Karl Philip, after some nibblings, took up the Heidelberg Catechism (which candidly calls the Mass "idolatrous"), and ordered said Catechism, an Authorized Book, to cease in his dominions. Hessen-Cassel, a Protestant neighbor, pleaded, remonstrated, Friedrich Wilhelm glooming in the rear; but to no purpose. Our old gentleman, his Priests being very diligent upon him, decided next to get possession of the HEILIGE-GEIST KIRCHE (Church of the Holy Ghost, principal Place of Worship at Heidelberg), and make it his principal Cathedral Church there. By Treaty of Westphalia, or peaceably otherwise, the Catholics are already in possession of the Choir: but the whole Church would be so much better. "Was it not Catholic once?" thought Karl Philip to himself: "built by our noble Ancestor Kaiser Rupert of the Pfalz, Rupert KLEMM ["Pincers," so named for his firmness of mind]:-- why should these Heretics have it? I will build them another!" These thoughts, in 1719, the third year of Karl Philip's rule, had broken out into open action (29th August, 4th September the consummation of it) [Mauvillon, i. 340-345.] and precisely in the ime when Friedrich Wilhelm was penning that first Didactic Morsel which we read, grave clouds from the Palatinate were beginning to overshadow the royal mind more or less.
For the poor Heidelberg Consistorium, as they could not undertake to give up their Church on request of his Serenity,--"How dare we, or can we?" answered they,--had been driven out by compulsion and stratagem. Partly strategic was the plan adopted, to avoid violence; smith's picklocks being employed, and also mason's crowbars: but the end was, On the 31st of August, 1719, Consistorium and Congregation found themselves fairly in the street, and the HEILIGE-GEIST KIRCHE clean gone from them. Screen of the Choir is torn down; one big Catholic edifice now; getting decorated into a Court Church, where Serene Highness may feel his mind comfortable.
The poor Heidelbergers, thus thrown into the street, made applications, lamentations; but with small prospect of help: to whom apply with any sure prospect? Remonstrances from Hessen-Cassel have proved unavailing with his bigoted Serene Highness. CORPS EVANGELICORUM, so presided over as at present, what can be had of such a Corpus? Long-winded lucubrations at the utmost; real action, in such a matter; none. Or will the Kaiser, his Jesuits advising him, interfere to do us justice? Kur-Mainz and the rest;--it is everywhere one story. Everywhere unhappy Protestantism getting bad usage, and ever worse; and no Corpus Evangelicorum, or appointed Watchdog, doing other than hang its ears, and look sorry for itself and us!--
The Heidelbergers, however, had applied to Friedrich Wilhelm among others. Friedrich Wilhelm, who had long looked on these Anti-Protestant phenomena with increasing anger, found now that this of the Heidelberg Catechism and HEILIGE-GEIST KIRCHE was enough to make one's patience run over. Your unruly Catholic bull, plunging about, and goring men in that mad absurd manner, it will behoove that somebody take him by the horns, or by the tail, and teach him manners. Teach him, not by vocal precepts, it is likely, which would avail nothing on such a brute, but by practical cudgelling and scourging to the due pitch. Pacific Friedrich Wilhelm perceived that he himself would have to do that disagreeable feat:--the growl of him, on coming to such resolution, must have been consolatory to these poor Heidelbergers, when they applied!--His plan is very simple, as the plans of genius are; but a plan leading direct to the end desired, and probably the only one that would have done so, in the circumstances. Cudgel in hand, he takes the Catholic bull,--shall we say, by the horns?--more properly perhaps by the tail; and teaches him manners.
FRIEDRICH WILHELM'S METHOD;--PROVES REMEDIAL IN HEIDELBERG.
Friedrich Wilhelm's first step, of course, was to remonstrate pacifically with his Serene Highness on the Heidelberg-Church affair: from this he probably expected nothing; nor did he get anything. Getting nothing from this, and the countenance of external Protestant Powers, especially of George I. and the Dutch, being promised him in ulterior measures, he directed his Administrative Officials in Magdeburg, in Minden, in Hamersleben, where are Catholic Foundations of importance, to assemble the Catholic Canons, Abbots, chief Priests and all whom it might concern in these three Places, and to signify to them as follows:--
"From us, your Protestant Sovereign, you yourselves and all men will witness, you have hitherto had the best of usage, fair-play, according to the Laws of the REICH, and even-more. With the Protestants at Heidelberg, on the part of the Catholic Powers, it is different. It must cease to be different; it must become the same. And to make it do so, you are the implement I have. Sorry for it, but there is no other handy. From this day your Churches also are closed, your Public Worship ceases, and furthermore your Revenues cease; and all makes dead halt, and falls torpid in respect of you. From this day; and so continues, till the day (may it be soon!) when the Heidelberg Church of the Holy Ghost is opened again, and right done in that question. Be it yours to speed such day: it is you that can and will, you who know those high Catholic regions, inaccessible to your Protestant Sovereign. Till then you are as dead men; temporarily fallen dead for a purpose. And herewith God have you in his keeping!" [Mauvillon, i. 347, 349.]
That was Friedrich Wilhelm's plan; the simplest, but probably the one effectual plan. Infallible this plan, if you dare stand upon it; which Friedrich Wilhelm does. He has a formidable Army, ready for fight; a Treasury or Army-chest in good order. George I. seconds, according to bargain; shuts the Catholic Church at Zelle in his Luneburg Country, in like fashion; Dutch, too, and Swiss will endorse the matter, should it grow too serious. All which, involving some diplomacy and correspondence, is managed with the due promptitude, moreover. [Church of Zelle shut up, 4th November; Minden, 28th November; Monastery of Hamersleben, 3d December, &c. (Putter,