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King Of Prussia
by [?]

His design, whatever it was, he concerted with an officer in the army, whose name was Kat, a man in whom he placed great confidence, and whom, having chosen him for the companion of his flight, he necessarily trusted with the preparatory measures. A prince cannot leave his country with the speed of a meaner fugitive. Something was to be provided, and something to be adjusted. And, whether Kat found the agency of others necessary, and, therefore, was constrained to admit some partners of the secret; whether levity or vanity incited him to disburden himself of a trust that swelled in his bosom, or to show to a friend or mistress his own importance; or whether it be in itself difficult for princes to transact any thing in secret; so it was, that the king was informed of the intended flight, and the prince, and his favourite, a little before the time settled for their departure, were arrested, and confined in different places.

The life of princes is seldom in danger, the hazard of their irregularities falls only on those whom ambition or affection combines with them. The king, after an imprisonment of some time, set his son at liberty; but poor Kat was ordered to be tried for a capital crime. The court examined the cause, and acquitted him: the king remanded him to a second trial, and obliged his judges to condemn him. In consequence of the sentence thus tyrannically extorted, he was publickly beheaded, leaving behind him some papers of reflections made in the prison, which were afterwards printed, and among others an admonition to the prince, for whose sake he suffered, not to foster in himself the opinion of destiny, for that a providence is discoverable in every thing round us.

This cruel prosecution of a man who had committed no crime, but by compliance with influence not easily to be resisted, was not the only act by which the old king irritated his son. A lady with whom the prince was suspected of intimacy, perhaps more than virtue allowed, was seized, I know not upon what accusation, and, by the king’s order, notwithstanding all the reasons of decency and tenderness that operate in other countries, and other judicatures, was publickly whipped in the streets of Berlin.

At last, that the prince might feel the power of a king and a father in its utmost rigour, he was, in 1733, married against his will to the princess Elizabetha Christina of Brunswick Luneburg Beveren. He married her indeed at his father’s command, but without professing for her either esteem or affection, and considering the claim of parental authority fully satisfied by the external ceremony, obstinately and perpetually, during the life of his father, refrained from her bed. The poor princess lived about seven years in the court of Berlin, in a state which the world has not often seen, a wife without a husband, married so far as to engage her person to a man who did not desire her affection, and of whom it was doubtful, whether he thought himself restrained from the power of repudiation by an act performed under evident compulsion.

Thus he lived secluded from publick business, in contention with his father, in alienation from his wife. This state of uneasiness he found the only means of softening. He diverted his mind from the scenes about him, by studies and liberal amusements. The studies of princes seldom produce great effects, for princes draw with meaner mortals the lot of understanding; and since of many students not more than one can be hoped to advance far towards perfection, it is scarcely to be expected that we should find that one a prince; that the desire of science should overpower in any mind the love of pleasure, when it is always present, or always within call; that laborious meditation should be preferred in the days of youth to amusements and festivity; or that perseverance should press forward in contempt of flattery; and that he, in whom moderate acquisitions would be extolled as prodigies, should exact from himself that excellence of which the whole world conspires to spare him the necessity.