“Tantalus never suffered so much while standing in the river, the waters of which he could not drink, as I when, having received your package of the translation of Wolff, I was unable to read it. All the accidents and all the bores in the world were, I think, agreed to prevent me. A journey to Potsdam, daily reviews, and the arrival of my brother in company with Messrs. De Hacke and De Rittberg, have been my impediments. Imagine my horror, my dear Diaphanes,30 at seeing the arrival of this caravan without my having in the least expected them. They weigh upon my shoulders like a tremendous burden, and never quit my side, in order, I believe, to make me wish myself at the devil.”
Thus originated with the Empress Catharine, one hundred years ago, the idea of driving the Turks out of Europe, and of annexing Constantinople to her majestic empire. From that time until now the question has been increasingly agitating the courts of Europe. Every day, now, the “Eastern Question” is assuming greater importance. The following map very clearly shows the commanding position of Constantinople, and the immense strength, both in a military and a commercial point of view, it would give to the Russian empire.“But she returned the next moment accompanying the cavalier, who was laughing heartily, and whom I recognized for my brother. His dress so altered him he seemed a different person. He was in the best humor possible. ‘I am come to bid you farewell once more, my dear sister,’ said he; ‘and as I know the friendship you have for me, I will not keep you ignorant of my designs. I go, and do not come back. I can not endure the usage I suffer. My patience is driven to an end. It is a favorable79 opportunity for flinging off that odious yoke. I will glide out of Dresden and get across to England, where, I do not doubt, I shall work out your deliverance too, when I am got thither. So I beg you calm yourself. We shall soon meet again in places where joy shall succeed our tears, and where we shall have the happiness to see ourselves in peace, and free from these persecutions.’”
Wilhelmina, with flooded eyes, entered her carriage, bidding a final adieu to the home of her childhood, where she had passed through so many scenes, eventful and afflictive. Though she afterward visited Berlin, it was her home no more. The Crown Prince returned to Cüstrin, where he impatiently awaited his future destinies.
Frederick was rapidly awaking to the consciousness that Maria Theresa, whom he had despised as a woman, and a young wife and mother, and whose territory he thought he could dismember with impunity, was fully his equal, not only in ability to raise and direct armies, but also in diplomatic intrigue. About the middle of August he perceived from his camp in Chlum that Prince Charles was receiving large re-enforcements from the south. At the same time, he saw that corps after corps, principally of Saxon troops, were defiling away by circuitous roads to the north. It was soon evident that the heroic Maria Theresa was preparing to send an army into the very heart of Prussia to attack its capital. This was, indeed, changing the aspect of the war.
CHAPTER VIII. DEVELOPMENTS OF CHARACTER.“Each of these ministers makes a most brilliant figure, and never have I seen one travel with more ease and convenience, more elegance and grandeur, than does the Marquis of Montijo. Wherever he stops to dine or sup, he finds a room hung with the richest tapestry, and the floor covered with Turkey carpets, with velvet chairs, and every other kind of convenience; a table sumptuously served, the choicest wines, and a dessert of fruit and confectionery that Paris itself could not excel. This kind of enchantment, this real miracle in Germany, is performed by means of three baggage-wagons, of which two always go before the embassador, and carry with them every thing necessary for his reception. When they arrive in some poor village, the domestics268 that accompany each wagon immediately clear and clean some chamber, fix the tapestry by rings to the walls, cover the floor with carpets, and furnish the kitchen and cellar with every kind of necessary.”54
In this fiery humor, the king leaped upon his horse and galloped to Schweidnitz. Here he met the Old Dessauer. He must have been not a little mortified to learn that his veteran general was right, and he utterly in the wrong. Prince Charles had returned home. Marshal Traun was in command of the Austrians.342 He had a compact army of 20,000 men, flushed with victory and surrounded by countless thousands of Pandours, who veiled every movement from view. He had established himself in an impregnable position on the south side of the Neisse, where he could not be assailed, with any prospect of success, by the force which Leopold could then summon to his aid.F.”
All the courts of Europe were involved in these intrigues, which led to minor complications which it would be in vain to attempt to unravel. In the secret treaty into which Frederick entered with France on the 5th of June, 1741, the Count of Belleisle engaged, in behalf of his master, Louis XV., to incite Sweden to declare war against Russia, that the semi-barbaric power of the North, just beginning to emerge into greatness, might be so occupied as not to be able to render any assistance to Austria. France also agreed to guarantee Lower Silesia, with Breslau, to Frederick, and to send two armies, of forty thousand men each, one across the Upper and the other across the Lower Rhine, to co-operate with his Prussian majesty. The forty thousand men on the Upper Rhine were to take position in the vicinity of the Electorate of Hanover, which belonged to George II. of England, prepared to act immediately in concert with the Prussian army at G?tten under the “Old Dessauer,” in seizing Hanover resistlessly, should England make the slightest move toward sending troops to the aid of Maria Theresa.Archenholtz, who was an eye-witness of the miseries which he describes, gives the following account of the state of Germany at the close of the conflict:
It would be unjust alike to the father and the son to withhold a letter which reflects so much credit upon them both—upon179 the father for his humane measures, and upon the son for his appreciation of their moral beauty.
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With wonderful skill, Frederick conducted his retreat about four miles to the northwest. Here he took a strong position at Doberschütz, and again bade defiance to the Austrians. Slowly, proudly, and in perfect order he retired, as if merely shifting his ground. His cavalry was drawn up as on parade, protecting his baggage-wagons as they defiled through the pass of Drehsa. The Austrians gazed quietly upon the movement, not venturing to renew the attack by daylight upon such desperate men.
The king then, having ordered his guard to watch him with the utmost vigilance, assuring them that their heads should answer for it if they allowed him to escape, sent his son to another boat. He was prevailed upon to do so, as no one could tell to what length the king’s ungovernable passions might lead him.On the evening of the 3d of December, 1757, the king arrived at Parchwitz, in the heart of Silesia, about thirty miles from Breslau. Here the wreck of Prince Bevern’s army joined him. Thus re-enforced, he could bring about thirty thousand men into the field. He immediately, in the night, assembled his principal officers, and thus addressed them; the words were taken down at the time. We give this characteristic address slightly abbreviated:详情
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