Upon the accession of Frederick the Second, as officers were dispatched through the realm to exact oaths of allegiance, the Herstal people, encouraged by the bishop, refused to acknowledge fealty to the new king. Frederick was now in the district of Cleve, in the near vicinity of Herstal. He sent the following very decisive summons to the “Prince Bishop of Liege,” dated Wesel, September 4, 1740:
“Judge, my dear general, if I have been much charmed with the description you give of the abominable object of my desires. For the love of God disabuse the king in regard to her. Let him remember that fools are commonly the most obstinate of creatures. Let the king remember that it is not for himself that he is marrying me, but for myself. Nay, he too will have a thousand chagrins to see two persons hating one another, and the most miserable marriage in the world; to hear their mutual complaints, which will be to him so many reproaches for having fashioned the instrument of our yoke. As a good Christian, let him consider if it is well done to wish to force people, to cause divorces, and to be the occasion of all the sins that an ill-assorted marriage leads us to commit. I am determined to front every thing in the world sooner. Since things are so, you may, in some good way, apprise the Duke of Bevern that, happen what may, I never will have her.
At one o’clock in the morning of May 31 he sent for a clergyman, M. Cochius, and seemed to be in great distress both of body and of mind. “I fear,” said he, “that I have a great deal of pain yet to suffer. I can remember nothing. I can not pray. I have forgotten all my prayers.” M. Cochius endeavored to console him. At the close of the interview the king said, sadly, “Fare thee well. We shall most probably never meet again in this world.” He was then rolled, in his wheel-chair, into the chamber of the queen.Two Silesian barons called upon him, and presented a protest from the authorities they represented against his meditated invasion, the design of which was now manifest to all. The king received them very courteously, tossed the protest to a secretary223 to file away or to cast into the waste-paper basket, and invited the two gentlemen to dine with him.
“I am punctual in answering, and eager to satisfy you. You shall have a breakfast-set, my good mamma; six coffee-cups, very pretty, well diapered, and tricked out with all the little embellishments which increase their value. On account of some pieces which they are adding to the set, you will have to wait a few days. But I flatter myself this delay will contribute to your satisfaction, and produce for you a toy that will give you pleasure, and make you remember your old adorer.He had hardly arrived at Leitmeritz ere he received the tidings of the death of Sophia Dorothea, his mother. She died at Berlin on the 28th of June, 1757, in the seventy-first year of her age. This grief, coming in the train of disasters which seemed to be overwhelming his Prussian majesty, affected him very deeply. Frederick was subdued and softened by sorrow. He remembered the time when a mother’s love rocked his cradle, and wrapped him around with tender care. The reader will be surprised to learn that his grief—perhaps with some comminglings of remorse—was so great that he shut himself in his closet, and wept with sobbings like a child.
Again he wrote D’Argens on the 26th of December, “What a pleasure to hear that you are coming. I have sent a party of light horse to conduct you. You can make short journeys. I have directed that horses be ordered for you, that your rooms be warmed every where, and good fowls ready on all roads. Your apartment in this house is carpeted, hermetically shut. You shall suffer nothing from draughts or from noise.”185 On the 26th of May the Crown Prince received an express informing him that his father was dying, and that he must hasten to Potsdam with the utmost speed if he would ever again see him alive. Reinsberg was about thirty miles north from Potsdam. It took the courier some hours to reach the place. Frederick, with emotions not easily imagined, started before the dawn of the morning, followed by a train of attendants, to hasten to the death-bed of his father, and to receive the kingly crown of Prussia.BATTLE OF LEUTHEN, DECEMBER 5, 1757.
“It is curious how old people’s habits agree. For four years past I have given up suppers as incompatible with the trade I am obliged to follow. On marching days my dinner consists of a cup of chocolate.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.The city took fire in many places; magazines were consumed; the ducal palace was wrapped in flames. Nearly fifteen thousand cannon-balls, and over two thousand bombs, were hurled crashing through the thronged dwellings. Many of the Austrian guns were silenced. General Piccolomini, who was intrusted with the defense of the place, could stand it no longer. On the 4th of May he raised above the walls the white flag of surrender. The gallant general was treated magnanimously. He was invited to dine with Frederick, and, with the garrison, was permitted to retire to Neisse, pledged not to serve against the Prussians for two years. The town had been nearly demolished by the war-tempest which had beat so fiercely upon it. Frederick immediately commenced repairing the ruins and strengthening the fortifications.
“As a fit of illness has come on me, which I do not think will have dangerous results, I have, for the present, left the command of my troops to Lieutenant General Von Finck, whose orders you are to execute as if coming directly from myself. On this I pray God139 to have you in his holy and worthy keeping.
Sir Thomas hastened back to Breslau, and anxiously entered into communication with Lord Hyndford. The British minister entreated the king to admit Sir Thomas to another interview, assuring him that he came with new and more liberal propositions for a compromise. The king replied, in substance, with his customary brusqueness,Frederick, who had taken his position upon a windmill, saw, with much satisfaction, the successful operation of his plan. Suddenly, with almost miraculous swiftness of movement, his perfectly drilled troops, horse, foot, and artillery, every man reckless of life, poured forth with a rush and a roar as of a lava-flood upon the extreme left of the Austrians. It was one o’clock of the day. There was neither brook, bush, fence, nor marsh to impede the headlong impetuosity of the assault. At the point of attack the Prussians were, of course, most numerous. There were a few moments of terrible slaughter, and the left wing of the Austrian army was annihilated. The ground was covered with the wounded and the dead, and the fugitives, in dismay, were fleeing across the fields.
414 “This battle,” writes Frederick, “which began toward nine in the morning, was one of the bloodiest of the age. The enemy lost twenty-four thousand men, of whom four thousand were prisoners. The Prussian loss amounted to eighteen thousand fighting men, without counting Marshal Schwerin, who was alone worth above ten thousand. This day saw the pillars of the Prussian infantry cut down.”详情
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