“I beg a thousand pardons, my dear sister. In these three long pages I talk to you of nothing but my troubles and affairs. A strange abuse it would be of any other person’s friendship. But yours, my dear sister, is known to me; and I am persuaded that you are not impatient when I open to you my heart—a heart which is yours altogether, being filled with sentiments of the tenderest esteem, with which I am, my dearest sister, your“They then went away, often looking around to see if I kept my posture. I perceived well enough that they were making game of me; but I stood all the same like a wall, being full of fear. When the king turned round he gave a look at me like a flash of sunbeams glancing through you. He sent one of the gardeners to bring my papers. Taking them, he disappeared in one of the garden walks. In a few minutes he came back with my papers open in his hand, and waved with them for me to come nearer. I plucked up heart and went directly to him. Oh, how graciously this great monarch deigned to speak to me!
Voltaire, speaking of this conflict, says, “It was the most inconceivable and complete rout and discomfiture of which history433 makes any mention. Thirty thousand French and twenty thousand imperial troops were there seen making a disgraceful and precipitate flight before five battalions and a few squadrons. The defeats of Agincourt, Cressy, and Poitiers were not so humiliating.”110Here the young prince made the most solemn promises to try to regain his father’s favor. The king then asked: “Was it thou that temptedst Katte, or did Katte tempt thee?” Fritz promptly replied, “I tempted Katte.” “I am glad,” rejoined the king, “to hear the truth from you, at any rate.”
“Europe is under the necessity of taking some speedy resolution, things are in such a state of crisis. Like a fever in a human body, got to such a height that quinquina becomes necessary. Shall we apply to Vienna, your majesty?”
a a a. Russian Army. b b. Austrians, under Loudon. c c. Russian Abatis. d. Russian Wagenburg. e e. Position of Prussian Army Evening of 11th. f f. Vanguard, under Finck. g. Prussian Heavy Baggage. h. Attack of Prussian Grenadiers. i i. Prussian main Army. k k. Finck’s Line of Attack.Instantly, and “like a change of scene in the opera,” the Prussians were on the rapid march to the east in as perfect order as if on parade. Taking advantage of an eminence called James Hill, which concealed their movements from the allies, Frederick hurled his whole concentrated force upon the flank of the van of the army on the advance. He thus greatly outnumbered his foes at the point of attack. The enemy, taken by surprise in their long line of march, had no time to form.
“My brother Henry has gone to see the Duchess of Gotha to-day. I am so oppressed with grief that I would rather keep my sadness to myself. I have reason to congratulate myself much on account of my brother Henry. He has behaved like an angel, as a soldier, and well toward me as a brother. I can not, unfortunately, say the same of the elder. He sulks at me, and has sulkily retired to Torgau, from which place he has gone to Wittenberg. I shall leave him to his caprices and to his bad conduct; and I prophesy nothing for the future unless the younger guide him.”After the battle of Chotusitz, Frederick called upon General Pallant, an Austrian officer, who was wounded and a prisoner. In the course of the conversation, General Pallant stated that France was ready at any moment to betray his Prussian majesty, and that, if he would give him six days’ time, he would furnish him with documentary proof. A courier was instantly dispatched to Vienna. He soon returned with a letter from Cardinal Fleury, the prime minister of Louis XV., addressed to Maria Theresa, informing her that, if she would give up Bohemia to the emperor, France would guarantee to her Silesia. Frederick, though guilty of precisely the same treachery himself, read the document with indignation, and assumed to be as much amazed at the perfidy as he could have been had he been an honest man.
“Monsieur, there is nothing I wish so much as to possess all your writings. Pray do communicate them to me without reserve. If there be among your manuscripts any that you wish to conceal from the eyes of the public, I engage to keep them in profoundest secrecy.Voltaire’s visit lasted about thirty-two months. He was, however, during all this time, fast losing favor with the king. Instead of being received as an inmate at Sans Souci, he was assigned to a small country house in the vicinity, called the Marquisat. His wants were, however, all abundantly provided for at the expense of the king. It is evident from his letters that he was a very unhappy man. He was infirm in health, irascible, discontented, crabbed; suspecting every one of being his enemy, jealous of his companions, and with a diseased mind, crowded with superstitious fears.
511 “After having sacrificed my youth to my father, and my maturer age to my country, I think that I have acquired the right to dispose of my old age as I please. I have told you, and I repeat it, my hand shall never sign a disgraceful peace. I shall continue this campaign with the resolution to dare all, and to try the most desperate things, either to succeed or to find a glorious end.
Two days after committing this important document to Count Finck, Frederick took leave of his mother and his brother. His mother he never saw again. We have no evidence that on this visit he even called upon his irreproachable, amiable, neglected wife. In preparation for the worst, Frederick had provided poison for himself, and wore it constantly about his person. It consisted of several small pills in a glass tube. This fact is fully established.Public opinion was then much less potent than now; still it was a power. Frederick had two objects in view in again drawing the sword. One was to maintain possession of Silesia, which was seriously menaced; the other was to enlarge his territory, and thus to strengthen his hold upon his new conquest, by adding to Prussia the three important Bohemian principalities of K?niggratz, Bunzlau, and Leitmeritz. By a secret treaty, he had secured the surrender of these provinces in payment for the assistance his armies might furnish the allies; but policy required that he should not avow his real motives. He therefore issued a manifesto, in which he falsely stated,Frederick, finding that he could not rely upon the Saxons, sent to Silesia for re-enforcements of his own troops. Brünn could not be taken without siege artillery. He was capturing Moravia for the King of Poland. Frederick dispatched a courier to his Polish majesty at Dresden, requesting him immediately to forward the siege guns. The reply of the king, who was voluptuously lounging in his palaces, was, “I can not meet the expense of the carriage.” Frederick contemptuously remarked, “He has just purchased a green diamond which would have carried them thither and back again.” The Prussian king sent for siege artillery of his own, drew his lines close around Brünn, and urged Chevalier De Saxe, general of the Saxon horse, to co-operate with him energetically in battering the city into a surrender.305 The chevalier interposed one obstacle, and another, and another. At last he replied, showing his dispatches, “I have orders to retire from this business altogether, and join the French at Prague.”
“I have called you together, not to ask your advice, but to inform you that to-morrow I shall attack Marshal Daun. I am aware that he occupies a strong position, but it is one from which he can not escape. If I beat him, all his army must be taken prisoners or drowned in the Elbe. If we are beaten, we must all perish. This war is become tedious. You must all find it so. We will, if we can, finish it to-morrow. General Ziethen, I confide to you the right wing of the army. Your object must be, in marching straight to Torgau, to cut off the retreat of the Austrians when I shall have beaten them, and driven them from the heights of Siptitz.
Frederick on the 17th, the day after the departure of the Austrian army, invested Neisse. He had an embarrassing part to play. He was to conduct a sham siege in the presence of M. Valori, who was not only a man of ability, but who possessed much military intelligence. Feigning the utmost zeal, Frederick opened his trenches, and ostentatiously man?uvred his troops. He sent the young Prince Leopold, with fifteen thousand horse and foot, into the Glatz country, many leagues to the east, to guard against surprise from an enemy, where no enemy was to be found. He marked out his parallels, sent imperious summonses for surrender, and dispatched reconnoitring parties abroad. M. Valori began to be surprised—amazed. “What does all this mean?” he said to himself. “They have great need of some good engineers here.”详情
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