We seldom hear from Frederick any recognition of God. But on this occasion, perhaps out of regard to the feelings of his subjects, he ordered the Te Deum to be sung in the churches of Berlin “for the deliverance of Silesia from invasion.”“My brother Henry has gone to see the Duchess of Gotha to-day. I am so oppressed with grief that I would rather keep my sadness to myself. I have reason to congratulate myself much on account of my brother Henry. He has behaved like an angel, as a soldier, and well toward me as a brother. I can not, unfortunately, say the same of the elder. He sulks at me, and has sulkily retired to Torgau, from which place he has gone to Wittenberg. I shall leave him to his caprices and to his bad conduct; and I prophesy nothing for the future unless the younger guide him.”
In the following terms Thiebault describes their parting: The final interview between Frederick and Voltaire took place on the parade at Potsdam, where the king was then occupied with393 his soldiers. One of the attendants announced Voltaire to his majesty with these words:
It will be remembered that Prince Charles was at the head of a strong Austrian army, on the western banks of the Rhine. It numbered over fifty thousand combatants. The King of France had pledged himself to press them closely, so that they could not recross the Rhine and rush into Bohemia to thwart the operations of Frederick; but, unfortunately, Louis XV. was seized with a malignant fever, which brought him near to the grave. Taking advantage of this, Prince Charles, on the night of the 23d of August, crossed the Rhine with his whole army. It was bright moonlight, so that every movement was as visible as if it had been made by day. But the French officers, glad thus to be rid of the Austrian army, preferring much that Frederick334 should encounter it in Bohemia than that they should struggle against it on the Rhine, went quietly to their beds, even forbidding the more zealous subalterns from harassing Prince Charles in his passage of the river. It was then the great object of the French to take Freyburg. The withdrawal of Prince Charles, with his fifty thousand men, was a great relief to them.Frederick’s treatment of the unfortunate General Zastrow, who was in command at Schweidnitz, was quite peculiar. Very generously he wrote to him:At that time the family consisted of nine children. Next to Wilhelmina and Fritz came Frederica, thirteen; Charlotte, eleven; Sophie Dorothee, eight; Ulrique, seven; August Wilhelm, five; Amelia, four; and Henry, a babe in arms.
Gravitant contre les rochers,
Frederick published his manifesto on the 10th of August, 1744. Early in the morning of the 15th he set out from Potsdam upon this new military expedition. His two eldest brothers, Augustus William, Prince of Prussia, and Prince Henry, accompanied him. The army entered Bohemia in three columns, whose concentrated force amounted to nearly one hundred thousand men. Frederick in person led the first column, the old331 Prince Leopold the second, and Marshal Schwerin the third. Marching by different routes, they swept all opposition before them. On the 4th of September the combined army appeared before the walls of Prague. Here, as in every act of Frederick’s life, his marvelous energy was conspicuous.“Ah! here you are. I am glad to see you.” Then, taking a light, he carefully examined her from head to foot. After a moment’s silence, he added, “How changed you are! I am sorry for you, on my word. You have not bread to eat, and but for me you might go a-begging. I am a poor man myself; not able to give you much; will do what I can. I will give you now and then twenty or thirty shillings, as my affairs permit. It will always be something to assuage your want. And you, madam,” turning to the queen, “will sometimes give her an old dress, for the poor child hasn’t a shift to her back.”
The weal or woe of a single human polyp was, in the view of Frederick, entirely unimportant in comparison with the great enterprises he was ambitious of achieving. For this dismemberment of Poland Frederick was severely assailed in a book entitled “Polish Dialogues.” In answer to a letter from Voltaire, he wrote, under date of March 2, 1775:The fact was, that the diplomacy of Voltaire had probably not the slightest influence in guiding the action of the king. Frederick had become alarmed in view of the signal successes of the armies of Maria Theresa, under her brother-in-law, Prince Charles of Lorraine. Several Austrian generals, conspicuous among whom was Marshal Traun, were developing great military ability. The armies of Austria had conquered Bohemia and Bavaria. The French troops, discomfited in many battles, had been compelled to retreat to the western banks of the Rhine, vigorously pursued by Prince Charles. The impotent emperor Charles Albert, upon whom France had placed the imperial crown of Germany, was driven from his hereditary realm, and the heart-broken man, in poverty and powerlessness, was an emperor but in name. It was evident that Maria Theresa was gathering her strength to reconquer Silesia. She had issued a decree that the Elector of Bavaria was not legitimately chosen emperor. It was very manifest that her rapidly increasing influence would soon enable her to dethrone the unfortunate Charles Albert, and to place the imperial crown upon the brow of her husband.
Besides the garrison of fifty thousand there were eighty thousand inhabitants in the city, men, women, and children. Large numbers perished. Some died of starvation; some were burned to death in their blazing dwellings; some were torn to pieces by shot and shell; some were buried beneath the ruins of their houses. In the stillness of the night the wails and groans of the sufferers were borne on the breeze to the ears of the Prussians in their intrenched camp. Starvation brought pestilence, which caused the death of thousands. The inhabitants, reduced to this state of awful misery, entreated the Austrian general to surrender. He refused, but forced out of the gates twelve thousand skeleton, starving people, who consumed the provisions, but could not contribute to the defense. Frederick drove the poor creatures back again at the point of the bayonet, threatening to shoot them all. The cruel act was deemed a necessity of war.The friendship of these two remarkable men must have been of a singular character. Voltaire thus maliciously wrote of the king:
The king was at first much incensed by these attempts at interference. It was not safe for him to bid defiance to the opinions of the civilized world. Emotions of anger and mortification struggled in the bosom of the king. Captain Guy Dickens, secretary of Dubourgay, writes:
“One day the king entered the town of Collin, with his horse and foot guard and the whole of the baggage. We had but four small field-pieces with us. The squadron to which I belonged was placed in the suburb. In the evening our advanced posts were driven back into the town, and the huzzas of the enemy followed them pell-mell. All the country around was covered with the light troops of the Austrians. My commandant sent me to the king to take his orders.“By all the devils,” exclaimed the king, “I shall not till we have taken Dresden. Then I will provide for you to your heart’s content.”详情
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