On the 16th of November General Neipperg broke up his camp at Neisse, according to the arrangement and, leaving a small garrison in the city to encounter the sham siege, defiled through the mountains on the south into Moravia. The Prussians, pretending to pursue, hung upon his rear for a short distance, making as much noise and inflicting as little harm as possible. General Neipperg pressed rapidly on to Vienna, where he was exultingly welcomed to aid in defending the city menaced by the French.Immediately after his return he wrote again: “I am now a peaceable inhabitant of Reinsberg, applying myself to study and reading almost from morning till night. With regard to the news of this world, you will learn them better through the gazetteers than through me. They contain the history of the madness and folly of the great, the wars of some, the quarrels of others, and the childish amusements of all. These news are as little worthy the attention of a man of sense as the quarrels of rats and mice would be.”25
Days of pain and nights of sleeplessness were his portion. A hard cough racked his frame. His strength failed him. Ulcerous sores broke out upon various parts of his body. A constant oppression at his chest rendered it impossible for him to lie down. Gout tortured him. His passage to the grave led through eighteen months of constant suffering. Dr. Zimmermann, in his diary of the 2d of August, writes:
On the 25th of October a courier arrived, direct from Vienna, with the startling intelligence that the Emperor Charles VI. had died five days before. The king was at the time suffering from a severe attack of chills and fever. There was quite a long deliberation in the court whether it were safe to communicate the agitating intelligence to his majesty while he was so sick. They delayed for an hour, and then cautiously informed the king of the great event. Frederick listened in silence; uttered not a word; made no sign.36 Subsequent events proved that his soul must have been agitated by the tidings to its profoundest depths. The death of the emperor, at that time, was unexpected. But it is pretty evident that Frederick had, in the sombre recesses of his mind, resolved upon a course of action when the emperor should die which he knew would be fraught with the most momentous results. In fact, this action proved the occasion of wars and woes from which, could the king have foreseen them, he would doubtless have shrunk back appalled.“Not only I,” the aid replied, “but the whole army, firmly believe it of your majesty.”
“They have a daughter, Sophie-Frederike, now near fifteen, and very forward for her age; comely to look upon, wise to listen to. ‘Is not she the suitable one?’ thinks Frederick in regard to this matter. ‘Pier kindred is of the oldest—old as Albert the Bear. She has been frugally brought up, Spartan-like, though as a princess by birth. Let her cease skipping ropes on the ramparts yonder with her young Stettin playmates, and prepare for being a czarina of the Russias,’ thinks he. And communicates his mind to the czarina, who answers, ‘Excellent! How did I never think of that myself!’A smile flitted across Katte’s pallid features as he replied, “Death is sweet for a prince I love so well.” With fortitude he ascended the scaffold. The executioner attempted to bandage his eyes, but he resisted, and, looking to heaven, said, “Father, into thy hands I surrender my soul!” Four grenadiers held Fritz with his face toward the window. Fainting, he fell senseless upon the floor. At the same moment, by a single blow, Katte’s head rolled upon the scaffold. As the prince recovered consciousness, he found himself still at the window, in full view of the headless and gory corpse of his friend. Another swoon consigned him to momentary unconsciousness.16
Upon the ensuing day, having received the answer from Vienna, he wrote to his brother:
“Asking me for peace is indeed a bitter joke. It is to Louis XV. you must address yourself, or to his Amboise in petticoats.129 But these people have their heads filled with ambitious projects. They wish to be the sovereign arbiters of sovereigns. That is what persons of my way of thinking will by no means put up with. I like peace as much as you could wish, but I want it good, solid, and honorable. Socrates or Plato would have thought as I do on this subject had they found themselves in the accursed position which is mine in the world.The reader of these pages will be oppressed with the consciousness of how vast a proportion of the miseries of humanity is caused by the cruelty of man to his brother man. This globe might be a very happy home for those who dwell upon it. But its history, during the last six thousand years, has presented one of the most appalling tragedies of which the imagination can conceive. Among all the renowned warriors of the past, but few can be found who have contributed more to fill the world with desolated homes, with the moans of the dying, with the cry of the widow and the orphan, than Frederick the Great; but he laid the foundations of an empire which is at this moment the most potent upon the globe.
New columns were formed. Soon after three another charge was ordered. It was sanguinary and unsuccessful as the first. Frederick himself was wounded by a nearly spent case-shot which struck him on the breast. The blow was severe and painful. Had the ball retained a little more impetus it would have passed through his body. It is said that the ball struck him to the earth, and that for some time he was void of consciousness. Upon reviving, his first words to his adjutant, a son of Old Dessauer, who was sorrowfully bending over him, were, “What are you doing here? Go and stop the runaways.”“His Prussian majesty requires nothing for himself. He has taken up arms simply and solely with the view of restoring to the empire its freedom, to the emperor his imperial crown, and to all Europe the peace which is so desirable.”
The shrewd foresight of Frederick, and his rapidly developing military ability, had kept his army in the highest state of discipline, while his magazines were abundantly stored with all needful supplies. It was written at the time:Of these three women who then held the destinies of Europe in their hands, one only, Maria Theresa, in the estimation of the public, had good cause for war. Frederick was undeniably a highway robber, seeking to plunder her. She was heroically, nobly struggling in self-defense. The guilty Duchess of Pompadour, who, having the entire control of the infamous king, Louis XV., was virtually the Empress of France, stung by an insult from Frederick, did not hesitate to deluge Europe in blood, that she might take the vengeance of a “woman scorned” upon her foe. Catharine II., Empress of Russia, who in moral pollution rivaled the most profligate of kings—whom Carlyle satirizes as “a kind of she Louis XIV.”—also stung by one of Frederick’s witty and bitter epigrams, was mainly impelled by personal pique to push forth her armies into the bloody field.
“It was one of the grimmest camps in nature; the canvas roofs grown mere ice-plates, the tents mere sanctuaries of frost. Never did poor young Archenholtz see such industry in dragging wood-fuel, such boiling of biscuits in broken ice, such crowding round the embers to roast one side of you while the other was freezing. But Daun’s people, on the opposite side of the Plauen Dell, did the like. Their tents also were left standing in the frozen state, guarded by alternating battalions no better off than their Prussian neighbors.”142410 It became more and more manifest to Frederick that he must encounter a terrible conflict upon the opening of the spring. Early in January he took a short trip to Berlin, but soon returned to Dresden. Though he avoided all appearance of anxiety, and kept up a cheerful air, he was fully conscious of his peril. This is evident from the secret instructions he left with his minister, Count Finck, upon his departure from Berlin. The dispatch was dated January 10th, 1757:详情
Copyright © 2020