Charles, feeling keenly the bereavement, and alarmed for the health of his wife, whom he loved most tenderly, hastened to his home in Brussels. The prince and princess were vice-regents, or “joint governors” of the Netherlands. The decline of the princess was very rapid. On the 16th of December, the young prince, with flooded eyes, a broken-hearted man, followed the remains of his beloved companion to their burial. Charles never recovered from the blow. He had been the happiest of husbands. He sank into a state of deep despondency, and could never be induced to wed again. Though in April he resumed, for a time, the command of the army, his energies were wilted, his spirit saddened, and he soon passed into oblivion. This is but one among the countless millions of the unwritten tragedies of human life.“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.
“It is a monument for the latest posterity; the only book worthy of a king for these fifteen hundred years.”33
FREDERICK AND HIS SISTER.
“Their king” (Wilhelmina’s grandfather) “was of extreme gravity, and hardly spoke a word to any body. He saluted Madam Sonsfeld, my governess, very coldly, and asked if I was always so serious, and if my humor was of a melancholy turn. ‘Any thing but that, sire,’ answered Madam Sonsfeld; ‘but the respect she has for your majesty prevents her from being as sprightly as she commonly is.’ He shook his head and said nothing. The reception he had given me, and this question, gave me such a chill that I never had the courage to speak to him.”MOLLWITZ,The expenses of the war were enormous. Frederick made a careful estimate, and found that he required at least three hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars a month. He could not carry on another campaign with less than four million five hundred thousand dollars. He had been expecting that Louis XV., who in person was in command of the French army on the Rhine, would send him a re-enforcement of sixty thousand troops to enable him to crush the forces of Prince Charles. But week after358 week passed, and no re-enforcements came. The French, intent upon their conquest, were as selfishly pursuing their own interests on the Rhine as Frederick was pursuing his in Silesia.
Retracing his steps in the darkness some fifteen miles, he returned to Lowen, where, by a bridge, a few hours before, he had crossed the Neisse. Taught caution by the misadventure at Oppeln, he reined up his horse, before the morning dawned, at the mill of Hilbersdorf, about a mile and a half from the town. The king, upon his high-blooded charger, had outridden nearly all his escort; but one or two were now with him. One of these attendants he sent into the town to ascertain if it were still held by the Prussians. Almost alone, he waited under the shelter of the mill the return of his courier. It was still night, dark and cold. The wind, sweeping over the snow-clad plains, caused the exhausted, half-famished monarch to shiver in his saddle.This movement of Frederick took place on the 1st of October, 1758. On the 5th, General Daun, who stood in great dread of the military ability of his foe, after holding a council of war, made a stealthy march, in a dark and rainy night, a little to the south of Frederick’s encampment, and took a strong position about a mile east of him, at Kittlitz, near L?bau. With the utmost diligence he reared intrenchments and palisades to guard himself from attack by a foe whom he outnumbered more than two to one. He thus again blocked Frederick’s direct communication with Silesia.
The death of George I. affected the strange Frederick William very deeply. He not only shed tears, but, if we may be pardoned the expression, blubbered like a child. His health seemed50 to fail, and hypochondria, in its most melancholy form, tormented him. As is not unusual in such cases, he became excessively religious. Every enjoyment was deemed sinful, if we except the indulgence in an ungovernable temper, which the self-righteous king made no attempt to curb. Wilhelmina, describing this state of things with her graphic pen, writes:
But the young King Frederick was very ambitious of enlarging the borders of his Liliputian realm, and of thus attaining a higher position among the proud and powerful monarchs who surrounded him. Maria Theresa, who had inherited the crown of Austria, was a remarkably beautiful, graceful, and accomplished216 young lady, in the twenty-fourth year of her age. She was a young wife, having married Francis, Duke of Lorraine. Her health, as we have mentioned, was at that time delicate. Frederick thought the opportunity a favorable one for wresting Silesia from Austria, and annexing it to his own kingdom. The queen was entirely inexperienced, and could not prove a very formidable military antagonist. Her army was in no respect, either in number, discipline, or materiel, prepared for war. Her treasury was deplorably empty. There was also reason for Frederick to hope that several claimants would rise in opposition to her, disputing the succession.“Prosperity, my dear lord, often inspires a dangerous confidence. Twenty-three battalions were not sufficient to drive sixty thousand men from their intrenchments. Another time we will take our precautions better. Fortune has this day turned her back upon me. I ought to have expected it. She is a female, and I am not gallant. What say you to this league against the Margrave of Brandenburg? How great would be the astonishment of the great elector if he could see his great-grandson at war at the same time with the Russians, the Austrians, almost all Germany, and one hundred thousand French auxiliaries! I do not know whether it will be disgraceful in me to be overcome, but I am sure there will be no great glory in vanquishing me.”102
Upon the return of the Crown Prince to Cüstrin after the marriage of Wilhelmina, several of the officers of the army sent in a petition to the king that he would restore to the prince his uniform and his military rank. The king consented, and made out his commission anew as colonel commandant of the Goltz regiment at Ruppin. This was a small town about seventy-five miles northeast of Berlin. His commission was signed on the 29th of February, 1732, he being then twenty years of age. In this little hamlet, mainly engaged in the dull routine of garrison duties, the prince passed most of his time for the next eight years.Soon after, the king returned to Berlin and summoned his daughter to his presence. He received her very graciously. The queen, however, remained quite unreconciled, and was loud in the expression of her anger: “I am disgraced, vanquished, and my enemies are triumphant!” she exclaimed. Her chagrin was so great that she fell quite sick. To a few words of sympathy which her child uttered, she replied, “Why do you pretend to weep? It is you who have killed me.”Coarse brown clothes of plainest cut were furnished him. His flute was taken from him, and he was deprived of all books but the Bible and a few devotional treatises. He was allowed a daily sum, amounting to twelve cents of our money, for his food—eight cents for his dinner and four for his supper. His food was purchased at a cook-shop near by, and cut for him. He was not permitted the use of a knife. The door was opened three times a day for ventilation—morning, noon, and night—but not for more than four minutes each time. A single tallow-candle was allowed him; but that was to be extinguished at seven o’clock in the evening.
“Hurl them out,” he wrote. “Gather twenty, thirty thousand men, if need be. Let there be no delay. I will as soon be pitched out of Brandenburg as out of Silesia.”There was but one short war in which Frederick William engaged during his reign of twenty-seven years. That was with Charles XII. of Sweden. It lasted but a few months, and from it the Prussian king returned victorious. The demands of Frederick William were not unreasonable. As he commenced the brief campaign, which began and ended with the siege of Stralsund, he said: “Why will the very king whom I most respect compel me to be his enemy?” In his characteristic farewell order to his ministers, he wrote: “My wife shall be told of all things, and counsel asked of her. And as I am a man, and may be shot dead, I command you and all to take care of Fritz, as God shall reward you. And I give you all, wife to begin with, my curse that God may punish you in time and eternity if you do not, after my death, bury me in the vault of the palace church at Berlin. And you shall make no grand to-do on the occasion. On your body and life no festivals and ceremonials, except that the regiments, one after the other, fire a volley over me. I am assured that you will manage every thing with all the exactness in the world, for which I shall ever, zealously, as long as I live, be your friend.”详情
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