Ruppin, where the Crown Prince continued to reside for several years, was a small, dull town of about two thousand inhabitants. The only life it exhibited was found in the music and drillings of the garrison. The only important event in its history was the removal of the Crown Prince there. Of what is called society there was none. The hamlet was situated in the midst of a flat, marshy country, most of it quite uncultivated. The region abounded in peat bogs, and dark, still lakes, well stocked with fish.
The Austrian centre was pushed rapidly forward to the aid of the discomfited left. It was too late. The soldiers arrived upon the ground breathless and in disorder. Before they had time to form, Frederick plowed their ranks with balls, swept them with bullets, and fell upon them mercilessly with sabre and bayonet. The carnage was awful. Division after division melted away in the fire deluge which consumed them. Prince Charles made the most desperate efforts to rally his dismayed troops in and around the church-yard at Leuthen. Here for an hour they fought desperately. But it was all in vain. The left wing was destroyed. The centre was destroyed. The right wing was pushed forward only to be cut to pieces by the sabres, and to be mown down by the terrific fire of the triumphant Prussians.Three days after, on the 17th, the king wrote again to M. Jordan:
“Is it possible, sire,” Marshal Belleisle replied, “that you can dare to abandon the best of your allies, and to deceive so illustrious a monarch as the King of France?”“The King of Prussia can not sleep. The officers sit up with him every night, and in his slumbers he raves and talks of spirits and apparitions.
DESTROYING THE LETTERS.“I am in the condition of a traveler who sees himself surrounded421 and ready to be assassinated by a troop of cut-throats, who intend to share his spoils. Since the league of Cambrai105 there is no example of such a conspiracy as that infamous triumvirate, Austria, France, Russia, now forms against me. Was it ever before seen that three great princes laid plot in concert to destroy a fourth who had done nothing against them? I have not had the least quarrel either with France or with Russia, still less with Sweden.On Wednesday, April 12, two days after the battle, Frederick wrote to his sister Wilhelmina from Ohlau as follows:
England was the hereditary foe of France. It was one of the leading objects in her diplomacy to circumvent that power. “Our great-grandfathers,” writes Carlyle, “lived in perpetual terror that they would be devoured by France; that French ambition would overset the Celestial Balance, and proceed next to eat the British nation.” Strengthening Austria was weakening France. Therefore the sympathies of England were strongly with Austria. In addition to this, personal feelings came in. The puerile little king, George II., hated implacably his nephew, Frederick of Prussia, which hatred Frederick returned with interest.In pleasant weather he took a long walk after dinner, and generally at so rapid a pace that it was difficult for most persons to keep up with him. At four o’clock the secretaries brought to him the answers to the letters which they had received from him in the morning. He glanced them over, examining some with care. Then, until six o’clock, he devoted himself to reading, to literary compositions, and to the affairs of the Academy, in which he took a very deep interest. At six o’clock he had a private musical concert, at which he performed himself upon the flute. He was passionately fond of this instrument, and continued to play upon it until, in old age, his teeth decaying, he was unable to produce the sounds he wished.
Gradually the secret treaty which allied France, Bavaria, and Prussia, and it was not known how many other minor powers, against Austria, came to light. Two French armies of fifty thousand men each were on the march to act in co-operation with Frederick. England, trembling from fear of the loss of Hanover, dared not move. The Aulic Council at Vienna, in a panic, “fell back into their chairs like dead men.” The ruin of Maria Theresa and the fatal dismemberment of Austria seemed inevitable.“It would be better,” M. Roloff mildly suggested, “that your majesty should write at once.”“You know, my dear son, that when my children are obedient I love them much. So when you were at Berlin, I from my heart forgave you every thing; and from that Berlin time, since I saw you, have thought of nothing but of your well-being, and how to establish you; not in the army only, but also with a right step-daughter, and so see you married in my lifetime. You may be well persuaded I have had the Princesses of Germany taken survey of, so far as possible, and examined by trusty people what their conduct is, their education, and so on. And so a princess has been found, the eldest one of Bevern, who is well brought up, modest and retiring as a woman ought to be.
On the day of the marriage, the princess, having formally renounced all her rights to the personal property of the family, dined with the royal household and her intended, and then retired to her apartment to dress for the wedding. It would seem that the queen must have become quite insane upon this point. Even at this late hour she did every thing she could to delay operations and to gain time, hoping every moment that some courier would arrive from England with proposals which would induce the king to break off the engagement. As fast as the princess’s hair on one side was dressed the queen would contrive to undo it, so that at last the hair would no longer curl, making her look, as Wilhelmina said, “like a mad woman.” She adds:“You will have passports for the post-horses, and whatever else you may ask. I hope to see you on Wednesday. I shall then profit by the few moments of leisure which remain to me, to enlighten myself by the blaze of your powerful genius. I entreat you to believe I shall always be the same toward you. Adieu.”
One wretched man, who had been the guilty accomplice of the Crown Prince in former scenes of guilt and shame, was so troubled by the neglect with which he was treated that he hanged himself.“My dearest Sister,—I find no other consolation but in your precious letters. May Heaven108 reward so much virtue and such427 heroic sentiments! Since I wrote you last my misfortunes have but gone on accumulating. It seems as though destiny would discharge all its wrath and fury upon the poor country which I had to rule over. I have advanced this way to fall upon a corps of the allied army, which has run off and intrenched itself among hills, whither to follow, still more to attack them, all rules of war forbid. The moment I retire toward Saxony this whole swarm will be upon my heels. Happen what may, I am determined, at all risks, to fall upon whatever corps of the enemy approaches me nearest. I shall even bless Heaven for its mercy if it grant me the favor to die sword in hand.详情
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