France had no fear of Prussia. Even with the addition of Silesia, it would be comparatively a feeble realm. But France did fear the supremacy of Austria over Europe. It was for the apparent interest of the court of Versailles that Austria should be weakened, and, consequently, that the husband of the queen should not be chosen Emperor of Germany. Therefore France was coming into sympathy with Frederick, and was disposed to aid him in his warfare against Austria.Again the king interrupted him, saying, “The public will be much obliged to you, sir! But hear me. With respect to Russia, you know how matters stand. From the King of Poland I have nothing to fear. As for the King of England, he is my relation. If he do not attack me, I shall not him. If he do attack me, the Prince of Anhalt, with my army at G?tten, will take care of him.
And notwithstanding our impatience,“Each regiment shall take but one baggage-cart for a company. No officer, whoever he may be or whatever his title, shall take with him the least of silver plate, not even a silver spoon. Whoever wants to keep table, great or small, must manage the same with tin utensils, without exception, be he who he will.”“Say not alas,” added the king. “But how do you know?”
THE INVASION OF SAXONY.Secret negotiations were immediately opened at Breslau, in Silesia, between England, Austria, and Prussia. Maria Theresa, harassed by the entreaties of her cabinet and by the importunities of the British court, consented to all that Frederick demanded.After this signal achievement his Prussian majesty established his army in winter quarters along the banks of the Elbe. He took up his abode in the palace of Dresden, awaiting the opening of the spring campaign. Saxony was held with a tight grasp, and taxes and recruits were gathered from the country as if it had always belonged to Prussia. Frederick had hoped that his sudden campaign would have led him into the heart of the Austrian states. Instead of this, though he had wrested Saxony from Poland, he had given Austria ample time to prepare her armies for a long war, and had roused all Europe to intense hostility against him.
It is probable that even Seckendorf was somewhat moved by this pathetic appeal. Fritz succeeded in sending a letter to the post-office, addressed to Lieutenant Keith at Wesel, containing simply the words “Sauvez vous; tout est decouvert” (Save yourself; all is found out). Keith received the letter but an hour or so before a colonel of gens d’armes arrived to arrest him. Seckendorf had an interview with the king, and seems to have endeavored to mitigate his wrath. He assured the infuriate monarch of his son’s repentance, and of his readiness to make a full confession if his father would spare those who had been led by their sympathies to befriend him. The unrelenting father received this message very sullenly, saying that he had no faith that his son would make an honest confession, but that he would see what he had to say for himself.
“It being his majesty’s birthday,” writes Grumkow, “the prince, in deep emotion, followed his father, and, again falling prostrate, testified such heartfelt joy, gratitude, and affection over this blessed anniversary as quite touched the heart of the king, who at last clasped him in his arms, and hurried out to avoid sobbing aloud. The Crown Prince followed his majesty, and, in the presence of many hundred people, kissed his majesty’s feet, and was again embraced by his majesty, who said, ‘Behave well, as I see you mean, and I will take care of you.’ Which words,” writes Grumkow, “threw the Crown Prince into such an ecstasy of joy as no pen can express.”
As soon as Hotham had left Berlin the Crown Prince held a secret midnight interview with Captain Dickens and Lieutenant Katte, to devise some new plan of escape during the journey to the Rhine, which was to commence in a few days. He made arrangements to leave all his private papers with Katte, provided himself with a large gray overcoat as a partial disguise, and, with much difficulty, obtained about a thousand ducats to defray his expenses. Lieutenant Keith was at Wesel. He was written to with the utmost secrecy, as he might be able to render efficient aid, could the Crown Prince reach him.
But no sooner did Frederick get an intimation that Austria was contemplating this enlargement of her domains than he roused himself to prevent it with all the vigor of his earlier years. It was a very delicate matter; for Charles Theodore, the elector, and his nephew August Christian, heir to the electorate, a young gentleman of very illustrious pedigree, but of a very slender purse, had both been bribed by Austria secretly to co-operate in the movement. The reader will be interested in Carlyle’s account, slightly abbreviated, of Frederick’s skill in diplomacy:“Here his whole conversation consisted in quizzing whatever he saw, and repeating to me, above a hundred times over, the words ‘little prince,’ ‘little court.’ I was shocked, and could not understand how he had changed so suddenly toward me. The etiquette of all courts in the empire is, that nobody who has not at least the rank of captain can sit at a prince’s table. My brother put a lieutenant there who was in his suite, saying, ‘A king’s lieutenant is as good as a margraf’s minister.’ I swallowed this incivility, and showed no sign.
“It was four o’clock, and I could not understand what had become of my brother. I had sent out several persons on horseback to get tidings of him, and none of them came back. At length, in spite of all my prayers, the hereditary prince24 himself would go in search. I was in cruel agitations. These cataracts of rain are very dangerous in the mountain countries. The roads get suddenly overflowed, and accidents often happen. I thought for certain one had happened to my brother, or to the hereditary prince.
Five days after this letter was written to Voltaire by Wilhelmina from Baireuth, Frederick, on the 17th of September, 1757, wrote his sister from near Erfurt. This letter, somewhat abbreviated, was as follows:As General Daun approached the city, the Prussian general who had been left in command of the small garrison there sent word to him that, should he menace Dresden with his forces, the Prussian commander would be under the necessity of setting fire to the suburbs, as a measure of self-defense. Daun, expostulating vehemently against so cruel an act, regardless of the menace, approached the city on the 9th of November, and at midnight commenced rearing his batteries for the bombardment. In the mean time the Prussian general had filled many of the largest houses with combustibles. As the clock struck three in the morning the torch was applied. The unhappy inhabitants had but three hours’ notice that their houses were to be surrendered to destruction. Instantly the flames burst forth with terrific fury in all directions. Sir Andrew Mitchel, who witnessed the conflagration, writes:
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.详情
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