“I am authorized to offer your majesty two million guilders [,000,000] if your majesty will consent to relinquish this enterprise and retire from Silesia.“Whole provinces had been laid waste. Even in those which had not been thus destroyed, internal commerce and industry were almost at an end. A great part of Pomerania and Brandenburg was changed into a desert. There were provinces where hardly any men were to be found, and where the women were therefore obliged to guide the plow. In others women were as much wanting as men. The most fertile plains of Germany, on the banks of the Oder and the Wesel, presented only the arid and sterile appearance of a desert. An officer has stated that he had passed through seven villages without meeting a single person excepting a curate.”174
“A miserable Bishop of Liege thought it a proud thing to insult the late king. Some subjects of Herstal, which belongs to Prussia, had revolted. The bishop gave them his protection. Colonel Kreutzen was sent to Liege to compose the thing by treaty, with credentials and full power. Imagine it; the bishop would not receive him! Three days, day after day, he saw this envoy apply at his palace, and always denied him entrance. These things had grown past endurance.”
“On the 21st I leave Berlin, and mean to be at Neisse on the 24th at least. Your excellency will, in the mean time, make out the order of battle for the regiments which have come in. For I will, on the 25th, without delay, cross the Neisse, and attack those people, cost what it may, and chase them out of Silesia, and follow them as far as possible. You will, therefore, take measure and provide every thing, that the project may be executed the moment I arrive.”For a moment the king was quite stunned by the blow. The withdrawal of these troops would expose him to be speedily overwhelmed by the Austrians. By earnest entreaty, Frederick persuaded Czernichef to remain with him three days longer. “I will require of you no service whatever. The Austrians know nothing of this change. They will think that you are still my ally. Your presence simply will thus aid me greatly in the battle.”
On the 4th of July the king rode out for the last time. Not long after, the horse was again brought to the door, but the king found himself too weak to mount. Still, while in this state of extreme debility and pain, he conducted the affairs of state with the most extraordinary energy and precision. The minutest questions received his attention, and every branch of business was prosecuted with as much care and perfection as in his best days.
“How is it possible, my lord, to believe things so contradictory? It is mighty fine, all this that you now tell me, on the part of the King of England. But how does it correspond with his last speech in Parliament, and with the doings of his ministers at Petersburg and at the Hague, to stir up allies against me? I have reason to doubt the sincerity of the King of England. Perhaps he means to amuse me. But” (with an oath55)269 “he is mistaken. I will risk every thing rather than abate the least of my pretensions.”
On the morning of the 9th of November Frederick set out for Berlin, visiting Glogau by the way. On the 11th he entered Berlin, where he was received by the whole population with enthusiastic demonstrations of joy. For a short time he probably thought that through guile he had triumphed, and that his troubles were now at an end. But such victories, under the providence of God, are always of short duration. Frederick soon found that his troubles had but just begun. He had entered295 upon a career of toil, care, and peril, from which he was to have no escape until he was ready to sink into his grave.“In that case, sir,” replied the king, “I wish you a good journey.
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The Crown Prince, with what degree of sincerity we know not, was now in tears. Prostrating himself before his majesty, he kissed his feet. The king, much moved, was in tears also, and retired to another room.
On the evening of the 3d of December, 1757, the king arrived at Parchwitz, in the heart of Silesia, about thirty miles from Breslau. Here the wreck of Prince Bevern’s army joined him. Thus re-enforced, he could bring about thirty thousand men into the field. He immediately, in the night, assembled his principal officers, and thus addressed them; the words were taken down at the time. We give this characteristic address slightly abbreviated:“Lean indeed I am,” the king replied. “And what wonder, with three women163 hanging on the throat of me all this while!”详情
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