“With that answer!” Sir Thomas replied, in tones of surprise. “Is your majesty serious? Is that your majesty’s deliberate answer?”
181 “Sire, I can not bear these reproaches, which I do not deserve. I have tried, for the relief of your majesty, all the remedies which art can supply, or which nature can admit. If my ability or my integrity is doubted, I am willing to leave not only the university, but the kingdom. But I can not be driven into any place where the name of Hoffman will not be respected.”Fortunately for the young man’s mother, she was in her grave. His father was at that time commandant of K?nigsberg, in high favor with the king. His illustrious grandfather on his mother’s side, Field-marshal Wartensleben, was still living. For half106 a century he had worthily occupied the most eminent posts of honor. The tears, the agonizing entreaties of these friends were not of the slightest avail. The king’s heart was as impervious to appeals for mercy as are the cliffs of Sinai.
Desperate Exertions of Frederick.—Aid from England.—Limited Resources.—Opening of the Campaign.—Disgraceful Conduct of Voltaire.—Letter to Voltaire.—An Act of Desperation.—Letter to Count Finckenstein.—Frankfort taken by the Prussians.—Terrible Battle of Kunersdorf.—Anguish of Frederick.—The Disastrous Retreat.—Melancholy Dispatch.—Contemplating Suicide.—Collecting the Wrecks of the Army.—Consternation in Berlin.—Letters to D’Argens.—Wonderful Strategical Skill.—Literary Efforts of the King.
With the last day threatened mankind.AFTER THE DEFEAT.
Lord Hyndford here came to the rescue of his colleague, and said, meekly,As we have mentioned, the army advanced mainly in two columns.228 While the left was briefly delayed at Glogau, the right, under the command of General Schwerin, was pushed rapidly forward a few leagues, to Liegnitz. They reached the city, unexpectedly to its inhabitants, just at the dawn of a drear, chill winter’s morning, the rain having changed to freezing cold. It was Wednesday, December 28. The Prussian grenadiers stole softly upon the slumbering sentinels, seized them, and locked them in the guard-house. Then the whole column marched into the heart of the city silently, without music, but with a tramp which aroused all the sleepers in the streets through which they passed—many of whom, in their night-caps, peered curiously out of their chamber windows. Having reached the central square, or market-place, the forces were concentrated, and the drums and bugles pealed forth notes of triumph. The Prussian flag rose promptly from rampart and tower. Liegnitz was essentially a Protestant town. The inhabitants, who had received but few favors from the Catholic Austrian government, welcomed their invaders with cautious demonstrations of joy.
“It will have been easy for you to conceive my grief when you reflect upon the loss I have had. There are some misfortunes which are reparable by constancy and courage, but there are others against which all the firmness with which one can arm one’s self, and all the reasonings of philosophers, are only vain and useless attempts at consolation.121 Of the latter kind is the one with which my unhappy fate overwhelms me, at a moment the most embarrassing and the most anxious of my whole life. I have not been so sick as you have heard. My only complaints are colics, sometimes hemorrhoidal, and sometimes nephritic.150 The queen behaved very unamiably, “plunged in black melancholy,” and treating her new daughter-in-law with great contempt. There have been many sad weddings, but this was surely one of the saddest. Frederick had often declared that he never would receive the princess as his wife. In the evening, just after the newly-married couple had retired to their room, through the arrangement of the prince, a false alarm of fire was raised by some of his friends. This furnished him with the opportunity to rush from the apartment. He did not return. Ever after he saw the princess but unfrequently, treating her with cold politeness when they met, though on public occasions giving her, with all external forms of civility, the position of honor to which, as his wedded wife, she was entitled.
While these coronation splendors were transpiring, Frederick was striving, with all his characteristic enthusiasm, to push forward his Moravian campaign to a successful issue. Inspired by as tireless energies as ever roused a human heart, he was annoyed beyond measure by the want of efficient co-operation on the part of his less zealous allies. Neither the Saxons nor the French could keep pace with his impetuosity. The princes who led the Saxon troops, the petted sons of kings and nobles, were loth to abandon the luxurious indulgences to which they had been accustomed. When they arrived at a capacious castle where they found warm fires, an abundant larder, and sparkling wines, they would linger there many days, decidedly preferring those comforts to campaigning through the blinding, smothering snowstorm, and bivouacking on the bleak and icy plains, swept by the gales of a northern winter. The French were equally averse to these terrible marches, far more to be dreaded than the battle-field.“They then went away, often looking around to see if I kept my posture. I perceived well enough that they were making game of me; but I stood all the same like a wall, being full of fear. When the king turned round he gave a look at me like a flash of sunbeams glancing through you. He sent one of the gardeners to bring my papers. Taking them, he disappeared in one of the garden walks. In a few minutes he came back with my papers open in his hand, and waved with them for me to come nearer. I plucked up heart and went directly to him. Oh, how graciously this great monarch deigned to speak to me!Ringing violently for his servants, and deaf to all protestations and excuses, he had himself immediately rolled from the room. As the courtiers stood bewildered and gazing at each other in consternation, an officer came in with an order from the king that they should all leave the palace immediately, and come not back again. The next morning P?llnitz, who occupied a position somewhat similar to that of prime minister, applied for admission to his majesty’s apartment. But a gendarme seized him by the shoulder and turned him around, saying, “There is no admittance.” It was several days, and not till after repeated acts of humiliation, that the king would permit any member of the parliament again to enter his presence.
Frederick was in a towering passion. Voltaire was alarmed at the commotion he had created. He wrote a letter to the king, in which he declared most solemnly that he had not intended to392 have the pamphlet published; that a copy had been obtained by treachery, and had been printed without his consent or knowledge. But the king wrote back:About three o’clock the next morning, Sunday, August 12th, Frederick’s army, in two columns, was again in motion. By a slightly circuitous march through the dense forest the king placed his troops in position to approach from the southeast, so as to attack the left flank of the enemy, being the northern extremity of the parallelogram.“Prisoners, captive soldiers, if at all likely fellows,” writes Archenholtz, “were by every means persuaded and even compelled to take Prussian service. Compelled, cudgel in hand, not asked if they wished to serve, but dragged to the Prussian colors, obliged to swear there, and fight against their countrymen.”147
Poor Linsenbarth had a feather bed, a small chest of clothes, and a bag of books. He went to a humble inn, called the “White Swan,” utterly penniless. The landlord, seeing that he could levy upon his luggage in case of need, gave him food and a small room in the garret to sleep in. Here he remained in a state verging upon despair for eight weeks. Some of the simple neighbors advised him to go directly to the king, as every poor man could do at certain hours in the day. He wrote a brief statement of the facts, and started on foot for Potsdam. We give the result in the words of Linsenbarth:It was well understood that a verdict was to be returned in accordance with the wishes of the king, and also that the king desired that no mercy should be shown to his son.15 After a session of six days the verdict of the court was rendered. The crime of the Crown Prince, in endeavoring to escape from the brutality of his father, was declared to be desertion, and the penalty was death. Lieutenant Keith was also declared to be a deserter, and doomed to die. But as he had escaped, and could not be recaptured, he was sentenced to be hanged in effigy, which effigy was then to be cut in four quarters and nailed to the gallows at Wesel. Lieutenant Katte, who certainly had not deserted, and whose only crime was that he had been a confidant of the Crown Prince in his plan to escape, was condemned to imprisonment in a fortress for two years, some say for life.
CHAPTER XXIII. FREDERICK THE GREAT AT SANS SOUCI.Frederick, being constrained by the approach of General Daun to raise the siege of Dresden, retired to his intrenched camp at Schlettau. Leaving fifteen thousand men to guard the camp, he, on the 1st of August, before the dawn, crossed the Elbe, and was again on the rapid march toward Silesia. His army consisted of thirty thousand men, and was accompanied by two thousand heavy baggage-wagons. In five days the king marched over one hundred miles, crossing five rivers. Armies of the allies, amounting504 to one hundred and seventy-five thousand Austrians and Russians, were around him—some in front, some in his rear, some on his flanks.150详情
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