“It is inconceivable to me,” Frederick replied, “how Austria should dare to think of such a proposal. Limburg! Are there not solemn engagements upon Austria which render every inch of ground in the Netherlands inalienable?”
“I found him much grown; an air of health and gayety about him. He caressed me greatly. We went to dinner. He asked me to sit beside him. Among other things, he said that he liked the great world, and was charmed to observe the ridiculous, weak side of some people.”The Czarina, Anne of Russia, died the 28th of October, 1740,240 just eight days after the death of the emperor. She left, in the cradle, the infant Czar Iwan, her nephew, two months old. The father of this child was a brother of Frederick’s neglected wife Elizabeth. The mother was the Russian Princess Catharine of Mecklenburg, now called Princess Anne, whom Frederick had at one time thought of applying for as his wife. Russia was a semi-barbaric realm just emerging into consideration, and no one could tell by what influences it would be swayed. The minor powers could be controlled by the greater—constrained by terror or led by bribes. Such, in general, was the state of Europe at this time.
He conversed cheerfully upon literature, history, and the common topics of the day. But he seemed studiously to avoid any allusion to God, to the subject of religion, or to death. He had from his early days very emphatically expressed his disbelief in any God who took an interest in the affairs of men. Throughout his whole life he had abstained from any recognition of such a God by any known acts of prayer or worship. Still Mr. Carlyle writes:In pleasant weather he took a long walk after dinner, and generally at so rapid a pace that it was difficult for most persons to keep up with him. At four o’clock the secretaries brought to him the answers to the letters which they had received from him in the morning. He glanced them over, examining some with care. Then, until six o’clock, he devoted himself to reading, to literary compositions, and to the affairs of the Academy, in which he took a very deep interest. At six o’clock he had a private musical concert, at which he performed himself upon the flute. He was passionately fond of this instrument, and continued to play upon it until, in old age, his teeth decaying, he was unable to produce the sounds he wished.
We have now reached the summer of 1729. George II. was a weak-minded, though a proud, conceited man, who, as King of England, assumed airs of superiority which greatly annoyed his irascible and petulant brother-in-law, Frederick William. Flushed with his new dignity, he visited his hereditary domain of Hanover. The journey led him through a portion of the Prussian territory. Courtesy required that George II. should announce that intention to the Prussian king. Courtesy also required that, as the British monarch passed over Prussian soil, Frederick William should furnish him with free post-horses. “I will furnish the post-horses,” said Frederick William, “if the king apprise me of his intention. If he do not, I shall do nothing about it.” George did not write. In affected unconsciousness that there was any such person in the world as the Prussian king, he crossed the Prussian territory, paid for his own post-horses, and did not even condescend to give Frederick William any notice of his arrival in Hanover. The King of Prussia, who could not but be conscious of the vast inferiority of Prussia to England, stung to the quick by this contemptuous treatment, growled ferociously in the Tobacco Parliament.
Amid the vicissitudes of the revolving centuries the rollicking lords grew poor, and the frugal monks grew rich. A thrifty city rose around the monastery, and its bishop wielded a power, temporal and spiritual, more potent than had ever issued from the walls of the now crumbling and dilapidated castle. In some of the perplexing diplomatic arrangements of those days, the castle of Herstal, with its surrounding district, was transferred to Frederick William of Prussia. The peasants, who had heard of the military rigor of Prussia, where almost every able-bodied man was crowded into the army, were exceedingly troubled by this transfer, and refused to take the oath of allegiance to their new sovereign, who had thus succeeded to the ownership of themselves, their flocks, and their herds. The gleaming sabres of Frederick William’s dragoons soon, however, brought them to terms. Thus compelled to submission, they remained unreconciled and irritated. Upon the withdrawal of the Prussian troops, the authority of Frederick William over the Herstal people also disappeared, for they greatly preferred the milder rule of the Bishop of Liege.
“Is there any battalion which has a mind to follow me to Lissa?”It was supposed that his Prussian majesty would now march southwest for the invasion of Bohemia. Austria made vigorous preparations to meet him there. Much to the surprise and bewilderment449 of the Austrians, the latter part of April Frederick directed his columns toward the southeast. His army, about forty thousand strong, was in two divisions. By a rapid march through Neisse and Jagerndorf he reached Troppau, on the extreme southern frontier of Silesia. He then turned to the southwest. It was again supposed that he intended to invade Bohemia, but from the east instead of from the north.
Leopold was now seventy years of age. On the 5th of February his much-loved wife died at Dessau. Leopold, infirm in health, and broken with grief, entreated the king to allow him to go home. He could not, of course, be immediately spared.
Wilhelmina says that her grandpapa George was intolerably proud after he had attained the dignity of King of England, and that he was much disposed to look down upon her father, the King of Prussia, as occupying a very inferior position. Vexatiously he delayed signing the marriage treaty, to which he had given a verbal assent, evading the subject and presenting frivolous excuses. The reputation of the English Fred was far from good. He had attained eighteen years of age, was very unattractive in personal appearance, and extremely dissolute. George I., morose and moody, was only rendered more obstinate by being pressed. These delays exasperated Frederick William, who was far from being the meekest of men. Poor Sophie Dorothee was annoyed almost beyond endurance. Wilhelmina took the matter very coolly, for she declared that she cared nothing about her cousin Fred, and that she had no wish to marry him.FREDERICK CONCENTRATING HIS ARMY AT CHRUDIM.
MAP ILLUSTRATING THE MOLLWITZ CAMPAIGN.详情
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