A week after the arrival of the prince the Prussian king entered the camp. As it was expected that some remarkable feats of war would be exhibited in the presence of the king, under the leadership of the renowned Prince Eugene, a very large assemblage of princes and other distinguished personages was collected on the field. The king remained for a month, dwelling in a161 tent among his own troops, and sharing all their hardships. He, with his son, attended all the councils of war. Still no attempt was made to relieve Philipsburg. The third day after the king’s arrival the city surrendered to the French. The campaign continued for some time, with unavailing man?uvring on both sides of the Rhine; but the Crown Prince saw but little active service. About the middle of August the king left the camp to return home. His health was seriously impaired, and alarming symptoms indicated that he had not long to live. His journey was slow and painful. Gout tortured him. Dropsy threatened to strangle him. He did not reach home until the middle of September. The alarming state of the king’s health added very much to the importance of the Crown Prince. It was evident that ere long he must come into power. The following characteristic anecdote is related of the king during this illness:
“I took my brother by the hand, and implored the king to restore his affection to him. This scene was so touching that it drew tears from all present. I then approached the queen. She was obliged to embrace me, the king being close opposite. But I remarked that her joy was only affected. I turned to my brother again. I gave him a thousand caresses, to all which he remained cold as ice, and answered only in monosyllables. I presented to him my husband, to whom he did not say one word. I was astonished at this; but I laid the blame of it on the king, who was observing us, and who I judged might be intimidating my brother. But even the countenance of my brother surprised me. He wore a proud air, and seemed to look down upon every body.”“Write to me when you have nothing better to do. And don’t forget a poor philosopher who, perhaps to expiate his incredulity, is doomed to find his purgatory in this world.
In the mean time, during the two years in which Maria Theresa was making these conquests, Frederick, alarmed by the aggrandizement of Austria and the weakening of France, while unavailingly striving to promote peace, was busily employed in the administration of his internal affairs. He encouraged letters; devoted much attention to the Academy of Arts and Sciences; reared the most beautiful opera-house in Europe; devoted large sums to secure the finest musicians and the most exquisite ballet-dancers which Europe could afford. He sought to make his capital attractive to all those throughout Europe who were inspired by a thirst for knowledge, or who were in the pursuit of pleasure.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.
“Take it down,” said the king, “and hang it lower, that the people may not hurt their necks in looking at it.”At Wesel the king met Maupertuis, to whom we have already alluded, who was then one of the greatest of European celebrities. His discovery of the flattening of the earth at the poles had given him such renown that the kings of Russia, France, and Prussia were all lavishing honors upon him. It was a great gratification to Frederick that he had secured his services in organizing the Berlin Academy. While at Wesel the king was seized by a fever, which shut him up for a time in the small chateau of Moyland. He had never yet met Voltaire, and being very anxious to see him, wrote to him as follows, under date of September 6th, 1740:
96“I got to Berneck at ten. The heat was excessive. I found myself quite worn out with the little journey I had taken. I alighted at the house which had been got ready for my brother. We waited for him, and in vain waited till three in the afternoon. At three we lost patience; had dinner served without157 him. While we were at table there came on a frightful thunder-storm. I have witnessed nothing so terrible. The thunder roared and reverberated among the rocky cliffs which begirdle Berneck, and it seemed as if the world were going to perish. A deluge of rain succeeded the thunder.Just then eighteen thousand fresh Russian troops advanced upon them in solid phalanx from their centre and their right wing. It was nearly three o’clock in the afternoon. The fugitive Russians were rallied. With new impetuosity the re-enforced band hurled itself upon the Prussians. They speedily regained their hundred and eighty guns, and opened upon the ranks of Frederick such torrents of grape-shot as no flesh and blood could endure. Huge gaps were torn through his lines. His men recoiled, whirled round, and were driven pell-mell from the hill.
Frederick’s treatment of the unfortunate General Zastrow, who was in command at Schweidnitz, was quite peculiar. Very generously he wrote to him:The returning messenger took back the following reply. It was, as usual, ungrammatical, miserably spelled, and confused. Contemptuously the king spoke of his son in the third person, writing he and his instead of you and yours. Abruptly he commences:And now ensued a conflict such as has seldom been witnessed in modern times. The Russian soldiers would not run. Indeed, the bridges over the Mützel being broken down, they could only plunge into the river and be drowned. Frenzied with brandy,459 they fought like tigers. “Then began a tug of deadly massacring and wrestling, man to man, with bayonets, with butts of muskets, with hands, even with teeth, such as was never seen before. The shore of Mützel is thick with men and horses, who have tried to cross, and lie swallowed in the ooze.”119
Frederick William was in high spirits. Many distinguished strangers were invited to his court, and they were received with great magnificence. There were costly and showy entertainments, served by “six-and-twenty blackamoors,” bands of music, with much pomp of etiquette, and reviews of the giant guard and of the marvelously drilled army. Preparations were made for a review of great splendor on Monday, the 28th of May. The Prince of Baireuth was invited, though neither the queen nor Wilhelmina were aware of it. At the early hour of seven o’clock of the preceding evening the king went to bed, that he120 might be fresh for the review on the morrow. His high-born guests were left to be entertained by the queen and the princess. Just as they were passing in to supper, the sound of carriage wheels, approaching the foot of the grand staircase, was heard in the court-yard. As that was an honor conferred only upon princes, the queen was a little surprised, and sent to inquire who had arrived. To her consternation, she found that it was the Prince of Baireuth.
Joseph, the oldest son of Maria Theresa and Francis, by the will of his mother became emperor. But Maria Theresa still swayed the sceptre of imperial power, through the hands of her son, as she had formerly done through the hands of her amiable and pliant husband. The young emperor was fond of traveling. He visited all the battle-fields of the Seven Years’ War, and put up many monuments. Through his minister at Berlin, he expressed his particular desire to make the acquaintance of Frederick. The interview took place at Neisse on the 25th of August, 1769. His majesty received the young emperor on the grand staircase of the palace, where they cordially embraced each other.“Adieu; go and amuse yourself with Horace, study Pausanias, and be gay over Anacreon. As to me, who for amusement have nothing but merlons, fascines, and gabions, I pray God to grant me soon a pleasanter and peacefuler occupation, and you health, satisfaction, and whatever your heart desires.”
“The empress, then,” added Wilhelmina, “is a better exorcist than other priests.”详情
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