On the 12th of September Frederick dined with his brother Henry in Dresden. General Daun, as soon as he heard of the approach of the foe whom he so much dreaded, rapidly retreated eastward to Stolpen, on the road to Bautzen. Here he intrenched himself in one of the strongest posts in Germany. As Frederick,465 at Dresden, received his supplies from Bautzen, he was much embarrassed in having his line of communication thus cut. Finding all his efforts vain to provoke Daun to a battle, after four weeks of such endeavors, he loaded his baggage trains with supplies for nine days, and by a rapid march, brushing away in the movement Daun’s right flank, and advancing through Bautzen, established himself among the hills of Hochkirch. He had thus taken position thirty miles east of General Daun’s encampment at Stolpen, cutting off his line of supply.France had no fear of Prussia. Even with the addition of Silesia, it would be comparatively a feeble realm. But France did fear the supremacy of Austria over Europe. It was for the apparent interest of the court of Versailles that Austria should be weakened, and, consequently, that the husband of the queen should not be chosen Emperor of Germany. Therefore France was coming into sympathy with Frederick, and was disposed to aid him in his warfare against Austria.“When the body has been carried into the church, there shall be placed upon the coffin my handsomest sword, my best scarf, a pair of gilt spurs, and a gilt helmet. There shall be brought from Berlin twenty-four six-pounders, which shall make twelve discharges singly. Then the battalions will fire.
Frederick William, through spies, kept himself informed of every thing which was said or done at Reinsberg. Such orgies as the above excited his contempt and abhorrence. But, notwithstanding the above narrative, there is abundant testimony that the prince was not ordinarily addicted to such shameful excesses. The Italian Count Algarotti, distinguished alike for his familiarity with the sciences and his cultivated taste for the fine arts, was an honored guest at Reinsberg. In a letter addressed to Lord Hervey, under date of September 30th, 1739, the count writes:“Well, my children,” said Frederick, “how do you think that it will be with us now? The Austrians are twice as strong as we.”The Dauphiness of France was daughter of the King of Poland. With tears she craved protection for her parents. The Duchess of Pompadour was anxious to show her gratitude to407 Maria Theresa, who had condescended to address her as a “cousin and a dear sister.” A French army of one hundred thousand men was soon on the march to aid Austria in the liberation of Saxony. At the same time, an Austrian army of sixty thousand men, under Marshal Browne, was advancing rapidly from Bohemia to penetrate the fastnesses of the mountains for the release of the Polish king.
The king having taken a tender adieu of M. Duhan, who died374 the next morning, traversed the brilliant streets of the rejoicing city, and returned to the palace about ten that evening.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.
The Emperor Joseph had been embarrassed in his ambitious plans by the conscientious scruples of his mother. He now entered into a secret alliance with the Czarina Catharine, by which he engaged to assist her in her advance to Constantinople, while she, in her turn, was to aid him in his encroachments and annexations to establish an empire in the West as magnificent as the czarina hoped to establish in the East.“The king thinks it scarcely worth while to mention his palaces and his gardens sacked and ruined, in contempt of the regard usually paid from one sovereign to another. Is there a man in all Europe who does not see in these terrible effects an implacable hatred and a destructive fury which all nations ought to concur in repressing?”149“The old serene highness himself, face the color of gunpowder, and bluer in the winter frost, went rushing far and wide in an open vehicle which he called his ‘cart,’ pushing out his detachments; supervising every thing; wheeling hither and thither as needful; sweeping out the Pandour world, and keeping it out; not much fighting needed, but ‘a great deal of marching,’ murmurs Frederick, ‘which in winter is as bad, and wears down the force of battalions.’”79
“Very well,” said the king, impatiently; “let us see, then, what there is more.”Neither the king nor the Crown Prince appeared at the supper. With a select circle, to which neither Wilhelmina nor her mother were admitted, they supped in a private apartment. At the report that the king was treating the Crown Prince with great friendliness, the queen could not conceal her secret pique. “In fact,” says Wilhelmina, “she did not love her children except as they served her ambitious views.” She was jealous of134 Wilhelmina because she, and not her mother, had been the means of the release of Fritz. After supper the dancing was resumed, and Wilhelmina embraced an opportunity to ask her brother why he was so changed, and why he treated her so coldly. He assured her that he was not changed; that his reserve was external only; that he had reasons for his conduct. Still he did not explain his reasons, and Wilhelmina remained wounded and bewildered.
475 During this dismal winter of incessant and almost despairing labor the indefatigable king wrote several striking treatises on military affairs. It is manifest that serious thoughts at times occupied his mind. He doubtless reflected that if there were a God who took any cognizance of human affairs, there must be somewhere responsibility to Him for the woes with which these wars were desolating humanity. To the surprise of De Catt, the king presented him one evening with a sermon upon “The Last Judgment,” from his own pen. He also put upon paper his thoughts “On the new kind of tactics necessary with the Austrians and their allies.” He seems himself to have been surprised that he had been able so long to resist such overpowering numbers. In allusion to the allies he writes:
“Any room that was large enough, and had height of ceiling and air circulation, and no cloth furniture, would do. And in each palace is one, or more than one, that has been fixed upon and fitted out for that object. A high room, as the engravings give it us; contented, saturnine human figures, a dozen or so of them, sitting around a large, long table furnished for the occasion; a long Dutch pipe in the mouth of each man; supplies of knaster easily accessible; small pan of burning peat, in the Dutch fashion (sandy native charcoal, which burns slowly without smoke), is at your left hand; at your right a jug, which I find to consist of excellent, thin, bitter beer; other costlier materials for drinking, if you want such, are not beyond reach. On side-tables stand wholesome cold meats, royal rounds of beef not wanting, with bread thinly sliced and buttered; in a rustic, but neat and abundant way, such innocent accommodations, narcotic or nutritious, gaseous, fluid, and solid, as human nature can require.47 Perfect equality is the rule; no rising or no notice taken when any body enters or leaves. Let the entering man take his place and pipe without obligatory remarks. If he can not smoke, let him at least affect to do so, and not ruffle the established stream of things. And so puff, slowly puff! and any comfortable speech that is in you, or none, if you authentically have not any.”
“I knew that the Duke De Choiseul would content himself with persuading the King of France that the King of Prussia was an irreconcilable enemy, whom it was therefore necessary, if possible, to annihilate.
At the custom-house the poor man’s coin was seized as contraband. He was informed that the king, had forbidden the circulation of that kind of money in Berlin. The heartless officials laughed at the poor man’s distress, paid no regard to his remonstrances and pleadings, and locked up his confiscated coin.He informed Wilhelmina that the question of her marriage with the Prince of Wales was now settled forever, and that, as she declined taking the Duke of Weissenfels for a husband, she might prepare to retire to the abbey of Hereford, a kind of Protestant nunnery for ladies of quality, who, for any reason, wished to be buried from the world. He mercilessly resolved to make her the abbess of this institution. This living burial was almost the last situation to suit the taste of Wilhelmina. The king was in the worst possible humor. “He bullies and outrages his poor Crown Prince almost worse than ever. There have been rattan showers hideous to think of, descending this very week (July, 1730) on the fine head and far into the high heart of a royal young man, who can not in the name of manhood endure, and must not in the name of sonhood resist, and vainly calls to all the gods to teach him what he shall do in this intolerable, inextricable state of affairs.”11
Soon after Frederick wrote to Voltaire upon this subject again, still more severely, but in verse. The following is almost a literal translation of this poetic epistle:详情
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