General Daun was proverbially slow-footed. For thirteen days the wretched city burned and bled. In a memorial to the world, which the King of Poland, as Elector of Saxony, published on the occasion, he said,Such were the measures adopted during the first week of Frederick’s reign. He soon abolished the enormously expensive regiment of giants, and organized, instead of them, four regiments composed of men of the usual stature.32 Within a few months he added sixteen thousand men to his already large army, thus193 raising the number of the standing army of his little realm to over ninety thousand men. He compelled his old associates to feel, and some of them very keenly, that he was no longer their comrade, but their king. One of the veteran and most honored officers of Frederick William, in his expressions of condolence and congratulation, ventured to suggest the hope that he and his sons might continue to “occupy the same posts and retain the same authority as in the last reign.”“You are now,” said Frederick, “by consent of the allies, King of Moravia. Now is the time, now or never, to become so in fact. Push forward your Saxon troops. The Austrian forces are weak in that country. At Iglau, just over the border from Austria, there is a large magazine of military stores, which can299 easily be seized. Urge forward your troops. The French will contribute strong divisions. I will join you with twenty thousand men. We can at once take possession of Moravia, and perhaps march directly on to Vienna.
“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.”In the cold of the winter morning the Old Dessauer carefully reconnoitred the position of his foes. Their batteries seemed innumerable, protected by earth-works, and frowning along a cliff which could only be reached by plunging into a gully and wading through a half-frozen bog. There was, however, no alternative but to advance or retreat. He decided to advance.
“I have been to see the King of Prussia. I have courageously resisted his fine proposals. He offers me a beautiful house in Berlin, a pretty estate, but I prefer my second floor in Madame Du Chatelet’s here. He assures me of his favor, of the perfect freedom I should have; and I am running to Paris, to my slavery and persecution. I could fancy myself a small Athenian refusing the bounties of the King of Persia; with this difference, however, one had liberty at Athens.
A son was born and died. A daughter came, Wilhelmina. But a daughter could not inherit the crown. Another son was born and died. There was great anxiety at court, from fear that the direct line of succession might not be preserved. But on the 24th of January, 1712, when the monarchy was but twelve years old, the little prince was born who subsequently obtained such renown as Frederick the Great. The king, his grandfather, was aged and infirm. The excessive joy with which he greeted little Fritz, as he fondly called the child, was cordially reciprocated throughout the Prussian nation. The realm blazed with bonfires and illuminations, and resounded with every demonstration of public joy. The young prince was christened with great pomp, Charles Frederick. The emperor, Charles VI., was present on the occasion, and in the solemnities there were blended the most imposing civil, military, and ecclesiastical rites. The baptism took place on the 31st of January, 1712, when the babe was a week old. The young prince subsequently dropped the name of Charles, and Frederick became his sole designation. Wilhelmina, Frederick’s sister, was about three years older than himself. We shall have frequent occasion to allude to her in the course of this history, as between her and her brother there sprang up a warm attachment, which was of life-long continuance. Ten children were subsequently born to the royal pair, making fourteen in all, most of whom attained mature years.
These solemn tones of sacred psalmody fell impressively upon the ear of the king when his earthly all was trembling in the balance. Religionless and atheistic as he was, he could not repress some visible emotion. One of his officers, aware of the king’s avowed contempt for every thing of a religious nature, inquired,
Early on Monday morning the Prussians advanced from Neumarkt, eight miles, to Borne. Here they met the advance-guard of the Austrian cavalry. It was a dark, foggy morning. Frederick, as usual, was with his vanguard. Almost before the Austrians were conscious of the presence of the foe, they were assailed, with the utmost impetuosity, in front and on both their flanks. Instantly they were thrown into utter confusion. The ground was covered with their dead. Their general, Nostitz, was fatally wounded, and died the next day. Five hundred and forty were taken prisoners. The bleeding, breathless remnant fled pell-mell back to the main body, a few miles in the rear.
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Upon the return of the Crown Prince to Cüstrin after the marriage of Wilhelmina, several of the officers of the army sent in a petition to the king that he would restore to the prince his uniform and his military rank. The king consented, and made out his commission anew as colonel commandant of the Goltz regiment at Ruppin. This was a small town about seventy-five miles northeast of Berlin. His commission was signed on the 29th of February, 1732, he being then twenty years of age. In this little hamlet, mainly engaged in the dull routine of garrison duties, the prince passed most of his time for the next eight years.
It is pleasant to record another incident more creditable to Frederick. In the year 1750 there was a poor and aged schoolmaster, by the name of Linsenbarth, a very worthy man, a veritable Dominie Sampson, residing in the obscure village of Hemmleben. He had been educated as a clergyman, had considerable book learning, was then out of employment, and was in extreme destitution. The pastor of the village church died, leaving a vacant pulpit, and a salary amounting to about one hundred dollars a year. The great man of the place, a feudal lord named Von Werthern, offered the situation to Linsenbarth upon condition that he would marry his lady’s termagant waiting-maid. Linsenbarth, who had no fancy for the haughty shrew, declined the offer. The lord and lady were much offended, and in various381 ways rendered the situation of the poor schoolmaster so uncomfortable that he gathered up his slender means, amounting to about three hundred dollars, all in the deteriorated coin of the province, and went to Berlin. His money was in a bag containing nearly nine thousand very small pieces of coin, called batzen.详情
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