“Having been not quite well lately, my physician has advised me to take more exercise than I have hitherto done. This has obliged me to mount my horse and take a gallop every morning. But, in order not to be obliged on that account to change my ordinary way of life, I get up earlier, in order to regain on the one hand what I lose on the other.”
On Wednesday, April 12, two days after the battle, Frederick wrote to his sister Wilhelmina from Ohlau as follows:
Four good days in penanceAt the second repulse, the Saxon grenadiers, greatly elated, gave a shout of “victory,” and rushed from their works to pursue the retreating Prussians. This was their ruin.
Another severe fit of coughing ensued, and the king, having with difficulty got rid of the phlegm, said, “The mountain is passed; we shall be better now.” These were his last words. The expiring monarch sat in his chair, but in a state of such extreme weakness that he was continually sinking down, with his chest and neck so bent forward that breathing was almost impossible. One of his faithful valets took the king upon his knee and placed his left arm around his waist, while the king threw his right arm around the valet’s neck.Voltaire, in summing up a sketch of this campaign of 1757, writes in characteristic phrase:
“I rely upon your zeal and hearty concurrence to support the King of Prussia and the rest of my allies, and to make ample517 provision for carrying on the war, as the only means of bringing our enemies to equitable terms of accommodation.”
“There came, in those weeks, one of the Duke of Gloucester’s gentlemen to Berlin. The queen had a soiree. He was presented to her as well as to me. He made a very obliging compliment on his master’s part. I blushed and answered only by a courtesy. The queen, who had her eye on me, was very angry that I had answered the duke’s compliments in mere silence, and rated me sharply for it, and ordered me, under pain of her indignation, to repair that fault to-morrow. I retired all in tears to my room, exasperated against the queen and against the duke. I vowed I would never marry him.“I, as well as many others, had hardly time to put on my clothes. As I was leading my wife, with a young child in her arms, and my other children and servants before me—who were almost naked, having, ever since the first fright, run about as they got out of bed—the bombs and red-hot balls fell round462 about us. The bombs, in their bursting, dashed the houses to pieces, and every thing that was in their way. Every body that could got out of the town as fast as possible. The crowd of naked and in the highest degree wretched people was vastly great.An extraordinary Interview.—Carlyle’s Sympathy.—Trifling Demeanor of Frederick.—Conspiracy in Breslau.—Guile of Frederick.—The successful Stratagem.—Crossing the Neisse.—The Co-operation of France.—Anguish of Maria Theresa.—Inflexible Will of Frederick.—Duplicity of the King.—The Surrender of Neisse.
In September, 1777, the King of Bavaria died. The emperor thought it a good opportunity to annex Bavaria to Austria. “Do but look on the map,” says Carlyle, in his peculiar style of thought and expression: “you would say, Austria without Bavaria is like a human figure with its belly belonging to somebody else. Bavaria is the trunk or belly of the Austrian dominions, shutting off all the limbs of them each from the other; making for central part a huge chasm.”Marshal Daun, as he retired with a shattered leg to have his wound dressed, resigned the command to General Buccow. In a few moments his arm was shot off, and General O’Donnell took the command. He ordered a retreat. The Austrian army, at nine o’clock in the evening, in much disorder, were crossing the Elbe by three bridges which had been thrown across the stream in preparation for a possible disaster. The king, disappointed in a victory which did not promise great results, passed the night conversing with the soldiers at their watch-fires. He had ever indulged them in addressing him with much familiarity, calling him Fritz, which was a diminutive of Frederick, and expressive of affection. “I suppose, Fritz,” said one of the soldiers, “after this, you will give us good winter quarters.”
As usual, Frederick wrote a poem upon the occasion. It was vulgar and profane. Carlyle says of it, “The author, with a wild burst of spiritual enthusiasm, sings the charms of the rearward part of certain men. He rises to the height of anti-biblical profanity, quoting Moses on the Hill of Vision; sinks to the bottomless of human or ultra-human depravity, quoting King Nicomedes’s experience on C?sar, happily known only to the learned. A most cynical, profane affair; yet we must say, by way of parenthesis, one which gives no countenance to Voltaire’s atrocities of rumor about Frederick himself in the matter.”111“It is impossible,” writes Lord Dover, “not to perceive that the real reason of his conduct was his enmity to his son, and that the crime of the poor girl was the having assisted in making the son’s existence more supportable. The intention of Frederick William apparently being that the infliction of so infamous a punishment in so public a manner should prevent the possibility of Frederick’s ever seeing her again.”14
Sophie Dorothee seemed to have but one thought—the double marriage. This would make Wilhelmina queen of England, and would give her dear son Frederick an English princess for his bride. Her efforts, embarrassments, disappointments, were endless. Frederick William began to be regarded by the other powers as a very formidable man, whose alliance was exceedingly desirable. His army, of sixty thousand men, rapidly increasing, was as perfect in drill and discipline as ever existed. It was thoroughly furnished with all the appliances of war. The king himself, living in Spartan simplicity, and cutting down the expenses of his court to the lowest possible figure, was consecrating the resources of his realm to the promotion of its physical strength, and was accumulating iron-bound casks of gold and silver coin in the cellars of his palace. It became a matter of much moment to every court in Europe whether such a monarch should be its enemy or its ally.详情
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