Within three months after the divorce, the Crown Prince, anxious for an heir, married, on the 18th of April, 1769, the Princess Frederica Louisa, of Hesse-Darmstadt. A son was born to them, who became Frederick William III.
66 Just as these troubles were commencing, there was, in May, 1729, a marriage in the Prussian royal family. Some two hundred miles south of Brandenburg there was, at that time, a small marquisate called Anspach, next in dignity to a dukedom. The marquis was a frail, commonplace boy of seventeen, under the care of a young mother, who was widowed, sick, and dying. Much to the dissatisfaction of Sophie Dorothee, the queen-mother, Frederick William had arranged a marriage between this young man, who was far from rich, and his second daughter, Frederica Louisa, who was then fifteen years of age.7
“Is it possible, sire,” Marshal Belleisle replied, “that you can dare to abandon the best of your allies, and to deceive so illustrious a monarch as the King of France?
The expenses of the war were enormous. Frederick made a careful estimate, and found that he required at least three hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars a month. He could not carry on another campaign with less than four million five hundred thousand dollars. He had been expecting that Louis XV., who in person was in command of the French army on the Rhine, would send him a re-enforcement of sixty thousand troops to enable him to crush the forces of Prince Charles. But week after358 week passed, and no re-enforcements came. The French, intent upon their conquest, were as selfishly pursuing their own interests on the Rhine as Frederick was pursuing his in Silesia.On Friday, the 1st of October, 1756, the Prussian army under Frederick, leaving the Saxons besieged in their encampment, marched up the river to meet the foe advancing to the aid of the Saxons. They encountered the Austrians, under Marshal Browne, at Lobositz, about thirty miles south of Pirna. A terrible battle of seven hours’ duration ensued. The opposing generals were of nearly equal ability. The soldiers were equal in courage. The carnage of the bloody conflict was almost equal on either side. The desperation of the Prussian assault was resistless. Bayonet often crossed bayonet. The Austrians were driven from their strong position into the city. The Prussians laid the city in ashes. As the Austrians fled from the blazing streets, many, endeavoring to swim across the Elbe, were drowned. At the close of this bloody strife General Browne withdrew his army to the rear, where he still presented a defiant front to the Prussians. He had lost from his ranks, in killed and wounded, two thousand nine hundred and eighty-four. The loss of Frederick was still greater; it numbered three thousand three hundred and eight. Neither party would confess to a defeat.Upon reaching the palace, he stood for a moment upon the grand stairway, and, surveying the thronging thousands, took off his hat and saluted them. This gave rise to a burst of applause louder and heartier than Berlin had ever heard before. The king disappeared within the palace. Where the poor neglected queen was at this time we are not informed. There are no indications that he gave her even a thought.
“The queen had contrived in her bedroom a sort of labyrinth of screens, so arranged that I could escape the king without being seen, in case he suddenly entered. One day the king came and surprised us. I wished to escape, but found myself embarrassed among these screens, of which several fell, and prevented my getting out of the room. The king was at my heels, and tried to catch hold of me in order to beat me. Not being able any longer to escape, I placed myself behind my governess. The king advanced so much that she was obliged to fall back, but, finding herself at length near the chimney, she was stopped. I found myself in the alternative of bearing the fire or the blows. The king overwhelmed me with abuse, and tried to seize me by the hair. I fell upon the floor. The scene would have had a tragical end had it continued, as my clothes were actually beginning to take fire. The king, fatigued with crying out and with his passion, at length put an end to it and went away.”Regardless himself of comfort, insensible to fatigue, dead to affection, he created perhaps the most potent military machine earth has ever known. Prussia was an armed camp. The king prized his soldiers as a miser prizes his gold coin, and was as unwilling to expose them to any danger as the miser is to hazard his treasures. War would thin his regiments, soil his uniforms, destroy his materiel. He hated war. But his army caused Prussia to be respected. If needful, he could throw one hundred thousand of the best drilled and best furnished troops in Europe, like a thunderbolt, upon any point. Unprincipled monarchs would think twice before they would encroach upon a man thus armed.
“‘No, no,’ said he; ‘you shall have those one hundred thousand thalers. I have destined them for you. People will be much surprised to see me act quite differently from what they had expected. They imagine I am going to lavish all my treasures, and that money will become as common as pebbles in Berlin. But they will find that I know better. I mean to increase my army, and to leave all other things on the old footing. I will have every consideration for the queen, my mother, and will satiate her with honors. But I do not mean that she shall meddle with my affairs. If she try it she will find so.’
516 “This is, I swear to you, such a dog’s life [chienne de vie] as no one but Don Quixote ever led before me. All this tumbling, toiling, bother, and confusion have made me such an old fellow that you would scarcely know me again. The hair on the right side of my head has grown quite gray. My teeth break and fall out. My face is as full of wrinkles as the furbelow of a petticoat. My back is bent like a fiddle-bow, and my spirit is sad and downcast, like a monk of La Trappe.“You inspire the ambition to follow in your footsteps. But I, how often have I said to myself, unhappy man! throw down a burden which is above thy strength! One can not imitate Voltaire without being Voltaire.
159While in this deplorable condition, Maupertuis was found by the Prince of Lichtenstein, an Austrian officer who had met him in Paris. The prince rescued him from his brutal captors and supplied him with clothing. He was, however, taken to Vienna as a prisoner of war, where he was placed on parole. Voltaire, whose unamiable nature was pervaded by a very marked vein of malignity, made himself very merry over the misfortunes of the philosopher. As Maupertuis glided about the streets of Vienna for a time in obscurity, the newspapers began to speak of his scientific celebrity. He was thus brought into notice. The queen treated him with distinction. The Grand-duke Francis drew his own watch from his pocket, and presented it to Maupertuis265 in recompense for the one he had lost. Eventually he was released, and, loaded with many presents, was sent to Brittany.Early in the spring of 1759 the Prussian king had gathered the main body of his troops in fortresses and strong positions in the vicinity of Landshut, on the southwestern frontier of Silesia. The enemy, under General Daun, faced him, in longer and denser lines, equally well intrenched. At the same time, powerful bands of the allies were in various parts of Europe, menacing the domains of Frederick at every vulnerable point. The allies dreaded477 the prowess of their foe. Frederick was compelled to caution by the exhaustless numbers of his opponents. Thus for many weeks neither party entered upon any decisive action. There was, however, an almost incessant series of fierce and bloody skirmishes.
“The thought alone,” he wrote, “of your death, my dear Suhm, affords me an argument in proof of the immortality of the soul. For is it possible that the spirit which acts in you with so much clearness, brightness, and intelligence, which is so different from matter and from body—that fine soul endowed with so many solid virtues and agreeable qualities—is it possible that this should not be immortal? No! I would maintain in solid argument that, if the greatest part of the world were to be annihilated,426 you, Voltaire, Boileau, Newton, Wolfius, and some other geniuses of this order must be immortal.”107
Circumstances had already rendered Frederick one of the most important personages in Europe. He could ally himself with France, and humble Austria; or he could ally himself with England and Austria, and crush France. All the lesser lights in the Continental firmament circulated around these central luminaries. Consequently Frederick was enabled to take a conspicuous part in all the diplomatic intrigues which were then agitating the courts of Europe.详情
Copyright © 2020