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This was a very serious suggestion. None of these sovereigns professed to be influenced by any other considerations than their own interests. And it was manifest that Austria could easily outbid Prussia, if determined to purchase the French alliance. For a moment the king was silent, apparently somewhat perplexed. He then said,

Frederick, in his Histoire de mon Temps, states that, in the negotiations which at this time took place in Berlin, France pressed the king to bring forward his armies into vigorous co-operation; that England exhorted him to make peace with Austria; that Spain solicited his alliance in her warfare against England; that Denmark implored his counsel as to the course it was wise for that kingdom to pursue; that Sweden entreated his aid against Russia; that Russia besought his good offices to make298 peace with the court at Stockholm; and that the German empire, anxious for peace, entreated him to put an end to those troubles which were convulsing all Europe.

On the 3d of October the vanguard of this army, three thousand strong, was seen in the distance from the steeples of Berlin. The queen and royal family fled with the archives to Magdeburg. The city was summoned to an immediate surrender, and to pay a ransom of about four million dollars to rescue it from the flames. The summons was rejected. General Tottleben, in command of the advance, erected his batteries, and at five oclock in the afternoon commenced his bombardment with red-hot balls. In the night a re-enforcement of five thousand Prussians, under Prince Eugene of Würtemberg, who had marched forty miles that day, entered the city, guided by the blaze of the bombardment, to strengthen the garrison. Tottleben retired to await the allied troops, which were rapidly on the march. In the mean time, on the 8th, General Hülsen arrived with nine thousand Prussian troops, increasing the garrison in Berlin to fifteen thousand. Frederick was also on the march, to rescue his capital, with all the troops he could muster. But the Russians had now arrived to the number of thirty-five thousand. The defenses were so weak that they could easily take or destroy the place. It is worthy of notice that there is no indication that the king sent any word of affectionate remembrance to his neglected wife. It is a remarkable feature in the character of the Emperor Napoleon253 I. that in his busiest campaigns rarely did a day pass in which he did not write to Josephine. He often wrote to her twice a day.

Sunday, July 6th, was a day of terrible heat. At three oclock in the morning the Prussian troops were again in motion. There was not a breath of wind. The blazing sun grew hotter and hotter. There was no shade. The soldiers were perishing of thirst. Still the command was onward, onward. In that days march one hundred and five Prussian soldiers dropped dead in their tracks. His energy inspired the whole kingdom, and paved the way25 for the achievements of his son. The father created the machine with which the son attained such wonderful results. He commuted the old feudal service into a fixed money payment. He goaded the whole realm into industry, compelling even the apple-women to knit at the stalls. The crown lands were carefully farmed out. He drained bogs, planted colonies, established manufactures, and in every way encouraged the use of Prussian products. He carried with him invariably a stout rattan cane. Upon the slightest provocation, like a madman, he would thrash those who displeased him. He was thoroughly an arbitrary king, ruling at his sovereign will, and disposing of the liberty, the property, and the lives of his subjects at his pleasure. Every year he was accumulating large masses of coin, which he deposited in barrels in the cellar of his palace. He had no powers of graceful speech, but spent his energetic, joyless life in grumbling and growling.

Under these circumstances, the young queen, urged by her council and by the English court, very reluctantly consented to propose terms of compromise to Frederick. Sir Thomas Robinson, subsequently Earl of Grantham, was sent from Vienna to Breslau to confer with the British minister there, Lord Hyndford, and with him to visit Frederick, at his camp at Strehlen, in the attempt to adjust the difficulties. The curious interview which ensued has been minutely described by Sir Thomas Robinson. It took place under the royal canvas tent of his Prussian majesty at 11 oclock A.M. of the 7th of August, 1741.

CHAPTER IX. THE DEATH OF FREDERICK WILLIAM.

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.

Potsdam, April 1, 1744.

As we have mentioned, the agents of the King of Prussia were45 eager to kidnap tall men, in whatever country they could find them. This greatly exasperated the rulers of the various realms of all sizes and conditions which surrounded the Prussian territory. Frederick William was always ready to apologize, and to aver that each individual act was done without his orders or knowledge. Still, there was no abatement of this nuisance. Several seizures had been made in Hanover, which was the hereditary domain of George I., King of England. George was very angry. He was increasingly obstinate in withholding his assent to the double marriage, and even, by way of reprisal, seized several of the subjects of Frederick William, whom he caught in Hanover.