“You will now recall to mind what passed a year and a day ago—how scandalously you behaved, and what a godless enterprise you undertook. As I have had you about me from the beginning, and must know you well, I did all in the world that was in my power, by kindness and by harshness, to make an honorable man of you. As I rather suspected your evil purposes, I treated you in the harshest and sharpest way in the Saxon camp, in hopes you would consider yourself, and take another line of conduct; would confess your faults to me, and beg forgiveness. But all in vain. You grew ever more stiff-necked. You thought to carry it through with your headstrong humor. But hark ye, my lad! if thou wert sixty or seventy instead of eighteen, thou couldst not cross my resolutions. And as up to this date I have managed to sustain myself against any comer, there will be methods found to bring thee to reason too.“Never mind, sire, God Almighty and we will mend this yet.417 The enemy may get a victory for once, but that does not send us to the devil.”“A miserable Bishop of Liege thought it a proud thing to insult the late king. Some subjects of Herstal, which belongs to Prussia, had revolted. The bishop gave them his protection. Colonel Kreutzen was sent to Liege to compose the thing by treaty, with credentials and full power. Imagine it; the bishop would not receive him! Three days, day after day, he saw this envoy apply at his palace, and always denied him entrance. These things had grown past endurance.
The camp was so utterly destroyed that Frederick could not even obtain pen and ink. He was obliged to write with a pencil. Not a loaf of bread nor a cup of wine was left for the exhausted king. The hungry soldiers, after a conflict of five hours, having had neither breakfast nor dinner, found no refreshments awaiting them; yet, without a murmur, they smoked their pipes, drank some spring water, and rejoiced in their great victory.“It is of no use. I impute nothing of crime to you. But after such a mishap it would be dangerous to trust you with any post or command.
164 On the fourth day after the arrival of the Crown Prince at Baireuth, a courier came with a letter from the queen conjuring him to return immediately, as the king was growing worse and worse. Frederick immediately hastened to Potsdam, and on the 12th of October entered the sick-chamber of his father in the palace there. He seems to have thought nothing of his wife, who was at Berlin. We have no evidence that he wrote to her during his absence, or that he visited her upon his return. For four months the king remained a great sufferer in Potsdam, trembling between life and death. It was often with great difficulty that he could breathe. He was impatient and irritable in the extreme. As he was rolled about in his Bath chair, he would petulantly cry out, “Air! air!” as if his attendants were to blame for his shortness of breath. The distress from the dropsy was very great. “If you roll the king a little fast,” writes an attendant, “you hear the water jumble in his body.” The Crown Prince was deeply affected in view of the deplorable condition of his father, and wept convulsively. The stern old king was stern to the end. He said one day to Frederick, “If you begin at the wrong end with things, and all go topsy-turvy after I am gone, I will laugh at you out of my grave.”Both of the English ministers, in much agitation, spoke together. The king, impatiently interrupting them, said,“My dear Monsieur Jordan, my sweet Monsieur Jordan, my quiet Monsieur Jordan, my good, my benign, my pacific, my most humane Monsieur Jordan,—I announce to thy serenity the conquest of Silesia. I warn thee of the bombardment of Neisse, and I prepare thee for still more projects, and instruct thee of the happiest successes that the womb of fortune ever bore.”47
The Austrian envoy expressed to his court a suspicion that Silesia might be threatened. The reply which came back was that the Austrian court would not, and could not, believe that a prince who was under such obligations to the father of Maria Theresa, and who had made such loud professions of integrity and philanthropy, could be guilty of such an outrage.“The thought alone,” he wrote, “of your death, my dear Suhm, affords me an argument in proof of the immortality of the soul. For is it possible that the spirit which acts in you with so much clearness, brightness, and intelligence, which is so different from matter and from body—that fine soul endowed with so many solid virtues and agreeable qualities—is it possible that this should not be immortal? No! I would maintain in solid argument that, if the greatest part of the world were to be annihilated,426 you, Voltaire, Boileau, Newton, Wolfius, and some other geniuses of this order must be immortal.”107
On the 30th of August Frederick commenced his march from Dresden. Great caution was requisite, and great military skill, in so bold an adventure. On the 13th of September he reached Erfurt. The Prince of Soubise, aware of the prowess of his antagonist, retired to the hills and intrenched himself, waiting until he could accumulate forces which would render victory certain. Frederick had now with him his second brother, Henry, who seems to have very fully secured his confidence. On the 16th of September the king wrote:
We now enter upon the third Silesian war, usually termed in history The Seven Years’ War. For four years Frederick had been aware that a coalition was secretly forming against him. Maria Theresa wished, with ardor which had never for one moment abated, to regain Silesia. All the other European powers, without exception, desired to curb Frederick, whose ambition they feared. They were well aware that he was taking advantage of a few years of peace to replenish his treasury, and to enlarge his army for new conquests. As we have before stated, Frederick, by bribery, had fully informed himself of the secret arrangements into which Austria, Russia, Poland, and other powers were entering for the dismemberment of his realms. It is in vain to attempt to unravel the intricacies of the diplomacy which ensued.
“She made me a courtesy on the model of that of Agnes in the Ecole des Femmes. I took her back to the queen’s apartment, little edified by such a display of talent.”Her majesty now wrote to Prince Charles, urging him to engage immediately in a fight with Frederick. She sent two of the highest dignitaries of the court to K?niggr?tz to press forward immediate action. There was an eminence near by, which the Austrian officers daily ascended, and from which they could look directly into the Prussian camp and observe all that was transpiring there.
CHAPTER XXV. COMMENCEMENT OF THE SEVEN YEARS’ WAR.
The king seemed surprised, raised his hand, opening and shutting the fingers, and then said, “It is impossible. How could I move my fingers so if the pulse were gone?”“Each regiment shall take but one baggage-cart for a company. No officer, whoever he may be or whatever his title, shall take with him the least of silver plate, not even a silver spoon. Whoever wants to keep table, great or small, must manage the same with tin utensils, without exception, be he who he will.”Under these circumstances, it was evidently impossible for Frederick to retain Silesia unless he could again rally France and other powers to his aid. It was always easy to rouse France against England, its hereditary foe. Thus influenced, Frederick, early in the spring of 1744, entered into a new alliance with France and the Emperor Charles Albert against Maria Theresa. The two marriages which he had so adroitly consummated constrained330 Russia and Sweden to neutrality. While France, by the new treaty, was engaged to assail with the utmost energy, under the leadership of Louis XV. himself, the triumphant Austrian columns upon the Rhine, Frederick, at the head of one hundred thousand troops, was to drive the Austrians out of Bohemia, and reseat Charles Albert upon his hereditary throne. For this service Frederick was to receive from the Bohemian king three important principalities, with their central fortresses near upon the borders of Silesia.详情
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