“The contest between General Neipperg and myself seemed to be which should commit the most faults. Mollwitz was the school of the king and his troops. That prince reflected profoundly upon all the faults and errors he had fallen into, and tried to correct them for the future.”
Again he wrote a few months after, while absent from home: “I set off on the 25th to return to my dear garden at Ruppin. I burn with impatience to see again my vineyards, my cherries, and my melons. There, tranquil and free from all useless cares, I shall live really for myself. I become every day more avaricious of my time, of which I render an account to myself, and never lose any of it without much regret. My mind is now wholly turned toward philosophy. That study renders me wonderful services, which are repaid by me with affection. I find myself happy because I am more tranquil than formerly. My167 soul is much less agitated with violent and tumultuous emotions. I suppress the first impulses of my passions, and do not proceed to act upon them till after having well considered the question before me.”“The Crown Prince manifests in this tender age an uncommon capacity, nay, we may say, something quite extraordinary. He31 is a most alert and vivacious prince. He has fine and sprightly manners, and shows a certain kindly sociality and so affectionate a disposition that all things may be hoped of him. The French lady who has had charge of him hitherto can not speak of him without enthusiasm. ‘He is a little angel,’ she is wont to say. He takes up and learns whatever is placed before him with the greatest facility.”“Asking me for peace is indeed a bitter joke. It is to Louis XV. you must address yourself, or to his Amboise in petticoats.129 But these people have their heads filled with ambitious projects. They wish to be the sovereign arbiters of sovereigns. That is what persons of my way of thinking will by no means put up with. I like peace as much as you could wish, but I want it good, solid, and honorable. Socrates or Plato would have thought as I do on this subject had they found themselves in the accursed position which is mine in the world.
“To travel with the pomp of a king is not among my wishes, and all of you are aware that I have no pleasure in rich field-furniture; but my increasing age, and the weakness it brings, render me incapable of riding as I did in my youth. I shall, therefore, be obliged to make use of a post-chaise in times of marching, and all of you have liberty to do the same. But on the day of battle you shall see me on horseback; and there, also, I hope my generals will follow that example.”FREDERICK AND THE OLD DESSAUER.“What do you mean?” exclaimed the king, with an air of real or affected surprise. Then, turning to his secretary, M. Podewils, he inquired, “How much of Guelderland is theirs, and not ours already?”
“Old Leopold, quick as thought, noticing the thing, hurls cavalry on these victorious, down-plunging grenadiers; slashes them asunder into mere recoiling whirlpools of ruin, so that few of them got back unwounded; and the Prussians, storming in along with them, aided by ever new Prussians, the place was at length carried.”91There was a young lady in Potsdam by the name of Doris Ritter. She was the daughter of highly respectable parents, and was of unblemished character. As Fritz was extremely fond of music, and she played sweetly on the harpsichord, he loaned her pieces of music, and occasionally, under the eye of her parents, accompanied her with the flute. The life of a colonel in garrison at Potsdam was so dull, that this innocent amusement was often quite a help in beguiling the weary hours.“About nine this morning,” was the reply, “the prince got to horse. Not long after three he came back again with a swarm of officers, all going full speed for Lissa. They were full of bragging when they came; now they were off wrong side foremost! I saw how it was. Close following after him the flood of them ran. The high road was not broad enough. It was an hour and more before it ended. Such a pell-mell, such a welter! cavalry and infantry all jumbled together. Our king must have given them a terrible flogging.”
Baron Bielfeld, a member of the court, thus describes her personal appearance: “Her royal highness is tall of stature, and her figure is perfect. Never have I seen a more regular shape in all its proportions. Her neck, her hands, and her feet might serve as models to the painter. Her hair, which I have particularly admired, is of a most beautiful flaxen, but somewhat inclining to white, and shines, when not powdered, like rows of pearls. Her complexion is remarkably fine; and in her large blue eyes vivacity and sweetness are so happily blended as to make them perfectly animated.On the 5th of October, 1763, Augustus, the unhappy King of Poland, had died at Dresden, after a troubled reign of thirty years. The crown was elective. The turbulent nobles, broken up into antagonistic and envenomed cliques, were to choose a successor. Catharine, as ambitious as she was able and unprincipled, resolved to place one of her creatures upon the throne, that Poland, a realm spreading over a territory of 284,000 square miles, and containing a population of 20,000,000, might be virtually added to her dominions. Carlyle writes:
“Waters all out, bridges down,” writes Carlyle; “the country one wide lake of eddying mud; up to the knee for many miles together; up to the middle for long spaces; sometimes even to the chin or deeper, where your bridge was washed away. The Prussians marched through it as if they had been slate or iron. Rank and file—nobody quitted his rank, nobody looked sour in the face—they took the pouring of the skies and the red seas of terrestrial liquid as matters that must be; cheered one another with jocosities, with choral snatches, and swashed unweariedly forward. Ten hours some of them were out, their march being twenty or twenty-five miles.”
The captive Crown Prince was conveyed from Wesel to the castle of Mittenwalde, where he was imprisoned in a room without furniture or bed. An old chest which chanced to be there was his only seat. One of the king’s favorite ministers, Grumkow, with other officials, was sent to interrogate him. The prince, probably aware that nothing which he could now do could make matters worse than they actually were, displayed much spirit in the interview. Frankly avowing his intention to escape, he refused to make any disclosures which should implicate his friends. Grumkow insolently informed him that the101 use of the rack was not yet abolished in his majesty’s dominions, and that, if he were not more pliant, the energies of that instrument might be called into requisition. Frederick admitted afterward that his blood ran cold at that suggestion. Still he had the nerve to reply, according to the testimony of Wilhelmina,“Surrender to me peaceably,” was the substance of this demand, “the province of Silesia, and I will be the ally of your majesty in maintaining your right to the throne, and in defending the integrity of all the rest of your realms. I will exert my influence to have the Grand-duke Francis41 chosen Emperor of Germany, and will also immediately pay one million of dollars into the Austrian treasury.”
On the 16th the battered, smouldering, blood-stained city was surrendered, with its garrison of sixteen thousand men. The prisoners of war were marched off to Frederick’s strong places in the north. Prague was compelled to take the oath of allegiance to the emperor, and to pay a ransom of a million of dollars. Abundant stores of provision and ammunition were found in the city. It was a brilliant opening of the campaign.
Deceptive Measures of Frederick.—Plans for the Invasion of Silesia.—Avowed Reasons for the Invasion.—The Ball in Berlin.—The March of the Army.—Hardships and Successes.—Letter to Voltaire.—Capture of Glogau.—Capture of Brieg.—Bombardment of Neisse.
In this fiery humor, the king leaped upon his horse and galloped to Schweidnitz. Here he met the Old Dessauer. He must have been not a little mortified to learn that his veteran general was right, and he utterly in the wrong. Prince Charles had returned home. Marshal Traun was in command of the Austrians.342 He had a compact army of 20,000 men, flushed with victory and surrounded by countless thousands of Pandours, who veiled every movement from view. He had established himself in an impregnable position on the south side of the Neisse, where he could not be assailed, with any prospect of success, by the force which Leopold could then summon to his aid.详情
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