“His Prussian majesty requires nothing for himself. He has taken up arms simply and solely with the view of restoring to the empire its freedom, to the emperor his imperial crown, and to all Europe the peace which is so desirable.While these sad scenes were transpiring, the Princess Wilhelmina was held in close captivity in her apartment at the palace in Berlin. The king had convened a council of eight clergymen, and had put to them the question whether a father had not a right to give his daughter in wedlock to whom he pleased. Much to the honor of these clergymen, they replied, with but one exception, in the negative.
“The king, as was not unnatural, had begun to get angry at her first answer. This last put him quite in a fury. But all his anger fell on my brother and me. He first threw a plate at my brother’s head, who ducked out of the way. He then let fly another at me, which I avoided in like manner. A hail-storm of abuse followed these first hostilities. He rose into a passion against the queen, reproaching her with the bad training which she gave her children, and, addressing my brother, said,Frederick remained at Sohr five days. The country was scoured in all directions to obtain food for his army. It was necessary that the troops should be fed, even if the poor inhabitants starved miserably. No tongue can tell the sufferings which consequently fell upon the peasantry for leagues around. Prince Charles, with his shattered army, fell back to K?niggr?tz, remorselessly plundering the people by the way. Frederick, ordering his army to retire to Silesia, returned to Berlin.THE YOUNG LORDS OF SAXONY ON A WINTER CAMPAIGN.
“The unsuccessfulest negotiation well imaginable by a public man. Strehlen, Monday, 7th August, 1741—Frederick has vanished into the interior of his tent, and the two diplomatic gentlemen, the wind struck out of them in this manner, remain gazing at one another. Here, truly, is a young, royal gentleman that knows his own mind, while so many do not. Unspeakable imbroglio of negotiations, mostly insane, welters over all the earth; the Belleisles, the Aulic Councils, the British Georges, heaping coil upon coil; and here, notably in that now so extremely sordid murk of wiggeries, inane diplomacies, and solemn deliriums, dark now and obsolete to all creatures, steps forth one little human figure, with something of sanity in it, like a star, like a gleam of steel, sheering asunder your big balloons, and letting out their diplomatic hydrogen. Salutes with his hat, ‘Gentlemen, gentlemen, it is of no use!’ and vanishes into the interior of his tent.”
181 “Sire, I can not bear these reproaches, which I do not deserve. I have tried, for the relief of your majesty, all the remedies which art can supply, or which nature can admit. If my ability or my integrity is doubted, I am willing to leave not only the university, but the kingdom. But I can not be driven into any place where the name of Hoffman will not be respected.”THE CROWN PRINCE ENTERING THE TOBACCO PARLIAMENT.The whole city of Berlin was agitated by the rumor of these events. The violent scene in the palace had taken place in an apartment on the ground floor. The loud and angry tones of the king, the shrieks of the queen, the cries of the children, the general clamor, had so attracted the attention of the passers-by that a large crowd had assembled before the windows. It was necessary to call out the guard to disperse them. Difficult as it was to exaggerate outrages so infamous, still they were exaggerated. The report went to all foreign courts that the king, in his ungovernable rage, had knocked down the Princess Wilhelmina and trampled her to death beneath his feet.
Frederick spent three days with his sister at Baireuth. Wilhelmina was disappointed in his appearance. The brotherly affection she looked for was not found. He was cold, stately, disposed to banter her, and his conversation seemed “set on stilts.” Leaving Baireuth, the king continued his journey very rapidly toward Strasbourg. When they reached Kehl, on the eastern banks of the Rhine, they were informed that they could not cross the river without passports. One of the gentlemen drew up the necessary document, which the king signed and sealed with his signet-ring. The curiosity of the landlord had been excited, and he watched his guests from a closet. Seeing what was done, he said to Frederstorf, the king’s valet, “Count Dufour is the King of Prussia, sir; I saw him sign his name.” He was bribed to keep the secret.
An ordinary eye would not have seen in the position any peculiar military strength. It was an undulating plain about eight miles long and broad, without any abrupt eminences. A small river bordered it on the west, beyond which rose green hills. On the east was the almost impregnable fortress of Schweidnitz, with its abundant stores. Farm-houses were scattered about, with occasional groves and morasses. There were also sundry villages in the distance.The English minister at Berlin, Dubourgay, wrote to Hanover, urging that some notification of the king’s arrival should be sent60 to the Prussian court to appease the angry sovereign. George replied through Lord Townshend that, “under the circumstances, it is not necessary.” Thus the two kings were no longer on speaking terms. It is amusing, while at the same time it is humiliating, to observe these traits of frail childhood thus developed in full-grown men wearing crowns. When private men or kings are in such a state of latent hostility, an open rupture is quite certain soon to follow. George accused Frederick William of recruiting soldiers in Hanover. In retaliation, he seized some Prussian soldiers caught in Hanoverian territory. There was an acre or so of land, called the “Meadow of Clamei,” which both Hanover and Brandenburg claimed. The grass, about eight cart-loads, had been cut by Brandenburg, and was well dried.“Monsieur,—Although I have not the satisfaction of knowing you personally, you are not the less known to me through your works. They are treasures of the mind, if I may so express myself; and they reveal to the reader new beauties at every perusal. I think I have recognized in them the character of their ingenious author, who does honor to our age and to human nature. If ever the dispute on the comparative merits of the moderns and the ancients should be revived, the modern great men174 will owe it to you, and to you only, that the scale is turned in their favor. With the excellent quality of poet you join innumerable others more or less related to it.
“You will quickly write me your mind on this. I have purchased the Von Katsch house. The field marshal, as governor of Berlin, will get that to live in. His government house I will have made new for you, and furnish it all, and give you enough to keep house yourself there.
Frederick made several unavailing efforts during the winter to secure peace. He was weary of a war which threatened his utter destruction. The French were also weary of a struggle in which they encountered but losses and disgraces. England had but little to hope for from the conflict, and would gladly see the exhaustive struggle brought to a close.On Tuesday, the 20th of November, 1731, Wilhelmina, eight months after her betrothal, was married to the Prince of Baireuth. The marriage ceremony was attended with great magnificence in the royal palace of Berlin. The father of Frederick William, who was fond of pageantry, had reared one of the most sumptuous mansions in Europe, and had furnished it with splendor which no other court could outvie. Entering the interior of the palace through the outer saloon, one passed through nine apartments en suite, of grand dimensions, magnificently decorated, the last of which opened into the picture-gallery, a room ninety feet in length, and of corresponding breadth. All these were in a line. Then turning, you entered a series of fourteen rooms, each more splendid than the preceding. The chandeliers were of massive solid silver. The ceilings were exquisitely painted130 by Correggio. Between each pair of windows there were mirrors twelve feet high, and of such width that before each mirror tables could be spread for twelve guests. The last of these magnificent apartments, called the Grand Saloon, was illuminated by “a lustre weighing fifty thousand crowns; the globe of it big enough to hold a child of eight years, and the branches of solid silver.”
It is pleasant to record another incident more creditable to Frederick. In the year 1750 there was a poor and aged schoolmaster, by the name of Linsenbarth, a very worthy man, a veritable Dominie Sampson, residing in the obscure village of Hemmleben. He had been educated as a clergyman, had considerable book learning, was then out of employment, and was in extreme destitution. The pastor of the village church died, leaving a vacant pulpit, and a salary amounting to about one hundred dollars a year. The great man of the place, a feudal lord named Von Werthern, offered the situation to Linsenbarth upon condition that he would marry his lady’s termagant waiting-maid. Linsenbarth, who had no fancy for the haughty shrew, declined the offer. The lord and lady were much offended, and in various381 ways rendered the situation of the poor schoolmaster so uncomfortable that he gathered up his slender means, amounting to about three hundred dollars, all in the deteriorated coin of the province, and went to Berlin. His money was in a bag containing nearly nine thousand very small pieces of coin, called batzen.
548 “Frederick’s share,” writes Mr. Carlyle, “as an anciently Teutonic country, and as filling up the always dangerous gap between his Ost Prussen and him, has, under Prussian administration, proved much the most valuable of the three, and, next to Silesia, is Frederick’s most important acquisition.”详情
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