“If you then find the prince contrite and humble, you will engage him to fall on his knees with you, to ask pardon of God with tears of penitence. But you must proceed with prudence and circumspection, for the prince is cunning. You will represent to him also, in a proper manner, the error he labors under in believing that some are predestinated to one thing and some to another; and that thus he who is predestinated to evil can do nothing but evil, and he who is predestinated to good can do nothing but good, and that, consequently, we can change nothing of what is to happen—a dreadful error, especially in what regards our salvation.While these scenes were transpiring the Crown Prince was habitually residing at Potsdam, a favorite royal residence about seventeen miles west from Berlin. Here he was rigidly attending to his duties in the giant regiment. We have now, in our narrative, reached the year 1727. Fritz is fifteen years of age. He is attracting attention by his vivacity, his ingenuous, agreeable manners, and his fondness for polite literature. He occasionally is summoned by his father to the Smoking Cabinet. But the delicacy of his physical organization is such that he loathes tobacco, and only pretends to smoke, with mock gravity puffing from his empty, white clay pipe. Neither has he any relish for the society which he meets there. Though faithful to the mechanical duties of the drill, they were very irksome to him. His books and his flute were his chief joy. Voltaire was just then rising to celebrity in France. His writings began to attract the attention of literary men throughout Europe. Fritz, in his youthful enthusiasm, was charmed by them. In the latter part of June, 1729, a courier brought the intelligence to Berlin that George I. had suddenly died of apoplexy. He was on a journey to Hanover when he was struck down on the road. Almost insensible, he was conveyed, on the full gallop, to Osnabrück, where his brother, who was a bishop, resided, and where medical aid could be obtained. But the shaft was fatal. At midnight his carriage reached Osnabrück. The old man, sixty-seven years of age, was heard to murmur, “It is all over with me,” and his spirit passed away to the judgment.“When you find it very necessary, yet very difficult, to gain any intelligence of the enemy, there is another expedient, though a cruel one. You take a rich burgher, possessed of rich lands, a wife, and children. You oblige him to go to the enemy’s camp, as if to complain of hard treatment, and to take along with him, as his servant, a spy who speaks the language of the country; assuring him at the same time that, in case he does not bring the spy back with him, after having remained a sufficient time in the enemy’s camp, you will set fire to his house, and massacre his wife and children. I was forced to have recourse to this cruel expedient. It answered my purpose.”173
And thus the king passed from regiment to regiment. Perhaps no commander, excepting Napoleon, has ever secured to an equal degree the love of his soldiers. It is said that a deserter was brought before him.
But at length one of the counselors, Baron Borck, urged the following consideration: “Swords will be the weapons used. Your majesty has been very sick, is now weak, and also crippled with gout. The King of England is in health and vigor. There is great danger that your majesty may be worsted in the combat. That would render matters tenfold worse.”It turned out that the rumor of the march upon Berlin was greatly exaggerated. General Haddick, with an Austrian force of but four thousand men, by a sudden rush through the woods, seized the suburbs of Berlin. The terrified garrison, supposing that an overwhelming force of the allied army was upon them, retreated, with the royal family and effects, to Spandau. General Haddick, having extorted a ransom of about one hundred and forty thousand dollars from the city, and “two dozen pair of gloves for the empress queen,” and learning that a division of Frederick’s army was fast approaching, fled precipitately. Hearing of this result, the king arrested his steps at Torgau, and returned to Leipsic. The Berliners asserted that “the two dozen pair of gloves were all gloves for the left hand.”BATTLE OF
During this time, in May, the king wrote a very bitter and satirical ode against Louis XV.—“the plaything of the Pompadour,” “polluted with his amours,” “and disgracefully surrendering the government of his realms to chance.” The ode he sent to Voltaire. The unprincipled poet, apprehending that the ode might come to light, and that he might be implicated, treacherously sent it to the prime minister, the Duke De Choiseul, to be shown to the king. At the same time, he wrote to Frederick that he had burned the ode. In the account which Voltaire himself gives of this disgraceful transaction, he writes:“I depend with complete confidence on your soldierly and patriotic zeal, which is already well and gloriously known to me, and which, while I live, I will acknowledge with the heartiest satisfaction. Before all things I recommend to you, and prescribe as your most sacred duty, that in every situation you exercise humanity on unarmed enemies. In this respect, let there be the strictest discipline kept among those under you.
“Your effrontery astonishes me. What you have done is clear as the day; and yet, instead of confessing your culpability, you persist in denying it. Do you think you can make people believe that black is white? All shall be made public. Then it will be seen whether, if your words deserve statues, your conduct does not deserve chains.”The withdrawal of Russia from the alliance against Frederick, though hailed by him with great joy, still left him, with wasted armies and exhausted finances, to struggle single-handed against Austria and France united, each of which kingdoms was far more powerful than Prussia. The winter passed rapidly away without any marked events, each party preparing for the opening of the campaign in the ensuing spring. On the 8th of June, 1762, Frederick wrote to D’Argens:
Ruppin, where the Crown Prince continued to reside for several years, was a small, dull town of about two thousand inhabitants. The only life it exhibited was found in the music and drillings of the garrison. The only important event in its history was the removal of the Crown Prince there. Of what is called society there was none. The hamlet was situated in the midst of a flat, marshy country, most of it quite uncultivated. The region abounded in peat bogs, and dark, still lakes, well stocked with fish.
“Country, for two days back, was in new alarm by the Austrian garrison of Brieg, now left at liberty, who sallied out upon the villages about, and plundered black cattle, sheep, grain, and whatever they could come at. But this day in Mollwitz the whole Austrian army was upon us. First there went three hundred hussars through the village to Grüningen, who quartered themselves there, and rushed hither and thither into houses, robbing and plundering. From one they took his best horses; from another they took linen, clothes, and other furnitures and victual.
“Let the courts take this for their rule; and whenever they do not carry out justice in a straightforward manner, without any regard of person and rank, they shall have to answer to his majesty for it.”详情
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