“In a word, I see all black, as if I were at the bottom of a tomb. Have some compassion on the situation I am in. Conceive that I disguise nothing from you, and yet that I do not detail to you all my embarrassments, my apprehensions, and troubles. Adieu, my dear marquis. Write to me sometimes. Do not forget a poor devil who curses ten times a day his fatal existence, and could wish he already were in those silent countries from which nobody returns with news.”“The Crown Prince manifests in this tender age an uncommon capacity, nay, we may say, something quite extraordinary. He31 is a most alert and vivacious prince. He has fine and sprightly manners, and shows a certain kindly sociality and so affectionate a disposition that all things may be hoped of him. The French lady who has had charge of him hitherto can not speak of him without enthusiasm. ‘He is a little angel,’ she is wont to say. He takes up and learns whatever is placed before him with the greatest facility.”
It is probable that the suspicions of the king were excited, for suddenly he sent Lieutenant Keith to a garrison at Wesel, at a great distance from Berlin, in a small Prussian province far down the Rhine. The three had, however, concocted the following plan, to be subsequently executed. Immediately after the return from Mühlberg the king was to undertake a long journey to the Rhine. The Crown Prince, as usual, was to be dragged along with him. In this journey they would pass through Stuttgart, within a few miles of Strasbourg, which was on the French side of the river. From Stuttgart the prince was to escape in disguise, on fleetest horses, to Strasbourg, and thence proceed to London. Colonel Hotham, who had accompanied the Prussian king to the camp of Mühlberg, was apprised of all this by his secretary. He immediately dispatched the secretary, on the 16th of June, to convey the confidential intelligence to London.
On the 7th of July he wrote again to Wilhelmina. The letter420 reveals the anxiety of his heart, and his earnest desire to escape, if possible, from his embarrassments. Wilhelmina had written, offering her services to endeavor to secure peace. The king replied:Four campaigns of the Seven Years’ War have passed. We are now entering upon the fifth, that of 1760. The latter part501 of April Frederick broke up his encampment at Freiberg, and moved his troops about twenty miles north of Dresden. Here he formed a new encampment, facing the south. His left wing was at Meissen, resting on the Elbe. His right wing was at the little village of Katzenh?user, about ten miles to the southwest. Frederick established his head-quarters at Schlettau, midway of his lines. The position thus selected was, in a military point of view, deemed admirable. General Daun remained in Dresden “astride” the Elbe. Half of his forces were on one side and half on the other of the river.
“His very flute,” Carlyle writes, “most innocent ‘Princess,’ as he used to call his flute in old days, is denied him ever since he came to Cüstrin. But by degrees he privately gets her back, and consorts much with her; wails forth, in beautiful adagios, emotions for which there is no other utterance at present. He has liberty of Cüstrin and the neighborhood. Out of Cüstrin he is not to lodge any night without leave had of the commandant.”
The next day M. Hartoff called at the residence of M. Kannegiesser, and informed him “that the ministers, understanding that he designed to ask an audience to-morrow to remind them64 of the answer which he demanded, wished to say that such applications were not customary among sovereign princes; that they dared not treat farther in that affair with him; that, as soon as they received instructions from his Britannic majesty, they would communicate to him the result.”
But the exertion, and the emotion occasioned by the interview with his son, prostrated him again. He was taken back into his palace and to his bed more dead than alive. Reviving a little in the afternoon, he dictated to Frederick all the arrangements he wished to have adopted in reference to his funeral. This curious document is characteristic, in every line, of the strange man. His coffin, which was of massive oak carpentry, had been made for some time, and was in the king’s chamber awaiting its occupant. He not unfrequently, with affected or real complacency, fixed his eyes upon it, saying, “I shall sleep right well there.” In the minute directions to his son as to his burial, he said,
The next morning Frederick crossed the river to Reitwein, on the western bank. Here, during the day, broken bands of his army came in to the number of twenty-three thousand. It would seem that a night of refreshing sleep had so far recruited the exhausted energies of the king that he was enabled to look a little more calmly upon the ruin which enveloped him. He that day wrote as follows from Reitwein to General Schmettau, who was in command of the Prussian garrison at Dresden:In the court of the czarina there was a very handsome young Pole, Stanislaus Poniatowski, who had been an acknowledged lover of Catharine. Though Catharine had laid him aside for other favorites, she still regarded him with tender feelings. He was just the man to do her bidding. By skillful diplomacy she542 caused him to be elected King of Poland. That kingdom was now entirely in her hands, so far as it was in the power of its monarch to place it there.
“The hereditary prince came in while we were talking, and earnestly entreated my brother to get him away from Baireuth. They went to a window and talked a long time together. My brother told me he would write a letter to the margraf, and give him such reasons in favor of the campaign that he doubted not it would turn the scale. He promised to obtain the king’s express leave to stop at Baireuth on his return, after which he went away. It was the last time I saw him on the old footing with me. He has much changed since then. We returned to Baireuth, where I was so ill that for three days they did not think I should get over it.”The nephew of Elizabeth, and her successor, Peter III., was a very warm admirer of Frederick. One of his first acts was to send to the Prussian king the assurance of his esteem and friendship. Peter immediately released all the Prussian prisoners in his dominions, entered into an armistice with Frederick, which529 was soon followed by a treaty of alliance. The two sovereigns commenced a very friendly correspondence. Frederick returned all the Russian prisoners, well clothed and fed, to their homes. The change was almost as sudden and striking as the transformations in the kaleidoscope. On the 23d Peter issued a decree that there was peace with Prussia, that he had surrendered to his Prussian majesty all the territorial conquests thus far made, and had recalled the Russian armies.
“The queen commands me to give you a thousand regards from her. She appeared much affected at your illness. But I can not warrant you how sincere it was, for she is totally changed, and I no longer comprehend her. She has done me all the hurt with the king she could. As to Sophie, she is no longer the same. She approves all the king says or does, and is charmed with her big clown of a bridegroom.详情
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