Olmütz was an ancient, strongly fortified city of Moravia, pleasantly situated on the western banks of the Morawa River. It had been the capital of Moravia, and contained about ten thousand inhabitants. The place subsequently became renowned from the imprisonment of Lafayette in its citadel for many years. The city had become an arsenal, and one of the most important military store-houses of Austria.
On Saturday morning, August 28, 1756, the Prussian army, over one hundred thousand strong, entered Saxony at three different points on the northern frontier. Frederick, with about sixty thousand troops, crossed the Elbe at Torgau, and seized upon Leipsic. Duke Ferdinand, of Hanover, led his columns405 across the frontier about eighty miles to the right. The Duke of Brunswick-Bevern crossed about the same distance to the left. Each column was stronger than the whole Saxon army. The appointed place of rendezvous for the three divisions was the city of Dresden, the capital of Saxony. By the route marked out, each column had a distance of about one hundred and fifty miles to traverse.
After this signal achievement his Prussian majesty established his army in winter quarters along the banks of the Elbe. He took up his abode in the palace of Dresden, awaiting the opening of the spring campaign. Saxony was held with a tight grasp, and taxes and recruits were gathered from the country as if it had always belonged to Prussia. Frederick had hoped that his sudden campaign would have led him into the heart of the Austrian states. Instead of this, though he had wrested Saxony from Poland, he had given Austria ample time to prepare her armies for a long war, and had roused all Europe to intense hostility against him.SIEGE OF OLMüTZ, MAY 12—JULY 2, 1758.“I have just been to see the King of Prussia. I have seen him as one seldom sees kings, much at my ease, in my own room, in the chimney-corner, whither the same man who has gained two battles would come and talk familiarly, as Scipio did with Terence. You will tell me I am not Terence. True; but neither is he altogether Scipio.”
In the month of October, 1747, Field-marshal Keith visited his Prussian majesty at Sans Souci. In a letter to his brother he thus describes the results of his observations:Frederick, finding that he could not rely upon the Saxons, sent to Silesia for re-enforcements of his own troops. Brünn could not be taken without siege artillery. He was capturing Moravia for the King of Poland. Frederick dispatched a courier to his Polish majesty at Dresden, requesting him immediately to forward the siege guns. The reply of the king, who was voluptuously lounging in his palaces, was, “I can not meet the expense of the carriage.” Frederick contemptuously remarked, “He has just purchased a green diamond which would have carried them thither and back again.” The Prussian king sent for siege artillery of his own, drew his lines close around Brünn, and urged Chevalier De Saxe, general of the Saxon horse, to co-operate with him energetically in battering the city into a surrender.305 The chevalier interposed one obstacle, and another, and another. At last he replied, showing his dispatches, “I have orders to retire from this business altogether, and join the French at Prague.”
The surrender was made. Fifteen miles nearly east from Ohlau, on the southern banks of the Oder, is the little town of Brieg. Frederick approached it with divisions of his army on both sides of the river. The country was flat and densely wooded. On the southern side, where Frederick marched with the major part of his troops, it was traversed by an admirably paved road. This was constructed one hundred and fifty-six years before by one of the dukes of that realm. It was a broad highway, paved with massive flat stones, climbing the mountains, threading the valleys, traversing the plains—a road such as those which the Romans constructed, and over which the legions of the C?sars tramped in their tireless conquests. This duke, in consequence of his religious character, was called “George the Pious.” His devotional spirit may be inferred from the following inscription, in Latin, which he had engraved on a very massive monument, constructed in commemoration of the achievement:
THE KING AND HIS SERVANT.
There still remained to Frederick twenty-three years of life. He now engaged very vigorously in the endeavor to repair the terrible ravages of war by encouraging agriculture, commerce, and all useful arts. He invited the distinguished French philosophers Helvetius and D’Alembert to visit his court, and endeavored, though unavailingly, to induce them to take up their residence in Berlin. They were both in sympathy with the king in their renunciation of Christianity.“At eleven this day I went to the council-chamber for the third time, and desired Secretary Hartoff to prevail with the ministry to allow me to speak with them, and communicate what the King of Prussia had ordered me to propose. Herr von Hartoff gave them an account of my request, and brought me, for answer, that I must wait a little, because the ministers were not yet all assembled; which I did. But after having made me stay almost an hour, and after the president of the council was come, Herr von Hartoff came out to me and repeated what he had said yesterday, in very positive and absolute terms, that the ministers were resolved not to see me, and had expressly forbid him taking any paper at my hands.
As the secretary, Podewils, had been taking notes, Lord Hyndford requested permission to look at them, that he might see that no mistake had been made. The king assented, and then Lord Hyndford bowed himself out. Thus ended the audience.These were his last words. He fainted, and, after a few gasps, died. It was about two o’clock in the afternoon of Tuesday, the 31st of May, 1740. Thus the soul of Frederick William passed to the spirit land, in the fifty-first year of its sojourn here on earth.474 “Many men in all nations long for peace. But there are three women at the top of the world who do not. Their wrath, various in quality, is great in quantity, and disasters do the reverse of appeasing it.”126
The king was not a man of refined sensibilities. Not unfrequently his letters contained coarse and indelicate expressions. He was very profane. Voltaire says of him, “He has a pleasing tone of voice even in swearing, which is as familiar to him as to a grenadier.”详情
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