The king, in still very calm and measured words, rejoined, “You would be right if I did not intend this desperate method for a good object. Listen to me. Great lords don’t feel it in their scalp when their subjects are torn by the hair. One has to grip their own locks as the only way to give them pain.”
“I think you will not be sorry if I say a few words to you respecting our rural amusements, for with persons who are dear to us we love to enter even into the smallest details. We have divided our occupations into two classes, of which the first consists of what is useful, and the second of what is agreeable. I reckon in the list of the usefuls the study of philosophy, history, and languages. The agreeables are music, the tragedies and comedies which we represent, the masquerades and presents which we give. The serious occupations, however, have always the prerogative of going before the others. And I think I can say that we make a reasonable use of our pleasures, only indulging in them to relieve the mind, and to prevent moroseness and too much philosophic gravity, which is apt not to yield a smile even to the graces.”Frederick, establishing his head-quarters at Chrudim, did not suppose the Austrians would think of moving upon him until the middle of June. Not till then would the grass in that cold region afford forage. But Maria Theresa was inspired by energies fully equal to those of her renowned assailant. Undismayed by the powerful coalition against her, she sent Prince Charles, her brother-in-law, early in May, at the head of an army thirty thousand strong, to advance by a secret, rapid flank march, and seize the Prussian magazines beyond the Elbe.While engaged in these labors the tidings reached him of the death of his brother Augustus William. He was Prince of Prussia, being, next to the childless Frederick, heir to the crown. Frederick seems to have received the news very heartlessly.
While on this march he wrote from Madlitz, under date of August 16th, to Marquis D’Argens, at Berlin:The French minister at the court of Berlin, Count Rothenburg, was a Prussian by birth. He was a man of much diplomatic ability, and a very accomplished gentleman. Having spent much of his life in Paris, he had acquired the polished manners of the French court, and wore the costume appropriate to the Tuileries and Versailles. He and his associates in the embassy attracted much attention as they appeared in their cocked hats, flowing wigs, laced coats, and other gorgeous trimmings. The king, in his homespun garb, was apprehensive that the example so obnoxious to him might spread.
The marquis looked for a moment upon the singular spectacle with astonishment. Then raising his hands, he exclaimed,
Who can imagine the conflicting emotions of joy and wretchedness, of triumph and shame, of relief and chagrin, with which the heart of Frederick must have been rent! The army of Prussia had triumphed, under the leadership of his generals, while he, its young and ambitious sovereign, who had unjustly provoked260 war that he might obtain military glory, a fugitive from the field, was scampering like a coward over the plains at midnight, seeking his own safety. Never, perhaps, was there a more signal instance of a retributive providence. Frederick knew full well that the derision of Europe would be excited by caricatures and lampoons of the chivalric fugitive. Nor was he deceived in his anticipations. There was no end to the ridicule which was heaped upon Frederick, galloping, for dear life, from the battle-field in one direction, while his solid columns were advancing to victory in the other. His sarcastic foes were ungenerous and unjust. But when do foes, wielding the weapons of ridicule, ever pretend even to be just and generous?
“The difficulties I had last campaign were almost infinite, there were such a multitude of enemies acting against me. Pomerania, Brandenburg, Saxony, frontiers of Silesia, were alike in danger, and often all at one time. If I escaped absolute destruction, I must impute it chiefly to the misconduct of my enemies, who gained such advantages, but had not the sense to follow them up. Experience often corrects people of their blunders. I can not expect to profit by any thing of that kind on their part in the course of this campaign.”148The king kicked him, and struck him several heavy blows with his cane. He was hit repeatedly in the face, and blood gushed from the wounds. With his own hands the king tore from Katte’s breast the cross of the Order of Saint John. After this disgraceful scene the interrogatory commenced. Katte confessed all the circumstances of the prince’s intended escape, but denied that there had been any design against the king or the state. His own and the prince’s letters were examined, but nothing was found in them to criminate either. Katte was then100 remanded to prison. Wilhelmina, after receiving the grossest possible insults from her father, who accused her, in coarsest terms, of being the paramour of Lieutenant Katte, was ordered to her room. Two sentries were placed at her door, and directions were given that she should be fed only on prison fare.“High madam,” he said, fervently, “at this crisis, alliance with Frederick is salvation to Austria. His continued hostility is utter ruin. England can not help your majesty. The slightest endeavor would cause the loss of Hanover.”
In June, 1730, Augustus, King of Poland, had one of the most magnificent military reviews of which history gives any record. The camp of Mühlberg, as it was called, was established upon an undulating field, twelve miles square, on the right bank of the Elbe, a few leagues below Dresden. It is hardly too much to say that all the beauty and chivalry of Europe were gathered upon that field. Fabulous amounts of money and of labor were expended to invest the scene with the utmost sublimity of splendor. A military review had great charms for Frederick William. He attended as one of the most distinguished of the invited guests. The Crown Prince accompanied the king, as his father dared not leave him behind. But Fritz was exposed to every mortification and every species of ignominy which the ingenuity of this monster parent could heap upon him.
“For a long time my heart had been swelling. I could not restrain my tears at hearing all these indignities. ‘Why do you cry?’ said he. ‘Ah! ah! I see that you are in low spirits. We must dissipate that dark humor. The music waits us. I will drive that fit out of you by an air or two on the flute.’ He gave me his hand and led me into the other room. I sat down to the harpsichord, which I inundated with my tears.”“Tantalus never suffered so much while standing in the river, the waters of which he could not drink, as I when, having received your package of the translation of Wolff, I was unable to read it. All the accidents and all the bores in the world were, I think, agreed to prevent me. A journey to Potsdam, daily reviews, and the arrival of my brother in company with Messrs. De Hacke and De Rittberg, have been my impediments. Imagine my horror, my dear Diaphanes,30 at seeing the arrival of this caravan without my having in the least expected them. They weigh upon my shoulders like a tremendous burden, and never quit my side, in order, I believe, to make me wish myself at the devil.”
PRINCE LEOPOLD INSPECTING THE ARMY IN HIS “CART.
“In that case, sir,” replied the king, “I wish you a good journey.”“It is almost touching,” Mr. Carlyle writes, “to reflect how unexpectedly, like a bolt out of the blue, all this had come upon Frederick, and how it overset his fine programme for the winter at Reinsberg, and for his life generally. Not the Peaceable magnanimities, but the Warlike, are the thing appointed Frederick this winter, and mainly henceforth. Those ‘golden or soft radiances’ which we saw in him, admirable to Voltaire and to Frederick, and to an esurient philanthropic world, it is not218 those, it is the ‘steel bright or stellar kind’ that are to become predominant in Frederick’s existence; grim hail-storms, thunders, and tornado for an existence to him instead of the opulent genialities and halcyon weather anticipated by himself and others.详情
Copyright © 2020