a a. Prussian Camp, left with fires burning. b b b. Prussian Main Army. c c. Ziethen’s Division. d d. Loudon’s Camp, also left with fires burning. e e e. Loudon’s Army attacked by the Prussians. f f f. Approach of Daun. g g. Lacy’s Cavalry.500 Frederick also seized money wherever he could find it, whether in the hands of friend or foe. His contributions levied upon the Saxons were terrible. The cold and dreary winter passed rapidly away. The spring was late in that northern clime. It was not until the middle of June that either party was prepared vigorously to take the field. It was generally considered by the European world that Frederick was irretrievably ruined. In the last campaign he had lost sixty thousand men. Universal gloom and discouragement pervaded his kingdom. Still Frederick, by his almost superhuman exertions, had marshaled another army of one hundred thousand men. But the allies had two hundred and eighty thousand to oppose to them. Though Frederick in public assumed a cheerful and self-confident air, as if assured of victory, his private correspondence proves that he was, in heart, despondent in the extreme, and that scarcely a ray of hope visited his mind. To his friend D’Argens he wrote:Five days after this letter was written to Voltaire by Wilhelmina from Baireuth, Frederick, on the 17th of September, 1757, wrote his sister from near Erfurt. This letter, somewhat abbreviated, was as follows:
“I answered that my regard for him had never been of an interested nature; that I would never ask any thing of him but the continuance of his friendship; and that I did not wish for one penny if it would in the least inconvenience him.Early on the morning of the 4th the prince left Nürnberg, and reached the camp at Weisenthal on the 7th. Here the imperial and Prussian troops were collected, who had been sent to attempt to raise the siege of Philipsburg. But the French lines investing the city were so strong that Prince Eugene, in command of the imperial army, did not venture to make an attack. The Crown Prince almost immediately rode out to reconnoitre the lines of the foe. As he was returning through a strip of forest a cannonade was opened, and the balls went crashing around him through the trees. Pride of character probably came to the aid of constitutional courage. The prince did not in the slightest degree quicken his pace. Not the least tremor could be perceived in his hand as he held the reins. He continued conversing with the surrounding generals in perfect tranquillity, as if unconscious of any danger.
“Many thousands are made miserable, inhabitants as well as strangers. Many from the open country and defenseless towns in Prussia, Pomerania, and the New Marche had fled hither, with their most valuable effects, in hopes of security when the Russians entered the Prussian territories; so that a great many who, a little while ago, were possessed of considerable fortunes, are now reduced to beggary. On the roads nothing was to be seen but misery, and nothing to be heard but such cries and lamentations as were enough to move even the stones. No one knew where to get a morsel of bread, nor what to do for farther subsistence. The fire was so furious that the cannon in the store and artillery houses were all melted. The loaded bombs and cartridges for cannon and muskets, with a large quantity of gunpowder, went off at once with a most horrible explosion. The fury of the enemy fell almost entirely upon the inhabitants. They did not begin to batter the fortifications, except with a few shot, till the 17th, after the rest was all destroyed.”
If we can rely upon the testimony of Frederick, an incident occurred at this time which showed that the French court was as intriguing and unprincipled as was his Prussian majesty. It is quite evident that the Austrian court also was not animated by a very high sense of honor.There was but one short war in which Frederick William engaged during his reign of twenty-seven years. That was with Charles XII. of Sweden. It lasted but a few months, and from it the Prussian king returned victorious. The demands of Frederick William were not unreasonable. As he commenced the brief campaign, which began and ended with the siege of Stralsund, he said: “Why will the very king whom I most respect compel me to be his enemy?” In his characteristic farewell order to his ministers, he wrote: “My wife shall be told of all things, and counsel asked of her. And as I am a man, and may be shot dead, I command you and all to take care of Fritz, as God shall reward you. And I give you all, wife to begin with, my curse that God may punish you in time and eternity if you do not, after my death, bury me in the vault of the palace church at Berlin. And you shall make no grand to-do on the occasion. On your body and life no festivals and ceremonials, except that the regiments, one after the other, fire a volley over me. I am assured that you will manage every thing with all the exactness in the world, for which I shall ever, zealously, as long as I live, be your friend.
It was midnight. “Within doors all is silence; around it the dark earth is silent, above it the silent stars.” Thus for two hours the attendant sat motionless, holding the dying king. Not a word was spoken; no sound could be heard but the painful breathing which precedes death.“In a word, I see all black, as if I were at the bottom of a tomb. Have some compassion on the situation I am in. Conceive that I disguise nothing from you, and yet that I do not detail to you all my embarrassments, my apprehensions, and troubles. Adieu, my dear marquis. Write to me sometimes. Do not forget a poor devil who curses ten times a day his fatal existence, and could wish he already were in those silent countries from which nobody returns with news.”
21 Sophie Dorothee was a very pretty child. The plan was probably already contemplated by the parents that the two should be married in due time. Soon after this Frederick William lost his mother, and with her all of a mother’s care and gentle influences. Her place was taken by a step-mother, whose peevishness and irritability soon developed into maniacal insanity. When Frederick William was eighteen years of age he was allowed to choose between three princesses for his wife. He took his pretty cousin, Sophie Dorothee. They were married with great pomp on the 28th of November, 1706.
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On the 28th of June, 1729, the population of Bühlitz, a Hanoverian border village, sallied forth with carts, escorted by a troop of horse, and, with demonstrations both defiant and exultant, raked up and carried off all the hay. The King of Prussia happened to be at that time about one hundred miles distant from Bühlitz, at Magdeburg, reviewing his troops. He was thrown into a towering passion. Sophie Dorothee, Wilhelmina, Fritz, all felt the effects of his rage. Dubourgay writes, under date of July 30, 1729:But it so happened that the beautiful dancer had in the train of her impassioned admirers a young English gentleman, a younger brother of the Earl of Bute. He was opposed to Barberina’s going to Prussia, and induced her to throw up the engagement. Frederick was angry, and demanded the execution of the contract. The pretty Barberina, safe in Venice, made herself merry with the complaints of the Prussian monarch. Frederick, not accustomed to be thwarted, applied to the doge and the Senate of Venice to compel Barberina to fulfill her contract. They replied with great politeness, but did nothing. Barberina319 remained with her lover under the sunny skies of Italy, charming with her graceful pirouettes admiring audiences in the Venetian theatres.
“You will, perhaps, have heard of the check I have met with from the Russian army on the 13th138 of this month. Though at bottom our affairs in regard to the enemy here are not desperate, I find I shall not be able to make any detachment for your assistance. Should the Austrians attempt any thing against Dresden, therefore, you will see if there are means of maintaining yourself; failing which, it will behoove you to try and obtain a favorable capitulation—to wit, liberty to withdraw, with the488 whole garrison, moneys, magazines, hospital, and all that we have at Dresden, either to Berlin or elsewhere, so as to join some corps of my troops.At nine o’clock Frederick received one of the general officers, and arranged with him all the military affairs of the day, usually dismissing him loaded with business. At ten o’clock he reviewed some one of the regiments; and then, after attending parade, devoted himself to literary pursuits or private correspondence until dinner-time. This was the portion of the day he usually appropriated to authorship. He was accustomed to compose, both in prose and verse, while slowly traversing the graveled walks of his garden.详情
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