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类型:奇幻地区:ǵ发布:2020-09-22 03:39:16

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It was a cold, dreary autumnal morning. The Austrian army, according to Fredericks statement, amounted to sixty thousand men.86 But it was widely dispersed. Many of the cavalry were scouring the country in all directions, in foraging parties and as skirmishers. Large bodies had been sent by circuitous roads to occupy every avenue of retreat. The consolidated army, under Prince Charles, now advancing to the attack, amounted to thirty-six thousand men. Frederick had but twenty-six thousand.87

Wesel was the fortress of a small province belonging to Prussia, on the Rhine, many leagues from Berlin. The intervening territory belonged to Hanover and Hesse Cassel. The king ordered his captive son to be taken, under a strong guard, by circuitous roads, so as not to attract attention, to the castle of Mittenwalde, near Berlin. The king then started for home, probably as wretched as he was making every body about him. After a very rapid journey, he reached Berlin late in the afternoon of Sunday, the 27th of August, 1730. It was the evening after the fabrication of the letters had been completed. We give, from the graphic pen of Wilhelmina, the account of the kings first interview with his family:

The evenings are devoted to music. The prince has a concert in his saloon, where no one enters who is not invited, and such invitation is regarded as an extraordinary favor. The prince has commonly performed a sonata and a concert for the flute, on which he plays in the greatest perfection. He fills the flute admirably well, has great agility with the fingers, and a vast fund of music. He composes himself sonatas. I have had the honor of standing behind him more than once while he was playing, and was charmed with his taste, especially in the adagio. He has a continual creation of new ideas.

Those that come after me, said the king, will do as they like. The future is beyond mans reach. I have acquired; it is theirs to preserve. I am not in alarm about the Austrians. They dread my armiesthe luck that I have. I am sure of their sitting quiet for the dozen years or so which may remain to me of life. There is more for me in the true greatness of laboring for the happiness of my subjects than in the repose of Europe. I have put Saxony out of a condition to hurt me. She now owes me twelve million five hundred thousand dollars. By the defensive alliance which I form with her, I provide myself a help against Austria. I would not, henceforth, attack a cat, except to defend myself. Glory and my interests were the occasion of my first campaigns. The late emperors situation, and my zeal for France, gave rise to the second. Always since, I have been fighting for my own hearthsfor my very existence. I know the state I have got into. If I now saw Prince Charles at the gates of Paris, I would not stir.

On the 14th of August Frederick had reached Liegnitz. His foes surrounded him in such numbers that escape seemed impossible, and destruction sure. General Loudon, with thirty-five thousand allies, was scarcely a mile east of him. General Lacy, with an immense swarm of cavalry, was at the distance of but a few thousand yards on the west. General Daun, with his immense army, approaching from the southwest, had taken possession of Liegnitz. Frederick was encamped upon some heights a few miles east of the city. To human view, the position of his Prussian majesty was desperate.

The king was accustomed to pass his leisure moments in playing with them, and the room where he sat was strewed with leather balls with which they amused themselves. As they were all much indulged, though there was always one especial favorite, they used to tear the damask covers of the chairs in the kings apartment, and gnaw and otherwise injure the furniture. This he permitted without rebuke, and used only to say,At Wesel the king met Maupertuis, to whom we have already alluded, who was then one of the greatest of European celebrities. His discovery of the flattening of the earth at the poles had given him such renown that the kings of Russia, France, and Prussia were all lavishing honors upon him. It was a great gratification to Frederick that he had secured his services in organizing the Berlin Academy. While at Wesel the king was seized by a fever, which shut him up for a time in the small chateau of Moyland. He had never yet met Voltaire, and being very anxious to see him, wrote to him as follows, under date of September 6th, 1740:

The result was a congress of three persons, two Prussians and one Austrian, which congress met at Berlin on the 24th of May, 1778. For two months they deliberated. The Austrians improved the delay in making very vigorous preparations for war. Frederick really wished to avoid the war, for he had seen enough of the woes of battle. They could come to no agreement.FREDERICK IN PRISON.

Two Silesian barons called upon him, and presented a protest from the authorities they represented against his meditated invasion, the design of which was now manifest to all. The king received them very courteously, tossed the protest to a secretary223 to file away or to cast into the waste-paper basket, and invited the two gentlemen to dine with him.Along the eastern edge of this vast wilderness the army of Frederick marched for two days. But Hungarian Pandours in swarms, savage men on their fleet and shaggy horses, were continually emerging from the paths of the forest, with gleaming sabres and shrill war-cries, assailing the flank of the Prussian line wherever there was the slightest exposure. In the vicinity of the little village of Sohr the king encamped for two days. The halt seemed necessary to refresh his horses, and to send out foraging parties to replenish his stores. But the light horsemen of the foe were so thick around him, so vigilant, and so bold,362 that no baggage train could enter his camp unless protected by eight thousand foot and three thousand horse.

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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.After the battle of Chotusitz, Frederick called upon General Pallant, an Austrian officer, who was wounded and a prisoner. In the course of the conversation, General Pallant stated that France was ready at any moment to betray his Prussian majesty, and that, if he would give him six days time, he would furnish him with documentary proof. A courier was instantly dispatched to Vienna. He soon returned with a letter from Cardinal Fleury, the prime minister of Louis XV., addressed to Maria Theresa, informing her that, if she would give up Bohemia to the emperor, France would guarantee to her Silesia. Frederick, though guilty of precisely the same treachery himself, read the document with indignation, and assumed to be as much amazed at the perfidy as he could have been had he been an honest man.

In the mean time a Venetian embassador, on his way to one of the northern courts, passed a night at a hotel in Berlin. He was immediately arrested, with his luggage, by a royal order. A dispatch was transmitted to Venice, stating that the embassador would be held as a hostage till Barberina was sent to Prussia. A bargain, says Frederick, in his emphatic utterance, is a bargain. A state should have law courts to enforce contracts entered into in their territories.

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