Ere long a company of Austrian scouts approached. From a distance they eyed the sentinel, moving to and fro as he guarded his post. A sharp-shooter crept near, and, taking deliberate aim at his supposed victim, fired. A twitch upon the rope caused the image to fall flat. The whole band of Austrians, with a shout, rushed to the spot. The Prussians, from their ambuscade, opened upon them a deadly fire of bullets. Then, as the ground was covered with the mutilated and the dead, the Prussians, causing the welkin to ring with their peals of laughter, rushed with fixed bayonets upon their entrapped foes. Not a single Austrian had escaped being struck by a bullet. Those who were not killed outright were wounded, and were taken captive. This is one of the “slight pleasantries” of war.
“The queen made me a sign to follow her, and passed into a neighboring apartment, where she had the English and Germans of King George’s suite successively presented to her. After some talk with these gentlemen she withdrew, leaving me to entertain them, and saying, ‘Speak English to my daughter; you will find she speaks it very well.’ I felt much less embarrassed when the queen was gone, and, picking up a little courage, entered into conversation with these English. As I spoke their language like my mother tongue I got pretty well out of the affair, and every body seemed charmed with me. They made my eulogy to the queen; told her I had quite the English air, and was made to be their sovereign one day. It was saying a great deal on their part; for these English think themselves so much above all other people that they imagine that they are paying a high compliment when they tell any one he has got English manners.After much diplomatic toil, the ultimatum obtained from Frederick William was the ever inflexible answer: “1. The marriage of the Prince of Wales to Wilhelmina I consent to. 2. The marriage of the Crown Prince Frederick with the Princess Amelia must be postponed. I hope it may eventually take place.”
Some of our readers may think that the above narrative is quite incredible; that a young sovereign, who had just written the Anti-Machiavel, and who knew that the eyes of the world were upon him, could not be guilty of such perfidy. But, unhappily, there is no possible room for doubt. The documentary evidence is ample. There is no contradictory testimony.The French marshal, Belleisle, alarmed by the report that Frederick was entering into a treaty of peace with Austria, hastened to the Prussian camp to ascertain the truth or falsehood of the rumor. Frederick, emboldened by the document he had in his pocket, was very frank.
“I have hardly strength enough to trace these lines. My state is altogether worthy of pity. It is not through any menaces, however violent they may have been, that I have yielded my consent to the king’s wishes. An interest still more dear to me has determined me to this sacrifice. I have been till now the innocent cause of all the unhappiness which your majesty has endured. My too sensible heart has been penetrated by the touching details you have latterly made of them.
There they informed her that they had each received a letter the night before from the king, the contents of which they were73 forbidden, under penalty of death, from communicating to any one but to her. The king wished them to say to her majesty that he would no longer endure her disobedience in reference to the marriage of Wilhelmina; that, in case this disobedience continued, there should be an entire separation between him and his wife—a divorce—and that she and her daughter should both be banished to the chateau of Oranienburg, about twenty miles from Berlin, and there held in close imprisonment. The king was willing that Sophie Dorothee should write once more, and only once more, to her brother, George II., and demand of him a categorical answer, yes or no, whether he would consent to the immediate marriage of the Prince of Wales and Wilhelmina. The king would wait a fortnight for an answer, or, if the winds were contrary, three weeks; but not a day more. Should no answer in that time be returned, or a negative or an evasive answer, then Wilhelmina was to make her immediate choice of a husband between either the Duke of Weissenfels or the Marquis of Schwedt, and to be married without delay.9“God give his blessing to it, and bless you and your posterity, and keep you as a good Christian. And have God always before your eyes, and don’t believe that damnable predestination tenet; and be obedient and faithful. So shall it here in time, and there in eternity, go well with thee. And whosoever wishes that from the heart, let him say Amen.
“I have been unhappy all my life, and I think it is my destiny to continue so. One must be patient, and take the time as it comes. Perhaps a sudden tract of good fortune, on the back of all the chagrins I have encountered since I entered this world, would have made me too proud. I have suffered sufficiently, and I will not engage myself to extend my miseries into future times. I have still resources. A pistol-shot can deliver me from my sorrows and my life, and I think a merciful God would not damn me for that, but, taking pity on me, would, in exchange for a life of wretchedness, grant me salvation. This is whitherward despair can lead a young person whose blood is not so quiescent as if he were seventy.Several well-authenticated anecdotes are given respecting the conduct of Frederick on this occasion, which illustrate the various phases in the character of this extraordinary man. The evening before the battle of Zorndorf, the king, having completed his arrangements for a conflict against vastly unequal numbers, upon whose issue were dependent probably both his throne and his life, sent for a member of his staff of some literary pretensions, and spent some time in criticising and amending one of the poems of Rousseau. Was this an affected display of calmness, the result of vanity? Was it an adroit measure to impress the officers with a conviction of his own sense of security? Was it an effort to throw off the terrible pressure which was upon his mind, as the noble Abraham Lincoln often found it to be a moral necessity to indulge in a jest even amidst scenes of the greatest anguish? Whatever may have been the motive, the fact is worthy of record.“I should think myself richer in the possession of your works than in that of all the transient goods of fortune.
“It was but a few years ago,” she wrote, “that this territory wore the most pleasing appearance. The country was cultivated. The peasants looked cheerful. The towns abounded with riches and festivity. What an alteration at present from such a charming scene! I am not expert at description, neither can my fancy add any horrors to the picture. But sure even conquerors themselves would weep at the hideous prospect now before me.
“‘That is true,’ I replied, ‘and I beg your pardon. I was too rash in accusing you of a want of expertness.’Kannegiesser, at Hanover, received the king’s propositions for reconciliation at ten o’clock in the morning of the 15th of August, 1729. George II. was then absent on a hunting excursion. The Prussian embassador called immediately at the council-chamber of the Hanoverian court, and informed M. Hartoff, the privy secretary, that he wished an audience with the ministry, then in session, to make a proposition to them from the Prussian court. Hartoff, who had met Kannegiesser in a room adjoining the council-chamber, reported the request to the council, and returned with the disrespectful answer that “M. Kannegiesser must defer what he has to say to some other time.”
General Fermor availed himself of the darkness in withdrawing his troops, now numbering but 28,000, a mile west from the battle-field to a dense forest of firs, called Drewitz Heath. Frederick arranged his little remaining band of but eighteen thousand men in two lines, facing the foe. The next morning, Saturday, the 26th, General Fermor sent a request for a truce of three days to bury the dead. The reply was, “Your proposal is entirely inadmissible. The victor will bury the slain.” There was no serious resumption of the conflict on that day. Both parties were alike exhausted, and had alike expended nearly all their ammunition. Frederick’s hussars had, however, found out the position of the Russian baggage train, and had effectually plundered a large portion of it.491 The rumor that Daun was marching upon Berlin proved a false alarm. On the 4th of September the king again wrote D’Argens from his encampment at Waldau, a few leagues south of his last position, just over the border in Saxony:详情
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