« 이전계속 »
Frederick in Defeat. 161
ball that can reach me, then)?" exclaimed Friedrich in his despair. Snch a day he had never thought to see. The pillar of the State, the Prussian army itself, gone to chaos in this manner. Friedrich still passionately struggles, exhorts, commands, entreats, even with tears, "Children, don't forsake me in this pinch," but all ears are deaf. Friedrich was among the last to leave the ground.
It is not in the heart of man to deny some sympathy to a king so brave and resolute as Frederick showed himself at Kunersdorf. He might not have left the field at all, had not his adjutants seized his bridle and galloped off with him. He felt that all was lost. His determination seems to have been to commit suicide, and he actually wrote and sent away, the same night, an order respecting the command of the army and the succession to the throne. But, before writing this letter, he found opportunity to display a tenderness for which my readers may hardly have given him
Frederick After The Battle. Friedrich found at (Etscher nothing but huts full of poor, wounded men, and their miseries and snrgeries; he took shelter himself in a hut '' which had been plundered by Cossacks," but which had fewer wounded than others, and could be furnished with some bundles of dry straw. Kriele has a pretty anecdote, with names and particulars, of two poor lieutenants who were lying on the floor as he entered this hut. They had lain there for many hours; the surgeons thinking them desperate, which Friedrich did not. "Alas, children, you are badly wounded, then?" "Ja, your Majesty: but how goes the battle?" (Answer evasive on this point.) "Are you bandaged, though? Have you been let blood?" "Nein, Euer Majestiit. hein Teufel will wis verbinden (not a devil of them would bandage us)!" Upon which there is a surgeon instantly brought; reprimanded for neglect: "Desperate, say you? These are young fellows; feel that hand, and that: no fever there: nature in such cases does wonders!" Upon which the leech had to perform his function; and the poor young fellows were saved,—and did new fighting, and got new wounds, and had pensions when the war ended. This appears to have been Friedrich's first work in that hut at (Etscher.
As he did not swallow poison or blow his brains out before the morning after the battle, and as the nucleus of an array soon gathered round him, the likelihood that he would take his own life passed speedily away. Had his enemies been as active as himself, he would certainly have been overpowered. He struggled on, however, amid unparalleled difficulties, two years longer. The expedients to which he had recourse in order to find men and horses, and food to keep them alive, read like fables. The coin of the realm was debased wholesale. Prisoners were forced to take rank as soldiers of their captor. Agents were employed in the various German States to cajole or crimp recruits, and the wild adventurers who engaged in this business shrank from no extravagance of deception that could induce hair-brained lads to enter the service of the King of Prussia. Idle students, apprentices who had made free with their masters' tills, sons who had quarrelled with their fathers, were told that they might be lieutenants or captains in the Prussian army. Their commissions were actually made out by the crimpers. When they presented themselves with these precious documents at some Prussian centre of recruiting operations, they were handed over to the drill-sergeant, cuffed and caned into soldiers, and in a short time sent to meet the enemy. It is said that 60,000 men were thus brought into the Prussian ranks in the closing years of the war. Strange to say, the quality of Frederick's troops continued excellent. Stern discipline did not quench the enthusiasm of the soldiers for their unconquerable King, and the contagion of courage and endurance was caught even by the losels and scapegraces who entered the nets of the crimpers.
We may, I think, regard, on the whole, with satisfaction the attitude assumed by our Government and countrymen in relation to Frederick. The seizure of Silesia was seen to be criminal, and George II., with the Parliament and people of England at his back, lent a helping hand to the Empress Queen. In drawing the sword to maintain the Pragmatic Sanction, England was right. At the outbreak of the Seven Years' War, the situation had changed. Frederick was no longer the aggressor. Austria and France, with other England and Frederick. 163
formidable allies, had united to snub and put down the upstart of Brandenburg. That Frederick had given both France and Austria good cause to detest and assail him will hardly be questioned by the candid reader of Frederick's life; but the instinct of the British nation decided that, whatever might be Frederick's faults, it was not fair to stamp him out; and the spectacle of a king with less than five millions of population, pitted against Powers commanding fourscore millions, appealed irresistibly to an Englishman's admiration for courage and fortitude. Accordingly England, led by Pitt, took Frederick's side at the beginning of the Seven Years' War, and gave him most important assistance, both in money and by drawing upon English troops the attack of France.
Frederick made no concession to his enemies at the end of the straggle, but he was surfeited with fighting, and engaged in no serious war during the twenty years that still remained of his life.
CARLYLE expresses the opinion that Frederick was as great in peace as in war, " a first-rate Husbandman," who not only defended Prussia, but instructed the nation in industry and in thrift. Nothing that is recorded of Frederick does him more credit than the pride he took in his victories of peace as compared with those purchased by human blood. At the end of the Seven Years' War, he set himself, with the promptitude, energy, and insight, that had shone so conspicuously in his campaigns, to repress the anarchy into which the country had fallen during the struggle, and to repair the frightful waste in its resources. "There is something," says Carlyle, " of flowingly eloquent in Friedrich's account of this battle waged against the inanimate Chaos; something of exultant and triumphant, not noticeable of him in regard to his other victories. On the Leuthens, Rossbachs, he is always cold as water, and nobody could gather that he had the least pleasure in recording them. Not so here."
When, at last, those seven years of calamity, in which a Hebrew prophet might have discerned the vengeance of Heaven for the crime of seizing Silesia, were at an end, the spectacle presented by Frederick's dominions was appalling. So thoroughly had some districts been laid waste that the very traces of the houses could hardly be found. Some Results of the War. 165
towns were destroyed wholly, some half-burnt. The very vestiges of 13,000 dwellings had disappeared. The fields lay unsown, no seed to cast upon them; the inhabitants lacked grain for food; and a kind of bewildered and amazed dispiritment had sunk down upon the heart of the population. The ground could not be ploughed for want of horses; 60,000, it was calculated, were required to start once more the regular cultivation of the soil. "In the provinces generally, half a minion less population," according to Frederick's estimate, were on the land than when the war broke out; "upon only four millions and a half, the ninth man was wanting." It is strange that the question never seems to have pressed itself on Frederick's conscience, who was expressly responsible for that haggard spectacle of death and misery. If he had never attacked Silesia, and if he had not infuriated other European Courts, besides the Austrian, by his diplomatic falsity and political selfishness, not to mention his arrogance and blistering scorn, there is no reason to believe that one drop of that blood would have been shed. Frederick is Mr. Carlyle's last model king—the type of a kind of man without whom there can be no right governing authority, nothing but anarchy and chaos—and, on Frederick's own estimate, five hundred thousand of his subjects pay for his kingship with their lives in one grim week of years! Might we not reply to Mr. Carlyle that this one fact affords demonstration that the dependence of millions of lives upon the will of a single man—the very existence of kingship, except in the constitutional and representative sense—is a ghastly anachronism in modern civilisation?
Frederick had been a close student of history, and one of the soundest of his father's educational notions was that the boy ought to be made thoroughly acquainted with the history of recent times and of his own country. He knew therefore that after the Thirty Years' War the wasted districts, left to the mere natural action of time, had required for their