“It is not my purpose to lose battles by the base conduct of my generals; wherefore I hereby appoint that you, next year, if I be alive, assemble the army between Breslau and Ohlau; for four days before I arrive in your camp, carefully man?uvre with the ignorant generals, and teach them what their duty is. Regiment Von Arnim and regiment Von Kanitz are to act the enemy; and whoever does not then fulfill his duty shall go to court-martial; for I should think it a shame of any country to keep such people, who trouble themselves so little about their business.”The wrath of the king was now ungovernable. He drew his sword, threatening to thrust it through the heart of his son, and seemed upon the point of doing so, when General Mosel threw himself before the king, exclaiming, “Sire, you may kill me, but spare your son.”12
“One day the king entered the town of Collin, with his horse and foot guard and the whole of the baggage. We had but four small field-pieces with us. The squadron to which I belonged was placed in the suburb. In the evening our advanced posts were driven back into the town, and the huzzas of the enemy followed them pell-mell. All the country around was covered with the light troops of the Austrians. My commandant sent me to the king to take his orders.There were nearly thirty thousand men, infantry and cavalry, thus assembling under the banners of Frederick for battle. They were in as perfect state of drill as troops have ever attained, and were armed with the most potent implements of war which that age could furnish. The king was visibly affected by the spectacle. Whether humane considerations touched his heart, or merely poetic emotion moved him, we can not tell. But he was well aware that within a few hours not merely hundreds, but thousands of those men, torn by shot and shell, would be prostrate in their blood upon the plain; and he could not but know that for all the carnage and the suffering, he, above all others, would be responsible at the bar of God.
But it was much easier for Frederick to issue these orders than for Leopold to execute them. As Leopold could not, in a day, gather sufficient force to warrant an attack upon the Austrians, the king was greatly irritated, and allowed himself to write to Leopold in a strain of which he must afterward have been much ashamed. On the 19th he addressed a note to the veteran officer couched in the following terms:Louis XV. wrote a very unsatisfactory letter in reply. He stated, with many apologies, that his funds were terribly low,359 that he was exceedingly embarrassed, that it was impossible to send the sum required, but that he would try to furnish him with a hundred thousand dollars a month.
“God be praised, my dearest sister, that you are better. Nobody can love you more tenderly than I do. As to the Princess of Bevern, the queen bids me answer that you need not style her ‘Highness,’ but that you may write to her quite as to an indifferent145 princess. As to ‘kissing the hands,’ I assure you I have not kissed them nor will kiss them. They are not pretty enough to tempt me that way.400 “This polite address put an end to all anger; and, as the singular manner of the man excited my curiosity, I took advantage of the invitation. We sat down and began to speak confidentially with one another.
One’s faith in a superintending Providence is almost staggered by such outrages. It would seem that there could scarcely be any compensation even in the future world for so foul a wrong inflicted upon this guileless and innocent girl. There can be no possible solution of the mystery but in the decree, “After death cometh the judgment.”The annoyances to which Wilhelmina was exposed, while thus preparing for her wedding, must have been almost unendurable. Not only her mother was thus persistent and implacable in her hostility, but her father reluctantly submitted to the connection. He had fully made up his mind, with all the strength of his inflexible will, that Wilhelmina should marry either the Margrave of Schwedt or the Duke of Weissenfels. It was with extreme reluctance, and greatly to his chagrin, that the stern old man131 found himself constrained, perhaps for the first time in his life, to yield to others.
At the earliest dawn the whole army was in motion. Ranked in four columns, they cautiously advanced toward Ohlau, ready to deploy instantly into line of battle should the enemy appear. Scouts were sent out in all directions. But, toiling painfully through the drifts, they could obtain no reliable information. The spy-glass revealed nothing but the winding-sheet of crisp and sparkling snow, with scarcely a shrub or a tree to break the dreary view. There were no fences to be seen—nothing but a smooth, white plain, spreading for miles around. The hamlet of Mollwitz, where General Neipperg had established his head-quarters, was about seven miles north from Pogerell, from which point Frederick was marching. At the distance of a few miles from each other there were several wretched little255 hamlets, consisting of a few low, thatched, clay farm-houses clustered together.“You must make a desert of Westphalia. With regard to the countries of Lippe and Padeborn, as these are very fertile provinces, you must take great care to destroy every thing in them without exception.”“I rely upon your zeal and hearty concurrence to support the King of Prussia and the rest of my allies, and to make ample517 provision for carrying on the war, as the only means of bringing our enemies to equitable terms of accommodation.”
BATTLE OF ROSSBACH, NOVEMBER 5, 1757.
One evening, being too unwell to read his usual devotions, he called upon his valet de chambre to read prayers. In the prayer occurred the words, “May God bless thee.” The servant, not deeming it respectful to use thee in reference to the king, took the liberty to change the phrase, and read it, “May God bless you.” The king, exasperated, hurled something at the head of the speaker, exclaiming, “It is not so; read it again.” The terrified servant, not conceiving in what he had done wrong, read again, “May God bless you.” The irascible monarch, having nothing else he could grasp, took off his night-cap and threw it into the man’s face, exclaiming, “It is not so; read it over again.” The servant, frightened almost out of his senses, read for the third time, “May God bless you.” “Thee, rogue,” shouted the king. “‘May God bless thee.’ Dost thou not know, rascal, that, in the eyes of God, I am only a miserable rascal like thyself?”The treaty of Breslau was signed on the 11th of June, and ratified at Berlin on the 28th of July. By this treaty, Silesia, Lower and Upper, was ceded to “Frederick and his heirs for evermore,” while Frederick withdrew from the French alliance, and entered into friendly relations with her Hungarian majesty. Immediately after the settlement of this question, Frederick, cantoning his troops in Silesia, returned to Berlin. Elate with victory314 and accompanied by a magnificent suite, the young conqueror hastened home, over green fields and beneath a summer’s sun. Keenly he enjoyed his triumph, greeted with the enthusiastic acclaim of the people in all the towns and villages through which he passed.67 At Frankfort-on-the-Oder, where a fair was in operation, the king stopped for a few hours. Vast crowds, which had been drawn to the place by the fair, lined the highway for a long distance on both sides, eager to see the victor who had aggrandized Prussia by adding a large province to its realms.
“After having restored peace to my kingdom; after having conquered countries, raised a victorious army, and filled my treasury; after having established a good administration throughout my dominions; after having made my enemies tremble, I resign, without regret, this breath of life to Nature.”“The school of patience I am at is hard, long-continued, cruel, nay, barbarous. I have not been able to escape my lot. All that human foresight could suggest has been employed, and528 nothing has succeeded. If Fortune continues to pursue me, doubtless I shall sink. It is only she that can extricate me from the situation I am in. I escape out of it by looking at the universe on the great scale, like an observer from some distant planet. All then seems to me so infinitely small; and I could almost pity my enemies for giving themselves such trouble about so very little.
Still it is evident that the serpent was in this Eden. Carlyle writes: “An ardent, aerial, gracefully predominant, and, in the end, somewhat termagant female, this divine Emilie. Her temper, radiant rather than bland, was none of the patientest on occasion. Nor was M. De Voltaire the least of a Job if you came athwart him in a wrong way. I have heard that their domestic symphony was liable to furious flaws; that plates, in presence of the lackeys, actual crockery or metal, have been known to fly from end to end of the dinner-table; nay, they mention ‘knives,’ though only in the way of oratorical action; and Voltaire has been heard to exclaim, ‘Don’t fix those haggard, sidelong eyes on me in that way!’—mere shrillness of pale rage presiding over the scene.详情
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