A few days after this interview, the Dutch embassador, General Ginckel, arrived with the Resolution from the English and Dutch courts, demanding that the king should evacuate Silesia. Lord Hyndford was much embarrassed, apprehending that the presentation of the summons at that time would work only mischief. He persuaded General Ginckel to delay the presentation until he could send a courier to England for instructions. In a fortnight the courier returned with the order that the Resolution was immediately to be presented to his Prussian majesty.
In the summer of 1738 the infirm old king undertook a journey to Holland, on a visit of diplomacy to the Prince of Orange. The Crown Prince accompanied him. It does not, however, appear that they had much intercourse with each other on the journey. They spent several days at the beautiful palace of176 Loo, in Geldern, occupied by the Prince of Orange and his English bride, a niece to his Prussian majesty. The palace was imposing in its architectural structure, containing many gorgeous saloons, and surrounded with beautiful gardens. In a letter which Frederick wrote from Loo to Voltaire, dated August 6th, we find the following sentiments:“Seigneur Jordan,” the king writes, “thy letter has given me a great deal of pleasure in regard to all these talkings thou reportest. To-morrow I arrive at our last station this side of Glogau, which place I hope to get in a few days. All things favor my designs; and I hope to return to Berlin, after executing them, gloriously, and in a way to be content with. Let the ignorant227 and the envious talk. It is not they who shall ever serve as load-star to my designs; not they, but glory. With the love of that I am penetrated more than ever. My troops have their hearts big with it, and I answer to thee for success. Adieu! dear Jordan. Write me all the ill the public says of thy friend, and be persuaded that I love and will esteem thee always.”“It was an affecting sight,” says M. Bielfeld, “to see a dying man in the midst of a brilliant illumination, surrounded by princes, and visited by a triumphant monarch, who, in the midst of the incessant clamor of exultation, sought only to alleviate the sick man’s pangs, participating in his distress, and reflecting upon the vanity of all human grandeur.”
“I am, for the rest, your well-affectioned king,81 The object of Colonel Hotham’s mission was well known. The cordial reception he had met from the king indicated that his message was not an unwelcome one to his Prussian majesty. In the indecent hilarity of the hour, it was assumed that the marriage contract between Wilhelmina and the Prince of Wales was settled. Brains addled with wine gave birth to stupid jokes upon the subject. “A German ducat was to be exchanged for an English half guinea.” At last, in the semi-delirium of their intoxication, one proposed as a toast, “To the health of Wilhelmina, Princess of Wales.” The sentiment was received with uproarious jollity. Though all the company were in the same state of silly inebriation, neither the king nor the British ministers, Hotham and Dubourgay, for a moment lost sight of their settled policy. The king remained firm in his silent resolve to consent only to the marriage of Wilhelmina and the Prince of Wales. Hotham and Dubourgay could not swerve from the positive instructions which they had received, to insist upon both marriages or neither. Thus, notwithstanding this bacchanal jollification, neither party was disposed to swerve a hair’s breadth from its fixed resolve, and the question was no nearer a settlement than before.
The young sovereign commenced his reign with the utterance of very noble sentiments. The day after his accession he assembled the chief officers of his father to administer to them the oath of allegiance. He urged them to be humane in the exercise of all authority which might be delegated to them.“This, for the present, is her method of looking at the matter; this magnanimous, heroic, and occasionally somewhat female one. Her husband, the grand-duke, an inert but good-tempered, well-conditioned duke, after his sort, goes with her. Now, as always, he follows loyally his wife’s lead, never she his. Wife being intrinsically as well as extrinsically the better man, what other can he do?”
Within three months after the divorce, the Crown Prince, anxious for an heir, married, on the 18th of April, 1769, the Princess Frederica Louisa, of Hesse-Darmstadt. A son was born to them, who became Frederick William III.
The French, advancing from the Rhine on the west, were sweeping all opposition before them. They had overrun Hanover, and compelled the Duke of Brunswick, brother of George II., to withdraw, with his Hanoverian troops, from the alliance with the King of Prussia. This was a terrible blow to Frederick. It left him entirely alone to encounter his swarming enemies.
The reader will bear in mind that the camp at G?ttin, menacing Hanover, was acting in co-operation with Frederick’s ally, France, and that forty thousand men had been sent from France to the aid of those Prussian troops. Frederick now, entering into secret treaty with the enemy, while still feigning to be true to his ally, was perfidiously withdrawing his troops so as to leave the French unsupported. His treachery went even farther than this. In the presence of Lord Hyndford, the representative of England, he informed the Austrian general minutely how he could, to the greatest advantage, attack the French.“Never was there a place in the world where liberty of speech was so fully indulged, or where the various superstitions of men were treated with so much ridicule and contempt. God was respected. But those who, in His name, had imposed on mankind, were not spared. Neither women nor priests ever entered the palace. In a word, Frederick lived without a court, without a council, and without a religion.”
The next morning Frederick hastened to greet his sister. Wilhelmina was not pleased with his appearance. The cares of his new reign entirely engrossed his mind. The dignity of an absolute king did not sit gracefully upon him. Though ostentatiously demonstrative in his greeting, the delicate instincts of Wilhelmina taught her that her brother’s caresses were heartless. He was just recovering from a fit of the ague, and looked emaciate and sallow. The court was in mourning. During those funereal days no festivities could be indulged in. The queen-mother was decorously melancholy; she seems to have been not only disappointed, but excessively chagrined, to find that she was excluded by her son from the slightest influence in public affairs. The distant, arrogant, and assuming airs of the young king soon rendered him unpopular.
Here the young prince made the most solemn promises to try to regain his father’s favor. The king then asked: “Was it thou that temptedst Katte, or did Katte tempt thee?” Fritz promptly replied, “I tempted Katte.” “I am glad,” rejoined the king, “to hear the truth from you, at any rate.”详情
Copyright © 2020