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between Anspach and Frankfort, during an intended journey in which the king was to accompany him. His plans failed,-he was arrested and carried prisoner to Mittemvalde, a village near Berlin. The king took instant measures for the seizure of all persons implicated in the attempted escape of his son; a few officers were discharged the service. Keith luckily escaped, but the unfortunate Katt was apprehended, and cruelly put to death. It is distressing to think that we live in an age so near to that dark era, when such barbarities were allowed to be practised with impunity, as those which Frederick William perpetrated on this occasion. He shut up his son as a state prisoner at Custrin, in a dungeon where the light of day was adnitted only from one small aperture, where no one was allowed to be with him, and where he was obliged to live on an allowance of sixpence farthing of our money a day. He assembled a court martial to sit in judgment on his son, and when the members had the fortitude to acquit the accused, the king determined upon appointing another, and the latter was found more complying. Frederick was condemned to death, and the king would have most assuredly caused his sentence of decapitation to be carried into effect, if it were not for the peremptory interference of some of the crowned heads of Europe, but particularly the Emperor. The interposition of remonstrants so powerful as these, could not be despised, and Frederick was detained in prison but for a very short time. Whilst in the fortress of Custrin, however, and still in dreadful uncertainty as to his fate, the unhappy Frederick was exposed, by a decree of his father, to a shocking aggravation of the horrors of his condition. His young friend Katt, one of the agents who volunteered to assist in his escape, was convicted, and sentenced to decapitation, and was now to be sent expressly to Custrin, in order to be executed in the presence of Frederick. The sequel is heart rending.
He (Katt) arrived at Custrin on the evening of the 5th of November, (1730) and early the next morning he was led to the scaffold. On the preceding day, Frederick, having been first dressed in a coarse fustian dress similar to that which had been given to Katt, was transferred to the General Lepel, the governor of Custrin, and the president Munchow, who had the charge of him, from the apartment he had previously occupied to one on a lower floor, looking into the court of the fortress, where he found his bed prepared. At his first entrance the curtains of the windows were let down, so as to prevent his seeing into the court: but at a given signal they were drawn up, and discovered to the astonished and agitated Frederick, a scaffold hung with black, and on a level with the window, which had been enlarged and its bars removed. Upon beholding this preparation, Frederick became convinced that his own death was determined on, and passed the night under this delirium in no very agreeable manner. Nor were his feelings much relieved, when, early in the morning, Lepel and Munchow returned to him, and undeceived him with regard to himself, but informed him that, according to the peremptory and express orders of his barbarous father, he was to witness the execution of his friend.
: ''In the meanwhile Schenk had also informed Katt of the trial that awaited him : “ Try,” said he, “to preserve your firmness, my dear Katt. A dreadful fate awaits you : you are now at Custrin, and you are about to see the prince royal." "Say, rather," replied Katt,“ that I am going to have the greatest consolation that could be given to me." So saying, he mounted the scaffold, while four grenadiers were employed in holding the unhappy Frederick with his face towards the window. He wished to cast himself out of it, but was kept back by those about him. “I conjure you,' said he,“ in God's name to retard the execution. I will write to the King that I am ready to renounce all my rights to the crown if he will pardon Katt.” He would have said more upon this subject, but Munchow stopped his mouth with his handkerchief. When he was again permitted to speak, he cried ou l-" It makes me most miserable, my dear Katt, to think that I am the cause of your death. Would to God that I were in your place." “Ah, Sir," replied Katt, “if I had a thousand lives I would willingly sacrifice them for you.” The executioner now attempted to put a bandage over the eyes of Katt, which the latter resisted : then lifting up his eyes to heaven, he cried out, My God, I render up my soul to thy hands !" At the same instant his head, which was cut off at a single blow, rolled upon the scaffold, while his arms mechanically stretched themselves towards the window where the prince royal had been stationed: but he was there no longer, having fallen in a deep swoon into the arms of his attendants, Upon recovering from this after some hours, he found himself still at the window, and in full view of the gory corpse of his friend! such had been the express orders of a father, who was so but in name.- A second swoon was the consequence of the sight.'- vol. i. pp.
123–125. It is a fact highly honourable to the heart of Frederick, that in speaking of these transactions after many years, as a historian, he seeks to palliate the crimes of, and invent excuses for, his father.
Frederick's health suffered in consequence of the scene of horror, of which he had been so reluctant a witness. His father not being able to kill him outright, sent a clergyman to convert him to Christianity; for, owing, it is said, to his first education having been left to the care of a French woman, Frederick appeared to have imbibed a repugnance to the doctrines of Revelation. The success of the theologian, we regret to say, was not such as answered the hopes and wishes of all good men, and as would have proved beneficial to the prince himself. We cannot, however, altogether blame him for showing his distrust of a system of religion, which was pretended to be the guide of conduct of those from whom he had suffered so much unjust, and such unnatural persecution. It is not improbable, therefore, that coupling the practise of his malicious enemies with the religious principles which they so zealously avowed, he should have been guilty of the fundamental error, of secretly regarding them as cause and effect. The renunciation of the Christian doctrine by Frederick,-a renunciation which he persevered in to the hour of his death, is a lesson full of wise and practical instruction. How could he believe in the divine origin of a Gospel, which was forced upon his understanding by incarceration and the severest treat
ment? How was it possible for him to confide in the mollifying power of a creed, which was cherished by his father, who placed no bound to the indulgence of all his worst passions ?
Frederick, however, by specious appearances and promises, enlisted the good offices of the chaplain in his favour. The representations of the latter at court, moved the old king to such a state of forgiveness, as that he recalled his son, and had him married, without delay, to a Princess of Brunswick. Frederick, though he apparently consented to the match, resolved, as far as he was concerned, to invalidate it completely. He contrived a stratagem to have his chamber disturbed, after his retirement with his wife, on the night of their marriage. The ceremony was performed at the country palace of the Duke of Brunswick : they had scarcely withdrawn together, when a cry of fire was heard in the house. Frederick jumped up from his nuptial couch, and to it he never afterwards returned. He visited his spouse during the remainder of his life, once in every year, paying to her the compliment, which on no other occasion did he renew, of substituting for his military boots, a pair of silk stockings.
The county of Rupin was bestowed on Frederick by his father, as a marriage portion. The young prince took possession of the territory, and soon fixed his residence at a country house called Rheinsberg, a village a few miles from Rupin. Here in retirement, with the exception of a short interval, during which he was obliged to serve with his father under Prince Eugene, the generalissimo of the Emperor, did Frederick carry on those plans of literary research, and that extensive correspondence with the most eminent characters of his age, which laid the foundation of his subsequent friendship with many of the latter. Here he composed, too, his earliest works, and lived in all the luxury of literary easeand indulgence, until the death of his father devolved upon him the cares of a throne. This event took place in 1740. The directions left by the old king for the ordering of his funeral, are singularly minute. He specifies the exact mode in which his body is to be laid out; he particularly requires that it shall be opened by the surgeons, and that the cause of his malady, and the state of all the parts of his body shall be examined with care, prohibiting, however, in the strictest manner, the removal of any portion of his remains. He forbids that any funeral sermon should be preached over him, but desires that a festival shall be given on the evening of his burial, in the great room in the garden, to the officers of his regiment. “The best cask of hock,” he adds, “which I have in my cellar, must be opened : and at this repast good wine alone shall be drank.” He then directs that sermons shall be preached a fortnight after the funeral, but he begs that the clergy will say nothing of his life or actions, or any thing personal to him. “In general,” says the shrewd old monarch, "in these funeral sermons,
vol. 1. (1832.) NO. I.
I do not wish to be made worse than I am, but at the same time I do not wish to be praised."
The accession of Frederick seemed to produce a sudden and very remarkable change in his character. He signalized the first year of his reign by entering on a war for the repossession of Silesia.' But in this campaign, which ended with the treaty of Dresden, Frederick gained little more than barren honors, except the designation which he ever afterwards retained,-Frederick the Great. He now attended to domestic affairs, and commenced in 1747, that reform of the laws, and of the administration of justice, which constitutes so remarkable an era in the Prussian annals. Cocceji, his chancellor, was deputed by him to frame a new code of laws, which, after the most violent opposition, chiefly on the part of the lawyers, was at length adopted. Extensive modifications were introduced into the constitution of the different tribunals, and Frederick, in the enthusiasm of his zeal for reform, was accustomed to say to all the judges, “If a suit arises between me and one of my subjects, and that the case is a doubtful one, you should always decide against me.”
It did so happen in a little time that there was a suit brought against him. He wanted to extend a new palace, and offered to purchase the right of a mill which was situated in his way. The miller would not sell his property at any price : the king became angry, and, forgetting himself for a moment, threatened the man with forcing him to yield by his royal power. “Oh,” replied the miller,
you cannot frighten me in this way: we have judges at Berlin!” Frederick molested the poor man no farther, and built his palace in another direction. The king, indeed, evinced not only in his facility of access, but in every one of his public acts, a great consideration for the poor, and upon one occasion he carried his zeal for a poor man to the verge of injustice against a rich one. During the whole of his reign, he devoted a great share of his attention to the establishment of colonies in different parts of his territories ; and the system upon which he proceeded was found to produce the most beneficial consequences. This was, however, only a preparatory step to the abolishment of servitude in his dominions, which glorious measure took effect in the year 1766. The policy which Fred erick adopted in the appointment of ministers of religion, was quite admirable for its prudence and true charity. The Grand Consistory generally selected the pastor for a vacant cure; but if he was not liked, the parishioners were authorised by Frederick to reject him, and choose any other, provided there was no legitimate objection against him. So common a thing was it for the king to receive the peasantry when they applied to see him, that no peasant came to Potsdam, without being asked if he came to see the king. The substantial pledge, however, which he gave, of his lively concern for the interests of ihe
people, consisted in the establishment of magazines for corn, in most of the towns of his dominions, by which he was enabled, effectually, to secure them against the vicissitudes of a bad harvest—a calamity that was but too imminent in a land so sterile. Again, he introduced, at his own expence, manufactures,--those of China, for instance, wool and silk,--which proved valuable sources of industry to the Prussian population. The great drawback on the benevolent character of Frederick, was his military system. We shall remember as long as we live, the impression which the account of this system, given by Baron Trenck, in his romantic memoirs, made on our minds. Zimmermann states, that suicides were common in the army of Frederick ; but that a religious belief amongst the common people, that voluntary death is eternally punished in the next world, changed the practice of suicide into that of murder. The soldiers murdered children, and then gave themselves up to justice. What a horrible alternative was this, and how dreadful must have been the severity of that discipline, to which an ignominious death, preceded by the commission of the most atrocious crimes, was preferable! That system, however, was only the theoretic law, to which Frederick, by tradition and long habit, was wedded. Nothing could be more kind, more amiable, and condescending, than the conduct attributed to him in anecdotes relating to his intercourse with his soldiers, which are much too numerous, and too pointed to be fictitious.
We must altogether omit any allusion to the wars in which Frederick was subsequently engaged. In the first place, the history of his campaigns has been long familiar to the world; and, in the next place, we suspect that mankind has outlived its taste for the description of sieges and battles, and the other well-known occasions of human carnage. Men have changed, and have wonderfully improved since that epoch, when the Athenian orator complained that the personal strength and physical prowess of Hercules were the theme of universal admiration, whilst nobody seemed to recognise the qualities of his mind,-his justice, his wisdom, and his knowledge. We prefer, therefore, dwelling on those traits of Frederick's character, which represent him as the master of his passions—as the determined and successful opposer of all his most inveterate vices; believing that the conqueror of nations is not half so worthy of historical remembrance, as the potentate who gains a victory over his lust of power, and establishes good laws, where it might have been his own interest to perpetuate
The intercourse of the King of Prussia with Voltaire, their coquetting, the breaking off and the renewal of their friendship, are all topics of universal and familiar knowledge. There is nothing connected with the subject in these volumes which purports to be a novelty.
It was a part of the very sensible policy of Frederick, to treat the press of his kingdom with indulgence. Dr. Moore, in his very