“About nine this morning,” was the reply, “the prince got to horse. Not long after three he came back again with a swarm of officers, all going full speed for Lissa. They were full of bragging when they came; now they were off wrong side foremost! I saw how it was. Close following after him the flood of them ran. The high road was not broad enough. It was an hour and more before it ended. Such a pell-mell, such a welter! cavalry and infantry all jumbled together. Our king must have given them a terrible flogging.”From this exhausting journey for so old a man the king returned to Potsdam through a series of state dinners, balls, and illuminations. On the night of the 18th of September he was awoke by a very severe fit of suffocation. It was some time before he could get any relief, and it was thought that he was dying. The next day gout set in severely. This was followed by dropsy. The king suffered severely through the winter. There is no royal road through the sick-chamber to the tomb. The weary months of pain and languor came and went. The renowned Mirabeau visited the king in his sick-chamber on the 17th of April, 1786. He writes:
Frederick paid but little regard to his allies save as he could make them subservient to the accomplishment of his purposes. He pushed his troops forward many leagues south into Moravia, and occupied the important posts of Troppau, Friedenthal, and Olmütz. These places were seized the latter part of December. The king hoped thus to be able, early in the spring, to carry the war to the gates of Vienna.471 When the Austrian general conducting the siege at Neisse heard of the rapid approach of Frederick, he, in consternation, blew up many of his works, abandoned several guns, and, on the 6th of November, fled with his army over the hills to the south, to take shelter in Austria. Frederick triumphantly entered Neisse, and, having driven the Austrians from every outpost, commenced, with a recruited army, his return march to Dresden. The more slow-footed Daun did not reach Dresden till the 8th of the month. The city, outside of the walls, was crowded with the dwellings of the more respectable citizens, and the beautiful mansions of the wealthy. The King of Poland was Elector of Saxony, and was in alliance with Austria. For the Austrian commander to pursue any measure which should lead to the destruction, in whole or in part, of this beautiful capital, would inflict a terrible blow upon the subjects of the ally of Austria.
FREDERICK AND WILHELMINA.
A single servant lighted his fire, shaved him, and dressed his195 hair. He always wore the uniform of his guards, and allowed only fifteen minutes for his morning toilet. He did not indulge in the luxury of slippers or dressing-gown, though occasionally, when ill, he put on a sort of linen wrapper, but even then he wore his military boots. Only on one day in the year did he appear in silk stockings, and that was on the birthday of his neglected wife, when he formally called upon her with his congratulations.Early in the morning Frederick’s whole army was on the rapid march for Breslau, which was scarcely twenty miles distant from the battle-field. The Austrians had collected immense military stores in the city. Prince Charles, as he fled through the place with the wreck of his army, left a garrison of seventeen thousand men for its defense. In a siege of twelve days, during which there was an incessant bombardment and continual assaults, the city was carried. A few days after this, Liegnitz, which the Austrians had strongly fortified, was also surrendered to the victor. Frederick had thus reconquered the whole of Silesia excepting the single fortress of Schweidnitz.
“‘The finest day of life is the day on which one quits it.’”177
“You have seen the paper I have sent to Vienna. Their answer is, that they have not made an offensive alliance with Russia against me. Of the assurance that I required there is not one word, so that the sword alone can cut this Gordian knot. I am innocent of this war. I have done what I could to avoid it; but, whatever be one’s love of peace, one can not, and one must not, sacrifice to that safety and honor. At present our one thought must be to wage war in such a way as may cure our enemies of their wish to break peace again too soon.”Thus was commenced the Seven Years’ War. It proved one of the most bloody and cruel strifes which man has ever waged against his brother man. Through its terrible scenes of conflagration, blood, and despair, Frederick obtained the renown of being one of the ablest generals who ever marshaled armies upon fields of blood.
When the Reformation in the sixteenth century was presented to Europe, and was rejected by Italy, France, Austria, and Spain, it was accepted, though not unanimously, yet very generally, by the inhabitants of this wild region. In the year 1700 there was, in the midst of the realm of which we are about to write, and which is now called Prussia, a province then known as the Marquisate of Brandenburg. It embraced a little over fifteen thousand square miles, being about twice as large as the State of Massachusetts. It was one of the electorates of Germany, and the elector or marquis, Frederick, belonged to the renowned family of Hohenzollern. To the east of Brandenburg there was a duchy called Prussia. This duchy, in some of the political agitations of the times, had been transferred to the Marquis of Brandenburg. The Elector of Brandenburg, Frederick, an ambitious man, rejoicing in the extent of his domain, which was large for a marquisate, though small for a monarchy, obtained from the Emperor of Germany its recognition as a kingdom, and assumed the title of Frederick I. of Prussia. Many of19 the proud monarchies of Europe did not conceal the contempt with which they regarded this petty kingdom. They received the elector into their society very much as haughty nobles, proud of a long line of illustrious ancestry, would receive a successful merchant who had purchased a title. Frederick himself was greatly elated with the honor he had attained, and his subjects shared with him in his exultation.
The doge and senate were brought to terms. They seized the beautiful Barberina, placed her carefully in a post-chaise, and, under an escort of armed men, sent her, from stage to stage, over mountain and valley, till she arrived at Berlin. The Venetian embassador was then discharged. The young English gentleman, James Mackenzie, a grandson of the celebrated advocate, Sir George Mackenzie, eagerly followed his captured inamorata, and reached Berlin two hours after Barberina. The rumor was circulated that he was about to marry her.On Tuesday evening, October 24, 1758, Frederick, in a rapid and secret march, protected by darkness, pushed his whole army around the right wing of the Austrian encampment, and took a very strong position at Reichenbach, in the rear of Marshal Daun, and on the road to Neisse. The Austrian general, astonished at this bold and successful man?uvre, now found that the march of Frederick to Neisse could by no possibility be prevented except by attacking him on his own chosen ground. This he did not dare to do. He therefore resolved to make a rush with his whole army to the west for the capture of Dresden. Frederick, in the mean time, by forced marches, was pressing forward to the east for the relief of Neisse. Thus the two armies were flying from each other in opposite directions.It will generally be admitted by military men that Frederick did not display much ability of generalship in this campaign. He was fearless, indomitable in energy, and tireless in the endurance of fatigue, but in generalship he was entirely eclipsed by his formidable rival. Indeed, Frederick could not be blind to this, and he had sufficient candor to confess it. Subsequently, giving an account of these transactions in his “Works,” he writes:
Soon after, a soldier, six feet three inches tall, the ringleader of a gang, broke into a house and robbed it of property to the amount of about five thousand dollars. He was sentenced to be hung. We give the result in the words of Carlyle:详情
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