The battle of Torgau is to be numbered among the most bloody of the Seven Years’ War. The Austrians lost twelve thousand in killed and wounded, eight thousand prisoners, forty-five cannon, and twenty-nine flags. The Prussian loss was also very heavy. There were fourteen thousand killed or wounded, and four thousand taken prisoners.While in health and prosperity, quaffing the wines of Frederick, he was an avowed infidel, and eagerly joined the ribald companions of the king in denouncing all religion as the fanaticism of weak minds. But in these hours of pain, of loneliness, and of approaching death he could find no consolation in the teachings of philosophy. He sent for two Christian ministers to visit497 him daily, and daily had the Bible read to him. It was a death-bed repentance. Bitterly he deplored a wasted life. Sincerely he seemed to embrace the doctrines of Christianity.143 He died, after a lingering sickness, far from home and friends, on the 27th of July, 1759.
“I have just finished a journey intermingled with singular adventures, sometimes pleasant, sometimes the reverse. You know I had set out for Baireuth to see a sister whom I love no less than esteem. On the road Algarotti and I consulted the map to settle our route for returning by Wesel. Frankfort-on-the-202Main comes always as a principal stage. Strasbourg was no great roundabout. We chose that route in preference. The incognito was decided, names pitched upon, story we were to tell. In fine, all was arranged as well as possible. We fancied we should get to Strasbourg in three days.
At just twenty minutes past two o’clock the breathing ceased, the spirit took its flight, and the lifeless body alone remained. Life’s great battle was ended, and the soul of the monarch ascended to that dread tribunal where prince and peasant must alike answer for all the deeds done in the body. It was the 17th of August, 1786. The king had reigned forty-six years, and had lived seventy-six years, six months, and twenty-four days.
“Yes,” the king replied. “I swear it to you, D’Arget. In a word, I want to have some good of my life. What are we, poor human atoms, to get up projects that cost so much blood!”
As this magnificent army entered upon the smooth and beautiful fields of Southern Silesia they shook out their banners, and with peals of music gave expression to their confidence of victory. The Austrian officers pitched their tents on a hill near Hohenfriedberg, where they feasted and drank their wine, while, during the long and beautiful June afternoon, they watched the onward sweep of their glittering host. “The Austrian and Saxon army,” writes an eye-witness, “streamed out all the afternoon, each regiment or division taking the place appointed it; all the afternoon, till late in the night, submerging the country as in a deluge.“But behold the caprice of Fortune. After a hundred preferences of my rivals, she smiles upon me, and packs off the hero of the hat and sword, whom the pope had blessed, and who had gone on pilgrimages. He skulks out of Saxony, panting like a dog whom the cook has flogged out of the kitchen.”
“In case you refuse, or delay beyond the term, the answer which I hereby of right demand, you will render yourself alone responsible, before the world, for the consequences which infallibly will follow. I am, with much consideration, my cousin, your very affectionate cousin,“Think of the sounds,” writes Carlyle, “uttered from human windpipes, shrill with rage, some of them, hoarse others with ditto; of the vituperations, execrations, printed and vocal—grating harsh thunder upon Frederick and this new course of his. Huge melody of discords, shrieking, groaning, grinding on that topic through the afflicted universe in general.”The young sovereign commenced his reign with the utterance of very noble sentiments. The day after his accession he assembled the chief officers of his father to administer to them the oath of allegiance. He urged them to be humane in the exercise of all authority which might be delegated to them.
His companions had no heart to witness the bloody execution of their friend and brother-officer. The chaplain, Müller, who had accompanied the condemned to Cüstrin, and also Besserer, the chaplain of the garrison there, were either obliged by their official position, or were constrained by Christian sympathy, to ride by his side in the death-cart to the scaffold. Of the rest of his friends he took an affectionate leave, saying, “Adieu, my brothers; may God be with you evermore!” He was conveyed to the rampart of the castle dressed in coarse brown garments precisely like those worn by the prince.
“Tell your unworthy daughter,” said the king to the queen, “that her room is to be her prison. I shall give orders to have the guard there doubled. I shall have her examined in the most rigorous manner, and will afterward have her removed to some fit place, where she may repent of her crimes.”THE TOBACCO PARLIAMENT.
The British court was frantic with rage. Frederick had a strong army on the frontiers of Hanover. The first hostile gun fired would be the signal for the invasion of that province, and it would inevitably be wrested from the British crown. The lion roared, but did not venture to use either teeth or claws. England was promptly brought to terms. It was grandly done of Frederick. There was something truly sublime in the quiet, noiseless, apparently almost indifferent air with which Frederick accomplished his purpose.详情
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