“And what aim has the king? If it is to assure himself of me, that is not the way. Madam of Eisenach might do it, but a fool not. On the contrary, it is morally impossible to love the cause of our misery. The king is reasonable, and I am persuaded he will understand this himself.”
521 This letter was extensively circulated in England. It was greatly admired. It so happened that the court was then looking around for a bride for their young king. The result was that in the course of a few months Charlotte became Queen of England, as the wife of George III.The young sovereign commenced his reign with the utterance of very noble sentiments. The day after his accession he assembled the chief officers of his father to administer to them the oath of allegiance. He urged them to be humane in the exercise of all authority which might be delegated to them.
Pressing straight forward, Wednesday morning, to the east, he encamped that night about ten miles from Güstebiese. He had so successfully veiled his movements that the Russians knew not where he was. On Thursday morning, August 24, at an early hour, he resumed his march, and crossed the Mützel River at various points. His confidence of victory was so great that he destroyed all the bridges behind him to prevent the retreat of the Russians.The Crown Prince, with what degree of sincerity we know not, was now in tears. Prostrating himself before his majesty, he kissed his feet. The king, much moved, was in tears also, and retired to another room.During the next three days the king suffered much from weakness and a violent cough. He was often heard murmuring prayers, and would say to those around him, “Pray for me; pray for me.” Several times he pathetically exclaimed, “Lord, enter not into judgment with thy servant, for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.” A favorite hymn was often sung to him containing the words, “Naked came I into the world, and naked187 shall I go out of it.” At this passage he repeatedly exclaimed, with much vivacity, as though it were an admirable joke, “No, not quite naked; I shall have my uniform on.”
At this time the whole disposable force of his Prussian majesty did not exceed eighty thousand men. There were marching against him combined armies of not less, in the aggregate, than four hundred thousand. A part of the Prussian army, about thirty thousand strong, under the king’s eldest brother, Augustus William, Prince of Prussia, was sent north, especially to protect Zittau, a very fine town of about ten thousand inhabitants, where Frederick had gathered his chief magazines. Prince Charles, with seventy thousand Austrians, pursued this division. He outgeneraled the Prince of Prussia, drove him into wild country roads, took many prisoners, captured important fortresses, and, opening a fire of red-hot shot upon Zittau, laid the whole place, with its magazines, in ashes. The Prince of422 Prussia, who witnessed the conflagration which he could not prevent, retreated precipitately toward Lobau, and thence to Bautzen, with his army in a deplorable condition of exhaustion and destitution.For a moment the king was quite stunned by the blow. The withdrawal of these troops would expose him to be speedily overwhelmed by the Austrians. By earnest entreaty, Frederick persuaded Czernichef to remain with him three days longer. “I will require of you no service whatever. The Austrians know nothing of this change. They will think that you are still my ally. Your presence simply will thus aid me greatly in the battle.”
“Meanwhile the King of England’s time of arrival was drawing nigh. We repaired on the 6th of October to Charlottenburg to receive him. My heart kept beating. I was in cruel agitations. King George arrived on the 8th about seven in the evening. The King of Prussia, the queen, and all their suite received him in the court of the palace, the apartments being on the ground floor. So soon as he had saluted the king and queen I was presented to him. He embraced me, and, turning to the queen, said, ‘Your daughter is very large of her age.’ He gave the queen his hand and led her into her apartment, whither every body followed them. As soon as I came in he took a light from the table and surveyed me from head to foot. I stood motionless as a statue, and was much put out of countenance. All41 this went on without his uttering the least word. Having thus passed me in review, he addressed himself to my brother, whom he caressed much and amused himself with for a good while.But there was another picture which met the eye of the king very different in its aspect. We know not whether it at all touched his heart. It was that of the poor peasants, with their mothers, their wives, their children, hurrying from their hamlets in all directions, in the utmost dismay. Grandmothers tottered beneath the burden of infant children. Fathers and mothers struggled on with the household goods they were striving to rescue from impending ruin. The cry of maidens and children reached the ear as they fled from the tramp of the war-horse and the approaching carnage of the death-dealing artillery.
It is probable that the suspicions of the king were excited, for suddenly he sent Lieutenant Keith to a garrison at Wesel, at a great distance from Berlin, in a small Prussian province far down the Rhine. The three had, however, concocted the following plan, to be subsequently executed. Immediately after the return from Mühlberg the king was to undertake a long journey to the Rhine. The Crown Prince, as usual, was to be dragged along with him. In this journey they would pass through Stuttgart, within a few miles of Strasbourg, which was on the French side of the river. From Stuttgart the prince was to escape in disguise, on fleetest horses, to Strasbourg, and thence proceed to London. Colonel Hotham, who had accompanied the Prussian king to the camp of Mühlberg, was apprised of all this by his secretary. He immediately dispatched the secretary, on the 16th of June, to convey the confidential intelligence to London.“‘You are in a circle,’ said I. ‘How will you get out of it?’
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.”
It would seem that Frederick’s troops must have had iron sinews, and that they needed as little repose as did their master. Those not at work with the spade were under arms to repel an assault. Two or three times there was an alarm, when the whole fifty thousand, in an hour, were in battle-array. Frederick was fully aware of the crisis he had encountered. To be beaten there was irretrievable ruin. No one in the army performed more exhausting labor than the king himself. He seemed to be omnipresent, by day and by night. Near the chief battery, in a clump of trees, there was a small tent, and a bundle of straw in the corner. Here the king occasionally sought a few moments of repose. But his nervous excitement rendered him so restless, that most of the time he was strolling about among the guard parties, and warming himself by their fires.Frederick returned to Ruppin. Though he treated his wife with ordinary courtesy, as an honored member of the court, his attentions were simply such as were due to every lady of the royal household. It does not appear that she accompanied him to Ruppin or to Reinsberg at that time, though the apartments to which we have already alluded were subsequently provided for her at Reinsberg, where she was ever treated with the most punctilious politeness. Lord Dover says that after the accession of the prince to the throne he went to see his wife but once a year, on her birthday. She resided most of the time at Berlin, surrounded by a quiet little court there. However keen may have been her sufferings in view of this cruel neglect, we have165 no record that any word of complaint was ever heard to escape her lips. “This poor Crown Princess, afterward queen,” says Carlyle, “has been heard, in her old age, reverting in a touching, transient way to the glad days she had at Reinsberg. Complaint openly was never heard of her in any kind of days; but these, doubtless, were the best of her life.“Never mind,” said the king; “it is a cheap price to pay for escaping an attack from Pandours in the rear, while such a battle was raging in front.”
Frederick was so busy cantoning his troops that he did not take possession of his head-quarters in Leipsic until the 8th of December. He occupied the Apel House, No. 16 Neumarkt Street, the same which he had occupied before the battle of Rossbach. The same mistress kept the house as before. Upon seeing the king, the good woman exclaimed, in astonishment, “How lean your majesty has grown!”Thus circumstanced, General Neipperg gave the order to retreat. At the double quick, the Austrians retired back through the street of Mollwitz, hurried across the River Laugwitz by a bridge, and, turning short to the south, continued their retreat toward Grottkau. They left behind them nine of their own guns, and eight of those which they had captured from the Prussians. The Prussians, exhausted by the long battle, their cavalry mostly dispersed and darkness already enveloping them, did not attempt any vigorous pursuit. They bivouacked on the grounds, or quartered themselves in the villages from which the Austrians had fled.详情
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