The king exerted all his powers of fascination to gain the affections of the people. Though he dismissed all the Austrian public functionaries, and supplied their places by his own friends, he continued to the Catholics their ancient privileges, and paid marked attention to the bishop and his clergy. At the same time, he encouraged the Protestants with the expectation that he would prove their especial friend. At the assemblies which he gave each evening that he was in the city, he lavished his smiles upon the ladies who were distinguished either for exalted rank or for beauty. But there is no evidence that, during this campaign, he wrote one line to his absent, neglected wife, or that he expended one thought upon her.On the evening of the 3d of December, 1757, the king arrived at Parchwitz, in the heart of Silesia, about thirty miles from Breslau. Here the wreck of Prince Bevern’s army joined him. Thus re-enforced, he could bring about thirty thousand men into the field. He immediately, in the night, assembled his principal officers, and thus addressed them; the words were taken down at the time. We give this characteristic address slightly abbreviated:
Les torrents d’eau répandus sur la terreCHAPTER XXV. COMMENCEMENT OF THE SEVEN YEARS’ WAR.
General Neipperg, in his account of the interview, writes, in reference to Frederick: “He is a very spirited young king. He will not stand contradiction; but a great deal may be made of him if you seem to adopt his ideas, and honor him in a delicate, dexterous way. He did not in the least hide his engagements with France, Bavaria, Saxony. But he would really, so far as I could judge, prefer friendship with Austria on the given terms. He seems to have a kind of pique at Saxony, and manifests no favor for the French and their plans.”
On the 12th of June, but a fortnight after his accession, Frederick198 wrote from Charlottenburg to Voltaire, who was then at Brussels, as follows:
“It was four o’clock, and I could not understand what had become of my brother. I had sent out several persons on horseback to get tidings of him, and none of them came back. At length, in spite of all my prayers, the hereditary prince24 himself would go in search. I was in cruel agitations. These cataracts of rain are very dangerous in the mountain countries. The roads get suddenly overflowed, and accidents often happen. I thought for certain one had happened to my brother, or to the hereditary prince.
Olmütz was found very strongly fortified. It was so situated that, with the force Frederick had, it could not be entirely invested. Baron Marshal, a very brave and energetic old man, sixty-seven years of age, conducted the defense.The king was a very busy man. In addition to carrying on quite an extensive literary correspondence, he was vigorously engaged in writing his memoirs. He was also with great energy developing the wealth of his realms. In the exercise of absolute power, his government was entirely personal. He had no constitution to restrain him. Under his single control were concentrated all legislative, judicial, and executive powers. There was no senate or legislative corps to co-operate in framing laws. His ministers were merely servants to do his bidding. The courts had no powers whatever but such as he intrusted to them. He could at any time reverse their decrees, and flog the judges with his cane, or hang them.116
“What shall I say to you, my lord, of the Prince Royal, the lover and the favorite of the Muses? Several days, which we passed with him in his castle of Reinsberg, seemed to be but a few hours. He is the most intelligent and the most amiable of men. Though I could notice only his private virtues, I can boldly assure you, my lord, that the world will one day admire his royal qualifications, and that when he shall be upon the throne he will show himself to be the greatest of sovereigns. There is all the reason in the world to believe that he will seek out for great men with as much eagerness as his father does for giants.”
The king devoted himself very energetically to business during the morning, and reviewed his troops at eleven o’clock. He dined at twelve.At length Frederick, weary of these unavailing efforts, dashed off in rapid march toward the River Neisse, and with his vanguard, on the 11th of September, crossed the river at the little town of Woitz, a few miles above the city. The river was speedily spanned with his pontoon bridges. As the whole army hurried forward to effect the passage, Frederick, to his surprise, found the Austrian army directly before him, occupying a position from which it could not be forced, and where it could not be turned. For two days Frederick very earnestly surveyed the region, and then, recrossing the river and gathering in his pontoons, passed rapidly down the stream on the left or northern bank, and, after a brief encampment of a few days, crossed the river fifteen miles below the city. He then threw his army into the rear of Neipperg’s, so as to cut off his communications and his daily convoys of food. He thus got possession again of Oppeln, of the strong castle of Friedland, and of the country generally between the Oder and the Neisse rivers.On the 3d of October the vanguard of this army, three thousand strong, was seen in the distance from the steeples of Berlin. The queen and royal family fled with the archives to Magdeburg. The city was summoned to an immediate surrender, and to pay a ransom of about four million dollars to rescue it from the flames. The summons was rejected. General Tottleben, in command of the advance, erected his batteries, and at five o’clock in the afternoon commenced his bombardment with red-hot balls. In the night a re-enforcement of five thousand Prussians, under Prince Eugene of Würtemberg, who had marched forty miles that day, entered the city, guided by the blaze of the bombardment, to strengthen the garrison. Tottleben retired to await the allied troops, which were rapidly on the march. In the mean time, on the 8th, General Hülsen arrived with nine thousand Prussian troops, increasing the garrison in Berlin to fifteen thousand. Frederick was also on the march, to rescue his capital, with all the troops he could muster. But the Russians had now arrived to the number of thirty-five thousand. The defenses were so weak that they could easily take or destroy the place.详情
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