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Thus his Prussian majesty and the Queen of Hungary met each other like two icebergs in a stormy sea. The allies were exasperated, not conquered, by the defeat of Sohr. Maria Theresa, notwithstanding the severity of winters cold, resolved immediately to send three armies to invade Prussia, and storm Berlin itself. She hoped to keep the design profoundly secret, so that Frederick might be taken at unawares. The Swedish envoy at Dresden spied out the plan, and gave the king warning. Marshal Grüne was to advance from the Rhine, and enter Brandenburg from the west. Prince Charles, skirting Western Silesia, was to march upon Brandenburg from the south. General Rutowski was to spring upon the Old Dessauer, who was encamped upon the frontiers of Saxony, overwhelm and crush his army with superior numbers, and then, forming a junction with Marshal Brüne, with their united force rush upon Berlin.

If it had depended upon me, I would willingly have devoted myself to that death which those maladies sooner or later bring upon one, in order to save and prolong the life of her whose eyes are now closed. I beseech you never to forget her. Collect all your powers to raise a monument to her honor. You need only do her justice. Without any way abandoning the truth, she will afford you an ample and beautiful subject. I wish you more repose and happiness than falls to my lot.

CHAPTER X. THE ACCESSION OF FREDERICK THE SECOND.

It seems that in England there were two parties in reference to the war. Sir Horace Walpole, in a letter under date of December 5th, 1760, wrote to Sir Horace Mann, at Florence:

There was not a moment to be lost. General Neipperg was moving resolutely forward with a cloud of skirmishers in the advance and on his wings. With the utmost exertions Frederick immediately rendezvoused all his remote posts, destroying such stores as could not hastily be removed, and by a forced march of twenty-five miles in one day reached Neustadt. General Neipperg was marching by a parallel road about twenty miles west of that which the Prussians traversed. At Neustadt the king was still twenty miles from Neisse. With the delay of but a few hours, that he might assemble all the Prussian bands from the posts in that neighborhood, the king again resumed his march. He had no longer any hope of continuing the siege of Neisse. His only aim was to concentrate all his scattered forces, which had been spread over an area of nearly two thousand square miles, and, upon some well-selected field, to trust to the uncertain issues of a general battle. There was no choice left for him between this course and an ignominious retreat.

If we can rely upon the testimony of Frederick, an incident occurred at this time which showed that the French court was as intriguing and unprincipled as was his Prussian majesty. It is quite evident that the Austrian court also was not animated by a very high sense of honor.

The seventh day after our accession to the throne of all the Russias we received information that the late emperor, Peter III., was attacked with a violent colic. That we might not be wanting in Christian duty, or disobedient to the divine command by which we are enjoined to preserve the life of our neighbor, we immediately ordered that the said Peter should be furnished with every thing that might be judged necessary to restore his health by the aids of medicine. But, to our great regret and affliction, we were yesterday evening apprized that, by permission of the Almighty, the late emperor departed this life.

117 A deputation of four ministers, headed by Baron Grumkow, the next day presented themselves to the princess. To overawe Wilhelmina, they approached her with all the solemnity of state. Grumkow opened the conference:

Toward the end of the year 1775 the king had an unusually severe attack of the gout. It was erroneously reported that it was a dangerous attack of the dropsy, and that he was manifestly drawing near to his end. The Crown Prince, who was to succeed him, was a man of very little character. The Emperor551 of Germany, Joseph II., thought the death of Frederick would present him an opportunity of regaining Silesia for Austria. The Austrian army was immediately put in motion and hurried to the frontiers of Silesia, to seize the province the moment the king should expire. This was openly done, and noised abroad. Much to the disappointment of the emperor, the king got well. Amidst much ridicule, the troops returned to their old quarters.190