The Crown Prince, with what degree of sincerity we know not, was now in tears. Prostrating himself before his majesty, he kissed his feet. The king, much moved, was in tears also, and retired to another room.
The conduct of Frederick the Second, upon his accession to the throne, was in accordance with his professions. The winter had been intensely cold. The spring was late and wet. There was almost a famine in the land. The public granaries, which the foresight of his father had established, contained large stores of grain, which were distributed to the poor at very low prices. A thousand aged and destitute women in Berlin were provided with rooms, well warmed, where they spun in the service of the king, with good wages, and in their grateful hearts ever thanking their benefactor. He abolished the use of torture in criminal trials, not forgetting that he himself had come very near having his limbs stretched upon the rack. This important decree, which was hailed with joy all over Prussia, was issued the third day after his accession.
CHAPTER XXXII. THE END OF THE FIFTH CAMPAIGN.On the 20th of April he wrote: “Our situation is disagreeable, but my determination is taken. If we needs must fight, we will do it like men driven desperate. Never was there a greater peril than that I am now in. Time, at its own pleasure, will untie this knot, or destiny, if there is one, determine the event. The348 game I play is so high, one can not contemplate the issue with cold blood. Pray for the return of my good luck.”
Frederick was not unduly elated with his victory. He was still terribly harassed for money. There were campaigns opening before him, in an unending series, requiring enormous expenditure. Even many such victories as he had just gained would only conduct him to irretrievable ruin, unless he could succeed in conquering a peace. In these dark hours the will of this extraordinary man remained inflexible. He would not listen to any propositions for peace which did not guarantee to him Silesia. Maria Theresa would listen to no terms which did not restore to her the lost province.Thus parted these remarkable men, who were never destined to meet again.
549 Frederick had cultivated a supreme indifference to public opinion. Not believing in any God, in any future retribution, or in any immortality, and regarding men merely as the insects of an hour, like the myriad polyps which, beneath the ocean, rear their stupendous structures and perish, his sense of right and wrong must necessarily have been very different from that which a believer in the Christian faith is accustomed to cherish. In allusion to this subject, he writes:
FREDERICK AND WILHELMINA.
“Among the tragic wrecks of this convoy there is one that still goes to our heart. A longish, almost straight row of Prussian recruits stretched among the slain, what are these? These were seven hundred recruits coming up from their cantons to the wars. See how they have fought to the death, poor lads! and have honorably, on the sudden, got manumitted from the toils of life. Seven hundred of them stood to arms this morning; some sixty-five will get back to Troppau; that is the invoice account. There they lie with their blonde young cheeks, beautiful in death.”117The Palace of Wusterhausen.—Wilhelmina and Fritz.—Education of the Crown Prince.—Rising Dislike of the Father for his Son.—The Mother’s Sympathy.—The double Marriage.—Character of George I.—The King of England visits Berlin.—Wilhelmina’s Account of the Interview.—Sad Fate of the Wife of George I.—The Giant Guard.—Despotism of Frederick William.—The Tobacco Parliament.—A brutal Scene.—Death of George I.—The Royal Family of Prussia.—Augustus, King of Poland.—Corruption of his Court.—Cruel Treatment of Fritz.—Insane Conduct of the King.
The officer drew up a statement of the facts, and sent it to the king, with the complaint that he had been dishonored in discharging the duties intrusted to him by his majesty. The king sent the following reply:“Friedrich Wilhelm.
FREDERICK AND LINSENBARTH.详情
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