Had the Prussian troops been placed on those heights, behind that formidable array of ramparts, and palisades, and abatis, they could with ease have repelled the assaults of three or four times their number. But now they were to undertake the desperate enterprise of advancing to the assault under the greatest disadvantages, with one to attack where there were two to defend. Frederick rapidly advanced from crossing the stream, and the same evening, Saturday, August 11th, encamped at Bischofsee, at the distance of about two miles to the northeast of the intrenched camp of his foes. The king, accompanied by a small escort, rode forward to the knolls of Trettin, and anxiously surveyed with his glass the fearful array of his foes in their long, compact, well-defended lines, arranged in an elongated irregular parallelogram.“I fell from the clouds on hearing all that, and knew not if I were sleeping or waking. He then questioned me on the affairs of this country. I gave him the detail of them. He said to me, ‘When your goose of a father-in-law dies, I advise you to break up the whole court, and reduce yourselves to the footing of a private gentleman’s establishment in order to pay your debts. In real truth, you have no need of so many people. And you must try to reduce the wages of those whom you can not help keeping. You have been accustomed to live, at Berlin, with a table of four dishes. That is all you want here. I will invite you now and then to Berlin, which will spare table and house expenses.’The Dauphiness of France was daughter of the King of Poland. With tears she craved protection for her parents. The Duchess of Pompadour was anxious to show her gratitude to407 Maria Theresa, who had condescended to address her as a “cousin and a dear sister.” A French army of one hundred thousand men was soon on the march to aid Austria in the liberation of Saxony. At the same time, an Austrian army of sixty thousand men, under Marshal Browne, was advancing rapidly from Bohemia to penetrate the fastnesses of the mountains for the release of the Polish king.
In carrying forward these intrigues at the camp of Frederick, the Count of Belleisle had an associate minister in the embassy, M. De Valori. A slight incident occurred in connection with this minister which would indicate, in the view of most persons, that Frederick did not cherish a very high sense of honor. M. Valori was admitted to an audience with his Prussian majesty. During the interview, as the French minister drew his hand from his pocket, he accidentally dropped a note upon the floor. Frederick, perceiving it, slyly placed his foot upon it. As soon as the minister had bowed himself out, Frederick eagerly seized the273 note and read it. It contained some secret instructions to M. Valori from the French court, directing him not to give Glatz to his Prussian majesty if it could possibly be avoided. Frederick did not perceive any thing ignoble in this act of his, for he records it himself;56 neither does Mr. Carlyle condemn him.57 Most readers will probably regard it as highly dishonorable.General Finck was stationed at Maxen, with about fifteen thousand men, to cut the communications of Daun with Bohemia. Frederick, in his undue elation, was quite sure of inflicting terrible blows upon Daun. He issued imperative commands to General Finck to fight the allies regardless of their numbers. The Prussian general did not dare to disobey this command and withdraw from his commanding position, even when he saw himself being surrounded with such superior forces as would almost certainly crush him.
“‘Let the parsons who make for themselves a cruel and barbarous God be eternally damned, as they desire and deserve; and let those parsons who conceive God gentle and merciful enjoy the plenitude of his mercy.’Ann Amelia.”72
The victory of Sohr filled Europe with the renown of Frederick. Still his peril was great, and the difficulties before him apparently insurmountable. His treasury was exhausted. His only ally, France, would furnish him with no money, had no confidence365 in him, and was in heart exasperated against him. Not a single court in Europe expressed any friendship for Frederick. On the contrary, nearly all would have rejoiced at his downfall. There seemed to be no end to the campaigns which were opening before him. Yet Frederick knew not where to obtain the money to meet the expense even of a single campaign.It is said that one day, as Frederick was contemplating the royal burying-ground, not far from the spot which he had selected for his rural villa, he said to a companion by his side, in reference to his own burial, “Oui, alors je serais sans souci.” Yes, then I shall be free from care. From that remark the villa took its name. Frederick adopted it, and inscribed it in golden letters on the lintel. He appropriated to his private use three apartments—an audience-room, a library, and a small alcove for a bedroom. In this alcove, scarcely larger than a closet, he slept, in soldier style, upon an iron bed, without curtains. An old slouched hat, softened by wear, served him for a night-cap. His library was a beautiful room, very richly furnished. There were377 terrible war-clouds still sweeping over various parts of Europe, but their lightning flashes and their thunder roar disturbed not the repose of Frederick in his elevated retreat.
His Polish majesty had placed his feeble band of troops in the vicinity of Pirna, on the Elbe, amidst the defiles of a mountainous country, where they could easily defend themselves against superior numbers. Winter was rapidly approaching. In those high latitudes and among those bleak hills the storms of winter ever raged with terrible severity. The Austrians were energetically accumulating their forces in Bohemia to act against the Prussians. The invasion of Saxony by Frederick, without any apparent provocation, roused all Europe to intensity of hatred and of action.Frederick had an army of thirty-five thousand men at Liegnitz, in Silesia, under the command of young Leopold. Every man was a thoroughly trained soldier. The army was in the best possible condition. At seven o’clock in the morning of November 15, 1745, the king left Berlin at full speed for Liegnitz. He arrived there the next day, and at once took the command. “There is great velocity in this young king,” writes Carlyle; “a panther-like suddenness of spring in him; cunning too, as any felis of them; and with claws as the felis leo on occasion.”
“But it is time to end this long, dreary letter. I have had some leisure, and have used it to open to you a heart filled with admiration and gratitude toward you. Yes, my adorable sister, if Providence troubled itself about human affairs, you ought to be the happiest person in the universe. Your not being such confirms me in the sentiments expressed in my epistle.”133
“The next day there was a great promenade. We were all in phaetons, dressed out in our best. All the nobility followed in carriages, of which there were eighty-five. The king, in a Berline, led the procession. He had beforehand ordered the round we were to take, and very soon fell asleep. There came on a tremendous storm of wind and rain, in spite of which we continued our procession at a foot’s pace. It may easily be imagined what state we were in. We were as wet as if we had been in the river. Our hair hung about our ears, and our gowns and head-dresses were destroyed. We got out at last, after three hours’ rain, at Monbijou, where there was to be a great illumination and ball. I never saw any thing so comical as all these ladies, looking like so many Xantippes, with their dresses sticking to their persons. We could not even dry ourselves, and were obliged to remain all the evening in our wet clothes.”
“I am obliged to tell you that I have long forbid counts to be received, as such, into my army; for when they have served one or two years they retire, and merely make their short military career a subject of vain boasting. If your son wishes to serve, the title of count can be of no use to him. But he will be promoted if he learn his profession well.”Frederick remained at Reitwein four days. He was very unjust to his army, and angrily reproached his soldiers for their defeat. It is true that, had every soldier possessed his own spirit, his army would have conquered, or not a man would have left the field alive. The Russians, with almost inconceivable inactivity, retired to Lossow, ten miles south of Frankfort-on-the-Oder. The king, having by great exertions collected thirty-two thousand men, marched up the valley of the Spree, and placed himself on the road between the Russians and Berlin.“It is curious how old people’s habits agree. For four years past I have given up suppers as incompatible with the trade I am obliged to follow. On marching days my dinner consists of a cup of chocolate.详情
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