Soon after this, Frederick again wrote to his sister a letter which throws so much light upon his character that we give it almost entire:After this address to the assembled generals Frederick rode out to the camp, and addressed each regiment in the most familiar and fatherly, yet by no means exultant terms. It was night. The glare of torches shed a lurid light upon the scene. The first regiment the king approached was composed of the cuirassiers of the Life Guard.As an administrative officer the young sovereign was inexorable and heartless in the extreme. Those who had befriended him in the days of his adversity were not remembered with any profusion of thanks or favors. Those who had been in sympathy with his father in his persecution of the Crown Prince encountered no spirit of revenge. Apparently dead to affection, and oblivious of the past, the young sovereign only sought for those agents who could best assist him in the work to which he now consecrated all his energies—the endeavor to aggrandize the kingdom of Prussia. Poor Doris Ritter received but a trivial pension for her terrible wrongs. Lieutenant Keith, his friend and confederate in his contemplated flight, who had barely escaped with his life from Wesel, after ten years of exile hastened home, hoping that his faithful services and sufferings would meet with a reward. The king appointed him merely lieutenant colonel,194 with scarcely sufficient income to keep him from absolute want. Perhaps the king judged that the young man was not capable of filling, to the advantage of the state, a higher station, and he had no idea of sacrificing his interests to gratitude.
On the 18th of September, when the rejoicing Austrians at K?niggr?tz were firing salutes, drinking wine, and feasting in honor of the election of the grand-duke to the imperial dignity, Frederick, availing himself of the carousal in the camp of his foes, crossed the Elbe with his whole army, a few miles above K?niggr?tz, and commenced his retreat to Silesia. His path led through a wild, sparsely inhabited country, of precipitous rocks, hills, mountain torrents, and quagmires. One vast forest spread along the banks of the Elbe, covering with its gloom an extent of sixty square miles. A few miserable hamlets were scattered over this desolate region. The poor inhabitants lived mainly upon the rye which they raised and the swine which ranged the forest.The king smiled, and immediately entered very vigorously upon business. It was not possible, under these circumstances, for him deeply to mourn over the death of so tyrannical a father. Frederick was twenty-eight years of age. He is described as a handsome young man, five feet seven inches in stature, and of graceful presence. The funeral ceremonies of the deceased monarch were conducted essentially according to the programme already given. The body of the king mouldered to dust in the sepulchre of his fathers. His spirit returned to the God who gave it.“If my destiny is finished, remember a friend who loves thee always tenderly. If Heaven prolong my days, I will write to thee after to-morrow, and thou shalt hear of our victory. Adieu, dear friend; I shall love thee till death.
92 The royal yachts glided down the Main to the Rhine, and thence down the Rhine to Wesel. Probably a heavier heart than that of the prince never floated upon that world-renowned stream. Lost in painful musings, he had no eye to gaze upon the picturesque scenes of mountain, forest, castle, and ruins through which they were gliding. At Bonn he had an interview with Seckendorf, whose influence was great with his father, and whom he hoped to interest in his favor. To him he said,The Prussian minister replied that he could not conceive why he should be refused an audience; that he should not fail to be at the council-chamber at eleven o’clock the next day to receive an answer to the proposals already made, and also to the proposals which he was prepared to make. He endeavored to inform Hartoff of the terms of compromise which the Prussian king was ready to present. But Hartoff refused to hear him, declaring that he had positive orders not to listen to any thing he had to say upon the subject. We will give the conclusion in the words of the Prussian minister, as found in his dispatch of the 18th of August, 1729:
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.“You never can believe, my adorable sister, how concerned I am about your happiness. All my wishes centre there, and every moment of my life I form such wishes. You may see by this that I preserve still that sincere friendship which has united our hearts from our tenderest years. Recognize at least, my dear sister, that you did me a sensible wrong when you suspected me of fickleness toward you, and believed false reports of my listening to tale-bearers—me, who love only you, and whom neither absence nor lying rumors could change in respect of you. At least, don’t again believe such things on my score, and never mistrust me till you have had clear proof, or till God has forsaken me, or I have lost my wits.Even Wilhelmina had accepted the Prince of Baireuth, whom she had never seen, only to avoid being sacrificed to men whom she utterly loathed. Fortunately for the princess, her affections were not otherwise engaged, and when introduced to her intended she became quite reconciled to the idea of accepting him as her husband.
246Louis XV. felt insulted by this message, and responded in a similar strain of irritation. Thus the two monarchs were alienated from each other. Indeed, Frederick had almost as much cause to be dissatisfied with the French as they had to be dissatisfied with him. Each of the monarchs was ready to sacrifice the other if any thing was to be gained thereby.The Retreat ordered.—Awful Suffering.—Narrow Escape of the King.—The Flight from Prague.—Military Mistakes of the King.—Frederick returns to Berlin.—His wonderful administrative Ability.—Poland joins Austria.—The Austrians enter Silesia.—Unreasonable Demands of Frederick.—Humiliation of the King.—Prince Charles and his Bride.—Character of Leopold.—Death of the Emperor.—Bavaria turns against Frederick.—Anecdotes of Prince Leopold.—Peril of Frederick.—Battle of Hohenfriedberg.—Signal Victory of Frederick.
At half past three o’clock on Friday morning, Frederick, with his whole army, was again upon the march. He swept quite around the eastern end of the Russian square, and approached it from the south. By this sagacious movement he could, in case of disaster, retreat to Cüstrin.“There is nothing left for us, my dear lord, but to mingle and blend our weeping for the losses we have had. If my head were a fountain of tears, it would not suffice for the grief I feel.
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Then addressing Grumkow, she said, in tones deliberate and76 intense, “For you, sir, who are the author of my misfortunes, may my curse fall upon you and your house. You have this day killed me. But I doubt not that Heaven will hear my prayer and avenge my wrongs.”详情
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