“In case you refuse, or delay beyond the term, the answer which I hereby of right demand, you will render yourself alone responsible, before the world, for the consequences which infallibly will follow. I am, with much consideration, my cousin, your very affectionate cousin,“Cüstrin, November 19, 1730.
All thoughts of the double marriage were for the moment relinquished. The Czar of Russia had a son and a daughter. It was proposed to marry Wilhelmina to the son and Fritz to the daughter, and thus to secure a Russian instead of an English alliance. Harassed by these difficulties, Frederick William grew increasingly morose, venting his spite upon his wife and children. Fritz seriously contemplated escaping from his father’s abuse by flight, and to take refuge with his uncle George in England, and thus to secure his marriage with Amelia. The portraits of the62 princess which he had seen proved her to be very beautiful. All reports pronounced her to be as lovely in character as in person. He was becoming passionately attached to her. Wilhelmina was his only confidante. Regard for her alone restrained him from attempting to escape. “He would have done so long ago,” writes Dubourgay, under date of August 11, 1729, “were it not for his sister, upon whom the whole weight of his father’s resentment would then fall. Happen what will, therefore, he is resolved to share with her all the hardships which the king, his father, may be pleased to put upon her.”The unhappy Crown Prince was in an agony of despair. Again and again he frantically exclaimed, “In the name of God, I beg you to stop the execution till I write to the king! I am ready to renounce all my rights to the crown if he will pardon Katte!” As the condemned was led by the window to ascend the scaffold, Fritz cried out to him, in anguish as intense as a generous heart can endure, “Pardon me, my dear Katte, pardon me! Oh that this should be what I have done for you!”Within three months after the divorce, the Crown Prince, anxious for an heir, married, on the 18th of April, 1769, the Princess Frederica Louisa, of Hesse-Darmstadt. A son was born to them, who became Frederick William III.
These sufferings bound the brother and sister very intimately together. “This dear brother,” Wilhelmina writes, “passed all his afternoons with me. We read and wrote together, and occupied ourselves in cultivating our minds. The king now never saw my brother without threatening him with the cane. Fritz repeatedly told me that he would bear any thing from the king except blows; but that, if he ever came to such extremities with him, he would regain his freedom by flight.”Thus ended in clouds, darkness, and woe the third campaign of the Seven Years’ War. The winter was employed by both parties in preparing for a renewal of the struggle. As the spring opened the allies had in the field such a military array as Europe had never seen before. Three hundred thousand men extended in a cordon of posts from the Giant Mountains, near the borders of Silesia, to the ocean. In the north, also, Russia had accumulated her vast armies for vigorous co-operation with the southern troops. All the leading Continental powers—France, Austria, Russia, Sweden, and the states of the German Empire—were combined against Prussia. England alone was the inefficient ally of Frederick. Small sums of money were loaned him from the British cabinet; and the court of St. James, hostile in heart to the Prussian king, co-operated with him only so far as was deemed essential for the promotion of British interests.
Under Frederick William the newspaper press in Berlin amounted to nothing. The capital had not a single daily paper. Speedy destruction would crush any writer who, in journal, pamphlet, or book, should publish any thing displeasing to the king. Frederick proclaimed freedom of the press. Two newspapers were established in Berlin, one in French and one in German. Distinguished men were selected to edit them. One was a noted writer from Hamburg. Frederick, in his absolutism, had adopted the resolve not to interfere with the freedom of the press unless there were some gross violation of what he deemed proper. He allowed very bitter satires to be circulated in Berlin against himself, simply replying to the remonstrances of his ministers, “The press is free.”On the 5th of October, 1763, Augustus, the unhappy King of Poland, had died at Dresden, after a troubled reign of thirty years. The crown was elective. The turbulent nobles, broken up into antagonistic and envenomed cliques, were to choose a successor. Catharine, as ambitious as she was able and unprincipled, resolved to place one of her creatures upon the throne, that Poland, a realm spreading over a territory of 284,000 square miles, and containing a population of 20,000,000, might be virtually added to her dominions. Carlyle writes:
Immediately he sent a polite note to Count Wallis, assuring him that the attack, if attack were necessary, should be made on the other side of the city, so that no military advantage could be taken of the church. This popular act resounded widely not225 only through the Protestant community of Silesia, but throughout Europe.BERLIN PALACE.
“His very flute,” Carlyle writes, “most innocent ‘Princess,’ as he used to call his flute in old days, is denied him ever since he came to Cüstrin. But by degrees he privately gets her back, and consorts much with her; wails forth, in beautiful adagios, emotions for which there is no other utterance at present. He has liberty of Cüstrin and the neighborhood. Out of Cüstrin he is not to lodge any night without leave had of the commandant.
All the friends of Fritz were treated by the infuriate father with the most cruel severity. No mercy was shown to any one who had ever given the slightest indication of sympathy with the Crown Prince. A bookseller, who had furnished Fritz with French books, was cruelly exiled to the remote shores of the Baltic, on the extreme northern frontiers of Prussia. A French gentleman, Count Montholieu, who had loaned the Crown Prince money, would probably have perished upon the scaffold had he not escaped by flight. His effigy was nailed to the gallows.
“Never mind, sire, God Almighty and we will mend this yet.417 The enemy may get a victory for once, but that does not send us to the devil.”The king then, having ordered his guard to watch him with the utmost vigilance, assuring them that their heads should answer for it if they allowed him to escape, sent his son to another boat. He was prevailed upon to do so, as no one could tell to what length the king’s ungovernable passions might lead him.
CHAPTER XXI. BATTLES AND VICTORIES.详情
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