Two days before Frederick reached Brieg, a column of his army, under General Schwerin, which had advanced by a line parallel to the Oder, but several miles to the west, encountering no opposition, reached Ottmachau, a considerable town with a strong castle on the River Neisse. This was near the extreme southern border of Silesia. The Austrian commander, General Browne, had placed here also a garrison of sixteen hundred men,232 with orders not to yield upon any terms, for that re-enforcements should be speedily sent to them. A slight conflict ensued. Twelve of the Prussians were killed. This was the first blood which was shed. A delay of three days took place, when four cannon were brought up, and the gates, both of the town and of the castle, were blown open. The garrison offered to withdraw upon the terms proposed in the summons to surrender. The king was sent for to obtain his decision. He rebuked the garrison sternly, and held all as prisoners of war. The officers were sent to Cüstrin, the common soldiers to Berlin.In burning the suburbs, one of the mansions of the bishop, a few miles from Neisse, had escaped the general conflagration. The Prussians had taken possession of this large and commodious structure, with its ample supply of winter fuel. General Roth employed a resolute butcher, who, under the pretense of supplying the Prussians with beef, visited the bishop’s mansion, and secretly applied the torch. It was a cold winter’s night. The high wind fanned the flames. Scarcely an hour passed ere the whole structure, with all its supplies, was in ashes. The Prussian officers who had found a warm home were driven into the icy fields.
“Yes, I knew it. Not one of you will forsake me. I rely upon your help and upon victory as sure. The cavalry regiment that does not, on the instant, on order given, dash full plunge into the enemy, I will directly after the battle unhorse, and make it a garrison regiment. The infantry battalion which, meet with what it may, shows the least sign of hesitating, loses its colors and its sabres, and I cut the trimmings from its uniform.The half-intoxicated king gravely suggests that such conduct is hardly seemly among gentlemen; that the duel is the more chivalric way of settling such difficulties. Fassman challenges Gundling. They meet with pistols. It is understood by the seconds that it is to be rather a Pickwickian encounter. The trembling Gundling, when he sees his antagonist before him, with the deadly weapon in his hand, throws his pistol away, which his considerate friends had harmlessly loaded with powder only, declaring that he would not shoot any man, or have any man shoot him. Fassman sternly advances with his harmless pistol, and shoots the powder into Gundling’s wig. It blazes into a flame. With a shriek Gundling falls to the ground as if dead. A bucket of water extinguishes the flames, and roars of laughter echo over the chivalric field of combat.In September, 1777, the King of Bavaria died. The emperor thought it a good opportunity to annex Bavaria to Austria. “Do but look on the map,” says Carlyle, in his peculiar style of thought and expression: “you would say, Austria without Bavaria is like a human figure with its belly belonging to somebody else. Bavaria is the trunk or belly of the Austrian dominions, shutting off all the limbs of them each from the other; making for central part a huge chasm.”
Matrimonial Intrigues.—Letters from the King to his Son.—Letter from Fritz to Grumkow.—Letter to Wilhelmina.—The Betrothal.—Character of Elizabeth.—Her cruel Reception by the Prussian Queen.—Letter from Fritz to Wilhelmina.—Disappointment and Anguish of Elizabeth.—Studious Habits of Fritz.—Continued Alienation of his Father.—The Marriage.—Life in the Castle at Reinsberg.Augustus, King of Poland, called “Augustus the Strong,” was a man of extraordinary physical vigor and muscular strength. It was said that he could break horseshoes with his hands, and crush half-crowns between his finger and thumb. He was an exceedingly profligate man, introducing to his palaces scenes of sin and shame which could scarcely have been exceeded in Rome in the most corrupt days of the C?sars. Though Frederick William, a stanch Protestant, was a crabbed, merciless man, drinking deeply and smoking excessively, he was irreproachable in morals, according to the ordinary standard. Augustus, nominally a Catholic, and zealously advocating political Catholicism, though a good-natured, rather agreeable man, recognized no other law of life than his own pleasure.
In the mean time Frederick took positions which commanded the three gates on his, the southern, side of the river; constructed a bridge of boats; and sent four hundred men across the stream, and made preparations to force an entrance. At four o’clock in the afternoon of Monday, not a gun having yet been fired, a messenger brought the intelligence that the town would be surrendered. At eight o’clock the next morning, Tuesday, 3d of January, 1741, the city authorities came in their coaches, with much parade, to welcome their new sovereign. It was a bitter cold morning. The king had ridden away to reconnoitre the walls in their whole circuit. It was not until near noon that he was prepared to accompany the officials to the palace which was made ready for him. He then, on horseback, attended by his principal officers, and followed by an imposing retinue, in a grand entrance, proudly took possession of his easy conquest.230 He rode a very magnificent gray charger, and wore his usual cocked hat and a blue cloak, both of which were somewhat the worse for wear. Four footmen, gorgeously dressed in scarlet, trimmed with silver lace, walked by the side of his horse. The streets through which he passed were thronged, and the windows and balconies were crowded with spectators of both sexes. Though Frederick did not meet with an enthusiastic reception, he was very gracious, bowing to the people on each side of the street, and saluting with much courtesy those who seemed to be people of note.
499 “In spite of all your efforts, you will not get a peace signed by my hands except on conditions honorable to my nation. Your people, blown up with self-conceit and folly, may depend on these words.”“Having been not quite well lately, my physician has advised me to take more exercise than I have hitherto done. This has obliged me to mount my horse and take a gallop every morning. But, in order not to be obliged on that account to change my ordinary way of life, I get up earlier, in order to regain on the one hand what I lose on the other.The Battle of Chotusitz.—Letter to Jordan.—Results of the Battle.—Secret Negotiations.—The Treaty of Breslau.—Entrance into Frankfort.—Treachery of Louis XV.—Results of the Silesian Campaigns.—Panegyrics of Voltaire.—Imperial Character of Maria Theresa.—Her Grief over the Loss of Silesia.—Anecdote of Senora Barbarina.—Duplicity of both Frederick and Voltaire.—Gayety in Berlin.—Straitened Circumstances.—Unamiability of Frederick.
“The prince is tall, well made, and has a noble air. His features are neither handsome nor regular; but his countenance, which is open, engaging, and very agreeable, stands him in the place of beauty. He is of a hasty temper, and replies with quickness and without embarrassment. Though his nature is inclined to anger, he knows so well how to overcome it that it is never perceived, and no one has ever suffered by it. He is very gay. His conversation is very agreeable, though he has some difficulty in making himself intelligible from lisping so much. His conception is quick, and his intellect penetrating. The goodness of his heart gains him the attachment of all who know him. He is generous, charitable, compassionate, polite, engaging, and enjoys very equal spirits. The only fault I know in him is too much levity, which I must mention here, as otherwise122 I should be accused of partiality. He has, however, much corrected himself of it.”
“No,” the prince replied; “but if the king absolutely will have it, I will marry to obey him. After that I will shove my wife into a corner, and live after my own fancy.”The plan of his Prussian majesty was bold and sagacious. He supposed that he could easily take Olmütz. Availing himself of the vast magazines to be found there, he would summon450 his brother Henry to join him by a rapid march through Bohemia, and with their combined force of sixty thousand troops they would make a rush upon Vienna. The Austrian capital was distant but about one hundred miles, directly south. As the Austrian army was widely dispersed, there were but few impediments to be encountered. The success of this plan would compel the allies to withdraw their forces from the territories of the King of Prussia, if it did not enable Frederick to dictate peace in the palaces of Maria Theresa.
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“Elizabeth Christina, who became the wife of Frederick the Great, was a princess adorned with all the virtues which most dignify human nature; religious, benevolent, charitable, affectionate,144 of the strictest and most irreproachable conduct herself, yet indulgent and forgiving for the faults of others. Her whole life was passed in fulfilling the circle of her duties, and, above all, in striving without ceasing to act in the way she thought would be most pleasing to her husband, whom she respected, admired, and even loved, in spite of his constant neglect of her.”“I grant it, my dear D’Arget,” said the king, “but it is too372 dangerous a part to play. A reverse brings me to the edge of ruin. I know too well the mood of mind I was in the last time I left Berlin ever to expose myself to it again. If luck had been against me there, I saw myself a monarch without a throne. A bad game that. In fine, I wish to be at peace.The king was not a man of refined sensibilities. Not unfrequently his letters contained coarse and indelicate expressions. He was very profane. Voltaire says of him, “He has a pleasing tone of voice even in swearing, which is as familiar to him as to a grenadier.”
FREDERICK’S INTERVIEW WITH VALORI.The king then questioned him very closely respecting the place where he had studied, during what years, under what teachers, and to what branches he had devoted special attention. While thus conversing the clock struck twelve. This was the dinner-hour of his majesty. “Now I must go,” said the king. “They wait for their soup.”详情
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