¡°Would your majesty,¡± Lord Hyndford replied, ¡°engage to stand by his excellency Gotter¡¯s original offer at Vienna on your part? That is, would you agree, in consideration of the surrender to you of Lower Silesia and Breslau, to assist the Queen of Austria, with all your troops, for the maintenance of the Pragmatic Sanction, and to vote for the Grand-duke Francis as emperor?¡±
The Crown Prince had for some time been inspired with an ever-increasing ambition for high intellectual culture. Gradually he was gathering around him, in his retreat at Reinsberg, men of high literary reputation, and was opening correspondence with the most distinguished men of letters in all the adjacent countries.
Frederick spent three days with his sister at Baireuth. Wilhelmina was disappointed in his appearance. The brotherly affection she looked for was not found. He was cold, stately, disposed to banter her, and his conversation seemed ¡°set on stilts.¡± Leaving Baireuth, the king continued his journey very rapidly toward Strasbourg. When they reached Kehl, on the eastern banks of the Rhine, they were informed that they could not cross the river without passports. One of the gentlemen drew up the necessary document, which the king signed and sealed with his signet-ring. The curiosity of the landlord had been excited, and he watched his guests from a closet. Seeing what was done, he said to Frederstorf, the king¡¯s valet, ¡°Count Dufour is the King of Prussia, sir; I saw him sign his name.¡± He was bribed to keep the secret.
To the summons which Frederick sent to Maria Theresa, demanding the surrender of Silesia, no response could be returned, consistent with the dignity of the crown, but a peremptory refusal. The reply was unanswerable in its logic. Though it was, in general, couched in courteous terms, one sentence crept into it of rather scornful defiance.
On the evening of the 5th his Prussian majesty gave a grand ball. All the nobility, high and low, were invited. The provident king arranged that the expenses, which he was to defray, should not exceed half a guinea for each guest. Early hours were fashionable in those days. Frederick entered the assembly-rooms at six o¡¯clock, and opened the ball with a Silesian lady. He was very complaisant, and walked through the rooms with a smile upon his countenance, conversing freely with the most distinguished of his guests. About ten o¡¯clock he silently withdrew, but the dancing and feasting continued until a late hour.
His companions had no heart to witness the bloody execution of their friend and brother-officer. The chaplain, Müller, who had accompanied the condemned to Cüstrin, and also Besserer, the chaplain of the garrison there, were either obliged by their official position, or were constrained by Christian sympathy, to ride by his side in the death-cart to the scaffold. Of the rest of his friends he took an affectionate leave, saying, ¡°Adieu, my brothers; may God be with you evermore!¡± He was conveyed to the rampart of the castle dressed in coarse brown garments precisely like those worn by the prince.
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