The queen, delighted in having obtained even this measure of acquiescence on the part of the king, now conferred with Wilhelmina. But, to her surprise and bitter disappointment, the young princess did not share in her mother’s joy. She was not disposed to be thus bartered away, and presented sundry objections. The poor mother, harassed by these interminable difficulties, now lost all patience. She broke out upon her equally unhappy daughter with cruel reproaches.
At three o’clock of a dark and misty morning, the Austrians from the west, the south, and the east rushed upon the sleeping Prussians. At the same time, an attack was made upon the left wing of the Prussians, which was a feint to bewilder them, and to prevent re-enforcements from being sent to the right wing. For five hours there was a scene of tumult, confusion, and horror which can neither be described nor imagined. The morning was dark, the fog dense, and the Prussians, though ever on the alert, were taken by surprise. No one in the army of Frederick467 thought either of running or of surrendering. It was a hand-to-hand fight, with bayonets, and sabres, and butts of muskets. Marshal Keith, after receiving two bullet-wounds which he did not regard, was shot through the heart.“The army,” writes Prince Charles, mournfully, “was greatly dilapidated. The soldiers were without clothes, and in a condition truly pitiable. So closely were we pursued by the enemy that at night we were compelled to encamp without tents.”
Frankfort is on the west side of the Oder. The Russian army was encamped on the eastern side of the river. The force collected there consisted of about seventy-eight thousand Russians and eighteen thousand Austrians. Frederick had, by great exertions, gathered fifty thousand troops to attack them. He was approaching Frankfort from the southwest. In a secret midnight march he crossed the river by bridges of boats some miles north of the city, near Cüstrin. At four o’clock in the morning of the 11th of August his troops had all accomplished the passage482 of the stream, and, to the surprise of the Russians, were marching down upon them from the north.The whole allied army was now put wildly to flight, in one of the most humiliating and disastrous retreats which has ever occurred. There is generally some slight diversity of statement in reference to the numbers engaged on such occasions. Frederick gives sixty-three thousand as the allied force. The allies lost, in killed, wounded, and missing, about ten thousand men. The loss of the Prussians was but five hundred. The French, in a tumultuous mass, fled to the west. Crossing the Unstrut River at Freiburg, they burned the bridge behind them. The Prussians rebuilt the bridge, and vigorously pursued. The evening after the battle the king wrote as follows to Wilhelmina. His letter was dated “Near Weissenfels.”
“By no means,” the king replied. “With men like these I shall be sure of victory to-day!”114“M. le President,—I have had the honor to receive your letter. You inform me that you are well, and that, if I publish La Beaumelle’s letter,97 you will come and assassinate me. What ingratitude to your poor Doctor Akakia! If you exalt your soul so as to discern futurity, you will see that, if you come on that errand to Leipsic, where you are no better liked than in other places, you will run some risk of being hanged. Poor me, indeed, you will find in bed. But, as soon as I have gained a little strength, I will have my pistols charged, and, multiplying the394 mass by the square of velocity, so as to reduce the action and you to zero, I will put some lead into your head. It appears that you have need of it. Adieu, my president.
Upon the accession of Frederick the Second, as officers were dispatched through the realm to exact oaths of allegiance, the Herstal people, encouraged by the bishop, refused to acknowledge fealty to the new king. Frederick was now in the district of Cleve, in the near vicinity of Herstal. He sent the following very decisive summons to the “Prince Bishop of Liege,” dated Wesel, September 4, 1740:
Lieutenant Chasot, another of his friends, was a French officer who had killed a brother officer in a duel at Philipsburg, and, in consequence, had fled to the Prussian lines. He had brightness of intellect and winning manners, which rendered him a universal favorite. Captain Knobelsdorf was a distinguished musician and architect. He rendered signal service in enlarging and decorating the chateau at Reinsberg. Baron De Suhm, with whom Frederick kept up a constant correspondence, was then in Saxony, translating for the Crown Prince the philosophy of Wolff. He sent the prince chapter by chapter, with copious notes.
“‘Here is his instruction, if so,’ adds the king, handing him an autograph of the necessary outline of procedure—not signed, nor with any credential, or even specific address, lest accident happen. ‘Adieu, then, herr general lieutenant; rule is, shoes of swiftness, cloak of darkness: adieu!’“The selfish rapacity of the King of Prussia gave the signal to his neighbors. His example quieted their sense of shame. The whole world sprang to arms. On the head of Frederick is all the blood which was shed in a war which raged during many years, and in every quarter of the globe—the blood of the column of Fontenoy, the blood of the brave mountaineers who were slaughtered at Culloden. The evils produced by this wickedness were felt in lands where the name of Prussia was unknown. In order that he might rob a neighbor whom he had promised to defend, black men fought on the coast of Coromandel, and red men scalped each other by the great lakes of North America.”
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“If you wish to come hither you can. I hear nothing of lawsuits, not even of yours. Since you have gained it I congratulate389 you, and I am glad that this scurvy affair is done.96 I hope you will have no more quarrels, either with the Old or the New Testament. Such contentions leave their mark upon a man. Even with the talents of the finest genius in France, you will not cover the stains which this conduct will fasten on your reputation in the long run. I write this letter with the rough common sense of a German, without employing equivocal terms which disfigure the truth. It is for you to profit by it.”“Sire, I own that I am guilty. Will not your majesty grant me a pardon, which God never refuses to the greatest sinner who sincerely confesses his sins? I shall be always ready to shed even the last drop of my blood to show your majesty what grateful sentiments your clemency can raise in me.详情
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