Monday morning the storm ceased. There was a perfect calm. For leagues the spotless snow, nearly two feet deep, covered all the extended plains. The anxiety of Frederick had been so great that for two nights he had not been able to get any sleep. He had plunged into this war with the full assurance that he was to gain victory and glory. It now seemed inevitable that he was to encounter but defeat and shame.385 This good old man died in Berlin on the 24th of August, 1777, eighty-eight years of age.
The attack was made about eight o’clock, with the whole concentrated force of the Prussians, upon the southwest wing of the quadrilateral. The carnage produced by the Prussian batteries, as their balls swept crosswise through the massed Russians, was terrible. One cannon-shot struck down forty-two men. For a moment the Prussians were thrown into confusion by the destructive fire returned by the foe, and seemed discomfited. The Russians plunged wildly forward, with loud huzzas. In the eagerness of their onset their lines were broken.While matters were in this extremity, the British minister, Dubourgay, and Baron Knyphausen, a distinguished Prussian official, dispatched Rev. Dr. Villa, a scholarly man, who had been Wilhelmina’s teacher of English, on a secret mission to the court of England, to communicate the true state of affairs, and to endeavor to secure some disentanglement of the perplexities. Dr. Villa was a warm friend of Wilhelmina, and, in sympathy with her sorrows, wept as he bade her adieu. The king was in such ill humor that his daughter dared not appear in his presence. If Fritz came within reach of his father’s arm he was pretty sure to receive a blow from his rattan.
The physician replied, “Alas! not long.”
“Unless one day the tumult of business and the wickedness of men alter so divine a character, you will be worshiped by your people and loved by the whole world. Philosophers, worthy of the name, will flock to your states. The illustrious Queen Christina quitted her kingdom to go in search of the arts. Reign you, Monseigneur, and the arts will come to seek you.Though Frederick the First had reared and originally furnished this Berlin palace, yet the masses of solid silver wrought into its ornamentation were mainly the work of Frederick William. Conscious that his influence in Europe depended not only upon the power of his army, but also upon the fullness of his treasury, he had been striving, through all his reign, to accumulate coin. But the money, barreled up and stored away in the vaults of his palace, was of no service while thus lying idle. Banking institutions seem not then to have been in vogue in his realms. But the silver, wrought into chandeliers, mirror-frames, and music balconies, added to the imposing splendor of his court, gave him the reputation of great wealth, and could, at any time when necessary, be melted down and coined. The wealth thus hoarded by the father afterward saved the son from ruin, when involved in wars which exhausted his treasury.“My dear Brother, my dear Sister,—I write you both at once for want of time. I have as yet received no answer from Vienna. I shall not get it till to-morrow. But I count myself surer of war than ever, as the Austrians have named their generals, and their army is ordered to march to K?niggr?tz. So that, expecting nothing else but a haughty answer, or a very uncertain one, on which there will be no reliance possible, I have arranged every thing for setting out on Saturday next.”
“I have hardly strength enough to trace these lines. My state is altogether worthy of pity. It is not through any menaces, however violent they may have been, that I have yielded my consent to the king’s wishes. An interest still more dear to me has determined me to this sacrifice. I have been till now the innocent cause of all the unhappiness which your majesty has endured. My too sensible heart has been penetrated by the touching details you have latterly made of them.
BERLIN PALACE.“It being his majesty’s birthday,” writes Grumkow, “the prince, in deep emotion, followed his father, and, again falling prostrate, testified such heartfelt joy, gratitude, and affection over this blessed anniversary as quite touched the heart of the king, who at last clasped him in his arms, and hurried out to avoid sobbing aloud. The Crown Prince followed his majesty, and, in the presence of many hundred people, kissed his majesty’s feet, and was again embraced by his majesty, who said, ‘Behave well, as I see you mean, and I will take care of you.’ Which words,” writes Grumkow, “threw the Crown Prince into such an ecstasy of joy as no pen can express.”Frederick speedily concentrated all his strength at Bautzen, and strove to draw the Austrians into a battle; but in vain. The heights upon which they were intrenched, bristling with cannon, he could not venture to assail. After three weeks of impatient man?uvring, Frederick gathered his force of fifty thousand424 men close in hand, and made a sudden rush upon Bernstadt, about fifty miles to the east of Bautzen. Here he surprised an Austrian division, scattered it to the winds, seized all its baggage, and took a number of prisoners. He also captured the field equipage, coach, horses, etc., of General Nadasti, who narrowly escaped.
THE BATTLE OF PRAGUE, MAY 6, 1757.The king was not at all pleased either with his son’s studies or his recreations. Philosophy and literature were as obnoxious to the sturdy old monarch as were music and all amusements save the rough pastime of hunting stags and boars. He was a thorough materialist, having no other thought than to drill his troops and develop the resources of his realm. Beer and tobacco, both of which he used inordinately, were almost his only luxuries. He often growled loudly at what he deemed the coxcombry of his son and companions at Reinsberg, and frequently threatened to disperse his associates.
“Yesterday I wrote to you to come; to-day I forbid it. Daun is marching upon Berlin. Fly these unhappy countries. This news obliges me again to attack the Russians between here and Frankfort. You may imagine if this is a desperate resolution. It is the sole hope that remains to me of not being cut off from Berlin on the one side or the other. I will give these discouraged troops brandy, but I promise myself nothing of success. My one consolation is that I shall die sword in hand.In a letter to his friend Lord Marischal, dated Dresden, November 23, 1758, just after the retreat of Daun into Bohemia from Saxony, Frederick writes sadly,One of this smoking cabinet was a celebrated adventurer named Gundling, endowed with wonderful encyclopedian knowledge, and an incorrigible drunkard. He had been every where, seen every thing, and remembered all which he had either heard or seen. Frederick William had accidentally picked him up, and, taking a fancy to him, had clothed him, pensioned him, and introduced him to his Tabagie, where his peculiar character often made him the butt of ridicule. He was excessively vain, wore a scarlet coat, and all manner of pranks were cut up by these boon companions, in the midst of their cups, at his expense.
At just twenty minutes past two o’clock the breathing ceased, the spirit took its flight, and the lifeless body alone remained. Life’s great battle was ended, and the soul of the monarch ascended to that dread tribunal where prince and peasant must alike answer for all the deeds done in the body. It was the 17th of August, 1786. The king had reigned forty-six years, and had lived seventy-six years, six months, and twenty-four days.详情
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