“Gentlemen, I announce to you that, as I never wished to oppress the Queen of Hungary, I have formed the resolution of agreeing with that princess, and accepting the proposals she has made me, in satisfaction of my rights.”The father was now rapidly forming a strong dislike to the character of his son. In nothing were they in harmony. Five princesses had been born, sisters of Fritz. At last another son was born, Augustus William, ten years younger than Frederick. The king turned his eyes to him, hoping that he would be more in sympathy with the paternal heart. His dislike for Fritz grew continually more implacable, until it assumed the aspect of bitter hatred.
The young officers in the Saxon army, having disposed their troops in comfortable barracks, had established their own head-quarters in the magnificent castle of Budischau, in the vicinity303 of Trebitsch. “Nothing like this superb mansion,” writes Stille, “is to be seen except in theatres, on the drop-scene of the enchanted castle.” Here these young lords made themselves very comfortable. They had food in abundance, luxuriously served, with the choicest wines. Roaring fires in huge stoves converted, within the walls, winter into genial summer. Here these pleasure-loving nobles, with song, and wine, and such favorites, male and female, as they carried with them, loved to linger.
The czarina had, about that time, invited Prince Henry, the warlike brother of Frederick, to visit her. They had met as children when the czarina was daughter of the commandant at Stettin. Henry was received with an extraordinary display of imperial magnificence. In the midst of this routine of feasting, balls, and masquerades, Catharine one day said to Henry, with much pique, referring to these encroachments on the part of Maria Theresa,“‘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.’
Several years now passed away with nothing specially worthy of record. Frederick did not grow more amiable as he advanced in years. Though Frederick was often unreasonable, petulant, and unjust, and would seldom admit that he had been in the wrong, however clear the case, it can not be doubted that it was his general and earnest desire that justice should be exercised in all his courts.
On the 9th of January, Leopold, having gathered a well-furnished army of 25,000 men, crossed the Neisse to attack Marshal Traun. The marshal did not deem it prudent to hazard a battle. Large bodies of troops were soon to be sent to re-enforce him. He therefore retired by night toward the south, breaking the bridges behind him. Though Silesia was thus delivered from the main body of the Austrian army, the fleet-footed Pandours343 remained, scouring the country on their shaggy horses, plundering and destroying. The energetic, tireless Old Dessauer could seldom get a shot at them. But they harassed his army, keeping the troops constantly on the march amidst the storms and the freezing cold.The astonishment and indignation in Vienna, in view of this terrible defeat, were intense. Prince Charles was immediately relieved of his command, and General Daun appointed in his stead. It is the testimony of all military men that the battle of Leuthen was one of the most extraordinary feats of war. Napoleon, speaking of it at St. Helena, said,
“Adieu! my adorable sister. I am so tired I can not stir, having left on Tuesday night, or rather Wednesday morning, at three o’clock, from a ball at Monbijou, and arrived here this Friday morning at four. I recommend myself to your gracious remembrance, and am, for my own part, till death, dearest sister, yourTo the surprise of General Loudon, there was opened upon his advance-guard of five thousand men, as it was pressing forward on its stealthy march, in the darkness ascending an eminence, the most destructive discharge of artillery and musketry. The division was hurled back with great slaughter. Gathering re-enforcements, it advanced the second and the third time with the same results. Cavalry, infantry, artillery, were brought forward,505 but all in vain. Frederick brought into action but fifteen thousand men. He utterly routed the hostile army of thirty-five thousand men, killing four thousand, and taking six thousand prisoners. He also captured eighty-two cannon, twenty-eight flags, and five thousand muskets. His own loss was eighteen hundred men. The battle commenced at three o’clock in the morning, and was over at five o’clock.“It is in such moments that I have felt how small are those advantages of birth, those vapors of grandeur, with which vanity would solace us. They amount to little, properly to nothing. Ah! would glory but make use of me to crown your successes!
The next morning, in the intense cold of midwinter, Frederick set out several hours before daylight for the city of Prague, which the French and Bavarians had captured on the 25th of November. Declining all polite attentions, for business was urgent, he eagerly sought M. De Séchelles, the renowned head of the commissariat department, and made arrangements with him to perform the extremely difficult task of supplying the army with food in a winter’s campaign.Desperate Exertions of Frederick.—Aid from England.—Limited Resources.—Opening of the Campaign.—Disgraceful Conduct of Voltaire.—Letter to Voltaire.—An Act of Desperation.—Letter to Count Finckenstein.—Frankfort taken by the Prussians.—Terrible Battle of Kunersdorf.—Anguish of Frederick.—The Disastrous Retreat.—Melancholy Dispatch.—Contemplating Suicide.—Collecting the Wrecks of the Army.—Consternation in Berlin.—Letters to D’Argens.—Wonderful Strategical Skill.—Literary Efforts of the King.
“The darkest hour is often nearest the dawn.” The next day after Frederick had written the above letter he received news of the death of his most inveterate enemy, Elizabeth, the Empress of Russia. As we have mentioned, she was intensely exasperated against him in consequence of some sarcasms in which he had indulged in reference to her private life. Elizabeth was the daughter of Peter the Great, and had inherited many of her father’s imperial traits of character. She was a very formidable foe.详情
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