“If you wish to come hither you can. I hear nothing of lawsuits, not even of yours. Since you have gained it I congratulate389 you, and I am glad that this scurvy affair is done.96 I hope you will have no more quarrels, either with the Old or the New Testament. Such contentions leave their mark upon a man. Even with the talents of the finest genius in France, you will not cover the stains which this conduct will fasten on your reputation in the long run. I write this letter with the rough common sense of a German, without employing equivocal terms which disfigure the truth. It is for you to profit by it.”
It would be unjust alike to the father and the son to withhold a letter which reflects so much credit upon them both—upon179 the father for his humane measures, and upon the son for his appreciation of their moral beauty.
“I have arrested the rascal Fritz. I shall treat him as his crime and his cowardice merit. He has dishonored me and all my family. So great a wretch is no longer worthy to live.”
This, however, stirred up great strife in Poland. The nobles were roused. Scenes of confusion ensued. The realm was plunged into a state of anarchy. Frederick, being in cordial co-operation with the czarina in all her measures, instructed his minister in Warsaw to follow her policy in every particular. It has generally been supposed that Frederick was the first to propose the banditti division of the kingdom of Poland between Prussia, Russia, and Austria by means of their united armies. This is not certain. But, whoever may have at first made the suggestion, it is very certain that Frederick cordially and efficiently embarked in the enterprise.178It was remarked that the whole behavior of the king upon this occasion exhibited the utmost mildness, gentleness, and affability. He seemed to be influenced by the most tender regard for the welfare of the people.
Frederick was overjoyed. He regarded the day as his own, and the Russian army as at his mercy. He sent a dispatch to anxious Berlin, but sixty miles distant: “The Russians are beaten. Rejoice with me.” It was one of the hottest of August days, without a breath of wind. Nearly every soldier of the Prussian army had been brought into action against the left wing only of the foe. After a long march and an exhausting fight, they were perishing with thirst. For twelve hours many of them had been without water. Panting with heat, thirst, and exhaustion, they were scarcely capable of any farther efforts.“As I could not get into the cabin, because it was all engaged, I staid with the other passengers in the steerage, and the weather being fine, came upon deck. After some time there stepped out of the cabin a man in cinnamon-colored coat with gold buttons; in black wig; face and coat considerably dusted with Spanish snuff. He looked at me fixedly for a while, and then said, without farther preface, ‘Who are you, sir?’ This cavalier tone from an unknown person, whose exterior indicated nothing very important, did not please me, and I declined satisfying his curiosity. He was silent. But some time after he assumed a more courteous tone, and said, ‘Come in here to me, sir. You will be better here than in the steerage amidst the tobacco-smoke.’FREDERICK ASLEEP IN THE HUT AT OETSCHER.
Prince Charles, as he was leading the main body of his army to the assault, sent a squadron of his fleet-footed cavalry to burn the Prussian camp, and to assail the foe in their rear. But the troops found the camp so rich in treasure that they could not resist the temptation of stopping to plunder. Thus they did not make the attack which had been ordered, and which would probably have resulted in the destruction of the Prussian army. It is said that when Frederick, in the heat of the battle, was informed that the Pandours were sacking his camp, he coolly replied, “So much the better; they will not then interrupt us.”Soon after this Frederick dispatched a young and impetuous479 officer, General Wedell, invested with dictatorial powers, at the head of twenty-six thousand men, to attack the Russian army, at every hazard, and arrest its march. The heroic little band of Prussians met the Russians at Züllichau. One of General Wedell’s officers remonstrated against the attack.
“Join,” said he, “the Austrian force under Prince Lobkowitz in Bohemia. Fall immediately and impetuously upon the French, before they can combine their forces to resist you. If you succeed in this, perhaps I will by-and-by join you; if you fail—well, you know every one must look out for himself.”
“On the 21st I leave Berlin, and mean to be at Neisse on the 24th at least. Your excellency will, in the mean time, make out the order of battle for the regiments which have come in. For I will, on the 25th, without delay, cross the Neisse, and attack those people, cost what it may, and chase them out of Silesia, and follow them as far as possible. You will, therefore, take measure and provide every thing, that the project may be executed the moment I arrive.”539 Under the energetic administration of Frederick, Prussia began, very rapidly, to recover from the desolation which had overwhelmed it. The coin, in a little more than a year, was restored to its purity. In the course of two years Frederick rebuilt, in different parts of his realms, fourteen thousand five hundred houses. The army horses were distributed among the impoverished farmers for plow teams. Early in June, 1763, the king set out on a general tour of inspection.
The king approved of the first two sentences of the court. The mildness of the last roused his indignation. “Katte,” he exclaimed, “is guilty of high treason. He shall die by the sword of the headsman. It is better that he should die than that justice depart out of the world.” His doom was thus fixed as irreversible as fate.Frederick had caused signal cannon to be placed at suitable points between Breslau and Strehlin, which, by transmitting reports, should give him as early intelligence as possible of the success of the enterprise. About noon, in the midst of the grand man?uvrings on the parade-ground, one distant cannon-shot was heard, to the great satisfaction of Frederick, who alone understood its significance.
“Think of the sounds,” writes Carlyle, “uttered from human windpipes, shrill with rage, some of them, hoarse others with ditto; of the vituperations, execrations, printed and vocal—grating harsh thunder upon Frederick and this new course of his. Huge melody of discords, shrieking, groaning, grinding on that topic through the afflicted universe in general.“It is a monument for the latest posterity; the only book worthy of a king for these fifteen hundred years.”33详情
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