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time:2023-12-07 15:01:05 source:Alliance under the city author:way

Ruppin, where lies the main part of the Regiment Goltz, and where the Crown-Prince Colonel of it dwells, is a quiet dull, little Town, in that northwestern region; inhabitants, grown at this day to be 10,000, are perhaps guessable then at 2,000. Regiment Goltz daily rolls its drums in Ruppin: Town otherwise lifeless enough, except on market-days: and the grandest event ever known in it, this removal of the Crown-Prince thither,--which is doubtless much a theme, and proud temporary miracle, to Ruppin at present. Of society there or in the neighborhood, for such a resident, we hear nothing.

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Quiet Ruppin stands in grassy flat country, much of which is natural moor, and less of it reclaimed at that time than now. The environs, except that they are a bit of the Earth, and have a bit of the sky over them, do not set up for loveliness. Natural woods abound in that region, also peat-bogs not yet drained; and fishy lakes and meres, of a dark complexion: plenteous cattle there are, pigs among them;--thick-soled husbandmen inarticulately toiling and moiling. Some glass-furnaces, a royal establishment, are the only manufactures we hear of. Not a picturesque country; but a quiet and innocent, where work is cut out, and one hopes to be well left alone after doing it. This Crown-Prince has been in far less desirable localities.

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He had a reasonable house, two houses made into one for him, in the place. He laid out for himself a garden in the outskirts, with what they call a "temple" in it,--some more or less ornamental garden-house,--from which I have read of his "letting off rockets" in a summer twilight. Rockets to amuse a small dinner-party, I should guess,--dinner of Officers, such as he had weekly or twice a week. On stiller evenings we can fancy him there in solitude; reading meditative, or musically fluting;--looking out upon the silent death of Day: how the summer gloaming steals over the moorlands, and over all lands; shutting up the toil of mortals; their very flocks and herds collapsing into silence, and the big Skies and endless Times overarching him and them. With thoughts perhaps sombre enough now and then, but profitable if he face them piously.

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His Father's affection is returning; would so fain return if it durst. But the heart of Papa has been sadly torn up: it is too good news to be quite believed, that he has a son grown wise, and doing son-like! Rumor also is very busy, rumor and the Tobacco- Parliament for or against; a little rumor is capable of stirring up great storms in the suspicious paternal mind. All along during Friedrich's abode at Ruppin, this is a constantly recurring weather-symptom; very grievous now and then; not to be guarded against by any precaution;--though steady persistence in the proper precaution will abate it, and as good as remove it, in course of time. Already Friedrich Wilhelm begins to understand that "there is much in this Fritz,"--who knows how much, though of a different type from Papa's?--and that it will be better if he and Papa, so discrepant in type, and ticklishly related otherwise, live not too constantly together as heretofore. Which is emphatically the Crown-Prince's notion too.

I perceive he read a great deal at Ruppin: what Books I know not specially: but judge them to be of more serious solid quality than formerly; and that his reading is now generally a kind of studying as well. Not the express Sciences or Technologies; not these, in any sort,--except the military, and that an express exception. These he never cared for, or regarded as the noble knowledges for a king or man. History and Moral Speculation; what mankind have done and been in this world (so far as "History" will give one any glimpse of that), and what the wisest men, poetical or other, have thought about mankind and their world: this is what he evidently had the appetite for; appetite insatiable, which lasted with him to the very end of his days. Fontenelle, Rollin, Voltaire, all the then French lights, and gradually others that lay deeper in the firmament:--what suppers of the gods one may privately have at Ruppin, without expense of wine! Such an opportunity for reading he had never had before.

In his soldier business he is punctual, assiduous; having an interest to shine that way. And is, in fact, approvable as a practical officer and soldier, by the strictest judge then living. Reads on soldiering withal; studious to know the rationale of it, the ancient and modern methods of it, the essential from the unessential in it; to understand it thoroughly,--which he got to do. One already hears of conferences, correspondences, with the Old Dessauer on this head: "Account of the Siege of Stralsund," with plans, with didactic commentaries, drawn up by that gunpowder Sage for behoof of the Crown-Prince, did actually exist, though I know not what has become of it. Now and afterwards this Crown- Prince must have been a great military reader. From Caesar's COMMENTARIES, and earlier, to the Chevalier Folard, and the Marquis Feuquiere; [ Memoires sur la Guerre (specially on the Wars of Louis XIV., in which Feuquiere had himself shone): a new Book at this time (Amsterdam, 1731; first COMPLETE edition is, Paris, 1770, 4 vols. 4to); at Ruppin, and afterwards, a chief favorite with Friedrich.] from Epaminondas at Leuctra to Charles XII. at Pultawa, all manner of Military Histories, we perceive, are at his finger-ends; and he has penetrated into the essential heart of each, and learnt what it had to teach him. Something of this, how much we know not, began at Ruppin; and it did not end again.

On the whole, Friedrich is prepared to distinguish himself henceforth by strictly conforming, in all outward particulars possible, to the paternal will, and becoming the most obedient of sons. Partly from policy and necessity, partly also from loyalty; for he loves his rugged Father, and begins to perceive that there is more sense in his peremptory notions than at first appeared. The young man is himself rather wild, as we have seen, with plenty of youthful petulance and longings after forbidden fruit. And then he lives in an element of gossip; his whole life enveloped in a vast Dionysius'-Ear, every word and action liable to be debated in Tobacco-Parliament. He is very scarce of money, too, Papa's allowance being extremely moderate, "not above 6,000 thalers (900 pounds)," says Seckendorf once. [Forster, iii. 114 (Seckendorf to Prince Eugene).] There will be contradictions enough to settle: caution, silence, every kind of prudence will be much recommendable.

In all outward particulars the Crown-Prince will conform; in the inward, he will exercise a judgment, and if he cannot conform, will at least be careful to hide. To do his Commandant duties at Ruppin, and avoid offences, is much his determination. We observe he takes great charge of his men's health; has the Regiment Goltz in a shiningly exact condition at the grand reviews;--is very industrious now and afterwards to get tall recruits, as a dainty to Papa. Knows that nothing in Nature is so sure of conciliating that strange old gentleman; corresponds, accordingly, in distant quarters; lays out, now and afterwards, sums far too heavy for his means upon tall recruits for Papa. But it is good to conciliate in that quarter, by every method, and at every expense;--Argus of Tobacco-Parliament still watching one there; and Rumor needing to be industriously dealt with, difficult to keep down. Such, so far as we can gather, is the general figure of Friedrich's life at Ruppin. Specific facts of it, anecdotes about it, are few in those dim Books; are uncertain as to truth, and without importance whether true or not. For all his gravity and Colonelship, it would appear the old spirit of frolic has not quitted him. Here are two small incidents, pointing that way; which stand on record; credible enough, though vague and without importance otherwise. Incident FIRST is to the following feeble effect; indisputable though extremely unmomentous: Regiment Goltz, it appears, used to have gold trimmings; the Colonel Crown-Prince petitioned that they might be of silver, which he liked better. Papa answers, Yes. Regiment Goltz gets its new regimentals done in silver; the Colonel proposes they shall solemnly BURN their old regimentals. And they do it, the Officers of them, SUB DIO, perhaps in the Prince's garden, strippiug successively in the "Temple" there, with such degree of genial humor, loud laughter, or at least boisterous mock-solemnity, as may be in them. This is a true incident of the Prince's history, though a small one.


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