“Have I need of peace? Let those who need it give me what I want, or let them fight me again and be beaten again. Have they not given whole kingdoms to Spain? And to me they can not spare a few trifling principalities. If the queen do not now grant me all I require, I shall, in four weeks, demand four principalities more. I now demand the whole of Lower Silesia, Breslau included. With that answer you can return to Vienna.”
But the young King Frederick was very ambitious of enlarging the borders of his Liliputian realm, and of thus attaining a higher position among the proud and powerful monarchs who surrounded him. Maria Theresa, who had inherited the crown of Austria, was a remarkably beautiful, graceful, and accomplished216 young lady, in the twenty-fourth year of her age. She was a young wife, having married Francis, Duke of Lorraine. Her health, as we have mentioned, was at that time delicate. Frederick thought the opportunity a favorable one for wresting Silesia from Austria, and annexing it to his own kingdom. The queen was entirely inexperienced, and could not prove a very formidable military antagonist. Her army was in no respect, either in number, discipline, or materiel, prepared for war. Her treasury was deplorably empty. There was also reason for Frederick to hope that several claimants would rise in opposition to her, disputing the succession.MOLLWITZ,
Frederick, who was then in the zenith of his admiration for Voltaire, describes as follows, in a letter to his friend M. Jordan, his impressions of the interview:“On arriving with his column,” writes General Schmettau, “where the officer—a perfectly skillful man—had marked out the camp, the king would lift his spy-glass, gaze to right and left, riding round the place at perhaps a hundred yards distance, and begin, ‘Look here, sir, what a botching you have made of it again!
“‘See there; that is the way to mark out camps.’”192“I attacked the enemy this morning about eleven. We beat 485him back to the Jews’ Church-yard, near Frankfort.134 All my troops came into action, and have done wonders. I reassembled them three times. At length I was myself nearly taken prisoner, and we had to quit the field. My coat is riddled with bullets. Two horses were killed under me.135 My misfortune is that I am still alive. Our loss is very considerable. Of an army of forty-eight thousand men, I have at this moment, while I write, not more than three thousand together. I am no longer master of my forces.
After a long series of intrigues, a narrative of which would not interest the reader, Frederick William was induced to enter into an alliance, offensive and defensive, with the Emperor Charles VI. of Germany. This was renouncing the alliance with England, and threw an additional obstacle in the way of the double marriage. Sophie Dorothee was bitterly disappointed, and yet pertinaciously struggled on to accomplish her end.Frederick.”122
241“Each of these ministers makes a most brilliant figure, and never have I seen one travel with more ease and convenience, more elegance and grandeur, than does the Marquis of Montijo. Wherever he stops to dine or sup, he finds a room hung with the richest tapestry, and the floor covered with Turkey carpets, with velvet chairs, and every other kind of convenience; a table sumptuously served, the choicest wines, and a dessert of fruit and confectionery that Paris itself could not excel. This kind of enchantment, this real miracle in Germany, is performed by means of three baggage-wagons, of which two always go before the embassador, and carry with them every thing necessary for his reception. When they arrive in some poor village, the domestics268 that accompany each wagon immediately clear and clean some chamber, fix the tapestry by rings to the walls, cover the floor with carpets, and furnish the kitchen and cellar with every kind of necessary.”54
“I have passed my winter like a Carthusian monk. I dine alone. I spend my life in reading and writing, and I do not sup. When one is sad, it becomes, at last, too burdensome to hide one’s grief continually. It is better to give way to it than to carry one’s gloom into society. Nothing solaces me but the vigorous application required in steady and continuous labor. This distraction does force one to put away painful ideas while it lasts. But alas! no sooner is the work done than these fatal companions present themselves again, as if livelier than ever. Maupertuis was right; the sum of evil does certainly surpass that of good. But to me it is all one. I have almost nothing more to lose; and my few remaining days—what matters it much of what complexion they be?”
“I respect metaphysical ideas. Rays of lightning they are in the midst of deep night. More, I think, is not to be hoped from metaphysics. It does not seem likely that the first principles of things will ever be known. The mice that nestle in some little holes of an immense building know not whether it is eternal, or who the architect, or why he built it. Such mice are we. And the divine architect has never, that I know of, told his secret to one of us.Augustus William, overwhelmed by his disgrace, and yet angered by the rebuke, coldly replied that he desired only that a court-martial should investigate the case and pronounce judgment. The king forbade that any intercourse whatever should take place between his own troops, soldiers, or officers, and those of his brother, who, he declared, had utterly degraded themselves by the loss of all courage and ambition. The prince sent to the king General Schultz to obtain the countersign for the army. Frederick refused to receive him, saying “that he had no countersign to send to cowards.” Augustus William then went himself to present his official report and a list of his troops. Frederick took the papers without saying a word, and then turned his back upon his brother. This cruel treatment fell with crushing force upon the unhappy prince. Conscious of military failure, disgraced in the eyes of his generals and soldiers, and abandoned by the king, his health and spirits alike failed him. The next morning he wrote a sad, respectfully reproachful letter to423 Frederick, stating that his health rendered it necessary for him to retire for a season from the army to recruit. The reply of the king, which was dated Bautzen, July 30, 1757, shows how desperate he, at that time, considered the state of his affairs. Hopeless of victory, he seems to have sought only death.
The latter part of May, Frederick, in his head-quarters at Frankenstein, learned that an Austrian army under Prince Charles, and a Saxon army under the Duke of Weissenfels, in columns, by strict count seventy-five thousand strong, had defiled through the passes of the Giant Mountains, and entered Silesia near Landshut. Day after day he ascended an eminence, and, with his glass, anxiously scanned the horizon, to detect signs of the approach of the foe. On Thursday morning, June 3, an immense cloud of dust in the distance indicated that the decisive hour was at hand.
“Have I need of peace? Let those who need it give me what I want, or let them fight me again and be beaten again. Have they not given whole kingdoms to Spain? And to me they can not spare a few trifling principalities. If the queen do not now grant me all I require, I shall, in four weeks, demand four principalities more. I now demand the whole of Lower Silesia, Breslau included. With that answer you can return to Vienna.”Sieges, skirmishes, battles innumerable ensued. The Russians and the Austrians, in superior numbers and with able leaders, were unwearied in their endeavors to annihilate their formidable foe. The conflict was somewhat analogous to that which takes place between the lion at bay in the jungle and a pack of dogs. The details could scarcely be made intelligible to the reader, and would certainly prove tedious.153详情
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