It was an outrage to which Frederick was not disposed to submit. He entered his remonstrances. The question was referred to the British Court of Admiralty. Month after month the decision was delayed. Frederick lost all patience. English capitalists held Silesian bonds to the amount of about one million two hundred and fifty thousand dollars.
On the 7th of January, 1742, Frederick’s eldest brother, William Augustus, was married to Louisa Amelia, a younger sister of the king’s neglected wife, Elizabeth. The king himself graced297 the festival, in gorgeous attire, and very successfully plied all his wonderful arts of fascination. “He appeared,” says Bielfeld, “so young, so gay, so graceful, that I could not have refrained from loving him, even if he had been a stranger.”A man’s moral nature must be indeed obtuse who could thus recommend the compulsion of a peaceable citizen to act the part of a traitor to his own country, under the alternative of having his house fired and his wife and children massacred.
The stunning news soon reached Frederick that General Fouquet, whom he had left in Silesia with twelve thousand men, had been attacked by a vastly superior force of Austrians. The assault was furious in the extreme. Thirty-one thousand Austrians commenced the assault at two o’clock in the morning. By eight o’clock the bloody deed was done. Ten thousand of the Prussians strewed the field with their gory corpses. Two thousand only escaped. General Fouquet himself was wounded and taken prisoner. To add to the anguish of the king, this disaster was to be attributed to the king himself. He had angrily ordered General Fouquet to adopt a measure which that general, better acquainted with the position and forces of the foe, saw to be fatal. Heroically he obeyed orders, though he knew that it would prove the destruction of his army.
181 “Sire, I can not bear these reproaches, which I do not deserve. I have tried, for the relief of your majesty, all the remedies which art can supply, or which nature can admit. If my ability or my integrity is doubted, I am willing to leave not only the university, but the kingdom. But I can not be driven into any place where the name of Hoffman will not be respected.”Wilhelmina, having thus given her very reluctant assent to her marriage with the Prince of Baireuth, wrote as follows to her mother:
It is a fact worthy of mention, as illustrative of the neglect with which the king had regarded his own German language in his devotion to the French tongue, that in these three lines there were eleven words wrongly spelled.He then requested to be shown the cup in which his heart would be placed after that operation. His daughter, Maria Theresa, who had married the Grand-duke Francis, was in a delicate state of health. The death of her father would place the weighty crown upon her youthful brow. Grief and agitation threw her helpless upon her bed. So important was her life to the world that the emperor was unwilling that, in her214 then condition, she should enter the death-chamber. “Tell my Theresa,” said he, in faint and dying accents, “that I bless her, notwithstanding her absence.”It is probable that the princess, in the strangeness of her position, very young and inexperienced, and insulted by cruel neglect, in the freshness of her great grief dared not attempt to utter a syllable, lest her voice should break in uncontrollable sobbings. The Crown Prince returned to Ruppin, leaving the princess at Berlin. Charles, the heir-apparent to the ducal crown of Brunswick, and brother of the Princess Elizabeth, about a152 week after the arrival of the princess in Berlin, was married to Fritz’s sister Charlotte—that same wicked Charlotte who had flirted with Wilhelmina’s intended, and who had so shamelessly slandered the betrothed of her brother. Several fêtes followed these marriages, with the usual concomitants of enjoyment and disappointment. Wilhelmina thus describes one of them:
Berlin was the capital of Brandenburg. K?nigsberg, an important sea-port on the Baltic, nearly five hundred miles east of Berlin, was the capital of the Prussian duchy. The ceremony20 of coronation took place at K?nigsberg. The road, for most of the distance, was through a very wild, uncultivated country. Eighteen hundred carriages, with thirty thousand post-horses, were provided to convey the court to the scene of coronation. Such a cavalcade was never beheld in those parts before. The carriages moved like an army, in three divisions of six hundred each. Volumes have been written descriptive of the pageant. It is said that the diamond buttons on the king’s coat cost seven thousand five hundred dollars each. The streets were not only tapestried with the richest cloth of the most gorgeous colors, but many of them were softly carpeted for the feet of the high-born men and proud dames who contributed, by their picturesque costume, to the brilliance of the spectacle. Frederick, with his own hands, placed the crown upon his brow. Thus was the kingdom of Prussia, ushered into being at the close of the year 1700.“Yes,” the prince replied.
The freezing gales of winter soon came, when neither army could keep the open field. Frederick established his winter quarters at Breslau. General Loudon, with his Austrians, was about thirty miles southwest of him at Kunzendorf. Thus ended the sixth campaign.“My gentleman admitted this, and led the conversation on to the Dutch government. He criticised it—probably to bring me to speak. I did speak, and gave him frankly to know that he was not perfectly instructed in the thing he was criticising.
“His majesty commands me to inform your royal highness that he has cause to be greatly discontented with you; that you deserve to have a court-martial held over you, which would sentence you and all your generals to death; but that his majesty will not carry the matter so far, being unable to forget that in the chief general he has a brother.”
425 In these hours of trouble the noble Wilhelmina was as true to her brother as the magnet to the pole. She was appalled by no dangers, and roused all her energies to aid that brother, struggling, with the world arrayed against him. The king appreciated his sister’s love. In a poetic epistle addressed to her, composed in these hours of adversity, he wrote:详情
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