On the 1st of July, the day before the king heard of his mother’s death, he wrote to Wilhelmina, in reply to a letter from her which expressed great anxiety on his account:This was on the evening before the review. On the morrow the Austrian accordingly rode upon the field. He had hardly arrived there when, just as the man?uvres were commencing, one of the aids-de-camp of Frederick galloped up to him and said, “By the king’s command, sir, you are ordered instantly to retire from this field.
“Lean indeed I am,” the king replied. “And what wonder, with three women163 hanging on the throat of me all this while!”
The consternation at Berlin, as contradictory reports of victory and defeat reached the city, was indescribable. M. Sulzer, an eye-witness of the scene, writes under date of Berlin, August 13th, 1759:Frederick affected great contempt for public opinion. He wrote to Voltaire:Commencement of the Sixth Campaign.—The Fortified Camp at Bunzelwitz.—Skillful Engineering.—Unintermitted Toil of the Soldiers.—Retreat of the Russians.—Loss of Schweidnitz.—Peculiar Treatment of General Zastrow.—Close of the Sixth Campaign.—The King at Breslau.—Desponding Letter to D’Argens.—Death of Elizabeth of Russia.—Accession of Peter III.—His Marriage with the Daughter of a Prussian General.—Takes the Baptismal Name of Catharine.—Assassination of Peter III.—Curious Proclamation by the Empress.—Commencement of the Seventh Campaign.—Alliance of Russia with Prussia.—Withdrawal from the Alliance.—Termination of the War.
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:General Fermor was now informed, through his roving Cossacks, of the position of Frederick. Immediately he raised the siege of Cüstrin, hurried off his baggage train to Klein Kamin, on the road to Landsberg, and retired with his army to a very strong position near the village of Zorndorf. Here there was a wild, bleak, undulating plain, interspersed with sluggish streams, and forests, and impassable bogs. General Fermor massed the Russian troops in a very irregular hollow square, with his staff baggage in the centre, and awaited an attack. This huge quadrilateral of living lines, four men deep, with bristling bayonets, prancing horses, and iron-lipped cannon, was about two miles long by one mile broad.
“This I would not do; my awe was too great. They thereupon laid hands upon me. One took me by the right arm, another by the left, and led me to the garden. Having got me there, they looked out for the king. He was among the gardeners examining some rare plant, and had his back to us. Here I had to halt. The officers began in an under tone to put me382 through my drill. ‘Take your hat under your left arm; put your right foot foremost; breast well forward; hold your head up; hold your papers aloft in your right hand; there, so—steady—steady!’212 Frederick invited his sister to visit him at Reinsberg, to which place either business or pleasure immediately called him. After the lapse of two days, Wilhelmina, with the neglected Queen Elizabeth, repaired to the enchanting chateau, hoping to find, amid its rural scenes, that enjoyment which she never yet had been able to find in the sombre halls of the Berlin palace. Here quite a gay company was assembled. Frederick was very laboriously occupied during the day in affairs of state. But in the evening he appeared in the social circles, attracting the attention of all by his conversational brilliance, and by the apparent heartiness with which he entered into the amusements of the court. He took an active part in some private theatricals, and none were aware of the profound schemes of ambition which, cloaked by this external gayety, were engrossing his thoughts.
His wintry ride, a defeated monarch leaving a shattered army behind him, must have been dark and dreary. He had already exhausted nearly all the resources which his father, Frederick William, had accumulated. His army was demoralized, weakened, and his materiel of war greatly impaired. His subjects were already heavily taxed. Though practicing the most rigid economy, with his eye upon every expenditure, his disastrous Bohemian campaign had cost him three hundred and fifty thousand dollars a month. The least sum with which he could commence a new campaign for the protection of Silesia was four million five hundred thousand dollars. He had already melted up the sumptuous plate, and the massive silver balustrades and balconies where his father had deposited so much solid treasure.Frederick.”
“I flatter myself that now nothing will be wanting of that valor which the state has a right to expect of you. The hour is436 at hand. I should feel that I had accomplished nothing were I to leave Silesia in the hands of Austria. Let me then apprise you that I intend to attack Prince Charles’s army, which is nearly thrice the strength of our own, wherever I can find it. It matters not what are his numbers, or what the strength of his position. All this by courage and by skill we will try to overcome. This step I must risk, or all is lost. We must beat the enemy, or perish before his batteries. If there be any one who shrinks from sharing these dangers with me, he can have his discharge this evening.While matters were in this extremity, the British minister, Dubourgay, and Baron Knyphausen, a distinguished Prussian official, dispatched Rev. Dr. Villa, a scholarly man, who had been Wilhelmina’s teacher of English, on a secret mission to the court of England, to communicate the true state of affairs, and to endeavor to secure some disentanglement of the perplexities. Dr. Villa was a warm friend of Wilhelmina, and, in sympathy with her sorrows, wept as he bade her adieu. The king was in such ill humor that his daughter dared not appear in his presence. If Fritz came within reach of his father’s arm he was pretty sure to receive a blow from his rattan.At the bridges Frederick found but three thousand men of his late army. The huts around were filled with the wounded and the dying, presenting an aspect of misery which, in these hours of terrible defeat, appalled his majesty. In one of these huts, surrounded by mutilated bodies, groans, and death, Frederick wrote the following dispatch to his minister (Finckenstein) at Berlin. It was dated Oetscher, August 12, 1759:
Her sisters were now permitted occasionally to visit her, and her situation became somewhat ameliorated. On the 10th of May Wilhelmina received a letter from her mother which caused her to wring her hands in anguish. It informed her that the next day a deputation was to call upon her from the king, to insist upon her giving her consent to marry the Prince of Baireuth.“It is not my purpose to lose battles by the base conduct of my generals; wherefore I hereby appoint that you, next year, if I be alive, assemble the army between Breslau and Ohlau; for four days before I arrive in your camp, carefully man?uvre with the ignorant generals, and teach them what their duty is. Regiment Von Arnim and regiment Von Kanitz are to act the enemy; and whoever does not then fulfill his duty shall go to court-martial; for I should think it a shame of any country to keep such people, who trouble themselves so little about their business.
At the same time that the tidings of the death of Augustus William were communicated to the king, he received also the tidings, which to him were truly heart-rending, that Wilhelmina, worn down with care and sorrow, was fast sinking into the grave.Though Wilhelmina was also a close prisoner in her apartment in the Berlin palace, and was fed upon the coarsest fare, she103 still had a comfortable room, her musical instruments, and the companionship of her governess, Madam Sonsfeld. It was rather a relief to the unhappy princess to be shut out from the presence of her father and from the sound of his voice. She occasionally obtained a smuggled letter from her mother, and even got one, in pencil, from her brother, full of expressions of tenderness.
Embarrassments of Frederick.—Attempts a Compromise.—New Invasion of Silesia.—Intrigues for the Imperial Crown.—Rivalry between England and France.—Death of Anne of Russia.—Energy of Austria.—Narrow Escape of Frederick.—Frederick’s Antipathy to Christianity.—Capture of Glogau.—Peril of Frederick.—The Siege of Neisse.详情
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