A bomb bursting in the room could scarcely have created a greater panic. Katte and Quantz seized the flutes and music-books, and rushed into a wood-closet, where they stood quaking with terror. Fritz threw off his dressing-gown, hurried on his military coat, and sat down at the table, affecting to be deeply engaged with his books. The king, frowning like a thunder-cloud—for he always frowned when he drew near Fritz—burst into the room. The sight of the frizzled hair of his son “kindled the paternal wrath into a tornado pitch.” The king had a wonderful command of the vocabulary of abuse, and was heaping epithets of vituperation upon the head of the prince, when he caught sight of the dressing-gown behind a screen. He seized the glittering garment, and, with increasing outbursts of rage, crammed it into the fire. Then searching the room, he collected all the French books, of which Fritz had quite a library, and, sending for a bookseller near by, ordered him to take every volume away, and sell them for what they would bring. For more than an hour the king was thus raging, like a maniac, in the apartment of his son. Fortunately he did not look into the wood-closet. Had he done so, both Quantz and Katte would have been terribly beaten, even had they escaped being sent immediately to the scaffold.
“My dear Voltaire,—France has been considered thus far as the asylum of unfortunate monarchs. I wish that my capital should become the temple of great men. Come to it, then, my dear Voltaire, and give whatever orders can tend to render a residence in it agreeable to you. My wish is to please you, and wishing this, my intention is to enter entirely into your views.Prince Charles had arrived in Dresden the night before. He heard the roar of the cannonade all the day, but, for some unexplained reason, did not advance to the support of his friends. The very unsatisfactory excuse offered was, that his troops were exhausted by their long march; and that, having been recently twice beaten by the Prussians, his army would be utterly demoralized if led to another defeat.
199 Frederick was very desirous of visiting France, whose literature, science, and distinguished men he so greatly admired. Early Monday morning, the 15th of August, the king left Potsdam to visit his sister Wilhelmina, intending then to continue his journey incognito into France, and, if circumstances favored, as far as Paris. The king assumed the name of the Count Dufour. His next younger brother, William, eighteen years of age, accompanied him, also under an assumed name. William was now Crown Prince, to inherit the throne should Frederick leave no children. Six other gentlemen composed the party. They traveled in two coaches, with but few attendants, and avoided all unnecessary display.250 General Neipperg, as his men were weary with their long march, did not make an attack, but allowed his troops a short season of repose in the enjoyment of the comforts of Neisse. The next morning, the 6th, Frederick continued his retreat to Friedland, ten miles farther north. He was anxious to get between the Austrians and Ohlau. He had many pieces of artillery there, and large stores of ammunition, which would prove a rich prize to the Austrians. It was Frederick’s intention to cross the River Neisse at a bridge at Sorgau, eight miles from Friedland; but the officer in charge there had been compelled to destroy the bridge, to protect himself from the Austrian horsemen, who in large numbers had appeared upon the opposite banks. Prince Leopold was sent with the artillery and a strong force to reconstruct the bridge and force the passage, but the Austrian dragoons were encountered in such numbers that the enterprise was found impossible.
“Here his whole conversation consisted in quizzing whatever he saw, and repeating to me, above a hundred times over, the words ‘little prince,’ ‘little court.’ I was shocked, and could not understand how he had changed so suddenly toward me. The etiquette of all courts in the empire is, that nobody who has not at least the rank of captain can sit at a prince’s table. My brother put a lieutenant there who was in his suite, saying, ‘A king’s lieutenant is as good as a margraf’s minister.’ I swallowed this incivility, and showed no sign.“Monsieur De Maupertuis, your very affectionate
“There was, after all,” says Valori, “at times a kind of devout feeling in this prince, who possessed such a combination of qualities, good and bad, that I know not which preponderates.On the 3d of October the vanguard of this army, three thousand strong, was seen in the distance from the steeples of Berlin. The queen and royal family fled with the archives to Magdeburg. The city was summoned to an immediate surrender, and to pay a ransom of about four million dollars to rescue it from the flames. The summons was rejected. General Tottleben, in command of the advance, erected his batteries, and at five o’clock in the afternoon commenced his bombardment with red-hot balls. In the night a re-enforcement of five thousand Prussians, under Prince Eugene of Würtemberg, who had marched forty miles that day, entered the city, guided by the blaze of the bombardment, to strengthen the garrison. Tottleben retired to await the allied troops, which were rapidly on the march. In the mean time, on the 8th, General Hülsen arrived with nine thousand Prussian troops, increasing the garrison in Berlin to fifteen thousand. Frederick was also on the march, to rescue his capital, with all the troops he could muster. But the Russians had now arrived to the number of thirty-five thousand. The defenses were so weak that they could easily take or destroy the place.
572 His feet and legs became cold. Death was stealing its way toward the vitals. About nine o’clock Wednesday evening a painful cough commenced, with difficulty of breathing, and an ominous rattle in the throat. One of his dogs sat by his bedside, and shivered with cold; the king made a sign for them to throw a quilt over it.154 Three years were occupied in enlarging and decorating this palace. In the mean time the Princess Elizabeth resided in Berlin, or in a small country house provided for her at Sch?nhausen. The Crown Prince occasionally visited her, always treating her with the marked respect due a lady occupying her high position.
98 “Pretty soon the king came back, and we, his children, ran to pay our respects to him, by kissing his hands. But he no sooner noticed me than rage and fury took possession of him. He became black in the face, his eyes sparkling fire, his mouth foaming. ‘Infamous wretch!’ said he, ‘dare you show yourself before me? Go and keep your scoundrel brother company.’“I am sure you will take part in this happiness, and that you will not doubt the tenderness with which I am, dearest sister, yours wholly,Frederick William.”
“The King of Prussia is thought to be dying. I am weary of the political discussions on this subject as to what effects his death must produce. He is better at this moment, but so weak he can not resist long. Physique is gone. But his force and energy of soul, they say, have often supported him, and in desperate crises have even seemed to increase. Liking to him I never had. His ostentatious immorality has much hurt public virtue, and there have been related to me barbarities which excite horror.
THE FLIGHT ARRESTED.All Europe, England alone excepted, was aroused against him. Armies were every where being marshaled. The press of all continental Europe was filled with denunciations of his crimes and encroachments. Not all his efforts to assume a careless air411 could efface from his countenance the impression left there by the struggles of his soul. His features, as seen in a portrait painted about this time, are expressive of the character of an anxious and unhappy man.General Stille, one of the aids of Frederick on this expedition, says that the king, with his retinue, mounted and in carriages, pushed forward the first day to Landskron. “It was,” he writes, “such a march as I never witnessed before. Through the ice and through the snow, which covered that dreadful chain of mountains between B?hmen and M?hren, we did not arrive till very late. Many of our carriages were broken down, and others were overturned more than once.”63
According to Frederick’s computation, he had succeeded in wresting this province from Maria Theresa at an expense of eight hundred and fifty-three thousand lives, actual fighters, who had perished upon the field of battle. Of these, one hundred and eighty thousand were Prussians. Of the hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children who, in consequence of the war, had perished of exposure, famine, and pestilence, no note is taken. The population of Prussia had diminished, during the seven years, five hundred thousand.详情
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