“Never mind,” said the king; “it is a cheap price to pay for escaping an attack from Pandours in the rear, while such a battle was raging in front.”Not a soldier appeared to oppose the invaders. The Prussians seized, in an unobstructed march, all the most important Saxon towns and fortresses. The King of Poland and his court, with less than twenty thousand troops, had fled from the capital up the river, which here runs from the south to Pirna, where they concentrated their feeble army, which numbered but eighteen thousand men. Frederick, with his resistless column, entered Dresden on the 9th of September. The queen had remained in the palace. The keys of the archives were demanded of her. She refused to surrender them. The officers proceeded to break open the door. The queen placed herself before the door. The officers, shrinking from using personal violence, sent to Frederick for instructions. He ordered them to force the archives, whatever opposition the queen, in person, might present. The queen,406 to avoid a rude assault, withdrew. The door was forced, and the archives seized.
“Done, that Sterbohol work; those foot-chargings, horse-chargings; that battery of Homoly Hill; and, hanging upon that, all manner of redoubts and batteries to the rightward and rearward; but how it was done no pen can describe, nor any intellect in clear sequence understand. An enormous mêlée there: new Prussian battalions charging, and ever new, irrepressible by case-shot, as they successively get up; Marshal Browne, too, sending for new battalions at double-quick from his left, disputing stiffly every inch of his ground, till at length (hour not given), a cannon shot tore away his foot, and he had to be carried into Prague, mortally wounded. Which probably was a most important circumstance, or the most important of all.”
The Austrian centre was pushed rapidly forward to the aid of the discomfited left. It was too late. The soldiers arrived upon the ground breathless and in disorder. Before they had time to form, Frederick plowed their ranks with balls, swept them with bullets, and fell upon them mercilessly with sabre and bayonet. The carnage was awful. Division after division melted away in the fire deluge which consumed them. Prince Charles made the most desperate efforts to rally his dismayed troops in and around the church-yard at Leuthen. Here for an hour they fought desperately. But it was all in vain. The left wing was destroyed. The centre was destroyed. The right wing was pushed forward only to be cut to pieces by the sabres, and to be mown down by the terrific fire of the triumphant Prussians.The king then hastened on to Schweidnitz, a few miles west from Breslau. This was a small town, strongly fortified, about equally distant from the three beleaguered fortresses—Neisse, Brieg, and Glogau. The young monarch was daily becoming more aware that he had embarked in an enterprise which threatened him with fearful peril. He had not only failed to secure a single ally, but there were indications that England and other powers were in secret deliberation to join against him. He soon learned that England had sent a gift or loan of a million of dollars—a large sum in those days—to replenish the exhausted treasury of Maria Theresa. His minister in Russia also transmitted to him an appalling rumor that a project was in contemplation by the King of England, the King of Poland, Anne, regent of Russia, and Maria Theresa, to unite, and so partition the Prussian kingdom as to render the ambitious Frederick powerless to disturb the peace of Europe. The general motives which239 influenced the great monarchies in the stupendous war which was soon evolved are sufficiently manifest. But these motives led to a complication of intrigues which it would be alike tedious and unprofitable to attempt to unravel.
“Mais le ciel, qui de tout dispose,Frederick made several unavailing efforts during the winter to secure peace. He was weary of a war which threatened his utter destruction. The French were also weary of a struggle in which they encountered but losses and disgraces. England had but little to hope for from the conflict, and would gladly see the exhaustive struggle brought to a close.“I have already,” he wrote, “given your majesty my word of honor never to wed any one but the Princess Amelia, your daughter. I here reiterate that promise, in case your majesty will consent to my sister’s marriage.”
“They have a daughter, Sophie-Frederike, now near fifteen, and very forward for her age; comely to look upon, wise to listen to. ‘Is not she the suitable one?’ thinks Frederick in regard to this matter. ‘Pier kindred is of the oldest—old as Albert the Bear. She has been frugally brought up, Spartan-like, though as a princess by birth. Let her cease skipping ropes on the ramparts yonder with her young Stettin playmates, and prepare for being a czarina of the Russias,’ thinks he. And communicates his mind to the czarina, who answers, ‘Excellent! How did I never think of that myself!’“She made me a courtesy on the model of that of Agnes in the Ecole des Femmes. I took her back to the queen’s apartment, little edified by such a display of talent.”“My dear Voltaire,—In spite of myself, I have to yield to the quartan fever, which is more tenacious than a Jansenist. And whatever desire I had of going to Antwerp and Brussels, I find myself not in a condition to undertake such a journey without risk. I would ask of you, then, if the road from Brussels to Cleves would not to you seem too long for a meeting? It is the one means of seeing you which remains to me. Confess that I am unlucky; for now, when I could dispose of my person, and nothing hinders me from seeing you, the fever gets its hand into the business, and seems to intend disputing me that satisfaction.
Peter III. had been left an orphan, and titular Duke of Schleswig-Holstein, when eleven years of age. His mother was a daughter of Peter the Great. His aunt, the Czarina Elizabeth, who had determined not to marry, adopted the child, and pronounced him to be her heir to the throne. Being at that time on friendly terms with Frederick, the Empress Elizabeth had consulted him in reference to a wife for the future czar. It will be remembered that the king effected a marriage between Peter and Sophia, the beautiful daughter of a Prussian general, Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst, and at that time commandant of Stettin. His wife was sister to the heir-apparent of Sweden. Carlyle, speaking of this couple, says:All Saturday night the bombardment was continued with increasing fury. In the mean time four thousand wagons were packed, and, long before the dawn of Sunday morning, were on the road. The retreat was so admirably conducted that General Daun did not venture even to attempt to harass the retiring columns. Instead of moving in a northerly direction to Silesia, Frederick directed his march to the northwest, into Bohemia. On the 8th of July his long column safely reached Leutomischel. He there seized quite an amount of military stores, which General Daun, in his haste and bewilderment, had not been able to remove or to destroy. Five more marches conducted him to K?niggr?tz.The king could be very courteous. He gave a dinner-party, at which General Loudon, one of the most efficient of the Austrian generals, and who had often been successfully opposed to Frederick, was a guest. As he entered the king said,
Frederick was in a towering passion. Voltaire was alarmed at the commotion he had created. He wrote a letter to the king, in which he declared most solemnly that he had not intended to392 have the pamphlet published; that a copy had been obtained by treachery, and had been printed without his consent or knowledge. But the king wrote back:“Würben, in the centre, is like a citadel looking down upon Striegau Water. Heavy cannon, plenty of them, we have brought from Schweidnitz. We have four hundred and eighty cannon in all, and one hundred and eighty-two mines. Würben, our citadel and centre, is about five miles from Schweidnitz. Before our lines are palisades and chevaux-de-frise. Woods we have in abundance in our circuit, and axes for carpentries of that kind. There are four intrenched knolls; twenty-four big batteries capable of playing beautifully, all like pieces in a concert.”168
“Each of these ministers makes a most brilliant figure, and never have I seen one travel with more ease and convenience, more elegance and grandeur, than does the Marquis of Montijo. Wherever he stops to dine or sup, he finds a room hung with the richest tapestry, and the floor covered with Turkey carpets, with velvet chairs, and every other kind of convenience; a table sumptuously served, the choicest wines, and a dessert of fruit and confectionery that Paris itself could not excel. This kind of enchantment, this real miracle in Germany, is performed by means of three baggage-wagons, of which two always go before the embassador, and carry with them every thing necessary for his reception. When they arrive in some poor village, the domestics268 that accompany each wagon immediately clear and clean some chamber, fix the tapestry by rings to the walls, cover the floor with carpets, and furnish the kitchen and cellar with every kind of necessary.”54“I was sitting quiet in my apartment, busy with work, and some one reading to me, when the queen’s ladies rushed in, with a torrent of domestics in their rear, who all bawled out, putting one knee to the ground, that they were come to salute the Princess of Wales. I fairly believed these poor people had lost their wits. They would not cease overwhelming me with noise and tumult; their joy was so great they knew not what they did. When the farce had lasted some time, they told me what had occurred at the dinner.Secret Preparations for a Coalition.—Frederick’s Embarrassments.—The uncertain Support of England.—Causes of the War.—Commencement of Hostilities.—Letter from Frederick to his Sister Amelia.—Letter to his Brother.—The Invasion of Saxony.—Misfortunes of the Royal Family of Poland.—Battle of Lobositz.—Energetic Military Movements.—Prisoners of War compelled to enlist in the Prussian Service.—Dispatches from Frederick.—Battle of Prague.—Battle of Kolin.—Retreat of Frederick.—Death of Sophia Dorothea.
“To the custom-house officer at Stettin. The loss of the excise dues shall fall to my score. The dress shall remain with the princess; the slaps to him who received them. As to the pretended dishonor, I entirely relieve the complainant from that. Never can the appliance of a beautiful hand dishonor the face of an officer of customs.”Within three months after the divorce, the Crown Prince, anxious for an heir, married, on the 18th of April, 1769, the Princess Frederica Louisa, of Hesse-Darmstadt. A son was born to them, who became Frederick William III.Baron Bielfeld gives the following account of the ordinary employments, and the tone of conversation of the prince: “All the employments and all the pleasures of the prince are those of a man of understanding. He is, at this time, actually engaged in refuting the dangerous political reveries of Machiavel. His conversation at table is charming. He talks much and excellently well. His mind seems to be equal to all sorts of subjects, and his imagination produces on each of them a number of new and just ideas. His genius resembles the fire of the vestals that was never extinct. A decent and polite contradiction is not disagreeable172 to him. He possesses the rare talent of displaying the wit of others, and of giving them opportunity to shine on those subjects in which they excel. He jests frequently, and sometimes rallies, but never with asperity; and an ingenious retort does not displease him.
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.Again he wrote D’Argens on the 26th of December, “What a pleasure to hear that you are coming. I have sent a party of light horse to conduct you. You can make short journeys. I have directed that horses be ordered for you, that your rooms be warmed every where, and good fowls ready on all roads. Your apartment in this house is carpeted, hermetically shut. You shall suffer nothing from draughts or from noise.”详情
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