F.”General Neipperg was not attempting to move in the deep snow. He, however, sent out a reconnoitring party of mounted hussars under General Rothenburg. About two miles from Mollwitz this party encountered the advance-guard of the Prussians. The hussars, after a momentary conflict, in which several fell, retreated and gave the alarm. General Neipperg was just sitting down to dinner. The Prussian advance waited for the rear columns to come up, and then deployed into line. As the Austrian hussars dashed into the village of Mollwitz with the announcement that the Prussians were on the march, had attacked them, and killed forty of their number, General Neipperg dropped knife and fork, sprang from the table, and dispatched couriers in all directions, galloping for life, to concentrate his troops. His force was mainly distributed about in three villages, two or three miles apart. The clangor of trumpets and drums resounded; and by the greatest exertions the Austrian troops were collected from their scattered encampments, and formed in two parallel lines, about two miles in length, facing the Prussians, who were slowly advancing in the same order, wading through the snow. Each army was formed with the infantry in the centre and the cavalry on the wings. Frederick was then but an inexperienced soldier. He subsequently condemned the want of military ability which he displayed upon this occasion.“The king did a beautiful thing to Lieutenant Keith the other day—that poor Keith who was nailed to the gallows, in effigy, for him at Wesel, long ago, and got far less than he expected. The other day there had been a grand review, part of it extending into Madame Knyphausen’s grounds, who is Keith’s mother-in-law.
“Here, take that order to General Lossow, and tell him that he is not to take it ill that I trouble him, as I have none in my suite that can do any thing.” It often seemed to give Frederick pleasure, and never pain, to wound the feelings of others.
The Prince of Ligne, a very accomplished courtier, about this566 time visited the sick and dying king. During his brief stay he dined daily with the king, and spent his evenings with him. In an interesting account which he gives of these interviews, he writes:
“‘You shall have it for fifty,’ said the king, ‘because you are a good judge, and I am therefore anxious to do you a favor.’
“At Belgard next morning he reviewed the dragoon regiment, and was very ill content with it. And nobody, with the least understanding of that business, but must own that never did Prussian regiment man?uvre worse. Conscious themselves how bad it was, they lost head and got into confusion. The king did every thing that was possible to help them into order again, but it was all in vain. The king, contrary to wont, restrained himself amazingly, and would not show his displeasure in public. He got into his carriage and drove away, not staying to dine with General Von Platen, as was always his custom with commandants whom he had reviewed.
“I believe that there will, by June next, be more talk of cannon, soldiers, trenches, than of actresses and dancers for the ballet. This small event changes the entire system of Europe. It is the little stone which Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream, loosening itself and rolling down on the image made of four metals, which it shivers to ruin.”
In the following terms Thiebault describes their parting: The final interview between Frederick and Voltaire took place on the parade at Potsdam, where the king was then occupied with393 his soldiers. One of the attendants announced Voltaire to his majesty with these words:a a a. First position of Austrian Army. b b b. Second position to meet the Prussian Attack. c. Prussians under Keith. d d. First position of Prussian Army. e e. Second position of Prussian Army. f. Schwerin’s Prussians. g. Prussian Horse. h. Mannstein’s Attack. i. Place of Schwerin’s Monument.
The reader will bear in mind that the camp at G?ttin, menacing Hanover, was acting in co-operation with Frederick’s ally, France, and that forty thousand men had been sent from France to the aid of those Prussian troops. Frederick now, entering into secret treaty with the enemy, while still feigning to be true to his ally, was perfidiously withdrawing his troops so as to leave the French unsupported. His treachery went even farther than this. In the presence of Lord Hyndford, the representative of England, he informed the Austrian general minutely how he could, to the greatest advantage, attack the French.
As this magnificent army entered upon the smooth and beautiful fields of Southern Silesia they shook out their banners, and with peals of music gave expression to their confidence of victory. The Austrian officers pitched their tents on a hill near Hohenfriedberg, where they feasted and drank their wine, while, during the long and beautiful June afternoon, they watched the onward sweep of their glittering host. “The Austrian and Saxon army,” writes an eye-witness, “streamed out all the afternoon, each regiment or division taking the place appointed it; all the afternoon, till late in the night, submerging the country as in a deluge.”FREDERICK AND THE BRITISH MINISTERS.详情
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