Soon after, a soldier, six feet three inches tall, the ringleader of a gang, broke into a house and robbed it of property to the amount of about five thousand dollars. He was sentenced to be hung. We give the result in the words of Carlyle:
Forming his army in two parallel lines, nearly five miles long, facing the foe, he prepared to open the battle along the whole369 extent of the field. While thus engrossing the attention of the enemy, his main attempt was to be directed against the village of Kesselsdorf, which his practiced eye saw to be the key of the position. It was two o’clock in the afternoon ere all his arrangements were completed. The Old Dessauer was a devout man—in his peculiar style a religious man, a man of prayer. He never went into battle without imploring God’s aid. On this occasion, all things being arranged, he reverently uncovered his head, and in presence of the troops offered, it is said, the following prayer:Thus circumstanced, General Neipperg gave the order to retreat. At the double quick, the Austrians retired back through the street of Mollwitz, hurried across the River Laugwitz by a bridge, and, turning short to the south, continued their retreat toward Grottkau. They left behind them nine of their own guns, and eight of those which they had captured from the Prussians. The Prussians, exhausted by the long battle, their cavalry mostly dispersed and darkness already enveloping them, did not attempt any vigorous pursuit. They bivouacked on the grounds, or quartered themselves in the villages from which the Austrians had fled.
Frederick caught eagerly at the suggestion, as the remark was reported to him by his brother. He drew up a new plan of partition, which he urged with all his powers of address upon both Russia and Austria. The conscience of Maria Theresa was strongly opposed to the deed. Catharine and Kaunitz were very greedy in their demands. Circumstances assumed such an aspect that it was very difficult for Maria Theresa to oppose the measure. At length, through the extraordinary efforts of Frederick, on the 5th of August, 1772, the following agreement was adopted:
“For my own part, therefore, I believe it would be better to conclude my sister’s marriage in the first place, and not even to ask from the king any assurance in regard to mine, the rather as his word has nothing to do with it. It is enough that I here reiterate the promises which I have already made to the king, my uncle, never to take another wife than his second daughter, the Princess Amelia. I am a person of my word, and shall be able to bring about what I set forth, provided that there is trust put in me. I promise it to you. And now you may give your court notice of it, and I shall manage to keep my promise. I remain yours always.
On the 20th of April, Frederick, having secretly placed his army in the best possible condition, commenced a rapid march upon Prague, thus plunging into the very heart of Bohemia. He advanced in three great columns up the valley of the Elbe and the Moldau. His movements were so rapid and unexpected that he seized several Austrian magazines which they had not even time to burn. Three months’ provisions were thus obtained for412 his whole army. The first column, under the king, was sixty thousand strong. The second column, led by General Bevern, numbered twenty-three thousand, horse and foot. The third, under Marshal Schwerin, counted thirty-two thousand foot and twelve thousand horse. On the 2d of May the banners of Frederick were seen from the steeples of Prague. They appeared floating from the heights of the Weissenberg, a few miles west of the city. At the same time, the other two columns, which had united under Marshal Schwerin, appeared on the east side of the Moldau, upon both banks of which the city is built.A transient smile flitted across the king’s countenance. Then, looking cold again, he added, “Follow your own will in that.”
Austria was rapidly marshaling her hosts, and pouring them through the defiles of the mountains to regain Silesia. Her troops still held three important fortresses—Neisse, Brieg, and Glogau. These places were, however, closely blockaded by the Prussians. Though it was midwinter, bands of Austrian horsemen were soon sweeping in all directions, like local war tempests borne on the wings of the wind. Wherever there was an unprotected baggage-train, or a weakly-defended post, they came swooping down to seize their prey, and vanished as suddenly as they had appeared. Their numbers seemed to be continually increasing. All the roads were swept by these swarms of irregulars, who carefully avoided any serious engagement, while they awaited the approach of the Austrian army, which was gathering its strength to throw down to Frederick the gauntlet on an open field of battle.“No,” the prince replied; “but if the king absolutely will have it, I will marry to obey him. After that I will shove my wife into a corner, and live after my own fancy.”
“Nothing touched me so much as that you had not any trust in me. All this that I was doing for the aggrandizement of the house, the army, and the finances, could only be for you, if you made yourself worthy of it. I here declare that I have done all things to gain your friendship, and all has been in vain.”
Every day it became more clear that Maria Theresa was resolved not to part with one inch of her territory, and that the Austrian court was thoroughly roused in its determination to drive the intrusive Prussians out of Silesia. Though Frederick had no scruples of conscience to prevent him from seizing a portion of the domains of Maria Theresa, his astonishment and indignation were alike aroused by the rumor that England, Poland, and Russia were contemplating the dismemberment of his realms. An army of thirty-six thousand men, under the old Duke Leopold of Dessau,51 was immediately dispatched by Frederick to G?tten, on the frontiers of Hanover, to seize upon that Continental possession of the King of England upon the slightest indication of a hostile movement. George II. was greatly alarmed by this menace.
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.From this exhausting journey for so old a man the king returned to Potsdam through a series of state dinners, balls, and illuminations. On the night of the 18th of September he was awoke by a very severe fit of suffocation. It was some time before he could get any relief, and it was thought that he was dying. The next day gout set in severely. This was followed by dropsy. The king suffered severely through the winter. There is no royal road through the sick-chamber to the tomb. The weary months of pain and languor came and went. The renowned Mirabeau visited the king in his sick-chamber on the 17th of April, 1786. He writes:
Frederick was not unduly elated with his victory. He was still terribly harassed for money. There were campaigns opening before him, in an unending series, requiring enormous expenditure. Even many such victories as he had just gained would only conduct him to irretrievable ruin, unless he could succeed in conquering a peace. In these dark hours the will of this extraordinary man remained inflexible. He would not listen to any propositions for peace which did not guarantee to him Silesia. Maria Theresa would listen to no terms which did not restore to her the lost province.详情
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