About six miles from Ruppin there was the village of Reinsberg, containing about one thousand inhabitants, clustered around an ancient dilapidated castle. Frederick was with his regiment in Ruppin. The Princess Royal, his wife, resided in Berlin. There was an ostensible reason for this separation in the fact that there was no suitable mansion for the royal couple at Ruppin. The castle, with its extensive grounds, belonged to a French refugee. The king purchased it, and assigned it to his son. As the whole estate was in a condition of extreme dilapidation, Frederick immediately commenced improvements and repairs.153 The building, the gardens, the forests, and the surrounding lands rapidly assumed a new aspect, until Reinsberg became one of the most attractive spots in Europe.
Fritz went in the royal carriage, with suitable escort, to meet the young marquis on the Prussian frontier, as he came to his bridals. They returned together in the carriage to Potsdam with great military display. The wedding took place on the 30th of May, 1729. It was very magnificent. Fritz was conspicuous on the occasion in a grand review of the giant grenadiers. Wilhelmina, in her journal, speaks quite contemptuously of her new brother-in-law, the Marquis of Anspach, describing him as a foolish young fellow. It was, indeed, a marriage of children. The bridegroom was a sickly, peevish, undeveloped boy of seventeen; and the bride was a self-willed and ungoverned little beauty of fifteen. The marriage proved a very unhappy one. There was no harmony between them. Frederick writes: “They hate one another like the fire” (comme le feu). They, however, lived together in incessant petty quarrelings for thirty years. Probably during all that time neither one of them saw a happy day.
A smile flitted across Katte’s pallid features as he replied, “Death is sweet for a prince I love so well.” With fortitude he ascended the scaffold. The executioner attempted to bandage his eyes, but he resisted, and, looking to heaven, said, “Father, into thy hands I surrender my soul!” Four grenadiers held Fritz with his face toward the window. Fainting, he fell senseless upon the floor. At the same moment, by a single blow, Katte’s head rolled upon the scaffold. As the prince recovered consciousness, he found himself still at the window, in full view of the headless and gory corpse of his friend. Another swoon consigned him to momentary unconsciousness.16“My dear Sister,—Your letter has arrived. I see in it your regrets for the irreparable loss we have had of the best and worthiest mother in this world. I am so overwhelmed by these blows from within and without that I feel myself in a sort of stupefaction.FRITZ IN HIS LIBRARY.
241Sir Thomas hastened back to Breslau, and anxiously entered into communication with Lord Hyndford. The British minister entreated the king to admit Sir Thomas to another interview, assuring him that he came with new and more liberal propositions for a compromise. The king replied, in substance, with his customary brusqueness,
148 “Your brother is in despair at the idea of marrying her. And he is not wrong. She is an actual fool. She can only answer whatever is said to her by yes or no, accompanied by a silly laugh, which is painful to hear.”“I have been to Lebus. There is excellent land there; fine weather for the husbandmen. Major R?der passed this way, and dined with me last Wednesday. He has got a fine fellow for my most all-gracious father’s regiment. I depend on my most all-gracious father’s grace that he will be good to me. I128 ask for nothing, and for no happiness in the world but what comes from him; and hope that he will some day remember me in grace, and give me the blue coat to put on again.”
“The king is very chilly, and is always enveloped in pelisses, and covered with feather-beds. He has not been in bed for six weeks, but sleeps in his chair for a considerable time together, and always turned to the right side. The dropsical swelling augments. He sees it, but will not perceive what it is, or at least will not appear to do so, but talks as if it were a swelling accompanying convalescence, and proceeding from previous weakness. He is determined not to die if violent remedies can save him, but to submit to punctures and incisions to draw off the water.”
An eye-witness writes from near Weissenfels, in a report to the King of Poland, whose allies the French were, and whose territories they were ravaging:THE INVASION OF SAXONY.
“Leitmeritz, July 13, 1757.Frederick’s treatment of the unfortunate General Zastrow, who was in command at Schweidnitz, was quite peculiar. Very generously he wrote to him:
Four days after, in anticipation of an immediate attack from the Russians, he again wrote to the same address, “Remain at Berlin, or retire to Potsdam. In a little while there will come some catastrophe. It is not fit that you suffer by it. If things take a good turn, you can be back to Berlin. If ill luck still pursue us, go to Hanover, or to Zelle, where you can provide for your safety.”George II. had always hated his nephew Frederick. His only object in sustaining the war was to protect his native electorate of Hanover and to abase France.161 The new sovereign, in his first speech to Parliament, said:详情
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