“Life’s labor done, securely laid In this, their last retreat: Unheeded o’er their silent dust The storms of life shall beat.”Strasbourg began to echo with the fame of this foreign count. But the next morning, Thursday, August 25, as Marshal Broglio was walking on the Esplanade, a soldier, who had formerly201 been in the regiment of the Crown Prince at Potsdam, and who knew the Crown Prince perfectly, having seen him hundreds of times, but who had deserted and entered the French service, came to the marshal, with much bowing and embarrassment, and assured him that Count Dufour was no less than the King of Prussia.
Sir Thomas, who was not aware of the engagement into which the allies had entered to keep Russia busy by a war with Sweden, intimated that there were powers which might yet come to the rescue of the queen, and mentioned Russia as one.
The king then took the pen himself, and added with his own hand:
“My dear Sister,—Here I am, within six leagues of a sister I love, and I have to decide that it will be impossible to see her after all. I have never so lamented the misfortune of not depending on myself as at this moment. The king being very sour sweet on my score, I dare not risk the least thing. A week from next Monday, when he arrives himself, I should be queerly treated in the camp if I were found to have disobeyed orders.The young king, all unaccustomed to those horrors of war which he had evoked, was swept along with the inundation. The danger of his falling in the midst of the general carnage, or of his capture, which was, perhaps, still more to be dreaded, was imminent. His friends entreated him to escape for his life. Even Marshal Schwerin, the veteran soldier, assured him that the battle was lost, and that he probably could escape capture only by a precipitate flight.
Voltaire hated M. Maupertuis. He was the president of the Berlin Academy, and was regarded by Voltaire as a formidable rival. This hatred gave rise to a quarrel between Frederick and Voltaire, which was so virulent that Europe was filled with the noise of their bickerings. M. Maupertuis had published a pamphlet, in which he assumed to have made some important discovery upon the law of action. M. K?nig, a member of the Academy, reviewed the pamphlet, asserting not only that the proclaimed law was false, but that it had been promulgated half a century before. In support of his position he quoted from a letter of Leibnitz. The original of the letter could not be produced. M. K?nig was accused of having forged the extract. M. Maupertuis, a very jealous, irritable man, by his powerful influence as president, caused M. K?nig to be expelled from the Academy.
“Frederick.Thus circumstanced, General Neipperg gave the order to retreat. At the double quick, the Austrians retired back through the street of Mollwitz, hurried across the River Laugwitz by a bridge, and, turning short to the south, continued their retreat toward Grottkau. They left behind them nine of their own guns, and eight of those which they had captured from the Prussians. The Prussians, exhausted by the long battle, their cavalry mostly dispersed and darkness already enveloping them, did not attempt any vigorous pursuit. They bivouacked on the grounds, or quartered themselves in the villages from which the Austrians had fled.
The Castle at Reinsberg.—Slender Purses of Fritz and Wilhelmina.—Liberality of Fritz.—The Ball at Monbijou.—Adventures of Fritz and Wilhelmina.—Letters.—The Interview.—Anecdote of the King.—Wilhelmina’s Account of her Brother.—Mental and Physical Maladies of the King.—Frederick’s cruel Neglect of his Wife.—Daily Habits of the young Prince.—The shameful Carousal.The next day, the 21st of August, he wrote to D’Argens to come and visit him, and bring his bed with him. “I will have you a little chamber ready.” But the next day he wrote,Du dernier jour mena?aient les humains.
Frederick returned to Ruppin. Though he treated his wife with ordinary courtesy, as an honored member of the court, his attentions were simply such as were due to every lady of the royal household. It does not appear that she accompanied him to Ruppin or to Reinsberg at that time, though the apartments to which we have already alluded were subsequently provided for her at Reinsberg, where she was ever treated with the most punctilious politeness. Lord Dover says that after the accession of the prince to the throne he went to see his wife but once a year, on her birthday. She resided most of the time at Berlin, surrounded by a quiet little court there. However keen may have been her sufferings in view of this cruel neglect, we have165 no record that any word of complaint was ever heard to escape her lips. “This poor Crown Princess, afterward queen,” says Carlyle, “has been heard, in her old age, reverting in a touching, transient way to the glad days she had at Reinsberg. Complaint openly was never heard of her in any kind of days; but these, doubtless, were the best of her life.”Desperate Exertions of Frederick.—Aid from England.—Limited Resources.—Opening of the Campaign.—Disgraceful Conduct of Voltaire.—Letter to Voltaire.—An Act of Desperation.—Letter to Count Finckenstein.—Frankfort taken by the Prussians.—Terrible Battle of Kunersdorf.—Anguish of Frederick.—The Disastrous Retreat.—Melancholy Dispatch.—Contemplating Suicide.—Collecting the Wrecks of the Army.—Consternation in Berlin.—Letters to D’Argens.—Wonderful Strategical Skill.—Literary Efforts of the King.详情
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