“It is not my purpose to lose battles by the base conduct of my generals; wherefore I hereby appoint that you, next year, if I be alive, assemble the army between Breslau and Ohlau; for four days before I arrive in your camp, carefully man?uvre with the ignorant generals, and teach them what their duty is. Regiment Von Arnim and regiment Von Kanitz are to act the enemy; and whoever does not then fulfill his duty shall go to court-martial; for I should think it a shame of any country to keep such people, who trouble themselves so little about their business.”Mr. Carlyle, who, with wonderful accuracy, and with impartiality which no one will call in question, has recorded the facts in Frederick’s career, gives the story as it is here told. In the following terms Mr. Carlyle comments upon these events:
The Prussians had a detached post at Smirzitz. The little garrison there was much harassed by lurking bands of Austrians, who shot their sentries, cut off their supplies, and rendered it almost certain death to any one who ventured to emerge from the ramparts. Some inventive genius among the Prussians constructed a straw man, very like life, representing a sentinel with his shouldered musket. By a series of ropes this effigy was made to move from right to left, as if walking his beat. A well-armed band of Prussians then hid in a thicket near by.
“Monseigneur,—A man must be void of all feeling who were not infinitely moved by the letter which your royal highness has deigned to honor me with. My self-love is only too much flattered by it. But my love of mankind, which I have always nourished in my heart, and which, I venture to say, forms the basis of my character, has given me a very much purer pleasure to see that there is now in the world a prince who thinks as a man—a Philosopher prince, who will make men happy.
There are several letters still remaining which Lieutenant Katte wrote to his friends during those hours of anguish in which he was awaiting his death. No one can read them without compassionate emotion, and without execrating the memory of that implacable tyrant who so unjustly demanded his execution. The young man wrote to the king a petition containing the following pathetic plea:
“Order me, your majesty,” said General Saldern, “to attack the enemy and his batteries, and I will cheerfully, on the instant, obey; but I can not, I dare not, act against honor, oath, and duty. For this commission your majesty will easily find another person in my stead.”The position of Frederick became daily more embarrassing. His forces were continually decreasing. Re-enforcements were swelling the ranks of the Austrians. Elated in becoming the Imperial Army, they grew more bold and annoying, assailing the Prussian outposts and cutting off their supplies.
“I will defend myself,” he said, “by the known rules of war and honor to the last possible moment.”Frederick, having completed the investment of Glogau, cutting off all its supplies, left a sufficient detachment there to starve the city into submission. There were about seven thousand inhabitants within the walls—“a much-enduring, frugal, pious, and very desirable people.” As it was probable that the feeble garrison, after a brief show of resistance, would surrender, Frederick hastened in person, with all his remaining available troops, toward Breslau, the capital of Silesia. On the 27th he wrote to M. Jordan:116
Voltaire made himself very merry over the dying scene of Maupertuis. There was never another man who could throw so much poison into a sneer as Voltaire. It is probable that the conversion of Maupertuis somewhat troubled his conscience as the unhappy scorner looked forward to his own dying hour, which could not be far distant. He never alluded to Maupertuis without indulging in a strain of bitter mockery in view of his death as a penitent. Even the king, unbeliever as he was in religion or in the existence of a God, was disgusted with the malignity displayed by Voltaire. In reply to one of Voltaire’s envenomed assaults the king wrote:F.
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“We approached,” he writes, “Marshal Neipperg’s army without being discovered by any one man living. His troops were then cantoned in three villages. But at that time I had not sufficient experience to know how to avail myself of such an opportunity. I ought immediately to have ordered two of my columns to surround the village of Mollwitz, and then to have attacked it. I ought at the same instant to have detached my dragoons with orders to have attacked the other two villages, which contained the Austrian cavalry. The infantry, which should have followed, would have prevented them from mounting. If I had proceeded in this way I am convinced that I should have totally destroyed the Austrian army.”52
The king coolly replied, “We must hope that they are more afraid of us than even of the gallows.”详情
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