“‘It is late. I wish you had done.’
“The torments of Tantalus, the pains of Prometheus, the doom of Sisyphus, were nothing to the torments I have suffered for the last ten days. Death is sweet in comparison with such a life. Pity me, and believe that I still keep to myself a great many evil things, not wishing to afflict or disquiet any body with them. Believe me that I would not counsel you to fly these unlucky countries if I had any ray of hope. Adieu, mon cher.All Saturday night the bombardment was continued with increasing fury. In the mean time four thousand wagons were packed, and, long before the dawn of Sunday morning, were on the road. The retreat was so admirably conducted that General Daun did not venture even to attempt to harass the retiring columns. Instead of moving in a northerly direction to Silesia, Frederick directed his march to the northwest, into Bohemia. On the 8th of July his long column safely reached Leutomischel. He there seized quite an amount of military stores, which General Daun, in his haste and bewilderment, had not been able to remove or to destroy. Five more marches conducted him to K?niggr?tz.
General Daun directed the energies of his ninety thousand troops upon the right wing of the Prussians, which could not number more than twenty thousand men. As soon as it was dark on Friday night, the 13th, he sent thirty thousand men, under guides familiar with every rod of the country, by a circuitous route, south of the Prussian lines, through forest roads, to take position on the west of the Prussian right wing, just in its rear. General Daun himself accompanied this band of picked men.
Still, on the whole, the siege progressed favorably. Large supplies of food and ammunition were indispensable to Frederick. Thirty thousand hungry men were to be fed. A constant bombardment rapidly exhausts even abundant stores of powder, shot, and shell.On the 10th of October Frederick was attacked by the gout, and for three weeks was confined to his room. This extraordinary man, struggling, as it were, in the jaws of destruction, beguiled the weary hours of sickness and pain by writing a treatise upon Charles XII. and his Military Character. On the 24th of October, the Russian commander, quarreling with General Daun, set out, with his whole force, for home. On the 1st of November the king was carried in a litter to Glogau. Cold weather having now set in, General Daun commenced a march for Bohemia, to seek winter quarters nearer his supplies. Frederick, his health being restored, rejoined his troops under Henry, which were near Dresden. The withdrawal of both the Russians and Austrians from Silesia greatly elated him. On the 15th of November he wrote to D’Argens from Maxen, a village a little south of Dresden:
In one short hour the gallant deed was done. But ten of the assailants were killed and forty-eight wounded. The loss of the Austrians was more severe. The whole garrison, one thousand sixty-five in number, and their materiel of war, consisting of fifty brass cannons, a large amount of ammunition, and the military chest, containing thirty-two thousand florins, fell into the hands of the victors. To the inhabitants of Glogau it was a matter of very little moment whether the Austrian or the Prussian banner floated over their citadel. Neither party paid much more regard to the rights of the people than they did to those of the mules and the horses.“The packet had been opened. The king would think I was guilty of high treason, and I should be in disgrace with Madame De Pompadour. I was obliged, in order to prevent my ruin, to make known to the court the character and conduct of their enemy.
Wesel was the fortress of a small province belonging to Prussia, on the Rhine, many leagues from Berlin. The intervening territory belonged to Hanover and Hesse Cassel. The king ordered his captive son to be taken, under a strong guard, by circuitous roads, so as not to attract attention, to the castle of Mittenwalde, near Berlin. The king then started for home, probably as wretched as he was making every body about him. After a very rapid journey, he reached Berlin late in the afternoon of Sunday, the 27th of August, 1730. It was the evening after the fabrication of the letters had been completed. We give, from the graphic pen of Wilhelmina, the account of the king’s first interview with his family:
In 1747 Marshal Saxe visited Potsdam. He witnessed a review of the guards. In the account of this review given by Algarotti, he says, “The squadron of guards, which at one time, drawn up close, exhibited the appearance of a rock, at another resembled a cloud scattered along the plain. In the charge on full gallop one horse’s head was not a foot beyond another. The line was so exactly straight that Euclid himself could not have found fault with it.”Frederick now entered upon a period of ten years of peace.
It appears, moreover, that Fritz devoted himself very assiduously to his military duties, earnestly studying the art of war, and making himself familiar with the achievements of the most renowned commanders. His frugal father allowed him but a very meagre income for a prince—not above four thousand five hundred dollars a year. With this sum it was scarcely possible to keep up even the appearance of such an establishment as belonged to his rank. Such glimpses as we get of his moral and social developments during this period are not favorable. He paid no respect to the claims of religion, and was prone to revile Christianity and its advocates. He was particularly annoyed if the chaplain uttered, in his sermons, any sentiments which the prince thought had a bearing against the sensual indulgences and the wild amusements of himself and his companions. On one occasion the chaplain said in his sermon, “There was Herod, who had Herodias to dance before him, and he gave her John the Baptist’s head for her pains.”
Lord Hyndford commenced his communication by assuring his majesty of the friendly feelings and good wishes of the English government. Frederick listened with much impatience, and soon interrupted him, exclaiming passionately,D’Argens spent the winter with the king at Leipsic. He gives the following incident: “One day I entered the king’s apartment, and found him sitting on the floor with a platter of fried meat, from which he was feeding his dogs. He had a little rod, with which he kept order among them, and shoved the best bits to his favorites.”He conversed cheerfully upon literature, history, and the common topics of the day. But he seemed studiously to avoid any allusion to God, to the subject of religion, or to death. He had from his early days very emphatically expressed his disbelief in any God who took an interest in the affairs of men. Throughout his whole life he had abstained from any recognition of such a God by any known acts of prayer or worship. Still Mr. Carlyle writes:
Frederick wrote to Wilhelmina: “Voltaire picks Jews’ pockets, but he will get out of it by some somersault.”“I arrived at last about one in the morning. I instantly threw myself on a bed. I was like to die of weariness, and in mortal terror that something had happened to my brother or the hereditary prince. The latter relieved me on his own score. He arrived at last about four o’clock; had still no news of my brother. I was beginning to doze a little, when they came to inform me that M. von Knobelsdorf wished to speak to me from the Prince Royal. I darted out of bed and ran to him.”While these scenes were transpiring, the Crown Prince was at Cüstrin, upon probation, being not yet admitted to the presence of his father. He seems to have exerted himself to the utmost to please the king, applying himself diligently to become familiar with all the tedious routine and details of the administration of finance, police, and the public domains. Fritz was naturally very amiable. He was consequently popular in the little town in which he resided, all being ready to do every thing in their power to serve him. The income still allowed him by his father was so small that he would have suffered from poverty had not the gentry in the neighborhood, regardless of the prohibition to lend money to the prince, contributed secretly to replenish his purse.详情
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