“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.
There is something truly sublime in the devotion with which he, in disregard of sleeplessness, exhaustion, and pain, gave himself to work. His three clerks were summoned to his room each morning at four o’clock.
In a letter to his friend Lord Marischal, dated Dresden, November 23, 1758, just after the retreat of Daun into Bohemia from Saxony, Frederick writes sadly,With the utmost secrecy Frederick matured his plans. It could not be concealed that he was about to embark in some important military enterprise. The embassadors from other courts exerted all their ingenuity, but in vain, to ascertain in what direction the army was to march. Though the French had an embassador at Berlin, still it would seem that Voltaire was sent as a spy, under the guise of friendship, to attempt to ferret out the designs of the king. These men, who did not profess any regard to the principles of religion, seem also to have trampled219 under feet all the instincts of honor. Voltaire endeavored to conceal his treachery beneath smiles and flattery, writing even love verses to the king. The king kept his own secret. Voltaire was not a little chagrined by his want of success. In his billet of leave he wrote:
“Young counts who have learned nothing are the most ignorant people in all countries. In England the king’s son begins by being a sailor on board a ship, in order to learn the man?uvres belonging to that service. If it should miraculously happen that a count could be good for any thing, it must be by banishing all thoughts about his titles and his birth, for these are only follies. Every thing depends upon personal merit.92 The royal yachts glided down the Main to the Rhine, and thence down the Rhine to Wesel. Probably a heavier heart than that of the prince never floated upon that world-renowned stream. Lost in painful musings, he had no eye to gaze upon the picturesque scenes of mountain, forest, castle, and ruins through which they were gliding. At Bonn he had an interview with Seckendorf, whose influence was great with his father, and whom he hoped to interest in his favor. To him he said,His majesty pledged his word of honor that he would fulfill these obligations, but declared that, should the slightest intimation of the agreement leak out, so that the French should discover it, he would deny the whole thing, and refuse in any way to be bound by it. This was assented to.
The Prince De Ligne, in a long letter to Stanislaus, King of Poland, gives an interesting account of several conversations which ensued. In this narrative he writes:
Frederick, as Crown Prince, had been quite methodical in the distribution of his time, and had cultivated rigid habits of industry. Now, fully conscious of the immense duties and cares which would devolve upon him as king, he entered into a very systematic arrangement of the employments of each hour, to which he rigidly adhered during nearly the whole of his reign of forty-six years. He ordered his servants to wake him at four o’clock every morning. Being naturally inclined to sleep, he found it hard to shake off his lethargy. The attendants were therefore directed, every morning, to place upon his forehead a towel dipped in cold water. He thus continued to rise at four o’clock, summer and winter, until an advanced age.That evening Wilhelmina was taken sick with burning fever and severe pain. Still she was compelled to rise from her bed and attend a court party. The next morning she was worse. The king, upon being told of it, exclaimed gruffly, “Ill? I will58 cure you!” and compelled her to swallow a large draught of wine. Soon her sickness showed itself to be small-pox. Great was the consternation of her mother, from the fear that, even should she survive, her beauty would be so marred that the English prince would no longer desire her as his bride. Fortunately she escaped without a scar.543 “I look upon this day,” the king replied, “as the fairest of my life; for it will become the epoch of uniting two houses which have been enemies too long, and whose mutual interests require that they should strengthen, not weaken, one another.”
“This I would not do; my awe was too great. They thereupon laid hands upon me. One took me by the right arm, another by the left, and led me to the garden. Having got me there, they looked out for the king. He was among the gardeners examining some rare plant, and had his back to us. Here I had to halt. The officers began in an under tone to put me382 through my drill. ‘Take your hat under your left arm; put your right foot foremost; breast well forward; hold your head up; hold your papers aloft in your right hand; there, so—steady—steady!’“I will not see him. There was a time when I would have listened to a compromise. That time has passed. I have now entered into arrangements with France. Talk to me no more.”At length Frederick, weary of these unavailing efforts, dashed off in rapid march toward the River Neisse, and with his vanguard, on the 11th of September, crossed the river at the little town of Woitz, a few miles above the city. The river was speedily spanned with his pontoon bridges. As the whole army hurried forward to effect the passage, Frederick, to his surprise, found the Austrian army directly before him, occupying a position from which it could not be forced, and where it could not be turned. For two days Frederick very earnestly surveyed the region, and then, recrossing the river and gathering in his pontoons, passed rapidly down the stream on the left or northern bank, and, after a brief encampment of a few days, crossed the river fifteen miles below the city. He then threw his army into the rear of Neipperg’s, so as to cut off his communications and his daily convoys of food. He thus got possession again of Oppeln, of the strong castle of Friedland, and of the country generally between the Oder and the Neisse rivers.
There was to be a grand review on the parade-ground just out from Berlin, at which the French embassy was to be present. The king caused a party equal in number, composed of the lowest of the people, to be dressed in an enormous exaggeration of the French costume. Their cocked hats were nearly a yard in diameter. Immense wigs reached to their heels; and all other parts of the French court costume were caricatured in the most grotesque manner possible. As soon as the French embassy appeared, there was a great sound of trumpets and martial bands from another part of the field, and these harlequins were brought forward to the gaze of every eye, and conspicuously to the view of Count Rothenburg and his companions. Military discipline prevented any outburst of derisive laughter. Perfect silence reigned. The king sat upon his horse as stolid and grim as fate. Count Rothenburg yielded to this gross discourtesy of the king, and ever after, while he remained in Berlin, wore a plain German costume.
Fritz, having thus established his outposts, was accustomed to retire to his room with his teacher, lay aside his tight-fitting Prussian military coat, which he detested, and called his shroud, draw on a very beautiful, flowing French dressing-gown of scarlet, embroidered with gold, and decorated with sash and tags, and, with his hair dressed in the most fashionable style of the French court, surrender himself to the indulgence of his own luxurious tastes for sumptuous attire as well as for melodious sounds. He was thus, one day, in the height of his enjoyment, taking his clandestine music-lesson, when Lieutenant Katte came rushing into the room in the utmost dismay, with the announcement that the king was at the door. The wily and ever-suspicious monarch had stolen the march upon them. He was about to make his son a very unwelcome surprise visit.430 Frederick reached Leipsic on the 26th of October. The allied forces were rapidly concentrating in overwhelming numbers around him. On the 30th the king marched to the vicinity of Lutzen, where he encamped for the night. General Soubise, though in command of a force outnumbering that of the Prussians nearly three to one, retreated rapidly to the west before Frederick, and crossed the River Saale. Frederick followed, and effected the passage of the stream with but little opposition.In the court of the czarina there was a very handsome young Pole, Stanislaus Poniatowski, who had been an acknowledged lover of Catharine. Though Catharine had laid him aside for other favorites, she still regarded him with tender feelings. He was just the man to do her bidding. By skillful diplomacy she542 caused him to be elected King of Poland. That kingdom was now entirely in her hands, so far as it was in the power of its monarch to place it there.详情
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