“Never mind,” said the king; “it is a cheap price to pay for escaping an attack from Pandours in the rear, while such a battle was raging in front.”On the 4th of November he returned to Breslau, entering the city with great military display. Seated in a splendid carriage, he was drawn through the streets by eight cream-colored horses. Taking his seat upon the ancient ducal throne, he was crowned, with great ceremonial pomp, Sovereign Duke of Lower Silesia. Four hundred of the notables of the dukedom, in gala dresses, and taking oaths of homage, contributed to the imposing effect of the spectacle. Illuminations, balls, and popular festivities, in great variety, closed the triumph.
“‘This that is on the table the king has ordered to be served for you. You are to eat your fill and mind nobody. I am to serve.’
“Mais le ciel, qui de tout dispose,On Friday, the 1st of October, 1756, the Prussian army under Frederick, leaving the Saxons besieged in their encampment, marched up the river to meet the foe advancing to the aid of the Saxons. They encountered the Austrians, under Marshal Browne, at Lobositz, about thirty miles south of Pirna. A terrible battle of seven hours’ duration ensued. The opposing generals were of nearly equal ability. The soldiers were equal in courage. The carnage of the bloody conflict was almost equal on either side. The desperation of the Prussian assault was resistless. Bayonet often crossed bayonet. The Austrians were driven from their strong position into the city. The Prussians laid the city in ashes. As the Austrians fled from the blazing streets, many, endeavoring to swim across the Elbe, were drowned. At the close of this bloody strife General Browne withdrew his army to the rear, where he still presented a defiant front to the Prussians. He had lost from his ranks, in killed and wounded, two thousand nine hundred and eighty-four. The loss of Frederick was still greater; it numbered three thousand three hundred and eight. Neither party would confess to a defeat.
“Leave the cold ashes of Maupertuis in peace. He was noble and faithful. He pardoned you that vile libel of Doctor Akakia which your criminal fury scribbled against him. And what return are you making? Shame on such delirious ravings as those of Voltaire! Shall this grand genius, whom I have admired, soil himself with calumny, and be ferocious on the dead? Shall he, like a vile raven, pounce upon the sepulchre, and make prey upon its corpses?”The king, upon his return from Charlottenburg to Berlin, made no allusion whatever in his family to the matter. In the court, however, it was generally considered that the question, so far as Wilhelmina was concerned, was settled. Hotham held daily interviews with the king, and received frequent communications from the Prince of Wales, who appears to have been very eager for the consummation of the marriage. Many of these letters were shown to Wilhelmina. She was much gratified with the fervor they manifested on the part of a lover who had never yet seen her. In one of these letters the prince says: “I conjure you, my dear Hotham, get these negotiations finished. I am madly in love (amoureux comme un fou), and my impatience is unequaled.”
For seven weeks the siege of Olmütz was prosecuted with great vigor. With much skill Frederick protected his baggage trains in their long and exposed route of ninety miles through forests and mountain defiles. General Keith was intrusted with the details of the siege facing the town toward the east; Frederick, with a vigilant corps of horse and foot, was about twenty miles to the west, watching every movement of General Daun, so far as he was able through the thick cloud of Pandours, behind which the Austrian commander endeavored to conceal all his man?uvres.“Very well,” said the king, impatiently; “let us see, then, what there is more.”
“If these terms are not accepted within a fortnight, I will not be bound by them.”221 By the 10th of December, within a fortnight of the time that the king received the tidings of the death of the emperor, he had collected such a force on the frontiers of Silesia that there could be no question that the invasion of that province was intended. As not the slightest preparation had been made on the part of Austria to meet such an event, the king could with perfect ease overrun the province and seize all its fortresses. But Austria was, in territory, resources, and military power, vastly stronger than Prussia. It was therefore scarcely possible that Frederick could hold the province, after he had seized it, unless he could encourage others to dispute the succession of Maria Theresa, and thus involve Europe in a general war. Frederick, having made all his arrangements for prompt and vigorous action, sent to Maria Theresa a message which could be regarded only as an insult:“Not only I,” the aid replied, “but the whole army, firmly believe it of your majesty.”
“My lord, there seems to be a contradiction in all this. The King of England, in his letter, tells me you are instructed as to every thing, and yet you pretend ignorance. But I am perfectly informed of all. And I should not be surprised if, after all these fine words, you should receive some strong letter or resolution for me.” Then, turning to his secretary, he added, sarcastically, “Write down that my lord would be surprised to receive such instruction.”He then gave minute directions as to what he wished to have done in case of his death. Marching rapidly through Liegnitz and Hohenfriedberg, he reached Frankfort-on-the-Oder on Sunday, the 20th of August. He was now within twenty miles of Cüstrin, and the bombardment by the heavy siege guns of the Russians could be distinctly heard. Frederick took lodgings at the house of a clergyman’s widow. Frequently he arose and went out of doors, listening impatiently to the cannonade. An eye-witness writes:
With wonderful skill, Frederick conducted his retreat about four miles to the northwest. Here he took a strong position at Doberschütz, and again bade defiance to the Austrians. Slowly, proudly, and in perfect order he retired, as if merely shifting his ground. His cavalry was drawn up as on parade, protecting his baggage-wagons as they defiled through the pass of Drehsa. The Austrians gazed quietly upon the movement, not venturing to renew the attack by daylight upon such desperate men.544 “It is a pity for the human race, madam, that men never can be tranquil. But they never can be any where. Even the little town of Neufchatel has had its troubles. Your royal highness will be astonished to learn how. A parson there had set forth in a sermon that, considering the immense mercy of God, the pains of hell could not last forever. The synod shouted murder at such scandal, and has been struggling ever since to get the parson exterminated. The affair was of my jurisdiction, for your royal highness must know that I am pope in that country. Here is my decision:详情
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