On the 20th of April he wrote: “Our situation is disagreeable, but my determination is taken. If we needs must fight, we will do it like men driven desperate. Never was there a greater peril than that I am now in. Time, at its own pleasure, will untie this knot, or destiny, if there is one, determine the event. The348 game I play is so high, one can not contemplate the issue with cold blood. Pray for the return of my good luck.”
It was a dreary winter to Frederick in Breslau. Sad, silent, and often despairing, he was ever inflexibly resolved to struggle till the last possible moment, and, if need be, to bury himself beneath the ruins of his kingdom. All his tireless energies he devoted to the Herculean work before him. No longer did he affect gayety or seek recreations. Secluded, solitary, sombre, he took counsel of no one. In the possession of absolute power, he issued his commands as with the authority of a god.THE DRESSING-GOWN.
“You know, my dear son, that when my children are obedient I love them much. So when you were at Berlin, I from my heart forgave you every thing; and from that Berlin time, since I saw you, have thought of nothing but of your well-being, and how to establish you; not in the army only, but also with a right step-daughter, and so see you married in my lifetime. You may be well persuaded I have had the Princesses of Germany taken survey of, so far as possible, and examined by trusty people what their conduct is, their education, and so on. And so a princess has been found, the eldest one of Bevern, who is well brought up, modest and retiring as a woman ought to be.
In a pet Frederick left the room. The heroic general, who had flatly refused to obey a positive command, found it necessary to resign his commission. The next day another officer plundered the castle. Seventy-five thousand dollars of the proceeds of the sale were appropriated to the field hospitals. The remainder, which proved to be a large sum, was the reward of the plundering general.
One night, about the middle of August, as the king was tossing restlessly upon his pillow, he sprang from his bed, exclaiming63 “Eureka! I now see what will bring a settlement.” Immediately a special messenger was dispatched, with terms of compromise, to Kannegiesser, the king’s embassador at Hanover. We do not know what the propositions were. But the king was exceedingly anxious to avoid war. He had, in many respects, a very stern sense of justice, and would not do that which he considered to be wrong. When he abused his family or others he did not admit that he was acting unjustly. He assumed, and with a sort of fanatical conscientiousness, detestable as it was, that he was doing right; that they deserved the treatment. And now he earnestly desired peace, and was disposed to present the most honorable terms to avert a war.
As this report was made to the king, he exclaimed, angrily, “Let him lie in ward, then, and await the doom which the laws adjudge to him. He is my colonel. He has attempted to desert. He has endeavored to induce others to desert with him. The law speaks plainly enough as to the penalty for such crimes.”“It is of no use. I impute nothing of crime to you. But after such a mishap it would be dangerous to trust you with any post or command.”
“I march to-morrow against the Russians. As the events of war may lead to all sorts of accidents, and it may easily happen to me to be killed, I have thought it my duty to let you know what my plans were; the rather, as you are the guardian of my nephew,118 with unlimited authority.”The Austrians took position upon the south, at the distance of about six miles. The Russians were at the same distance on the west, with their head-quarters at Hohenfriedberg.
On the 15th, after a restless night, he did not wake until eleven o’clock in the morning. For a short time he seemed confused. He then summoned his generals and secretaries, and gave his orders with all his wonted precision. He then called in his three clerks and dictated to them upon various subjects. His directions to an embassador, who was about leaving, filled four quarto pages.“You will, perhaps, have heard of the check I have met with from the Russian army on the 13th138 of this month. Though at bottom our affairs in regard to the enemy here are not desperate, I find I shall not be able to make any detachment for your assistance. Should the Austrians attempt any thing against Dresden, therefore, you will see if there are means of maintaining yourself; failing which, it will behoove you to try and obtain a favorable capitulation—to wit, liberty to withdraw, with the488 whole garrison, moneys, magazines, hospital, and all that we have at Dresden, either to Berlin or elsewhere, so as to join some corps of my troops.Frederick wrote to Wilhelmina: “Voltaire picks Jews’ pockets, but he will get out of it by some somersault.”
General Neipperg had now left Neisse; but he kept himself so surrounded by clouds of skirmishers as to render his march entirely invisible. Frederick, anxious to unite with him his troops under the Prince of Holstein Beck, advanced toward Grottkau to meet that division, which had been ordered to join him. The prince had been stationed at Frankenstein, with a force of about eight thousand, horse and foot; but the Austrian scouts so occupied all the roads that the king had not been able to obtain any tidings from him whatever.The Austrian centre was pushed rapidly forward to the aid of the discomfited left. It was too late. The soldiers arrived upon the ground breathless and in disorder. Before they had time to form, Frederick plowed their ranks with balls, swept them with bullets, and fell upon them mercilessly with sabre and bayonet. The carnage was awful. Division after division melted away in the fire deluge which consumed them. Prince Charles made the most desperate efforts to rally his dismayed troops in and around the church-yard at Leuthen. Here for an hour they fought desperately. But it was all in vain. The left wing was destroyed. The centre was destroyed. The right wing was pushed forward only to be cut to pieces by the sabres, and to be mown down by the terrific fire of the triumphant Prussians.详情
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