Charlotte added, in terms still more bitter and unpardonable, “Your majesty is not yet aware of all her merit. I was one morning at her toilet. I remarked that she is deformed. Her gown is stuffed on one side, and she has one hip higher than the other.” The cruel girl even went so far as to accuse the princess of suffering from loathsome ulcers. This discourse was uttered in a loud voice, in presence of the domestics. Fritz was evidently greatly annoyed, and blushed deeply, but said nothing. Immediately after supper he retired. Wilhelmina soon followed him, and they met again privately in Wilhelmina’s room. The princess asked her brother how he was now getting along with his father. He replied,
The court at Vienna received with transports of joy the tidings of the victory of Hochkirch. The pope was greatly elated. He regarded the battle as one between the Catholic and Protestant powers. The holy father, Clement XIII., sent a letter of congratulation to Marshal Daun, together with a sword and hat, both blessed by his holiness. The occurrence excited the derision of Frederick, who was afterward accustomed to designate his opponent as “the blessed general with the papal hat.” Frederick remained at Doberschütz ten days. During this time his brother Henry joined him from Dresden with six thousand foot470 and horse. This raised his force to a little above thirty thousand men. General Finck was left in command of the few Prussian troops who remained for the defense of the capital of Saxony.In August, 1785, the king again visited Silesia to review his troops. A private letter, quoted by Carlyle, gives an interesting view of his appearance at the time:
About two hundred miles south of Berlin there was quite an important marquisate called Baireuth. The marquis had a good-looking young son, the heir-apparent, who had just returned from the grand tour of Europe. Upon the death of his father he would enter upon quite a rich inheritance. This young marquis, Frederick by name, Baron Borck proposed as a substitute for77 the Duke of Weissenfels. It was understood that Wilhelmina was such a prize that kings, even, would be eager to obtain her hand. There could therefore be no doubt but that the Marquis of Baireuth would feel signally honored by such nuptials. The worn and weary mother eagerly accepted this proposal. She suggested it to the king. Sullenly he gave it his assent, saying, “I will passively submit to it, but will take no active part whatever in the affair. Neither will I give Wilhelmina one single copper for dowry.”Though, as we may see from Frederick’s private correspondence, he suffered terribly in these hours of adversity and peril, he assumed in public a tranquil and even a jocose air. Meeting De Catt upon the evening of that dreadful day, he approached him, smiling, and with theatric voice and gesture declaimed a passage from Racine, the purport of which was, “Well, here you see me not a conqueror, but vanquished.”For seven weeks the siege of Olmütz was prosecuted with great vigor. With much skill Frederick protected his baggage trains in their long and exposed route of ninety miles through forests and mountain defiles. General Keith was intrusted with the details of the siege facing the town toward the east; Frederick, with a vigilant corps of horse and foot, was about twenty miles to the west, watching every movement of General Daun, so far as he was able through the thick cloud of Pandours, behind which the Austrian commander endeavored to conceal all his man?uvres.
Early in October, the Crown Prince, not socially or morally improved by his campaigning, set out on his return to Berlin. He was by no means insensible to the fact that the crown of Prussia would soon rest upon his brow. On the 5th he called again upon his sister at Baireuth. She was sick and very sad. The following is Wilhelmina’s account of the interview:“You are quite right,” responded the king. “We will manage Daun. What I lament is the number of brave men who have died this morning.”While these scenes of war and intrigue were transpiring, no one knowing what alarming developments any day might present, Vienna was thrown into a state of terror in apprehension of the immediate approach of a French army to open upon it all the horrors of a bombardment. The citizens were called out en masse to work upon the fortifications. The court fled to Presburg, in Hungary. The national archives were hurried off to Gr?tz. The royal family was dispersed. There were but six thousand troops in the city. General Neipperg, with nearly the whole Austrian army, was a hundred and fifty miles distant to the north, on the banks of the Neisse. The queen, on the 10th of September, assembled at Presburg the Hungarian Parliament, consisting almost exclusively of chivalric nobles renowned in war. The queen appeared before them with her husband, the Grand-duke Francis, by her side, and with a nurse attending, holding her infant son and heir. Addressing them in Latin, in a brief, pathetic speech, she said:
MAP OF THE EAST.“My dear Voltaire,—In spite of myself, I have to yield to the quartan fever, which is more tenacious than a Jansenist. And whatever desire I had of going to Antwerp and Brussels, I find myself not in a condition to undertake such a journey without risk. I would ask of you, then, if the road from Brussels to Cleves would not to you seem too long for a meeting? It is the one means of seeing you which remains to me. Confess that I am unlucky; for now, when I could dispose of my person, and nothing hinders me from seeing you, the fever gets its hand into the business, and seems to intend disputing me that satisfaction.
182The Crown Prince was quite exasperated that the English court would not listen to his earnest plea for the marriage of Wilhelmina to the Prince of Wales, and accept his vows of fidelity to the Princess Amelia. The stubborn adhesion of the King of England to the declaration of “both marriages or none” so annoyed him that he banished Amelia from his thoughts. In his reckless way he affirmed that the romance of marriage was all over with him; that he cared not much what bride was forced upon him, provided only that she were rich, and that she were not too scrupulous in religious principle. The tongues of all the court gossips were busy upon this theme. Innumerable were the candidates suggested to share the crown of the future Prussian king. The Archduchess Maria Theresa, subsequently the renowned Empress of Germany, was proposed by Prince Eugene. But the imperial court could not wed its Catholic heiress to a Protestant prince. Still the emperor, though unwilling to give his daughter to the Crown Prince, was anxious137 for as close an alliance as possible with Prussia, and recommended a niece of the empress, the young Princess Elizabeth Christina, only daughter of Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick Bevern. She was seventeen years of age, rather pretty, with a fine complexion, not rich, of religious tastes, and remarkably quiet and domestic in her character.
“Hardly,” he replied, “in that dress. Besides, your majesty has grown thinner.”“We had just arrived there when it began to rain heavily, and the night became exceedingly dark. About nine o’clock one of the Austrian generals approached us with his light troops, and set fire to the houses close to which we were posted. By the blaze of the conflagration he soon discovered us, and began firing at us from the windows. The town was so full that it was impossible for us to find a place in it. Besides, the gate was barricaded, and from the top they were firing at us with our small field-pieces, which they had captured.
Four good days in penanceAt half past three o’clock on Friday morning, Frederick, with his whole army, was again upon the march. He swept quite around the eastern end of the Russian square, and approached it from the south. By this sagacious movement he could, in case of disaster, retreat to Cüstrin.The king coolly replied, “We must hope that they are more afraid of us than even of the gallows.”
“For my own part, therefore, I believe it would be better to conclude my sister’s marriage in the first place, and not even to ask from the king any assurance in regard to mine, the rather as his word has nothing to do with it. It is enough that I here reiterate the promises which I have already made to the king, my uncle, never to take another wife than his second daughter, the Princess Amelia. I am a person of my word, and shall be able to bring about what I set forth, provided that there is trust put in me. I promise it to you. And now you may give your court notice of it, and I shall manage to keep my promise. I remain yours always.The Crown Prince had for some time been inspired with an ever-increasing ambition for high intellectual culture. Gradually he was gathering around him, in his retreat at Reinsberg, men of high literary reputation, and was opening correspondence with the most distinguished men of letters in all the adjacent countries.“Gentlemen, I do not look upon you as my subjects, but as my friends. The troops of Brandenburg have always signalized222 themselves by their courage, and given, on different occasions, the fullest evidences of their bravery. I shall be an eye-witness to all your exploits. You will always fight in my presence. I will recompense those who shall distinguish themselves for their zeal in my service rather as a father than as a sovereign.”详情
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