General Loudon was in command of the Austrians, and General Butturlin of the Russians, who were arrayed against Frederick. They could not agree upon a plan of attack. Neither commander was willing to expose his troops to the brunt of a battle in which the carnage would necessarily be dreadful. Thus the weeks wore away. Frederick could not be safely attacked, and winter was approaching.Frederick.”
Voltaire made himself very merry over the dying scene of Maupertuis. There was never another man who could throw so much poison into a sneer as Voltaire. It is probable that the conversion of Maupertuis somewhat troubled his conscience as the unhappy scorner looked forward to his own dying hour, which could not be far distant. He never alluded to Maupertuis without indulging in a strain of bitter mockery in view of his death as a penitent. Even the king, unbeliever as he was in religion or in the existence of a God, was disgusted with the malignity displayed by Voltaire. In reply to one of Voltaire’s envenomed assaults the king wrote:270 “Yes,” Frederick replied; “but for not less than six months” (counting on his fingers from May to December)—“till December 1. The season then would be so far gone that they could do nothing.”
“He had his sword drawn, and continued to exercise the corps for an hour after. He made them wheel, march, form the square, and fire by divisions and in platoons, observing all their motions with infinite attention; and, on account of some blunder, put two officers of the Prince of Prussia’s regiment in arrest. In short, he seemed to exert himself with all the spirit of a young officer567 eager to attract the notice of his general by uncommon alertness.”199
The astounded Austrians bowed to the dust before him, escorted him to the best room, and, stealing out into the darkness, made their way as rapidly as possible to the bridge, which at the east end of the street crossed the Schweidnitz Water. At the farther end of the bridge Austrian cannon were planted to arrest the pursuit. The officers hurried across, and vanished in the gloom of night, followed by the river-guard. The Prussian cannoneers steadily pursued, and kept up through the night an incessant fire upon the rear of the foe.General Neipperg had now left Neisse; but he kept himself so surrounded by clouds of skirmishers as to render his march entirely invisible. Frederick, anxious to unite with him his troops under the Prince of Holstein Beck, advanced toward Grottkau to meet that division, which had been ordered to join him. The prince had been stationed at Frankenstein, with a force of about eight thousand, horse and foot; but the Austrian scouts so occupied all the roads that the king had not been able to obtain any tidings from him whatever.
The Queen of Hungary had purchased the co-operation of the Polish king by offering to surrender to him a generous portion of Silesia after the province should have been reconquered. Indeed, there was a great cause of apprehension that the allied army would make a rush upon Berlin itself. The aspect of his Prussian majesty’s affairs was now gloomy in the extreme.The zealous bishop, perhaps not unwilling to secure the crown of martyrdom, pressed on, preaching the Gospel, in face of prohibitions and menaces, until he entered one of the sacred inclosures which was a sanctuary of the idols of these heathen. The priests rushed upon him, endeavored to drive him out, and struck him with a dagger in the back of his neck. He uttered but one cry, “Jesus, receive me!” and, stretching out his arms, fell with his face to the ground, and lay dead there “in the form of a crucifix.” The place is yet pointed out where Adalbert fell. Still the seeds of Christianity were sown. Other missionaries followed. Idolatry disappeared, and the realm became nominally Christian. Revealed religion introduced increased enlightenment and culture, though there still remained much of the savagery of ancient days.It must be borne in mind that these words were written after Voltaire had quarreled with Frederick, and when it seems to have been his desire to represent all the acts of the king in as unfavorable a light as possible. Frederick himself, about eight years after the settlement of the Herstal difficulty, gave the following as his version of the affair:
FRITZ IN HIS LIBRARY.“Never was there a place in the world where liberty of speech was so fully indulged, or where the various superstitions of men were treated with so much ridicule and contempt. God was respected. But those who, in His name, had imposed on mankind, were not spared. Neither women nor priests ever entered the palace. In a word, Frederick lived without a court, without a council, and without a religion.”
“Gentlemen, gentlemen, it is of no use to think about it.”564 “The sure fact, and the forever memorable, is that on Wednesday, the third day of it, from four in the morning, when the man?uvres began, till well after ten o’clock, when they ended, there was rain like Noah’s; rain falling as from buckets and water-spouts; and that Frederick, so intent upon his business, paid not the slightest regard to it, but rode about, intensely inspecting, in lynx-eyed watchfulness of every thing, as if no rain had been there. Was not at the pains even to put on his cloak. Six hours of such down-pour; and a weakly old man of seventy-three past! Of course he was wetted to the bone. On returning to head-quarters, his boots were found full of water; ‘when pulled off, it came pouring from them like a pair of pails.’”195Voltaire, in summing up a sketch of this campaign of 1757, writes in characteristic phrase:
While affairs were in this posture, the English, eager to crush their hereditary rivals, the French, were very anxious to detach the Prussians from the French alliance. The only way to do360 this was to induce Maria Theresa to offer terms of peace such as Frederick would accept. They sent Sir Thomas Robinson to Sch?nbrunn to endeavor to accomplish this purpose. He had an interview with her Hungarian majesty on the 2d of August, 1745. The queen was very dignified and reticent. Silently she listened to the proposals of Sir Thomas. She then said, with firmness which left no room for further argument,“I am at the head of an army which has already vanquished the enemy, and which is ready to meet the enemy again. The country which alone I desire is already conquered and securely held. This is all I want. I now have it. I will and must keep it. Shall I be bought out of this country? Never! I will sooner perish in it with all my troops. With what face shall I meet my ancestors if I abandon my right which they have transmitted to me? My first enterprise, and to be given up lightly?
Frederick, having carefully scanned the Austrian lines for an instant or two, gave the signal, and all his batteries opened their thunders. Under cover of that storm of iron, several thousand of the cavalry, led by the veteran General Bredow, deployed from behind some eminences, and first at a gentle trot, and then upon the most impetuous run, with flashing sabres, hurled themselves upon the left wing of the Austrian lines. The ground was dry and sandy, and a prodigious cloud of dust enveloped them. For a moment the tornado, vital with human energies, swept on, apparently unobstructed. The first line of the Austrian horse was met, crushed, annihilated. But the second stood as the rock breasts the waves, horse against horse, rider against rider, sabre against sabre. Nothing met the eye but one vast eddying whirlpool of dust, as if writhing in volcanic energies, while here and there the flash of fire and the gleam of steel flickered madly through it.Under these circumstances, it was evidently impossible for Frederick to retain Silesia unless he could again rally France and other powers to his aid. It was always easy to rouse France against England, its hereditary foe. Thus influenced, Frederick, early in the spring of 1744, entered into a new alliance with France and the Emperor Charles Albert against Maria Theresa. The two marriages which he had so adroitly consummated constrained330 Russia and Sweden to neutrality. While France, by the new treaty, was engaged to assail with the utmost energy, under the leadership of Louis XV. himself, the triumphant Austrian columns upon the Rhine, Frederick, at the head of one hundred thousand troops, was to drive the Austrians out of Bohemia, and reseat Charles Albert upon his hereditary throne. For this service Frederick was to receive from the Bohemian king three important principalities, with their central fortresses near upon the borders of Silesia.详情
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