About seven o’clock in the morning the king ascended an eminence, and carefully scanned the field, where sixty thousand men were facing each other, soon to engage in mutual slaughter. There were two spectacles which arrested his attention. The one was the pomp, and pageantry, and panoply of war, with its serried ranks, its prancing steeds, its flashing armor, its waving banners, its inspiriting bugle-peals—a scene in itself beautiful and sublime in the highest conceivable degree.The chagrin of Frederick in view of this adventure may be inferred from the fact that, during the whole remainder of his life, he was never known to make any allusion to it whatever.
While Frederick was involved in all these difficulties, he was cheered by the hope that the French would soon come to his rescue. Unutterable was his chagrin when he learned, early in October, that the French had done exactly as he would have done in their circumstances. Appalling, indeed, were the tidings soon brought to him, that Prince Charles, with his army, had marched unmolested into Bohemia; that he had already effected a junction with General Bathyani and his countless swarm of Pandours; and, moreover, that a Saxon army, twenty thousand strong, in alliance with the Queen of Hungary, was on the way to join his already overwhelming foes. It was reported, at the same time, that Prince Charles was advancing upon Budweis, and that his advance-guard had been seen, but a few miles off, on the western side of the Moldau.
On one occasion the king himself narrowly escaped being taken prisoner. One of his officers, General Trenck, gives the following graphic narrative of the incident:“‘The monarchic, if the king is just and enlightened.’
“The seventh day after our accession to the throne of all the Russias we received information that the late emperor, Peter III., was attacked with a violent colic. That we might not be wanting in Christian duty, or disobedient to the divine command by which we are enjoined to preserve the life of our neighbor, we immediately ordered that the said Peter should be furnished with every thing that might be judged necessary to restore his health by the aids of medicine. But, to our great regret and affliction, we were yesterday evening apprized that, by permission of the Almighty, the late emperor departed this life.”“A royal crown was placed upon my head, together with twenty-four curls of false hair, each as big as my arm. I could not hold up my head, as it was too weak for so great a weight. My gown was a very rich silver brocade, trimmed with gold lace, and my train was twelve yards long. I thought I should have died under this dress.”“You speak of Maupertuis. Do not trouble the ashes of the dead. Let the grave, at least, put an end to your unjust hatreds. Reflect that even kings make peace after long battling. Can not you ever make it? I think you would be capable, like Orpheus, of descending to hell, not to soften Pluto, and bring back your beautiful Emilie, but to pursue into that abode of woe an enemy whom your wrath has only too much persecuted in this world. For shame!”144
Such were the measures adopted during the first week of Frederick’s reign. He soon abolished the enormously expensive regiment of giants, and organized, instead of them, four regiments composed of men of the usual stature.32 Within a few months he added sixteen thousand men to his already large army, thus193 raising the number of the standing army of his little realm to over ninety thousand men. He compelled his old associates to feel, and some of them very keenly, that he was no longer their comrade, but their king. One of the veteran and most honored officers of Frederick William, in his expressions of condolence and congratulation, ventured to suggest the hope that he and his sons might continue to “occupy the same posts and retain the same authority as in the last reign.”The impartial student of history must admit that, were the government of the world taken from the hands of men, and placed in the hands of women, still the anticipated millennium of righteousness and peace might be far distant.
“The day before yesterday, in all churches, was prayer to Heaven for success to your majesty’s arms, interest of the Protestant religion being one cause of the war, or the only one assigned by the reverend gentleman. At the sound of these words the zeal of the people kindles. ‘Bless God for raising such a defender! Who dared suspect our king’s indifference to Protestantism?’”
The assault was as sudden and resistless as the sweep of the avalanche. The Austrian division was annihilated. Scarcely a man escaped. This achievement was deemed a very brilliant367 passage of war. It cut the Austrian army in twain and secured its ruin.“‘Are you content with me? You see that I have kept my word with you.’
“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.During all the day of Wednesday weeping friends stood around the bed, as the lamp of life flickered in its socket. Every moment it was expected that the emperor would breathe his last. At two o’clock the next morning the spirit took its flight, and the lifeless clay alone remained. The grief-stricken empress closed the eyes of her departed husband, kissed his hands, and “was carried out more dead than alive.” Thus ended the male line of the house of Hapsburg, after five centuries of royal sway. The emperor died on the 20th of October 1740, in the fifty-sixth year of his age.403 Frederick was in great perplexity. To wait for his enemies to complete their arrangements, and to commence the attack at their leisure, placed him at great disadvantage. To begin the attack himself, and thus to open anew the floodgates of war, would increase the hostility with which the nations were regarding him. As the diplomacy of the foreign cabinets had been secret, he would universally be regarded as the aggressor. England was Frederick’s only ally—a treacherous ally, influenced not by sympathy for Frederick, but by hatred of France, and by fear of the loss of Hanover. The British cabinet would abandon Prussia the first moment it should see it to be for its interest to do so.
On the 13th of September the German Diet met at Frankfort for the election of emperor. Frederick had determined that the Grand-duke Francis, husband of the Hungarian queen, should not be elected. Maria Theresa had outgeneraled him. Francis was elected. He had seven out of nine of the electoral votes. Frederick, thus baffled, could only protest. Maria Theresa was conscious of her triumph. Though the imperial crown was placed upon the brow of Francis, all Europe knew that the sceptre was in the hands of his far more able and efficient wife. Maria Theresa was at Frankfort at the time of the election. She could not conceal her exultation. She seemed very willing to have it understood that her amiable husband was but the instrument of her will. She took the title of empress queen, and assumed a very lofty carriage toward the princes of the empire. Alluding to Frederick, she said, in a very imperial tone, for she deemed him now virtually vanquished,
On the 20th of April, Frederick, having secretly placed his army in the best possible condition, commenced a rapid march upon Prague, thus plunging into the very heart of Bohemia. He advanced in three great columns up the valley of the Elbe and the Moldau. His movements were so rapid and unexpected that he seized several Austrian magazines which they had not even time to burn. Three months’ provisions were thus obtained for412 his whole army. The first column, under the king, was sixty thousand strong. The second column, led by General Bevern, numbered twenty-three thousand, horse and foot. The third, under Marshal Schwerin, counted thirty-two thousand foot and twelve thousand horse. On the 2d of May the banners of Frederick were seen from the steeples of Prague. They appeared floating from the heights of the Weissenberg, a few miles west of the city. At the same time, the other two columns, which had united under Marshal Schwerin, appeared on the east side of the Moldau, upon both banks of which the city is built.详情
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