Frederick, being constrained by the approach of General Daun to raise the siege of Dresden, retired to his intrenched camp at Schlettau. Leaving fifteen thousand men to guard the camp, he, on the 1st of August, before the dawn, crossed the Elbe, and was again on the rapid march toward Silesia. His army consisted of thirty thousand men, and was accompanied by two thousand heavy baggage-wagons. In five days the king marched over one hundred miles, crossing five rivers. Armies of the allies, amounting504 to one hundred and seventy-five thousand Austrians and Russians, were around him—some in front, some in his rear, some on his flanks.150Frederick was probably not surprised at this act on the part of the emperor. He undoubtedly had sufficient candor to admit that it was exactly what he should have done under similar circumstances.
Again he writes, under the same date, to the Marquis D’Argenson:“But, after this avowal, allow me to entreat you to look back at what was the pitiable state of your enemy when you lay before Prague. It is the sudden whirl of fortune for both parties. The like can occur again when one is the least expecting it. C?sar was the slave of pirates, and yet he became master of the world. A great genius like yours finds resources even when all is lost.It was a cold, dreary autumnal morning. The Austrian army, according to Frederick’s statement, amounted to sixty thousand men.86 But it was widely dispersed. Many of the cavalry were scouring the country in all directions, in foraging parties and as skirmishers. Large bodies had been sent by circuitous roads to occupy every avenue of retreat. The consolidated army, under Prince Charles, now advancing to the attack, amounted to thirty-six thousand men. Frederick had but twenty-six thousand.87
Here the king interrupted him, and with scornful gesture, “laying his finger on his nose,” and in loud tones, exclaimed,The queen, Maria Theresa, still remained at Presburg, in her Hungarian kingdom. The Aulic Council was with her. On the 15th of August Sir Thomas Robinson had returned to Presburg with the intelligence of his unsuccessful mission, and of the unrelenting determination of Frederick to prosecute the war with the utmost vigor unless Silesia were surrendered to him.
Frederick, ever regardless of fatigue and exposure for himself, never spared his followers. It was after midnight of the 28th when the weary column, frostbitten, hungry, and exhausted, reached Olmütz. The king was hospitably entertained in the fine palace of the Catholic bishop, “a little, gouty man,” writes Stille, “about fifty-two years of age, with a countenance open and full of candor.”While on the retreat, one of his aids approached him, and the king, with a smile, said, “Daun has played me a slippery trick to-day.
543 “I look upon this day,” the king replied, “as the fairest of my life; for it will become the epoch of uniting two houses which have been enemies too long, and whose mutual interests require that they should strengthen, not weaken, one another.”This merciless banter from her parents cut the unhappy princess to the heart. With the utmost difficulty she refrained from bursting into convulsive crying. Her husband seems to have been a kind man, inspired with true and tender affection for his wife. But much of the time he was necessarily absent on regimental duty. The old Marquis of Baireuth, her husband’s father, was penurious, irascible, and an inebriate. Wilhelmina often suffered for the necessaries of life. There seemed to be no refuge for her. The home of her step-parents was unendurable, and the home of her childhood was still more so. Few and far between must have been the joys which visited her crushed heart.
CHAPTER IX. THE DEATH OF FREDERICK WILLIAM.
“There was, after all,” says Valori, “at times a kind of devout feeling in this prince, who possessed such a combination of qualities, good and bad, that I know not which preponderates.”But a few days after his return, Lord Hyndford, who had followed the king to Berlin, met his majesty in one of the apartments of the palace. Frederick, struggling to conceal the emotions with which he was agitated, said to him,
“I think you will not be sorry if I say a few words to you respecting our rural amusements, for with persons who are dear to us we love to enter even into the smallest details. We have divided our occupations into two classes, of which the first consists of what is useful, and the second of what is agreeable. I reckon in the list of the usefuls the study of philosophy, history, and languages. The agreeables are music, the tragedies and comedies which we represent, the masquerades and presents which we give. The serious occupations, however, have always the prerogative of going before the others. And I think I can say that we make a reasonable use of our pleasures, only indulging in them to relieve the mind, and to prevent moroseness and too much philosophic gravity, which is apt not to yield a smile even to the graces.”“‘You shall have it for fifty,’ said the king, ‘because you are a good judge, and I am therefore anxious to do you a favor.’
The reader would not be interested in the details of the battle which ensued. It lasted for five hours. It was, as is every battle, an indescribable scene of tumult, uproar, and confusion. The result was long doubtful. Defeat to Frederick would have been utter ruin. It is wonderful how one determined man can infuse his spirit into a whole host. Every Prussian seemed to363 have the same desperate valor, and determination to conquer or to die, which animated his king.详情
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