“Every body here is on tiptoe for the event, of which both origin and end are a riddle to most. Those who, in the style of theologians, consider themselves entitled to be certain, maintain that your majesty is expected with religious impatience by the Protestants; and that the Catholics hope to see themselves delivered from a multitude of imposts, which cruelly tear up the beautiful bosom of their Church. You can not but succeed in your valiant and stoical enterprise, since both religion and worldly interest rank themselves under your flag. Wallis, they say, has punished a Silesian heretic, of enthusiastic turn, as blasphemer, for announcing that a new Messiah is just coming. I have a taste for that kind of martyrdom. Critical persons consider the present step as directly opposed to certain maxims in the Anti-Machiavel.”
The King patronizes literary and scientific Men.—Anecdotes.—The Family Quarrel.—Birth of Frederick William III.—Rapid Recuperation of Prussia.—The King’s Tour of Observation.—Desolate Aspect of the Country.—Absolutism of Frederick.—Interview between Frederick and D’Alembert.—Unpopularity of Frederick.—Death of the King of Poland.—Plans for the Partition of Poland.—Intrigues of Catharine.—Interview between Frederick and the Emperor Joseph.—Poland seized by Russia, Prussia, and Austria.—The Division of the Spoil.—Remorse of Maria Theresa.—Indifference of Frederick to public Opinion.The exigency demanded the most decisive action. Frederick promptly gathered his army, and dashed across the Moldau, resolved, with the energies of despair, to smite down the troops of Prince Charles; but no foe could be found. For four days he sought for them in vain. He then learned that the Austrian army had crossed the Moldau several miles north of him, thus cutting off his communications with Prague.
They all united their entreaties, arguments, prayers, and threats. The princess was in a state of terrible agitation. Almost distracted she paced the floor. That she might have a little time to reflect, the four deputies retired into the recess of a window. One of them, M. Tulmier, then approached the princess, and, in a low tone of voice, said to her,
“‘There is this wanting,’ she said, ‘that one can not have enough; and the little there is consists of coarse pot-herbs that nobody can eat.’There can be but little doubt, however, that the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles will ere long be in the hands of Russia. “I know that I or my successors,” said the Czar Nicholas, “must547 have Constantinople. You might as well arrest a stream in its descent from a mountain as the Russians in their advance to the Hellespont.”184
England was the hereditary foe of France. It was one of the leading objects in her diplomacy to circumvent that power. “Our great-grandfathers,” writes Carlyle, “lived in perpetual terror that they would be devoured by France; that French ambition would overset the Celestial Balance, and proceed next to eat the British nation.” Strengthening Austria was weakening France. Therefore the sympathies of England were strongly with Austria. In addition to this, personal feelings came in. The puerile little king, George II., hated implacably his nephew, Frederick of Prussia, which hatred Frederick returned with interest.
He then adds the philosophical reflection: “Bad is often better for princes than good. Instead of intoxicating them with presumption, it renders them circumspect and modest.”76In conclusion, he gives utterance to that gloomy creed of infidelity and atheism which he had adopted instead of the Christian faith. “Thus destiny with a deluge of torments fills the poisoned remnants of my days. The present is hideous to me, the future unknown. Do you say that I am the creature of a beneficent being? I see that all men are the sport of destiny. And if there do exist some gloomy and inexorable being who allows a despised herd of creatures to go on multiplying here, he values them as nothing. He looks down on our virtues, our misdeeds, on the horrors of war, and on all the cruel plagues which ravage earth, as a thing indifferent to him. Wherefore my sole refuge and only haven, loved sister, is in the arms of death.”106
Keith, trembling in every limb, returned to the stable. Though Rochow pretended not to suspect any attempt at escape, it was manifestly pretense only. The prince had provided himself with a red overcoat as a disguise to his uniform, the gray one having been left with Katte at Potsdam. As Fritz was returning to the barn with Rochow, wearing this suspicious garment, they met the minister Seckendorf, whom Fritz and his mother thoroughly hated as one of the counselors of the king. Very coolly and cuttingly Rochow inquired of Seckendorf, “How do you like his royal highness in the red overcoat?” It was a desperate game these men were playing; for, should the king suddenly91 die, Fritz would surely inherit the crown, and they would be entirely at his mercy. All hope of escape seemed now to vanish, and the prince was quite in despair.
The Austrian centre was pushed rapidly forward to the aid of the discomfited left. It was too late. The soldiers arrived upon the ground breathless and in disorder. Before they had time to form, Frederick plowed their ranks with balls, swept them with bullets, and fell upon them mercilessly with sabre and bayonet. The carnage was awful. Division after division melted away in the fire deluge which consumed them. Prince Charles made the most desperate efforts to rally his dismayed troops in and around the church-yard at Leuthen. Here for an hour they fought desperately. But it was all in vain. The left wing was destroyed. The centre was destroyed. The right wing was pushed forward only to be cut to pieces by the sabres, and to be mown down by the terrific fire of the triumphant Prussians.“My brother overwhelmed me with caresses, but found me in so pitiable a state that he could not restrain his tears. I was not able to stand on my limbs, and felt like to faint every moment, so weak was I. He told me that the king was very angry at the margraf for not letting his son make the campaign. I told him all the margraf’s reasons, and added surely they were good, in respect of my dear husband.详情
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