SOPHIA DOROTHEA.The death of George I. affected the strange Frederick William very deeply. He not only shed tears, but, if we may be pardoned the expression, blubbered like a child. His health seemed50 to fail, and hypochondria, in its most melancholy form, tormented him. As is not unusual in such cases, he became excessively religious. Every enjoyment was deemed sinful, if we except the indulgence in an ungovernable temper, which the self-righteous king made no attempt to curb. Wilhelmina, describing this state of things with her graphic pen, writes:
Again he wrote, a few months after, to the Duke of Choiseul: “He has been a bad man, this Luc. And now, if one were to bet by the law of probability, it would be three to one that Luc would go to pot [sera perdu], with his rhymings and his banterings, and his injustices and politics, all as bad as himself.”146“Prosperity, my dear lord, often inspires a dangerous confidence. Twenty-three battalions were not sufficient to drive sixty thousand men from their intrenchments. Another time we will take our precautions better. Fortune has this day turned her back upon me. I ought to have expected it. She is a female, and I am not gallant. What say you to this league against the Margrave of Brandenburg? How great would be the astonishment of the great elector if he could see his great-grandson at war at the same time with the Russians, the Austrians, almost all Germany, and one hundred thousand French auxiliaries! I do not know whether it will be disgraceful in me to be overcome, but I am sure there will be no great glory in vanquishing me.”102
The Queen of Prussia had recently given birth to another prince. She was on a bed of languor. The king was somewhat mollified, and was anxious to be relieved from these protracted difficulties. Colonel Hotham reached the palace of Charlottenburg on the 2d of April, 1730, and was graciously received by the king. The next day quite a splendid dinner was given in honor of the British envoy. All the notables who surrounded the table, the English and the Prussian, in accordance with the degrading custom of those times, drank deeply. Hotham, in his dispatch, without any apparent sense of shame, writes, “We all got immoderately drunk.”All thoughts of the double marriage were for the moment relinquished. The Czar of Russia had a son and a daughter. It was proposed to marry Wilhelmina to the son and Fritz to the daughter, and thus to secure a Russian instead of an English alliance. Harassed by these difficulties, Frederick William grew increasingly morose, venting his spite upon his wife and children. Fritz seriously contemplated escaping from his father’s abuse by flight, and to take refuge with his uncle George in England, and thus to secure his marriage with Amelia. The portraits of the62 princess which he had seen proved her to be very beautiful. All reports pronounced her to be as lovely in character as in person. He was becoming passionately attached to her. Wilhelmina was his only confidante. Regard for her alone restrained him from attempting to escape. “He would have done so long ago,” writes Dubourgay, under date of August 11, 1729, “were it not for his sister, upon whom the whole weight of his father’s resentment would then fall. Happen what will, therefore, he is resolved to share with her all the hardships which the king, his father, may be pleased to put upon her.”THE BETROTHAL.
Establishment of the Berlin Academy of Sciences.—Religious Toleration.—A Free Press.—Sternness of the young King.—Domestic Habits of the King.—Provision for the Queen-mother.—Absolutism of the King.—Journey to Strasbourg.—First Interview with Voltaire.Les torrents d’eau répandus sur la terre
But no sooner did Frederick get an intimation that Austria was contemplating this enlargement of her domains than he roused himself to prevent it with all the vigor of his earlier years. It was a very delicate matter; for Charles Theodore, the elector, and his nephew August Christian, heir to the electorate, a young gentleman of very illustrious pedigree, but of a very slender purse, had both been bribed by Austria secretly to co-operate in the movement. The reader will be interested in Carlyle’s account, slightly abbreviated, of Frederick’s skill in diplomacy:
A letter of the same date as the above, addressed to Count Algarotti,50 contains the following expressions:Notwithstanding 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.
Frederick, thus urged, leaving the main body of his army, as258 he supposed, in utter rout, with a small escort, put spurs to his steed in the attempt to escape. The king was well mounted on a very splendid bay horse. A rapid ride of fifteen miles in a southerly direction brought him to the River Neisse, which he crossed by a bridge at the little town of Lowen. Immediately after his departure Prince Leopold dispatched a squadron of dragoons to accompany the king as his body-guard. But Frederick fled so rapidly that they could not overtake him, and in the darkness, for night soon approached, they lost his track. Even several of the few who accompanied him, not so well mounted as the king, dropped off by the way, their horses not being able to keep up with his swift pace.详情
Copyright © 2020