THE KING IN SEARCH OF LODGINGS.Having met with this repulse, Kannegiesser returned to Berlin with the report. Frederick William was exasperated in the highest degree by such treatment from a brother-in-law whom he both hated and despised. He had at his command an army in as perfect condition, both in equipment and drill, as Europe had ever seen. Within a week’s time forty-four thousand troops, horse, foot, and artillery, were rendezvoused at Magdeburg. Fritz was there, looking quite soldierly on his proud charger, at the head of his regiment of the giant guard. Vigorously they were put upon the march. George II., who had already in his boyhood felt the weight of Frederick William’s arm, and who well knew his desperate energy when once roused, was terrified. He had no forces in Hanover which could stand for an hour in opposition to the army which the Prussian king was bringing against him.
“To which I replied, that this was very hard usage, and the world would see how the King of Prussia would relish it. But having strict orders from his majesty, my most gracious master, to make a declaration to the ministers of Hanover in his name, and finding that Herr von Hartoff would neither receive it nor take a copy of it, I had only to tell him that I was under the necessity of leaving it in writing, and had brought the paper with me; and that now, as the council were pleased to refuse to take it, I was obliged to leave the said declaration on a table in an adjoining room, in the presence of Herr von Hartoff and other secretaries of the council, whom I desired to lay it before the ministry.
The town of Cüstrin, it will be remembered, was utterly consumed, being set on fire by the shells of the Russians. The commandant of the citadel was censured for not having prevented the calamity. He immediately sought an interview with the king, endeavoring to apologize for his conduct. The king, perhaps justly, perhaps very unjustly, interrupted him, saying,
Prince Bevern, aware that the battle would be renewed upon the morrow, and conscious that he could not sustain another435 such struggle, withdrew with his Prussian troops in the night, through the silent streets of Breslau, to the other side of the Oder, leaving eighty cannon behind him. The next morning, in visiting one of the outposts, he was surprised by a party of the Austrians and taken prisoner. It was reported that, fearing the wrath of the king, he had voluntarily allowed himself to be captured. General Kyau, the next in rank, took the command. He rapidly retreated. Breslau, thus left to its fate, surrendered, with its garrison of four thousand men, ninety-eight pieces of cannon, and vast magazines filled with stores of war. The next day was Sunday. Te Deums were chanted by the triumphant Austrians in the Catholic churches in Breslau, and thanks were offered to God that Maria Theresa had reconquered Silesia, and that “our ancient sovereigns are restored to us.”491 The rumor that Daun was marching upon Berlin proved a false alarm. On the 4th of September the king again wrote D’Argens from his encampment at Waldau, a few leagues south of his last position, just over the border in Saxony:
“At last, about nine, somebody brought word that my brother had changed his route and gone to Culmbach, there to stay overnight. I was for setting out thither. Culmbach is twenty miles from Berneck. But the roads are frightful, and full of precipices. Every body rose in opposition. And whether I would or not they put me into the carriage for Himmelkron, which is only about ten miles off. We had like to have got drowned on the road, the waters were so swollen. The horses could not cross but by swimming.The attack was made about eight o’clock, with the whole concentrated force of the Prussians, upon the southwest wing of the quadrilateral. The carnage produced by the Prussian batteries, as their balls swept crosswise through the massed Russians, was terrible. One cannon-shot struck down forty-two men. For a moment the Prussians were thrown into confusion by the destructive fire returned by the foe, and seemed discomfited. The Russians plunged wildly forward, with loud huzzas. In the eagerness of their onset their lines were broken.“As God often, by wondrous guidance, strange paths, and thorny steps, will bring men into the kingdom of Christ, so may our divine Redeemer help that this prodigal son be brought into his communion; that his godless heart be beaten until it is softened and changed, and so he be snatched from the claws of Satan. This grant us, the Almighty God and Father, for our Lord Jesus Christ and his passion and death’s sake. Amen.
Wilhelmina well understood that her brother contemplated running away, escaping, if possible, to England. We have mentioned that the young prince, after his return from Dresden, had become quite dissipated. The companions he chose were wild young army officers of high birth, polished address, and, in godless lives, fashionable men of the world. Lieutenant Katte was a genteel man of pleasure. Another of his bosom companions, Lieutenant Keith, a young man of illustrious lineage, was also a very undesirable associate for any young man whose principles71 of virtue were not established.8 Of Keith and Katte, the two most intimate friends of Fritz, Wilhelmina writes, about this time:
“My lord, do not talk to me of magnanimity. A prince ought, in the first place, to consult his interest. I am not opposed to peace. But I expect to have four duchies given me.”CHAPTER XXX. FOURTH CAMPAIGN OF THE SEVEN YEARS’ WAR.
The king turned upon his heel, and, with angry voice and gesture, said, “Saldern, you refuse to become rich.”Frederick.“I arrived at last about one in the morning. I instantly threw myself on a bed. I was like to die of weariness, and in mortal terror that something had happened to my brother or the hereditary prince. The latter relieved me on his own score. He arrived at last about four o’clock; had still no news of my brother. I was beginning to doze a little, when they came to inform me that M. von Knobelsdorf wished to speak to me from the Prince Royal. I darted out of bed and ran to him.
In August, 1785, the king again visited Silesia to review his troops. A private letter, quoted by Carlyle, gives an interesting view of his appearance at the time:
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.“My dear Voltaire,—France has been considered thus far as the asylum of unfortunate monarchs. I wish that my capital should become the temple of great men. Come to it, then, my dear Voltaire, and give whatever orders can tend to render a residence in it agreeable to you. My wish is to please you, and wishing this, my intention is to enter entirely into your views.详情
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