George was a taciturn, jealous, sullen old man, who quarreled with his son, who was then Prince of Wales. The other powers of Europe were decidedly opposed to this double marriage, as it would, in their view, create too intimate a union between Prussia and England, making them virtually one. Frederick William also vexatiously threw hinderances in the way. But the heart of the loving mother, Sophie Dorothee, was fixed upon these nuptials. For years she left no efforts of diplomacy or intrigue untried to accomplish her end. George I. is represented40 by Horace Walpole as a stolid, stubborn old German, living in a cloud of tobacco-smoke, and stupefying his faculties with beer. He had in some way formed a very unfavorable opinion of Wilhelmina, considering her, very falsely, ungainly in person and fretful in disposition. But at last the tact of Sophie Dorothee so far prevailed over her father, the British king, that he gave his somewhat reluctant but positive consent to the double matrimonial alliance. This was in 1723. Wilhelmina was then fourteen years of age. Fritz, but eleven years old, was too young to think very deeply upon the subject of his marriage. The young English Fred bore at that time the title of the Duke of Gloucester. He soon sent an envoy to Prussia, probably to convey to his intended bride presents and messages of love. The interview took place in the palace of Charlottenburg, a few miles out from Berlin. The vivacious Wilhelmina, in the following terms, describes the interview in her journal:The English envoy, Sir Guy Dickens, being utterly baffled in all his endeavors to discover the enterprise upon which the king was about to embark, wrote to his court:
On the southeast frontier of Prussia, between that kingdom, and Poland, and Hungary, there was an Austrian realm called Silesia. The country embraced a territory of twenty thousand square miles, being about twice as large as the State of Vermont.215 The population was about two millions. For more than a century Silesia had been a portion of the Austrian kingdom. Time, and the assent of Europe, had sanctioned the title.Dickens at length ventured to ask the king directly, “What shall I write to England?“The queen was alone, in his majesty’s apartment, waiting for him as he approached. As soon as he saw her at the end of the suite of rooms, and long before he arrived in the one where she was, he cried out, ‘Your unworthy son has at last ended himself. You have done with him.’
“Seckendorf” (the embassador of the emperor) “sometimes sends me money, of which I have great need. I have already taken measures that he should procure some for you. My galleons arrived yesterday, and I will divide their contents with you.”There were nearly thirty thousand men, infantry and cavalry, thus assembling under the banners of Frederick for battle. They were in as perfect state of drill as troops have ever attained, and were armed with the most potent implements of war which that age could furnish. The king was visibly affected by the spectacle. Whether humane considerations touched his heart, or merely poetic emotion moved him, we can not tell. But he was well aware that within a few hours not merely hundreds, but thousands of those men, torn by shot and shell, would be prostrate in their blood upon the plain; and he could not but know that for all the carnage and the suffering, he, above all others, would be responsible at the bar of God.
After the king, swept away in the wreck of his right wing of cavalry, had left the field, and was spurring his horse in his impetuous flight, his generals in the centre and on the left, in command of infantry so highly disciplined that every man would stand at his post until he died, resolutely maintained the battle. Frederick William had drilled these men for twenty years as men were never drilled before or since, converting them into mere machines. They were wielded by their officers as they themselves handled their muskets. Five successive cavalry charges these cast-iron men resisted. They stood like rocks dashing aside the torrent. The assailing columns melted before their terrible fire—they discharging five shots to the Austrians’ two.These tidings struck the Austrian council with consternation. The French armies were declared to be the finest that had ever taken the field. The Prussian army, in stolid bravery and perfection285 of discipline, had never been surpassed. Germany was to be cut into four equal parts, and France was to be the sovereign power on the Continent.
This was in January, 1744. The young lady, with her mother, by express invitation, and with this object in view, visited the Russian court. Sophia embraced the Greek religion, received in baptism the new name of Catharine, and on the 1st of September, 1745, was married to her second cousin Peter. “And with invocation of the Russian heaven and Russian earth they were declared to be one flesh, though at last they turned out to be two fleshes, as my reader well knows.”171
113 The prince supposed that the object of Muller’s visits was to prepare him for his death. But upon receiving the full assurance that his father contemplated pardoning him, should there be evidence of repentance, he promised to take an oath of entire submission to his father’s will. Seven commissioners were sent to the prison of Cüstrin, on the 19th of November, to administer this oath with the utmost solemnity. He was conducted to the church. A large crowd was in attendance. A sermon appropriate to the occasion was preached. The sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was administered to him. And then he audibly repeated the oath and attached to it his signature.“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.”148
“General Saldern, to-morrow morning I wish you to go with a detachment of infantry and cavalry to Hubertsburg. Take possession of the palace, and pack up all the furniture. The money they bring I mean to bestow on our field hospitals. I will not forget you in disposing of it.”We now enter upon the third Silesian war, usually termed in history The Seven Years’ War. For four years Frederick had been aware that a coalition was secretly forming against him. Maria Theresa wished, with ardor which had never for one moment abated, to regain Silesia. All the other European powers, without exception, desired to curb Frederick, whose ambition they feared. They were well aware that he was taking advantage of a few years of peace to replenish his treasury, and to enlarge his army for new conquests. As we have before stated, Frederick, by bribery, had fully informed himself of the secret arrangements into which Austria, Russia, Poland, and other powers were entering for the dismemberment of his realms. It is in vain to attempt to unravel the intricacies of the diplomacy which ensued.Objections to the British Alliance.—Obstinacy of the King.—Wilhelmina’s Journal.—Policy of Frederick William and of George II.—Letter from Fritz.—The Camp of Mühlberg.—The Plan of Escape.—The Flight arrested.—Ungovernable Rage of the King.—Endeavors to kill his Son.—Arrest and Imprisonment of Fritz.—Terror of his Mother and Sister.—Wilhelmina imprisoned.
“On reaching Berlin I went at once to the custom-house, and handed them my royal order. The head man opened the seal. In reading, he changed color—went from pale to red; said nothing, and gave it to the second man to read. The second put on his spectacles, read, and gave it to the third. However, the head man rallied himself at last. I was to come forward and be so good as to write a receipt that I had received for my four hundred thalers, all in batzen, the same sum in Brandenburg coin, ready down, without the least deduction. My cash was at once accurately paid, and thereupon the steward was ordered to go with me to the ‘White Swan,’ and pay what I owed there, whatever my score was. That was what the king had meant when he said ‘you shall have your money back, and interest too.’”
Olmütz was found very strongly fortified. It was so situated that, with the force Frederick had, it could not be entirely invested. Baron Marshal, a very brave and energetic old man, sixty-seven years of age, conducted the defense.详情
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