This lasted till nightfall. As darkness veiled the awful scene the exhausted soldiers dropped upon the ground, and, regardless of the dead and of the groans of the wounded, borne heavily upon the night air, slept almost side by side. It is appalling to reflect upon what a fiend to humanity man has been, as revealed in the history of the nations. All the woes of earth combined are as nothing compared with the misery which man has inflicted upon his brother.
The marshal glanced his eye over the document, and retired, overwhelmed with confusion. Thus ended the alliance between Prussia and France. “Each party,” writes Frederick, “wished to be more cunning than the other.”69In very rapid march, the troops advanced through Grünberg toward Glogau, about forty miles in the interior. Here there was a fortified town, which was considered the key of Northern Silesia. It was but feebly garrisoned, and was entirely unprepared for resistance. By great exertions, the Austrian governor of the province, Count Wallis, and his second in command, General Browne, succeeded in placing behind the works a little garrison of one thousand men. The whole population was summoned to work upon the ramparts. Count Wallis remained in Glogau. General Browne took command of the troops and garrisons abroad. But there was a division of sentiment within the walls. Quite a large portion of the population was Protestant, and would be glad to come under the protection of Protestant Prussia. The Catholics were zealous for the continued reign of Austria.
Frederick retreated down the banks of the Elbe, and sent couriers to the camp at Prague, ordering the siege immediately to be raised, and the troops to retire down the Moldau to join him at Leitmeritz. The news was received at the camp at two o’clock on Sunday morning, June 19, creating amazement and consternation. As Frederick was on his retreat with his broken battalions from the field of battle, parched with thirst, burning with heat, and smothered with dust, it is recorded that an old dragoon brought to the king, in his steel cap, some water which he had drawn from a well, saying to his sovereign, consolingly,Voltaire and Madame Du Chatelet.—Letter from Frederick to Voltaire.—The Reply.—Visit to the Prince of Orange.—Correspondence.—The Crown Prince becomes a Mason.—Interesting Letter from the Crown Prince.—Petulance and declining Health of the King.—Scenes in the Death-chamber.—Characteristic Anecdotes.—The Dying Scene.
“The packet had been opened. The king would think I was guilty of high treason, and I should be in disgrace with Madame De Pompadour. I was obliged, in order to prevent my ruin, to make known to the court the character and conduct of their enemy.
Then came another strain of verse. Thus the prose and the doggerel were interspersed through the long narrative. Though very truthful in character, it was a school-boy performance—a very singular document indeed to be sent to the most brilliant genius of that age, by one who soon proved himself to be the ablest sovereign in Europe.164 On the fourth day after the arrival of the Crown Prince at Baireuth, a courier came with a letter from the queen conjuring him to return immediately, as the king was growing worse and worse. Frederick immediately hastened to Potsdam, and on the 12th of October entered the sick-chamber of his father in the palace there. He seems to have thought nothing of his wife, who was at Berlin. We have no evidence that he wrote to her during his absence, or that he visited her upon his return. For four months the king remained a great sufferer in Potsdam, trembling between life and death. It was often with great difficulty that he could breathe. He was impatient and irritable in the extreme. As he was rolled about in his Bath chair, he would petulantly cry out, “Air! air!” as if his attendants were to blame for his shortness of breath. The distress from the dropsy was very great. “If you roll the king a little fast,” writes an attendant, “you hear the water jumble in his body.” The Crown Prince was deeply affected in view of the deplorable condition of his father, and wept convulsively. The stern old king was stern to the end. He said one day to Frederick, “If you begin at the wrong end with things, and all go topsy-turvy after I am gone, I will laugh at you out of my grave.”
Matrimonial Intrigues.—Letters from the King to his Son.—Letter from Fritz to Grumkow.—Letter to Wilhelmina.—The Betrothal.—Character of Elizabeth.—Her cruel Reception by the Prussian Queen.—Letter from Fritz to Wilhelmina.—Disappointment and Anguish of Elizabeth.—Studious Habits of Fritz.—Continued Alienation of his Father.—The Marriage.—Life in the Castle at Reinsberg.It was all in vain. On Sunday evening, September 5th, as the condemned young man was sitting alone in his prison cell, sadly awaiting his doom, yet clinging to hopes of mercy, an officer entered with the startling intelligence that the carriage was at the door to convey him to the fortress of Cüstrin, at a few leagues distance, where he was to be executed. For a moment he was greatly agitated. He soon, however, regained his equanimity. It must indeed have been a fearful communication to one in the107 vigor of health, in the prime of youth, and surrounded by every thing which could render life desirable. Two brother-officers and the chaplain accompanied him upon this dismal midnight ride. Silence, pious conversation, prayers, and occasional devotional hymns occupied the hours. The dawn of a cold winter’s morning was just appearing as they reached the fortress.
212 Frederick invited his sister to visit him at Reinsberg, to which place either business or pleasure immediately called him. After the lapse of two days, Wilhelmina, with the neglected Queen Elizabeth, repaired to the enchanting chateau, hoping to find, amid its rural scenes, that enjoyment which she never yet had been able to find in the sombre halls of the Berlin palace. Here quite a gay company was assembled. Frederick was very laboriously occupied during the day in affairs of state. But in the evening he appeared in the social circles, attracting the attention of all by his conversational brilliance, and by the apparent heartiness with which he entered into the amusements of the court. He took an active part in some private theatricals, and none were aware of the profound schemes of ambition which, cloaked by this external gayety, were engrossing his thoughts.
“From the Field of Battle of Chotusitz, May 17, 1742.
CHAPTER XXXIII. THE END OF THE SEVEN YEARS’ WAR.Frederick, having completed the investment of Glogau, cutting off all its supplies, left a sufficient detachment there to starve the city into submission. There were about seven thousand inhabitants within the walls—“a much-enduring, frugal, pious, and very desirable people.” As it was probable that the feeble garrison, after a brief show of resistance, would surrender, Frederick hastened in person, with all his remaining available troops, toward Breslau, the capital of Silesia. On the 27th he wrote to M. Jordan:Frederick remained at Reitwein four days. He was very unjust to his army, and angrily reproached his soldiers for their defeat. It is true that, had every soldier possessed his own spirit, his army would have conquered, or not a man would have left the field alive. The Russians, with almost inconceivable inactivity, retired to Lossow, ten miles south of Frankfort-on-the-Oder. The king, having by great exertions collected thirty-two thousand men, marched up the valley of the Spree, and placed himself on the road between the Russians and Berlin.详情
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