Prince Charles had married the only sister of Maria Theresa. She was young, beautiful, and amiable. While the prince was conducting his arduous campaign on the Moldau, his wife, grief-stricken, consigned her new-born babe to the tomb. The little stranger, born in the absence of his father, had but opened his eyes upon this sad world when he closed them forever. The princess sank rapidly into a decline.
Régla différemment la chose.After the fifth charge, the Austrians, dispirited, and leaving the snow plain crimsoned with the blood and covered with the bodies of their slain, withdrew out of ball range. Torn and exhausted, they could not be driven by their officers forward to another assault. The battle had now lasted for five hours.262 Night was at hand, for the sun had already set. The repulsed Austrians were collected in scattered and confused bands. The experienced eye of General Schwerin saw that the hour for decisive action had come. He closed up his ranks, ordered every band to play its most spirited air, and gave the order “Forward.” An Austrian officer, writing the next week, describes the scene.
The king, in response to the report of Baron Grumkow, which119 was so gratifying to him, sent the same evening the following note to Wilhelmina:
“We arrived at Berlin the end of October. My younger brothers, followed by the princes of the blood and by all the court, received us at the bottom of the stairs. I was led to my apartment, where I found the reigning queen, my sisters, and the princesses. I learned, with much chagrin, that the king was ill of tertian ague. He sent me word that, being in his fit, he could not see me, but that he depended on having that pleasure to-morrow. The queen-mother, to whom I went without delay, was in a dark condition. Her rooms were all hung in their lugubrious drapery. Every thing was as yet in the depth of mourning for my father. What a scene for me! Nature has her rights. I can say with truth I have almost never in my life been so moved as on this occasion. My interview with my mother was very touching.”
Prussia had enjoyed eight years of peace. But Frederick was not a popular man excepting with his own subjects. They idolized him. Innumerable are the anecdotes related illustrative of his kindness to them. He seemed to be earnestly seeking their welfare. But foreign courts feared him. Many hated him. He was unscrupulous and grasping, and had but very little sense of moral integrity. He was ambitious of literary renown; of reputation as a keen satirist. With both pen and tongue he was prone to lash without mercy his brother sovereigns, and even the courtiers who surrounded him. There were no ties of friendship which could exempt any one from his sarcasm. Other sovereigns felt that he was continually on the watch to enlarge his realms, by invading their territories, as he had robbed Maria Theresa of the province of Silesia.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.“You do not know,” said he to M. Bielfeld, “what I have lost in losing my father.”
On the 3d of July Frederick issued his declaration of war. On that very day his solid battalions, one hundred thousand556 strong, with menacing banners and defiant bugle-notes, crossed the border, and encamped on Bohemian ground. At the same moment, the king’s brother, Prince Henry, with another army of one hundred thousand men, commenced a march from the west to co-operate in an impetuous rush upon Vienna. These tidings caused the utmost consternation in the Austrian capital. An eye-witness writes:“A glance which I gave that way filled me with terror. There sat the queen, in a corner of the room, paler than death, in low conference with Madam Sonsfeld and Countess Finckenstein. As my brother was most in my anxieties, I asked if it concerned him. Madam Bulow shrugged her shoulders, answering, ‘I do not know at all.’“My children,” said Frederick that night at parole, “after such a day’s work you deserve rest. This day will send the renown of your name and that of the nation down to the latest posterity.”
“The poor courtier,” Wilhelmina adds, “obliged to become possessor of this miserable performance, and to pay so dear for it, determined for the future to be more circumspect in his admiration.Here the king quite lost his temper. In a loud tone and with angry gesticulation he exclaimed, “Do you offer me such rags and rubbish, such paltry scrapings, for all my just claims in Silesia?” And so he ran on for quite a length of time, with ever-increasing violence, fanning himself into a flame of indignation.
Immediately after the battle, Frederick wrote rather a stately letter to his mother, informing her of his victory, and that he was about to pursue the foe with a hundred and fifty thousand men. Fifty thousand of the defeated Austrians entered Prague, and stood at bay behind its ramparts. Frederick seized all the avenues, that no provisions could enter the city, convinced that starvation, combined with a vigorous assault, would soon compel the garrison to surrender themselves, the city, and all its magazines. On the 9th of May the bombardment with red-hot balls commenced. The siege lasted six weeks, creating an amount of misery over which angels might weep. The balls of fire were constantly kindling wide and wasting conflagrations. Soon a large portion of the city presented only a heap of smouldering ruins.
“‘Well,’ said he, ‘let him quit soldiering then, and give back his regiment to the king. But quiet yourself as to the fears you may have about him if he do; for I know, by certain information, that there will be no blood spilt.’During the first part of his journey the king had been remarkably cheerful and genial, but toward its close he was attacked by a new fit of very serious illness. To the discomfort of all, his chronic moodiness returned. A few extracts from P?llnitz’s account of this journey throws interesting light upon those scenes:详情
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