At length the Austrians were routed—utterly routed—broken, dispersed, and driven in wild confusion into the glooms of the forest. The victory of Frederick was complete. As a warrior, he was winning the title he so greatly coveted, of Frederick the Great.
544 “It is a pity for the human race, madam, that men never can be tranquil. But they never can be any where. Even the little town of Neufchatel has had its troubles. Your royal highness will be astonished to learn how. A parson there had set forth in a sermon that, considering the immense mercy of God, the pains of hell could not last forever. The synod shouted murder at such scandal, and has been struggling ever since to get the parson exterminated. The affair was of my jurisdiction, for your royal highness must know that I am pope in that country. Here is my decision:
Embarrassments of Frederick.—Attempts a Compromise.—New Invasion of Silesia.—Intrigues for the Imperial Crown.—Rivalry between England and France.—Death of Anne of Russia.—Energy of Austria.—Narrow Escape of Frederick.—Frederick’s Antipathy to Christianity.—Capture of Glogau.—Peril of Frederick.—The Siege of Neisse.“The king thinks it scarcely worth while to mention his palaces and his gardens sacked and ruined, in contempt of the regard usually paid from one sovereign to another. Is there a man in all Europe who does not see in these terrible effects an implacable hatred and a destructive fury which all nations ought to concur in repressing?”149
Ringing violently for his servants, and deaf to all protestations and excuses, he had himself immediately rolled from the room. As the courtiers stood bewildered and gazing at each other in consternation, an officer came in with an order from the king that they should all leave the palace immediately, and come not back again. The next morning P?llnitz, who occupied a position somewhat similar to that of prime minister, applied for admission to his majesty’s apartment. But a gendarme seized him by the shoulder and turned him around, saying, “There is no admittance.” It was several days, and not till after repeated acts of humiliation, that the king would permit any member of the parliament again to enter his presence.The sun had just risen above the horizon when the conflict commenced. It reached its meridian. Still the storm of battle swept the plains and reverberated over the hills. Heights had been taken and retaken; charges had been made and repelled; the surges of victory had rolled to and fro; over many leagues the thunderbolts of battle were thickly flying; bugle peals, cries of onset, shrieks of the wounded crushed beneath artillery wheels, blended with the rattle of musketry and the roar of artillery; riderless horses were flying in all directions; the extended plain was covered with the wreck and ruin of battle, and every moment was multiplying the victims of war’s horrid butchery.On the 14th of August Frederick had reached Liegnitz. His foes surrounded him in such numbers that escape seemed impossible, and destruction sure. General Loudon, with thirty-five thousand allies, was scarcely a mile east of him. General Lacy, with an immense swarm of cavalry, was at the distance of but a few thousand yards on the west. General Daun, with his immense army, approaching from the southwest, had taken possession of Liegnitz. Frederick was encamped upon some heights a few miles east of the city. To human view, the position of his Prussian majesty was desperate.
Berlin was almost defenseless. All Saxony was rising in arms behind Frederick. The invader of Silesia was in danger of having his own realms invaded and his own capital sacked. Frederick was thoroughly roused. But he never allowed himself to appear agitated or anxious. He ordered Leopold, the Old Dessauer, to march immediately, with all the troops he could rally, to the frontiers of Saxony. He even found it necessary to detach to the aid of Leopold some corps from his own enfeebled forces, now menaced by an Austrian army twice as large as he could oppose to them.
General Neipperg had now left Neisse; but he kept himself so surrounded by clouds of skirmishers as to render his march entirely invisible. Frederick, anxious to unite with him his troops under the Prince of Holstein Beck, advanced toward Grottkau to meet that division, which had been ordered to join him. The prince had been stationed at Frankenstein, with a force of about eight thousand, horse and foot; but the Austrian scouts so occupied all the roads that the king had not been able to obtain any tidings from him whatever.“It would be easier for me to make peace with France than with Prussia. What good could possibly result now from peace with Prussia? I must have Silesia again. Without Silesia the imperial sceptre would be but a bauble. Would you have us sway that sceptre under the guardianship of Prussia? Prince Charles is now in a condition to fight the Prussians again. Until after another battle, do not speak to me of peace. You say that if we make peace with Prussia, Frederick will give his vote for the grand-duke as emperor. The grand-duke is not so ambitious of an empty honor as to engage in it under the tutelage of Prussia. Consider, moreover, is the imperial dignity consistent with the loss of Silesia? One more battle I demand. Were I compelled to agree with Frederick to-morrow, I would try him in a battle to-night.”85
Fritz, however, had not his father’s strength to resist the allurements of this wicked court. He was but sixteen years of age. From childhood he had been kept secluded from the world, and had been reared under the sternest discipline. He was remarkably handsome, full of vivacity, which qualified him to shine52 in any society, and was heir to the Prussian monarchy. He was, consequently, greatly caressed, and every conceivable inducement was presented to him to lure him into the paths of guilty pleasure. He fell. From such a fall one never on earth recovers. Even though repentance and reformation come, a scar is left upon the soul which time can not efface.CHAPTER XVII. THE CAMPAIGN OF MORAVIA.The death of George I. affected the strange Frederick William very deeply. He not only shed tears, but, if we may be pardoned the expression, blubbered like a child. His health seemed50 to fail, and hypochondria, in its most melancholy form, tormented him. As is not unusual in such cases, he became excessively religious. Every enjoyment was deemed sinful, if we except the indulgence in an ungovernable temper, which the self-righteous king made no attempt to curb. Wilhelmina, describing this state of things with her graphic pen, writes:
The king, weary of the life of turmoil, constructed for himself376 a beautiful villa, which he named Sans Souci (“Free from Care”), which Carlyle characteristically translates “No bother.” It was situated on a pleasant hill-top near Potsdam, in great retirement, yet commanding an enchanting view of land and water.
Baron Bielfeld gives the following account of the ordinary employments, and the tone of conversation of the prince: “All the employments and all the pleasures of the prince are those of a man of understanding. He is, at this time, actually engaged in refuting the dangerous political reveries of Machiavel. His conversation at table is charming. He talks much and excellently well. His mind seems to be equal to all sorts of subjects, and his imagination produces on each of them a number of new and just ideas. His genius resembles the fire of the vestals that was never extinct. A decent and polite contradiction is not disagreeable172 to him. He possesses the rare talent of displaying the wit of others, and of giving them opportunity to shine on those subjects in which they excel. He jests frequently, and sometimes rallies, but never with asperity; and an ingenious retort does not displease him.His Prussian majesty carefully examined the position of the Saxons. They were in a region of precipices and chasms, broken into a labyrinth of sky-piercing and craggy rocks. The eminences, in some cases, rose two thousand feet, and were covered with pine forests. “There is no stronger position in the world,” Frederick writes. All these passes were fortified, mile after mile, by batteries, ramparts, palisades, and abattis. But the Saxon troops, taken unawares, had but a small supply of provisions. Frederick decided to block every entrance to their encampment, and thus to starve them out. His Polish majesty sent frantic cries to France and Austria for help. Frederick was assailed with the title of the “Prussian robber.”详情
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