“There has been a revolution in St. Petersburg. The Czar Peter III., your majesty’s devoted friend, has been deposed, and probably assassinated. The Czarina Catharine, influenced by the enemies of your majesty, and unwilling to become embroiled in a conflict with Austria and France, has ordered me to return instantly homeward with the twenty thousand troops under my command.”
Dr. Moore gives the following account of a surprising scene, considering that the king was an infirm and suffering man seventy-three years of age:
541 Frederick, though now at peace with all the world, found no nation in cordial alliance with him. He had always disliked England, and England returned the dislike with interest. The Duchess of Pompadour, who controlled France, hated him. Maria Theresa regarded him as a highway robber who had snatched Silesia from her and escaped with it. Frederick, thus left without an ally, turned to his former subject, now Catharine II., whom he had placed on the throne of Russia. On the 11th of April, 1764, one year after the close of the Seven Years’ War, he entered into a treaty of alliance with the Czarina Catharine. The treaty was to continue eight years. In case either of the parties became involved in war, the other party was to furnish a contingent of twelve thousand men, or an equivalent in money.“You know, my dear son, that when my children are obedient I love them much. So when you were at Berlin, I from my heart forgave you every thing; and from that Berlin time, since I saw you, have thought of nothing but of your well-being, and how to establish you; not in the army only, but also with a right step-daughter, and so see you married in my lifetime. You may be well persuaded I have had the Princesses of Germany taken survey of, so far as possible, and examined by trusty people what their conduct is, their education, and so on. And so a princess has been found, the eldest one of Bevern, who is well brought up, modest and retiring as a woman ought to be.
THE LAST REVIEW.The morning of a hot August day dawned sultry, the wind breathing gently from the south. Bands of Cossacks hovered around upon the wings of the Prussian army, occasionally riding up to the infantry ranks and discharging their pistols at them. The Prussians were forbidden to make any reply. “The infantry457 pours along like a plowman drawing his furrow, heedless of the circling crows.” The Cossacks set fire to Zorndorf. In a few hours it was in ashes, while clouds of suffocating smoke were swept through the Russian lines.
“He now began to speak of religion; and, with eloquent tongue, to recount what mischiefs scholastic philosophy had brought upon the world; then tried to prove that creation was impossible.The young king, all unaccustomed to those horrors of war which he had evoked, was swept along with the inundation. The danger of his falling in the midst of the general carnage, or of his capture, which was, perhaps, still more to be dreaded, was imminent. His friends entreated him to escape for his life. Even Marshal Schwerin, the veteran soldier, assured him that the battle was lost, and that he probably could escape capture only by a precipitate flight.
“Friedrich Wilhelm feels this sad contrast very much; the127 more, as the soldier is his own chattel withal, and of superlative inches. Friedrich Wilhelm flames up into wrath; sends off swift messengers to bring these judges, one and all, instantly into his presence. The judges are still in their dressing-gowns, shaving, breakfasting. They make what haste they can. So soon as the first three or four are reported to be in the anteroom, Friedrich Wilhelm, in extreme impatience, has them called in; starts discoursing with them upon the two weights and two measures. Apologies, subterfuges, do but provoke him farther. It is not long till he starts up growling terribly, ‘Ye scoundrels, how could you?’ and smites down upon the crown of them with the royal cudgel itself. Fancy the hurry-scurry, the unforensic attitudes and pleadings! Royal cudgel rains blows right and left. Blood is drawn, crowns cracked, crowns nearly broken; and several judges lost a few teeth and had their noses battered before they could get out. The second relay, meeting them in this dilapidated state on the staircases, dashed home again without the honor of a royal interview. This is an actual scene, of date, Berlin, 1731, of which no constitutional country can hope to see the fellow. Schlubhut he hanged, Schlubhut being only Schlubhut’s chattel. This musketeer, his majesty’s own chattel, he did not hang, but set him shouldering arms again after some preliminary dusting.”“All that I ever wanted, more than I ever demanded, Austria now offers me. Can any one blame me that I close such an alliance as ours all along has been, when such terms are presented to me as Austria now proposes?”“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.”
“However, madam, my sentence has failed to calm the minds. The schism continues, and the number of damnatory theologians prevail over the others.”180The next morning, in the intense cold of midwinter, Frederick set out several hours before daylight for the city of Prague, which the French and Bavarians had captured on the 25th of November. Declining all polite attentions, for business was urgent, he eagerly sought M. De Séchelles, the renowned head of the commissariat department, and made arrangements with him to perform the extremely difficult task of supplying the army with food in a winter’s campaign.
General Neipperg, in his account of the interview, writes, in reference to Frederick: “He is a very spirited young king. He will not stand contradiction; but a great deal may be made of him if you seem to adopt his ideas, and honor him in a delicate, dexterous way. He did not in the least hide his engagements with France, Bavaria, Saxony. But he would really, so far as I could judge, prefer friendship with Austria on the given terms. He seems to have a kind of pique at Saxony, and manifests no favor for the French and their plans.
“Indeed I do,” the king responded. “Otherwise I durst not risk a battle. And now, my children, a good night’s sleep to you. We shall soon attack the enemy; and we shall beat him, or we shall all die.”详情
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