With great joy Frederick learned that the Austrians had left their camp, and were on the advance to attack him. He immediately put his little army in motion for the perilous and decisive conflict. It was four o’clock Sunday morning, December 4, 1757, when Frederick left Parchwitz on his march toward Breslau. He was familiar with every square mile of the region. The Austrians were so vastly superior in numbers that many of them quite despised the weakness of the Prussian army. Many jokes were tossed about in the Austrian camp respecting the feeble band of Frederick, which they contemptuously called the “Potsdam Guard.
Frederick remained at Sohr five days. The country was scoured in all directions to obtain food for his army. It was necessary that the troops should be fed, even if the poor inhabitants starved miserably. No tongue can tell the sufferings which consequently fell upon the peasantry for leagues around. Prince Charles, with his shattered army, fell back to K?niggr?tz, remorselessly plundering the people by the way. Frederick, ordering his army to retire to Silesia, returned to Berlin.
The king and Voltaire soon became involved in a very serious quarrel. Voltaire had employed a Jew, by the name of Hirsch, to engage fraudulently in speculating in the funds. The transaction was so complicated that few of our readers would have the patience to follow an attempt at its disentanglement. Voltaire and his agent quarreled. The contention rang through all the court circles, as other conspicuous names were involved in the meshes of the intrigue. A lawsuit ensued, which created excitement almost inconceivable. The recent law reform caused the process to be pushed very rapidly to its conclusion. Voltaire emerged from the suit with his character sadly maimed. He was clearly convicted of both falsehood and forgery. The king, annoyed by the clamor, retired from Berlin to Sans Souci. Voltaire was not invited to accompany him, but was left in the Berlin palace. In a letter which Frederick wrote to D’Arget, dated April, 1752, he says:
“Do not press each other, my children. Take care of yourselves that the horses may not trample upon you, and that no accident may happen.”“May you never be disgusted with the sciences by the quarrels of their cultivators; a race of men no better than courtiers; often enough as greedy, intriguing, false, and cruel as these.
But General Neipperg, the Austrian commander-in-chief, proved as watchful, enterprising, and energetic as Frederick.248 His scouting bands swarmed in all directions. The Prussian foraging parties were cut off, their reconnoitrers were driven back, and all the movements of the main body of the Austrian army were veiled from their view. General Neipperg, hearing of the fall of Glogau, decided, notwithstanding the inclemency of the weather and the snow, to march immediately, with thirty thousand men, to the relief of Neisse. His path led through mountain defiles, over whose steep and icy roads his heavy guns and lumbering ammunition-wagons were with difficulty drawn.“My situation forces me,” he said, “to give them this trouble, which they will not have to suffer long. My life is on the decline. The time which I still have belongs not to me, but to the state.”“M. le President,—I have had the honor to receive your letter. You inform me that you are well, and that, if I publish La Beaumelle’s letter,97 you will come and assassinate me. What ingratitude to your poor Doctor Akakia! If you exalt your soul so as to discern futurity, you will see that, if you come on that errand to Leipsic, where you are no better liked than in other places, you will run some risk of being hanged. Poor me, indeed, you will find in bed. But, as soon as I have gained a little strength, I will have my pistols charged, and, multiplying the394 mass by the square of velocity, so as to reduce the action and you to zero, I will put some lead into your head. It appears that you have need of it. Adieu, my president.
I shall not attempt to describe the battle which ensued—so bloody, so disastrous to the Prussians. It was, like all other desperate battles, a scene of inconceivable confusion, tumult, and horror. At eight o’clock in the morning, General Finck (who was in command of the right wing of the Prussians) was in position to move upon the extreme northern point of attack. It was not until half past eleven that Frederick, in command of the main body of the army, was ready to make a co-operative assault from the east. At the point of attack the Russians had seventy-483two cannons in battery. The Prussians opened upon them with sixty guns. Templeton describes the cannonade as the loudest which he had yet ever heard.THE KING AND HIS SERVANT.
It was early in January, 1760, that the two hostile armies went into winter quarters. General Daun, with his seventy-two thousand triumphant troops, held Dresden. He encamped his army in an arc of a circle, bending toward the southwest from the city, and occupying a line about thirty miles in extent. Frederick, with thirty-two thousand troops depressed by defeat, defiantly faced his foe in a concave arc concentric to that of Daun. The two antagonistic encampments were almost within cannon-shot of each other.
From this exhausting journey for so old a man the king returned to Potsdam through a series of state dinners, balls, and illuminations. On the night of the 18th of September he was awoke by a very severe fit of suffocation. It was some time before he could get any relief, and it was thought that he was dying. The next day gout set in severely. This was followed by dropsy. The king suffered severely through the winter. There is no royal road through the sick-chamber to the tomb. The weary months of pain and languor came and went. The renowned Mirabeau visited the king in his sick-chamber on the 17th of April, 1786. He writes:详情
Copyright © 2020