“I have begun to settle the figure of Prussia. The outline will be altogether regular; for the whole of Silesia is taken in except one miserable hamlet, which perhaps I shall have to keep blockaded until next spring. Up to this time the whole conquest has cost me only twenty men and two officers.There was much man?uvring, in which Frederick displayed his usual skill, quite circumventing his foes. Daily he became less despairing. On the 25th of October he wrote to Fouquet:
There still remained to Frederick twenty-three years of life. He now engaged very vigorously in the endeavor to repair the terrible ravages of war by encouraging agriculture, commerce, and all useful arts. He invited the distinguished French philosophers Helvetius and D’Alembert to visit his court, and endeavored, though unavailingly, to induce them to take up their residence in Berlin. They were both in sympathy with the king in their renunciation of Christianity.
“I will write to Madame Du Chatelet in compliance with your wish. To speak to you frankly concerning her journey, it is Voltaire, it is you, it is my friend that I desire to see. I can not say whether I shall travel or not travel. Adieu, dear friend, sublime spirit, first-born of thinking beings. Love me always sincerely, and be persuaded that none can love and esteem you more than I.”
Frederick therefore decided to march down the river twenty miles farther, to Lowen, where there was a good bridge. To favor the operation, Prince Leopold, with large divisions of the army and much of the baggage, was to cross the Neisse on pontoons at Michelau, a few miles above Lowen. Both passages were successfully accomplished, and the two columns effected a junction on the west side of the river on the 8th of April. The blockade of Brieg was abandoned, and its blockading force united with the general army.
The Emperor Charles VI. left no son. He therefore promulgated a new law of succession in a decree known throughout213 Europe as the “Pragmatic Sanction.” By the custom of the realm the sceptre could descend only to male heirs. But by this decree the king declared that the crown of the house of Hapsburg should be transmitted to his daughter, Maria Theresa. This law had been ratified by the estates of all the kingdoms and principalities which composed the Austrian monarchy. All the leading powers of Europe—England, France, Spain, Prussia, Russia, Poland, Sweden, Denmark, and the Germanic body—had bound themselves by treaty to maintain the “Pragmatic Sanction.” It was a peaceable and wise arrangement, acceptable to the people of Austria and to the dynasties of Europe as a means of averting a war of succession, which might involve all the nations of the Continent in the conflict.“Asking me for peace is indeed a bitter joke. It is to Louis XV. you must address yourself, or to his Amboise in petticoats.129 But these people have their heads filled with ambitious projects. They wish to be the sovereign arbiters of sovereigns. That is what persons of my way of thinking will by no means put up with. I like peace as much as you could wish, but I want it good, solid, and honorable. Socrates or Plato would have thought as I do on this subject had they found themselves in the accursed position which is mine in the world.
“Nobody here, great or small, dares make any representation to this young prince against the measures he is pursuing, though all are sensible of the confusion which must follow. A prince who had the least regard to honor, truth, and justice, could not act the part he is going to do. But it is plain his only view is to deceive us all, and conceal for a while his ambitious and mischievous designs.”
“I am punctual in answering, and eager to satisfy you. You shall have a breakfast-set, my good mamma; six coffee-cups, very pretty, well diapered, and tricked out with all the little embellishments which increase their value. On account of some pieces which they are adding to the set, you will have to wait a few days. But I flatter myself this delay will contribute to your satisfaction, and produce for you a toy that will give you pleasure, and make you remember your old adorer.“The terror in Vienna was dreadful. I will not attempt to describe the dismay the tidings excited among all ranks of people. Maria Theresa, trembling for her two sons who were in the army, immediately dispatched an autograph letter to Frederick with new proposals for a negotiation.”
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“Never you mind that,” they replied. “The Austrians are not Prussians. You know what we can do.”Frederick, finding that he could not rely upon the Saxons, sent to Silesia for re-enforcements of his own troops. Brünn could not be taken without siege artillery. He was capturing Moravia for the King of Poland. Frederick dispatched a courier to his Polish majesty at Dresden, requesting him immediately to forward the siege guns. The reply of the king, who was voluptuously lounging in his palaces, was, “I can not meet the expense of the carriage.” Frederick contemptuously remarked, “He has just purchased a green diamond which would have carried them thither and back again.” The Prussian king sent for siege artillery of his own, drew his lines close around Brünn, and urged Chevalier De Saxe, general of the Saxon horse, to co-operate with him energetically in battering the city into a surrender.305 The chevalier interposed one obstacle, and another, and another. At last he replied, showing his dispatches, “I have orders to retire from this business altogether, and join the French at Prague.”详情
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