Frederick cautiously refused to sign his name to any paper. Verbally, he agreed that in one week from that time, on the 16th, General Neipperg should have liberty to retire to the south through the mountains, unmolested save by sham attacks in his rear. A small garrison was to be left in Neisse. After maintaining a sham siege for a fortnight, they were to surrender the291 city. Sham hostilities, to deceive the French, were to be continued until the year was out, and then a treaty was to be signed and ratified.
Frederick had caused signal cannon to be placed at suitable points between Breslau and Strehlin, which, by transmitting reports, should give him as early intelligence as possible of the success of the enterprise. About noon, in the midst of the grand man?uvrings on the parade-ground, one distant cannon-shot was heard, to the great satisfaction of Frederick, who alone understood its significance.“‘Do you see the man in the garden yonder, sitting, smoking his pipe?’ said he to me. ‘That man, you may depend upon it, is not happy.’
And notwithstanding our impatience,
“Join,” said he, “the Austrian force under Prince Lobkowitz in Bohemia. Fall immediately and impetuously upon the French, before they can combine their forces to resist you. If you succeed in this, perhaps I will by-and-by join you; if you fail—well, you know every one must look out for himself.”When near Augsburg, Fritz wrote a letter to Lieutenant Katte, stating that he should embrace the first opportunity to escape to the Hague; that there he should assume the name of the Count of Alberville. He wished Katte to join him there, and to bring with him the overcoat and the one thousand ducats which he had left in his hands. On Thursday, August 3d, the royal party reached the little hamlet of Steinfurth, not far from the Rhine. Here, as was not unfrequently the case, they slept in barns, carefully swept and prepared for them. The usual hour of starting was three o’clock in the morning.
The victory of Sohr filled Europe with the renown of Frederick. Still his peril was great, and the difficulties before him apparently insurmountable. His treasury was exhausted. His only ally, France, would furnish him with no money, had no confidence365 in him, and was in heart exasperated against him. Not a single court in Europe expressed any friendship for Frederick. On the contrary, nearly all would have rejoiced at his downfall. There seemed to be no end to the campaigns which were opening before him. Yet Frederick knew not where to obtain the money to meet the expense even of a single campaign.
In his “epistle” Frederick had expressed the opinion that428 there was no God who took any interest in human affairs. He had also repeatedly expressed the resolve to Wilhelmina, and to Voltaire, to whom he had become partially reconciled, that he was prepared to commit suicide should events prove as disastrous as he had every reason to expect they would prove. He had also urged his sister to follow his example, and not to survive the ruin of the family. Such was the support which the king, in hours of adversity, found in that philosophy for which he had discarded the religion of Jesus Christ.
Frederick had left Grüssau on the 18th of April for his Moravian455 campaign. He returned on the 8th of August, after an absence of sixteen weeks. The campaign had proved an entire failure. A Russian army, fifty thousand strong, under General Fermor, had invaded Brandenburg, just beyond the extreme northern frontier of Silesia. These semi-barbarian soldiers had burned the town of Cüstrin, on the Oder, were besieging the small garrison in its citadel, and were committing the most horrid outrages upon the community around, not only plundering and burning, but even consigning captives to the flames.
Frederick found himself plunged into the midst of difficulties and perils which exacted to the utmost his energies both of body and of mind. Every moment was occupied in strengthening his posts, collecting magazines, recruiting his forces, and planning to circumvent the foe. From the calm of Reinsberg he found himself suddenly tossed by the surges of one of the most terrible tempests of conflict which a mortal ever encountered. Through night and storm, almost without sleep and without food, drenched and chilled, he was galloping over the hills and through the valleys,244 climbing the steeples, fording the streams, wading the morasses, involved in a struggle which now threatened even the crown which he had so recently placed upon his brow. Had Frederick alone suffered, but few tears of sympathy would have been shed in his behalf; but his ambition had stirred up a conflict which was soon to fill all Europe with the groans of the dying, the tears of the widow, the wailings of the orphan.详情
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