Hotham, quite indignant, sent this dispatch, dated May 13, to London, including with it a very earnest letter from the Crown Prince to his uncle, in which Fritz wrote:“‘Monsieur Keith,’ said the king to him, ‘I am sorry we had to spoil Madame’s fine shrubbery by our man?uvres; have the goodness to give her that, with my apologies,’ and handed him a pretty casket with key to it, and in the interior 10,000 crowns.
Upon the king’s arrival at Wesel he ordered his culprit son to be brought on shore and to be arraigned before him. It was Saturday evening, August 12, 1730. A terrible scene ensued. The despairing Crown Prince, tortured by injustice, was not disposed to humble himself before his father. Receiving no assurance that his friends would be pardoned, he evaded all attempts to extort from him confessions which would implicate them. General Mosel alone was present at this examination.Early in November he came to Berlin, languid, crippled, and wretched. The death-chamber in the palace is attended with all the humiliations and sufferings which are encountered in the poor man’s hut. The king, through all his life, had indulged his irritable disposition, and now, imprisoned by infirmities and tortured with pain, his petulance and abuse became almost unendurable. Miserable himself, he made every one wretched around him. He was ever restless—now in his bed, now out of it, now in his wheel-chair, continually finding fault, and often dealing cruel blows to those who came within his reach. He was unwilling to be left for a moment alone. The old generals were gathered in his room, and sat around his bed talking and smoking. He could not sleep at night, and allowed his attendants no repose. Restlessly he tried to divert his mind by whittling, painting, and small carpentry. The Crown Prince dared not visit him too often, lest his solicitude should be interpreted into impatience for the king to die, that he might grasp the crown. In the grossest terms the king insulted his physicians, attributing all his sufferings to their wickedness or their ignorance. Fortunately the miserable old man was too weak to attempt to cane them. A celebrated physician, by the name of Hoffman, was sent for to prescribe for the king. He was a man of much intellectual distinction, and occupied an important position in the university. As his prescriptions failed to give relief to his majesty, he was assailed, like the rest, in the vilest language of vituperation. With great dignity Professor Hoffman replied:
Two days before Frederick reached Brieg, a column of his army, under General Schwerin, which had advanced by a line parallel to the Oder, but several miles to the west, encountering no opposition, reached Ottmachau, a considerable town with a strong castle on the River Neisse. This was near the extreme southern border of Silesia. The Austrian commander, General Browne, had placed here also a garrison of sixteen hundred men,232 with orders not to yield upon any terms, for that re-enforcements should be speedily sent to them. A slight conflict ensued. Twelve of the Prussians were killed. This was the first blood which was shed. A delay of three days took place, when four cannon were brought up, and the gates, both of the town and of the castle, were blown open. The garrison offered to withdraw upon the terms proposed in the summons to surrender. The king was sent for to obtain his decision. He rebuked the garrison sternly, and held all as prisoners of war. The officers were sent to Cüstrin, the common soldiers to Berlin.Strasbourg began to echo with the fame of this foreign count. But the next morning, Thursday, August 25, as Marshal Broglio was walking on the Esplanade, a soldier, who had formerly201 been in the regiment of the Crown Prince at Potsdam, and who knew the Crown Prince perfectly, having seen him hundreds of times, but who had deserted and entered the French service, came to the marshal, with much bowing and embarrassment, and assured him that Count Dufour was no less than the King of Prussia.
“Russia may be counted as the bigger half of all he had to strive with; the bigger, or at least the far uglier, more ruinous, and incendiary; and, if this were at once taken away, think what a daybreak when the night was at the blackest.”170
“For the most part, one of his own grenadiers was the model from which he copied. And when the portrait had more color in it than the original, he was in the habit of coloring the cheeks of the soldier to correspond with the picture. Enchanted with the fruits of his genius, he showed them to his courtiers, and asked their opinion concerning them. As he would have been very angry with any one who had criticised them, he was quite sure of being gratified with admiration.293 “Of the political morality of this game of fast-and-loose what have we to say, except that the dice on both sides seem to be loaded; that logic might be chopped upon it forever; that a candid mind will settle what degree of wisdom (which is always essential veracity) and what of folly (which is always falsity) there was in Frederick and the others; whether, or to what degree, there was a better course open to Frederick in the circumstances; and, in fine, it will have to be granted that you can not work in pitch and keep hands evidently clean. Frederick has got into the enchanted wilderness populous with devils and their work, alas! It will be long before he get out of it again; his life waning toward night before he get victoriously out, and bequeath his conquest to luckier successors!“As soon as I am dead, my body must be washed, a white shirt must be placed upon it, and it must be stretched out upon a table. They must then shave and wash me, and cover me with a sheet. After four hours my body must be opened. The surgeons of the regiments in town will examine into the malady which has caused my death. They will then dress me in my best clothes, with all my decorations. Then I am to be placed in my coffin, and thus left all night.
“His Prussian majesty rides much about, often at a rapid rate, with a pleasant business aspect—humane, though imperative; handsome to look upon, though with a face perceptibly reddish. His age, now thirty-eight gone; a set appearance, as if already got into his forties; complexion florid; figure muscular, almost tending to be plump.”Adolph Frederick was the heir to the throne of Sweden. Successful diplomacy brought a magnificent embassy from Stockholm to Berlin, to demand Princess Ulrique as the bride of Sweden’s future king. The course of love, whether true or false, certainly did in this case run smooth. The marriage ceremony was attended in Berlin with such splendor as the Prussian capital had never witnessed before. The beautiful Ulrique was very much beloved. She was married by proxy, her brother Augustus William standing in the place of the bridegroom.“I arrived at last about one in the morning. I instantly threw myself on a bed. I was like to die of weariness, and in mortal terror that something had happened to my brother or the hereditary prince. The latter relieved me on his own score. He arrived at last about four o’clock; had still no news of my brother. I was beginning to doze a little, when they came to inform me that M. von Knobelsdorf wished to speak to me from the Prince Royal. I darted out of bed and ran to him.
There seems to be no end to the complications and troubles of this royal family. It is said that Wilhelmina, to soothe her mother, treated her betrothed with great coldness; that her younger sister Charlotte fell deeply in love with the Prince of Baireuth, and endeavored to win him to herself; and that the prince himself, attracted by warmth on the one hand, and repelled by coldness on the other, was quite disposed to make the exchange.19 The king, irritated by these interminable annoyances, and the victim of chronic petulance and ill nature, recommenced his brutal treatment of his daughter.
Frederick remained at Bunzelwitz a fortnight after the retreat of the Russians. In the mean time the French and English were fighting each other with varying success upon the banks of the Rhine. It is not necessary to enter into the details of their struggles. Frederick’s magazines at Schweidnitz were getting low. On the 26th of September he broke up his camp at Bunzelwitz, and in a three days’ march to the southeast reached Neisse. The Austrians did not venture to annoy him. Frederick had scarcely reached Neisse when he learned, to his amazement and horror, that General Loudon, with a panther-like spring, had captured Schweidnitz, with its garrison and all its supplies. It was a terrible blow to the king. The Austrians could now winter in Silesia. The anguish of Frederick must have been great. But he gave no utterance to his gloomy forebodings.“No,” said the king, sternly and peremptorily. “Write after I am dead. That will be safer.”“Should this hope fail me, you will allow that it would be too hard to crawl at the feet of a company of traitors to whom successful crimes have given the advantage to prescribe the law to me. If I had followed my own inclinations I should have put an end to myself at once after that unfortunate battle which I lost. But I felt that this would be weakness, and that it behooved me to repair the evil which had happened. But no sooner had I hastened this way to face new enemies than Winterfield was beaten and killed near Gorlitz; than the French entered the heart of my states; than the Swedes blockaded Stettin. Now there is nothing effective left for me to do. There are too many enemies. Were I even to succeed in beating two armies, the third would crush me. As for you, my incomparable sister, I have not the heart to turn you from your resolves. We think alike, and I can not condemn in you the sentiments which I daily entertain. Life has been given us as a benefit. When it ceases to be such— I have nobody left in this world to attach me to it but you. My friends, the relations I loved most, are in the grave. In short, I have lost every thing. If you take the resolution which I have taken, we end together our misfortunes and our unhappiness.
“You have seen the paper I have sent to Vienna. Their answer is, that they have not made an offensive alliance with Russia against me. Of the assurance that I required there is not one word, so that the sword alone can cut this Gordian knot. I am innocent of this war. I have done what I could to avoid it; but, whatever be one’s love of peace, one can not, and one must not, sacrifice to that safety and honor. At present our one thought must be to wage war in such a way as may cure our enemies of their wish to break peace again too soon.”详情
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