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:But no sooner did Frederick get an intimation that Austria was contemplating this enlargement of her domains than he roused himself to prevent it with all the vigor of his earlier years. It was a very delicate matter; for Charles Theodore, the elector, and his nephew August Christian, heir to the electorate, a young gentleman of very illustrious pedigree, but of a very slender purse, had both been bribed by Austria secretly to co-operate in the movement. The reader will be interested in Carlyle’s account, slightly abbreviated, of Frederick’s skill in diplomacy:
“There is nothing left for us, my dear lord, but to mingle and blend our weeping for the losses we have had. If my head were a fountain of tears, it would not suffice for the grief I feel.
At the bridges Frederick found but three thousand men of his late army. The huts around were filled with the wounded and the dying, presenting an aspect of misery which, in these hours of terrible defeat, appalled his majesty. In one of these huts, surrounded by mutilated bodies, groans, and death, Frederick wrote the following dispatch to his minister (Finckenstein) at Berlin. It was dated Oetscher, August 12, 1759:
“The king,” writes Stille, “though fatigued, would not rest satisfied with reports or distant view. Personally he made the tour of the whole camp, to see that every thing was right, and posted the pickets himself before retiring.”
“If it be true that you design to attack me again, I declare to you that I have still health enough to find you, wherever you are, and to take the most signal vengeance upon you. Thank the respect and obedience which have hitherto restrained my arm, and saved you from the worst adventure you have ever had.
His energy inspired the whole kingdom, and paved the way25 for the achievements of his son. The father created the machine with which the son attained such wonderful results. He commuted the old feudal service into a fixed money payment. He goaded the whole realm into industry, compelling even the apple-women to knit at the stalls. The crown lands were carefully farmed out. He drained bogs, planted colonies, established manufactures, and in every way encouraged the use of Prussian products. He carried with him invariably a stout rattan cane. Upon the slightest provocation, like a madman, he would thrash those who displeased him. He was thoroughly an arbitrary king, ruling at his sovereign will, and disposing of the liberty, the property, and the lives of his subjects at his pleasure. Every year he was accumulating large masses of coin, which he deposited in barrels in the cellar of his palace. He had no powers of graceful speech, but spent his energetic, joyless life in grumbling and growling.On the evening of the 5th his Prussian majesty gave a grand ball. All the nobility, high and low, were invited. The provident king arranged that the expenses, which he was to defray, should not exceed half a guinea for each guest. Early hours were fashionable in those days. Frederick entered the assembly-rooms at six o’clock, and opened the ball with a Silesian lady. He was very complaisant, and walked through the rooms with a smile upon his countenance, conversing freely with the most distinguished of his guests. About ten o’clock he silently withdrew, but the dancing and feasting continued until a late hour.The Marquis of Botta, the Austrian envoy, endeavoring to penetrate the plans of Frederick, descanted upon the horrible condition of the roads in Silesia, which province he had traversed in coming to Berlin. The king listened with a quiet smile, and then, with much apparent indifference, replied,
FREDERICK THE GREAT, ?T. 59.The chivalry of Europe was in sympathy with the young and beautiful queen, who, inexperienced, afflicted by the death of her father, and about to pass through the perils of maternity, had been thus suddenly and rudely assailed by one who should have protected her with almost a brother’s love and care. Every court in Europe was familiar with the fact that the father of Maria Theresa had not only humanely interceded, in the most earnest terms, for the life of Frederick, but had interposed his imperial authority’ to rescue him from the scaffold, with which he was threatened by his unnatural parent. Frederick found that he stood quite alone, and that he had nothing to depend upon but his own energies and those of his compact, well-disciplined army.
“I find no fault with you; the blame is entirely my own in having appointed you to such a post.”
443 He did not order the exhausted troops to pursue the foe. Still, as he rode along the line after dark, he inquired,
“My dear Brother,—Your bad conduct has greatly injured my affairs. It is not the enemy, but your ill-concerted measures, which have done me this harm. My generals also are inexcusable, whether they gave you bad advice or only suffered you to come to such injudicious resolutions. In this sad situation it only remains for me to make a last attempt. I must hazard a battle. If we can not conquer, we must all of us have ourselves killed.“Europe is under the necessity of taking some speedy resolution, things are in such a state of crisis. Like a fever in a human body, got to such a height that quinquina becomes necessary. Shall we apply to Vienna, your majesty?”534 On the 24th of November the belligerents entered into an armistice until the 1st of March. All were exhausted. It was manifest that peace would soon be declared. Commissioners to arrange the terms of peace met at the castle of Hubertsburg, near Dresden. On the 15th of February, 1763, peace was concluded. Frederick retained Silesia. That was the result of the war.详情
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