521 This letter was extensively circulated in England. It was greatly admired. It so happened that the court was then looking around for a bride for their young king. The result was that in the course of a few months Charlotte became Queen of England, as the wife of George III.231 “If you make any resistance, you shall be treated as prisoners of war. If you make no resistance, and promise not to serve against us, you may march out of the city unmolested, with your arms.The Prince of Ligne, a very accomplished courtier, about this566 time visited the sick and dying king. During his brief stay he dined daily with the king, and spent his evenings with him. In an interesting account which he gives of these interviews, he writes:
Frederick, ever regardless of fatigue and exposure for himself, never spared his followers. It was after midnight of the 28th when the weary column, frostbitten, hungry, and exhausted, reached Olmütz. The king was hospitably entertained in the fine palace of the Catholic bishop, “a little, gouty man,” writes Stille, “about fifty-two years of age, with a countenance open and full of candor.”This roused Voltaire. He did not venture to attack the king, but he assailed M. Maupertuis again, anonymously, but with greatly increased venom. A brief pamphlet appeared, entitled, “The Diatribe of Doctor Akakia, Physician to the Pope.” It was a merciless satire against M. Maupertuis. Voltaire was entirely unscrupulous, and was perfect master of the language of sarcasm. No moral principle restrained him from exaggerating, misrepresenting, or fabricating any falsehoods which would subserve his purpose. M. Maupertuis was utterly overwhelmed with ridicule. The satire was so keen that few could read it without roars of laughter. Voltaire, the king’s guest, was thus exposing to the contempt of all Europe the president of the Berlin Academy, the reputation of which Academy was dear to the king above almost every thing else. An edition of the pamphlet was printed in Holland, and copies were scattered all over Berlin. Another edition was published in Paris, where thirty thousand copies were eagerly purchased.
In conclusion, in most pathetic terms he entreated the king to listen to terms of peace, and thus to prevent the ruin of himself, of his people, and of his royal house.On Wednesday morning, December 15, the advance-guard of the Prussians saw before them the allied army, thirty-five thousand strong, occupying a very formidable position. Marshal Grüne and General Rutowski had advanced a few miles north from Dresden to meet the Prussians. Their troops were drawn up in battle array, extending from the River Elbe on the east, to the village of Kesselsdorf on the west. A small stream, with a craggy or broken gully or dell, extended along their whole front. The southern ridge, facing the advancing Prussians, bristled with artillery. Some of the pieces were of heavy calibre. Leopold had only light field-pieces.
Though General Soltikof had lost an equal number of men, he was still at the head of nearly eighty thousand troops flushed with victory. He could summon to his standard any desirable re-enforcements. An unobstructed march of but sixty miles would lead his army into the streets of Berlin. The affairs of Frederick were indeed desperate. There was not a gleam of hope to cheer him. In preparation for his retirement from the army, from the throne, and from life, he that evening drew up the following paper, placing the fragments of the army which he was about to abandon in the hands of General Finck. By the death of the king, the orphan and infant child of his brother Augustus William (who had died but a few months before) would succeed to the throne. Frederick appointed his brother Henry generalissimo of the Prussian army.As an administrative officer the young sovereign was inexorable and heartless in the extreme. Those who had befriended him in the days of his adversity were not remembered with any profusion of thanks or favors. Those who had been in sympathy with his father in his persecution of the Crown Prince encountered no spirit of revenge. Apparently dead to affection, and oblivious of the past, the young sovereign only sought for those agents who could best assist him in the work to which he now consecrated all his energies—the endeavor to aggrandize the kingdom of Prussia. Poor Doris Ritter received but a trivial pension for her terrible wrongs. Lieutenant Keith, his friend and confederate in his contemplated flight, who had barely escaped with his life from Wesel, after ten years of exile hastened home, hoping that his faithful services and sufferings would meet with a reward. The king appointed him merely lieutenant colonel,194 with scarcely sufficient income to keep him from absolute want. Perhaps the king judged that the young man was not capable of filling, to the advantage of the state, a higher station, and he had no idea of sacrificing his interests to gratitude.
On the other hand, Frederick himself was in the very prime of manhood. He was ambitious of military renown. He had a compact army of one hundred thousand men, in better drill and more amply provided with all the apparatus of war than any other troops in Europe. The frugality of his father had left him with a treasury full to overflowing. To take military possession of Silesia would be a very easy thing. There was nothing to obstruct the rush of his troops across the frontiers. There were no strongly garrisoned fortresses, and not above three thousand soldiers in the whole realm. No one even suspected that Frederick would lay any claim to the territory, or that there was the slightest danger of invasion. The complicated claim which he finally presented, in official manifestoes, was founded upon transactions which had taken place a hundred years before. In conversation with his friends he did not lay much stress upon any legitimate title he had to the territory. He frankly admitted, to quote his own words, that “ambition, interest, the desire of making people talk about me, carried the day, and I decided for war.”37“Grant that with zeal and skill, this day, I do What me to do behooves, what Thou command’st me to; Grant that I do it sharp, at point of moment fit, And when I do it, grant me good success in it.”113
“My discourse,” she writes, “produced its effect. He melted into tears, and could not answer me for sobs. He explained his thoughts by his embracings of me. Making an effort at length, he said, ‘I am in despair that I did not know thee. They had told me such horrible tales—I hated thee as much as I now love thee. If I had addressed myself direct to thee I should have escaped much trouble, and thou too. But they hindered me from speaking. They said that thou wert ill-natured as the devil, and wouldst drive to extremities, which I wanted to avoid. Thy mother, by her intriguings, is in part the cause of the misfortunes of the family. I have been deceived and duped on every side. But my hands are tied. Though my heart is torn in pieces, I must leave these iniquities unpunished.’”“All next day the body lay in state in the palace; thousands crowding, from Berlin and the other environs, to see that face for the last time. Wasted, worn, but beautiful in death, with the thin gray hair parted into locks, and slightly powdered.”201Notwithstanding the opposition, Parliament voted to continue the subsidy to Frederick of about three million four hundred thousand dollars (￡670,000). This sum was equal to twice or three times that amount at the present day.
It would seem that if ever there were an excuse for suicide it was to be found here. But what folly it would have been! Dark as these days were, they led the prince to a crown, and to achievements of whose recital the world will never grow weary. Fritz, goaded to madness, again adopted the desperate resolve to attempt an escape. A young Englishman, Captain Guy Dickens, secretary of the British embassador, Dubourgay, had become quite the intimate friend of the Crown Prince. They conferred together upon plans of escape. But the precautions adopted by the father were such that no plan which they could devise seemed feasible at that time. Fritz confided his thoughts to his friend, Lieutenant Keith, at Berlin.“Order me, your majesty,” said General Saldern, “to attack the enemy and his batteries, and I will cheerfully, on the instant, obey; but I can not, I dare not, act against honor, oath, and duty. For this commission your majesty will easily find another person in my stead.”
As he was upon the point of setting off, seven Austrian deserters came in and reported that General Neipperg’s full army was advancing at but a few miles’ distance. Even as they were giving their report, sounds of musketry and cannon announced that the Prussian outposts were assailed by the advance-guard of the foe. The peril of Frederick was great. Had Neipperg known the prize within his reach, the escape of the Prussian king would have been almost impossible. Frederick had but three or four thousand men with him at Jagerndorf, and only three pieces of artillery, with forty rounds of ammunition. Bands of Austrian cavalry on fleet horses were swarming all around him. Seldom, in the whole course of his life, had Frederick been placed in a more critical position.“There is nothing left for us, my dear lord, but to mingle and blend our weeping for the losses we have had. If my head were a fountain of tears, it would not suffice for the grief I feel.
“Lean indeed I am,” the king replied. “And what wonder, with three women163 hanging on the throat of me all this while!”详情
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