opening toward the interior court. The spaces between the windows were covered with immense mirrors, so arranged as to display the ceiling, beautifully painted by one of the finest artists of the day. The artist had spread his colors with such delicacy and skill, so exquisitely blending light and shade, that the illusion was almost perfect. The spectator felt that the real sky, with its fleecy clouds and infinite depth of blue, overarched him.
Though General Soltikof had lost an equal number of men, he was still at the head of nearly eighty thousand troops flushed with victory. He could summon to his standard any desirable re-enforcements. An unobstructed march of but sixty miles would lead his army into the streets of Berlin. The affairs of Frederick were indeed desperate. There was not a gleam of hope to cheer him. In preparation for his retirement from the army, from the throne, and from life, he that evening drew up the following paper, placing the fragments of the army which he was about to abandon in the hands of General Finck. By the death of the king, the orphan and infant child of his brother Augustus William (who had died but a few months before) would succeed to the throne. Frederick appointed his brother Henry generalissimo of the Prussian army.Frederick published his manifesto on the 10th of August, 1744. Early in the morning of the 15th he set out from Potsdam upon this new military expedition. His two eldest brothers, Augustus William, Prince of Prussia, and Prince Henry, accompanied him. The army entered Bohemia in three columns, whose concentrated force amounted to nearly one hundred thousand men. Frederick in person led the first column, the old331 Prince Leopold the second, and Marshal Schwerin the third. Marching by different routes, they swept all opposition before them. On the 4th of September the combined army appeared before the walls of Prague. Here, as in every act of Frederick’s life, his marvelous energy was conspicuous.It would be unjust alike to the father and the son to withhold a letter which reflects so much credit upon them both—upon179 the father for his humane measures, and upon the son for his appreciation of their moral beauty.详情
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