“Archenholtz describes it as a thing surpassable only by doomsday; clangorous rage of noise risen to the infinite; the boughs of the trees raining down upon you with horrid crash; the forest, with its echoes, bellowing far and near, and reverberating in universal death-peal, comparable to the trump of doom.”157
Sir Thomas, somewhat discomposed, apologetically intimated that that was not all he had to offer.The merciless satires of Voltaire, exposing Maupertuis to the ridicule of all Europe, proved death-blows to the sensitive philosopher. He was thrown into a state of great dejection, which induced disease, of which he died in 1759. Maupertuis needed this discipline. In the proud days of prosperity he had rejected Christianity. In these hours of adversity, oppressed by humiliation396 and pain, and with the grave opening before him, he felt the need of the consolations of religion. Christian faith cheered the sadness of his dying hours.98
The king smiled, and immediately entered very vigorously upon business. It was not possible, under these circumstances, for him deeply to mourn over the death of so tyrannical a father. Frederick was twenty-eight years of age. He is described as a handsome young man, five feet seven inches in stature, and of graceful presence. The funeral ceremonies of the deceased monarch were conducted essentially according to the programme already given. The body of the king mouldered to dust in the sepulchre of his fathers. His spirit returned to the God who gave it.On the 20th of April, Frederick, having secretly placed his army in the best possible condition, commenced a rapid march upon Prague, thus plunging into the very heart of Bohemia. He advanced in three great columns up the valley of the Elbe and the Moldau. His movements were so rapid and unexpected that he seized several Austrian magazines which they had not even time to burn. Three months’ provisions were thus obtained for412 his whole army. The first column, under the king, was sixty thousand strong. The second column, led by General Bevern, numbered twenty-three thousand, horse and foot. The third, under Marshal Schwerin, counted thirty-two thousand foot and twelve thousand horse. On the 2d of May the banners of Frederick were seen from the steeples of Prague. They appeared floating from the heights of the Weissenberg, a few miles west of the city. At the same time, the other two columns, which had united under Marshal Schwerin, appeared on the east side of the Moldau, upon both banks of which the city is built.
“The French army so handled this place as not only to take from its inhabitants, by open force, all bread and articles of food, but likewise all clothes, bed-linens, and other portable goods. They also broke open, split to pieces, and emptied out all chests, boxes, presses, drawers; shot dead in the back-yards and on the roofs all manner of feathered stock, as hens, geese, pigeons. They carried off all swine, cows, sheep, and horses. They laid violent hands on the inhabitants, clapped swords, guns, and pistols to their breasts, threatening to kill them unless they brought out whatever goods they had; or hunted them out of their houses, shooting at them, cutting, sticking, and at last driving them away, thereby to have freer room to rob and plunder. They flung out hay and other harvest stock into the mud, and had it trampled to ruin under the horses’ feet.”Twenty years before this, Frederick, in a letter to his friend Baron Suhm, dated June 6, 1736, had expressed the belief that, while the majority of the world perished at death, a few very distinguished men might be immortal.
The carousal presented a very splendid spectacle. It took place by night, and the spacious arena was lighted by thirty thousand torches. The esplanade of the palace, which presented an ample parallelogram, was surrounded by an amphitheatre of rising seats, crowded with the beauties and dignitaries of Europe. At one end of the parallelogram was a royal box, tapestried with the richest hangings. The king sat there; his sister, the Princess Amelia, was by his side, as queen of the festival. Where the neglected wife of Frederick was is not recorded. The entrance for the cavaliers was opposite the throne. The jousting parties consisted of four bands, representing Romans, Persians, Carthaginians, and Greeks. They were decorated with splendid equipments of jewelry, silver helmets, sashes, and housings, and were mounted on the most spirited battle-steeds which Europe could furnish. The scene was enlivened by exhilarating music, and by the most gorgeous decorations and picturesque costumes which the taste and art of the times could create. The festivities were closed by a ball in the vast saloons of the palace, and by a supper, where the tables were loaded with every delicacy.Frederick remained at Reitwein four days. He was very unjust to his army, and angrily reproached his soldiers for their defeat. It is true that, had every soldier possessed his own spirit, his army would have conquered, or not a man would have left the field alive. The Russians, with almost inconceivable inactivity, retired to Lossow, ten miles south of Frankfort-on-the-Oder. The king, having by great exertions collected thirty-two thousand men, marched up the valley of the Spree, and placed himself on the road between the Russians and Berlin.
a a. Prussian Camp, left with fires burning. b b b. Prussian Main Army. c c. Ziethen’s Division. d d. Loudon’s Camp, also left with fires burning. e e e. Loudon’s Army attacked by the Prussians. f f f. Approach of Daun. g g. Lacy’s Cavalry.113 The prince supposed that the object of Muller’s visits was to prepare him for his death. But upon receiving the full assurance that his father contemplated pardoning him, should there be evidence of repentance, he promised to take an oath of entire submission to his father’s will. Seven commissioners were sent to the prison of Cüstrin, on the 19th of November, to administer this oath with the utmost solemnity. He was conducted to the church. A large crowd was in attendance. A sermon appropriate to the occasion was preached. The sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was administered to him. And then he audibly repeated the oath and attached to it his signature.
To his mother he was very considerate in all his manifestations of filial affection, while, at the same time, he caused her very distinctly to understand that she was to take no share whatever in the affairs of government. When she addressed him, upon his accession to the throne, as “Your Majesty,” he replied, “Call me son. That is the title of all others most agreeable to me.” He decreed to her the title of “Her Majesty the Queen-mother.” The palace of Monbijou was assigned her, where she was surrounded with every luxury, treated with the most distinguished attention, and her court was the acknowledged centre of fashionable society.
That evening Wilhelmina was taken sick with burning fever and severe pain. Still she was compelled to rise from her bed and attend a court party. The next morning she was worse. The king, upon being told of it, exclaimed gruffly, “Ill? I will58 cure you!” and compelled her to swallow a large draught of wine. Soon her sickness showed itself to be small-pox. Great was the consternation of her mother, from the fear that, even should she survive, her beauty would be so marred that the English prince would no longer desire her as his bride. Fortunately she escaped without a scar.At one o’clock in the morning of May 31 he sent for a clergyman, M. Cochius, and seemed to be in great distress both of body and of mind. “I fear,” said he, “that I have a great deal of pain yet to suffer. I can remember nothing. I can not pray. I have forgotten all my prayers.” M. Cochius endeavored to console him. At the close of the interview the king said, sadly, “Fare thee well. We shall most probably never meet again in this world.” He was then rolled, in his wheel-chair, into the chamber of the queen.
“The French have seized upon Friesland, and are about to pass the Weser. They have instigated the Swedes to declare war against me. The Swedes are sending seventeen thousand men into Pomerania. The Russians are besieging Memel. General Schwald has them on his front and in his rear. The troops of the empire are also about to march. All this will force me to evacuate Bohemia so soon as that crowd of enemies gets into motion.The reader of these pages will be oppressed with the consciousness of how vast a proportion of the miseries of humanity is caused by the cruelty of man to his brother man. This globe might be a very happy home for those who dwell upon it. But its history, during the last six thousand years, has presented one of the most appalling tragedies of which the imagination can conceive. Among all the renowned warriors of the past, but few can be found who have contributed more to fill the world with desolated homes, with the moans of the dying, with the cry of the widow and the orphan, than Frederick the Great; but he laid the foundations of an empire which is at this moment the most potent upon the globe.详情
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