Page images

rious German states of the Austrian been attacked at any moment durEmpire, was approaching Saxony, ing its progress, he could have at and threatening to fall on Frede- once made head on good terms rick's rear. It had already reached against the enemy. Against a foe Gotha, when, leaving his lieutenant, well-handled and quick of movethe Duke of Bevern, to oppose the ment, the matter was different. He Austrians, with about half their soon showed them that they were numbers, he moved with the rest of playing on his fiddle without his his army through Saxony towards fiddlestick. As soon as their movethe French.

ment was pronounced, he shot out The year, which had been in its his left (nearest) wing under cover spring when Frederick opened this of the high ground, to draw up campaign, was now fading into win- across their line of march. Seeing ter when he came upon the French this movement indistinctly, and inarmy on the Saal. In defiance of terpreting it to mean retreat, they their superior numbers, in defiance hastened to intercept him, if possieven of prudence and precedents, ble, before he should reach the river. he crossed that river in their pre- The battle was an affair of minutes sence, on several points far distant only. The head of their march was from each other, and was allowed, met and enveloped by the force just beyond expectation, to effect a con- despatched by Frederick. In vain centration unmolested. Advancing, did the straggling array try to open as was his custom, to attack, he out and come fairly to blows. Every found them so strongly posted that attempt at formation was in a mohe paused, and took up a position ment met and defeated, and the wherein to await a better oppor. whole lengthened column finally tunity. It appeared to the enemy broke, and fled in utter rout, and that this was a favourable juncture with great loss, no more to appear at which to practise on him his own on that theatre of war. tactics; and they began, though in In the meanwhile, Bevern, left to array very different from that of the confront the Austrians, was in difPrussian army, to march round his ficulties. Opposed by a superior flank. Half-curious, probably half- army, and having the difficult, alamused, Frederick, from his posi- most impossible, problem to protion on an elevated table-land, tect Berlin and his communications watched this attempt in progress with Frederick on the one hand, and in the plain.

to cover the great bone of contenNow, it is evident, on a little tion, Silesia, on the other—with the consideration, that if an army front- further condition that he must do ing north, let us say, is in process this on the wrong side of the mounof being turned on its left flank, it tain-barrier—he had, in making a can, by moving to that flank in the despairing choice between the alterline of its present front—that is to natives, let go his hold of Frederick say, by facing and moving west, and Berlin, and marched into Sileanticipate the enemy who is march- sia. Prince Charles and Daun foling in a circle, and cross his line of lowing close, cut him from the formarch, so that he suddenly finds tresses of Upper Silesia, and behimself the outflanked, and not the sieged and took Schweidnitz. Such outflanker. Of course, this mode was the news which Frederick, hasof meeting such attacks had been tening with his army from Rosbach open to the Austrians at Prague and to aid his lieutenant, heard on the Kolin; but Frederick, besides his way, and it was followed presently confidence in Austrian slowness and by worse tidings; for, in the battle indisposition to quit a strong posi- of Breslau, Bevern and his Prussians tion, also performed the like ma were heavily defeated. At Liegnæuvre in such order that, had he nitz, Frederick, after crossing Saxony, Lusatia, and Silesia, came into and as this rested on a marsh and communication with the remnant stream, it would be necessary not of Bevern's beaten troops, which to turn, but to pierce it. Reviewed joined him under Ziethen at Parch- by the light of this battle, the opewitz. His circumstances now look- rations of Kolin become perfectly ed nothing short of desperate. The intelligible, for the dispositions and Austrians, with 80,000 men, occu- general order of attack were the pied Breslau, and stood between same. And had the King's plan him and the Silesian territory he been as thoroughly executed in had been fighting for. This Prus- the first as in the latter action, the sian army at Parchwitz, worn down whole aspect of the Seven Years' to a stump of 30,000 men, was the War would have been different. last hope of Frederick. Unless he As the flying vanguard retreated could snatch a victory with it all upon the Austrian right wing, and was over. No general has ever as Frederick, with the leading horseshown resolution of a higher and men, showed himself on the hill finer kind than he now displayed. over which it had been driven, it Addressing, in the most inspiriting was natural to expect that on that language, his troops, who nobly re- wing his attack would be made. sponded, he advanced to seek the Therefore the Austrians reinforced enemy, and to challenge the issue of it, drawing men from the left, and a battle, which was not a mere dog- removing them several miles from ged conflict for death or victory, the real point of attack. Moreover, such as many leaders in desperate from the point where Frederick circumstances might fight, but stood a line of low hills extended which is the very finest example of to the right, which would screen his tactical genius which the his. the movement. Favoured by these tory of his wars offers.

circumstances, he threw his army The Austrians, issuing at his ap- into two long columns, bending to proach from Breslau, had crossed the right, and ready at the right the Schweidnitz, a narrow muddy moment to form two lines of battle stream, on the marshy edges of towards the enemy; and the head which their left flank rested. In- of the advance was reinforced by stead of holding their force in the a strong advanced-guard, moving movable form of columns, ready to between it and the Austrian line. move and to deploy, they had drawn Attacked in this way, the Ausup their whole army in order of trian left was broken, and the fragbattle, extending five or six miles, ments were driven back on the the village of Leuthen in the cen- marsh on one side, on the centre tre; and three or four miles in front on the other. Through the gap they had drawn up a strong van poured the cavalry of Ziethen, incesguard of cavalry. This was en- santly charging on the flank, while countered and defeated by Frede- the line steadily pressed on the rick with heavy loss in the grey of front of the disordered enemy; and the morning; and the front thus the artillery, firing on the two sides clear, he advanced to reconnoitre. of the angle formed by the original Before him stretched the long lines and the new front, bore on them in of the Austrians. Were he to ad- the most destructive manner. The vance on them in order parallel to troops which were now hastily their own, they must largely out brought up from the Austrian right flank and ruin him. The one chance wing had a long distance to traof success lay in an oblique attack; verse. Disordered by their haste, and the nature of the ground deter- they arrived on a scene of irretrievmined Frederick to make it, not on able confusion; regiments, instead their right flank, which was directly of deploying, stood in deep formain front of him, but on their left; tion before the wide-spreading fire of the Prussians, whose left wing, depressing him, left still the balin the continual oblique progression ance constantly against him. In of the army, at length arrived with- many skilful marches, and amid in striking distance, and, wheeling many failures—in the terrible deround, enclosed the Austrians, and feat of Kunersdorf and the victory completed their discomfiture. Leav- of Liegnitz-showing still the same ing enormous trophies, they fled in indomitable persistence. It is a disorder into Breslau, and presently picture which wants only a high evacuated Silesia. No battle, per- just cause in the background to haps, was ever fought so perfectly render it heroic; failing that, we according to the plan, and where have the image only of a valiant every movement was made so ex- bulldog, who, having stolen a actly at the time when it would be bone, fights for it, lies gasping most effective.

and growling on it, shakes his Next spring Frederick advanced torn ears, winks his bleeding eyes, into Moravia, and besieged Olmutz, and will surrender it only with but without capturing it; and the his life. approach of a Russian army towards When matters were at their worst his dominions, where the Cossacks with him, they began to mend. In committed frightful outrages, com- 1762 his great enemy, the Czarina pelled him to move northward. At Catherine, died, and her successors his coming the Russians drew to- ceased hostilities against him. In gether at Zorndorf in a singular the following year Austria and barbarous order of battle, which France, wearied of fruitless camthey had adopted in their Turkish paigns and the infliction of mutual wars - a kind of oblong quadri- damage, made peace with Prussia, lateral, offering a front to all points, and the last of Frederick's wars and useful, perhaps, against the ended. He remained a conqueror, circling eddies of horse which Turk. not so much by reason of any signal ish armies used to launch on the successes, for the later campaigns field; but a method which has the of the war had been generally disobvious and important defect of astrous to him, but because the rendering it certain that at least league against him, in the absence two of the faces will be useless in of a supreme directing spirit, could the battle. Owing to this absurd not bear the stress of a protracted disposition the Russians were beat- and exhausting struggle. He had en; and though, with their well- made good his hold on his bootyestablished faculty of dogged pas- he and Prussia had gained a milisive resistance, they refused to tary reputation transcendent in that abandon the field except under age—and henceforth there was a constant pressure, and with fresh new German Power standing in the losses to their assailants, yet want front rank in Europe. Other naof provisions forced them in a few tions, seeing how completely sucdays to quit the country they had cessful the Prussian military system ravaged. Frederick then turned had been, conformed to it. Minute towards his old foes, the Austrians, precision of movement, extreme who, under Daun, had entered Sax- steadiness in manœuvring, severity ony. Undervaluing an enemy so of discipline, and regularity in deoften beaten, he maintained a dan- livering fire, became the charactergerous position within reach; and istics of modern armies. At the in the surprise and severe defeat at close of the last century other naHochkirch, Daun taught him again tions possessed infantry equal, if that he was not invincible.

not to the veterans of Frederick, There remained yet other cam- yet to any that Prussia then pospaigns and other battles; and for- sessed. But the cavalry trained in tune, sometimes raising, sometimes his school, under such unrivalled officers as Seidlitz and Ziethen, was us, there is graver reason for obbetter than any which the world jection in the prevailing tone of has seen since. The armies of grotesqueness which marks his Europe still exhibit, both in their treatment of events and characexcellences and their defects, the ters. No historian was ever more influence of the Prussian system. picturesque, none ever studied more Good officers have reproduced in how, by carefully chosen or carefully their troops the steadiness and pre invented epithets, to give force and cision-pedants and martinets of individuality to a scene or a characthe stamp of the old King Frede- ter. But the result of habitually rick-William bave perpetuated the treating everything and everybody, observance of vexatious and weari. except a few oddly selected beroes some trifles. But the change that and their doings, in a jeering, semihas taken place in weapons, render- contemptuous way, is to produce ing the soldier more effective as an an effect which resembles life only individual, and less so as the unit in the same way as the work of meof a mass, and diminishing the dieval carvers in gargoyles, brackets, value of regularity and precision and church-doors resembles nature. of movement, has already greatly Everywhere there is exaggeration modified the influence of the tradi- and distortion, as if we were looktions of a former age.

ing at things in a convex mirror. Frederick was fifty-one when his But in parting with Carlyle we prewars were finished. For twenty- fer rather to touch on those charthree years he continued to rule in acteristics wbich spring from the the country which his martial genius force and fertility of his genius. and superhuman determination had The jeering tone is, after all, only a raised to greatness. Excepting the strange habit, not of heart, but of partition of Poland, there was no fancy; for no reader can doubt act of this part of his reign to call that the writer in his most contempfor special notice. The great sol- tuous mood still wishes heartily diers who had gathered round him well to humanity, and studies with in the stirring portion of his ca- a kindly as well as lively interest reer were dead-Schwerin, Winter- the faults and failings of his fellowfeld, Keith, slain in battle-Ziethen men,-just as it is the humour of laid in old age in a peaceful grave; some good-natured people to do —and the King was not of a nature favours in a rough way, as if their to supply by new intimacies the benevolence needed cynicism on the loss of those paladins of his youth. outside to excuse it. Throughout Aged, solitary, and cheerless, he met this extensive work there is the his end sternly and drearily, a few same unwearied imagination at years before the old order of things work, seeking to penetrate into the passed away and the new era com- nature of men and things, and immenced with the French Revolu- parting to them life and motion. tion.

But let those who admire Carlyle's It would be superfluous at this style, and covet a share of his celebtime of day to attempt to give an rity, beware of making him their estimate of Carlyle's merits as an model. No great writer is more historian. All the world is familiar easy and more perilous to imitate. with his oddities and his genius, Nothing but derision can await the and the circle must be dull and disciple who may attempt to charm unlettered indeed where there can- the public by reproducing those not be found critics ready to praise singularities which only the most or to denounce him. Setting aside affluent imagination and rare dethe mere quips and cranks of his scriptive power could exalt into style as what no longer offends distinctions.




On the day after the picnic Sir come to him, so that Lionel's thirty Brook went by invitation to break- thousand pounds is now about fast with the Vicar.

eight thousand. I have put the “ When a man asks you to din- whole story into the fewest posner," said Fossbrooke, “he gener- sible words, but that's the subally wants you to talk; when he stance of it." asks you to breakfast, he wants “And has it cured him of extrato talk to you."

vagance ?" Whatever be the truth of this « Of course it has not. How adage generally, it certainly had its should it? You have lived some application in the present case. The more years in the world than he Vicar wanted very much to talk to has, and I a good many more than Sir Brook.

you, and will you tell me that time As they sat, therefore, over their has cured either of us of any of our coffee and devilled kidneys, chat old shortcomings? Non sum qualis ting over the late excursion, and eram means, I can't be as wild as hinting at another, the Vicar sud- I used to be.” denly said, “ By the way, I want “No, no ; I won't agree to that. you to tell me something of the I protest most strongly against the young fellow who was one of us doctrine. Many men are wiser yesterday. Tobin, our doctor here, through experience, and consewho is a perfect commission-agent quently better." for scandal, says he is the greatest “I sincerely believe I knew the scamp going; that about eight or world better at four-and-twenty ten months ago the Times' was than I know it now. The reason full of his exploits in bankruptcy; why we are less often deceived in that his liabilities were tens of after than in early life is not that thousands-assets nil. In a word, we are more crafty or more keenthat notwithstanding his frank, eyed. It is simply because we risk honest look, and his unaffected less. Let us hazard as much at manner, he is the most accom- sixty as we once did at six-andplished scapegrace of the age.” twenty, and we'll lose as heavily."

“And how much of this do you The Vicar paused a few moments believe ?” asked Sir Brook, as he over the other's words, and then helped himself to coffee.

said, “ To come back to this young “That is not so easy to reply to ; man, I half suspect he has formed but I tell you, if you ask me, that I'd an attachment to Lucy, and that he rather not believe one word of it.” is doing his utmost to succeed in

“Nor need you. His Colonel her favour.” told me something about the young “And is there anything wrong fellow's difficulties ; he himself in that, Doctor ?. related the rest. He went most “ Not positively wrong; but recklessly into debt; betted largely there is what may lead to a great on races, and lost; lent freely, deal of unhappiness. Who is to and lost'; raised at ruinous in- say how Trafford's family would terest, and renewed at still more like the connection ? Who is to ruinous : but his father has paid answer for Lendrick's approval of every shilling of it out of that for- Trafford ?” tune which one day was to have “You induce me to make a con

« PreviousContinue »