“Hardly,” he replied, “in that dress. Besides, your majesty has grown thinner.”
On the morning of the 17th of May Frederick’s army was drawn out in battle array, facing south, near the village of Chotusitz, about fifteen miles west of Chrudim. Almost within cannon-shot of him, upon the same plain, near the village of Czaslau, facing north, was the army of Prince Charles. The field was like a rolling western prairie, with one or two sluggish streams running through it; and here and there marshes, which neither infantry nor cavalry could traverse. The accompanying map will give the reader an idea of the nature of the ground and the position of the hostile forces.“Seckendorf” (the embassador of the emperor) “sometimes sends me money, of which I have great need. I have already taken measures that he should procure some for you. My galleons arrived yesterday, and I will divide their contents with you.
The next morning, in the intense cold of midwinter, Frederick set out several hours before daylight for the city of Prague, which the French and Bavarians had captured on the 25th of November. Declining all polite attentions, for business was urgent, he eagerly sought M. De Séchelles, the renowned head of the commissariat department, and made arrangements with him to perform the extremely difficult task of supplying the army with food in a winter’s campaign.Under Frederick William the newspaper press in Berlin amounted to nothing. The capital had not a single daily paper. Speedy destruction would crush any writer who, in journal, pamphlet, or book, should publish any thing displeasing to the king. Frederick proclaimed freedom of the press. Two newspapers were established in Berlin, one in French and one in German. Distinguished men were selected to edit them. One was a noted writer from Hamburg. Frederick, in his absolutism, had adopted the resolve not to interfere with the freedom of the press unless there were some gross violation of what he deemed proper. He allowed very bitter satires to be circulated in Berlin against himself, simply replying to the remonstrances of his ministers, “The press is free.”
“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
Frederick William was very anxious that little Fritz should be trained to warlike tastes and habits; that, like himself, he should scorn all effeminacy; that, wearing homespun clothes, eating frugal food, despising all pursuits of pleasure and all literary tastes, he should be every inch a soldier. But, to the bitter disappointment of the father, the child manifested no taste for soldiering. He was gentle, affectionate, fond of books and music,4 and with an almost feminine love clung to his sister. The29 stern old king was not only disappointed, but angered. These were qualities which he deemed unmanly, and which he thoroughly despised.“Never mind,” said the king; “it is a cheap price to pay for escaping an attack from Pandours in the rear, while such a battle was raging in front.”
MAP OF THE SECOND SILESIAN CAMPAIGN.
“Gentlemen,” said Frederick, “I have assembled you here for a555 public object. Most of you, like myself, have often been in arms with one another, and are grown gray in the service of our country. To all of us is well known in what dangers, toils, and renown we have been fellow-sharers. I doubt not in the least that all of you, as myself, have a horror of bloodshed; but the danger which now threatens our countries not only renders it a duty, but puts us in the absolute necessity, to adopt the quickest and most effectual means for dissipating at the right time the storm which threatens to break out upon us.“‘This is a sister I adore, and to whom I am obliged beyond measure. She has the goodness to promise me that she will take care of you and help you with her good counsel. I wish you to respect her beyond even the king and queen, and not to take the least step without her advice. Do you understand?’
The weal or woe of a single human polyp was, in the view of Frederick, entirely unimportant in comparison with the great enterprises he was ambitious of achieving. For this dismemberment of Poland Frederick was severely assailed in a book entitled “Polish Dialogues.” In answer to a letter from Voltaire, he wrote, under date of March 2, 1775:“My dear Voltaire,—France has been considered thus far as the asylum of unfortunate monarchs. I wish that my capital should become the temple of great men. Come to it, then, my dear Voltaire, and give whatever orders can tend to render a residence in it agreeable to you. My wish is to please you, and wishing this, my intention is to enter entirely into your views.
FREDERICK AT THE MILL.“I forget how the conversation changed. But I know that it grew so free that, seeing somebody coming to join in it, the king warned him to take care, saying that it was not safe to converse with a man doomed by the theologians to everlasting fire. I felt as if he somewhat overdid this of his ‘being doomed,’ and that he boasted too much of it. Not to hint at the dishonesty of these free-thinking gentlemen, who very often are thoroughly afraid of the devil, it is at least bad taste to make display of such things. And it was with the people of bad taste whom he had about him, and some dull skeptics of his own academy, that he had acquired the habit of mocking at religion.”125 Grumkow then goes on to relate, quite in detail, that the king took up the subject of theology. “He set forth the horrible results of that absolute decree notion which makes God the author of sin; and that Jesus Christ died only for some.” The prince declared that he had thoroughly renounced that heresy. The king then added:
The companions of the king were well-bred men, of engaging manners, commanding intelligence, and accustomed to authority. The entertainment was superb, with an abundance of the richest wines. The conversation took a wide range, and was interesting and exciting to a high degree. The French officers were quite bewildered by the scene. The count was perfect master of the French language, was very brilliant in his sallies, and seemed perfectly familiar with all military affairs. He was treated with remarkable deference by his companions, some of whom were far his superiors in years.But, immediately after these ceremonies were over, the new monarch, who assumed the crown with the title of Frederick William, not with that of Frederick II., to the utter consternation of the court, dismissed nearly every honorary official of the palace, from the highest dignitary to the humblest page. His flashing eye and determined manner were so appalling that no one ventured to remonstrate. A clean sweep was made, so that the household was reduced to the lowest footing of economy consistent with the supply of indispensable wants. Eight servants were retained at six shillings a week. His father had thirty pages; all were dismissed but three. There were one thousand saddle-horses in the royal stables; Frederick William kept thirty. Three fourths of the names were struck from the pension-list. Thus rigidly the king went on through every department of administrative and household expenses, until they were reduced to below a fifth of what they had been under his father.详情
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