Augustus William, overwhelmed by his disgrace, and yet angered by the rebuke, coldly replied that he desired only that a court-martial should investigate the case and pronounce judgment. The king forbade that any intercourse whatever should take place between his own troops, soldiers, or officers, and those of his brother, who, he declared, had utterly degraded themselves by the loss of all courage and ambition. The prince sent to the king General Schultz to obtain the countersign for the army. Frederick refused to receive him, saying “that he had no countersign to send to cowards.” Augustus William then went himself to present his official report and a list of his troops. Frederick took the papers without saying a word, and then turned his back upon his brother. This cruel treatment fell with crushing force upon the unhappy prince. Conscious of military failure, disgraced in the eyes of his generals and soldiers, and abandoned by the king, his health and spirits alike failed him. The next morning he wrote a sad, respectfully reproachful letter to423 Frederick, stating that his health rendered it necessary for him to retire for a season from the army to recruit. The reply of the king, which was dated Bautzen, July 30, 1757, shows how desperate he, at that time, considered the state of his affairs. Hopeless of victory, he seems to have sought only death.
Kaunitz, the Austrian prime minister, was by no means prepared for this decisive action. In less than a week Frederick had one hundred thousand soldiers on the frontiers. Austria had not ten thousand there to meet them. Kaunitz, quite alarmed, assumed a supplicatory tone, and called for negotiation.It would seem that Frederick was now disposed to compromise. He authorized the suggestion to be made to the court at Vienna by his minister, Count Gotter, that he was ready to withdraw238 from his enterprise, and to enter into alliance with Austria, if the queen would surrender to him the duchy of Glogau only, which was but a small part of Silesia. But to these terms the heroic young queen would not listen. She justly regarded them but as the proposition of the highway robber, who offers to leave one his watch if he will peaceably surrender his purse. Whatever regrets Frederick might have felt in view of the difficulties in which he found himself involved, not the slightest indication of them is to be seen in his correspondence. He had passed the Rubicon. And now he summoned all his energies—such energies as the world has seldom, if ever, witnessed before, to carry out the enterprise upon which he had so recklessly entered, and from which he could not without humiliation withdraw.
BATTLE OF KUNERSDORF, AUGUST 12, 1759.“To travel with the pomp of a king is not among my wishes, and all of you are aware that I have no pleasure in rich field-furniture; but my increasing age, and the weakness it brings, render me incapable of riding as I did in my youth. I shall, therefore, be obliged to make use of a post-chaise in times of marching, and all of you have liberty to do the same. But on the day of battle you shall see me on horseback; and there, also, I hope my generals will follow that example.”
Meneval, private secretary of Napoleon I., records that, in one546 of the interviews of the emperor with Alexander, the czar offered to co-operate with Napoleon in all his plans if the emperor would consent that Russia should take Constantinople. The French emperor replied, after a moment’s hesitation,
“He was clinging on the head of slippery abysses, his path hardly a foot’s breadth, mere enemies and avalanches hanging round on every side; ruin likelier at no moment of his life.”Wilhelmina gives the following account of this transaction, as communicated to her by her brother: “As I entered the king’s room this morning, he first seized me by the hair and then threw me on the floor, along which, after having exercised the vigor of his arm upon my unhappy person, he dragged me, in spite of all my resistance, to a neighboring window. His intention apparently was to perform the office of the mutes of the seraglio, for, seizing the cord belonging to the curtain, he placed it around my neck. I seized both of his hands, and began to cry out. A servant came to my assistance, and delivered me from his hands.”
“Nürnberg, July 3, 1734.After the battle of Mollwitz, General Neipperg withdrew the defeated Austrian army to the vicinity of Neisse, where he strongly intrenched himself. Frederick encamped his troops around Brieg, and made vigorous preparations to carry the place by storm. With great energy he pushed forward his works, and in less than three weeks was ready for the assault. On the night of April 26 there was a tempest of extraordinary violence, which was followed, the next night, by a dead calm, a cloudless sky, and a brilliant moon. On both sides of the River Oder, upon which Brieg was situated, there was an open champaign country. Several bridges crossed the river. At a fixed moment two thousand diggers were collected, at appointed stations, divided into twelve equal parties. With the utmost exactness they were equipped with all the necessary implements. These diggers, with spade and pickaxe, and yet thoroughly armed, were preceded a few yards by covering battalions, who, having stealthily and silently obtained the position assigned to them, were to lie flat upon the ground. Not a gun was to be fired; not a word was to be spoken save in a whisper; not even a pipe was to be lighted. Some engineers were to mark out with a straw266 rope, just in the rear of the covering party, the line of the first parallel. Every imaginable contingency was provided for, and each man was to attend to his individual duty with the precision of clock-work.FREDERICK’S INTERVIEW WITH VALORI.
Sir Thomas, somewhat discomposed, apologetically intimated that that was not all he had to offer.68
In accordance with this request, Voltaire repaired to Cleves to visit the king. Many years afterward, having quarreled with Frederick, and being disposed to represent him in the most unfavorable light, he gave the following account of this interview in his Vie Privée:
As usual, Frederick wrote a poem upon the occasion. It was vulgar and profane. Carlyle says of it, “The author, with a wild burst of spiritual enthusiasm, sings the charms of the rearward part of certain men. He rises to the height of anti-biblical profanity, quoting Moses on the Hill of Vision; sinks to the bottomless of human or ultra-human depravity, quoting King Nicomedes’s experience on C?sar, happily known only to the learned. A most cynical, profane affair; yet we must say, by way of parenthesis, one which gives no countenance to Voltaire’s atrocities of rumor about Frederick himself in the matter.”111
THE EMPRESS CATHARINE.Three days after, on the 17th, the king wrote again to M. Jordan:详情
Copyright © 2020