组图:吕彤羽、王端阳谈《冀中一日》背后故事

Peter III. had been left an orphan, and titular Duke of Schleswig-Holstein, when eleven years of age. His mother was a daughter of Peter the Great. His aunt, the Czarina Elizabeth, who had determined not to marry, adopted the child, and pronounced him to be her heir to the throne. Being at that time on friendly terms with Frederick, the Empress Elizabeth had consulted him in reference to a wife for the future czar. It will be remembered that the king effected a marriage between Peter and Sophia, the beautiful daughter of a Prussian general, Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst, and at that time commandant of Stettin. His wife was sister to the heir-apparent of Sweden. Carlyle, speaking of this couple, says:

His Prussian majesty has unquestionably talent, but what361 a character! He is frivolous in the extreme, and sadly a heretic in his religious views. He is a dishonorable man, and what a neighbor he has been! As to Silesia, I would as soon part with my last garment as part with it.

The months rolled rapidly on, and Fritz, having entered his fourteenth year, was appointed by his father, in May, 1725, captain in the Potsdam Grenadier Guard. This giant regiment has attained world-wide renown, solely from the peculiarity of its organization. Such a body of men never existed before, never will again. It was one of the singular freaks of the Prussian king to form a grenadier guard of men of gigantic stature. In the prosecution of this senseless aim not only his own realms were ransacked, but Europe and even Asia was explored in search of giants. The army was with Frederick William the great object of life, and the giant guard was the soul of the army. This guard consisted of three battalions, 800 in each, 2400 in all. The shortest of the men were nearly seven feet high. The tallest were almost nine feet in height. They had been gathered, at an enormous expense, out of every country where they could be found. No greater favor could be conferred upon the king than to obtain for him a giant. Many amusing anecdotes are related of the stratagems to which the king resorted to obtain these mammoth soldiers. Portraits were painted of all of them. Frederick William paid very little regard to individual rights or to the law of nations if any chance presented itself by which he could seize upon one of these monster men. Reigning in absolutism, compared with which the despotism of Turkey is mild, if he found in his domains any young woman of remarkable stature, he would compel her to marry one of his giants. It does not, however, appear that he thus succeeded in perpetuating a gigantic race. Sire,It is not to excuse myself that I address this letter to your majesty; but, moved by sincere repentance and heartfelt sorrow, I implore your clemency, and beseech you, sire, to have some consideration for my youth, which renders me capable of imprudence without any bad design.

The court at Vienna received with transports of joy the tidings of the victory of Hochkirch. The pope was greatly elated. He regarded the battle as one between the Catholic and Protestant powers. The holy father, Clement XIII., sent a letter of congratulation to Marshal Daun, together with a sword and hat, both blessed by his holiness. The occurrence excited the derision of Frederick, who was afterward accustomed to designate his opponent as the blessed general with the papal hat. Frederick remained at Doberschütz ten days. During this time his brother Henry joined him from Dresden with six thousand foot470 and horse. This raised his force to a little above thirty thousand men. General Finck was left in command of the few Prussian troops who remained for the defense of the capital of Saxony.

With great courtesy of words, but pitiless energy of action, General Borck, who was in command, fulfilled his commission. A contribution was exacted of fifteen thousand dollars, to be paid within three days; sufficient rations were to be furnished daily for the troops, or the general, it was stated, would be under the painful necessity of collecting them for himself. Two hundred and fifty dollars a day were to be provided for the generals private expenses. Remonstrances were of no avail. Resistance was not to be thought of.

On the 20th of June, Voltaire dressed himself in disguise, and, with a companion, M. Coligny, entered a hackney-coach, and ordered the driver to leave the city by the main gate. M. Freytag was immediately informed of this by his spies. With mounted men he commenced the pursuit, overtook the carriage as it was delayed a moment at the gate, and arrested the fugitive in the kings name. Voltaires eyes sparkled with fury, and he raved insanely. The scene gathered a crowd, and Voltaire was taken by a guard of soldiers to another inn, The Billy-Goat, as the landlord of the Golden Lion refused any longer to entertain so troublesome a guest.