Still the queen-mother, Sophie Dorothee, clung to the double marriage. Her brother, George II., was now King of England. His son Fred, who had been intended for Wilhelmina, was not a favorite of his father’s, and had not yet been permitted to go to England. In May, 1728, he was twenty-one years of age. He was living idly in Hanover, impatient to wed his cousin Wilhelmina, who was then nineteen years of age. He seems to have secretly contemplated, in conference with Wilhelmina’s mother, Sophie Dorothee, a trip incognito to Berlin, where he would marry the princess clandestinely, and then leave it with the royal papas to settle the difficulty the best way they could. The plan was not executed. Wilhelmina manifested coquettish indifference to the whole matter. She, however, writes that Queen Sophie was so confidently expecting him that “she took every ass or mule for his royal highness.
Hotham, quite indignant, sent this dispatch, dated May 13, to London, including with it a very earnest letter from the Crown Prince to his uncle, in which Fritz wrote:Accordingly, he made proposals to the Marquise of Schwedt that Wilhelmina should marry her son. The lady replied, in terms very creditable both to her head and her heart, “Such a union, your majesty, would be in accordance with the supreme wish of my life. But how can I accept such happiness against the will of the princess herself? This I can positively never do.” Here she remained firm. The raging king returned to the bedside of his wife, as rough and determined as ever. He declared that the question was now settled that Wilhelmina was to marry the old Duke of Weissenfels.
“You have had the most villainous affair with a Jew. It has made a frightful scandal all over town. For my own part, I have preserved peace in my house until your arrival; and I warn you that, if you have the passion of intriguing and cabaling, you have applied to the wrong person. I like peaceable, quiet people, who do not put into their conduct the violent passions of tragedy. In case you can resolve to live like a philosopher, I shall be glad to see you. But if you abandon yourself to all the violence of your passions, and get into quarrels with all the world, you will do me no good by coming hither, and you may as well stay in Berlin.”“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.”117
“Thus was Silesia reunited to the dominions of Prussia. Two years of war sufficed for the conquest of this important province. The treasure which the late king had left was nearly exhausted. But it is a cheap purchase, where whole provinces are bought for seven or eight millions of crowns. The union of circumstances at the moment peculiarly favored this enterprise. It was necessary for it that France should allow itself to be drawn into the war; that Russia should be attacked by Sweden; that, from timidity, the Hanoverians and Saxons should remain inactive; that the successes of the Prussians should be uninterrupted; and that the King of England, the enemy of Prussia, should become, in spite of himself, the instrument of its aggrandizement. What, however, contributed the most to this conquest was an army which had been formed for twenty-two years, by means of a discipline admirable in itself, and superior to the troops of the316 rest of Europe. Generals, also, who were true patriots, wise and incorruptible ministers, and, finally, a certain good fortune which often accompanies youth, and often deserts a more advanced age.”70
THE ARSENAL.The morning of a hot August day dawned sultry, the wind breathing gently from the south. Bands of Cossacks hovered around upon the wings of the Prussian army, occasionally riding up to the infantry ranks and discharging their pistols at them. The Prussians were forbidden to make any reply. “The infantry457 pours along like a plowman drawing his furrow, heedless of the circling crows.” The Cossacks set fire to Zorndorf. In a few hours it was in ashes, while clouds of suffocating smoke were swept through the Russian lines.
An embassador, Count De Gotter, was sent to Vienna to present this demand to Maria Theresa. He was authorized, in case these terms were not accepted, to declare war. But in the mean time, before the count could possibly reach Vienna, consequently before there was any declaration of war, or even any demand presented, Frederick, at the head of his troops, had entered Silesia, and was seizing its defenseless fortresses.42
“The ‘Polish Dialogues’ you speak of are not known to me. I think of such satires with Epictetus, ‘If they tell any truth of thee, correct thyself. If they are lies, laugh at them.’ I have learned, with years, to become a steady coach-horse. I do my stage like a diligent roadster, and pay no heed to the little dogs that will bark by the way.”
With the first dawn of the morning, the two armies, in close contact, rushed furiously upon each other. There were seventy351 thousand on the one side, seventy-five thousand on the other. They faced each other in lines over an undulating plain nearly ten miles in extent. It is in vain to attempt to give the reader an adequate idea of the terrible battle which ensued. With musketry, artillery, gleaming sabres, and rushing horsemen, the infuriate hosts dashed upon each other. For fifteen hours the blood-red surges of battle swept to and fro over the plain. At length Prince Charles, having lost nine thousand in dead and wounded, seven thousand prisoners, sixteen thousand in all, sixty-six cannon, seventy-three flags and standards, beat a retreat. Rapidly his bleeding and exhausted troops marched back through Hohenfriedberg, entered the mountain defiles, and sought refuge, a thoroughly beaten army, among the fortresses of Bohemia. Frederick remained the undisputed victor of the field. Five thousand of his brave soldiers lay dead or wounded upon the plain. Even his stoical heart was moved by the greatness of the victory. As he first caught sight of M. Valori after the battle, he threw his arms around him, exclaiming, “My friend, God has helped me wonderfully this day.”详情
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