“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 battle of Rossbach was fought on the 5th of November, 1757. Frederick had but little time to rejoice over his victory. The Austrians were overrunning Silesia. On the 14th of the month, the important fortress of Schweidnitz, with all its magazines, fell into their hands. Then Prince Charles, with sixty thousand Austrian troops, marched upon Breslau, the principal city of Silesia, situated on the Oder. The Prince of Bevern held the place with a little over twenty thousand Prussian troops. His army was strongly intrenched outside of the walls, under the guns of the city.The Dauphiness of France was daughter of the King of Poland. With tears she craved protection for her parents. The Duchess of Pompadour was anxious to show her gratitude to407 Maria Theresa, who had condescended to address her as a “cousin and a dear sister.” A French army of one hundred thousand men was soon on the march to aid Austria in the liberation of Saxony. At the same time, an Austrian army of sixty thousand men, under Marshal Browne, was advancing rapidly from Bohemia to penetrate the fastnesses of the mountains for the release of the Polish king.
In the summer of 1738 the infirm old king undertook a journey to Holland, on a visit of diplomacy to the Prince of Orange. The Crown Prince accompanied him. It does not, however, appear that they had much intercourse with each other on the journey. They spent several days at the beautiful palace of176 Loo, in Geldern, occupied by the Prince of Orange and his English bride, a niece to his Prussian majesty. The palace was imposing in its architectural structure, containing many gorgeous saloons, and surrounded with beautiful gardens. In a letter which Frederick wrote from Loo to Voltaire, dated August 6th, we find the following sentiments:
The seventh campaign of the Seven Years’ War commenced on the 1st of July, 1762. Peter III. had sent an army of twenty thousand men to the support of Frederick. Aided by these troops, united with his own army, Frederick had emerged from532 his winter quarters, and was just about to attack the Austrian army, which was intrenched upon the heights of Burkersdorf, a little south of Schweidnitz, which fortress the Austrians then held. The evening before the contemplated attack the Russian General Czernichef entered the tent of Frederick with the following appalling tidings:The Crown Prince did not fancy this connection at all. His first wish was to journey about, through the courts of Europe, to select him a wife. But that measure his father would not think of. Frederick professed a willingness to submit to marry Anna, Princess of Mecklenburg, or the Princess of Eisenach. Seckendorf, the embassador of the emperor, aided by Grumkow, who had been bribed, urged the marriage with Elizabeth. The king adopted their views. His decision was like a decree of fate. The following letter, written by the king to his son, dated Potsdam, February 4, 1732, very clearly expresses his views:
Ringing violently for his servants, and deaf to all protestations and excuses, he had himself immediately rolled from the room. As the courtiers stood bewildered and gazing at each other in consternation, an officer came in with an order from the king that they should all leave the palace immediately, and come not back again. The next morning P?llnitz, who occupied a position somewhat similar to that of prime minister, applied for admission to his majesty’s apartment. But a gendarme seized him by the shoulder and turned him around, saying, “There is no admittance.” It was several days, and not till after repeated acts of humiliation, that the king would permit any member of the parliament again to enter his presence.
In the court of the czarina there was a very handsome young Pole, Stanislaus Poniatowski, who had been an acknowledged lover of Catharine. Though Catharine had laid him aside for other favorites, she still regarded him with tender feelings. He was just the man to do her bidding. By skillful diplomacy she542 caused him to be elected King of Poland. That kingdom was now entirely in her hands, so far as it was in the power of its monarch to place it there.
After this signal achievement his Prussian majesty established his army in winter quarters along the banks of the Elbe. He took up his abode in the palace of Dresden, awaiting the opening of the spring campaign. Saxony was held with a tight grasp, and taxes and recruits were gathered from the country as if it had always belonged to Prussia. Frederick had hoped that his sudden campaign would have led him into the heart of the Austrian states. Instead of this, though he had wrested Saxony from Poland, he had given Austria ample time to prepare her armies for a long war, and had roused all Europe to intense hostility against him.
“‘Here is his instruction, if so,’ adds the king, handing him an autograph of the necessary outline of procedure—not signed, nor with any credential, or even specific address, lest accident happen. ‘Adieu, then, herr general lieutenant; rule is, shoes of swiftness, cloak of darkness: adieu!’The king could be very courteous. He gave a dinner-party, at which General Loudon, one of the most efficient of the Austrian generals, and who had often been successfully opposed to Frederick, was a guest. As he entered the king said,The British court was frantic with rage. Frederick had a strong army on the frontiers of Hanover. The first hostile gun fired would be the signal for the invasion of that province, and it would inevitably be wrested from the British crown. The lion roared, but did not venture to use either teeth or claws. England was promptly brought to terms. It was grandly done of Frederick. There was something truly sublime in the quiet, noiseless, apparently almost indifferent air with which Frederick accomplished his purpose.
“Do not resist any longer. Submit to whatever is required of you. I will answer with my life that the marriage will never really take place. It is necessary, at whatever cost, to appease the king for the present. I will explain to the queen that this is the only means of obtaining a favorable declaration from the King of England.”572 His feet and legs became cold. Death was stealing its way toward the vitals. About nine o’clock Wednesday evening a painful cough commenced, with difficulty of breathing, and an ominous rattle in the throat. One of his dogs sat by his bedside, and shivered with cold; the king made a sign for them to throw a quilt over it.
At just twenty minutes past two o’clock the breathing ceased, the spirit took its flight, and the lifeless body alone remained. Life’s great battle was ended, and the soul of the monarch ascended to that dread tribunal where prince and peasant must alike answer for all the deeds done in the body. It was the 17th of August, 1786. The king had reigned forty-six years, and had lived seventy-six years, six months, and twenty-four days.159About six miles from Ruppin there was the village of Reinsberg, containing about one thousand inhabitants, clustered around an ancient dilapidated castle. Frederick was with his regiment in Ruppin. The Princess Royal, his wife, resided in Berlin. There was an ostensible reason for this separation in the fact that there was no suitable mansion for the royal couple at Ruppin. The castle, with its extensive grounds, belonged to a French refugee. The king purchased it, and assigned it to his son. As the whole estate was in a condition of extreme dilapidation, Frederick immediately commenced improvements and repairs.153 The building, the gardens, the forests, and the surrounding lands rapidly assumed a new aspect, until Reinsberg became one of the most attractive spots in Europe.详情
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