There was not a moment to be lost. General Neipperg was moving resolutely forward with a cloud of skirmishers in the advance and on his wings. With the utmost exertions Frederick immediately rendezvoused all his remote posts, destroying such stores as could not hastily be removed, and by a forced march of twenty-five miles in one day reached Neustadt. General Neipperg was marching by a parallel road about twenty miles west of that which the Prussians traversed. At Neustadt the king was still twenty miles from Neisse. With the delay of but a few hours, that he might assemble all the Prussian bands from the posts in that neighborhood, the king again resumed his march. He had no longer any hope of continuing the siege of Neisse. His only aim was to concentrate all his scattered forces, which had been spread over an area of nearly two thousand square miles, and, upon some well-selected field, to trust to the uncertain issues of a general battle. There was no choice left for him between this course and an ignominious retreat.
But the ever-vigilant Frederick had smuggled a “false sister” into the society of the Catholic ladies, who kept him informed of every measure that was proposed. At the very hour when Frederick was dining with the two English ministers, and making282 himself so merry with jests and banter, he was aware that General Neipperg, with the whole Austrian army, was crossing the River Neisse, on the march, by a route thirty miles west of his encampment, to take Breslau by surprise. But he had already adopted effectual measures to thwart their plans.On the 12th of June, but a fortnight after his accession, Frederick198 wrote from Charlottenburg to Voltaire, who was then at Brussels, as follows:
“Leitmeritz, July 13, 1757.“I am unfortunate and old, dear marquis. That is why they persecute me. God knows what my future is to be this year. I grieve to resemble Cassandra with my prophecies. But how augur well of the desperate situation we are in, and which goes on growing worse? I am so gloomy to-day I will cut short.Hotham, quite indignant, sent this dispatch, dated May 13, to London, including with it a very earnest letter from the Crown Prince to his uncle, in which Fritz wrote:
From the schedule which Frederick has given of his resources, it seems impossible that he could have raised more than about fifteen million dollars annually, even counting his adulterated coin at the full value. How, with this sum, he could have successfully confronted all combined Europe, is a mystery which has never yet been solved. It was the great object of both parties in this terrible conflict to destroy every thing in the enemy’s country which could by any possibility add to military power. All the claims of humanity were ignored. The starvation of hundreds of thousands of peasants—men, women, and children—was a matter not to be taken into consideration. The French minister, in Paris, wrote to Marshal De Contades on the 5th of October, 1758,Both of the English ministers, in much agitation, spoke together. The king, impatiently interrupting them, said,Fritz had now attained eighteen years of age, and Wilhelmina twenty-one. Fritz was very fond of music, particularly of his flute, upon which he played exquisitely, being, however, careful never to sound its notes within hearing of his father. A celebrated music-master from Dresden, by the name of Quantz, was his teacher. He came occasionally from Dresden and spent a week or two at Potsdam, secretly teaching the young prince.67 The mother of Fritz was in warm sympathy with her son, and aided him in all ways in her power in this gratification. Still it was a very hazardous measure. The fierce old king was quite uncertain in his movements. He might at any hour appear at Potsdam, and no one could tell to what lengths, in case of a discovery, he might go in the intensity of his rage. Fritz had an intimate friend in the army, a young man of about his own age, one Lieutenant Katte, who, when Fritz was with his music-teacher, was stationed on the look-out, that he might give instant warning in case there were any indications of the king’s approach. His mother also was prepared, when Quantz was at Potsdam, promptly to dispatch a messenger to her son in case she suspected his father of being about to turn his steps in that direction.
Spain was at war with England, and was ready to enter into an alliance with any power which would aid her in her struggle with that formidable despot of the seas.On the 12th of September Frederick dined with his brother Henry in Dresden. General Daun, as soon as he heard of the approach of the foe whom he so much dreaded, rapidly retreated eastward to Stolpen, on the road to Bautzen. Here he intrenched himself in one of the strongest posts in Germany. As Frederick,465 at Dresden, received his supplies from Bautzen, he was much embarrassed in having his line of communication thus cut. Finding all his efforts vain to provoke Daun to a battle, after four weeks of such endeavors, he loaded his baggage trains with supplies for nine days, and by a rapid march, brushing away in the movement Daun’s right flank, and advancing through Bautzen, established himself among the hills of Hochkirch. He had thus taken position thirty miles east of General Daun’s encampment at Stolpen, cutting off his line of supply.
For a time Frederick and Voltaire seem to have lived very pleasantly together. Voltaire writes: “I was lodged under the king’s apartment, and never left my room except for supper. The king composed, above stairs, works of philosophy, history, poetry; and his favorite, below stairs, cultivated the same arts and the same talents. They communicated to one another their respective works. The Prussian monarch composed, at this time,387 his ‘History of Brandenburg;’ and the French author wrote his ‘Age of Louis XIV.,’ having brought with him all his materials.94 His days thus passed happily in a repose which was only animated by agreeable occupations. Nothing, indeed, could be more delightful than this way of life, or more honorable to philosophy and literature.”When the Reformation in the sixteenth century was presented to Europe, and was rejected by Italy, France, Austria, and Spain, it was accepted, though not unanimously, yet very generally, by the inhabitants of this wild region. In the year 1700 there was, in the midst of the realm of which we are about to write, and which is now called Prussia, a province then known as the Marquisate of Brandenburg. It embraced a little over fifteen thousand square miles, being about twice as large as the State of Massachusetts. It was one of the electorates of Germany, and the elector or marquis, Frederick, belonged to the renowned family of Hohenzollern. To the east of Brandenburg there was a duchy called Prussia. This duchy, in some of the political agitations of the times, had been transferred to the Marquis of Brandenburg. The Elector of Brandenburg, Frederick, an ambitious man, rejoicing in the extent of his domain, which was large for a marquisate, though small for a monarchy, obtained from the Emperor of Germany its recognition as a kingdom, and assumed the title of Frederick I. of Prussia. Many of19 the proud monarchies of Europe did not conceal the contempt with which they regarded this petty kingdom. They received the elector into their society very much as haughty nobles, proud of a long line of illustrious ancestry, would receive a successful merchant who had purchased a title. Frederick himself was greatly elated with the honor he had attained, and his subjects shared with him in his exultation.
The unhappy Prince of Prussia, on his dying bed, wrote a very touching letter to his brother Frederick, remonstrating against his conduct, which was not only filling Europe with blood and misery, but which was also imperiling the existence of the Prussian kingdom.The Prussians advanced in their long double line, trampling the deep snow beneath their feet. All their banners were waving. All their bands of music were pealing forth their most martial airs. Their sixty pieces of artillery, well in front, opened a rapid and deadly fire. The thoroughly-drilled Prussian artillerymen discharged their guns with unerring aim, breaking gaps in the Austrian ranks, and with such wonderful rapidity that the unintermitted roar of the cannons drowned the sound of drums and trumpets.Still the order was given for the assault. The Prussians plunged into the dense ranks of their foes, regardless of being outnumbered nearly three to one. A terrible battle was fought. General Wedell was overpowered and beaten. He retreated across the Oder, having lost six thousand men in killed, wounded, and prisoners. The victorious Russians did not pursue him. They marched down the river to Frankfort, where they effected a junction with other troops, giving them an effective force of ninety-six thousand fighting men.
“The darkest hour is often nearest the dawn.” The next day after Frederick had written the above letter he received news of the death of his most inveterate enemy, Elizabeth, the Empress of Russia. As we have mentioned, she was intensely exasperated against him in consequence of some sarcasms in which he had indulged in reference to her private life. Elizabeth was the daughter of Peter the Great, and had inherited many of her father’s imperial traits of character. She was a very formidable foe.THE SAUSAGE CAR.详情
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