This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
 be sacked seven times, as Berlin was, rather than not concentrate every man and every resource he could command to strike incessantly at his enemies; for he was not much inclined to the defensive, when the contest was between a population of five millions against one hundred millions, between Prussian poverty and the comparatively immense wealth of his adversaries He had too much sense in his brain and too much steel in his nerves to pursue such a course. But Frederic, it is true, had the advantage of being a despot, with no hand but his own to hold the bridle of his horse, which he spurred to victory or death at the four quarters of the horizon, according to his supreme will; and Prussia was an armed and disciplined camp. It was all sting. But would Frederic have done what he did if he had been the fettered President of a Democratic Republic, dozing in his Executive arm-chair, under the opiate of a congressional body, and, instead of being on horseback in the field to direct everything in person, waiting patiently for the passage of laws in a revolutionary crisis, which is always the negative of all law, and when there should be no other legislation than that of the sword? Would Napoleon have achieved his stupendous victories if he had been compelled to submit his plans, before their execution, to a council of lawyers in Paris? The Romans knew better. In perilous times, when the life of the Commonwealth was at stake, their patrician Senate always appointed a dictator, and never attempted to exercise any control over the man upon whom they had imposed such immense responsibility. That dictator always saved the Republic. The numerous plans of campaigns devised by General Beauregard, and minutely described by Colonel Roman in his work, seem to have been considered by the Government either as too bold, too perilous, or too deficient in feasibility. ‘But,’ as observes Colonel Roman, ‘war is essentially a contest of chances, and he who fears to encounter any risk, seldom accomplishes great results.’ I believe it was Frederic who said to his officers, assembled around him, ‘Gentlemen, in front of us are the Austrians. They are in an impregnable position; they are two to one, and yet I am going to attack them in violation of all the rules of war. If not victorious, you will see me alive no more.’ This was risky enough; but this man of iron had no cause to repent of his temerity, and of his having rashly violated ‘all the rules of war.’ Under the walls of Rocroy, the French, commanded by Conde, then only twenty-one years old, met the famous Spanish infantry, who had been, for almost a century, the terror of Europe. The enemy
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.