The principal companions of Frederick at Reinsberg were gay, pleasure-loving men. Among them were Major Keyserling, a thoughtless young man, full of vivacity, and of very agreeable manners; and M. Jordan, a French young gentleman, formerly a168 preacher, very amiable, and an author of considerable note. M. Jordan was devotedly attached to the prince, and continued so through life. He gives the following testimony to the good qualities of Frederick:
As has often been mentioned, the carnage of the battle-field constitutes by no means the greater part of the miseries of war. One of the sufferers from the conflagration of the city of Cüstrin gives the following graphic account of the scene. It was the 15th of August, 1758:
But Frederick did not seem to think himself at all bound by his treaty obligations with France to refrain from entering into secret arrangements with the foe which would promote his interests, however antagonistic those arrangements might be to his assumed obligations. He was the ally of France in the attempt to wrest territory from the young Queen of Austria, and to weaken her power. His armies and those of France were acting in co-operation. Frederick now proposed to the common enemy that, if Silesia were surrendered to him, he would no longer act in co-operation with his ally; but, that France might not discover his perfidy, he would still pretend to make war. The Austrians were to amuse themselves in defending Neisse from a sham siege until the pleasant weeks of autumn were gone, and then they were to march, with all their guns and ammunition, south to Vienna, there to fight the French. Frederick, still assuming that he was the ally of France, was to avail himself of the excuse that the season of ice and snow was at hand, and withdraw into winter quarters. Such, in general, were the terms which Frederick authorized his minister, Goltz, to propose to Lord Hyndford, as the agent of England and Austria.“I wrote to Frederick that his ode was beautiful, but that he had better not make it public, lest it should close all the avenues to a reconciliation with the King of France, incense him irremediably, and thus force him to strain every nerve in vengeance.
At the close of the business, the king, who had been exceedingly courteous during the whole interview, took General Neipperg aside, and, beckoning Lord Hyndford to join them, said, addressing Lord Hyndford,
Frederick had seen many dark days before, but never one so dark as this. In the frenzy of his exertions to retrieve the lost battle, he cried out to his soldiers, his eyes being flooded with tears, “Children, do not forsake me, your king, your father, in this pinch!” The retreat became a flight. In endeavoring to cross the little stream called the Hen-Floss, there was such crowding and jamming at the bridges that the Prussians were compelled to leave one hundred and sixty-five guns of various calibre behind them. Had the Russians pursued with any vigor, scarcely a man of the Prussian army could have escaped. But General Soltikof stood in such fear of his opponent, who had often wrested victory out of defeat, that he attempted no pursuit.
“And so from right wing to left,” writes Carlyle, “miles long there is now universal storm of volleying, bayonet charging, thunder of artillery, case-shot, cartridge-shot, and sulphurous devouring whirlwind; the wrestle very tough and furious, especially on the assaulting side. Here, as at Prague, the Prussian troops were one and all in the fire, each doing strenuously his utmost. There is no reserve left. All is gone up into one combustion. To fan the fire, to be here, there, fanning the fire where need shows, this is now Frederick’s function. This death-wrestle lasted, perhaps, four hours; till seven, or perhaps eight o’clock, of a June evening.Soon after, a soldier, six feet three inches tall, the ringleader of a gang, broke into a house and robbed it of property to the amount of about five thousand dollars. He was sentenced to be hung. We give the result in the words of Carlyle:
Never were the prospects of Frederick more gloomy. He had taken up his residence for the winter in a very humble cottage near the hamlet of Freiberg. He must have been very unhappy. Scenes of suffering were every where around him. It was terribly cold. His troops were poorly clothed, and fed, and housed.
“Lean indeed I am,” the king replied. “And what wonder, with three women163 hanging on the throat of me all this while!“You will quickly write me your mind on this. I have purchased the Von Katsch house. The field marshal, as governor of Berlin, will get that to live in. His government house I will have made new for you, and furnish it all, and give you enough to keep house yourself there.
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478 The latter part of June, an army of a hundred thousand Russians, having crossed the Vistula, was concentrated, under General Soltikof, at Posen, on the River Warta, in Poland. They were marching from the northeast to attack the Prussian forces near Landshut in their rear. General Daun, with a still larger force of Austrians, was confronting Frederick on the southwest. The plan of the allies was to crush their foe between these two armies. Frederick had lost the ablest of his generals. The young men who were filling their places were untried.“Asking me for peace is indeed a bitter joke. It is to Louis XV. you must address yourself, or to his Amboise in petticoats.129 But these people have their heads filled with ambitious projects. They wish to be the sovereign arbiters of sovereigns. That is what persons of my way of thinking will by no means put up with. I like peace as much as you could wish, but I want it good, solid, and honorable. Socrates or Plato would have thought as I do on this subject had they found themselves in the accursed position which is mine in the world.“The king led the princess into the queen’s apartment. Then seeing, after she had saluted us all, that she was much heated and her hair deranged, he bade my brother take her to her own room. I followed them thither. My brother said to her, introducing me,详情
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