220 “From all persons who return from Reinsberg the unanimous report is that the king works the whole day through with an assiduity which is unique, and then, in the evening, gives himself to the pleasures of society with a vivacity of mirth and sprightly humor, which makes those evening parties charming.”
CONDEMNATION OF THE JUDGES.
“You have cut me to the heart, and have inflicted on me the greatest misery I ever endured. I had placed all my hope in you, in consequence of my ignorance of your character. You have had the address to disguise to me the bad propensities of your heart, and the baseness of your disposition. I repent a thousand times the kindness I have shown you, the care I have taken of your education, and all that I have suffered on your account. I no longer acknowledge you as my daughter, and shall, in future, never regard you but as my most cruel enemy, since it is you who have sacrificed me to my persecutors, who now triumph over me. Never count upon me again. I vow eternal hatred to you, and will never forgive you.”
On the 18th of January, 1742, Frederick visited Dresden, to confer with Augustus III., King of Poland, who was also Elector of Saxony, and whose realms were to be increased by the annexation of Moravia. His Polish majesty was a weak man, entirely devoted to pleasure. His irresolute mind, subjected to the dominant energies of the Prussian king, was as clay in the hands of the potter.220 “From all persons who return from Reinsberg the unanimous report is that the king works the whole day through with an assiduity which is unique, and then, in the evening, gives himself to the pleasures of society with a vivacity of mirth and sprightly humor, which makes those evening parties charming.”
On the 18th of February, 1730, some affairs of state led the king to take a trip to Dresden to see the King of Poland. He decided to take Fritz with him, as he was afraid to leave him behind. Fritz resolved to avail himself of the opportunity which the journey might offer to attempt his escape. He was unwilling to do this without bidding adieu to his sister, who had been the partner of so many of his griefs. It was not easy to obtain a private interview. On the evening of the 17th of February, as Wilhelmina, aided by her governess, was undressing for bed, the door of the anteroom of her chamber was cautiously opened, and a young gentleman, very splendidly dressed in French costume, entered. Wilhelmina, terrified, uttered a shriek, and endeavored to hide herself behind a screen. Her governess, Madam Sonsfeld, ran into the anteroom to ascertain what such an intrusion meant. The remainder of the story we will give in the words of Wilhelmina:
In the mean while, Marshal Daun was so confident that Frederick, with but thirty thousand men, could not drive him from his intrenchments, guarded by eighty thousand veteran troops, that he wrote to General Harsch, who was conducting the siege of Neisse,The reader will bear in mind that the camp at G?ttin, menacing Hanover, was acting in co-operation with Frederick’s ally, France, and that forty thousand men had been sent from France to the aid of those Prussian troops. Frederick now, entering into secret treaty with the enemy, while still feigning to be true to his ally, was perfidiously withdrawing his troops so as to leave the French unsupported. His treachery went even farther than this. In the presence of Lord Hyndford, the representative of England, he informed the Austrian general minutely how he could, to the greatest advantage, attack the French.
MAP OF THE CAMPAIGN OF ROSSBACH.When they reached Strasbourg they provided themselves with French dresses. The king and his brother put up at different inns, that they might be less liable to suspicion. Frederick,200 with several of his party, took lodgings at the Raven Hotel. He sent the landlord out to invite several army officers to sup with a foreign gentleman, Count Dufour, from Bohemia, who was an entire stranger in the place. Some of the officers very peremptorily declined the invitation, considering it an imposition. Three, however, allured by the singularity of the summons, repaired to the inn. The assumed count received them with great courtesy, apologized for the liberty he had taken, thanked them for their kindness, and assured them that, being a stranger, he was very happy to make the acquaintance of so many brave officers, whose society he valued above that of all others.178 “Meanwhile Frederick the First died, and with him was buried all his false grandeur, which consisted only in a vain magnificence, and in the pompous display of frivolous ceremonies. My father, who succeeded him, compassionated the general misery. He visited the spot, and saw, with his own eyes, this vast country laid waste, and all the dreadful traces which a contagious malady, a famine, and the sordid avarice of a venal administration leave behind them. Twelve or fifteen towns depopulated, and four or five hundred villages uninhabited, presented themselves to his view. Far from being discouraged by such a sad spectacle, his compassion only became the more lively from it; and he resolved to restore population, plenty, and commerce to this land, which had even lost the appearance of an inhabited country.
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.On the 20th of April, Frederick, having secretly placed his army in the best possible condition, commenced a rapid march upon Prague, thus plunging into the very heart of Bohemia. He advanced in three great columns up the valley of the Elbe and the Moldau. His movements were so rapid and unexpected that he seized several Austrian magazines which they had not even time to burn. Three months’ provisions were thus obtained for412 his whole army. The first column, under the king, was sixty thousand strong. The second column, led by General Bevern, numbered twenty-three thousand, horse and foot. The third, under Marshal Schwerin, counted thirty-two thousand foot and twelve thousand horse. On the 2d of May the banners of Frederick were seen from the steeples of Prague. They appeared floating from the heights of the Weissenberg, a few miles west of the city. At the same time, the other two columns, which had united under Marshal Schwerin, appeared on the east side of the Moldau, upon both banks of which the city is built.
All Saturday night the bombardment was continued with increasing fury. In the mean time four thousand wagons were packed, and, long before the dawn of Sunday morning, were on the road. The retreat was so admirably conducted that General Daun did not venture even to attempt to harass the retiring columns. Instead of moving in a northerly direction to Silesia, Frederick directed his march to the northwest, into Bohemia. On the 8th of July his long column safely reached Leutomischel. He there seized quite an amount of military stores, which General Daun, in his haste and bewilderment, had not been able to remove or to destroy. Five more marches conducted him to K?niggr?tz.After this address to the assembled generals Frederick rode out to the camp, and addressed each regiment in the most familiar and fatherly, yet by no means exultant terms. It was night. The glare of torches shed a lurid light upon the scene. The first regiment the king approached was composed of the cuirassiers of the Life Guard.
Prussia had enjoyed eight years of peace. But Frederick was not a popular man excepting with his own subjects. They idolized him. Innumerable are the anecdotes related illustrative of his kindness to them. He seemed to be earnestly seeking their welfare. But foreign courts feared him. Many hated him. He was unscrupulous and grasping, and had but very little sense of moral integrity. He was ambitious of literary renown; of reputation as a keen satirist. With both pen and tongue he was prone to lash without mercy his brother sovereigns, and even the courtiers who surrounded him. There were no ties of friendship which could exempt any one from his sarcasm. Other sovereigns felt that he was continually on the watch to enlarge his realms, by invading their territories, as he had robbed Maria Theresa of the province of Silesia.As General Daun approached the city, the Prussian general who had been left in command of the small garrison there sent word to him that, should he menace Dresden with his forces, the Prussian commander would be under the necessity of setting fire to the suburbs, as a measure of self-defense. Daun, expostulating vehemently against so cruel an act, regardless of the menace, approached the city on the 9th of November, and at midnight commenced rearing his batteries for the bombardment. In the mean time the Prussian general had filled many of the largest houses with combustibles. As the clock struck three in the morning the torch was applied. The unhappy inhabitants had but three hours’ notice that their houses were to be surrendered to destruction. Instantly the flames burst forth with terrific fury in all directions. Sir Andrew Mitchel, who witnessed the conflagration, writes:But Frederick was now a full-grown man. His heirship to the throne rendered him a power among the courts of Europe. It was doubtful whether he would again submit to a caning. The infirm old king, gouty, dropsical, weakened, and lamed by ulcers, could not conceal from himself that his power, with his energies, was rapidly waning. Indeed, at times, he even talked of abdicating in favor of his son. Whenever there was a transient abatement in his maladies, he roused himself to the utmost, took short journeys, and tried to deceive himself into the belief that he was well again.详情
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