221 By the 10th of December, within a fortnight of the time that the king received the tidings of the death of the emperor, he had collected such a force on the frontiers of Silesia that there could be no question that the invasion of that province was intended. As not the slightest preparation had been made on the part of Austria to meet such an event, the king could with perfect ease overrun the province and seize all its fortresses. But Austria was, in territory, resources, and military power, vastly stronger than Prussia. It was therefore scarcely possible that Frederick could hold the province, after he had seized it, unless he could encourage others to dispute the succession of Maria Theresa, and thus involve Europe in a general war. Frederick, having made all his arrangements for prompt and vigorous action, sent to Maria Theresa a message which could be regarded only as an insult:
The king soon learned, to his inexpressible displeasure and mortification, that his boy was not soldierly in his tastes; that he did not love the rude adventures of the chase, or the exposure and hardships which a martial life demands. He had caught Fritz playing the flute, and even writing verses. He saw that he was fond of graceful attire, and that he was disposed to dress his hair in the French fashion. He was a remarkably handsome boy, of fine figure, with a lady’s hand and foot, and soft blonde locks carefully combed. All this the king despised. Scornfully and indignantly he exclaimed, “My son is a flute-player and a poet!” In his vexation he summoned Fritz to his presence, called in the barber, and ordered his flowing locks to be cut off, cropped, and soaped in the most rigid style of military cut.521 This letter was extensively circulated in England. It was greatly admired. It so happened that the court was then looking around for a bride for their young king. The result was that in the course of a few months Charlotte became Queen of England, as the wife of George III.“With that answer!” Sir Thomas replied, in tones of surprise. “Is your majesty serious? Is that your majesty’s deliberate answer?”
It seems that the Crown Prince had an inquiring mind. He was interested in metaphysical speculations. He had adopted, perhaps, as some excuse for his conduct, the doctrine of predestination, that God hath foreordained whatsoever cometh to pass. The idea that there is a power, which Hume calls philosophical necessity, which Napoleon calls destiny, which Calvin calls predestination, by which all events are controlled, and that this necessity is not inconsistent with free agency, is a doctrine which ever has commanded the assent, and probably ever will, of many of the strongest thinkers in the world.
War between Prussia and England might draw all the neighboring nations into the conflict. There was excitement in every continental court. The Pope, it is reported, was delighted. “He prays,” says Carlyle, “that Heaven would be graciously pleased to foment and blow up to the proper degree this quarrel between the two chief heretical powers, Heaven’s chief enemies, whereby holy religion might reap a good benefit.”Coarse brown clothes of plainest cut were furnished him. His flute was taken from him, and he was deprived of all books but the Bible and a few devotional treatises. He was allowed a daily sum, amounting to twelve cents of our money, for his food—eight cents for his dinner and four for his supper. His food was purchased at a cook-shop near by, and cut for him. He was not permitted the use of a knife. The door was opened three times a day for ventilation—morning, noon, and night—but not for more than four minutes each time. A single tallow-candle was allowed him; but that was to be extinguished at seven o’clock in the evening.
Soon after, a soldier, six feet three inches tall, the ringleader of a gang, broke into a house and robbed it of property to the amount of about five thousand dollars. He was sentenced to be hung. We give the result in the words of Carlyle:“Berlin,” she writes, “had become as odious to me as it once was dear. I flattered myself that, renouncing grandeurs, I might lead a soft and tranquil life in my new home, and begin a happier year than the one which had just ended.”
Immediately he sent a polite note to Count Wallis, assuring him that the attack, if attack were necessary, should be made on the other side of the city, so that no military advantage could be taken of the church. This popular act resounded widely not225 only through the Protestant community of Silesia, but throughout Europe.
One clause in the king’s will was judiciously disregarded. As a last mark of his contempt for his own species, Frederick had directed that he should be buried at Sans Souci by the side of his dogs.
FRITZ IN HIS LIBRARY.“The more I think of the Glogau business the more important I find it. Prince Leopold has achieved the prettiest military stroke that has been done in this century. From my heart I congratulate you on having such a son. In boldness of resolution, in plan, in execution, it is alike admirable, and quite gives a turn to my affairs.”
“My lord, I could desire your lordship to summon up, if it were necessary, the spirit of all your lordship’s instructions, and the sense of the king, of the Parliament, and of the whole British nation. It is upon this great moment that depends the fate, not of the house of Austria, not of the empire, but of the house of Brunswick, of Great Britain, of all Europe. I verily believe the King of Prussia himself does not know the extent of the present danger. With whatever motive he may act, there is not one, not that of the wildest resentment, that can blind him to this degree—of himself perishing in the ruin he is bringing upon others. With his concurrence, the French will, in less than six weeks, be masters of the German empire. The weak Elector of Bavaria is but their instrument. Prague and Vienna may, and probably will, be taken in that short time. Will even the King of Prussia himself be reserved to the last?”How soon Henry learned that he had been conversing with the King of Prussia we do not know. It is evident that Frederick was pleased with the interview. He soon after invited Henry de Catt to his court, and appointed him reader to the king. In this capacity he served his Prussian majesty for about twenty years. He left a note-book in the royal archives of Berlin from which the above extracts are taken.详情
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