M. D’Arget, private secretary of the French minister Valori, gives an interesting account of an interview he held with Frederick at this time. M. D’Arget was quite a favorite of the king, who conversed with him with unusual frankness.
“A droll incident happened during our dialogue. My gentleman wanted to let down a little sash window, and could not manage it. ‘You do not understand that,’ said I; ‘let me do it.’ I tried to get it down, but succeeded no better than he.Most of our readers will pronounce this to be as unwarrantable an act of perfidy as history has recorded. But, in justice to Frederick, we ought to state that there are those who, while admitting all these facts, do not condemn him for his course. It is surprising to see how different are the opinions which intelligent men can form upon the same actions. Mr. Carlyle writes, in reference to these events:
The leader of an Austrian band of five hundred dragoons was on the watch. As the detachment of one hundred and fifty horse approached Baumgarten, the Austrians, from their ambuscade, plunged upon them. There was a short, sharp conflict, when the Prussians fled, leaving ten dead, sixteen prisoners, one standard, and two kettle-drums in the hands of the victors. The king had just sat down at the dinner-table, when he heard, at the distance of a few miles, the tumult of the musketry. He sprang from the table, hurriedly mustered a small force of forty hussars and fifty foot, and hastened toward the scene. Arriving at the field, he found it silent and deserted, and the ten men lying242 dead upon it. The victorious Austrians, disappointed in not finding the king, bore their spoils in triumph to Vienna. It was a very narrow escape for Frederick. Had he then been captured it might have changed the history of Europe, and no one can tell the amount of blood and woe which would have been averted.“For my own part, therefore, I believe it would be better to conclude my sister’s marriage in the first place, and not even to ask from the king any assurance in regard to mine, the rather as his word has nothing to do with it. It is enough that I here reiterate the promises which I have already made to the king, my uncle, never to take another wife than his second daughter, the Princess Amelia. I am a person of my word, and shall be able to bring about what I set forth, provided that there is trust put in me. I promise it to you. And now you may give your court notice of it, and I shall manage to keep my promise. I remain yours always.”
The heroic General Einsiedel struggled along through the snow and over the pathless hills, pursued and pelted every hour by the indomitable foe. He was often compelled to abandon baggage-wagons and ambulances containing the sick, while the wounded and the exhausted sank freezing by the way. At one time he was so crowded by the enemy that he was compelled to continue his march through the long hours of a wintry night, by the light of pitch-pine torches. After this awful retreat of twenty days, an emaciate, ragged, frostbitten band crossed the frontier into Silesia, near Friedland. They were soon united with the other columns of the discomfited and almost ruined army.“With twenty-one thousand your beaten and maltreated servant has hindered an army of fifty thousand from attacking him, and has compelled them to retire to Neusatz.”
In the following terms Thiebault describes their parting: The final interview between Frederick and Voltaire took place on the parade at Potsdam, where the king was then occupied with393 his soldiers. One of the attendants announced Voltaire to his majesty with these words:
A comfortable house, with garden and summer-house, was provided for the Crown Prince. He occasionally gave a dinner-party to his brother officers; and from the summer-house rockets were thrown into the sky, to the great gratification of the rustic peasantry.General Daun was soon informed of this energetic movement. He instantly placed himself at the head of sixty thousand troops, and also set out, at his highest possible speed, for Glatz.
“‘See there; that is the way to mark out camps.’”192It was a cold, dreary autumnal morning. The Austrian army, according to Frederick’s statement, amounted to sixty thousand men.86 But it was widely dispersed. Many of the cavalry were scouring the country in all directions, in foraging parties and as skirmishers. Large bodies had been sent by circuitous roads to occupy every avenue of retreat. The consolidated army, under Prince Charles, now advancing to the attack, amounted to thirty-six thousand men. Frederick had but twenty-six thousand.87While these scenes were transpiring, the Crown Prince was at Cüstrin, upon probation, being not yet admitted to the presence of his father. He seems to have exerted himself to the utmost to please the king, applying himself diligently to become familiar with all the tedious routine and details of the administration of finance, police, and the public domains. Fritz was naturally very amiable. He was consequently popular in the little town in which he resided, all being ready to do every thing in their power to serve him. The income still allowed him by his father was so small that he would have suffered from poverty had not the gentry in the neighborhood, regardless of the prohibition to lend money to the prince, contributed secretly to replenish his purse.
“‘Sire, it would be cheap at a hundred ducats.’327详情
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