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,
The Magdeburg-Hamersleben people shrieked piteously; not to Friedrich Wilhelm, whom they knew to be deaf on that side of his head, but to the Kaiser, to the Pope, to the Serenity of Heidelberg. Serene Highness of Heidelberg was much huffed; Kaiser dreadfully so, and wrote heavy menacing rebukes. To which Friedrich Wilhelm listened with a minimum of reply; keeping firm hold of the tail, in such bellowing of the animal. The end was, Serene Highness had to comply; within three months, Kaiser, Serene Highness and the other parties interested, found that there would be nothing for it but to compose themselves, and do what was just. April 16th, 1720, the Protestants are reinstated in their HEILIGE-GEIST KIRCHE; Heidelberg Catechism goes its free course again, May 16th; and one Baron Reck [Michaelis, ii. 95; Putter, ii. 384, 390; Buchholz, pp. 61-63.] is appointed Commissioner, from the CORPUS EVANGELICORUM, to Heidelberg; who continues rigorously inspecting Church matters there for a considerable time, much to the grief of Highness and Jesuits, till he can report that all is as it should be on that head. Karl Philip felt so disgusted with these results, he removed his Court, that same year, to Mannheim; quitted Heidelberg; to the discouragement and visible decay of the place; and, in spite of humble petitions and remonstrances, never would return; neither he nor those that followed him would shift from Mannheim again, to this day.
PRUSSIAN MAJESTY HAS DISPLEASED THE KAISER AND THE KING OF POLAND.
Friedrich Wilhelm's praises from the Protestant public were great, on this occasion. Nor can we, who lie much farther from it in every sense, refuse him some grin of approval. Act, and manner of doing the act, are creditably of a piece with Friedrich Wilhelm; physiognomic of the rugged veracious man. It is one of several such acts done by him: for it was a duty apt to recur in Germany, in his day. This duty Friedrich Wilhelm, a solid Protestant after his sort, and convinced of the "nothingness and nonsensicality (UNGRUND UND ABSURDITAT) of Papistry," was always honorably prompt to do. There is an honest bacon-and-greens conscience in the man; almost the one conscience you can find in any royal man of that day. Promptly, without tremulous counting of costs, he always starts up, solid as oak, on the occurrence of such a thing, and says, "That is unjust; contrary to the Treaty of Westphalia; you will have to put down that!"--And if words avail not, his plan is always the same: Clap a similar thumbscrew, pressure equitably calculated, on the Catholics of Prussia; these can complain to their Popes and Jesuit Dignitaries: these are under thumbscrew till the Protestant pressure be removed. Which always did rectify the matter in a little time. One other of these instances, that of the Salzburg Protestants, the last such instance, as this of Heidelberg was the first, will by and by claim notice from us.
It is very observable, how Friedrich Wilhelm, hating quarrels, was ever ready to turn out for quarrel on such an occasion; though otherwise conspicuously a King who stayed well at home, looking after his own affairs; meddling with no neighbor that would be at peace with him. This properly is Friedrich Wilhelm's "sphere of political activity" among his contemporaries; this small quasi-domestic sphere, of forbidding injury to Protestants. A most small sphere, but then a genuine one: nor did he seek even this, had it not forced itself upon him. And truly we might ask, What has become of the other more considerable "spheres" in that epoch? The supremest loud-trumpeting "political activities" which then filled the world and its newspapers, what has the upshot of them universally been? Zero, and oblivion; no other. While this poor Friedrich-Wilhelm sphere is perhaps still a countable quantity. Wise is he who stays well at home, and does the duty he finds lying there!--