“I rely upon your zeal and hearty concurrence to support the King of Prussia and the rest of my allies, and to make ample517 provision for carrying on the war, as the only means of bringing our enemies to equitable terms of accommodation.”“I answered that my regard for him had never been of an interested nature; that I would never ask any thing of him but the continuance of his friendship; and that I did not wish for one penny if it would in the least inconvenience him.The young officers in the Saxon army, having disposed their troops in comfortable barracks, had established their own head-quarters in the magnificent castle of Budischau, in the vicinity303 of Trebitsch. “Nothing like this superb mansion,” writes Stille, “is to be seen except in theatres, on the drop-scene of the enchanted castle.” Here these young lords made themselves very comfortable. They had food in abundance, luxuriously served, with the choicest wines. Roaring fires in huge stoves converted, within the walls, winter into genial summer. Here these pleasure-loving nobles, with song, and wine, and such favorites, male and female, as they carried with them, loved to linger.
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.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.
“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.”102The next morning they learned that Lieutenant Katte had been arrested. All the private papers of Fritz were left, under Katte’s charge, in a small writing-desk. These letters would implicate both the mother and the daughter. They were terror-stricken. Count Finckenstein, who was in high authority, was their friend. Through him, by the aid of Madam Finckenstein, they obtained the desk. It was locked and sealed. Despair stimulated their ingenuity. They succeeded in getting the letters. To destroy them and leave nothing in their place would only rouse to greater fury the suspicion and rage of the king. The letters were taken out and burned. The queen and Wilhelmina immediately set to work writing new ones, of a very different character, with which to replace them. For three days they thus labored almost incessantly, writing between six and seven hundred letters. They were so careful to avoid any thing97 which might lead to detection that paper was employed for each letter bearing the date of the year in which the letter was supposed to be written. “Fancy the mood,” writes Carlyle, “of these two royal women, and the black whirlwind they were in. Wilhelmina’s dispatch was incredible. Pen went at the gallop night and day. New letters of old date and of no meaning are got into the desk again, the desk closed without mark of injury, and shoved aside while it is yet time.”
Distinguished strangers were often admitted to the Tabagie. The Crown Prince Fritz was occasionally present, though always reluctantly. The other children of this numerous family not unfrequently came in to bid papa good-night. Here every thing was talked of, with entire freedom, all court gossip, the adventures of the chase, diplomacy, and the administrative measures of the government. Frederick William had but very little respect for academic culture. He had scarcely the slightest acquaintance with books, and gathered around him mainly men whose knowledge was gained in the practical employments of life. It would seem, from many well-authenticated anecdotes, which have come down to us from the Tabagie, that these smoking companions of the king, like Frederick William himself, must have been generally a coarse set of men.“When you sent me, inclosed in your letter, those verses for our Marcus Aurelius of the North, I fully intended to pay my court to him with them. He was at that time to have come to Brussels incognito. But the quartan fever, which unhappily he still has, deranged all his projects. He has sent me a courier to Brussels, and so I set out to find him in the neighborhood of Cleves.
Again, on the 8th, Dr. Zimmermann wrote: “The king is extraordinarily ill. On the 4th erysipelas appeared on the leg. This announces bursting and mortification. He has much oppression, and the smell of the wound is very bad.”
“P.S.—I most humbly beg your majesty not to speak of this323 to the queen-mother, as perhaps she would not approve of the step we are now taking.
Now, however, Frederick, in that downward path through which the rejecters of Christianity invariably descend, had reached the point at which he renounced all belief in the immortality of the soul and in the existence of God. In a poetic epistle addressed to Marshal Keith, he declares himself a materialist, and affirms his unwavering conviction that the soul, which he says is but the result of the bodily organization, perishes with that body. He declares suicide to be the only remedy for man in his hour of extremity.
It was on the 11th of November, 1741, that Frederick, elated with his conquest of Silesia, had returned to Berlin. In commencing the enterprise he had said, “Ambition, interest, and the desire to make the world speak of me, vanquished all, and war was determined on.” He had, indeed, succeeded in making the “world speak” of him. He had suddenly become the most prominent man in Europe. Some extolled his exploits. Some expressed amazement at his perfidy. Many, recognizing his sagacity296 and his tremendous energy, sought his alliance. Embassadors from the various courts of Europe crowded his capital. Fourteen sovereign princes, with many foreigners of the highest rank, were counted among the number. The king was in high spirits. While studiously maturing his plans for the future, he assumed the air of a thoughtless man of fashion, and dazzled the eyes and bewildered the minds of his guests with feasts and pageants.Notwithstanding this letter, Frederick refused to give General Zastrow any further employment, but left him to neglect, obscurity, and poverty. Zastrow wrote to the king imploring a court-martial. He received the following laconic reply:详情
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