CHARGE OF GENERAL SEIDLITZ AT ZORNDORF.
516 “This is, I swear to you, such a dog’s life [chienne de vie] as no one but Don Quixote ever led before me. All this tumbling, toiling, bother, and confusion have made me such an old fellow that you would scarcely know me again. The hair on the right side of my head has grown quite gray. My teeth break and fall out. My face is as full of wrinkles as the furbelow of a petticoat. My back is bent like a fiddle-bow, and my spirit is sad and downcast, like a monk of La Trappe.“Raising his eyes,” says Archenholtz, “he surveyed, with speechless emotion, the small remnant of his life-guard of foot, his favorite battalion. It was one thousand strong yesterday morning, hardly four hundred now. All the soldiers of this chosen battalion were personally known to him—their names, their age, their native place, their history. In one day death had mowed them down. They had fought like heroes, and it418 was for him they had died. His eyes were visibly wet. Down his face rolled silent tears.“There was, after all,” says Valori, “at times a kind of devout feeling in this prince, who possessed such a combination of qualities, good and bad, that I know not which preponderates.”
The king then rattled on without waiting for replies: “How do you like your Cüstrin life? Do you still have as much aversion to Wusterhausen, and to wearing your shroud, as you called your uniform? Likely enough my company does not suit you. I have no French manners, and can not bring out witty sayings in the coxcomb way; and I truly consider all that as a thing to be thrown to the dogs. I am a German prince, and mean to live and die in that character. But you can now say what you have got by your caprices and obstinate heart, hating every thing that I liked, and if I distinguished any one, despising him. If an officer was put in arrest, you took to lamenting about him. Your real friends, who intended your good, you hated and calumniated. Those who flattered you and encouraged your bad purpose you caressed. You see what that has come to. In Berlin, in all Prussia, for some time back, nobody asks after you, whether you are in the world or not. And were it not that one or the other coming from Cüstrin reports you as playing tennis or wearing French hair-bags, nobody would know whether you were dead, or alive.”Two days after committing this important document to Count Finck, Frederick took leave of his mother and his brother. His mother he never saw again. We have no evidence that on this visit he even called upon his irreproachable, amiable, neglected wife. In preparation for the worst, Frederick had provided poison for himself, and wore it constantly about his person. It consisted of several small pills in a glass tube. This fact is fully established.One wretched man, who had been the guilty accomplice of the Crown Prince in former scenes of guilt and shame, was so troubled by the neglect with which he was treated that he hanged himself.
As has often been mentioned, the carnage of the battle-field constitutes by no means the greater part of the miseries of war. One of the sufferers from the conflagration of the city of Cüstrin gives the following graphic account of the scene. It was the 15th of August, 1758:
Here, in the little town of Cüstrin, in a house very meagerly furnished, the Crown Prince established his household upon the humblest scale. The prince was allowed to wear his sword, but not his uniform. He was debarred all amusements, and was forbidden to read, write, or speak French. To give him employment,114 he was ordered to attend regularly the sittings of the Chamber of Counselors of that district, though he was to take his seat as the youngest member. Three persons were appointed constantly to watch over him. Lord Dover writes:Five days after this letter was written to Voltaire by Wilhelmina from Baireuth, Frederick, on the 17th of September, 1757, wrote his sister from near Erfurt. This letter, somewhat abbreviated, was as follows:
Sir Thomas hastened back to Presburg in despair. Feeling the “game was up,” and that there was no more hope, he asked permission to return home. The British cabinet was in a state of consternation. France, the dreaded rival of England, was attaining almost sovereign power over the Continent of Europe. Frederick himself was uneasy. He had sufficient penetration to be fully aware that he was aiding to create a resistless power, which might, by-and-by, crush him. Sir Thomas, in a state of great agitation, which was manifest in his disordered style, wrote from Presburg to Lord Hyndford at Breslau as follows. The letter was dated September 8, 1741.Lord Hyndford, evidently embarrassed, for the facts were strongly against him, endeavored, in some additional remarks, to assume ignorance of any unfriendly action on the part of the British government. The king again, in a loud and angry tone, replied,During this sickness a very curious scene occurred, characteristic of the domestic life of this royal family. The second daughter, Frederica Louisa, “beautiful as an angel, and a spoiled child of fifteen,” was engaged to the Marquis of Anspach. We will allow Wilhelmina to describe the event which took place at the56 table. It was early in March, 1729, while the king was still suffering from the gout:
Lieutenant Chasot, another of his friends, was a French officer who had killed a brother officer in a duel at Philipsburg, and, in consequence, had fled to the Prussian lines. He had brightness of intellect and winning manners, which rendered him a universal favorite. Captain Knobelsdorf was a distinguished musician and architect. He rendered signal service in enlarging and decorating the chateau at Reinsberg. Baron De Suhm, with whom Frederick kept up a constant correspondence, was then in Saxony, translating for the Crown Prince the philosophy of Wolff. He sent the prince chapter by chapter, with copious notes.
“‘What form of government do you reckon the best?’There was much man?uvring, in which Frederick displayed his usual skill, quite circumventing his foes. Daily he became less despairing. On the 25th of October he wrote to Fouquet:
491 The rumor that Daun was marching upon Berlin proved a false alarm. On the 4th of September the king again wrote D’Argens from his encampment at Waldau, a few leagues south of his last position, just over the border in Saxony:256 It was now about noon. The sun shone brightly on the glistening snow. There was no wind. Twenty thousand peasants, armed and drilled as soldiers, were facing each other upon either side, to engage in mutual slaughter, with no animosity between them—no cause of quarrel. It is one of the unrevealed mysteries of Providence that any one man should thus have it in his power to create such wide-spread death and misery. The Austrians had a splendid body of cavalry, eight thousand six hundred in number. Frederick had but about half as many horsemen. The Prussians had sixty pieces of artillery, the Austrians but eighteen.
They all united their entreaties, arguments, prayers, and threats. The princess was in a state of terrible agitation. Almost distracted she paced the floor. That she might have a little time to reflect, the four deputies retired into the recess of a window. One of them, M. Tulmier, then approached the princess, and, in a low tone of voice, said to her,“Lieutenant Keith had been gone some time, stationed in Wesel with his regiment. Keith’s departure had been a great joy to me, in the hope my brother would now lead a more regular life. But it proved quite otherwise. A second favorite, and a much more dangerous, succeeded Keith. This was a young man of the name of Katte, captain lieutenant in the regiment72 Gens d’Armes. He was highly connected in the army. His mother was daughter of Field-marshal Wartensleben. General Katte, his father, had sent him to the universities, and afterward to travel, desiring that he should be a lawyer. But, as there was no favor to be hoped for out of the army, the young man found himself at last placed there, contrary to his expectation. He continued to apply himself to studies. He had wit, book-culture, and acquaintance with the world. The good company which he continued to frequent had given him polite manners to a degree then rare in Berlin. His physiognomy was rather disagreeable than otherwise. A pair of thick black eyebrows almost covered his eyes. His look had in it something ominous, presage of the fate he met with. A tawny skin, torn by small-pox, increased his ugliness. He affected the freethinker, and carried libertinism to excess. A great deal of ambition and headlong rashness accompanied this vice. Such a favorite was not the man to bring back my brother from his follies.”详情
Copyright © 2020