“Retire from Silesia!” exclaimed the king, vehemently. “And277 for money? Do you take me for a beggar? Retire from Silesia, in the conquest of which I have expended so much blood and treasure! No, sir, no. That is not to be thought of. If you have no better proposals to suggest, it is not worth while talking.”
April 10, 1741.500 Frederick also seized money wherever he could find it, whether in the hands of friend or foe. His contributions levied upon the Saxons were terrible. The cold and dreary winter passed rapidly away. The spring was late in that northern clime. It was not until the middle of June that either party was prepared vigorously to take the field. It was generally considered by the European world that Frederick was irretrievably ruined. In the last campaign he had lost sixty thousand men. Universal gloom and discouragement pervaded his kingdom. Still Frederick, by his almost superhuman exertions, had marshaled another army of one hundred thousand men. But the allies had two hundred and eighty thousand to oppose to them. Though Frederick in public assumed a cheerful and self-confident air, as if assured of victory, his private correspondence proves that he was, in heart, despondent in the extreme, and that scarcely a ray of hope visited his mind. To his friend D’Argens he wrote:
Objections to the British Alliance.—Obstinacy of the King.—Wilhelmina’s Journal.—Policy of Frederick William and of George II.—Letter from Fritz.—The Camp of Mühlberg.—The Plan of Escape.—The Flight arrested.—Ungovernable Rage of the King.—Endeavors to kill his Son.—Arrest and Imprisonment of Fritz.—Terror of his Mother and Sister.—Wilhelmina imprisoned.
But that he was fully awake to his perils, and keenly felt his sufferings, is manifest from the following extract from another of his letters:“You speak of my personal safety. You ought to know, as I do, that it is not necessary for me to live. But while I do live I must fight for my country, and save it if it be possible. In many little things I have had luck; I think of taking for my motto, Maximus in minimis, et minimus in maximis.154
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.’
“She returned to me an hour after, and said, with a vexed air, ‘Will you end, then? You are so engaged you have eyes for nothing.’The Czarina, Anne of Russia, died the 28th of October, 1740,240 just eight days after the death of the emperor. She left, in the cradle, the infant Czar Iwan, her nephew, two months old. The father of this child was a brother of Frederick’s neglected wife Elizabeth. The mother was the Russian Princess Catharine of Mecklenburg, now called Princess Anne, whom Frederick had at one time thought of applying for as his wife. Russia was a semi-barbaric realm just emerging into consideration, and no one could tell by what influences it would be swayed. The minor powers could be controlled by the greater—constrained by terror or led by bribes. Such, in general, was the state of Europe at this time.
The king, weary of the life of turmoil, constructed for himself376 a beautiful villa, which he named Sans Souci (“Free from Care”), which Carlyle characteristically translates “No bother.” It was situated on a pleasant hill-top near Potsdam, in great retirement, yet commanding an enchanting view of land and water.CHAPTER XIII. THE CAMPAIGN OF MOLLWITZ.Four days after this Frederick wrote again, in answer to additional applications from Voltaire.
Frederick.”“‘No,’ I answered; ‘but I should like to make that journey. I am very curious to see the Prussian states and their king, of whom one hears so much.’ And now I began to launch out on Frederick’s actions.
Austria was rapidly marshaling her hosts, and pouring them through the defiles of the mountains to regain Silesia. Her troops still held three important fortresses—Neisse, Brieg, and Glogau. These places were, however, closely blockaded by the Prussians. Though it was midwinter, bands of Austrian horsemen were soon sweeping in all directions, like local war tempests borne on the wings of the wind. Wherever there was an unprotected baggage-train, or a weakly-defended post, they came swooping down to seize their prey, and vanished as suddenly as they had appeared. Their numbers seemed to be continually increasing. All the roads were swept by these swarms of irregulars, who carefully avoided any serious engagement, while they awaited the approach of the Austrian army, which was gathering its strength to throw down to Frederick the gauntlet on an open field of battle.
These tidings struck the Austrian council with consternation. The French armies were declared to be the finest that had ever taken the field. The Prussian army, in stolid bravery and perfection285 of discipline, had never been surpassed. Germany was to be cut into four equal parts, and France was to be the sovereign power on the Continent.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.详情
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