108“This battle is a masterpiece of movements, of man?uvres, and of resolution. It is enough to immortalize Frederick, and to rank him among the greatest generals. It develops, in the highest degree, both his moral and his military qualities.”
Marshal Browne skillfully and successfully performed his part of the adventure. But there was no efficient co-operation by the Saxons. The men were weak, emaciate, and perishing from hunger. Their sinews of exertion were paralyzed. The skeleton horses could not draw the wagons or the guns. To add to their embarrassment, a raging storm of wind and rain burst upon the camp. The roads were converted into quagmires. The night was pitch-dark as the Saxons, about fourteen thousand in number, drenched with rain and groping through the mud, abandoned their camp and endeavored to steal their way across the river. The watchful Prussians detected the movement. A scene of confusion, terror, slaughter ensued, which it is in vain to endeavor to describe. The weeping skies and moaning winds indicated nature’s sympathy with these scenes of woe. Still the unhappy Saxons struggled on heroically. After seventy hours of toilsome marching and despairing conflict, these unhappy peasant-lads, the victims of kingly pride, were compelled to surrender at discretion. Marshal Browne, finding the enterprise an utter failure, rapidly returned to the main body of his army.To obviate the difficulty of the Crown Prince becoming the head of a party in Berlin antagonistic to the king, the plan was suggested of having him appointed, with his English princess, vice-regent of Hanover. But this plan failed. Hotham now84 became quite discouraged. He wrote home, on the 22d of April, that he had that day dined with the king; that the Crown Prince was present, but dreadfully dejected, and that great sympathy was excited in his behalf, as he was so engaging and so universally popular. He evidently perceived some indications of superiority in the Crown Prince, for he added, “If I am not much mistaken, this young prince will one day make a very considerable figure.”
“You have been willing to suffer for me. Is it not much more natural that I should sacrifice myself for you, and that I should finish, once for all, this fatal division in the family? Could I balance a moment between the choice of unhappiness for myself and the pardon of my brother? What dreadful discourses have there not been held to me on this subject! I tremble when I think of them. All the objections I could allege against the king’s proposal were refuted to me beforehand. Your majesty yourself had proposed to him the Prince of Baireuth as a fit alliance for me. I can not therefore imagine that you will disapprove of my resolution. Besides, necessity is not to be resisted. I shall have the honor to offer a more circumstantial detail of the whole transaction to your majesty when I shall be permitted to throw myself at your feet. I can understand easily what must be your grief on the occasion. It is that which touches me the most.”
“My dearest Sister,—I have the satisfaction to inform you that we have yesterday53 totally beaten the Austrians. They263 have lost more than five thousand men in killed, wounded, and prisoners. We have lost Prince Frederick, brother of Margraf Karl; General Schulenberg, Wartensleben of the Carabineers, and many other officers. Our troops did miracles, and the result shows as much. It was one of the rudest battles fought within the memory of man.
“You will retain your posts,” said the king, severely. “I have no thought of making any change. But as to authority, I know of none there can be but what resides in the king that is sovereign.“Yes,” the king replied. “I swear it to you, D’Arget. In a word, I want to have some good of my life. What are we, poor human atoms, to get up projects that cost so much blood!”THE WINTER CAMP.
a a. Austrian Army. b. Prince Weissenfels. c c. Prussian Army. d. Dumoulin. e. Gesler’s Dragoons.“Upon reaching the neighborhood of Landshut, the king was surrounded by a troop of two thousand Protestant peasants. They begged permission of him to massacre the Catholics of those parts, and clear the country of them altogether. This animosity arose from the persecutions which the Protestants had suffered during the Austrian domination.
Frederick was endowed with brilliant powers of conversation. He was fond of society, where he could exercise and display these gifts and accomplishments. Frequent suppers were given at Sans Souci, which lasted from half past eight till midnight. Gentlemen only—learned men—were invited to these entertainments. Frederick was not an amiable man. He took pleasure in inflicting the keenest pain possible with his satirical tongue. No friend was spared. The more deeply he could strike the lash into the quivering nerves of sensibility, the better he seemed pleased with himself.Frederick had caused signal cannon to be placed at suitable points between Breslau and Strehlin, which, by transmitting reports, should give him as early intelligence as possible of the success of the enterprise. About noon, in the midst of the grand man?uvrings on the parade-ground, one distant cannon-shot was heard, to the great satisfaction of Frederick, who alone understood its significance.
The king was not a little vain of the keen thrusts he could occasionally give the clergy. In a letter to Marie-Antoine, Electress of Saxony, dated Potsdam, May 3, 1768, he, with much apparent complacency, records the following witty achievement:
65 “After this I went home, but had scarcely entered my apartment when a messenger returned me, by order of the ministers, the declaration, still sealed as I left it; and perceiving that I was not inclined to receive it, he laid it on my table, and immediately left the house.Sir Thomas hastened back to Breslau, and anxiously entered into communication with Lord Hyndford. The British minister entreated the king to admit Sir Thomas to another interview, assuring him that he came with new and more liberal propositions for a compromise. The king replied, in substance, with his customary brusqueness,详情
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