Frederick William was deeply disappointed by his son, the future Frederick the Great, who in his youth seemed more interested in French culture, music, and literature than in the military virtues. The father's disaffection turned to actual hatred, and his treatment became so harsh that the young prince decided to run away, with the aid of two accomplices, Lieutenants Katte and Keith. The plan was discovered; Keith escaped, but the prince and Katte were captured and court-martialed. Katte was sentenced to life imprisonment, Frederick to solitary confinement. Frederick William, deciding that Katte's sentence was too lenient, had him beheaded in the presence of Prince Frederick. This drastic measure had the desired effect; Frederick asked the king's pardon and began to apply himself to acquiring the Prussian military philosophy.
Victoria's mother, the Duchess of Kent, totally dominated her daughter's upbringing and clearly had ambitions to be the power behind the throne once Victoria became queen. The princess slept in her mother's room and was never allowed to talk to anyone except in the presence of her German governess or the duchess. The very day that William IV died and Victoria ascended the throne, the Duchess of Kent came to Victoria after the state dignitaries had departed and inquired if there was anything she could do for her. "I wish to be left alone, " replied Victoria, and the same day she gave orders for her bed to be moved from the duchess's room.
As critic and moralist, Matthew Arnold attacked the philistinism of the British middle class of his time, upholding rather severe, even dismaying standards of intellectual rigor and moral seriousness. Shortly after his death Robert Louis Stevenson remarked, "Poor Matt. He's gone to Heaven, no doubt — but he won't like God.
Just a week before he was assassinated, Abraham Lincoln had a dream that he discussed with several people. It seemed that he was walking through the silent White House toward the sound of sobbing. When he entered the East Room, he was confronted by the sight of a catafalque covered in black. He asked the guard on duty there who was dead. "The president," said the soldier.
As a father taking his very well-brought-up young daughter to the opera for the first time, Peter Ustinov was unwise enough to choose the Baths of Caracall in Rome. The opera was Aida: during one particular scene the whole stage seemed to be covered with animals — camels, elephants, horses, unwanted cats, and so on. At a climactic point, almost all the animals relieved themselves simultaneously. As he stared aghast at this incredible sight, Ustinov felt a light tapping on his shoulder and heard his daughter's earnest voice: "Daddy, is it all right if I laugh?