His Prussian majesty carefully examined the position of the Saxons. They were in a region of precipices and chasms, broken into a labyrinth of sky-piercing and craggy rocks. The eminences, in some cases, rose two thousand feet, and were covered with pine forests. “There is no stronger position in the world,” Frederick writes. All these passes were fortified, mile after mile, by batteries, ramparts, palisades, and abattis. But the Saxon troops, taken unawares, had but a small supply of provisions. Frederick decided to block every entrance to their encampment, and thus to starve them out. His Polish majesty sent frantic cries to France and Austria for help. Frederick was assailed with the title of the “Prussian robber.”
FREDERICK AND THE OLD DESSAUER.On the southern coasts of the Baltic Sea, between the latitudes of 52° and 54°, there lies a country which was first revealed to civilized eyes about three hundred years before the birth of Christ. The trading adventurers from Marseilles, who landed at various points upon the coast, found it a cold, savage region of lakes, forests, marshy jungles, and sandy wastes. A shaggy tribe peopled it, of semi-barbarians, almost as wild as the bears, wolves, and swine which roamed their forests. As the centuries rolled on, centuries of which, in these remote regions, history takes no note, but in which the gloomy generations came and went, shouting, fighting, weeping, dying, gradually the aspect of a rude civilization spread over those dreary solitudes. The savage inhabitants, somewhat tamed, increased in numbers, and there appeared a tall and manly race of fair complexion, light hair, stern aspect, great physical strength, and very formidable in battle.
dd. Prussian Cavalry.“‘Well,’ said he one day to an attendant, who was extolling the beauties of one of his pictures, ‘how much do you think that picture would bring at a sale?’
543 “I look upon this day,” the king replied, “as the fairest of my life; for it will become the epoch of uniting two houses which have been enemies too long, and whose mutual interests require that they should strengthen, not weaken, one another.”
Sir Thomas hastened back to Presburg in despair. Feeling the “game was up,” and that there was no more hope, he asked permission to return home. The British cabinet was in a state of consternation. France, the dreaded rival of England, was attaining almost sovereign power over the Continent of Europe. Frederick himself was uneasy. He had sufficient penetration to be fully aware that he was aiding to create a resistless power, which might, by-and-by, crush him. Sir Thomas, in a state of great agitation, which was manifest in his disordered style, wrote from Presburg to Lord Hyndford at Breslau as follows. The letter was dated September 8, 1741.“Upon reaching the neighborhood of Landshut, the king was surrounded by a troop of two thousand Protestant peasants. They begged permission of him to massacre the Catholics of those parts, and clear the country of them altogether. This animosity arose from the persecutions which the Protestants had suffered during the Austrian domination.In August, 1785, the king again visited Silesia to review his troops. A private letter, quoted by Carlyle, gives an interesting view of his appearance at the time:
Results of the Battle of Rossbach.—The Attack upon Breslau.—Extraordinary Address of the King to his Troops.—Confidence of the Prussians in their Commander.—Magnificent Array of the Austrians at Leuthen.—Tactics of Frederick.—The Battle Hymn.—The Battle and the Victory.—Scenes after the Battle.—Recapture of Breslau by Frederick.
“I am also permitted, sire,” said Sir Thomas, “to add the Duchy of Limburg. It is a duchy of great wealth and resources, so valuable that the Elector Palatine was willing to give in exchange for it the whole Duchy of Berg.”
“Frederick bethinks him that in a late visit to Weimar he had noticed, for his fine qualities, a young gentleman named G?rtz, late tutor to the young Duke Karl August, a wise, firm, adroit-looking young gentleman, who was farther interesting as brother to Lieutenant General Von G?rtz, a respectable soldier of Frederick’s. Ex-tutor at Weimar, we say, and idle for the moment; hanging about court there, till he should find a new function.81 The object of Colonel Hotham’s mission was well known. The cordial reception he had met from the king indicated that his message was not an unwelcome one to his Prussian majesty. In the indecent hilarity of the hour, it was assumed that the marriage contract between Wilhelmina and the Prince of Wales was settled. Brains addled with wine gave birth to stupid jokes upon the subject. “A German ducat was to be exchanged for an English half guinea.” At last, in the semi-delirium of their intoxication, one proposed as a toast, “To the health of Wilhelmina, Princess of Wales.” The sentiment was received with uproarious jollity. Though all the company were in the same state of silly inebriation, neither the king nor the British ministers, Hotham and Dubourgay, for a moment lost sight of their settled policy. The king remained firm in his silent resolve to consent only to the marriage of Wilhelmina and the Prince of Wales. Hotham and Dubourgay could not swerve from the positive instructions which they had received, to insist upon both marriages or neither. Thus, notwithstanding this bacchanal jollification, neither party was disposed to swerve a hair’s breadth from its fixed resolve, and the question was no nearer a settlement than before.
Old Prince Leopold of Dessau, whom he had left in command of the army in Silesia, was one of the most extraordinary men of any age. He invented the iron ramrod, and also all modern military tactics. “The soldiery of every civilized country still receives from this man, on the parade-fields and battle-fields, its word of command. Out of his rough head proceeded the essential of all that the innumerable drill-sergeants in various languages repeat and enforce.”80One clause in the king’s will was judiciously disregarded. As a last mark of his contempt for his own species, Frederick had directed that he should be buried at Sans Souci by the side of his dogs.详情
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