From the schedule which Frederick has given of his resources, it seems impossible that he could have raised more than about fifteen million dollars annually, even counting his adulterated coin at the full value. How, with this sum, he could have successfully confronted all combined Europe, is a mystery which has never yet been solved. It was the great object of both parties in this terrible conflict to destroy every thing in the enemy’s country which could by any possibility add to military power. All the claims of humanity were ignored. The starvation of hundreds of thousands of peasants—men, women, and children—was a matter not to be taken into consideration. The French minister, in Paris, wrote to Marshal De Contades on the 5th of October, 1758,
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.
The Russians were entering Silesia from the northeast by the way of Poland. Frederick, by one of his incredibly rapid marches, for a time prevented the junction of the two hostile armies. After innumerable marchings and man?uvrings, during which Frederick displayed military ability which commanded the admiration even of his foes, the Prussian king found himself, on the 16th of August, at Nicolstadt, in the very heart of Silesia, at the head of fifty-seven thousand men. In front of him, obstructing his advance, there were sixty thousand Russians. In523 his rear, cutting off his retreat, there were seventy-two thousand Austrians. From a commanding eminence Frederick could watch the movements of both of these hostile bands. Both Russians and Austrians stood in such awe of the prowess of their redoubtable antagonist that they moved cautiously, like hounds surrounding the lion at bay.
Frederick divided his retreating army into two columns. One, led by the young Leopold, was to retire through Glatz. The other, led by Frederick, traversed a road a few leagues to the west, passing through K?niggratz. It was an awful retreat for both these divisions—through snow, and sleet, and mud, hungry, weary, freezing, with swarms of Pandours hanging upon their rear. Thousands perished by the way. The horrors of such a retreat no pen can describe. Their very guides deserted them, and became spies, to report their movements to the foe.General Neipperg, in his account of the interview, writes, in reference to Frederick: “He is a very spirited young king. He will not stand contradiction; but a great deal may be made of him if you seem to adopt his ideas, and honor him in a delicate, dexterous way. He did not in the least hide his engagements with France, Bavaria, Saxony. But he would really, so far as I could judge, prefer friendship with Austria on the given terms. He seems to have a kind of pique at Saxony, and manifests no favor for the French and their plans.”Frederick was overjoyed. In the exuberance of his satisfaction, he sent Prince Leopold a present of ten thousand dollars. To each private soldier he gave half a guinea, and to the officers sums in proportion. To the old Duke of Dessauer, father of the young Prince Leopold, he wrote:
“Our grand care,” said he, “will be to further the country’s well-being, and to make every one of our subjects contented and happy. If it ever chance that my particular interest and the190 general good of my country should seem to conflict, it is my wish that the latter should always be preferred.”“Their king” (Wilhelmina’s grandfather) “was of extreme gravity, and hardly spoke a word to any body. He saluted Madam Sonsfeld, my governess, very coldly, and asked if I was always so serious, and if my humor was of a melancholy turn. ‘Any thing but that, sire,’ answered Madam Sonsfeld; ‘but the respect she has for your majesty prevents her from being as sprightly as she commonly is.’ He shook his head and said nothing. The reception he had given me, and this question, gave me such a chill that I never had the courage to speak to him.”
“My gentleman admitted this, and led the conversation on to the Dutch government. He criticised it—probably to bring me to speak. I did speak, and gave him frankly to know that he was not perfectly instructed in the thing he was criticising.
The dying king strangely decided, at that late hour, to abdicate. All the officials were hurriedly summoned to his chamber. The poor old man, bandaged, with his night-cap on, and a mantle thrown over him, was wheeled into the anteroom where the company was assembled. As he saw P?llnitz he exclaimed, sadly, “It is all over.” Noticing one in tears, he said to him, kindly, “Nay, my friend, this is a debt we all have to pay.” The king then solemnly abdicated in favor of his “good son Frederick.” The deed was made out, signed, and sealed. But scarcely was it executed ere the king fainted, and was carried to his bed. Still the expiring lamp of life flickered in its socket. About eleven o’clock the clergyman, M. Cochius, was sent for. The king was in his bed, apparently speechless. He, however, revived a little, and was in great pain, often exclaiming, “Pray for me; pray for me; my trust is in the Savior.” He called for a mirror, and carefully examined his face for some moments, saying at intervals, “Not so worn out as I thought.” “An ugly face.” “As good as dead already.”31
He therefore spread his troops abroad in winter quarters, levying contributions upon the unhappy inhabitants of Silesia for their support. The king, ever prompt in his movements, having on Monday, the 23d of January, converted the siege into a blockade, on Wednesday, the 25th, set out for home. Visiting one or two important posts by the way, he reached Berlin the latter part of the week. Here he was received with great acclamations as a conquering hero. In six weeks he had overrun Silesia, and had virtually annexed it to his own realms. Whether Austria would quietly submit to this robbery, and whether Frederick would be able to retain his conquest, were questions yet to be decided.“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 rich abbeys of the Roman Catholics were compelled to establish manufactures for weaving damasks and table-cloths. Some were converted into oil-mills, or “workers in copper, wire-drawers, the flaxes and metals, with water-power, markets, and so on.”“The French army so handled this place as not only to take from its inhabitants, by open force, all bread and articles of food, but likewise all clothes, bed-linens, and other portable goods. They also broke open, split to pieces, and emptied out all chests, boxes, presses, drawers; shot dead in the back-yards and on the roofs all manner of feathered stock, as hens, geese, pigeons. They carried off all swine, cows, sheep, and horses. They laid violent hands on the inhabitants, clapped swords, guns, and pistols to their breasts, threatening to kill them unless they brought out whatever goods they had; or hunted them out of their houses, shooting at them, cutting, sticking, and at last driving them away, thereby to have freer room to rob and plunder. They flung out hay and other harvest stock into the mud, and had it trampled to ruin under the horses’ feet.”详情
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