“To form an idea,” he writes, “of the general subversion, and how great were the desolation and discouragement, you must represent to yourself countries entirely ravaged, the very traces of the old habitations hardly discoverable. Of the towns some were ruined from top to bottom; others half destroyed by fire. Of thirteen thousand houses the very vestiges were gone. There was no field in seed, no grain for the food of the inhabitants. Sixty thousand horses were needed if there were to be plowing carried on. In the provinces generally there were half a million population less than in 1756; that is to say, upon four millions and a half the ninth man was wanting. Noble and peasant had been pillaged, ransomed, foraged, eaten out by so many different armies; nothing now left them but life and miserable rags.
“You are too good. I am ashamed to abuse your indulgence. But do, since you are willing, try and sound the French, and learn what conditions of peace they would demand. Send that Mirabeau103 to France. Willingly will I pay the expense. He may offer as much as five million thalers [,750,000] to the Favorite104 for peace alone.”Commencement of the Sixth Campaign.—The Fortified Camp at Bunzelwitz.—Skillful Engineering.—Unintermitted Toil of the Soldiers.—Retreat of the Russians.—Loss of Schweidnitz.—Peculiar Treatment of General Zastrow.—Close of the Sixth Campaign.—The King at Breslau.—Desponding Letter to D’Argens.—Death of Elizabeth of Russia.—Accession of Peter III.—His Marriage with the Daughter of a Prussian General.—Takes the Baptismal Name of Catharine.—Assassination of Peter III.—Curious Proclamation by the Empress.—Commencement of the Seventh Campaign.—Alliance of Russia with Prussia.—Withdrawal from the Alliance.—Termination of the War.
A stern military commission was, however, appointed to interrogate the prince from questions drawn up by the king. The examination took place the next day. The prince confessed that94 it was his intention to cross the Rhine at the nearest point, and to repair to Strasbourg, in France. There he intended to enlist incognito as a volunteer in the French army. He refused to tell how he obtained his money, or to make any revelations which would implicate his friends Katte and Keith.
“I arrived at last about one in the morning. I instantly threw myself on a bed. I was like to die of weariness, and in mortal terror that something had happened to my brother or the hereditary prince. The latter relieved me on his own score. He arrived at last about four o’clock; had still no news of my brother. I was beginning to doze a little, when they came to inform me that M. von Knobelsdorf wished to speak to me from the Prince Royal. I darted out of bed and ran to him.“When all my lands were invaded, and I knew not where in the world to be brought to bed in, I relied on my good right and the help of God. But in this thing, where not only public law cries to Heaven against us, but also all natural justice and sound reason, I must confess never in my life to have been in such trouble, and I am ashamed to show my face. Let the prince (Kaunitz) consider what an example we are giving to all the world, if, for a miserable piece of Poland, or of Moldavia, or Wallachia, we throw our honor and reputation to the winds. I see well that I am alone, and no more in vigor. Therefore I must, though to my very great sorrow, let things take their course.”186
a a. Austrian Army. b. Prince Weissenfels. c c. Prussian Army. d. Dumoulin. e. Gesler’s Dragoons.
General R?mer, in command of the Austrian cavalry, had crushed the right wing of the Prussians. Resolutely he followed up his victory, hotly chasing the fugitives in the wildest disorder far away to the rear, capturing nine of their guns. Who257 can imagine the scene? There were three or four thousand horsemen put to utter rout, clattering over the plain, impetuously pursued by six or seven thousand of the finest cavalry in the world, discharging pistol-shots into their flying ranks, and raining down upon them sabre-blows.437 “Yes, death or victory,” they shouted. Then from loving lips the cheer ran along the line, “Good-night, Fritz.”
“Lieutenant Keith had been gone some time, stationed in Wesel with his regiment. Keith’s departure had been a great joy to me, in the hope my brother would now lead a more regular life. But it proved quite otherwise. A second favorite, and a much more dangerous, succeeded Keith. This was a young man of the name of Katte, captain lieutenant in the regiment72 Gens d’Armes. He was highly connected in the army. His mother was daughter of Field-marshal Wartensleben. General Katte, his father, had sent him to the universities, and afterward to travel, desiring that he should be a lawyer. But, as there was no favor to be hoped for out of the army, the young man found himself at last placed there, contrary to his expectation. He continued to apply himself to studies. He had wit, book-culture, and acquaintance with the world. The good company which he continued to frequent had given him polite manners to a degree then rare in Berlin. His physiognomy was rather disagreeable than otherwise. A pair of thick black eyebrows almost covered his eyes. His look had in it something ominous, presage of the fate he met with. A tawny skin, torn by small-pox, increased his ugliness. He affected the freethinker, and carried libertinism to excess. A great deal of ambition and headlong rashness accompanied this vice. Such a favorite was not the man to bring back my brother from his follies.”
When the king reached Lissa he found the village full of Austrian officers and soldiers in a state of utter disorganization and confusion. Had the Austrians known their strength or the weakness of the king, they might easily have taken him captive. Frederick was somewhat alarmed. He, however, assumed a bold front, and rode to the principal house in the town, which was a little one side of the main street. The house was crowded with Austrian officers, bustling about, seeking lodgings for the night. The king stepped in with a slight escort, and said gayly,详情
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