It would be unjust alike to the father and the son to withhold a letter which reflects so much credit upon them both—upon179 the father for his humane measures, and upon the son for his appreciation of their moral beauty.Frederick, pressing forward directly east, toward Leuthen, ascended an eminence, the height of Scheuberg, whence he beheld,439 directly before him, the whole majestic Austrian army. It extended for a distance of about five miles, drawn up in battle-array across his path, from the village of Nypern on the north, through Leuthen, to the village of Sagschütz on the south. So distinctly were their military lines spread out before the eye that Frederick, with his glass, could count them, man by man. Carefully the king studied the position of the enemy, and formed his plan of attack. He designed, while bewildering the Austrians by his man?uvres, to direct the whole concentrated strength of his army upon their extreme left wing. He hoped thus, by the desperate impetuosity of his attack, to roll that whole left wing together in utter ruin before the centre or the right could come to its aid. He would then press on, with numbers ever overpowering the Austrians at the point of attack, until the whole line, five miles in length, was annihilated.“Formerly, my dear marquis, the affair of the 15th would have decided the campaign. At present it is but a scratch. A great battle must determine our fate. Such we shall soon have. Then, should the event prove favorable to us, you may, with good reason, rejoice. I thank you for your sympathy. It has cost much scheming, striving, and address to bring matters to this point. Do not speak to me of dangers. The last action cost me only a coat and a horse. That is buying victory cheap.151
278 “That is your interpretation,” said Frederick. “But the French assert that it was an arrangement made in their favor.”“In a word, I see all black, as if I were at the bottom of a tomb. Have some compassion on the situation I am in. Conceive that I disguise nothing from you, and yet that I do not detail to you all my embarrassments, my apprehensions, and troubles. Adieu, my dear marquis. Write to me sometimes. Do not forget a poor devil who curses ten times a day his fatal existence, and could wish he already were in those silent countries from which nobody returns with news.”CHAPTER XXVIII. DOMESTIC GRIEFS AND MILITARY REVERSES.
“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.”
“And so from right wing to left,” writes Carlyle, “miles long there is now universal storm of volleying, bayonet charging, thunder of artillery, case-shot, cartridge-shot, and sulphurous devouring whirlwind; the wrestle very tough and furious, especially on the assaulting side. Here, as at Prague, the Prussian troops were one and all in the fire, each doing strenuously his utmost. There is no reserve left. All is gone up into one combustion. To fan the fire, to be here, there, fanning the fire where need shows, this is now Frederick’s function. This death-wrestle lasted, perhaps, four hours; till seven, or perhaps eight o’clock, of a June evening.”
Forming his army in two parallel lines, nearly five miles long, facing the foe, he prepared to open the battle along the whole369 extent of the field. While thus engrossing the attention of the enemy, his main attempt was to be directed against the village of Kesselsdorf, which his practiced eye saw to be the key of the position. It was two o’clock in the afternoon ere all his arrangements were completed. The Old Dessauer was a devout man—in his peculiar style a religious man, a man of prayer. He never went into battle without imploring God’s aid. On this occasion, all things being arranged, he reverently uncovered his head, and in presence of the troops offered, it is said, the following prayer:549 Frederick had cultivated a supreme indifference to public opinion. Not believing in any God, in any future retribution, or in any immortality, and regarding men merely as the insects of an hour, like the myriad polyps which, beneath the ocean, rear their stupendous structures and perish, his sense of right and wrong must necessarily have been very different from that which a believer in the Christian faith is accustomed to cherish. In allusion to this subject, he writes:
The king, weary of the life of turmoil, constructed for himself376 a beautiful villa, which he named Sans Souci (“Free from Care”), which Carlyle characteristically translates “No bother.” It was situated on a pleasant hill-top near Potsdam, in great retirement, yet commanding an enchanting view of land and water.
While these coronation splendors were transpiring, Frederick was striving, with all his characteristic enthusiasm, to push forward his Moravian campaign to a successful issue. Inspired by as tireless energies as ever roused a human heart, he was annoyed beyond measure by the want of efficient co-operation on the part of his less zealous allies. Neither the Saxons nor the French could keep pace with his impetuosity. The princes who led the Saxon troops, the petted sons of kings and nobles, were loth to abandon the luxurious indulgences to which they had been accustomed. When they arrived at a capacious castle where they found warm fires, an abundant larder, and sparkling wines, they would linger there many days, decidedly preferring those comforts to campaigning through the blinding, smothering snowstorm, and bivouacking on the bleak and icy plains, swept by the gales of a northern winter. The French were equally averse to these terrible marches, far more to be dreaded than the battle-field.“Monsieur De Maupertuis, your very affectionate
Instantly the Prussian troops were ordered to the right about. Rapidly retracing their steps through the streets of Leipe, much to the surprise of its inhabitants, they pressed on seven miles farther toward Ohlau, and encamped for the night. The anxiety of Frederick in these hours when he was retiring before the foe, and when there was every probability of his incurring disgrace instead of gaining honor, must have been dreadful. There was no sleep for him that night. The Prussians were almost surrounded by the Austrians, and it was quite certain that the morrow would usher in a battle. Oppressed by the peril of his position, the king, during the night, wrote to his brother Augustus252 William, who was at Breslau, as follows. The letter was dated at the little village of Pogerell, where the king had taken shelter.The rule, in such cases, was that a certain number of companies were to be admitted at a time. The gate was then to be closed until they had marched through the city and out at the opposite gate. After this another detachment was to be admitted, and so on, until all had passed through. But General Schwerin so contrived it, by stratagem, as to crowd in a whole regiment at once. Instead of marching through Breslau, to the surprise of the inhabitants, he directed his steps to the market-place, where he encamped and took possession of the city, admitting the remainder of his regiments. In an hour and a half the whole thing was done, and the streets were strongly garrisoned by Prussian troops. The majority of the inhabitants, being Protestant, were well pleased, and received the achievement with laughter. Many cheers resounded through the streets, with shouts of “Frederick and Silesia forever.” All the foreign ministers in Breslau, and the magistrates of the city, had been lured to Strehlin to witness the grand review.详情
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