BATTLE OF LEUTHEN, DECEMBER 5, 1757.In the mean time a Venetian embassador, on his way to one of the northern courts, passed a night at a hotel in Berlin. He was immediately arrested, with his luggage, by a royal order. A dispatch was transmitted to Venice, stating that the embassador would be held as a hostage till Barberina was sent to Prussia. “A bargain,” says Frederick, in his emphatic utterance, “is a bargain. A state should have law courts to enforce contracts entered into in their territories.
“And then, grumbling and blaming, would alter the camp till it was all out of rule, and then say,If we can rely upon the testimony of Frederick, an incident occurred at this time which showed that the French court was as intriguing and unprincipled as was his Prussian majesty. It is quite evident that the Austrian court also was not animated by a very high sense of honor.
81 The object of Colonel Hotham’s mission was well known. The cordial reception he had met from the king indicated that his message was not an unwelcome one to his Prussian majesty. In the indecent hilarity of the hour, it was assumed that the marriage contract between Wilhelmina and the Prince of Wales was settled. Brains addled with wine gave birth to stupid jokes upon the subject. “A German ducat was to be exchanged for an English half guinea.” At last, in the semi-delirium of their intoxication, one proposed as a toast, “To the health of Wilhelmina, Princess of Wales.” The sentiment was received with uproarious jollity. Though all the company were in the same state of silly inebriation, neither the king nor the British ministers, Hotham and Dubourgay, for a moment lost sight of their settled policy. The king remained firm in his silent resolve to consent only to the marriage of Wilhelmina and the Prince of Wales. Hotham and Dubourgay could not swerve from the positive instructions which they had received, to insist upon both marriages or neither. Thus, notwithstanding this bacchanal jollification, neither party was disposed to swerve a hair’s breadth from its fixed resolve, and the question was no nearer a settlement than before.“I am authorized to offer your majesty two million guilders [,000,000] if your majesty will consent to relinquish this enterprise and retire from Silesia.
“And twenty-five thousand spades and picks are at work, under such a field engineer as there is not in the world when he takes to that employment. At all hours, night and day, twenty-five thousand of them: half the army asleep, other half digging, wheeling, shoveling; plying their utmost, and constant as Time himself: these, in three days, will do a great deal of spadework. Batteries, redoubts, big and little; spare not for digging. Here is ground for cavalry, too. Post them here, there, to bivouac in readiness, should our batteries be unfortunate. Long trenches are there, and also short; batteries commanding every ingate, and under them are mines.”Frederick was rapidly awaking to the consciousness that Maria Theresa, whom he had despised as a woman, and a young wife and mother, and whose territory he thought he could dismember with impunity, was fully his equal, not only in ability to raise and direct armies, but also in diplomatic intrigue. About the middle of August he perceived from his camp in Chlum that Prince Charles was receiving large re-enforcements from the south. At the same time, he saw that corps after corps, principally of Saxon troops, were defiling away by circuitous roads to the north. It was soon evident that the heroic Maria Theresa was preparing to send an army into the very heart of Prussia to attack its capital. This was, indeed, changing the aspect of the war.
“God does not always follow the impulse of his justice toward sinners, but often, by his mercy, reclaims those who have gone astray. And will not your majesty, sire, who are a resemblance of the divinity, pardon a criminal who is guilty of disobedience to his sovereign? The hope of pardon supports me, and I flatter myself that your majesty will not cut me off in the flower of my age, but will give me time to prove the effect your majesty’s clemency will have on me.Voltaire’s visit lasted about thirty-two months. He was, however, during all this time, fast losing favor with the king. Instead of being received as an inmate at Sans Souci, he was assigned to a small country house in the vicinity, called the Marquisat. His wants were, however, all abundantly provided for at the expense of the king. It is evident from his letters that he was a very unhappy man. He was infirm in health, irascible, discontented, crabbed; suspecting every one of being his enemy, jealous of his companions, and with a diseased mind, crowded with superstitious fears.
“The princess is not ugly nor beautiful. You must mention it to no mortal. Write indeed to mamma that I have written138 to you. And when you shall have a son, I will let you go on your travels; wedding, however, can not be before next winter. Meanwhile I will try and contrive opportunity that you see one another a few times, in all honor, yet so that you get acquainted with her. She is a God-fearing creature, will suit herself to you, as she does to the parents-in-law.
“‘You shall have it for fifty,’ said the king, ‘because you are a good judge, and I am therefore anxious to do you a favor.’
It was Saturday, the 8th of April. A blinding, smothering storm of snow swept over the bleak plains. Breasting the gale, and wading through the drifts, the Prussian troops tramped along, unable to see scarcely a rod before them. At a little hamlet called Leipe the vanguard encountered a band of Austrian251 hussars. They took several captives. From them they learned, much to their chagrin and not a little to their alarm, that the Austrian army was already in possession of Grottkau.详情
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