CHAPTER II. LIFE IN THE PALACE.
The Prussian troops, meeting with no opposition, spread over the country, and a strong division reached Weichau on Saturday, the 17th. There they spent Sunday in rest. Frederick was anxious to win to his cause the Protestant population. He consequently favored their religious institutions, and ordered that Protestant worship should be held in the villages which he occupied, and where there was no Protestant church edifice, one part of the day in the Catholic churches. This plan he continued through the campaign, much to the gratification of the chaplains of his regiments and the Protestant community in Silesia. Though the Austrian government had not been particularly oppressive to the Protestants, still it leaned decidedly against what224 it deemed heresy. The Jesuits, favored by the governmental officials, were unwearied in their endeavors to promote the interests of their Church. Frederick, by allowing the impression to be spread abroad that he was the champion of Protestantism, was enabled to secure the sympathies of quite a strong party in Silesia in his favor. It is said that two thirds of the inhabitants of Silesia were Protestants, and therefore favorable to Frederick.“No,” the empress replied; “I could sleep, but I must not. Death is too near. He must not steal upon me. These fifteen years I have been making ready for him; I will meet him awake.”
“Had the enemy attacked Dresden according to the rules and the customs of war, had they directed their efforts against the ramparts, the king would, without doubt, have lamented the evils which would have resulted from it to his people, but he would have lamented them without complaining. But the Prussians made war on the innocent townsmen. Their fire was wholly directed against the houses. They endeavored to destroy a town which they could not take.”
“The public affairs in France,” writes Voltaire, “continued in as bad a state after the death of Cardinal De Fleury as during the last two years of his administration. The house of Austria rose again from its ashes. France was cruelly pressed upon by that power and by England. No other resource remained to us but the chance of regaining the King of Prussia, who, having drawn us into the war, had abandoned us as soon as it was convenient to himself so to do. It was thought advisable, under these circumstances, that I should be sent to that monarch to sound his intentions, and, if possible, persuade him to avert the storm which, after it had first fallen on us, would be sure, sooner or later, to fall from Vienna upon him. We also wished to secure from him the loan of a hundred thousand men, with the assurance that he could thus better secure to himself Silesia.
CHAPTER XXVII. THE LEUTHEN CAMPAIGN.
“The poor courtier,” Wilhelmina adds, “obliged to become possessor of this miserable performance, and to pay so dear for it, determined for the future to be more circumspect in his admiration.“That Frederick shall have six hundred and seventy thousand pounds (,350,000), payable in London to his order, in October, this year, which sum Frederick engages to spend wholly in the maintenance and increase of his army for behoof of the common object; neither party to dream of making the least shadow of peace or truce without the other.”“Nothing can be more elegant than this prince’s library. It has a view of the lake and gardens. A collection, not very numerous, but well chosen, of the best books in the French language are ranged in glass cases, which are ornamented with carvings and gildings in excellent taste. The portrait of M. De Voltaire occupies an honorable place in this library. He is the favorite author of the prince, who has, in general, a high esteem for good French writers both in prose and verse.
“My dear Voltaire,—I have received two of your letters, but could not answer sooner. I am like Charles Twelfth’s chess king, who was always on the move. For a fortnight past we have been kept continually afoot and under way in such weather as you never saw.“‘Let the parsons who make for themselves a cruel and barbarous God be eternally damned, as they desire and deserve; and let those parsons who conceive God gentle and merciful enjoy the plenitude of his mercy.’
The routed allies, exasperated and starving, and hating the Protestant inhabitants of the region through which they retreated, robbed and maltreated them without mercy. The woes which the defenseless inhabitants endured from the routed army in its flight no pen can adequately describe.
The Russians, with empty meal-wagons and starving soldiers, had taken possession of Frankfort-on-the-Oder on the 29th of July. The city contained twelve thousand inhabitants. The ransom which the Russian general demanded to save the city from pillage by the Cossacks was four hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Pillage by the Cossacks! No imagination can conceive the horrors of such an event. Nearly one hundred thousand men, frenzied with intoxication, brutal in their habits, restrained by no law, would inflict every outrage which fiends could conceive of. Well might fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, turn pale and feel the blood curdle in their veins at the thought. Four hundred and fifty thousand dollars ransom! That was nearly forty dollars for each individual, man, woman, and child! Compliance with the demand was impossible. Frankfort, in its impoverishment, could by no possibility raise a tenth part of the sum. Dreadful was the consternation. There was no relenting; the money or the pillage!“But it is time to end this long, dreary letter. I have had some leisure, and have used it to open to you a heart filled with admiration and gratitude toward you. Yes, my adorable sister, if Providence troubled itself about human affairs, you ought to be the happiest person in the universe. Your not being such confirms me in the sentiments expressed in my epistle.”The sun had just risen above the horizon when the conflict commenced. It reached its meridian. Still the storm of battle swept the plains and reverberated over the hills. Heights had been taken and retaken; charges had been made and repelled; the surges of victory had rolled to and fro; over many leagues the thunderbolts of battle were thickly flying; bugle peals, cries of onset, shrieks of the wounded crushed beneath artillery wheels, blended with the rattle of musketry and the roar of artillery; riderless horses were flying in all directions; the extended plain was covered with the wreck and ruin of battle, and every moment was multiplying the victims of war’s horrid butchery.详情
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