On the 29th of December, the Old Dessauer, with thirty-five thousand men, crossed the frontiers and entered Saxony. He marched rapidly upon Leipsic, and seized the town, from which a division of Rutowski’s army precipitately fled. Leopold found here quite a supply of commissary and ordnance stores. He also replenished his empty army-chest by levying a contribution of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars upon the inhabitants.368 Then, by a rapid march northeast to Torgo, on the Elbe, he captured another imperial magazine. Turning south, he pressed his troops along up the river to Myssen, which was within two days’ easy march of Dresden. Here there was a bridge across the Oder. Frederick was pushing his troops, by forced marches, from Hennersdorf, to effect a junction with Leopold at Myssen. Unitedly they were to fall upon Grüne and Rutowski at Dresden. In the mean time, also, Prince Charles, a despondent man, crushed by domestic woe and humiliating defeats, was moving, by not very energetic steps, to re-enforce the allied troops at Dresden.Late in the fall of 1739 the health of Frederick William was so rapidly failing that it became manifest to all that his days on earth would soon be ended. He sat joylessly in his palace, listening to the moaning of the wind, the rustle of the falling leaves, and the pattering of the rain. His gloomy spirit was in accord with the melancholy days. More dreary storms darkened his turbid soul than those which wrecked the autumnal sky.464
THE KING AND HIS SERVANT.He rose about five o’clock. After a horseback ride of an hour he devoted the mornings to his books. The remainder of the day was given to society, music, and recreation. The following extract from his correspondence throws additional light upon the employment of his time. The letter was addressed to an intimate friend, Baron Von Suhm, of Saxony:“I replied, ‘You are in such a humor I know not what to make of it.’
Frederick turned upon his heel, and made no answer.208 “Whether you are still minded to assert your pretended sovereignty over Herstal, and whether you will protect the rebels at Herstal in their disorders and abominable disobedience?
BATTLE OF ROSSBACH, NOVEMBER 5, 1757.466 General Keith, as he looked upon the long and compact lines of General Daun, and saw how apparently easy it would be for him, from his commanding position, to annihilate the Prussian army, said to the king, sadly,On the 26th of January Frederick set out from Glatz, with a strong cortége, for Olmütz, far away to the southeast. This place his troops had occupied for a month past. His route led through a chain of mountains, whose bleak and dreary defiles were clogged with drifted snow, and swept by freezing gales. It was a dreadful march, accompanied by many disasters and much suffering.
CHAPTER XXIV. THE QUARREL.Four days after, in anticipation of an immediate attack from the Russians, he again wrote to the same address, “Remain at Berlin, or retire to Potsdam. In a little while there will come some catastrophe. It is not fit that you suffer by it. If things take a good turn, you can be back to Berlin. If ill luck still pursue us, go to Hanover, or to Zelle, where you can provide for your safety.”Fritz went in the royal carriage, with suitable escort, to meet the young marquis on the Prussian frontier, as he came to his bridals. They returned together in the carriage to Potsdam with great military display. The wedding took place on the 30th of May, 1729. It was very magnificent. Fritz was conspicuous on the occasion in a grand review of the giant grenadiers. Wilhelmina, in her journal, speaks quite contemptuously of her new brother-in-law, the Marquis of Anspach, describing him as a foolish young fellow. It was, indeed, a marriage of children. The bridegroom was a sickly, peevish, undeveloped boy of seventeen; and the bride was a self-willed and ungoverned little beauty of fifteen. The marriage proved a very unhappy one. There was no harmony between them. Frederick writes: “They hate one another like the fire” (comme le feu). They, however, lived together in incessant petty quarrelings for thirty years. Probably during all that time neither one of them saw a happy day.
549 Frederick had cultivated a supreme indifference to public opinion. Not believing in any God, in any future retribution, or in any immortality, and regarding men merely as the insects of an hour, like the myriad polyps which, beneath the ocean, rear their stupendous structures and perish, his sense of right and wrong must necessarily have been very different from that which a believer in the Christian faith is accustomed to cherish. In allusion to this subject, he writes:
“Monseigneur,—I am bound to give your excellency some account of my journey to Aix la Chapelle. I could not leave Brussels until the second of this month. On the road I met a courier from the King of Prussia, coming to reiterate his master’s orders on me. The king had me lodged in quarters near his own apartment. He passed, for two consecutive days, four hours at a time in my room, with all that goodness and familiarity which form, as you know, part of his character, and which does not lower the king’s dignity, because one is duly careful not to abuse it. I had abundant time to speak with a great deal of freedom on what your excellency had prescribed to me, and the king spoke to me with an equal frankness.“It is a monument for the latest posterity; the only book worthy of a king for these fifteen hundred years.”33“My children, I could not come to you sooner, or this calamity should not have happened. Have a little patience, and I will cause every thing to be rebuilt.”
The Russians, with empty meal-wagons and starving soldiers, had taken possession of Frankfort-on-the-Oder on the 29th of July. The city contained twelve thousand inhabitants. The ransom which the Russian general demanded to save the city from pillage by the Cossacks was four hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Pillage by the Cossacks! No imagination can conceive the horrors of such an event. Nearly one hundred thousand men, frenzied with intoxication, brutal in their habits, restrained by no law, would inflict every outrage which fiends could conceive of. Well might fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, turn pale and feel the blood curdle in their veins at the thought. Four hundred and fifty thousand dollars ransom! That was nearly forty dollars for each individual, man, woman, and child! Compliance with the demand was impossible. Frankfort, in its impoverishment, could by no possibility raise a tenth part of the sum. Dreadful was the consternation. There was no relenting; the money or the pillage!On the evening of the 29th of June, 1734, there was a grand ball at the little palace of Monbijou. At three o’clock in the morning the Crown Prince changed his ball-dress for a military suit, and with his staff set out at full speed for the seat of war. They traveled in carriages, by post, night and day, hastening to take part in the siege of Philipsburg. A little after midnight on the morning of the 2d of July, they reached Hof, having traveled two hundred miles, and having two hundred miles still farther to go. At Hof the prince was within thirty-five miles of Baireuth, to which place Wilhelmina had some time before returned. He was very anxious to see her. But his father had strictly prohibited his going through Baireuth, under the assumption that it would occasion loss of time. Frederick made arrangements with Wilhelmina, who was in a very delicate state of health, to meet him at Berneck, about twelve miles from Baireuth. But, unfortunately, one of the carriages which conveyed the Crown Prince and his companions lost a wheel, which detained them several hours. The commands of the king were explicit that the Crown Prince should not be separated from the rest of the company.According to Frederick’s computation, he had succeeded in wresting this province from Maria Theresa at an expense of eight hundred and fifty-three thousand lives, actual fighters, who had perished upon the field of battle. Of these, one hundred and eighty thousand were Prussians. Of the hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children who, in consequence of the war, had perished of exposure, famine, and pestilence, no note is taken. The population of Prussia had diminished, during the seven years, five hundred thousand.
For such a mind and such a body there could be no possible peace or repose in the dying-chamber. Feverish, restless, sleepless, impatient, he knew not what to do with himself. He was incessantly passing from his bed to his wheel-chair and back again, irascibly demanding this and that, complaining of every body and every thing. Sometimes he would declare that he would no longer be sick, but would dress and be well; and scarcely would he get his clothes on ere he would sink in fainting weakness, as though he had not another hour to live. Thus the sad days of sickness wore away as death drew near.
“Your friendship seduces you, mon cher. I am but a paltry knave in comparison with Alexander, and not worthy to tie the shoe-latchets of C?sar. Necessity, who is the mother of industry, has made me act, and have recourse to desperate remedies in evils of a like nature.“Cry had risen for the reserve, and that it must come on as fast as possible. We ran at our utmost speed. Our lieutenant colonel fell, killed, at the first. Then we lost our major, and, indeed, all the officers but three. We had crossed two successive ditches which lay in an orchard to the left of the first houses in Leuthen, and were beginning to form in front of the village. But there was no standing it. Besides a general cannonade, such as can scarcely be imagined, there was a rain of case-shot upon this battalion, of which I had to take command. A Prussian battalion at the distance of eighty paces gave the liveliest fire upon us. It stood as if on the parade-ground, and waited for us without stirring. My soldiers, who were tired with running, and had no cannon, soon became scattered. At last, when I had but two hundred left, I drew back to the height where the windmill is.”详情
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