This signal achievement raised the military fame of Frederick higher than ever before. Still it did not perceptibly diminish the enormous difficulties with which he was environed. Army after army was marching upon him. Even by a series of successful battles his forces might be annihilated. But the renown of the great victory of Rossbach will ever reverberate through the halls of history.In July of this year the Crown Prince took another journey with his father through extensive portions of the Prussian territory. The following extract from one of his letters to Voltaire reflects pleasing light upon the heart of Frederick, and upon the administrative ability of his father:
Quite unexpectedly, the latter part of January the virulence of the king’s complicated diseases of gout, dropsy, and ulcers seemed to abate. Though but forty-seven years of age, he was, from his intemperate habits, an infirm old man. Though he lingered along for many months, he was a great sufferer. His unamiability filled the palace with discomfort.
“All that I ever wanted, more than I ever demanded, Austria now offers me. Can any one blame me that I close such an alliance as ours all along has been, when such terms are presented to me as Austria now proposes?”While these scenes were transpiring, the Crown Prince was at Cüstrin, upon probation, being not yet admitted to the presence of his father. He seems to have exerted himself to the utmost to please the king, applying himself diligently to become familiar with all the tedious routine and details of the administration of finance, police, and the public domains. Fritz was naturally very amiable. He was consequently popular in the little town in which he resided, all being ready to do every thing in their power to serve him. The income still allowed him by his father was so small that he would have suffered from poverty had not the gentry in the neighborhood, regardless of the prohibition to lend money to the prince, contributed secretly to replenish his purse.
To obviate the difficulty of the Crown Prince becoming the head of a party in Berlin antagonistic to the king, the plan was suggested of having him appointed, with his English princess, vice-regent of Hanover. But this plan failed. Hotham now84 became quite discouraged. He wrote home, on the 22d of April, that he had that day dined with the king; that the Crown Prince was present, but dreadfully dejected, and that great sympathy was excited in his behalf, as he was so engaging and so universally popular. He evidently perceived some indications of superiority in the Crown Prince, for he added, “If I am not much mistaken, this young prince will one day make a very considerable figure.”“She made me a courtesy on the model of that of Agnes in the Ecole des Femmes. I took her back to the queen’s apartment, little edified by such a display of talent.”
In the month of October, 1747, Field-marshal Keith visited his Prussian majesty at Sans Souci. In a letter to his brother he thus describes the results of his observations:
“Archenholtz describes it as a thing surpassable only by doomsday; clangorous rage of noise risen to the infinite; the boughs of the trees raining down upon you with horrid crash; the forest, with its echoes, bellowing far and near, and reverberating in universal death-peal, comparable to the trump of doom.”157The authorship of the article could not be concealed. Frederick was indignant. He angrily seized his pen, and wrote a reply, which, though anonymous, was known by all to have been written by the king. In this reply he accused the writer of the article, whom he well knew to be Voltaire, of being a “manifest retailer of lies,” “a concocter of stupid libels,” and as “guilty of conduct more malicious, more dastardly, more infamous” than he had ever known before.
“His Prussian majesty rides much about, often at a rapid rate, with a pleasant business aspect—humane, though imperative; handsome to look upon, though with a face perceptibly reddish. His age, now thirty-eight gone; a set appearance, as if already got into his forties; complexion florid; figure muscular, almost tending to be plump.”
After the concert, which usually continued an hour, he engaged197 in conversation until ten o’clock. He then took supper with a few friends, and at eleven retired to his bed.“‘The finest day of life is the day on which one quits it.’”177
Mr. Carlyle, who, with wonderful accuracy, and with impartiality which no one will call in question, has recorded the facts in Frederick’s career, gives the story as it is here told. In the following terms Mr. Carlyle comments upon these events:“Guarantee me the possession of Silesia, and pay me seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars for the expenses of this campaign, and I will withdraw my army.”详情
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