530

But the young King Frederick was very ambitious of enlarging the borders of his Liliputian realm, and of thus attaining a higher position among the proud and powerful monarchs who surrounded him. Maria Theresa, who had inherited the crown of Austria, was a remarkably beautiful, graceful, and accomplished216 young lady, in the twenty-fourth year of her age. She was a young wife, having married Francis, Duke of Lorraine. Her health, as we have mentioned, was at that time delicate. Frederick thought the opportunity a favorable one for wresting Silesia from Austria, and annexing it to his own kingdom. The queen was entirely inexperienced, and could not prove a very formidable military antagonist. Her army was in no respect, either in number, discipline, or materiel, prepared for war. Her treasury was deplorably empty. There was also reason for Frederick to hope that several claimants would rise in opposition to her, disputing the succession. Sophie Dorothee tenderly loved her little Fritz, and, with a mothers fondness, endeavored to shield him, in every way in her power, from his fathers brutality. Wilhelmina also clung to her brother with devotion which nothing could disturb. Thus both mother and daughter incurred in some degree the hatred with which the father regarded his son. It will be remembered that the mother of Fritz was daughter of George I. of England. Her brother subsequently became George II. He had a son, Fred, about the age of Wilhelmina, and a daughter, Amelia, six months older than Fritz. The mother, Sophie Dorothee, had set her heart upon a double marriageof Wilhelmina with Fred,39 and of Fritz with Amelia. But many obstacles arose in the way of these nuptials.

192 On the 22d of June a complaint was made to the king that the Roman Catholic schools were perverted to seducing Protestants to become Catholics. Frederick returned the complaint with the following words written upon the margin:

General Neipperg was not attempting to move in the deep snow. He, however, sent out a reconnoitring party of mounted hussars under General Rothenburg. About two miles from Mollwitz this party encountered the advance-guard of the Prussians. The hussars, after a momentary conflict, in which several fell, retreated and gave the alarm. General Neipperg was just sitting down to dinner. The Prussian advance waited for the rear columns to come up, and then deployed into line. As the Austrian hussars dashed into the village of Mollwitz with the announcement that the Prussians were on the march, had attacked them, and killed forty of their number, General Neipperg dropped knife and fork, sprang from the table, and dispatched couriers in all directions, galloping for life, to concentrate his troops. His force was mainly distributed about in three villages, two or three miles apart. The clangor of trumpets and drums resounded; and by the greatest exertions the Austrian troops were collected from their scattered encampments, and formed in two parallel lines, about two miles in length, facing the Prussians, who were slowly advancing in the same order, wading through the snow. Each army was formed with the infantry in the centre and the cavalry on the wings. Frederick was then but an inexperienced soldier. He subsequently condemned the want of military ability which he displayed upon this occasion.