“That may well be,” rejoined the king, “with the cursed life I have been leading.”
George II. had always hated his nephew Frederick. His only object in sustaining the war was to protect his native electorate of Hanover and to abase France.161 The new sovereign, in his first speech to Parliament, said:
At length, however, Frederick succeeded in pushing forward a detachment of his army to seize the magazines and the post he so greatly coveted. The troops marched all night. Toward morning, almost perishing with cold, they built enormous fires.304 Having warmed their numbed and freezing limbs, they pressed on to Iglau, to find it abandoned by the garrison. The Austrian general Lobkowitz had carried away every thing which could be removed, and then had reduced to ashes seventeen magazines, filled with military and commissary stores. The king was exceedingly chagrined by this barren conquest. He was anxious to advance in all directions, to take full possession of Moravia, before the Austrians could send re-enforcements to garrison its fortresses; but the Saxon lords refused to march any farther in this severe winter campaign. Frederick complained to the Saxon king. His Polish majesty sent an angry order to his troops to go forward. Sullenly they obeyed, interposing every obstacle in their power. Some of the leaders threw up their commissions and went home. Frederick, with his impetuous Prussians and his unwilling Saxons, spread over Moravia, levying contributions and seizing the strong places.“Adieu! my adorable sister. I am so tired I can not stir, having left on Tuesday night, or rather Wednesday morning, at three o’clock, from a ball at Monbijou, and arrived here this Friday morning at four. I recommend myself to your gracious remembrance, and am, for my own part, till death, dearest sister, yourMonday morning the storm ceased. There was a perfect calm. For leagues the spotless snow, nearly two feet deep, covered all the extended plains. The anxiety of Frederick had been so great that for two nights he had not been able to get any sleep. He had plunged into this war with the full assurance that he was to gain victory and glory. It now seemed inevitable that he was to encounter but defeat and shame.
163 “After dinner, being alone with me, he said, ‘Our sire is approaching his end. He will not live out this month. I know that I have made you great promises, but I am not in the condition to keep them. I will leave you the half of the sum which my predecessor lent you. I think that you will have every reason to be satisfied with that.And, in addition to all this, the more effectually to hoodwink the eagle eyes of the French minister in the Prussian camp, M. Valori, the following stratagem was arranged. The king was to invite M. Valori to dine with him. While at the table, merry over their wine, a courier was to arrive, and with trumpet blast announce dispatches for the king. They were to be delivered to the king at the table. He was to open them before Valori, to find that they consisted of a bitter complaint and remonstrance, on the part of the British minister, that the king was inflexible in repelling all advances toward an amicable adjustment of their difficulties, that unrelentingly he persisted in co-operating with France in her warfare against Austria. All this farce took place according to the programme. M. Valori was effectually deceived.
CHAPTER XXV. COMMENCEMENT OF THE SEVEN YEARS’ WAR.And why was George II. so averse to the single marriage of the Prince of Wales to Wilhelmina? It is supposed that the opposition arose simply from his own mulish obstinacy. He hated his brother-in-law, the Prussian king. He was a weak, ill-tempered man; and having once said “Both marriages or none,” nothing could induce him to swerve from that position. In such a difficulty, with such men, there could be no possible compromise.As they marched their voices burst forth simultaneously in a German hymn. The gush of their rude and many-voiced melody was borne distinctly on the wind to the eminence where Frederick stood, anxiously watching those movements which were to decide his own fate, that of his family, and of his kingdom. The following is a translation of one of the verses of this hymn:
“These kind condescensions of his majesty,” writes M. D’Arget, “emboldened me to represent to him the brilliant position he now held, and how noble it would be, after being the hero of Germany, to become the pacificator of Europe.”“On Sunday he is to rise at seven o’clock, and, as soon as he has got his slippers on, shall kneel at his bedside and pray to God, so as all in the room may hear, in these words:
256 It was now about noon. The sun shone brightly on the glistening snow. There was no wind. Twenty thousand peasants, armed and drilled as soldiers, were facing each other upon either side, to engage in mutual slaughter, with no animosity between them—no cause of quarrel. It is one of the unrevealed mysteries of Providence that any one man should thus have it in his power to create such wide-spread death and misery. The Austrians had a splendid body of cavalry, eight thousand six hundred in number. Frederick had but about half as many horsemen. The Prussians had sixty pieces of artillery, the Austrians but eighteen.On the 29th of December, the Old Dessauer, with thirty-five thousand men, crossed the frontiers and entered Saxony. He marched rapidly upon Leipsic, and seized the town, from which a division of Rutowski’s army precipitately fled. Leopold found here quite a supply of commissary and ordnance stores. He also replenished his empty army-chest by levying a contribution of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars upon the inhabitants.368 Then, by a rapid march northeast to Torgo, on the Elbe, he captured another imperial magazine. Turning south, he pressed his troops along up the river to Myssen, which was within two days’ easy march of Dresden. Here there was a bridge across the Oder. Frederick was pushing his troops, by forced marches, from Hennersdorf, to effect a junction with Leopold at Myssen. Unitedly they were to fall upon Grüne and Rutowski at Dresden. In the mean time, also, Prince Charles, a despondent man, crushed by domestic woe and humiliating defeats, was moving, by not very energetic steps, to re-enforce the allied troops at Dresden.
A fortnight later General Schulenburg wrote, under date of the 19th of October: “I introduced to the Crown Prince all the officers of my regiment who are here. He received them in the style of a king. It is certain he feels what he is born to; and if he ever get to it, he will stand on the top of it. As to me, I129 mean to keep myself retired, and shall see as little of him as I can. I perceive well he does not like advice, and does not take pleasure except with men inferior to him in mind. His first aim is to find out the ridiculous side of every one, and he loves to banter and quiz.The Prince of Soubise had rendezvoused fifty thousand French and Saxon troops at Erfurt, about a hundred and seventy miles west of Dresden. He had also, scattered around at different posts, easily accessible, a hundred thousand more well-armed and well-disciplined troops. Frederick took twenty-three thousand men and marched to assail these foes in almost despairing battle. To plunge with so feeble a band into such a mass of enemies seemed to be the extreme of recklessness.
While on the retreat, one of his aids approached him, and the king, with a smile, said, “Daun has played me a slippery trick to-day.”
“Würben, in the centre, is like a citadel looking down upon Striegau Water. Heavy cannon, plenty of them, we have brought from Schweidnitz. We have four hundred and eighty cannon in all, and one hundred and eighty-two mines. Würben, our citadel and centre, is about five miles from Schweidnitz. Before our lines are palisades and chevaux-de-frise. Woods we have in abundance in our circuit, and axes for carpentries of that kind. There are four intrenched knolls; twenty-four big batteries capable of playing beautifully, all like pieces in a concert.”168“I have seen neither my brother48 nor Keyserling.49 I left them at Breslau, not to expose them to the dangers of war. They perhaps will be a little angry, but what can I do? the rather as, on this occasion, one can not share in the glory unless one is a mortar!Mr. Carlyle has written the Life of Frederick the Great in six closely printed volumes of over five hundred pages each. It is a work of much ability and accuracy. There are, however, but few persons, in this busy age, who can find time to read three thousand pages of fine type, descriptive of events, many of which have lost their interest, and have ceased to possess any practical value. Still, the student who has leisure to peruse these voluminous annals of all the prominent actors in Europe during the reign of Frederick and of his half-insane father, will find a rich treat in the wonderfully graphic and accurate pages of Carlyle.详情
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