21 Sophie Dorothee was a very pretty child. The plan was probably already contemplated by the parents that the two should be married in due time. Soon after this Frederick William lost his mother, and with her all of a mothers care and gentle influences. Her place was taken by a step-mother, whose peevishness and irritability soon developed into maniacal insanity. When Frederick William was eighteen years of age he was allowed to choose between three princesses for his wife. He took his pretty cousin, Sophie Dorothee. They were married with great pomp on the 28th of November, 1706.

Frederick, being constrained by the approach of General Daun to raise the siege of Dresden, retired to his intrenched camp at Schlettau. Leaving fifteen thousand men to guard the camp, he, on the 1st of August, before the dawn, crossed the Elbe, and was again on the rapid march toward Silesia. His army consisted of thirty thousand men, and was accompanied by two thousand heavy baggage-wagons. In five days the king marched over one hundred miles, crossing five rivers. Armies of the allies, amounting504 to one hundred and seventy-five thousand Austrians and Russians, were around himsome in front, some in his rear, some on his flanks.150

410 It became more and more manifest to Frederick that he must encounter a terrible conflict upon the opening of the spring. Early in January he took a short trip to Berlin, but soon returned to Dresden. Though he avoided all appearance of anxiety, and kept up a cheerful air, he was fully conscious of his peril. This is evident from the secret instructions he left with his minister, Count Finck, upon his departure from Berlin. The dispatch was dated January 10th, 1757: Early the next morning Frederick commenced the vigorous pursuit of the retiring foe. A storm arose. For twelve hours the rain fell in torrents. But the Prussian army was impelled onward, through the mud, and through the swollen streams, inspired by the almost supernatural energy which glowed in the bosom of its king. It seemed as if no hardships, sufferings, or perils could induce those iron men, who by discipline had been converted into mere machines, to wander from the ranks or to falter on the way. As we have mentioned, there were throughout all this region two religious parties, the Catholics and the Protestants. They were strongly antagonistic to each other. Under the Austrian sway, the Catholics, having the support of the government, had enjoyed unquestioned supremacy. They had often very cruelly persecuted the Protestants, robbing them of their churches, and, in their zeal to defend what they deemed the orthodox faith, depriving them of their children, and placing them under the care of the Catholic priests to be educated.

Upon the kings arrival at Wesel he ordered his culprit son to be brought on shore and to be arraigned before him. It was Saturday evening, August 12, 1730. A terrible scene ensued. The despairing Crown Prince, tortured by injustice, was not disposed to humble himself before his father. Receiving no assurance that his friends would be pardoned, he evaded all attempts to extort from him confessions which would implicate them. General Mosel alone was present at this examination.

On the 20th of April, Frederick, having secretly placed his army in the best possible condition, commenced a rapid march upon Prague, thus plunging into the very heart of Bohemia. He advanced in three great columns up the valley of the Elbe and the Moldau. His movements were so rapid and unexpected that he seized several Austrian magazines which they had not even time to burn. Three months provisions were thus obtained for412 his whole army. The first column, under the king, was sixty thousand strong. The second column, led by General Bevern, numbered twenty-three thousand, horse and foot. The third, under Marshal Schwerin, counted thirty-two thousand foot and twelve thousand horse. On the 2d of May the banners of Frederick were seen from the steeples of Prague. They appeared floating from the heights of the Weissenberg, a few miles west of the city. At the same time, the other two columns, which had united under Marshal Schwerin, appeared on the east side of the Moldau, upon both banks of which the city is built.

About seven oclock in the morning the king ascended an eminence, and carefully scanned the field, where sixty thousand men were facing each other, soon to engage in mutual slaughter. There were two spectacles which arrested his attention. The one was the pomp, and pageantry, and panoply of war, with its serried ranks, its prancing steeds, its flashing armor, its waving banners, its inspiriting bugle-pealsa scene in itself beautiful and sublime in the highest conceivable degree.

I hope to speak to you with open heart at Berlin. You may think, too, how I shall be embarrassed in having to act the lover without being it, and to feign a passion for mute ugliness; for I have not much faith in Count Seckendorfs taste in this article. Monsieur, once more get this princess to learn by heart the Ecole des Maris and the Ecole des Femmes. That will do her much more good than True Christianity by the late Arndt. If, beside, she would learn steadiness of humor, learn music, become rather too free than too virtuousah! then, my dear general, then I should feel some liking for her; and a Colin marrying a Phillis, the couple would be in accordance. But if she is stupid, naturally I renounce the devil and her.

On the 16th the battered, smouldering, blood-stained city was surrendered, with its garrison of sixteen thousand men. The prisoners of war were marched off to Fredericks strong places in the north. Prague was compelled to take the oath of allegiance to the emperor, and to pay a ransom of a million of dollars. Abundant stores of provision and ammunition were found in the city. It was a brilliant opening of the campaign.

The fault-finding character of the king, and his intense devotion to perfecting his army, both increased with his advancing years. After one of his reviews of the troops in Silesia, in the year 1784, he wrote in the following severe strain to the commanding general:

When all my lands were invaded, and I knew not where in the world to be brought to bed in, I relied on my good right and the help of God. But in this thing, where not only public law cries to Heaven against us, but also all natural justice and sound reason, I must confess never in my life to have been in such trouble, and I am ashamed to show my face. Let the prince (Kaunitz) consider what an example we are giving to all the world, if, for a miserable piece of Poland, or of Moldavia, or Wallachia, we throw our honor and reputation to the winds. I see well that I am alone, and no more in vigor. Therefore I must, though to my very great sorrow, let things take their course.186

Then, writes Wilhelmina, as to his bride, I begged him to tell me candidly if the portrait the queen and my sister had been making of her were the true one.