河北廊坊:京津走廊上的一座花园城市 (三)

Maria Theresa was developing character which attracted the admiration of Europe. She seriously contemplated taking command of her armies herself. She loved Duke Francis, her husband, treated him very tenderly, and was anxious to confer upon him honor; but by nature vastly his superior, instinctively she assumed the command. She led; he followed. She was a magnificent rider. Her form was the perfection of grace. Her beautiful, pensive, thoughtful face was tanned by the weather. All hearts throbbed as, on a spirited charger, she sometimes swept before the ranks of the army, with her gorgeous retinue, appearing and disappearing like a meteor. She was as devout as she317 was brave, winning the homage of all Catholic hearts. We know not where, in the long list of sovereigns, to point to man or woman of more imperial energies, of more exalted worth.

Very vigorous measures were immediately adopted to establish an Academy of Sciences. The celebrated French philosopher Maupertuis, who had just obtained great renown from measuring a degree of the meridian at the polar circle, was invited to organize this very important institute. The letter to the philosopher, written by the king but a few days after his accession, was as follows: The darkest hour is often nearest the dawn. The next day after Frederick had written the above letter he received news of the death of his most inveterate enemy, Elizabeth, the Empress of Russia. As we have mentioned, she was intensely exasperated against him in consequence of some sarcasms in which he had indulged in reference to her private life. Elizabeth was the daughter of Peter the Great, and had inherited many of her fathers imperial traits of character. She was a very formidable foe. From day to day I grow more weary of dwelling in a body worn out and condemned to suffer. I am writing to you in the first moment of my grief. Astonishment, sorrow, indignation, and scorn, all blended together, lacerate my soul. Let us get to the end, then, of this execrable campaign. I will then write to you what is to become of me, and we will arrange the rest. Pity me, and make no noise about me. Bad news goes fast enough of itself. Adieu, dear marquis.

I have been to see the King of Prussia. I have courageously resisted his fine proposals. He offers me a beautiful house in Berlin, a pretty estate, but I prefer my second floor in Madame Du Chatelets here. He assures me of his favor, of the perfect freedom I should have; and I am running to Paris, to my slavery and persecution. I could fancy myself a small Athenian refusing the bounties of the King of Persia; with this difference, however, one had liberty at Athens.

It was an act of desperation. The king fully appreciated its peril. But the time had long since passed when he could rely upon the ordinary measures of prudence. In despair was his only hope. At three oclock 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.

By all the devils, exclaimed the king, I shall not till we have taken Dresden. Then I will provide for you to your hearts content.

Frederick, in describing this interview, writes: Augustus answered yes to every thing, with an air of being convinced, joined to a look of great ennui. Count Brühl,61 whom this interview displeased, interrupted it by announcing to his majesty that the Opera was about to commence. Ten kingdoms to conquer would not have kept the King of Poland a minute longer. He went, therefore, to the Opera; and the King of Prussia obtained at once, in spite of those who opposed it, a final decision.62

534 On the 24th of November the belligerents entered into an armistice until the 1st of March. All were exhausted. It was manifest that peace would soon be declared. Commissioners to arrange the terms of peace met at the castle of Hubertsburg, near Dresden. On the 15th of February, 1763, peace was concluded. Frederick retained Silesia. That was the result of the war.

But this war, into which the Prussian king had so recklessly plunged all Europe, was purely a war of personal ambition. Even Frederick did not pretend that it involved any question of human rights. Unblushingly he avowed that he drew his sword and led his hundred thousand peasant-boys upon their dreadful career of carnage and misery simply that he might enlarge his territories, gain renown as a conqueror, and make the world talk about him. It must be a fearful thing to go to the356 judgment seat of Christ with such a crime weighing upon the soul.