The army of Prince Charles was so utterly destroyed or dispersed by the battle of Leuthen that the morning after his terrible defeat he could rally around his banners, by count, but fifty thousand men. These were utterly disheartened. Stragglers were wandering all over the country. A few thousand of these again joined the ranks. Seventeen thousand men left in Breslau were soon captured. Prince Charles, abandoning guns and wagons,446 fled through rain, and mud, and sleet directly south toward K?niggr?tz, in Bohemia. The sufferings of the troops were awful. Several hundred sentinels, in one night, were frozen stiff at their posts. The dreadful retreat continued for ten days.“In this tremor of my heart,” writes Linsenbarth, “there came a valet out of the palace and asked, ‘Where is the man that was with my king in the garden?’ I answered, ‘Here.’ He led me into the palace to a large room, where pages, lackeys, and soldier valets were about. My valet took me to a little table excellently furnished with soup, beef; likewise carp, dressed with garden salad; likewise game, with cucumber salad; bread, knife, fork, plate, spoon were all there. My valet set me a chair, and said,
“It seems that in Poland the Austrians have only to stoop and pick up what they like. If the court of Vienna has the intention to dismember that kingdom, its neighbors will have the right to take their share.”185
“You are quite right,” responded the king. “We will manage Daun. What I lament is the number of brave men who have died this morning.”
In the account which Frederick gave, some years after, of this campaign, in his Histoire de Mons Temps, he wrote:
“The prince is tall, well made, and has a noble air. His features are neither handsome nor regular; but his countenance, which is open, engaging, and very agreeable, stands him in the place of beauty. He is of a hasty temper, and replies with quickness and without embarrassment. Though his nature is inclined to anger, he knows so well how to overcome it that it is never perceived, and no one has ever suffered by it. He is very gay. His conversation is very agreeable, though he has some difficulty in making himself intelligible from lisping so much. His conception is quick, and his intellect penetrating. The goodness of his heart gains him the attachment of all who know him. He is generous, charitable, compassionate, polite, engaging, and enjoys very equal spirits. The only fault I know in him is too much levity, which I must mention here, as otherwise122 I should be accused of partiality. He has, however, much corrected himself of it.Frederick so concentrated his forces as, ere long, to have about fifty thousand troops with him at Breslau. Weary weeks of marchings and fightings, blood and woe, passed on. Painful508 blows were struck upon both sides, but nothing decisive was accomplished. In the midst of these harassments, perils, and toils, the king wrote to D’Argens, on the 18th of September, from Reisendorf:The betrothed princess, bewildered, wounded, heart-broken, returned with her parents to her home, there to await the consummation of her sacrifice by being married to a man who had never addressed to her a loving word, and who, in his heart, had resolved never to receive her as his wife. The Crown Prince, unfeeling and reckless, returned to his dissolute life in garrison at Ruppin. The queen continued an active correspondence with England, still hoping to break the engagement of her son with Elizabeth, and to secure for him the Princess Amelia.
Knocking against the rocks,
At Oppeln there was a bridge across the Oder by which the king hoped to escape with his regiment to the free country beyond. There he intended to summon to his aid the army of thirty-six thousand men which he had sent to G?tten under the “Old Dessauer.” The discharge of the musketry of the Austrians blasted even this dismal hope. It seemed as though Frederick259 were doomed to drain the cup of misery to its dregs; and his anguish must have been intensified by the consciousness that he deserved it all. But a few leagues behind him, the bleak, snow-clad plains, swept by the night-winds, were strewed with the bodies of eight or nine thousand men, the dying and the dead, innocent peasant-boys torn from their homes, whose butchery had been caused by his own selfish ambition.The wagons had accomplished about half the distance, when, on Friday, the 30th of June, as they were emerging from wild ravines among the mountains, they were simultaneously attacked in front, centre, and rear by three divisions of the Austrians, each about five thousand strong. Then ensued as terrible a scene of panic and confusion as war has ever witnessed. The attack of horsemen with their gleaming sabres, the storm of bullets, thick as hailstones, the thunders of the cannon, as the ponderous balls tore their way through wagons, and horses, and men, soon presented such a spectacle of devastation, ruin, and woe as mortal eyes have seldom gazed upon.
Through the efforts of Maria Theresa there was another brief conference, but it amounted to nothing. Neither party wished for war. But Austria craved the annexation of Bavaria, and Frederick was determined that Austria should not thus be enlarged.557 Thus the summer passed away in unavailing diplomacy and in equally unavailing military man?uvrings. While engaged in these adventures, Frederick received the tidings of the death of Voltaire, who breathed his last on the 20th of May, 1778. The soul of Frederick was too much seared by life’s stern conflicts to allow him to manifest, or probably to feel, any emotion on the occasion. He, however, wrote a eulogy upon the renowned littérateur, which, though written by a royal pen, attracted but little attention.There is a gloom of the soul far deeper than any gloom with which nature can ever be shrouded. It is not easy to conceive of a mortal placed in circumstances of greater mental suffering than was the proud, ambitious young monarch during the hour in which he waited, in terror and disgrace, by the side of the mill, for the return of his courier. At length the clatter of hoofs was heard, and the messenger came back, accompanied by an adjutant, to announce to the king that the Prussians still held Lowen, and that the Prussian army had gained a signal victory at Mollwitz.SIEGE OF OLMüTZ, MAY 12—JULY 2, 1758.
“On quitting me he said, ‘I hope, sir, you will leave me your name. I am very glad to have made your acquaintance. Perhaps we shall see one another again.’ I replied as was fitting to the compliment, and begged him to excuse me for having contradicted him a little. I then told him my name, and we parted.”详情
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