478 The latter part of June, an army of a hundred thousand Russians, having crossed the Vistula, was concentrated, under General Soltikof, at Posen, on the River Warta, in Poland. They were marching from the northeast to attack the Prussian forces near Landshut in their rear. General Daun, with a still larger force of Austrians, was confronting Frederick on the southwest. The plan of the allies was to crush their foe between these two armies. Frederick had lost the ablest of his generals. The young men who were filling their places were untried.“The enemy threw such a multitude of bombs and red-hot balls into the city that by nine o’clock in the morning it burned, with great fury, in three different places. The fire could not be extinguished, as the houses were closely built, and the streets narrow. The air appeared like a shower of fiery rain and hail. The surprised inhabitants had not time to think of any thing but of saving their lives by getting into the open fields.
As the morning dawned it was manifest to Frederick that the battle was lost, and that there was no salvation for the remnant of his troops but in a precipitate retreat. He had lost a hundred pieces of cannon, nearly all of his tents and camp furniture, and over eight thousand of his brave troops were either dead or468 captive. Though the Austrians had lost about the same number of men, they had still over eighty thousand left.
Frederick, thus urged, leaving the main body of his army, as258 he supposed, in utter rout, with a small escort, put spurs to his steed in the attempt to escape. The king was well mounted on a very splendid bay horse. A rapid ride of fifteen miles in a southerly direction brought him to the River Neisse, which he crossed by a bridge at the little town of Lowen. Immediately after his departure Prince Leopold dispatched a squadron of dragoons to accompany the king as his body-guard. But Frederick fled so rapidly that they could not overtake him, and in the darkness, for night soon approached, they lost his track. Even several of the few who accompanied him, not so well mounted as the king, dropped off by the way, their horses not being able to keep up with his swift pace.CHARGE OF GENERAL SEIDLITZ AT ZORNDORF.
While these scenes of war and intrigue were transpiring, no one knowing what alarming developments any day might present, Vienna was thrown into a state of terror in apprehension of the immediate approach of a French army to open upon it all the horrors of a bombardment. The citizens were called out en masse to work upon the fortifications. The court fled to Presburg, in Hungary. The national archives were hurried off to Gr?tz. The royal family was dispersed. There were but six thousand troops in the city. General Neipperg, with nearly the whole Austrian army, was a hundred and fifty miles distant to the north, on the banks of the Neisse. The queen, on the 10th of September, assembled at Presburg the Hungarian Parliament, consisting almost exclusively of chivalric nobles renowned in war. The queen appeared before them with her husband, the Grand-duke Francis, by her side, and with a nurse attending, holding her infant son and heir. Addressing them in Latin, in a brief, pathetic speech, she said:544 “It is a pity for the human race, madam, that men never can be tranquil. But they never can be any where. Even the little town of Neufchatel has had its troubles. Your royal highness will be astonished to learn how. A parson there had set forth in a sermon that, considering the immense mercy of God, the pains of hell could not last forever. The synod shouted murder at such scandal, and has been struggling ever since to get the parson exterminated. The affair was of my jurisdiction, for your royal highness must know that I am pope in that country. Here is my decision:
In pleasant weather he took a long walk after dinner, and generally at so rapid a pace that it was difficult for most persons to keep up with him. At four o’clock the secretaries brought to him the answers to the letters which they had received from him in the morning. He glanced them over, examining some with care. Then, until six o’clock, he devoted himself to reading, to literary compositions, and to the affairs of the Academy, in which he took a very deep interest. At six o’clock he had a private musical concert, at which he performed himself upon the flute. He was passionately fond of this instrument, and continued to play upon it until, in old age, his teeth decaying, he was unable to produce the sounds he wished.Through the efforts of Maria Theresa there was another brief conference, but it amounted to nothing. Neither party wished for war. But Austria craved the annexation of Bavaria, and Frederick was determined that Austria should not thus be enlarged.557 Thus the summer passed away in unavailing diplomacy and in equally unavailing military man?uvrings. While engaged in these adventures, Frederick received the tidings of the death of Voltaire, who breathed his last on the 20th of May, 1778. The soul of Frederick was too much seared by life’s stern conflicts to allow him to manifest, or probably to feel, any emotion on the occasion. He, however, wrote a eulogy upon the renowned littérateur, which, though written by a royal pen, attracted but little attention.“From the Field of Battle of Chotusitz, May 17, 1742.
“Such a show for pomp and circumstance, Wilhelmina owns, as could not be equaled in the world; such wheeling, rhythmic coalescing and unfolding, accurate as clock-work, far and wide; swift, big column here hitting big column there at the appointed place and moment; with their volleyings and trumpetings, bright uniforms, and streamers, and field-music, in equipment and man?uvre perfect all, to the meanest drummer or black kettle-drummer; supreme drill sergeant playing on the thing as on his huge piano, several square miles in area.”18
But no sooner did Frederick get an intimation that Austria was contemplating this enlargement of her domains than he roused himself to prevent it with all the vigor of his earlier years. It was a very delicate matter; for Charles Theodore, the elector, and his nephew August Christian, heir to the electorate, a young gentleman of very illustrious pedigree, but of a very slender purse, had both been bribed by Austria secretly to co-operate in the movement. The reader will be interested in Carlyle’s account, slightly abbreviated, of Frederick’s skill in diplomacy:The return mail brought back, under date of May 22, the stereotype British answer: “Both marriages or none.” Just before the reception of this reply, as Colonel Hotham was upon the eve of leaving Berlin, the Crown Prince addressed to him, from Potsdam, the following interesting letter:
“The king is more difficult than ever. He is content with nothing. He has no gratitude for whatever favors one can do him. As to his health, it is one day better, another worse; but the legs they are always swelled. Judge what my joy must be to get out of that turpitude; for the king will only stay a fortnight at most in camp.“Monsieur,—Although I have not the satisfaction of knowing you personally, you are not the less known to me through your works. They are treasures of the mind, if I may so express myself; and they reveal to the reader new beauties at every perusal. I think I have recognized in them the character of their ingenious author, who does honor to our age and to human nature. If ever the dispute on the comparative merits of the moderns and the ancients should be revived, the modern great men174 will owe it to you, and to you only, that the scale is turned in their favor. With the excellent quality of poet you join innumerable others more or less related to it.
“My children, I could not come to you sooner, or this calamity should not have happened. Have a little patience, and I will cause every thing to be rebuilt.”
Matrimonial Intrigues.—Letters from the King to his Son.—Letter from Fritz to Grumkow.—Letter to Wilhelmina.—The Betrothal.—Character of Elizabeth.—Her cruel Reception by the Prussian Queen.—Letter from Fritz to Wilhelmina.—Disappointment and Anguish of Elizabeth.—Studious Habits of Fritz.—Continued Alienation of his Father.—The Marriage.—Life in the Castle at Reinsberg.详情
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