“I am delighted, my dear Wilhelmina, that you are so submissive to the wishes of your father. The good God will bless you for it; and I will never abandon you. I will take care of you all my life, and will endeavor to prove to you that I am your very affectionate father.”
“My dearest Sister,—I have the satisfaction to inform you that we have yesterday53 totally beaten the Austrians. They263 have lost more than five thousand men in killed, wounded, and prisoners. We have lost Prince Frederick, brother of Margraf Karl; General Schulenberg, Wartensleben of the Carabineers, and many other officers. Our troops did miracles, and the result shows as much. It was one of the rudest battles fought within the memory of man.It was an outrage to which Frederick was not disposed to submit. He entered his remonstrances. The question was referred to the British Court of Admiralty. Month after month the decision was delayed. Frederick lost all patience. English capitalists held Silesian bonds to the amount of about one million two hundred and fifty thousand dollars.“General Neipperg halted here at Mollwitz with the whole254 army before the village, in mind to quarter. And quarter was settled, so that a plow-farmer got four to five companies to lodge, and a spade-farmer two or three hundred cavalry. The houses were full of officers, and the fields full of horsemen and baggage; and all around you saw nothing but fires burning. The wooden railings were instantly torn down for firewood. The hay, straw, barley were eaten away, and brought to nothing. Every thing from the barns was carried out. As the whole army could not lodge itself with us, eleven hundred infantry quartered at Laugwitz. B?rzdorf got four hundred cavalry; and this day nobody knew what would come of it.”
“And would you regard with the same indifference,” M. D’Arget rejoined, “seeing us at the gates of Vienna?”Frederick did what he could to divert the attention of the court at Reinsberg by multiplying gayeties of every kind. There was feasting, and music, and dancing, and theatric exhibitions, often continuing until four o’clock in the morning. In the mean time couriers were coming and going. Troops were moving. Provisions and the materiel of war were accumulating. Anxious embassadors watched every movement of the king’s hand, weighed every word which escaped his lips, and tried every adroit measure to elicit from him his secret. The Danish minister, Pr?torius, wrote to his court from Berlin:
Maria Theresa was developing character which attracted the admiration of Europe. She seriously contemplated taking command of her armies herself. She loved Duke Francis, her husband, treated him very tenderly, and was anxious to confer upon him honor; but by nature vastly his superior, instinctively she assumed the command. She led; he followed. She was a magnificent rider. Her form was the perfection of grace. Her beautiful, pensive, thoughtful face was tanned by the weather. All hearts throbbed as, on a spirited charger, she sometimes swept before the ranks of the army, with her gorgeous retinue, appearing and disappearing like a meteor. She was as devout as she317 was brave, winning the homage of all Catholic hearts. We know not where, in the long list of sovereigns, to point to man or woman of more imperial energies, of more exalted worth.THE SAUSAGE CAR.But there was another picture which met the eye of the king very different in its aspect. We know not whether it at all touched his heart. It was that of the poor peasants, with their mothers, their wives, their children, hurrying from their hamlets in all directions, in the utmost dismay. Grandmothers tottered beneath the burden of infant children. Fathers and mothers struggled on with the household goods they were striving to rescue from impending ruin. The cry of maidens and children reached the ear as they fled from the tramp of the war-horse and the approaching carnage of the death-dealing artillery.
About two hundred miles south of Berlin there was quite an important marquisate called Baireuth. The marquis had a good-looking young son, the heir-apparent, who had just returned from the grand tour of Europe. Upon the death of his father he would enter upon quite a rich inheritance. This young marquis, Frederick by name, Baron Borck proposed as a substitute for77 the Duke of Weissenfels. It was understood that Wilhelmina was such a prize that kings, even, would be eager to obtain her hand. There could therefore be no doubt but that the Marquis of Baireuth would feel signally honored by such nuptials. The worn and weary mother eagerly accepted this proposal. She suggested it to the king. Sullenly he gave it his assent, saying, “I will passively submit to it, but will take no active part whatever in the affair. Neither will I give Wilhelmina one single copper for dowry.”“Munchberg, July 2, 1734.
The astounded Austrians bowed to the dust before him, escorted him to the best room, and, stealing out into the darkness, made their way as rapidly as possible to the bridge, which at the east end of the street crossed the Schweidnitz Water. At the farther end of the bridge Austrian cannon were planted to arrest the pursuit. The officers hurried across, and vanished in the gloom of night, followed by the river-guard. The Prussian cannoneers steadily pursued, and kept up through the night an incessant fire upon the rear of the foe.THE BETROTHAL.“Choose whatever apartment in our house you like. Regulate yourself all that you want, either for comfort or luxury. Make your arrangements in such a way as that you may be happy and comfortable, and leave it to me to provide for the rest. You will be always entirely free, and master to choose your own way of life. My only pretension is to enchain you by friendship and kindness.
“I will obey your commands as to sending those unpublished pieces. Your criticism will be my reward. It is a price few sovereigns can pay. I am sure of your secrecy. Your virtue and your intellect must be in proportion. I should indeed consider it a precious happiness to come and pay my court to your royal highness. One travels to Rome to see paintings and ruins. A prince such as you is a much more singular object, worthier of a long journey.At Nimburg, about twenty miles from Kolin, where the retiring Prussians were crossing the Elbe, Frederick sat upon a green mound, lost in thought, as his troops defiled before him. He was scratching figures upon the sand with his stick.“You have had the most villainous affair with a Jew. It has made a frightful scandal all over town. For my own part, I have preserved peace in my house until your arrival; and I warn you that, if you have the passion of intriguing and cabaling, you have applied to the wrong person. I like peaceable, quiet people, who do not put into their conduct the violent passions of tragedy. In case you can resolve to live like a philosopher, I shall be glad to see you. But if you abandon yourself to all the violence of your passions, and get into quarrels with all the world, you will do me no good by coming hither, and you may as well stay in Berlin.”
Against this unprincipled declaration General Schulenburg remonstrated, declaring it to be unchristian and dishonorable. But the prince seemed to regard such suggestions very contemptuously. “I can perceive,” the general adds, “that if he marries, it will only be that he may have more liberty than now. It is certain that if he had his elbows free he would strike out. He said to me several times, ‘I am young; I want to profit by my youth.’”General Loudon was in command of the Austrians, and General Butturlin of the Russians, who were arrayed against Frederick. They could not agree upon a plan of attack. Neither commander was willing to expose his troops to the brunt of a battle in which the carnage would necessarily be dreadful. Thus the weeks wore away. Frederick could not be safely attacked, and winter was approaching.
At the same time, Frederick, unaware of the movement of the Austrians, prepared to push the siege of Neisse with the utmost vigor. Leaving some of his ablest generals to conduct the operations there, Frederick himself marched, with strong re-enforcements, to strengthen General Schwerin, who was stationed among the Jagerndorf hills, on the southern frontier of Silesia, to prevent the Austrians from getting across the mountains. Marching from Ottmachau, the king met General Schwerin at Neustadt, half way to Jagerndorf, and they returned together to that place. But the swarming horsemen of General Neipperg were so bold and watchful that no information could be obtained of the situation or movements of the Austrian army. Frederick, seeing no indications that General Neipperg was attempting to force his way through the snow-encumbered defiles of the mountains, prepared to return, and, with his concentrated force, press with all vigor the siege of Neisse.详情
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