But the ever-vigilant Frederick had smuggled a “false sister” into the society of the Catholic ladies, who kept him informed of every measure that was proposed. At the very hour when Frederick was dining with the two English ministers, and making282 himself so merry with jests and banter, he was aware that General Neipperg, with the whole Austrian army, was crossing the River Neisse, on the march, by a route thirty miles west of his encampment, to take Breslau by surprise. But he had already adopted effectual measures to thwart their plans.
Together the king and his sturdy general returned to Kesselsdorf, and rode over the field of battle, which was still strewn with the ghastly wrecks of war. Large numbers of the citizens of Dresden were on the field searching for their lost ones among the wounded or the dead. The Queen of Poland and her children remained in the city. Frederick treated them with marked politeness, and appointed them guards of honor. The King371 of Poland, who, it will be remembered, was also Elector of Saxony, applied for peace. Frederick replied:“I am permitted,” the embassador said, “to offer your majesty the whole of Austrian Guelderland. It lies contiguous to your majesty’s possessions in the Rhine country. It will be a very important addition to those possessions. I am permitted to say the whole of Austrian Guelderland.”“What you write to me of my sister of Baireuth makes me tremble. Next to my mother, she is the one I have most tenderly loved in this world. She is a sister who has my heart and all my confidence, and whose character is of a price beyond all the crowns in the universe. From my tenderest years I was brought up with her. You can conceive how there reigns between us that indissoluble bond of mutual affection and attachment for life which in many cases were impossible. Would to Heaven that I might die before her!”
The English envoy, Sir Guy Dickens, being utterly baffled in all his endeavors to discover the enterprise upon which the king was about to embark, wrote to his court: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.
155 He then gave her a thousand crowns. Wilhelmina manifested a little natural reluctance in receiving the money. But he shrugged his shoulders and said,“Let the courts take this for their rule; and whenever they do not carry out justice in a straightforward manner, without any regard of person and rank, they shall have to answer to his majesty for it.”
Catharine was at this time engaged vigorously in a war with the Turks. Frederick, by his treaty with the czarina, was compelled to assist her. This ambitious woman, endowed with extraordinary powers, was pushing her conquests toward Constantinople, having formed the resolve to annex that imperial city to the empire, and thus to open through the Straits of the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles new avenues for Russian commerce.
As he reached Potsdam and turned the corner of the palace, he saw, at a little distance, a small crowd gathered around some object; and soon, to his inexpressible surprise, beheld his father, dressed, in his wheel-chair, out of doors, giving directions about laying the foundations of a house he had undertaken to build. The old king, at the sight of his son, threw open his arms, and Frederick, kneeling before him, buried his face in his fathers lap, and they wept together. The affecting scene forced tears into the eyes of all the by-standers. Frederick William, upon recovering from a fainting-fit, had insisted that he would not die, and had compelled his attendants to dress him and conduct him to the open air.FREDERICK TRIUMPHANT.Notwithstanding these sentiments, the king sent throughout Silesia a supply of sixty Protestant preachers, ordained especially243 for the work. Though Frederick himself did not wish to live in accordance with the teachings of Jesus Christ, it is very evident that he did not fear the influence of that Gospel upon his Silesian subjects. Very wisely the Protestant preachers were directed carefully to avoid giving any offense to the Catholics. They were to preach in barns and town-halls in places where there was no Protestant church. The salary of each was one hundred and fifty dollars a year, probably with rations. They were all placed under the general superintendence of one of the army chaplains.
Frederick was endowed with brilliant powers of conversation. He was fond of society, where he could exercise and display these gifts and accomplishments. Frequent suppers were given at Sans Souci, which lasted from half past eight till midnight. Gentlemen only—learned men—were invited to these entertainments. Frederick was not an amiable man. He took pleasure in inflicting the keenest pain possible with his satirical tongue. No friend was spared. The more deeply he could strike the lash into the quivering nerves of sensibility, the better he seemed pleased with himself.“A fortnight after a funeral sermon shall be preached for me in all the churches. The text shall be, ‘I have fought a good fight; I have finished my course; I have kept the faith.’ They shall not speak any thing of my life, of my actions, nor any thing personal of me. But they shall tell the people that I confessed my sins, and that I died in full confidence of the goodness of God and of my Savior.”
Taking off his hat, he slightly saluted them, and retired behind the curtain into the interior tent.详情
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