“I am obliged to tell you that I have long forbid counts to be received, as such, into my army; for when they have served one or two years they retire, and merely make their short military career a subject of vain boasting. If your son wishes to serve, the title of count can be of no use to him. But he will be promoted if he learn his profession well.”After the concert, which usually continued an hour, he engaged197 in conversation until ten o’clock. He then took supper with a few friends, and at eleven retired to his bed.
CHAPTER XIV. THE DEFEAT AND FLIGHT OF FREDERICK.Coarse brown clothes of plainest cut were furnished him. His flute was taken from him, and he was deprived of all books but the Bible and a few devotional treatises. He was allowed a daily sum, amounting to twelve cents of our money, for his food—eight cents for his dinner and four for his supper. His food was purchased at a cook-shop near by, and cut for him. He was not permitted the use of a knife. The door was opened three times a day for ventilation—morning, noon, and night—but not for more than four minutes each time. A single tallow-candle was allowed him; but that was to be extinguished at seven o’clock in the evening.
Circumstances had already rendered Frederick one of the most important personages in Europe. He could ally himself with France, and humble Austria; or he could ally himself with England and Austria, and crush France. All the lesser lights in the Continental firmament circulated around these central luminaries. Consequently Frederick was enabled to take a conspicuous part in all the diplomatic intrigues which were then agitating the courts of Europe.178 “Meanwhile Frederick the First died, and with him was buried all his false grandeur, which consisted only in a vain magnificence, and in the pompous display of frivolous ceremonies. My father, who succeeded him, compassionated the general misery. He visited the spot, and saw, with his own eyes, this vast country laid waste, and all the dreadful traces which a contagious malady, a famine, and the sordid avarice of a venal administration leave behind them. Twelve or fifteen towns depopulated, and four or five hundred villages uninhabited, presented themselves to his view. Far from being discouraged by such a sad spectacle, his compassion only became the more lively from it; and he resolved to restore population, plenty, and commerce to this land, which had even lost the appearance of an inhabited country.
530Though Wilhelmina was also a close prisoner in her apartment in the Berlin palace, and was fed upon the coarsest fare, she103 still had a comfortable room, her musical instruments, and the companionship of her governess, Madam Sonsfeld. It was rather a relief to the unhappy princess to be shut out from the presence of her father and from the sound of his voice. She occasionally obtained a smuggled letter from her mother, and even got one, in pencil, from her brother, full of expressions of tenderness.
“Cüstrin, November 19, 1730.
Early the next morning, Czernichef, greatly admiring the exploit Frederick had performed, commenced his march home. Just before this there was a change in the British ministry, and the new cabinet clamored for peace. England entered into a treaty with France, and retired from the conflict. Frederick, vehemently upbraiding the English with treachery—the same kind533 of treachery of which he had repeatedly been guilty—marched upon Schweidnitz. After a vigorous siege of two months he captured the place.“If the Austrians do not attack us here they deserve to be hanged.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.
It was but sixty miles from Prague to Tabor. The march of Frederick’s division led through Kunraditz, across the Sazawa River, through Bistritz and Miltchin. It was not until the ninth332 day of their toilsome march that the steeples of Tabor were descried, in the distant horizon, on its high, scarped rock. Here both columns united. Half of the draught cattle had perished by the way, and half of the wagons had been abandoned.
They reached Milkau Tuesday night, the 20th. Here they were allowed one day of rest, and Frederick gave each soldier a gratuity of about fifteen cents. On Thursday the march was resumed, and the advance-guard of the army was rapidly gathered around Glogau, behind whose walls Count Wallis had posted his intrepid little garrison of a thousand men. Here Frederick encountered his first opposition. The works were found too strong to be carried by immediate assault, and Frederick had not yet brought forward his siege cannon. The following extracts from the correspondence which Frederick carried on at226 this time develop the state of public sentiment, and the views and character of the king. His friend Jordan, who had been left in Berlin, wrote to him as follows, under date of December 14, 1740, the day after the king left to place himself at the head of his army:While matters were in this extremity, the British minister, Dubourgay, and Baron Knyphausen, a distinguished Prussian official, dispatched Rev. Dr. Villa, a scholarly man, who had been Wilhelmina’s teacher of English, on a secret mission to the court of England, to communicate the true state of affairs, and to endeavor to secure some disentanglement of the perplexities. Dr. Villa was a warm friend of Wilhelmina, and, in sympathy with her sorrows, wept as he bade her adieu. The king was in such ill humor that his daughter dared not appear in his presence. If Fritz came within reach of his father’s arm he was pretty sure to receive a blow from his rattan.
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It will generally be admitted by military men that Frederick did not display much ability of generalship in this campaign. He was fearless, indomitable in energy, and tireless in the endurance of fatigue, but in generalship he was entirely eclipsed by his formidable rival. Indeed, Frederick could not be blind to this, and he had sufficient candor to confess it. Subsequently, giving an account of these transactions in his “Works,” he writes:59 While the king was thus suffering the pangs of the gout, his irascibility vented itself upon his wife and children. “We were obliged,” says Wilhelmina, “to appear at nine o’clock in the morning in his room. We dined there, and did not dare to leave it even for a moment. Every day was passed by the king in invectives against my brother and myself. He no longer called me any thing but ‘the English blackguard.’ My brother was named the ‘rascal Fritz.’ He obliged us to eat and drink the things for which we had an aversion. Every day was marked by some sinister event. It was impossible to raise one’s eyes without seeing some unhappy people tormented in one way or other. The king’s restlessness did not allow him to remain in bed. He had himself placed in a chair on rollers, and was thus dragged all over the palace. His two arms rested upon crutches, which supported them. We always followed this triumphal car, like unhappy captives who are about to undergo their sentence.”
On the 4th of November he returned to Breslau, entering the city with great military display. Seated in a splendid carriage, he was drawn through the streets by eight cream-colored horses. Taking his seat upon the ancient ducal throne, he was crowned, with great ceremonial pomp, Sovereign Duke of Lower Silesia. Four hundred of the notables of the dukedom, in gala dresses, and taking oaths of homage, contributed to the imposing effect of the spectacle. Illuminations, balls, and popular festivities, in great variety, closed the triumph.详情
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