类型:奇幻地区:cs35̳发布:2020-10-28 04:41:59


A messenger to him, thinks Frederick; a messenger instantly; and who? For that clearly is the first thing. And a delicate thing it is; requiring to be done in profoundest secrecy, by hint and innuendo rather than speechby somebody in a cloak of darkness, who is of adroit quality, and was never heard of in diplomatic circles before, not to be suspected of having business of mine on hand.Vastly superior as was the Russian army in numbers, General Soltikof did not venture to advance to attack his terrible foe. He had selected a very strong position on a range of eminences about one hundred feet high, running for several miles in an easterly direction from the river. Upon this ridge, which was called the Heights of Kunersdorf, the Russian general had intrenched himself with the utmost care. The surrounding country was full of bogs, and sluggish streams, and a scraggy growth of tough and thorny bushes, almost impenetrable.

321 First he asked me if it were true that the French nation were so angered against him, if the king was, and if you were. I answered that there was nothing permanent. He then condescended to speak fully upon the reasons which induced him to make peace. These reasons were so remarkable that I dare not trust them to this paper. All that I dare say is, that it seems to me easy to lead back the mind of this sovereign, whom the situation of his territories, his interest, and his taste would appear to mark as the natural ally of France. He said, moreover, that he earnestly desired to see Bohemia in the emperors hands, that he renounced all claim on Berg and Jülick, and that he thought only of keeping Silesia. He said that he knew well enough that the house of Austria would one day wish to recover that fine province, but that he trusted he could keep his conquest. That he had at that time a hundred and thirty thousand soldiers perfectly prepared for war; that he would make of Neisse, Glogau, and Brieg fortresses as strong as Wesel; that he was well informed that the Queen of Hungary owed eighty million German crowns (,000,000); that her provinces, exhausted and wide apart, would not be able to make long efforts; and that the Austrians for a long time to come could not of themselves be formidable.71It afflicted me a little that the king still has doubts of me, while I am obeying in such a matter diametrically opposite to my own ideas. In what way shall I offer stronger proofs? I may give myself to the devil, it will be to no purpose. Nothing but the old song over again, doubt on doubt. Dont imagine I am going to disoblige the duke, the duchess, or the daughter, I beseech you. I know too well what is due to them, and too much respect their merits, not to observe the strictest rules of what is proper, even if I hated their progeny and them like the pestilence.

The Russians, with empty meal-wagons and starving soldiers, had taken possession of Frankfort-on-the-Oder on the 29th of July. The city contained twelve thousand inhabitants. The ransom which the Russian general demanded to save the city from pillage by the Cossacks was four hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Pillage by the Cossacks! No imagination can conceive the horrors of such an event. Nearly one hundred thousand men, frenzied with intoxication, brutal in their habits, restrained by no law, would inflict every outrage which fiends could conceive of. Well might fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, turn pale and feel the blood curdle in their veins at the thought. Four hundred and fifty thousand dollars ransom! That was nearly forty dollars for each individual, man, woman, and child! Compliance with the demand was impossible. Frankfort, in its impoverishment, could by no possibility raise a tenth part of the sum. Dreadful was the consternation. There was no relenting; the money or the pillage!

Four good days in penance474 Many men in all nations long for peace. But there are three women at the top of the world who do not. Their wrath, various in quality, is great in quantity, and disasters do the reverse of appeasing it.126THE ASSAULT ON GLOGAU.

It must be borne in mind that these words were written after Voltaire had quarreled with Frederick, and when it seems to have been his desire to represent all the acts of the king in as unfavorable a light as possible. Frederick himself, about eight years after the settlement of the Herstal difficulty, gave the following as his version of the affair:

Much to Fredericks chagrin, he soon learned that a body of three hundred foot and three hundred horse, cautiously approaching through by-paths in the mountains, had thrown itself into Neisse, to strengthen the garrison there. This was on the 5th of March. But six days before a still more alarming event had occurred. On the 27th of February, Frederick, with a small escort, not dreaming of danger, set out to visit two small posts in the vicinity of Neisse. He stopped to dine with a few of his officers in the little village of Wartha, while the principal part of the detachment which accompanied him continued its movement to Baumgarten.Leopold, in early youth, fell deeply in love with a beautiful young lady, Mademoiselle Fos. She was the daughter of an apothecary. His aristocratic friends were shocked at the idea of so unequal a marriage. The sturdy will of Leopold was unyielding. They sent him away, under a French tutor, to take the grand tour of Europe. After an absence of fourteen months he returned. The first thing he did was to call upon Mademoiselle Fos. After that, he called upon his widowed mother. It was in vain to resist the will of such a man. In 1698 he married her, and soon, by his splendid military services, so ennobled his bride that all were ready to do her homage. For half a century she was his loved and honored spouse, attending him in all his campaigns.

But the assailants were already so near the walls that the shot passed harmlessly over their heads. Without firing a gun or uttering a sound, these well-drilled soldiers of Frederick William hewed down the palisades, tore out the chevaux-de-frise, and clambered over the glacis. With axe and petard they burst open the gates and surged into the city.In the midst of ftes, operas, and suppers, my secret negotiation advanced. The king allowed me to speak to him on all subjects. I often intermingled questions respecting France and Austria in conversations relating to the ?neid and Livy. The discussion was sometimes very animated. At length the king said to me, Let France declare war against England, and I will march. This was all I desired. I returned as quickly as possible to the court of France. I gave them the same hopes which I had myself been led to entertain at Berlin, and which did not prove delusive.

I wish that my works, and only they, had been what K?nig attacked. I could sacrifice them with a great deal of willingness to persons who think of increasing their own reputation by lessening that of others. I have not the folly nor vanity of certain authors. The cabals of literary people seem to me the disgrace of literature. I do not the less esteem the honorable cultivators of literature. It is the cabalers and their leaders that are degraded in my eyes.



But there was another picture which met the eye of the king very different in its aspect. We know not whether it at all touched his heart. It was that of the poor peasants, with their mothers, their wives, their children, hurrying from their hamlets in all directions, in the utmost dismay. Grandmothers tottered beneath the burden of infant children. Fathers and mothers struggled on with the household goods they were striving to rescue from impending ruin. The cry of maidens and children reached the ear as they fled from the tramp of the war-horse and the approaching carnage of the death-dealing artillery.The prince is tall, well made, and has a noble air. His features are neither handsome nor regular; but his countenance, which is open, engaging, and very agreeable, stands him in the place of beauty. He is of a hasty temper, and replies with quickness and without embarrassment. Though his nature is inclined to anger, he knows so well how to overcome it that it is never perceived, and no one has ever suffered by it. He is very gay. His conversation is very agreeable, though he has some difficulty in making himself intelligible from lisping so much. His conception is quick, and his intellect penetrating. The goodness of his heart gains him the attachment of all who know him. He is generous, charitable, compassionate, polite, engaging, and enjoys very equal spirits. The only fault I know in him is too much levity, which I must mention here, as otherwise122 I should be accused of partiality. He has, however, much corrected himself of it.Sire,Yesterday I was in terrible alarms. The sound of the cannon heard, the smoke of powder visible from the steeple-tops here, all led us to suspect that there was a battle going on. Glorious confirmation of it this morning. Nothing but rejoicing among all the Protestant inhabitants, who had begun to be in apprehension from the rumors which the other party took pleasure in spreading. Persons who were in the battle can not enough celebrate the coolness and bravery of your majesty. For myself, I am at the overflowing point. I have run about all day announcing this glorious news to the Berliners who are here. In my life I have never felt a more perfect satisfaction. One finds at the corner of every street an orator of the people celebrating the warlike feats of your majestys troops. I have often, in my idleness, assisted at these discourses; not artistic eloquence, it must be owned, but gushing full from the heart.

In the court of the czarina there was a very handsome young Pole, Stanislaus Poniatowski, who had been an acknowledged lover of Catharine. Though Catharine had laid him aside for other favorites, she still regarded him with tender feelings. He was just the man to do her bidding. By skillful diplomacy she542 caused him to be elected King of Poland. That kingdom was now entirely in her hands, so far as it was in the power of its monarch to place it there.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.



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