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All thoughts of the double marriage were for the moment relinquished. The Czar of Russia had a son and a daughter. It was proposed to marry Wilhelmina to the son and Fritz to the daughter, and thus to secure a Russian instead of an English alliance. Harassed by these difficulties, Frederick William grew increasingly morose, venting his spite upon his wife and children. Fritz seriously contemplated escaping from his father’s abuse by flight, and to take refuge with his uncle George in England, and thus to secure his marriage with Amelia. The portraits of the62 princess which he had seen proved her to be very beautiful. All reports pronounced her to be as lovely in character as in person. He was becoming passionately attached to her. Wilhelmina was his only confidante. Regard for her alone restrained him from attempting to escape. “He would have done so long ago,” writes Dubourgay, under date of August 11, 1729, “were it not for his sister, upon whom the whole weight of his father’s resentment would then fall. Happen what will, therefore, he is resolved to share with her all the hardships which the king, his father, may be pleased to put upon her.”
On another occasion, an Austrian gentleman, M. Von Bentenrieder, who was exceedingly tall, was journeying from Vienna to Berlin as the embassador from the Emperor Charles VI. to the Congress of Cambrai. When near Halberstadt some part of his carriage broke. While the smith was repairing it, M. Bentenrieder walked on. He passed a Prussian guard-house, alone, in plain clothes, on foot, an immensely tall, well-formed man. It was too rich a prize to be lost. The officials seized him, and hurried him into the guard-house. But soon his carriage came along with his suite. He was obsequiously hailed as “Your Excellency.” The recruiting officers of Frederick William, mortified and chagrined, with many apologies released the embassador of the emperor.
Ruppin, where the Crown Prince continued to reside for several years, was a small, dull town of about two thousand inhabitants. The only life it exhibited was found in the music and drillings of the garrison. The only important event in its history was the removal of the Crown Prince there. Of what is called society there was none. The hamlet was situated in the midst of a flat, marshy country, most of it quite uncultivated. The region abounded in peat bogs, and dark, still lakes, well stocked with fish.