Frederick himself was chief engineer. The army was divided into two forces of twenty-five thousand each. Carlyle gives a graphic description of this enterprise.37 There seems to have been but little which was attractive about this castle. It was surrounded by a moat, which Wilhelmina describes as a “black, abominable ditch.” Its pets were shrieking eagles, and two black bears ugly and vicious. Its interior accommodations were at the farthest possible remove from luxurious indulgence. “It was a dreadfully crowded place,” says Wilhelmina, “where you are stuffed into garrets and have not room to turn.While matters were in this extremity, the British minister, Dubourgay, and Baron Knyphausen, a distinguished Prussian official, dispatched Rev. Dr. Villa, a scholarly man, who had been Wilhelmina’s teacher of English, on a secret mission to the court of England, to communicate the true state of affairs, and to endeavor to secure some disentanglement of the perplexities. Dr. Villa was a warm friend of Wilhelmina, and, in sympathy with her sorrows, wept as he bade her adieu. The king was in such ill humor that his daughter dared not appear in his presence. If Fritz came within reach of his father’s arm he was pretty sure to receive a blow from his rattan.
“I am obliged to tell you that I have long forbid counts to be received, as such, into my army; for when they have served one or two years they retire, and merely make their short military career a subject of vain boasting. If your son wishes to serve, the title of count can be of no use to him. But he will be promoted if he learn his profession well.”On the first of May, 1747, Frederick took formal possession of this beautiful chateau. The occasion was celebrated by quite a magnificent dinner of two hundred covers. Here, for the next forty years, he spent most of his leisure time. He had three other palaces, far surpassing Sans Souci in splendor, which he occasionally visited on days of royal festivities. Berlin and Charlottenburg were about twenty miles distant. The New Palace, so called, at Potsdam, was but about a mile from Sans Souci. He had also his palace at Rheinsberg, some thirty miles north of Berlin, where he had spent many of his early days.
Sunday morning, the 9th, dawned luridly. The storm raged unabated. The air was so filled with the falling snow that one could not see the distance of twenty paces, and the gale was piling up large drifts on the frozen plains. Neither army could move. Neipperg was in advance of Frederick, and had established his head-quarters at the village of Mollwitz, a few miles northwest of Pogerell. He had therefore got fairly between the Prussians and Ohlau. But Frederick knew not where the Austrian army was. For six-and-thirty hours the wild storm drove both Prussians and Austrians to such shelter as could be obtained in the several hamlets which were scattered over the extended plain.“He passed through Hirschberg on the 18th of August. A concourse of many thousands had been waiting for him several hours. Outriders came at last; then he himself, the unique; and, with the liveliest expression of reverence and love, all eyes were directed on one point. I can not describe to you my feelings, which, of course, were those of every body, to see him, the aged king; in his weak hand the hat; in those grand eyes such a fatherly benignity of look over the vast crowd that encircled his carriage, and rolled tide-like, accompanying it. Looking round, I saw in various eyes a tear trembling.
“You inspire the ambition to follow in your footsteps. But I, how often have I said to myself, unhappy man! throw down a burden which is above thy strength! One can not imitate Voltaire without being Voltaire.
The betrothal took place in the Berlin palace on Monday evening, March 10, 1732. Many distinguished guests from foreign courts were present. The palace was brilliantly illuminated. The Duke and Duchess of Bevern, with their son, had accompanied their daughter Elizabeth to Berlin. The youthful pair, who were now to be betrothed only, not married, stood in the centre of the grand saloon, surrounded by the brilliant assemblage. With punctilious observance of court etiquette, they exchanged rings, and plighted their mutual faith. The old king embraced the bride tenderly. The queen-mother, hoping that the marriage would never take place, saluted her with repulsive coldness. And, worst of all, the prince himself scarcely treated143 her with civility. The sufferings of this lovely princess must have been terrible. The testimony to her beauty, her virtues, her amiable character, is uncontradicted. The following well-merited tribute to her worth is from the pen of Lord Dover:The apartments prepared for the Princess Royal were also very magnificent. Her parlor was twenty feet high. It had six windows, three opening in the main front toward the town, and the other three opening toward the interior court. The spaces between the windows were covered with immense mirrors, so arranged as to display the ceiling, beautifully painted by one of the finest artists of the day. The artist had spread his colors with such delicacy and skill, so exquisitely blending light and shade, that the illusion was almost perfect. The spectator felt that the real sky, with its fleecy clouds and infinite depth of blue, overarched him.“The king was fond of children; he liked to have his grand-nephews about him. One day, while the king sat at work in his cabinet, the younger of the two, a boy of eight or nine, was playing ball about the room, and knocked it once and again into the king’s writing operation, who twice or oftener flung it back to him, but next time put it in his pocket, and went on. ‘Please your majesty, give it me back,’ begged the boy, and again begged: majesty took no notice; continued writing. Till at length came, in the tone of indignation, ‘Will your majesty give me my ball, then?’ The king looked up; found the little Hohenzollern planted firm, hands on haunches, and wearing quite a peremptory562 air. ‘Thou art a brave little fellow. They won’t get Silesia out of thee?’ cried he, laughing, and flinging him his ball.”194
“You, as a follower of Epicurus, put a value upon life. As for me, I regard death from the Stoic point of view. Never shall I see the moment which will oblige me to make a disadvantageous peace. No persuasion, no eloquence, shall ever induce me to sign my own dishonor. Either I will bury myself under the ruins of my country, or, if that consolation appears too great to the Destiny which persecutes me, I shall know how to put an end to my misfortunes when it is no longer possible to bear them. I have acted, and continue to act, in pursuance of this conviction, and according to the dictates of honor, which have always directed my steps. My conduct shall continue, at all times, to be conformable to these principles.Wilhelmina, with flooded eyes, entered her carriage, bidding a final adieu to the home of her childhood, where she had passed through so many scenes, eventful and afflictive. Though she afterward visited Berlin, it was her home no more. The Crown Prince returned to Cüstrin, where he impatiently awaited his future destinies.One of this smoking cabinet was a celebrated adventurer named Gundling, endowed with wonderful encyclopedian knowledge, and an incorrigible drunkard. He had been every where, seen every thing, and remembered all which he had either heard or seen. Frederick William had accidentally picked him up, and, taking a fancy to him, had clothed him, pensioned him, and introduced him to his Tabagie, where his peculiar character often made him the butt of ridicule. He was excessively vain, wore a scarlet coat, and all manner of pranks were cut up by these boon companions, in the midst of their cups, at his expense.
This merciless banter from her parents cut the unhappy princess to the heart. With the utmost difficulty she refrained from bursting into convulsive crying. Her husband seems to have been a kind man, inspired with true and tender affection for his wife. But much of the time he was necessarily absent on regimental duty. The old Marquis of Baireuth, her husband’s father, was penurious, irascible, and an inebriate. Wilhelmina often suffered for the necessaries of life. There seemed to be no refuge for her. The home of her step-parents was unendurable, and the home of her childhood was still more so. Few and far between must have been the joys which visited her crushed heart.“And twenty-five thousand spades and picks are at work, under such a field engineer as there is not in the world when he takes to that employment. At all hours, night and day, twenty-five thousand of them: half the army asleep, other half digging, wheeling, shoveling; plying their utmost, and constant as Time himself: these, in three days, will do a great deal of spadework. Batteries, redoubts, big and little; spare not for digging. Here is ground for cavalry, too. Post them here, there, to bivouac in readiness, should our batteries be unfortunate. Long trenches are there, and also short; batteries commanding every ingate, and under them are mines.Both father and son had become by this time fully satisfied that their tastes and characters were so different that it was not best for them to live near each other. The prince spent much of his time with his flute. He also engaged in quite a wide range of reading to occupy the listless hours. Works of the most elevated and instructive character especially interested him, such as history, biography, moral and intellectual philosophy, and polite literature in its higher branches of poetry and the drama. “What mankind have done and been in this world,” writes Carlyle, “and what the wisest men, poetical or other, have thought about mankind and their world, this is what he evidently146 had the appetite for—appetite insatiable, which lasted him to the very end of his days.”
It will be remembered that Breslau, whose inhabitants were mainly Protestant, and which was one of the so-called free cities of Germany, was surrendered to Frederick under peculiar conditions. It was to remain, in its internal government, in all respects exactly as it had been, with the simple exception that it was to recognize the sovereignty of Prussia instead of that of Austria. Its strict neutrality was to be respected. It was to be protected by its own garrison. No Prussian soldier could enter with any weapons but side-arms. The king himself, in entering the city, could be accompanied only by thirty guards.
The Russians, triumphantly advancing, entered Silesia, and reached Crossen, on the Oder, within a hundred miles of Frederick’s encampment.详情
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