“Sire,—Yesterday I was in terrible alarms. The sound of the cannon heard, the smoke of powder visible from the steeple-tops here, all led us to suspect that there was a battle going on. Glorious confirmation of it this morning. Nothing but rejoicing among all the Protestant inhabitants, who had begun to be in apprehension from the rumors which the other party took pleasure in spreading. Persons who were in the battle can not enough celebrate the coolness and bravery of your majesty. For myself, I am at the overflowing point. I have run about all day announcing this glorious news to the Berliners who are here. In my life I have never felt a more perfect satisfaction. One finds at the corner of every street an orator of the people celebrating the warlike feats of your majesty’s troops. I have often, in my idleness, assisted at these discourses; not artistic eloquence, it must be owned, but gushing full from the heart.”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,
Early in October the allies planned an expedition for the capture of Berlin. The city had no defenses but weak palisades, which were garrisoned by but twelve hundred men. General Czernichef led a column of twenty thousand Russians, General509 Lacy another of fifteen thousand Austrians, and General Soltikof a third column of twenty thousand more.But it was much easier for Frederick to issue these orders than for Leopold to execute them. As Leopold could not, in a day, gather sufficient force to warrant an attack upon the Austrians, the king was greatly irritated, and allowed himself to write to Leopold in a strain of which he must afterward have been much ashamed. On the 19th he addressed a note to the veteran officer couched in the following terms:
Soon after this Frederick dispatched a young and impetuous479 officer, General Wedell, invested with dictatorial powers, at the head of twenty-six thousand men, to attack the Russian army, at every hazard, and arrest its march. The heroic little band of Prussians met the Russians at Züllichau. One of General Wedell’s officers remonstrated against the attack.
Old Prince Leopold of Dessau, whom he had left in command of the army in Silesia, was one of the most extraordinary men of any age. He invented the iron ramrod, and also all modern military tactics. “The soldiery of every civilized country still receives from this man, on the parade-fields and battle-fields, its word of command. Out of his rough head proceeded the essential of all that the innumerable drill-sergeants in various languages repeat and enforce.”80The army of General Daun, with its re-enforcements, amounted to one hundred thousand men. The Prussian garrison in the city numbered but ten thousand. The Prussian officer then in472 command, General Schmettau, emboldened by the approach of Frederick, repelled all proposals for capitulation.
The mountain range upon the south, which separated Silesia from the realms of the Queen of Hungary, was three or four hundred miles long, with some twenty defiles practicable for the passage of troops. The French minister Valori urged Frederick to guard these passes. This was impossible; and the self-confidence of the Prussian king is revealed in his reply: “My friend, if you wish to catch the mouse, you must not shut the trap, but leave it open.He then gave minute directions as to what he wished to have done in case of his death. Marching rapidly through Liegnitz and Hohenfriedberg, he reached Frankfort-on-the-Oder on Sunday, the 20th of August. He was now within twenty miles of Cüstrin, and the bombardment by the heavy siege guns of the Russians could be distinctly heard. Frederick took lodgings at the house of a clergyman’s widow. Frequently he arose and went out of doors, listening impatiently to the cannonade. An eye-witness writes:Results of the Battle of Rossbach.—The Attack upon Breslau.—Extraordinary Address of the King to his Troops.—Confidence of the Prussians in their Commander.—Magnificent Array of the Austrians at Leuthen.—Tactics of Frederick.—The Battle Hymn.—The Battle and the Victory.—Scenes after the Battle.—Recapture of Breslau by Frederick.
Dickens at length ventured to ask the king directly, “What shall I write to England?
To obviate the difficulty of the Crown Prince becoming the head of a party in Berlin antagonistic to the king, the plan was suggested of having him appointed, with his English princess, vice-regent of Hanover. But this plan failed. Hotham now84 became quite discouraged. He wrote home, on the 22d of April, that he had that day dined with the king; that the Crown Prince was present, but dreadfully dejected, and that great sympathy was excited in his behalf, as he was so engaging and so universally popular. He evidently perceived some indications of superiority in the Crown Prince, for he added, “If I am not much mistaken, this young prince will one day make a very considerable figure.”“The king did a beautiful thing to Lieutenant Keith the other day—that poor Keith who was nailed to the gallows, in effigy, for him at Wesel, long ago, and got far less than he expected. The other day there had been a grand review, part of it extending into Madame Knyphausen’s grounds, who is Keith’s mother-in-law.
As we have stated, Frederick had declared that if any rumor should be spread abroad of the fact that he had entered into a secret treaty with Austria, he would deny it, and would no longer pay any regard to its stipulations. He had adopted the precaution not to affix his signature to any paper. By this ignoble stratagem he had obtained Neisse and Silesia. The rumor of the secret treaty had gone abroad. He had denied it. And now, in accordance with the principles of his peculiar code of honor, he felt himself at liberty to pursue any course which policy might dictate.CHAPTER XXXII. THE END OF THE FIFTH CAMPAIGN.
Two Silesian barons called upon him, and presented a protest from the authorities they represented against his meditated invasion, the design of which was now manifest to all. The king received them very courteously, tossed the protest to a secretary223 to file away or to cast into the waste-paper basket, and invited the two gentlemen to dine with him.81 The object of Colonel Hotham’s mission was well known. The cordial reception he had met from the king indicated that his message was not an unwelcome one to his Prussian majesty. In the indecent hilarity of the hour, it was assumed that the marriage contract between Wilhelmina and the Prince of Wales was settled. Brains addled with wine gave birth to stupid jokes upon the subject. “A German ducat was to be exchanged for an English half guinea.” At last, in the semi-delirium of their intoxication, one proposed as a toast, “To the health of Wilhelmina, Princess of Wales.” The sentiment was received with uproarious jollity. Though all the company were in the same state of silly inebriation, neither the king nor the British ministers, Hotham and Dubourgay, for a moment lost sight of their settled policy. The king remained firm in his silent resolve to consent only to the marriage of Wilhelmina and the Prince of Wales. Hotham and Dubourgay could not swerve from the positive instructions which they had received, to insist upon both marriages or neither. Thus, notwithstanding this bacchanal jollification, neither party was disposed to swerve a hair’s breadth from its fixed resolve, and the question was no nearer a settlement than before.
“The public affairs in France,” writes Voltaire, “continued in as bad a state after the death of Cardinal De Fleury as during the last two years of his administration. The house of Austria rose again from its ashes. France was cruelly pressed upon by that power and by England. No other resource remained to us but the chance of regaining the King of Prussia, who, having drawn us into the war, had abandoned us as soon as it was convenient to himself so to do. It was thought advisable, under these circumstances, that I should be sent to that monarch to sound his intentions, and, if possible, persuade him to avert the storm which, after it had first fallen on us, would be sure, sooner or later, to fall from Vienna upon him. We also wished to secure from him the loan of a hundred thousand men, with the assurance that he could thus better secure to himself Silesia.Toasts were then drank with great enthusiasm to the health of “Maria Theresa, Queen of Hungary,” to “the queen’s consort, Francis, Grand-duke of Lorraine;” and universal and cordial was the response of applause when the toast was proposed “to the brave Prince Charles.”On Friday, the 13th of October, the two hostile armies, separated merely by a brook and a ravine, were within half a mile of each other. Daun had manifested great timidity in not venturing from behind his intrenchments to attack the little band of Prussians. Frederick, emboldened by this cowardice on the part of his opponent, made his arrangements to assail the Austrians in a secret attack before the dawn of the morning of Saturday, the 14th. In the mean time, Daun, probably a little ashamed of being held at bay by so small a force, formed his plan to surround and destroy the whole Prussian army. It is generally conceded by military critics that the plan was admirably conceived, and would have been triumphantly executed but for the singular ability displayed by Frederick.详情
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