THE NIGHT BEFORE MOLLWITZ.
On the 10th of October Frederick was attacked by the gout, and for three weeks was confined to his room. This extraordinary man, struggling, as it were, in the jaws of destruction, beguiled the weary hours of sickness and pain by writing a treatise upon Charles XII. and his Military Character. On the 24th of October, the Russian commander, quarreling with General Daun, set out, with his whole force, for home. On the 1st of November the king was carried in a litter to Glogau. Cold weather having now set in, General Daun commenced a march for Bohemia, to seek winter quarters nearer his supplies. Frederick, his health being restored, rejoined his troops under Henry, which were near Dresden. The withdrawal of both the Russians and Austrians from Silesia greatly elated him. On the 15th of November he wrote to D’Argens from Maxen, a village a little south of Dresden:
“Your majesty,” Sir Thomas rejoined, “by a little engineering art, could render Limburg impregnable to the French or any others.”
On Tuesday, the 20th of November, 1731, Wilhelmina, eight months after her betrothal, was married to the Prince of Baireuth. The marriage ceremony was attended with great magnificence in the royal palace of Berlin. The father of Frederick William, who was fond of pageantry, had reared one of the most sumptuous mansions in Europe, and had furnished it with splendor which no other court could outvie. Entering the interior of the palace through the outer saloon, one passed through nine apartments en suite, of grand dimensions, magnificently decorated, the last of which opened into the picture-gallery, a room ninety feet in length, and of corresponding breadth. All these were in a line. Then turning, you entered a series of fourteen rooms, each more splendid than the preceding. The chandeliers were of massive solid silver. The ceilings were exquisitely painted130 by Correggio. Between each pair of windows there were mirrors twelve feet high, and of such width that before each mirror tables could be spread for twelve guests. The last of these magnificent apartments, called the Grand Saloon, was illuminated by “a lustre weighing fifty thousand crowns; the globe of it big enough to hold a child of eight years, and the branches of solid silver.”The Queen of Hungary had purchased the co-operation of the Polish king by offering to surrender to him a generous portion of Silesia after the province should have been reconquered. Indeed, there was a great cause of apprehension that the allied army would make a rush upon Berlin itself. The aspect of his Prussian majesty’s affairs was now gloomy in the extreme.
FREDERICK AND WILHELMINA.a a. Prussian Army. b. Prussian Detachment, under Wunsch. c c. Austrian Attack, under Daun. d d. Attack of Brentano and Sincere. e e e. Reich’s Army.
“You speak of Maupertuis. Do not trouble the ashes of the dead. Let the grave, at least, put an end to your unjust hatreds. Reflect that even kings make peace after long battling. Can not you ever make it? I think you would be capable, like Orpheus, of descending to hell, not to soften Pluto, and bring back your beautiful Emilie, but to pursue into that abode of woe an enemy whom your wrath has only too much persecuted in this world. For shame!”144George 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:
With extraordinary energy and sagacity Frederick set about developing the resources of his new acquisition. Houses were built. Villages rose as by magic. Marshes were drained. Emigrants, in large numbers, mechanics and farmers, were transported to the new lands. Canals were dug. Roads were improved, and new ones opened. One hundred and eighty-seven school-550masters were sent into the country. Every where there was plowing, ditching, building.“Such a show for pomp and circumstance, Wilhelmina owns, as could not be equaled in the world; such wheeling, rhythmic coalescing and unfolding, accurate as clock-work, far and wide; swift, big column here hitting big column there at the appointed place and moment; with their volleyings and trumpetings, bright uniforms, and streamers, and field-music, in equipment and man?uvre perfect all, to the meanest drummer or black kettle-drummer; supreme drill sergeant playing on the thing as on his huge piano, several square miles in area.”18
On the 18th of December a strong Austrian army entered Silesia and took possession of the country of Glatz. The Prussian troops were withdrawn in good order to their strong fortresses on the Oder. The old Prince Leopold, the cast-iron man, called the Old Dessauer, the most inflexible of mortals, was left in command of the Prussian troops. He was, however, quite seriously alienated from Frederick. A veteran soldier, having spent his lifetime on fields of blood, and having served the monarchs of Prussia when Frederick was but a child, and who had been the military instructor of the young prince, he deemed himself entitled to consideration which an inexperienced officer might not command. In one of the marches to which we have referred, Leopold ventured to take a route different from that which Frederick had prescribed to him. In the following terms the Prussian king reprimanded him for his disobedience:An embassador, Count De Gotter, was sent to Vienna to present this demand to Maria Theresa. He was authorized, in case these terms were not accepted, to declare war. But in the mean time, before the count could possibly reach Vienna, consequently before there was any declaration of war, or even any demand presented, Frederick, at the head of his troops, had entered Silesia, and was seizing its defenseless fortresses.42
Soon after Frederick wrote to Voltaire upon this subject again, still more severely, but in verse. The following is almost a literal translation of this poetic epistle:Preparing for the Battle.—The Surprise.—The Snow-encumbered Plain.—Horror of the Scene.—Flight of Frederick.—His Shame and Despair.—Unexpected Victory of the Prussians.—Letters of Frederick.—Adventures of Maupertuis.详情
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