On Wednesday morning, December 15, the advance-guard of the Prussians saw before them the allied army, thirty-five thousand strong, occupying a very formidable position. Marshal Grüne and General Rutowski had advanced a few miles north from Dresden to meet the Prussians. Their troops were drawn up in battle array, extending from the River Elbe on the east, to the village of Kesselsdorf on the west. A small stream, with a craggy or broken gully or dell, extended along their whole front. The southern ridge, facing the advancing Prussians, bristled with artillery. Some of the pieces were of heavy calibre. Leopold had only light field-pieces.It is very evident, from the glimpses we catch of Fritz at this time, that he was a wild fellow, quite frivolous, and with but a feeble sense of moral obligation. General Schulenburg, an old soldier, of stern principles, visited him at Cüstrin, and sent an account of the interview to Baron Grumkow, under date of October 4th, 1731. From this letter we cull the following statement:
The Queen of Prussia had recently given birth to another prince. She was on a bed of languor. The king was somewhat mollified, and was anxious to be relieved from these protracted difficulties. Colonel Hotham reached the palace of Charlottenburg on the 2d of April, 1730, and was graciously received by the king. The next day quite a splendid dinner was given in honor of the British envoy. All the notables who surrounded the table, the English and the Prussian, in accordance with the degrading custom of those times, drank deeply. Hotham, in his dispatch, without any apparent sense of shame, writes, “We all got immoderately drunk.”CHAPTER XII. THE INVASION OF SILESIA.The British court was frantic with rage. Frederick had a strong army on the frontiers of Hanover. The first hostile gun fired would be the signal for the invasion of that province, and it would inevitably be wrested from the British crown. The lion roared, but did not venture to use either teeth or claws. England was promptly brought to terms. It was grandly done of Frederick. There was something truly sublime in the quiet, noiseless, apparently almost indifferent air with which Frederick accomplished his purpose.
The decisive battle of Hohenfriedberg, by which victory Frederick probably escaped utter destruction, was fought on the 4th of June, 1745. From early dawn to the evening twilight of the long summer’s day the dreadful work of slaughter had continued without a moment’s intermission. As the Austrians, having lost nearly one fourth of their number, retreated, the Prussians, in utter exhaustion, threw themselves upon the ground for sleep. The field around them was covered with fourteen thousand of the wounded, the dying, and the dead.“Seigneur Jordan,” the king writes, “thy letter has given me a great deal of pleasure in regard to all these talkings thou reportest. To-morrow I arrive at our last station this side of Glogau, which place I hope to get in a few days. All things favor my designs; and I hope to return to Berlin, after executing them, gloriously, and in a way to be content with. Let the ignorant227 and the envious talk. It is not they who shall ever serve as load-star to my designs; not they, but glory. With the love of that I am penetrated more than ever. My troops have their hearts big with it, and I answer to thee for success. Adieu! dear Jordan. Write me all the ill the public says of thy friend, and be persuaded that I love and will esteem thee always.”
In conclusion, in most pathetic terms he entreated the king to listen to terms of peace, and thus to prevent the ruin of himself, of his people, and of his royal house.
On the 12th of September Frederick dined with his brother Henry in Dresden. General Daun, as soon as he heard of the approach of the foe whom he so much dreaded, rapidly retreated eastward to Stolpen, on the road to Bautzen. Here he intrenched himself in one of the strongest posts in Germany. As Frederick,465 at Dresden, received his supplies from Bautzen, he was much embarrassed in having his line of communication thus cut. Finding all his efforts vain to provoke Daun to a battle, after four weeks of such endeavors, he loaded his baggage trains with supplies for nine days, and by a rapid march, brushing away in the movement Daun’s right flank, and advancing through Bautzen, established himself among the hills of Hochkirch. He had thus taken position thirty miles east of General Daun’s encampment at Stolpen, cutting off his line of supply.
On Wednesday morning General Borck was sent toward the gates of the city, accompanied by a trumpeter, who, with bugle blasts, was to summon General Roth to a parley. General Borck was instructed to inform the Austrian commander that if he surrendered immediately he should be treated with great leniency, but that if he persisted in his defense the most terrible severity should be his doom. To the people of Neisse it was a matter of but very little moment whether they were under Austrian or235 Prussian domination. They would gladly accede to any terms which would deliver them from the dreadful bombardment. General Roth, therefore, would not allow what we should call the flag of truce to approach the gates. He opened fire upon General Borck so as not to wound him, but as a warning that he must approach no nearer. The king was greatly angered by this result.
“My dearest Brother,—I know not if it is not too bold to trouble your majesty on private affairs. But the great confidence my sister and I have in your kindness encourages us to lay before you a sincere avowal of our little finances, which are a good deal deranged just now. The revenues, having for two years and a half past been rather small, amounting to only four hundred crowns (0) a year, could not be made to cover all the little expenses required in the adjustment of ladies. This circumstance, added to our card-playing, though small, which we could not dispense with, has led us into debt. Mine amounts to fifteen hundred crowns (25); my sister’s, to eighteen hundred crowns (50). We have not spoken of it to the queen-mother, though we are sure she would have tried to assist us. But as that could not have been done without some inconvenience to her, and as she would have retrenched in some of her own little entertainments, I thought we should do better to apply directly to your majesty. We were persuaded you would have taken it amiss had we deprived the queen of her smallest pleasure, and especially as we consider you, my dear brother, the father of the family, and hope you will be so gracious as to help us. We shall never forget the kind acts of your majesty. We beg you to be persuaded of the perfect and tender attachment with which we are proud to be, all our lives, your majesty’s most humble sisters and servants,The principal companions of Frederick at Reinsberg were gay, pleasure-loving men. Among them were Major Keyserling, a thoughtless young man, full of vivacity, and of very agreeable manners; and M. Jordan, a French young gentleman, formerly a168 preacher, very amiable, and an author of considerable note. M. Jordan was devotedly attached to the prince, and continued so through life. He gives the following testimony to the good qualities of Frederick:Her majesty now wrote to Prince Charles, urging him to engage immediately in a fight with Frederick. She sent two of the highest dignitaries of the court to K?niggr?tz to press forward immediate action. There was an eminence near by, which the Austrian officers daily ascended, and from which they could look directly into the Prussian camp and observe all that was transpiring there.
The army of General Daun, with its re-enforcements, amounted to one hundred thousand men. The Prussian garrison in the city numbered but ten thousand. The Prussian officer then in472 command, General Schmettau, emboldened by the approach of Frederick, repelled all proposals for capitulation.“Unless one day the tumult of business and the wickedness of men alter so divine a character, you will be worshiped by your people and loved by the whole world. Philosophers, worthy of the name, will flock to your states. The illustrious Queen Christina quitted her kingdom to go in search of the arts. Reign you, Monseigneur, and the arts will come to seek you.
Voltaire, in summing up a sketch of this campaign of 1757, writes in characteristic phrase:详情
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