The morning of a hot August day dawned sultry, the wind breathing gently from the south. Bands of Cossacks hovered around upon the wings of the Prussian army, occasionally riding up to the infantry ranks and discharging their pistols at them. The Prussians were forbidden to make any reply. “The infantry457 pours along like a plowman drawing his furrow, heedless of the circling crows.” The Cossacks set fire to Zorndorf. In a few hours it was in ashes, while clouds of suffocating smoke were swept through the Russian lines.His wintry ride, a defeated monarch leaving a shattered army behind him, must have been dark and dreary. He had already exhausted nearly all the resources which his father, Frederick William, had accumulated. His army was demoralized, weakened, and his materiel of war greatly impaired. His subjects were already heavily taxed. Though practicing the most rigid economy, with his eye upon every expenditure, his disastrous Bohemian campaign had cost him three hundred and fifty thousand dollars a month. The least sum with which he could commence a new campaign for the protection of Silesia was four million five hundred thousand dollars. He had already melted up the sumptuous plate, and the massive silver balustrades and balconies where his father had deposited so much solid treasure.
“It is in such moments that I have felt how small are those advantages of birth, those vapors of grandeur, with which vanity would solace us. They amount to little, properly to nothing. Ah! would glory but make use of me to crown your successes!
“From seven till nine Duhan takes him on history; at nine o’clock comes Noltenius” (a clergyman from Berlin) “with the Christian religion till a quarter to eleven. Then Fritz rapidly washes his face with water, his hands with soap and water; clean shirt; powders and puts on his coat. At eleven o’clock he comes to the king, dines with him at twelve, and stays till two.The prince inquired, in quite an indifferent tone, respecting the marriages his father had in contemplation for him. He objected to the marriage with the Princess of Mecklenburg, niece of the Czar Peter, that it would require him to change his religion, which he would not do. He expressed himself as inclined to take the second daughter of the Emperor of Germany, if the emperor would throw in a duchy or two.
“Sire,—Yesterday I was in terrible alarms. The sound of the cannon heard, the smoke of powder visible from the steeple-tops here, all led us to suspect that there was a battle going on. Glorious confirmation of it this morning. Nothing but rejoicing among all the Protestant inhabitants, who had begun to be in apprehension from the rumors which the other party took pleasure in spreading. Persons who were in the battle can not enough celebrate the coolness and bravery of your majesty. For myself, I am at the overflowing point. I have run about all day announcing this glorious news to the Berliners who are here. In my life I have never felt a more perfect satisfaction. One finds at the corner of every street an orator of the people celebrating the warlike feats of your majesty’s troops. I have often, in my idleness, assisted at these discourses; not artistic eloquence, it must be owned, but gushing full from the heart.”CHAPTER XXIV. THE QUARREL.
“To this tumult succeeded a fresh burst of mirth, during which the prince slipped away, and, aided by his pages, retired to his171 apartment; and the princess immediately followed. The day after this adventure the court was at its last gasp. Neither the prince nor any of the courtiers could stir from their beds.”
The Austrian general, flushed with victory, at the head of eighty thousand troops, encamped in strong positions a few miles east of Frederick, on the road to Neisse, in Silesia. Narrowly he watched the movements of his Prussian majesty, but he did not venture to molest him. Neisse was at that time closely besieged by the Austrians. It would inevitably soon fall into their hands unless Frederick could march to its succor. The great strategic object of the Austrian commander was so to block up the road as to prevent the advance of the Prussian troops. Frederick, despising the inactivity of his cautious foe, said to his brother,
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.A stern military commission was, however, appointed to interrogate the prince from questions drawn up by the king. The examination took place the next day. The prince confessed that94 it was his intention to cross the Rhine at the nearest point, and to repair to Strasbourg, in France. There he intended to enlist incognito as a volunteer in the French army. He refused to tell how he obtained his money, or to make any revelations which would implicate his friends Katte and Keith.
“There is nothing left for us, my dear lord, but to mingle and blend our weeping for the losses we have had. If my head were a fountain of tears, it would not suffice for the grief I feel.“I have been to Lebus. There is excellent land there; fine weather for the husbandmen. Major R?der passed this way, and dined with me last Wednesday. He has got a fine fellow for my most all-gracious father’s regiment. I depend on my most all-gracious father’s grace that he will be good to me. I128 ask for nothing, and for no happiness in the world but what comes from him; and hope that he will some day remember me in grace, and give me the blue coat to put on again.”“Must there be war?” he said. “I am your majesty’s friend. Can we not, in mutual concession, find agreement?”
The King of Poland, who was also Elector of Saxony, had strong feelings of personal hostility to Frederick. His prime minister, Count Von Brühl, even surpassed his royal master in the bitter antagonism with which he regarded the Prussian monarch. Frederick, whose eagle eye was ever open, and whose restless mind was always on the alert, suspected that a coalition was about to be formed against him. He had false keys made to the royal archives at Dresden; bribed one of the officials there, M. Menzel, stealthily to enter the chamber of the archives, and copy for him such extracts as would throw any light upon the designs of the court. Among other items of intelligence, he found that Austria, Russia, and Poland were deliberating upon the terms of a coalition against him.详情
Copyright © 2020