BATTLE OF ROSSBACH, NOVEMBER 5, 1757.CHAPTER XII. THE INVASION OF SILESIA.
While Frederick William was confined to his room, tormented by the gout, he endeavored to beguile the hours in painting in oil. Some of these paintings still exist, with the epigraph, “Painted by Frederick William in his torments.” Wilhelmina writes:About three weeks after this sad betrothal, Fritz wrote to his sister Wilhelmina, under date of Berlin, March 24, 1732, as follows:Public opinion was then much less potent than now; still it was a power. Frederick had two objects in view in again drawing the sword. One was to maintain possession of Silesia, which was seriously menaced; the other was to enlarge his territory, and thus to strengthen his hold upon his new conquest, by adding to Prussia the three important Bohemian principalities of K?niggratz, Bunzlau, and Leitmeritz. By a secret treaty, he had secured the surrender of these provinces in payment for the assistance his armies might furnish the allies; but policy required that he should not avow his real motives. He therefore issued a manifesto, in which he falsely stated,
“I have seen neither my brother48 nor Keyserling.49 I left them at Breslau, not to expose them to the dangers of war. They perhaps will be a little angry, but what can I do? the rather as, on this occasion, one can not share in the glory unless one is a mortar!
“But behold the caprice of Fortune. After a hundred preferences of my rivals, she smiles upon me, and packs off the hero of the hat and sword, whom the pope had blessed, and who had gone on pilgrimages. He skulks out of Saxony, panting like a dog whom the cook has flogged out of the kitchen.”“I will write to Madame Du Chatelet in compliance with your wish. To speak to you frankly concerning her journey, it is Voltaire, it is you, it is my friend that I desire to see. I can not say whether I shall travel or not travel. Adieu, dear friend, sublime spirit, first-born of thinking beings. Love me always sincerely, and be persuaded that none can love and esteem you more than I.”
On the 11th of October an express courier reached Frederick’s camp with the alarming intelligence that an Austrian division of fifteen thousand men was on the march for Berlin. The city was but poorly fortified, and held a garrison of but four thousand429 troops. Frederick had no doubt that the Austrian army was acting in co-operation with other forces of the allies, advancing upon his metropolis from the east, north, and west. Immediately he collected all his available troops and commenced a rapid march for the protection of his capital. In the mean time Wilhelmina had heard of this new peril. A rumor also had reached her that there had been a battle, and that her brother was wounded. The following letter reveals the anguish of her heart:The return mail brought back, under date of May 22, the stereotype British answer: “Both marriages or none.” Just before the reception of this reply, as Colonel Hotham was upon the eve of leaving Berlin, the Crown Prince addressed to him, from Potsdam, the following interesting letter:Two events occurred at this time highly characteristic of the king. There was a nobleman by the name of Schlubhut, occupying a high official position, who was found a defaulter to the amount of a sum equal to twenty-five thousand dollars. The supreme court sentenced him to three or four years’ imprisonment. The king was indignant at the mildness of the sentence. “What,” said he, “when the private thief is sent to the gallows, shall a nobleman and a magistrate escape with fine and imprisonment?” Schlubhut was immediately sent to prison. All night long he was disturbed with the noise of carpentering in the castle square in front of his cell. In the morning he saw directly before his window a huge gallows erected. Upon that126 gallows he was immediately hung, and his body was left to swing in the wind for several days, some say for weeks.
Though Wilhelmina was also a close prisoner in her apartment in the Berlin palace, and was fed upon the coarsest fare, she103 still had a comfortable room, her musical instruments, and the companionship of her governess, Madam Sonsfeld. It was rather a relief to the unhappy princess to be shut out from the presence of her father and from the sound of his voice. She occasionally obtained a smuggled letter from her mother, and even got one, in pencil, from her brother, full of expressions of tenderness.
“I am greatly surprised that your excellency does not more accurately follow my orders. If you were more skillful than C?sar, and did not with strict fidelity obey my directions, all341 else were of no help to me. I hope this notice, once for all, will be enough, and that in future you will give no cause for complaint.详情
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