Prince Charles had arrived in Dresden the night before. He heard the roar of the cannonade all the day, but, for some unexplained reason, did not advance to the support of his friends. The very unsatisfactory excuse offered was, that his troops were exhausted by their long march; and that, having been recently twice beaten by the Prussians, his army would be utterly demoralized if led to another defeat.
489 “Above fifty thousand human beings were on the palace esplanade and the streets around, swaying hither and thither in an agony of expectation, in alternate paroxysms of joy, of terror, and of woe. Often enough the opposite paroxysms were simultaneous in the different groups. Men crushed down by despair were met by men leaping into the air for very gladness.”Wusterhausen, where the young Crown Prince spent many of these early years of his life, was a rural retreat of the king about twenty miles southeast from Berlin. The palace consisted of a plain, unornamented, rectangular pile, surrounded by numerous outbuildings, and rising from the midst of low and swampy grounds tangled with thickets and interspersed with fish-pools. Game of all kinds abounded in those lakelets, sluggish streams, and jungles.
192 On the 22d of June a complaint was made to the king that the Roman Catholic schools were perverted to seducing Protestants to become Catholics. Frederick returned the complaint with the following words written upon the margin:CHAPTER VI. THE MARRIAGE OF WILHELMINA.
Then addressing Grumkow, she said, in tones deliberate and76 intense, “For you, sir, who are the author of my misfortunes, may my curse fall upon you and your house. You have this day killed me. But I doubt not that Heaven will hear my prayer and avenge my wrongs.”The young king, all unaccustomed to those horrors of war which he had evoked, was swept along with the inundation. The danger of his falling in the midst of the general carnage, or of his capture, which was, perhaps, still more to be dreaded, was imminent. His friends entreated him to escape for his life. Even Marshal Schwerin, the veteran soldier, assured him that the battle was lost, and that he probably could escape capture only by a precipitate flight.
“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.”102On the 15th of June Frederick gave a grand dinner to his generals at his head-quarters. In an after-dinner speech he said to them,
Frederick had caused signal cannon to be placed at suitable points between Breslau and Strehlin, which, by transmitting reports, should give him as early intelligence as possible of the success of the enterprise. About noon, in the midst of the grand man?uvrings on the parade-ground, one distant cannon-shot was heard, to the great satisfaction of Frederick, who alone understood its significance.
“You never can believe, my adorable sister, how concerned I am about your happiness. All my wishes centre there, and every moment of my life I form such wishes. You may see by this that I preserve still that sincere friendship which has united our hearts from our tenderest years. Recognize at least, my dear sister, that you did me a sensible wrong when you suspected me of fickleness toward you, and believed false reports of my listening to tale-bearers—me, who love only you, and whom neither absence nor lying rumors could change in respect of you. At least, don’t again believe such things on my score, and never mistrust me till you have had clear proof, or till God has forsaken me, or I have lost my wits.It was now midwinter. Frederick, having established his troops in winter quarters, took up his residence in Breslau. His troubles were by no means ended. Vastly outnumbering foes still surrounded him. Very vigorous preparations were to be made for the sanguinary conflicts which the spring would surely introduce. Frederick did what he could to infuse gayety into the society at Breslau, though he had but little heart to enter into those gayeties himself. For a week he suffered severely from colic pains, and could neither eat nor sleep. “Eight months,” he writes, “of anguish and agitation do wear one down.”His garrison consisted of about fourteen thousand infantry and six hundred dragoons. General Daun was at the distance of but two marches, with a larger Austrian force than Frederick commanded. Nothing can more clearly show the dread with which the Austrians regarded their antagonist than the fact that General Daun did not march immediately upon Olmütz, and,451 with the aid of a sally from the garrison, overwhelm and crush Frederick beneath their united assaults.
“Nevertheless, in making my bargain with the Duke of Bevern, manage that my intended be brought up under her grandmother.20 I should rather have a wife who would dishonor me than to marry a blockhead who would drive me mad by her awkwardness, and whom I should be ashamed to produce.“You, as a follower of Epicurus, put a value upon life. As for me, I regard death from the Stoic point of view. Never shall I see the moment which will oblige me to make a disadvantageous peace. No persuasion, no eloquence, shall ever induce me to sign my own dishonor. Either I will bury myself under the ruins of my country, or, if that consolation appears too great to the Destiny which persecutes me, I shall know how to put an end to my misfortunes when it is no longer possible to bear them. I have acted, and continue to act, in pursuance of this conviction, and according to the dictates of honor, which have always directed my steps. My conduct shall continue, at all times, to be conformable to these principles.
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FREDERICK AND WILHELMINA.“Würben, in the centre, is like a citadel looking down upon Striegau Water. Heavy cannon, plenty of them, we have brought from Schweidnitz. We have four hundred and eighty cannon in all, and one hundred and eighty-two mines. Würben, our citadel and centre, is about five miles from Schweidnitz. Before our lines are palisades and chevaux-de-frise. Woods we have in abundance in our circuit, and axes for carpentries of that kind. There are four intrenched knolls; twenty-four big batteries capable of playing beautifully, all like pieces in a concert.”168
The prospects of Maria Theresa seemed now quite desperate. We know not that history records a more inglorious act than that Europe should have thus combined to take advantage of the youth and inexperience of this young queen, weeping over the grave of her father, and trembling in view of her own approaching hour of anguish, by wresting from her the inheritance which had descended to her from her ancestors. France and272 Germany, inspired by the most intense motives of selfish ambition, were to fall upon her, while the most effectual precautions were adopted to prevent Russia and England from coming to her aid.Baron Bielfeld, a member of the court, thus describes her personal appearance: “Her royal highness is tall of stature, and her figure is perfect. Never have I seen a more regular shape in all its proportions. Her neck, her hands, and her feet might serve as models to the painter. Her hair, which I have particularly admired, is of a most beautiful flaxen, but somewhat inclining to white, and shines, when not powdered, like rows of pearls. Her complexion is remarkably fine; and in her large blue eyes vivacity and sweetness are so happily blended as to make them perfectly animated.详情
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