HISTORY OF FRIEDRICH II. OF PRUSSIA
FREDERICK THE GREAT
By Thomas Carlyle
Chapter I. — FIFTH CRISIS IN THE KAISER'S SPECTRE-HUNT.
Chapter II. — DEATH OF GEORGE I.
Chapter III. — VISIT TO DRESDEN.
OF PRINCESS WHILHELMINA'S FOUR KINGS AND OTHER INEFFECTUAL SUITORS.
Chapter IV. — DOUBLE-MARRIAGE PROJECT IS NOT DEAD.
DOUBLE-MARRIAGE PROJECT RE-EMERGES IN AN OFFICIAL SHAPE.
HIS MAJESTY SLAUGHTERS 3,602 HEAD OF WILD SWINE.
FALLS ILL, IN CONSEQUENCE; AND THE DOUBLE-MARRIAGE CANNOT GET FORWARD.
Chapter V. — CONGRESS OF SOISSONS, SIXTH CRISIS IN THE SPECTRE-HUNT.
Chapter VI. — IMMINENCY OF WAR OR DUEL BETWEEN THE BRITANNIC AND PRUSSIAN MAJESTIES.
CAUSE SECOND: THE TROUBLES OF MECKLENBURG.
CAUSES THIRD AND FOURTH:—AND CAUSE FIFTH, WORTH ALL THE OTHERS.
TROUBLES OF MECKLENBURG, FOR THE LAST TIME.
ONE NUSSLER SETTLES THE AHLDEN HERITAGES; SENDS THE MONEY HOME IN BOXES.
Chapter VII. — A MARRIAGE: NOT THE DOUBLE-MARRIAGE: CROWN-PRINCE DEEP IN TROUBLE.
Chapter VIII. — CROWN-PRINCE GETTING BEYOND HIS DEPTH IN TROUBLE.
Chapter IX. — DOUBLE-MARRIAGE SHALL BE OR SHALL NOT BE.
DUBOURGAY STRIKES A LIGHT FOR THE ENGLISH COURT.
WILHELMINA TO BE MARRIED OUT OF HAND. CRISIS SECOND: ENGLAND SHALL HAVE SAID NO.
WILHELMINA TO BE MARRIED OUT OF HAND. CRISIS THIRD: MAJESTY HIMSELF WILL CHOOSE, THEN.
HOW FRIEDRICH PRINCE OF BAIREUTH CAME TO BE THE MAN, AFTER ALL.
DOUBLE-MARRIAGE, ON THE EDGE OF SHIPWRECK, FLIES OFF A KIND OF CARRIER-PIGEON, OR NOAH'S-DOVE, TO ENGLAND, WITH CRY FOR HELP.
BOOK VI. — DOUBLE-MARRIAGE PROJECT, AND CROWN-PRINCE, GOING ADRIFT UNDER THE STORM-WINDS. — 1727-1730.
Chapter I. — FIFTH CRISIS IN THE KAISER'S SPECTRE-HUNT.
The Crown-Prince's young Life being, by perverse chance, involved and as it were absorbed in that foolish question of his English Marriage, we have nothing for it but to continue our sad function; and go on painfully fishing out, and reducing to an authentic form, what traces of him there are, from that disastrous beggarly element,—till once he get free of it, either dead or alive. The WINDS (partly by Art-Magic) rise to the hurricane pitch, upon this Marriage Project and him; and as for the sea, or general tide of European Politics—But let the reader look with his own eyes.
In the spring of 1727, War, as anticipated, breaks out; Spaniards actually begin battering at Gibraltar; Kaiser's Ambassador at London is angrily ordered to begone. Causes of war were many:
1. Duke de Ripperda—tumbled out now, that illustrious diplomatic bulldog, at Madrid—sought asylum in the English Ambassador's house; and no respect was had to such asylum: that is one cause.
2. Then, you English, what is the meaning of these war-fleets in the West Indies; in the Mediterranean, on the very coast of Spain? We demand that you at once take them home again:—which cannot be complied with.
3. But above all things, we demand Gibraltar of you:—which can still less be complied with. Termagant Elizabeth has set her heart on Gibraltar: that, in such opportunity as this unexpected condition of the Balances now gives her, is the real cause of the War.
Cession of Gibraltar: there had been vague promises, years ago, on the Kaiser's part; nay George himself, raw to England at that date, is said to have thought the thing might perhaps be done.—"Do it at once, then!" said the Termagant Queen, and repeated, with ever more emphasis;—and there being not the least compliance, she has opened parallels before the place, and begun war and ardent firing there; [22d February, 1727 (Scholl, ii. 212). Salmon, Chronological Historian (London, 1747; a very incorrect dark Book, useful only in defect of better), ii. 173. Coxe, Memoirs of Walpole, i. 260, 261; ii. 498-515.] preceded by protocols, debates in Parliament; and the usual phenomena. It is the Fifth grand Crisis in the Kaiser's spectre-huntings; fifth change in the color of the world-lobster getting boiled in that singular manner;—Second Sputter of actual War.
Which proved futile altogether; and amounts now, in the human memory; to flat zero,—unless the following infinitesimally small fraction be countable again:—
"Sputtering of War; that is to say, Siege of Gibraltar. A siege utterly unmemorable, and without the least interest, for existing mankind with their ungrateful humor,—if it be not; once more, that the Father of TRISTRAM SHANDY was in it: still a Lieutenant of foot, poor fellow; brisk, small, hot-tempered, loving, 'liable to be cheated ten times a day if nine will not suffice you.' He was in this Siege; shipped to the Rock to make stand there; and would have done so with the boldest,—only he got into duel (hot-tempered, though of lamb-like innocence), and was run through the body; not entirely killed, but within a hair's breadth of it; and unable for service while this sputtering went on. Little Lorry is still living; gone to school in Yorkshire, after pranks enough, and misventures,—half-drowning 'in the mill-race at Annamoe in Ireland,' for one. [Laurence Sterne's Autobiography (cited above).] The poor Lieutenant Father died, soldiering in the West Indies; soon after this; and we shall not mention him again. But History ought to remember that he is 'Uncle Toby,' this poor Lieutenant, and take her measures!—The Siege of Gibraltar, we still see with our eyes, was in itself Nothing."
Truly it might well enough have grown to universal flame of War. But this always needs two parties; and pacific George would not be second party in it. George, guided by pacific Walpole, backed by pacific Fleury, answers the ardent firing by phlegmatic patience and protocolling; not by counter-firing, except quite at his convenience, from privateers, from war-ships here and there, and in sulky defence from Gibraltar itself. Probably the Termagant, with all the fire she has, will not do much damage upon Gibraltar? Such was George's hope. Whereby the flame of war, ardent only in certain Spanish batteries upon the point of San Roque, does not spread hitherto,—though all mortals, and Friedrich Wilhelm as much as any, can see the imminent likelihood there is. In such circumstances, what a stroke of policy to have disjoined Friedrich Wilhelm from the Hanover Alliance, and brought him over to our own! Is not Grumkow worth his pension? "Grumkow serves honorably." Let the invaluable Seckendorf persevere.
CROWN-PRINCE SEEN IN DRYASDUST'S GLASS, DARKLY.
To know the special figure of the Crown-Prince's way of life in those years, who his friends, companions were, what his pursuits and experiences, would be agreeable to us; but beyond the outline already given, there is little definite on record. He now resides habitually at Potsdam, be the Court there or not; attending strictly to his military duties in the Giant Regiment; it is only on occasion, chiefly perhaps in "Carnival time," that he gets to Berlin, to partake in the gayeties of society. Who his associates there or at Potsdam were? Suhm, the Saxon Resident, a cultivated man of literary turn, famed as his friend in time coming, is already at his diplomatic post in Berlin, post of difficulty just now; but I know not whether they have yet any intimacy. [Preuss, Friedrich mit seinen Verwandten und Freunden, p. 24.] This we do know, the Crown-Prince begins to be noted for his sprightly sense, his love of literature, his ingenuous ways; in the Court or other circles, whatsoever has intelligence attracts him, and is attracted by him. The Roucoulles Soirees,—gone all to dim backram for us, though once so lively in their high periwigs and speculations,—fall on Wednesday. When the Finkenstein or the others fall,—no doubt his Royal Highness knows it. In the TABAKS-COLLEGIUM, there also, driven by duty, he sometimes appears; but, like Seckendorf and some others, he only affects to smoke, and his pipe is mere white clay. Nor is the social element, any more than the narcotic vapor which prevails there, attractive to the young Prince,—though he had better hide his feelings on the subject.
Out at Potsdam, again, life goes very heavy; the winged Psyche much imprisoned in that pipe-clay element, a prey to vacancy and many tediums and longings. Daily return the giant drill-duties; and daily, to the uttermost of rigorous perfection, they must be done:—"This, then, is the sum of one's existence, this?" Patience, young "man of genius," as the Newspapers would now call you; it is indispensably beneficial nevertheless! To swallow one's disgusts, and do faithfully the ugly commanded work, taking no council with flesh and blood: know that "genius," everywhere in Nature, means this first of all; that without this, it means nothing, generally even less. And be thankful for your Potsdam grenadiers and their pipe-clay!—
Happily he has his Books about him; his flute: Duhan, too, is here, still more or less didactic in some branches; always instructive and companionable, to him. The Crown-Prince reads a great deal; very many French Books, new and old, he reads; among the new, we need not doubt, the Henriade of M. Arouet Junior (who now calls himself VOLTAIRE), which has risen like a star of the first magnitude in these years. [London, 1723, in surreptitious incomplete state, La Ligue the title; then at length, London, 1726, as Henriade, in splendid 4to,—by subscription (King, Prince and Princess of Wales at the top of it), which yielded 8,000 pounds: see Voltaire, OEuvres Completes, xiii. 408.] An incomparable piece, patronized by Royalty in England; the delight of all kindred Courts. The light dancing march of this new "Epic," and the brisk clash of cymbal music audible in it, had, as we find afterwards, greatly captivated the young man. All is not pipe-clay, then, and torpid formalism; aloft from the murk of commonplace rise glancings of a starry splendor, betokening—oh, how much!
Out of Books, rumors and experiences, young imagination is forming to itself some Picture of the World as it is, as it has been. The curtains of this strange life-theatre are mounting, mounting,—wondrously as in the case of all young souls; but with what specialties, moods or phenomena of light and shadow, to this young soul, is not in any point recorded for us. The "early Letters to Wilhelmina, which exist in great numbers," from these we had hoped elucidation: but these the learned Editor has "wholly withheld as useless," for the present. Let them be carefully preserved, on the chance of somebody's arising to whom they may have uses!—
The worst feature of these years is Friedrich Wilhelm's discontent with them. A Crown-Prince sadly out of favor with Papa. This has long been on the growing hand; and these Double-Marriage troubles, not to mention again the new-fangled French tendencies (BLITZ FRANZOSEN!), much aggravate the matter, and accelerate its rate of growth. Already the paternal countenance does not shine upon him; flames often; and thunders, to a shocking degree;—and worse days are coming.
Chapter II. — DEATH OF GEORGE I.
Gibraltar still keeps sputtering; ardent ineffectual bombardment from the one side, sulky, heavy blast of response now and then from the other: but the fire does not spread; nor will, we may hope. It is true, Sweden and Denmark have joined the Treaty of Hanover, this spring; and have troops on foot, and money paid them; But George is pacific; Gibraltar is impregnable; let the Spaniards spend their powder there.
As for the Kaiser, he is dreadfully poor; inapt for battle himself. And in the end of this same May, 1727, we hear, his principal ally, Czarina Catherine, has died;—poor brown little woman, Lithuanian housemaid, Russian Autocrat, it is now all one;—dead she, and can do nothing. Probably the Kaiser will sit still? The Kaiser sits still; with eyes bent on Gibraltar, or rolling in grand Imperial inquiry and anxiety round the world; war-outlooks much dimmed for him since the end of May.
Alas, in the end of June, what far other Job's-post is this that reaches Berlin and Queen Sophie? That George I., her royal Father, has suddenly sunk dead! With the Solstice, or Summer pause of the Sun, 21st or 22d June, almost uncertain which, the Majesty of George I. did likewise pause,—in his carriage, on the road to Osnabruck,—never to move more. Whereupon, among the simple People, arose rumors of omens, preternaturalisms, for and against: How his desperate Megaera of a Wife, in the act of dying, had summoned him (as was presumable), to appear along with her at the Great Judgment-Bar within year and day; and how he has here done it. On the other hand, some would have it noted, How "the nightingales in Herrenhausen Gardens had all ceased singing for the year, that night he died,"—out of loyalty on the part of these little birds, it seemed presumable. [See Kohler, Munzbelustigungen, x. 88.]
What we know is, he was journeying towards Hanover again, hopeful of a little hunting at the Gorhde; and intended seeing Osnabruck and his Brother the Bishop there, as he passed. That day, 21st June, 1727, from some feelings of his own, he was in great haste for Osnabruck; hurrying along by extra-post, without real cause save hurry of mind. He had left his poor old Maypole of a Mistress on the Dutch Frontier, that morning, to follow at more leisure. He was struck by apoplexy on the road,—arm fallen powerless, early in the day, head dim and heavy; obviously an alarming case. But he refused to stop anywhere; refused any surgery but such as could be done at once. "Osnabruck! Osnabruck!" he reiterated, growing visibly worse. Two subaltern Hanover Officials, "Privy-Councillor von Hardenberg, KAMMERHERR (Chamberlain) von Fabrice, were in the carriage with him;" [Gottfried, Historische Chronik (Frankfurt, 1759), iii. 872. Boyer, The Political State of Great Britain, vol. xxxiii. pp. 545, 546.] King chiefly dozing, and at last supported in the arms of Fabrice, was heard murmuring, "C'EST FAIT DE MOI ('T is all over with me)!" And "Osnabruck! Osnabruck!" slumberously reiterated he: To Osnabruck, where my poor old Brother, Bishop as they call him, once a little Boy that trotted at my knee with blithe face, will have some human pity on me! So they rushed along all day, as at the gallop, his few attendants and he; and when the shades of night fell, and speech had now left the poor man, he still passionately gasped some gurgle of a sound like "Osnabruck;"—hanging in the arms of Fabrice, and now evidently in the article of death. What a gallop, sweeping through the slumber of the world: To Osnabruck, Osnabruck!
In the hollow of the night (some say, one in the morning), they reach Osnabruck. And the poor old Brother,—Ernst August, once youngest of six brothers, of seven children, now the one survivor, has human pity in the heart of him full surely. But George is dead; careless of it now. [Coxe (i. 266) is "indebted to his friend Nathaniel Wraxall" for these details,—the since famous Sir Nathaniel, in whose Memoirs (vague, but NOT mendacious, not unintelligent) they are now published more at large. See his Memoirs of the Courts of Berlin, Dresden, &c. (London. 1799), i. 35-40; also Historical Memoirs (London, 1836), iv. 516-518.] After sixty-seven years of it, he has flung his big burdens,—English crowns, Hanoverian crownlets, sulkinesses, indignations, lean women and fat, and earthly contradictions and confusions,—fairly off him; and lies there.
The man had his big burdens, big honors so called, absurd enough some of them, in this world; but he bore them with a certain gravity and discretion: a man of more probity, insight and general human faculty than he now gets credit for. His word was sacred to him. He had the courage of a Welf, or Lion-Man; quietly royal in that respect at least. His sense of equity, of what was true and honorable in men and things, remained uneffaced to a respectable degree; and surely it had resisted much. Wilder puddle of muddy infatuations from without and from within, if we consider it well,—of irreconcilable incoherences, bottomless universal hypocrisies, solecisms bred with him and imposed on him,—few sons of Adam had hitherto lived in.
He was, in one word, the first of our Hanover Series of English Kings; that hitherto unique sort, who are really strange to look at in the History of the World. Of whom, in the English annals, there is hitherto no Picture to be had; nothing but an empty blur of discordant nonsenses, and idle, generally angry, flourishings of the pen, by way of Picture. The English Nation, having flung its old Puritan, Sword-and-Bible Faith into the cesspool,—or rather having set its old Bible-Faith, MINUS any Sword, well up in the organ-loft, with plenty of revenue, there to preach and organ at discretion, on condition always of meddling with nobody's practice farther,—thought the same (such their mistake) a mighty pretty arrangement; but found it hitch before long. They had to throw out their beautiful Nell-Gwynn Defenders of the Faith; fling them also into the cesspool; and were rather at a loss what next to do. "Where is our real King, then? Who IS to lead us Heavenward, then; to rally the noble of us to him, in some small measure, and save the rest and their affairs from running Devilward?"—The English Nation being in some difficulty as to Kings, the English Nation clutched up the readiest that came to hand; "Here is our King!" said they,—again under mistake, still under their old mistake. And, what was singular, they then avenged themselves by mocking, calumniating, by angrily speaking, writing and laughing at the poor mistaken King so clutched!—It is high time the English were candidly asking themselves, with very great seriousness indeed, WHAT it was they had done, in the sight of God and man, on that and the prior occasion? And above all, What it is they will now propose to do in the sequel of it! Dig gold-nuggets, and rally the IGnoble of us?—
George's poor lean Mistress, coming on at the usual rate of the road, was met, next morning, by the sad tidings. She sprang from her carriage into the dusty highway; tore her hair (or headdress), half-frantic; declared herself a ruined woman; and drove direct to Berlin, there to compose her old mind. She was not ill seen at Court there; had her connections in the world. Fieldmarshal Schulenburg, who once had the honor of fighting (not to his advantage) with Charles XII., and had since grown famous by his Anti-Turk performances in the Venetian service, is a Brother of this poor Maypole's; and there is a Nephew of hers, one of Friedrich Wilhelm's Field-Officers here, whom we shall meet by and by. She has been obliging to Queen Sophie on occasions; they can, and do, now weep heartily together. I believe she returned to England, being Duchess of Kendal, with heavy pensions there; and "assiduously attended divine ordinances, according to the German Protestant form, ever afterwards." Poor foolish old soul, what is this world, with all its dukeries!—
The other or fat Mistress, "Cataract of fluid Tallow," Countess of Darlington, whom I take to have been a Half-Sister rather, sat sorrowful at Isleworth; and kept for many years a Black Raven, which had come flying in upon her; which she somehow understood to be the soul, or connected with the soul, of his Majesty of happy memory. [Horace Walpole, Reminiscences.] Good Heavens, what fat fluid-tallowy stupor, and entirely sordid darkness, dwells among mankind; and occasionally finds itself lifted to the very top, by way of sample!—
Friedrich Wilhelm wept tenderly to Brigadier Dubourgay, the British Minister at Berlin (an old military gentleman, of diplomatic merit, who spells rather ill), when they spoke of this sad matter. My poor old Uncle; he was so good to me in boyhood, in those old days, when I blooded Cousin George's nose! Not unkind, ah, only proud and sad; and was called sulky, being of few words and heavy-laden. Ah me, your Excellenz; if the little nightingales have all fallen silent, what may not I, his Son and nephew, do?—And the rugged Majesty blubbered with great tenderness; having fountains of tears withal, hidden in the rocky heart of him, not suspected by every one. [Dubourgay's Despatches, in the State-Paper Office.]
I add only that the Fabrice, who had poor George in his arms that night, is a man worth mentioning. The same Fabrice (Fabricius, or perhaps GOLDSCHMIDT in German) who went as Envoy from the Holstein-Gottorp people to Charles XII. in his Turkish time; and stayed with his Swedish Majesty there, for a year or two, indeed till the catastrophe came. His Official LETTERS from that scene are in print, this long while, though considerably forgotten; [Anecdotes du Sejour du Roi de Suide a Bender, ou Lettres de M. le Baron de Fabrice pour servir d'elaircissement a l'Histoire de Charles XII. (Hambourg, 1760, 8vo).] a little Volume, worth many big ones that have been published on that subject. The same Fabrice, following Hanover afterwards, came across to London in due course; and there he did another memorable thing: made acquaintance with the Monsieur Arouet, then a young French Exile there, Arouet Junior ("LE JEUNE or L. J."), who,—by an ingenious anagram, contrived in his indignation at such banishment,—writes himself VOLTAIRE ever since; who has been publishing a HENRIADE, and doing other things. Now it was by questioning this Fabrice, and industriously picking the memory of him clean, that M. de Voltaire wrote another book, much more of an "Epic" than Henri IV.,—a HISTORY, namely, OF CHARLES XII.; [See Voltaire, OEuvres Completes, ii. 149, xxx. 7, 127. Came out in 1731 (ib. xxx. Avant-Propos, p. ii).] which seems to me the best-written of all his Books, and wants nothing but TRUTH (indeed a dreadful want) to make it a possession forever. VOLTAIRE, if you want fine writing; ADLERFELD and FABRICE, if you would see the features of the Fact: these three are still the Books upon Charles XII.
HIS PRUSSIAN MAJESTY FALLS INTO ONE OF HIS HYPOCHONDRIACAL FITS.
Before this event, his Majesty was in gloomy humor; and special vexations had superadded themselves. Early in the Spring, a difficult huff of quarrel, the consummation of a good many grudges long subsisting, had fallen out with his neighbor of Saxony, the Majesty of Poland, August, whom we have formerly heard of, a conspicuous Majesty in those days; called even "August the Great" by some persons in his own time; but now chiefly remembered by his splendor of upholstery, his enormous expenditure in drinking and otherwise, also by his three hundred and fifty-four Bastards (probably the maximum of any King's performance in that line), and called August DER STARKE, "August the Physically Strong." This exemplary Sovereign could not well be a man according to Friedrich Wilhelm's heart: accordingly they had their huffs and little collisions now and then: that of the Protestant Directorate and Heidelberg Protestants, for instance; indeed it was generally about Protestantism; and more lately there had been high words and correspondings about the "Protestants of Thorn" (a bad tragedy, of Jesuit intrusion and Polish ferocity, enacted there in 1724); [Account of it in Buchholz, i. 98-102.]—in which sad business Friedrich Wilhelm loyally interfered, though Britannic George of blessed memory and others were but lukewarm; and nothing could be done in it. Nothing except angry correspondence with King August; very provoking to the poor soul, who had no hand but a nominal one in the Thorn catastrophe, being driven into it by his unruly Diet alone.
In fact, August, with his glittering eyes and excellent physical constitution, was a very good-humored fellow; supremely pleasant in society; and by no means wishful to cheat you, or do you a mischief in business,—unless his necessities compelled him; which often were great. But Friedrich Wilhelm always kept a good eye on such points; and had himself suffered nothing from the gay eupeptic Son of Belial, either in their old Stralsund copartnery or otherwise. So that, except for these Protestant affairs,—and alas, one other little cause,—Friedrich Wilhelm had contentedly left the Physically Strong to his own course, doing the civilities of the road to him when they met; and nothing ill had fallen out between them. This other little cause—alas, it is the old story of recruiting; one's poor Hobby again giving offence! Special recruiting brabbles there had been; severe laws passed in Saxony about these kidnapping operations: and always in the Diets, when question rose of this matter, August had been particularly loud in his denouncings. Which was unkind, though not unexpected. But now, in the Spring of 1727, here has a worse case than any arisen.
Captain Natzmer, of I know not what Prussian Regiment, "Sachsen-Weimar Cuirassiers" [Militair-Lexikon, iii. 104.] or another, had dropt over into Saxony, to see what could be done in picking up a tall man or two. Tall men, one or two, Captain Natzmer did pick up, nay a tall deserter or two (Saxon soldier, inveigled to desert); but finding his operations get air, he hastily withdrew into Brandenburg territory again. Saxon Officials followed him into Brandenburg territory; snapt him back into Saxon; tried him by Saxon law there;—Saxon law, express in such case, condemns him to be hanged; and that is his doom accordingly.
"Captain Natzmer to swing on the gallows? Taken on Brandenburg territory too, and not the least notice given me?" Friedrich Wilhelm blazes into flaming whirlwind; sends an Official Gentleman, one Katsch, to his Excellenz Baron von Suhm (the Crown-Prince's cultivated friend), with this appalling message: "If Natzmer be hanged, for certain I will use reprisals; you yourself shall swing!" Whereupon Suhm, in panic, fled over the marches to his Master; who bullied him for his pusillanimous terrors; and applied to Friedrich Wilhelm, in fine frenzy of indignant astonishment, "What, in Heaven's name, such meditated outrage on the law of nations, and flat insult to the Majesty of Kings, can have meant?" Friedrich Wilhelm, the first fury being spent, sees that he is quite out of square; disavows the reprisals upon Suhm. "Message misdelivered by my Official Gentleman, that stupid Katsch; never did intend to hang Suhm; oh, no;" with much other correspondence; [In Mauvillon (ii. 189-195) more of it than any one will read.]—and is very angry at himself, and at the Natzmer affair, which has brought him into this bad pass. Into open impropriety; into danger of an utter rupture, had King August been of quarrelsome turn. But King August was not quarrelsome; and then Seckendorf and the Tobacco-Parliament,—on the Kaiser's score, who wants Pragmatic Sanction and much else out of these two Kings, and can at no rate have them quarrel in the present juncture,—were eager to quench the fire. King August let Natzmer go; Suhm returned to his post; [Pollnitz, ii. 254.] and things hustled themselves into some uneasy posture of silence again;—uneasy to the sensitive fancy of Friedrich Wilhelm above all. This is his worst collision with his Neighbor of Saxony; and springing from one's Hobby again!—
These sorrows, the death of George I., with anxieties as to George II. and the course he might take; all this, it was thought, preyed upon his Majesty's spirits;—Wilhelmina says it was "the frequent carousals with Seckendorf," and an affair chiefly of the royal digestive-apparatus. Like enough;—or both might combine. It is certain his Majesty fell into one of his hypochondrias at this time; talked of "abdicating" and other gloomy things, and was very black indeed. So that Seckendorf and Grumkow began to be alarmed. It is several months ago he had Franke the Halle Methodist giving ghostly counsel; his Majesty ceased to have the Newspapers read at dinner; and listened to lugubrious Franke's exhortations instead. Did English readers ever hear of Franke? Let them make a momentary acquaintance with this famous German Saint. August Hermann Franke, a Lubeck man, born 1663; Professor of Theology, of Hebrew, Lecturer on the Bible; a wandering, persecuted, pious man. Founder of the "Pietists," a kind of German Methodists, who are still a famed Sect in that country; and of the WAISENHAUS, at Halle, grand Orphan-house, built by charitable beggings of Franke, which also still subsists. A reverend gentleman, very mournful of visage, now sixty-four; and for the present, at Berlin, discoursing of things eternal, in what Wilhelmina thinks a very lugubrious manner. Well; but surely in a very serious manner! The shadows of death were already round this poor Franke; and in a few weeks more, he had himself departed. [Died 8th June, 1727.] But hear Wilhelmina, what account she gives of her own and the young Grenadier-Major's behavior on these mournful occasions. Seckendorf's dinners she considers to be the cause; all spiritual, sorrows only an adjunct not worth mentioning. It is certain enough.
"His Majesty began to become valetudinary; and the hypochondria which tormented him rendered his humor very melancholy. Monsieur Franke, the famous Pietist, founder of the Orphan-house at Halle University, contributed not a little to exaggerate that latter evil. This reverend gentleman entertained the King by raising scruples of conscience about the most innocent matters. He condemned all pleasures; damnable all of them, he said, even hunting and music. You were to speak of nothing but the Word of God only; all other conversation was forbidden. It was always he that carried on the improving talk at table; where he did the office of reader, as if it had been a refectory of monks. The King treated us to a sermon every afternoon; his valet-de-chambre gave out a psalm, which we all sang; you had to listen to this sermon with as much devout attention as if it had been an apostle's. My Brother and I had all the mind in the world to laugh; we tried hard to keep from laughing; but often we burst out. Thereupon reprimand, with all the anathemas of the Church hurled out on us; which we had to take with a contrite penitent air, a thing not easy to bring your face to at the moment. In a word, this dog of a Franke [he died within few months, poor soul, CE CHIEN DE FRANKE] led us the life of a set of Monks of La Trappe.
"Such excess of bigotry awakened still more gothic thoughts in the King. He resolved to abdicate the crown in favor of my Brother. He used to talk, He would reserve for himself 10,000 crowns a year; and retire with the Queen and his Daughters to Wusterhausen. There, added he, I will pray to God; and manage the farming economy, while my wife and girls take care of the household matters. You are clever, he said to me; I will give you the inspection of the linen, which you shall mend and keep in order, taking good charge of laundry matters. Frederika [now thirteen, married to ANSPACH two years hence], who is miserly, shall have charge of all the stores of the house. Charlotte [now eleven, Duchess of BRUNSWICK by and by] shall go to market and buy our provisions; and my Wife shall take charge of the little children, [says Friedrich Wilhelm], and of the kitchen." [Little children are:
1. Sophie Dorothee, now eight, who married Margraf of Schwedt, and was unhappy;
2. Ulrique, a grave little soul of seven, Queen of Sweden afterwards;
3. August Wilhelm, age now five, became Father of a new Friedrich Wilhelm, who was King by and by, and produced the Kings that still are;
4. Amelia, now four, born in the way we saw; and
5. HENRI, still in arms, just beginning to walk. There will be a Sixth and no more (son of this Sixth, a Berlin ROUE was killed, in 1806, at the Battle of Jena, or a day or two before); but the Sixth is not yet come to hand.]
Poor Friedrich Wilhelm; what an innocent IDYLLIUM;—which cannot be executed by a King. "He had even begun to work at an Instruction, or Farewell Advice, for my Brother; and to point towards various steps, which alarmed Grumkow and Seckendorf to a high degree." [Wilhelmina, Memoires de Bareith, i. 108.]
"Abdication," with a Crown-Prince ready to fall into the arms of England, and a sudden finis to our Black-Art, will by no means suit Seckendorf and Grumkow! Yet here is Winter coming; solitary Wusterhausen, with the misty winds piping round it, will make matters worse: something must be contrived; and what? The two, after study, persuade Fieldmarshal Flemming over at Warsaw (August the Strong's chief man, the Flemming of Voltaire's CHARLES XII.; Prussian by birth, though this long while in Saxon service), That if he the Fieldmarshal were to pay, accidentally, as it were, a little visit to his native Brandenburg just now, it might have fine effects on those foolish Berlin-Warsaw clouds that had risen. The Fieldmarshal, well affected in such a case, manages the little visit, readily persuading the Polish Majesty; and dissipates the clouds straightway,—being well received by Friedrich Wilhelm, and seconded by the Tobacco-Parliament with all its might. Out at Wusterhausen everything is comfortably settled. Nay Madam Flemming, young, brilliant, and direct from the seat of fashion; it was she that first "built up" Wilhelmina's hair on just principles, and put some life into her appearance. [Wilhelmina, i. 117.] And now the Fieldmarshal (Tobacco-Parliament suggesting it) hints farther, "If his Prussian Majesty, in the mere greatness of his mind, were to appear suddenly in Dresden when his royal Friend was next there,—what a sunburst after clouds were that; how welcome to the Polish Majesty!"—"Hm, Na, would it, then?"—The Polish Majesty puts that out of question; specially sends invitation for the Carnival-time just coming; and Friedrich Wilhelm will, accordingly, see Dresden and him on that occasion. [Ib. i. 108, 109; Pollnitz, ii. 254; Fassman, p. 374.] In those days, Carnival means "Fashionable Season," rural nobility rallying to head-quarters for a while, and social gayeties going on; and in Protestant Countries it means nothing more.
This, in substance, was the real origin of Friedrich Wilhelm's sudden visit to Dresden, which astonished the world, in January next. It makes a great figure in the old Books. It did kindle Dresden Carnival and the Physically Strong into supreme illumination, for the time being; and proved the seal of good agreement, and even of a kind of friendliness between this heteroclite pair of Sovereigns,—if anybody now cared for those points. It is with our Crown-Prince's share in it that we are alone concerned; and that may require a Chapter to itself.
Chapter III. — VISIT TO DRESDEN.
One of the most important adventures, for our young Crown-Prince, was this visit of his, along with Papa, to Dresden in the Carnival of 1728. Visit contrived by Seckendorf and Company, as we have seen, to divert the King's melancholy, and without view to the Crown-Prince at all. The Crown-Prince, now sixteen, and not in the best favor with his Father, had not been intended to accompany; was to stay at Potsdam and diligently drill: nevertheless an estafette came for him from the gallant Polish Majesty;—Wilhelmina had spoken a word to good Suhm, who wrote to his King, and the hospitable message came. Friedrich made no loitering,—to Dresden is but a hundred miles, one good day;—he arrived there on the morrow after his Father; King "on the 14th January, 1728," dates Fassmann; "Crown-Prince on the 15th," which I find was Thursday. The Crown-Prince lodged with Fieldmarshal Flemming; Friedrich Wilhelm, having come in no state, refused King August's pressings, and took up his quarters with "the General Fieldmarshal Wackerbarth, Commandant in Dresden,"—pleasant old military gentleman, who had besieged Stralsund along with him in times gone. Except Grumkow, Derschau and one or two of less importance, with the due minimum of Valetry, he had brought no retinue; the Crown-Prince had Finkenstein and Kalkstein with him, Tutor and Sub-Tutor, officially there. And he lodges with old Count Flemming and his clever fashionable Madam,—the diligent but unsuccessful Flemming, a courtier of the highest civility, though iracund, and "with a passion for making Treaties," whom we know since Charles XII.'s time.
Amongst the round of splendors now set on foot, Friedrich Wilhelm had, by accident of Nature, the spectacle of a house on fire,—rather a symbolic one in those parts,—afforded him, almost to start with. Deep in the first Saturday night, or rather about two in the morning of Sunday, Wackerbarth's grand house, kindling by negligence somewhere in the garrets, blazed up, irrepressible; and, with its endless upholsteries, with a fine library even, went all into flame: so that his Majesty, scarcely saving his CHATOULLE (box of preciosities), had to hurry out in undress;—over to Flemming's where his Son was; where they both continued thenceforth. This was the one touch of rough, amid so much of dulcet that occurred: no evil, this touch, almost rather otherwise, except to poor Wackerbarth, whose fine House lay wrecked by it.
The visit lasted till February 12th, four weeks and a day. Never was such thrice-magnificent Carnival amusements: illuminations, cannon-salvoings and fire-works; operas, comedies, redoubts, sow-baitings, fox and badger-baiting, reviewing, running at the ring:—dinners of never-imagined quality, this, as a daily item, needs no express mention.
To the young Soldier-Apprentice all this was, of course, in pleasant contrast with the Potsdam Guard-house; and Friedrich Wilhelm himself is understood to have liked at least the dinners, and the airy courteous ways, light table-wit and extreme good humor of the host. A successful visit; burns off like successful fire-works, piece after piece: and what more is to be said? Of all this nothing;—nor, if we could help it, of another little circumstance, not mentioned by the Newspapers or Fassmann, which constitutes the meaning of this Visit for us now. It is a matter difficult to handle in speech. An English Editor, chary of such topics, will let two witnesses speak, credible both, though not eye-witnesses; and leave it to the reader so. Babbling Pollnitz is the first witness; he deposes, after alluding to the sumptuous dinings and drinkings there:—
"One day the two Kings, after dinner, went in domino to the redoubt [RIDOTTO, what we now call ROUT or evening party]. August had a mind to take an opportunity, and try whether the reports of Friedrich Wilhelm's indifference to the fair sex were correct or not. To this end, he had had a young damsel (JUNGE PERSON) of extraordinary beauty introduced into some side-room; where they now entered. She was lying on a bed, in a loose gauzy undress; and though masked, showed so many charms to the eye that the imagination could not but judge very favorably of the rest. The King of Poland approached, in that gallant way of his, which had gained him such favor with women. He begged her to unmask; she at first affected reluctance, and would not. He then told her who he was; and said, He hoped she would not refuse, when two Kings begged her to show them this complaisance. She thereupon took off her mask, and showed them one of the loveliest faces in the world. August seemed quite enchanted; and said, as if it had been the first time he ever saw her, He could not comprehend how so bewitching a beauty had hitherto remained unknown to him.
"Friedrich Wilhelm could not help looking at her. He said to the King of Poland, 'She is very beautiful, it must be owned;'—but at the same instant turned his eyes away from her; and left the room, and the ridotto altogether without delay; went home, and shut himself in his room. He then sent for Herr von Grumkow, and bitterly complained that the King of Poland wanted to tempt him. Herr von Grumkow, who was neither so chaste nor so conscientious as the King, was for making a jest of the matter; but the King took a very serious tone; and commanded him to tell the King of Poland in his name, 'That he begged him very much not to expose him again to accidents of that nature, unless he wished to have him quit Dresden at once.' Herr von Grumkow did his message. The King of Poland laughed heartily at it; went straight to Friedrich Wilhelm, and excused himself. The King of Prussia, however, kept his grim look; so that August ceased joking, and turned the dialogue on some other subject." [Pollnitz, ii. 256.]
This is Pollnitz's testimony, gathered from the whispers of the Tabagie, or rumors in the Court-circles, and may be taken as indisputable in the main. Wilhelmina, deriving from similar sources, and equally uncertain in details, paints more artistically; nor has she forgotten the sequel for her Brother, which at present is the essential circumstance:—
"One evening, when the rites of Bacchus had been well attended to, the King of Poland led the King [my Father], strolling about, by degrees, into a room very richly ornamented, all the furniture and arrangements of which were in a quite exquisite taste. The King, charmed with what he saw, paused to contemplate the beauties of it a little; when, all on a sudden, a curtain rose, and displayed to him one of the most extraordinary sights. It was a girl in the condition of our First Parents, carelessly lying on a bed. This creature was more beautiful than they paint Venus and the Graces; she presented to view a form of ivory whiter than snow, and more gracefully shaped than the Venus de' Medici at Florence. The cabinet which contained this treasure was lighted by so many wax-candles that their brilliancy dazzled you, and gave a new splendor to the beauties of the goddess.
"The Authors of this fine comedy did not doubt but the object would make an impression on the King's heart; but it was quite otherwise. No sooner had he cast his eyes on the beauty than he whirled round with indignation; and seeing my Brother behind him, he pushed him roughly out of the room, and immediately quitted it himself; very angry at the scene they had been giving him, He spoke of it, that same evening, to Grumkow, in very strong terms; and declared with emphasis that if the like frolics were tried on him again, he would at once quit Dresden.
"With my Brother it was otherwise. In spite of the King's care, he had got a full view of that Cabinet Venus; and the sight of her did not inspire in him so much horror as in his father." [Wilhelmina, i. 112.]—Very likely not!—And in fact, "he obtained her from the King of Poland, in a rather singular way (d'une facon assez singuliere)"—describable, in condensed terms, as follows:—
Wilhelmina says, her poor Brother had been already charmed over head and ears by a gay young baggage of a Countess Orzelska; a very high and airy Countess there; whose history is not to be touched, except upon compulsion, and as if with a pair of tongs,—thrice famous as she once was in this Saxon Court of Beelzebub. She was King August's natural daughter; a French milliner in Warsaw had produced her for him there. In due time, a male of the three hundred and fifty-four, one Rutowski, soldier by profession, whom we shall again hear of, took her for mistress; regardless of natural half-sisterhood, which perhaps he did not know of. The admiring Rutowski, being of a participative turn, introduced her, after a while, to his honored parent and hers; by whom next—Heavens, human language is unequal to the history of such things! And it is in this capacity she now shines supreme in the Saxon Court; ogling poor young Fritz, and driving him distracted;—which phenomenon the Beelzebub Parent-Lover noticed with pain and jealousy, it would appear.
"His Polish Majesty distinguished her extremely," says Pollnitz, [Memoires, ii.261.] "and was continually visiting her; so that the universal inference was"—to the above unspeakable effect. "She was of fine figure; had something grand in her air and carriage, and the prettiest humor in the world. She often appeared in men's clothes, which became her very well. People said she was extremely open-handed;" as indeed the Beelzebub Parent-Lover was of the like quality (when he had cash about him), and to her, at this time, he was profuse beyond limit. Truly a tempting aspect of the Devil, this expensive Orzelska: something beautiful in her, if there are no Laws in this Universe; not so beautiful, if there are! Enough to turn the head of a poor Crown-Prince, if she like, for some time. He is just sixteen gone; one of the prettiest lads and sprightliest; his homage, clearly enough, is not disagreeable to the baggage. Wherefore jealous August, the Beelzebub-Parent, takes his measures; signifies to Fritz, in direct terms, or by discreet diplomatic hints and innuendoes, That he can have the Cabinet Venus (Formera her name, of Opera-singer kind);—hoping thereby that the Orzelska will be left alone in time coming. A "facon assez singuliere" for a Sovereign Majesty and Beelzebub Parent-Lover, thinks Wilhelmina.
Thus has our poor Fritz fallen into the wake of Beelzebub; and is not in a good way. Under such and no better guidance, in this illicit premature manner, he gets his introduction to the paradise of the world. The Formera, beautiful as painted Chaos; yes, her;—and why not, after a while, the Orzelska too, all the same? A wonderful Armida-Garden, sure enough. And cannot one adore the painted divine beauties there (lovely as certain apples of the Dead Sea), for some time?—The miseries all this brought into his existence,—into his relations with a Father very rigorous in principle, and with a Universe still more so,—for years to come, were neither few nor small. And that is the main outcome of the Dresden visitings for him and us.—
Great pledges pass between the two Kings; Prussian Crown-Prince decorated with the Order of the Saxon Eagle, or what supreme distinction they had: Rutowski taken over to Berlin to learn war and drill, where he did not remain long: in fact a certain liking seems to have risen between the two heteroclite individualities, which is perhaps worth remembering as a point in natural history, if not otherwise. One other small result of the visit is of pictorial nature. In the famed Dresden Gallery there is still a Picture, high up, visible if you have glasses, where the Saxon Court-Painter, on Friedrich Wilhelm's bidding it is said, soon after these auspicious occurrences, represents the two Majesties as large as life, in their respective costumes and features (short Potsdam Grenadier-Colonel and tall Saxon Darius or Sardanapalus), in the act of shaking hands; symbolically burying past grudges, and swearing eternal friendship, so to speak. [Forster, i. 226.] To this Editor the Picture did not seem good for much; but Friedrich Wilhelm's Portrait in it, none of the best, may be of use to travelling friends of his who have no other.
The visit ended on the 12th of February, as the Newspapers testify. Long before daybreak, at three in the morning, Friedrich Wilhelm, "who had smoked after dinner till nine the night before," and taken leave of everybody, was on the road; but was astonished to find King August and the Electoral Prince or Heir-Apparent (who had privately sat up for the purpose) insist on conducting him to his carriage. [Boyer, xxxv. 198.] "Great tokens of affection," known to the Newspapers, there were; and one token not yet known, a promise on King August's part that he would return this ever-memorable compliment in person at Potsdam and Berlin in a few months. Remember, then!—
As for the poor Crown-Prince, whom already his Father did not like, he now fell into circumstances more abstruse than ever in that and other respects. Bad health, a dangerous lingering fit of that, soon after his return home, was one of the first consequences. Frequent fits of bad health, for some years coming; with ominous rumors, consultations of physicians, and reports to the paternal Majesty, which produced small comfort in that quarter. The sad truth, dimly indicated, is sufficiently visible: his life for the next four or five years was "extremely dissolute." Poor young man, he has got into a disastrous course; consorts chiefly with debauched young fellows, as Lieutenants Katte, Keith, and others of their stamp, who lead him on ways not pleasant to his Father, nor conformable to the Laws of this Universe. Health, either of body or of mind, is not to be looked for in his present way of life. The bright young soul, with its fine strengths and gifts; wallowing like a young rhinoceros in the mud-bath:—some say, it is wholesome for a human soul; not we!
All this is too certain; rising to its height in the years we are now got to, and not ending for four or five years to come: and the reader can conceive all this, and whether its effects were good or not. Friedrich Wilhelm's old-standing disfavor is converted into open aversion and protest, many times into fits of sorrow, rage and despair, on his luckless Son's behalf;—and it appears doubtful whether this bright young human soul, comparable for the present to a rhinoceros wallowing in the mud-bath, with nothing but its snout visible, and a dirty gurgle all the sound it makes, will ever get out again or not.
The rhinoceros soul got out; but not uninjured; alas, no; bitterly polluted, tragically dimmed of its finest radiances for the remainder of life. The distinguished Sauerteig, in his SPRINGWURZELN, has these words: "To burn away, in mad waste, the divine aromas and plainly celestial elements from our existence; to change our holy-of-holies into a place of riot; to make the soul itself hard, impious, barren! Surely a day is coming, when it will be known again what virtue is in purity and continence of life; how divine is the blush of young human cheeks; how high, beneficent, sternly inexorable if forgotten, is the duty laid, not on women only, but on every creature, in regard to these particulars? Well; if such a day never come again, then I perceive much else will never come. Magnanimity and depth of insight will never come; heroic purity of heart and of eye; noble pious valor, to amend us and the age of bronze and lacquer, how can they ever come? The scandalous bronze-lacquer age, of hungry animalisms, spiritual impotencies and mendacities, will have to run its course, till the Pit swallow it."—
In the case of Friedrich, it is certain such a day never fully came. The "age of bronze and lacquer," so as it then stood,—relieved truly by a backbone of real Spartan IRON (of right battle STEEL when needed): this was all the world he ever got to dream of. His ideal, compared to that of some, was but low; his existence a hard and barren, though a genuine one, and only worth much memory in the absence of better. Enough of all that.
THE PHYSICALLY STRONG PAYS HIS COUNTER-VISIT.
August the Strong paid his Return-visit in May following. Of which sublime transaction, stupendous as it then was to the Journalistic mind, we should now make no mention, except for its connection with those points,—and more especially for a foolish rumor, which now rose about Prince Fred and the Double-Marriage, on occasion of it. The magnificence of this visit and reception being so extreme,—King August, for one item, sailing to it, with sound of trumpet and hautbois, in silken flotillas gayer than Cleopatra's, down the Elbe,—there was a rush towards Berlin of what we will not call the scum, but must call the foam of mankind, rush of the idle moneyed populations from all countries; and such a crowd there, for the three weeks, as was seldom seen. Foam everywhere is stirred up, and encouraged to get under way.
Prince Frederick of Hanover and England, "Duke of Edinburgh" as they now call him, "Duke of Gloucester" no longer, it would seem, nor "Prince of Wales" as yet; he, foamy as another, had thoughts of coming; and rumor of him rose very high in Berlin,—how high we have still singular proof. Here is a myth, generated in the busy Court-Imagination of Berlin at this time; written down by Pollnitz as plain fact afterwards; and from him idly copied into COXE [Coxe's Walpole (London, 1798), i. 520.] and other English Books. We abridge from watery Pollnitz, taking care of any sense he has. This is what ran in certain high-frizzled heads then and there: and was dealt out in whispers to a privileged few, watery Pollnitz's informers among them, till they got a myth made of it. Frederick Duke of Edinburgh, second hope of England at this time, he is the hero.
It appears, this loose young gentleman, standing in no favor with his sovereign Father, had never yet been across to England, the royal Parent preferring rather not to have him in sight; and was living idle at Hanover; very eager to be wedded to Wilhelmina, as one grand and at present grandest resource of his existence. It is now May, 1728; and Frederick Duke of Edinburgh is twenty-one. He writes to his Aunt and intended Mother-in-law, Queen Sophie (date not ascertainable to a day, Note burnt as soon as read): "That he can endure this tantalizing suspense no longer; such endless higgling about a supreme blessedness, virtually agreed upon, may be sport to others, but is death to him. That he will come privately at once, and wed his Wilhelmina; and so make an end; the big-wigs to adjust it afterwards as they can and may." Whereupon Sophie Dorothee, gladdest of women, sends for Dubourgay the British Ambassador (Brigadier Dubourgay, the respectable old gentleman who spells ill, who is strong for the Double-Marriage always), to tell him what fine news there is, and what answer she has sent. Respectable Dubourgay stands silent, with lengthening face: "Your Majesty, how unfortunate that I of all men now hear it! I must instantly despatch a courier with the news to London!" And the respectable man, stoically deaf to her Majesty's entreaties, to all considerations but that of his evident duty, "sends the courier" (thinks Pollnitz);—nips thereby that fine Hanover speculation in the bud, sees Prince Fred at once summoned over to England, and produces several effects. Nearly the whole of which, on examining the Documents, [Dubourgay's Despatches (1728: 29 May, 1 June, 5 October), in the State-Paper Office here.] proves to be myth.
Pollnitz himself adds two circumstances, in regard to it, which are pretty impossible: as, first, that Friedrich Wilhelm had joyfully consented to this clandestine marriage, and was eagerly waiting for it; second, that George II. too had privately favored or even instigated the adventure, being at heart willing to escape the trouble of Messages to Parliament, to put his Son in the wrong, and I know not what. [Pollnitz, ii. 272-274.] The particles of fact in the affair are likewise two: First, that Queen Sophie, and from her the Courtier Public generally, expected the Hanover Royal Highness, who probably had real thoughts of seeing Berlin and his Intended, on this occasion; Dubourgay reports daily rumors of the Royal Highness being actually "seen" there in an evanescent manner; and Wilhelmina says, her Mother was so certain of him, "she took every ass or mule for the Royal Highness,"—heartily indifferent to Wilhelmina. This is the first particle of fact. The Second is, that a subaltern Official about the Royal Highness, one Lamothe of Hanover, who had appeared in Berlin about that time, was thrown into prison not long after, for what misbehavior none knew,—for encouraging dissolute Royal Highness in wild schemes, it was guessed. And so the Myth grew, and was found ready for Pollnitz and his followers. Royal Highness did come over to England; not then as the Myth bears, but nine months afterwards in December next; and found other means of irritating his imperative, flighty, irascible and rather foolish little Father, in an ever-increasing degree. "Very coldly received at Court," it is said: ill seen by Walpole and the Powers; being too likely to become a focus of Opposition there.
The Visit, meanwhile, though there came no Duke of Edinburgh to see it, was sublime in the extreme; Polish Majesty being magnificence itself; and the frugal Friedrich Wilhelm lighting up his dim Court into insurpassable brilliancy, regardless of expense; so that even the Smoking Parliament (where August attended now and then) became luminous. The Crown-Prince, who in late months had languished in a state of miserable health, in a manner ominous to his physicians, confined mostly to his room or his bed, was now happily on foot again;—and Wilhelmina notes one circumstance which much contributed to his recovery: That the fair Orzelska had attended her natural (or unnatural) Parent, on this occasion; and seemed to be, as Wilhelmina thinks, uncommonly kind to the Crown-Prince. The Heir-Apparent of Saxony, a taciturn, inoffensive, rather opaque-looking gentleman, now turned of thirty, and gone over to Papistry long since, with views to be King of Poland by and by, which proved effectual as we shall find, was also here: Count Bruhl, too, still in a very subaltern capacity, and others whom we and the Crown-Prince shall have to know. The Heir-Apparent's Wife (actual Kaiser's Niece, late Kaiser Joseph's Daughter, a severe Austrian lady, haughtier than lovely) has stayed at home in Dresden.
But here, at first hand, is a slight view of that unique Polish Majesty, the Saxon Man of Sin; which the reader may be pleased to accept out of idle curiosity, if for no better reason. We abridge from Wilhelmina; [i. 124.] whom Fassmann, kindled to triple accuracy by this grand business, is at hand to correct where needful: [Des glorwurdigsten Fursten und Herrn, Herrn Friedrich Augusti des Grossen Leben und Helden-Thaten (Of that most glorious Prince and Lord, Lord Friedrich August the Great, King of Poland, &c., the Life and Heroic Deeds), by D. F. (David Fassmann), Frankfurt and Leipzig, 1734; 12mo, pp. 1040. A work written with upturned eyes of prostrate admiration for "DERO MAJESTAT ('Theiro' Majesty) AUGUST THE GREAT;" exact too, but dealing merely with the CLOTHES of the matter, and such a matter: work unreadable, except on compulsion, to the stupidest mortal. The same Fassmann, who was at the Fair of St. Germain, who lodged sometimes with the Potsdam Giant, and whose ways are all fallen dark to us.] "The King of Poland arrived upon us at Berlin on the 29th of May," says Wilhelmina; had been at Potsdam, under Friedrich Wilhelm's care, for three days past: Saturday afternoon, 29th May, 1728; that is with exactitude the ever-memorable date.
He paid his respects in her Majesty's apartment, for an instant, that evening; but made his formal visit next day. Very grand indeed. Carried by two shining parti-colored creatures, heyducs so-called, through double rows of mere peerages and sublimities, in a sublime sedan (being lame of a foot, foot lately amputated of two toes, sore still open): "in a sedan covered with red velvet gallooned with gold," says the devout Fassmann, tremblingly exact, "up the grand staircase along the grand Gallery;" in which supreme region (Apartments of the late King Friedrich of gorgeous memory) her Majesty now is for the occasion. "The Queen received him at the door of her third Antechamber," says Wilhelmina; third or outmost Antechamber, end of that grand Gallery and its peerages and shining creatures: "he gave the Queen his hand, and led her in." We Princesses were there, at least the grown ones of us were. All standing, except the Queen only. "He refused to sit, and again refused;" stoically talked graciosities, disregarding the pain of his foot; and did not, till refusal threatened to become uncivil, comply with her Majesty's entreaties. "How unpolite!" smiled he to us young ones. "He had a majestic port and physiognomy; an affable polite air accompanied all his movements, all his actions." Kind of stereotyped smile on his face; nothing of the inner gloom visible on our Charles II. and similar men of sin. He looked often at Wilhelmina, and was complimentary to a degree,—for reasons undivinable to Wilhelmina. For the rest, "much broken for his age;" the terrible debaucheries (LES DEBAUCHES TERRIBLES) having had their effect on him. He has fallen Widower last year. His poor Wife was a Brandenburg-Baireuth Princess; a devout kind of woman; austerely witnessing the irremediable in her lot. He has got far on with his three hundred and fifty-four; is now going fifty-five;—lame of a foot, as we see, which the great Petit of Paris cannot cure, neither he nor any Surgeon, but can only alleviate by cutting off two toes. Pink of politeness, no doubt of it; but otherwise the strangest dilapidated hulk of a two-legged animal without feathers; probably, in fact, the chief Natural Solecism under the Sun at that epoch;—extremely complimentary to us Princesses, to me especially. "He quitted her Majesty's Apartment after an hour's conversation: she rose to reconduct him, but he would by no manner of means permit that,"—and so vanished, carried off doubtless by the shining creatures again. The "Electoral Prince" Heir-Apparent, next made his visit; but he was a dry subject in comparison, of whom no Princess can say much. Prince Friedrich will know him better by and by.
Young Maurice, "Count of Saxony," famed afterwards as MARECHAL DE SAXE, he also is here with his Half-Sister Orzelska and the others, in the train of the paternal Man of Sin; and makes acquaintance with Friedrich. He is son of the female Konigsmark called Aurora ("who alone of mortals could make Charles Twelfth fly his ground"); nephew, therefore, of the male Konigsmark who was cut down long ago at Hanover, and buried in the fireplace. He resembles his Father in strength, vivacity, above all things in debauchery, and disregard of finance. They married him at the due years to some poor rich woman; but with her he has already ended; with her and with many others. Courland, Adrienne Lecouvreur, Anne Iwanowna with the big cheek:—the reader has perhaps searched out these things for himself from the dull History-Books;—or perhaps it was better for him if he never sought them? Dukedom of Courland, connected with Polish sovereignty, and now about to fall vacant, was one of Count Maurice's grand sallies in the world. Adrienne Lecouvreur, foolish French Actress, lent him all the 30,000 pounds she had gathered by holding the mirror up to Nature and otherwise, to prosecute this Courland business; which proved impossible for him. He was adventurous enough, audacious enough; fought well; but the problem was, To fall in love with the Dowager Anne Iwanowna, Cousin of Czar Peter II.; big brazen Russian woman (such a cheek the Pictures give her, in size and somewhat in expression like a Westphalia ham!), who was Widow of the last active Duke:—and this, with all his adventurous audacity, Count Maurice could not do. The big Widow discovered that he did not like Westphalia hams in that particular form; that he only pretended to like them; upon which, in just indignation, she disowned and dismissed him; and falling herself to be Czarina not long afterwards, and taking Bieren the Courlander for her beloved, she made Bieren Duke, and Courland became impossible for Count Maurice.
However, he too is a dashing young fellow; "circular black eyebrows, eyes glittering bright, partly with animal vivacity, partly with spiritual;" stands six feet in his stockings, breaks horse-shoes with his hands; full of irregular ingenuity and audacity; has been soldiering about, ever since birth almost; and understands many a thing, though the worst SPELLER ever known. With him too young Fritz is much charmed: the flower, he, of the illegitimate three hundred and fifty-four, and probably the chief achievement of the Saxon Man of Sin in this world, where he took such trouble. Friedrich and he maintained some occasional correspondence afterwards; but, to judge by Friedrich's part of it (mere polite congratulations on Fontenoy, and the like), it must have been of the last vacuity; and to us it is now absolute zero, however clearly spelt and printed. [Given altogether in OEuvres de Frederic le Grand, xvii. 300-309. See farther, whoever has curiosity, Preuss, Friedrichs Lebensgeschichte, iii. 167-169; Espagnac, Vie du Comte de Saxe (a good little military Book, done into German, Leipzig, 1774, 2 vols.); Cramer, Denkwurdigkeiten der Grafin Aurora von Konigsmark (Leipzig, 1836); &c. &c.]
The Physically Strong, in some three weeks, after kindling such an effulgence about Berlin as was never seen before or since in Friedrich Wilhelm's reign, went his way again,—"towards Poland for the Diet," or none of us cares whither or for what. Here at Berlin he has been sublime enough. Some of the phenomena surpassed anything Wilhelmina ever saw: such floods and rows of resplendent people crowding in to dinner; and she could not but contrast the splendor of the Polish retinues and their plumages and draperies, with the strait-buttoned Prussian dignitaries, all in mere soldier uniform, succinct "blue coat, white linen gaiters," and no superfluity even in the epaulettes and red facings. At table, she says, they drank much, talked little, and bored one another a great deal (S'ENNUYOIENT BEAUCOUP).
OF PRINCESS WHILHELMINA'S FOUR KINGS AND OTHER INEFFECTUAL SUITORS.
Dilapidated Polish Majesty, we observed, was extremely attentive to Wilhelmina; nor could she ascertain, for long after, what the particular reason was. Long after, Wilhelmina ascertained that there had been the wonderfulest scheme concocting, or as good as concocted, in these swearings of eternal friendship: no other than that of marrying her, Wilhelmina, now a slim maiden coming nineteen, to this dilapidated Saxon Man of Sin going (or limping) fifty-five, and broken by DEBAUCHES TERRIBLES (rivers of champagne and tokay, for one item), who had fallen a Widower last year! They had schemed it all out, Wilhelmina understands: Friedrich Wilhelm to advance such and such moneys as dowry, and others furthermore as loan, for the occasions of his Polish Majesty, which are manifold; Wilhelmina to have The Lausitz (LUSATIA) for jointure, Lausitz to be Friedrich Wilhelm's pledge withal; and other intricate conditions; [Wilhelmina, i. 114.] what would Wilhelmina have thought? One shudders to contemplate;—hopes it might mostly be loose brain-web and courtier speculation, never settled towards fact.
It is certain, the dilapidated Polish Majesty having become a Widower, questions would rise, Will not he marry again? And with whom? Certain also, he wants Friedrich Wilhelm's alliance; having great schemes on the anvil, which are like to be delicate and perilous,—schemes of "partitioning Poland," no less; that is to say, cutting off the outskirts of Poland, flinging them to neighboring Sovereigns as propitiation, or price of good-will, and rendering the rest hereditary in his family. Pragmatic Sanction once acceded to, would probably propitiate the Kaiser? For which, and other reasons, Polish Majesty still keeps that card in his hand. Friedrich Wilhelm's alliance, with such an army and such a treasury, the uses of that are evident to the Polish Majesty.—By the blessing of Heaven, however, his marriage with Wilhelmina never came to anything: his Electoral Prince, Heir-Apparent, objected to the jointures and alienations, softly, steadily; and the project had to drop before Wilhelmina ever knew of it.
And this man is probably one of the "Four Kings" she was to be asked by? A Swedish Officer, with some skill in palmistry, many years ago, looked into her innocent little hand, and prophesied, "She was to be in terms of courtship, engagement or as good as engagement, with Four Kings, and to wed none of them." Wilhelmina counts them in her mature days. The FIRST will surprise everybody,—Charles XII. of Sweden;—who never can have been much of a suitor, the rather as the young Lady was then only six gone; but who, might, like enough, be talked of, by transient third-parties, in those old Stralsund times. The SECOND,—cannot WE guess who the second is? The THIRD is this August the dilapidated Strong. As to the SECOND, Wilhelmina sees already, in credulous moments, that it may be Hanover Fred, whom she will never marry either;—and does not see (nor did, at the time of writing her Memoires, "in 1744" say the Books) that Fred never would come to Kingship, and that the Palmistry was incomplete in that point. The FOURTH, again, is clearly young Czar Peter II.; of whom there was transient talk or project, some short time after this of the dilapidated THIRD. But that too came to nothing; the poor young lad died while only fifteen; nay he had already "fallen in love with his Aunt Elizabeth" (INFAME CATIN DU NORD in time coming), and given up the Prussian prospect. [He was the Great Peter's Grandson (Son having gone a tragical road )]; Czar, May, 1727—January, 1730: Anne Iwanowna (Great Peter's Niece, elder Brother's Daughter), our Courland friend with the big cheek, succeeded; till her death, October, 1740: then, after some slight shock of revolution, the Elizabeth just mentioned, who was Daughter of the Great Peter by his little brown Czarina Catherine whom we once met. See Mannstein, Memoirs of Russia (London, 1770), pp. 1-23, for some account of Peter II.; and the rest of the Volume for a really intelligent History of this Anne, at least of her Wars, where Mannstein himself usually had part.
All which would be nothing, or almost less, to Wilhelmina, walking fancy-free there,—were it not for Papa and Mamma, and the importunate insidious by-standers. Who do make a thing of it, first and last! Never in any romance or stage-play was young Lady, without blame, without furtherance and without hindrance of her own, so tormented about a settlement in life;—passive she, all the while, mere clay in the hands of the potter; and begging the Universe to have the extreme goodness only to leave her alone!—
Thus too, among the train of King August in this Berlin visit, a certain Soldier Official of his, Duke of Sachsen Weissenfels, Johann Adolf by name, a poor Cadet Cousin of the Saxon House,—another elderly Royal Highness of small possibility,—was particularly attentive to Wilhelmina; now and on subsequent occasions. Titular Duke of Weissenfels, Brother of the real Duke, and not even sure of the succession as yet; but living on King August's pay; not without capacity of drink and the like, some allege:—otherwise a mere betitled, betasselled elderly military gentleman, of no special qualities, evil or good;—who will often turn up again in this History; but fails always to make any impression on us except that of a Serene Highness in the abstract; unexceptionable Human Mask, of polite turn, behung with titles, and no doubt a stomach in the inside of it: he now, and afterwards, by all opportunities, diligently continued his attentions in the Wilhelmina quarter. For a good while it was never guessed what he could be driving at; till at last Queen Sophie, becoming aware of it, took him to task; with cold severity, reminded him that some things are on one's level, and some things not. To which humbly bowing, in unfeigned penitence, he retired from the audacity, back foremost: Would never even in dreams have presumed, had not his Prussian Majesty authorized; would now, since HER Prussian Majesty had that feeling, withdraw silently, and live forgotten, as an obscure Royal Highness in the abstract (though fallen Widower lately) ought to do. And so at least there was an end of that matter, one might hope,—though in effect it still abortively started up now and then, on Papa's part, in his frantic humors, for years to come.
Then there is the Margraf of Schwedt, Friedrich Wilhelm by name, chief Prince of the Blood, his Majesty's Cousin, and the Old Dessauer's Nephew; none of the likeliest of men, intrinsically taken: he and his Dowager Mother—the Dessauer's Sister, a high-going, tacitly obstinate old Dowager (who dresses, if I recollect, in flagrant colors)—are very troublesome to Wilhelmina. The flagrant Dame—she might have been "Queen-Mother" once forsooth, had Papa and my Brother but been made away with!—watches her time, and is diligent by all opportunities.
Chapter IV. — DOUBLE-MARRIAGE PROJECT IS NOT DEAD.
And the Double-Marriage, in such circumstances, are we to consider it as dead, then? In the soul of Queen Sophie and those she can influence, it lives flame-bright; but with all others it has fallen into a very dim state. Friedrich Wilhelm is still privately willing, perhaps in a degree wishful; but the delays, the supercilious neglects have much disgusted him; and he, in the mean while, entertains those new speculations. George II., never a lover of the Prussian Majesty's nor loved by him, has been very high and distant ever since his Accession; offensive rather than otherwise. He also is understood to be vaguely willing for the thing; willing enough, would it be so kind as accomplish itself without trouble to him. But the settlements, the applications to Parliament:—and all for this perverse Fred, who has become unlovely, and irritates our royal mind? George pushes the matter into its pigeon-holes again, when brought before him. Higher thoughts occupy the soul of little George. Congress of Soissons, Convention of the Pardo, [Or, in effect, "Treaty of Madrid," 6th March, 1728. This was the PREFACE to Soissons; Termagant at length consenting there, "at her Palace of the Pardo" (Kaiser and all the world urging her for ten months past), to accept the Peace, and leave off besieging Gibraltar to no purpose (Coxe, i. 303).] Treaty of Seville; a part to be acted on the world-theatre, with applauses, with envies, almost from the very demi-gods? Great Kaisers, overshadowing Nature with their Pragmatic Sanctions, their preternatural Diplomacies, and making the Terrestrial Balance reel hither and thither;—Kaisers to be clenched perhaps by one's dexterity of grasp, and the Balance steadied again? Prussian Double-Marriage!
One royal soul there is who never will consent to have the Double-Marriage die: Queen Sophie. She had passed her own private act-of-parliament for it; she was a very obstinate wife, to a husband equally obstinate. "JE BOULEVERSERAI L'EMPIRE," writes she once; "I will overturn the German Empire," if they drive me to it, in this matter. [Letter copied by Dubourgay (in Despatch, marked PRIVATE, to Lord Townshend, 3d-14th May, 1729); no clear address given,—probably to Dubourgay himself, CONVEYED by "a Lady" (one of the Queen's Ladies), as he dimly intimates.] What secret manoeuvring and endeavoring went on unweariedly on royal Sophie's part, we need not say; nor in what bad element, of darkness and mendacity, of eavesdropping, rumoring, backstairs intriguing, the affair now moved. She corresponds on it with Queen Caroline of England; she keeps her two children true to it, especially her Son, the more important of them.
CROWN-PRINCE FRIEDRICH WRITES CERTAIN LETTERS.
Queen Sophie did not overturn the Empire, but she did almost overturn her own and her family's existence, by these courses; which were not wise in her case. It is certain she persuaded Crown-Prince Friedrich, who was always his Mother's boy, and who perhaps needed little bidding in this instance, "to write to Queen Caroline of England;" Letters one or several: thrice-dangerous Letters; setting forth (in substance), His deathless affection to that Beauty of the world, her Majesty's divine Daughter the Princess Amelia (a very paragon of young women, to judge by her picture and one's own imagination); and likewise the firm resolution he, Friedrich Crown-Prince, has formed, and the vow he hereby makes, Either to wed that celestial creature when permitted, or else never any of the Daughters of Eve in this world. Congresses of Soissons, Smoking Parliaments, Preliminaries of the Pardo and Treaties of Seville may go how they can. If well, it shall be well: if not well, here is my vow, solemn promise and unchangeable determination, which your gracious Majesty is humbly entreated to lay up in the tablets of your royal heart, and to remember on my behalf, should bad days arise!—
It is clear such Letters were sent; at what date first beginning, we do not know;—possibly before this date? Nor would matters rise to the vowing pitch all at once. One Letter, supremely dangerous should it come to be known, Wilhelmina has copied for us, [Wilhelmina, i. 183.]—in Official style (for it is the Mother's composition this one) and without date to it:—the guessable date is about two years hence; and we will give the poor Document farther on, if there be place for it.
Such particulars are yet deeply unknown to Friedrich Wilhelm; but he surmises the general drift of things in that quarter; and how a disobedient Son, crossing his Father's will in every point, abets his Mother's disobedience, itself audacious enough, in regard to this one. It is a fearful aggravation of Friedrich Wilhelm's ill-humor with such a Son, which has long been upon the growing hand. His dislikes, we know, were otherwise neither few nor small. Mere "disLIKES" properly so called, or dissimilarities to Friedrich Wilhelm, a good many of them; dissimilarities also to a Higher Pattern, some! But these troubles of the Double-Marriage will now hurry them, the just and the unjust of them, towards the flaming pitch. The poor youth has a bad time; and the poor Father too, whose humor we know! Surly gusts of indignation, not unfrequently cuffs and strokes; or still worse, a settled aversion, and rage of the chronic kind; studied neglect and contempt,—so as not even to help him at table, but leave him fasting while the others eat; [Dubourgay, SCAPIUS.] this the young man has to bear. The innumerable maltreatments, authentically chronicled in Wilhelmina's and the other Books, though in a dateless, unintelligible manner, would make a tragic sum!—Here are two Billets, copied from the Prussian State-Archives, which will show us to what height matters had gone, in this the young man's seventeenth year.
TO HIS MAJESTY (from the Crown-Prince).
"WUSTERHAUSEN, 11th September, 1728.
MY DEAR PAPA,—I have not, for a long while, presumed to come to my dear Papa; partly because he forbade me; but chiefly because I had reason to expect a still worse reception than usual: and, for fear of angering my dear Papa by my present request, I have preferred making it in writing to him.
I therefore beg my dear Papa to be gracious to me; and can here say that, after long reflection, my conscience has not accused me of any the least thing with which I could reproach myself. But if I have, against my will and knowledge, done anything that has angered my dear Papa, I herewith most submissively beg forgiveness; and hope my dear Papa will lay aside that cruel hatred which I cannot but notice in all his treatment of me. I could not otherwise suit myself to it; as I always thought I had a gracious Papa, and now have to see the contrary. I take confidence, then, and hope that my dear Papa will consider all this, and again be gracious to me. And, in the mean while, I assure him that I will never, all my days, fail with my will; and, notwithstanding his disfavor to me, remain
"My dear Papa's
"Most faithful and obedient Servant and Son,
To which Friedrich Wilhelm, by return of messenger, writes what follows. Very implacable, we may perceive;—not calling his Petitioner "Thou," as kind Paternity might have dictated; infinitely less by the polite title "They (SIE)," which latter indeed, the distinguished title of "SIC," his Prussian Majesty, we can remark, reserves for Foreigners of the supremest quality, and domestic Princes of the Blood; naming all other Prussian subjects, and poor Fritz in this place, "He (ER)," in the style of a gentleman to his valet,—which style even a valet of these new days of ours would be unwilling to put up with. "ER, He," "His" and the other derivatives sound loftily repulsive in the German ear; and lay open impassable gulfs between the Speaker and the Spoken-to. "His obstinate"—But we must, after all, say THY and THOU for intelligibility's sake:—
"Thy obstinate perverse disposition [KOPF, head], which does not love thy Father,—for when one does everything [everything commanded] and really loves one's Father, one does what the Father requires, not while he is there to see it, but when his back is turned too [His Majesty's style is very abstruse, ill-spelt, intricate, and in this instance trips itself, and falls on its face here, a mere intricate nominative without a verb!]—For the rest, thou know'st very well that I can endure no effeminate fellow (EFEMINIRTEN KERL), who has no human inclination in him; who puts himself to shame, cannot ride nor shoot; and withal is dirty in his person; frizzles his hair like a fool, and does not cut it off. And all this I have, a thousand times, reprimanded; but all in vain, and no improvement in nothing (KEINE BESSERUNG IN NITS IST). For the rest, haughty, proud as a churl; speaks to nobody but some few, and is not popular and affable; and cuts grimaces with his face, as if he were a fool; and does my will in nothing unless held to it by force; nothing out of love;—and has pleasure in nothing but following his own whims [own KOPF],—no use to him in anything else. This is the answer.
[Preuss, i. 27; from Cramer, pp. 33, 34.]
DOUBLE-MARRIAGE PROJECT RE-EMERGES IN AN OFFICIAL SHAPE.
These are not favorable outlooks for the Double-Marriage. Nevertheless it comes and goes; and within three weeks later, we are touched almost with a kind of pity to see it definitely emerging in a kind of Official state once more. For the question is symbolical of important political questions. The question means withal, What is to be done in these dreadful Congress-of-Soissons complexities, and mad reelings of the Terrestrial Balance? Shall we hold by a dubious and rather losing Kaiser of this kind, in spite of his dubieties, his highly inexplicit, procedures (for which he may have reasons) about the Promise of Julich and Berg? Or shall we not clutch at England, after all,—and perhaps bring him to terms? The Smoking Parliament had no Hansard; but, we guess its Debates (mostly done in dumb-show) were cloudy, abstruse and abundant, at this time! The Prussian Ministers, if they had any power, take different sides; old Ilgen, the oldest and ablest of them, is strong for England.
Enough, in the beginning of October, Queen Sophie, "by express desire of his Majesty," who will have explicit, Yes or No on that matter, writes to England, a Letter "PRIVATE AND OFFICIAL," of such purport,—Letter (now invisible) which Dubourgay is proud to transmit. [Despatch, 5th October, 1728, in State-Paper Office.] Dubourgay is proud; and old Ilgen, her Majesty informed me on the morrow, "wept for joy," so zealous was he on that side. Poor old gentleman,—respectable rusty old Iron Safe with seven locks, which nobody would now care to pick,—he died few weeks after, at his post as was proper; and saw no Double-Marriage, after all. But Dubourgay shakes out his feathers; the Double-Marriage being again evidently alive.
For England answers, cordially enough, if not, with all the hurry Friedrich Wilhelm wanted, "Yea, we are willing for the thing;"—and meets, with great equanimity and liberality, the new whims, difficulties and misgivings, which arose on Friedrich Wilhelm's part, at a wearisome rate, as the negotiation went on; and which are always frankly smoothed away again by the cooler party. Why did not the bargain close, then? Alas, one finds, the answer YEA had unfortunately set his Prussian Majesty on viewing, through magnifiers, what advantages there might have been in NO: this is a difficulty there is no clearing away! Probably, too, the Tobacco-Parliament was industrious. Friedrich Wilhelm, at last, tries if Half will not do; anxious, as we all too much are, "to say Yes AND No;" being in great straits, poor man:—"Your Prince of Wales to wed Wilhelmina at once; the other Match to stand over?" To which the English Government answers always briefly, "No; both the Marriages or none!"—Will the reader consent to a few compressed glances into the extinct Dubourgay Correspondence; much compressed, and here and there a rushlight stuck in it, for his behoof. Dubourgay, at Berlin, writes; my Lord Townshend, in St. James's reads, usually rather languid in answering:—
BERLIN, 9th NOVEMBER, 1728. "Prussian Majesty much pleased with English Answers" to the Yes-or-No question: "will send a Minister to our Court about the time his Britannic Majesty may think of coming over to his German Dominions. Would Finkenstein (Head Tutor), or would Knyphausen (distinguished Official here), be the agreeable man?" "Either," answer the English; "either is good."
BERLIN, SAME DATE. "Queen sent for me just now; is highly content with the state of things. 'I have now,' said her Majesty, 'the pleasure to tell you that I am free, God be blessed, of all the anguish I have labored under for some time past, which was so great that I have several times been on the point of sending for you to procure my Brother's protection for my Son, who, I thought, ran the greatest danger from the artifices of Seckendorf and'"—Poor Queen!
NOV, 16th. "Queen told me: When the Court was at Wusterhausen," two months ago, hunting partridges and wild swine, [Fassmann, p. 386.] "Seckendorf and Grumkow intrigued for a match between Wilhelmina and the Prince of Weissenfels," elderly Royal Highness in the Abstract, whom we saw already, "thereby to prevent a closer union between the Prussian and English Courts,—and Grumkow having withal the private view of ousting his antagonist the Prince of Anhalt [Old Dessauer, whom he had to meet in duel, but did not fight], as Weissenfels, once Son-in-law, would certainly be made Commander-in-Chief," [Dubourgay, in State-Paper Office (Prussian Despatches, vol. XXXV.)] to the extrusion of Anhalt from that office. Which notable piece of policy her Majesty, by a little plain speech, took her opportunity of putting an end to, as we saw. For the rest, "the Dutch Minister and also the French Secretaries here," greatly interested about the peace of Europe, and the Congress of Soissons in these weeks, "have had a communication from this Court, of the favorable disposition ours is in with respect to the Double Match,"—beneficent for the Terrestrial Balance, as they and I hope. So that things look well? Alas,—
DECEMBER 25th. "Queen sent for me yesterday: Hopes she does no wrong in complaining of her Husband to her Brother. King shows scruples about the Marriages; does not relish the expense of an establishment for the Prince; hopes, at all events, the Marriage will not take place for a year yet;—would like to know what Dowry the English Princess is to bring?"—"No Dowry with our Princess," the English answer; "nor shall you give any with yours."
NEW-YEAR'S DAY, 1729. "Queen sent for me: King is getting intractable about the Marriages; she reasoned with him from two o'clock till eight," without the least permanent effect. "It is his covetousness," I Dubourgay privately think!—Knyphausen, who knows the King well, privately tells me, "He will come round." "It is his avarice," thinks Knyphausen too; "nay it is also his jealousy of the Prince, who is very popular with the Army. King does everything to mortify him, uses him like a child; Crown-Prince bears it with admirable patience." This is Knyphausen's weak notion; rather a weak creaky official gentleman, I should gather, of a cryptosplenetic turn. "Queen told me some days later, His Majesty ill-used the Crown-Prince, because he did not drink hard enough; makes him hunt though ill;" is very hard upon the poor Crown-Prince,—who, for the rest, "sends loving messages to England," as usual; [Dubourgay, 16th January.] covertly meaning the Princess Amelia, as usual. "Some while ago, I must inform your Lordship, the Prince was spoken to," by Papa as would appear, "to sound his inclination as to the Princess Caroline," Princess likewise of England, and whose age, some eighteen months less than his own, might be suitabler, the Princess Amelia being half a year his elder; [Caroline born 10th June 1713; Amelia, 10th July, 1711.] "but,"—mark how true he stood,—"his Royal Highness broke out into such raptures of love and passion for the Princess Amelia, and showed so much impatience for the conclusion of that Match, as gave the King of Prussia a great deal of surprise, and the Queen as much satisfaction." Truth is, if an old Brigadier Diplomatist may be judge, "The great and good qualities of that young Prince, both of person and mind, deserve a distinct and particular account, with which I shall trouble your Lordship another day;" [Despatch, 25th December, 1728.]—which unluckily I never did; his Lordship Townshend having, it would seem, too little curiosity on the subject.
And so the matter wavers; and in spite of Dubourgay's and Queen Sophie's industry, and the Crown-Prince's willing mind, there can nothing definite be made of it at this time. Friedrich Wilhelm goes on visits, goes on huntings; leaves the matter to itself to mature a little. Thus the negotiation hangs fire; and will do so,—till dreadful waterspouts come, and perhaps quench it altogether?
HIS MAJESTY SLAUGHTERS 3,602 HEAD OF WILD SWINE.
His Majesty is off for a Hunting Visit to the Old Dessauer,—Crown-Prince with him, who hates hunting. Then, "19th January, 1729," says the reverential Fassmann, he is off for a grand hunt at Copenick; then for a grander in Pommern (Crown-Prince still with him): such a slaughter of wild swine as was seldom heard of, and as never occurred again. No fewer than "1,882 head (STUCK) of wild swine, 300 of them of uncommon magnitude," in the Stettin and other Pommern regions; "together with 1,720 STUCK in the Mark Brandenburg, once 450 in a day: in all, 3,602 STUCK." Never was his Majesty in better spirits: a very Nimrod or hunting Centaur; trampling the cobwebs of Diplomacy, and the cares of life, under his victorious hoofs. All this slaughter of swine, 3,602 STUCK by tale, was done in the season 1729. "From which," observes the adoring Fassmann, [p. 387.] "is to be inferred the importance," at least in wild swine, "of those royal Forests in Pommern and the Mark;" not to speak of his Majesty's supreme talent in hunting, as in other things.
What Friedrich Wilhelm did with such a mass of wild pork? Not an ounce of it was wasted, every ounce of it brought money in. For there exist Official Schedules, lists as for a window-tax or property-tax, drawn up by his Majesty's contrivance, in the chief Localities: every man, according to the house he keeps, is bound to take, at a just value by weight, such and such quotities of suddenly slaughtered wild swine, one or so many,—and consume them at his leisure, as ham or otherwise,—cash payable at a fixed term, and no abatement made. [Forster, Beneckendorf (if they had an Index I).] For this is a King that cannot stand waste at all; thrifty himself, and the Cause of thrift.
FALLS ILL, IN CONSEQUENCE; AND THE DOUBLE-MARRIAGE CANNOT GET FORWARD.
This was one of Friedrich Wilhelm's grandest hunting-bouts, this of January, 1729; at all events, he will never have another such. By such fierce riding, and defiance of the winter elements and rules of regimen, his Majesty returned to Potsdam with ill symptoms of health;—symptoms never seen before; except transiently, three years ago, after a similar bout; when the Doctors, shaking their heads, had mentioned the word "Gout."—"NARREN-POSSEN!" Friedrich Wilhelm had answered, "Gout?"—But now, February, 1729, it is gout in very deed. His poor Majesty has to admit: "I am gouty, then! Shall have gout for companion henceforth. I am breaking up, then?" Which is a terrible message to a man. His Majesty's age is not forty-one till August coming; but he has hunted furiously.
Adoring Fassmann gives a quite touching account of Friedrich Wilhelm's performances under gout, now and generally, which were begun on this occasion. How he suffered extremely, yet never neglected his royal duties in any press of pain. Could seldom get any sleep till towards four or five in the morning, and then had to be content with an hour or two; after which his Official Secretaries came in with their Papers, and he signed, despatched, resolved, with best judgment,—the top of the morning always devoted to business. At noon, up if possible; and dines, "in dressing-gown, with Queen and children." After dinner, commonly to bed again; and would paint in oil; sometimes do light joiner-work, chiselling and inlaying; by and by lie inactive with select friends sitting round, some of whom had the right of entry, others not, under penalties. Buddenbrock, Derschau, rough old Marlborough stagers, were generally there; these, "and two other persons,"—Grumkow and Seckendorf, whom Fassmann does not name, lest he get into trouble,—"sat, well within earshot, round the bed. And always at the head was TheirO Majesty the Queen, sometimes with the King's hand laid in hers, and his face turned up to her, as if he sought assuagement"—O my dim old Friend, let us dry our tears!
"Sometimes the Crown-Prince read aloud in some French Book," Title not given; Crown-Prince's voice known to me as very fine. Generally the Princess Louisa was in the room, too; Louisa, who became of Anspach shortly; not Wilhelmina, who lies in fever and relapse and small-pox, and close at death's door, almost since the beginning of these bad days. The Crown-Prince reads, we say, with a voice of melodious clearness, in French more or less instructive. "At other times there went on discourse, about public matters, foreign news, things in general; discourse of a cheerful or of a serious nature," always with some substance of sense in it,—"and not the least smut permitted, as is too much the case in certain higher circles!" says adoring Fassmann; who privately knows of "Courts" (perhaps the GLORWURDIGSTE, Glory-worthiest, August the Great's Court, for one?) "with their hired Tom-Fools," not yet an extinct species attempting to ground wit on that bad basis. Prussian Majesty could not endure any "ZOTEN:" profanity and indecency, both avaunt. "He had to hold out in this way, awake till ten o'clock, for the chance of night's sleep." Earlier in the afternoon, we said, he perhaps does a little in oil-painting, having learnt something of that art in young times;—there is a poor artist in attendance, to mix the colors, and do the first sketch of the thing. Specimens of such Pictures still exist, Portraits generally; all with this epigraph, FREDERICUS WILHELMUS IN TORMENTIS PINXIT (Painted by Friedrich Wilhelm in his torments); and are worthy the attention of the curious. [Fassmann, p. 392; see Forster, &c.] Is not this a sublime patient?
Fassmann admits, "there might be spurts of IMpatience now and then; but how richly did Majesty make it good again after reflection! He was also subject to whims even about people whom he otherwise esteemed. One meritorious gentleman, who shall be nameless, much thought of by the King, his Majesty's nerves could not endure, though his mind well did: 'Makes my gout worse to see him drilling in the esplanade there; let another do it!'—and vouchsafed an apologetic assurance to the meritorious gentleman afflicted in consequence."—O my dim old Friend, these surely are sublimities of the sick-bed? "So it lasted for some five weeks long," well on towards the summer of this bad year 1729. Wilhelmina says, in briefer business language, and looking only at the wrong side of the tapestry, "It was a Hell-on-Earth to us, Les peines du Purgatoire ne pouvaient egaler celles que NOUS endurions;" [i. 157.] and supports the statement by abundant examples, during those flamy weeks.
For, in the interim, withal, the English negotiation is as good as gone out; nay there are waterspouts brewing aloft yonder, enough to wash negotiation from the world. Of which terrible weather-phenomena we shall have to speak by and by: but must first, by way of commentary, give a glance at Soissons and the Terrestrial LIBRA, so far as necessary for human objects,—not far, by any means.
Chapter V. — CONGRESS OF SOISSONS, SIXTH CRISIS IN THE SPECTRE-HUNT.
The so-called Spanish War, and dangerous futile Siege of Gibraltar, had not ended at the death of George I.; though measures had already been agreed upon, by the Kaiser and parties interested, to end it,—only the King of Spain (or King's Wife, we should say) made difficulties. Difficulties, she; and kept firing, without effect, at the Fortress for about a year more; after which, her humor or her powder being out, Spanish Majesty signed like the others. Peace again for all and sundry of us: "Preliminaries" of Peace signed at Paris, 31st May, 1727, three weeks before George's death; "Peace" itself finally at the Pardo or at Madrid, the Termagant having spent her powder, 6th March, 1728; [Scholl, ii. 212, 213.] and a "Congress" (bless the mark!) to settle on what terms in every point.
Congress, say at Aix-la-Chapelle; say at Cambrai again,—for there are difficulties about the place. Or say finally at Soissons; where Fleury wished it to be, that he might get the reins of it better in hand; and where it finally was,—and where the ghost or name of it yet is, an empty enigma in the memories of some men. Congress of Soissons did meet, 14th June, 1728; opened itself, as a Corporeal Entity in this world; sat for above a year;—and did nothing; Fleury quite declining the Pragmatic Sanction, though the anxious Kaiser was ready to make astonishing sacrifices, give up his Ostend COMPANY (Paper Shadow of a Company), or what you will of that kind,—if men would have conformed.
These Diplomatic gentlemen,—say, are they aught? They seem to understand me, by each at once his choppy finger laying on his skinny lips! Princes of the Powers of the Air, Shall we define them? It is certain the solid Earth or her facts, except being held in perpetual terror by such workings of the Shadow-world, reaped no effect from those Twenty Years of Congressing; Seckendorf himself might as well have lain in bed, as ridden those 25,000 miles, and done such quantities of double-distillations. No effect at all: only some futile gunpowder spent on Gibraltar, and splinters of shot and shells (salable as old iron) found about the rocks there; which is not much of an effect for Twenty Years of such industry.
The sublime Congress of Soissons met, as we say, at the above date (just while the Polish Majesty was closing his Berlin Visit); but found itself no abler for work than that of Cambrai had been. The Deputies from France I do not mention; nor from Spain, nor from Austria. The Deputies from England were Colonel or now properly Brigadier-General Stanhope, afterwards Lord Harrington; Horace Walpole (who is Robert's Brother, and whose Secretary is Sir Thomas Robinson, "QUOI DONE, CRUSOE?" whom we shall hear of farther); and Stephen Poyntz, a once bright gentleman, now dim and obsolete, whom the readers of Coxe's Walpole have some nominal acquaintance with. Here, for Chronology's sake, is a clipping from the old English newspapers to accompany them: "There is rumor that POLLY PEACHUM is gone to attend the Congress at Soissons; where, it is thought, she will make as good a figure, and do her country as much service, as several others that shall be nameless." [Mist's Weekly Journal, 29th June, 1728.]
Their task seemed easy to the sanguine mind. The Kaiser has agreed with Spain in the Italian-Apanage matter; with the Sea-Powers in regard to his Ostend Company, which is abolished forever: what then is to prevent a speedy progress, and glad conclusion? The Pragmatic Sanction. "Accept my Pragmatic Sanction," said the Kaiser, "let that be the preliminary of all things."—"Not the preliminary," answered Fleury; "we will see to that as we go on; not the preliminary, by any means!" There was the rub. The sly old Cardinal had his private treaties with Sardinia; views of his own in the Mediterranean, in the Rhine quarter; and answered steadily, "Not the preliminary, by any means!" The Kaiser was equally inflexible. Whereupon immensities of protocolling, arguing, and the Congress "fell into complete languor," say the Histories. [Scholl, ii. 215.] Congress ate its dinner heartily, and wrote immensely, for the space of eighteen months; but advanced no hair's-breadth any-whither; no prospect before it, but that of dinner only, for unlimited periods.
Kaiser will have his Pragmatic Sanction, or not budge from the place; stands mulelike amid the rain of cudgellings from the by-standers; can be beaten to death, but stir he will not.—Hints, glances of the eye, pass between Elizabeth Farnese and the other by-standers; suddenly, 9th November, 1729, it is found they have all made a "TREATY OF SEVILLE" with Elizabeth Farnese; France, England, Holland, Spain, have all closed,—Italian Apanages to be at once secured, Ostend to be at once suppressed, with what else behooves;—and the Kaiser is left alone; standing upon his Pragmatic Sanction there, nobody bidding him now budge!
At which the Kaiser is naturally thrice and four times wroth and alarmed;—and Seckendorf in the TABAKS-COLLEGIUM had need to be doubly busy. As we shall find he is (though without effect), when the time comes round:—but we have not yet got to November of this Year 1729; there are still six or eight important months between us and that. Important months; and a Prussian-English "Waterspout," as we have named it, to be seen, with due wonder, in the political sky!—
Congress of Soissons, now fallen mythical to mankind, and as inane as that of Cambrai, is perhaps still memorable in one or two slight points. First, it has in it, as one of the Austrian Deputies, that Baron von Bentenrieder, tallest of living Diplomatists, who was pressed at one time for a Prussian soldier;—readers recollect it? Walking through the streets of Halberstadt, to stretch his long limbs till his carriage came up, the Prussian sentries laid hold of him, "Excellent Potsdam giant, this one!"—and haled him off to their guard-house; till carriage and lackeys came; then, "Thousand humblest pardons, your Excellenz!" who forgave the fellows. Barely possible some lighter readers might wish to see, for one moment, an Excellenz that has been seized by a Press-gang? Which perhaps never happened to any other Excellenz;—the like of which, I have been told, might merit him a soiree from strong-minded women, in some remoter parts of the world. Not to say that he is the tallest of living Diplomatists; another unique circumstance!—Bentenrieder soon died; and had his place at Soissons filled up by an Excellenz of the ordinary height, who had never been pressed. But nothing can rob the Congress of this fact, that it once had Bentenrieder for member; and, so far, is entitled to the pluperfect distinction in one particular.
Another point is humanly interesting in this Congress; but cannot fully be investigated for want of dates. Always, we perceive, according to the news of it that reach Berlin,—of England going right for the Kaiser or going wrong for him,—his Prussian Majesty's treatment of his children varies. If England go right for the Kaiser, well, and his Majesty is in good-humor with Queen, with Crown-Prince and Wilhelmina. If England go wrong for the Kaiser, dark clouds gather on the royal brow, in the royal heart; explode in thunder-storms; and at length crockery goes flying through the rooms, blows descend on the poor Prince's back; and her Majesty is in tears, mere Chaos come again. For as a general rule, unless the English Negotiation have some prospering fit, and produce exceptional phenomena, Friedrich Wilhelm, ever loyal in heart, stands steadfast by his Kaiser; ever ready "to strike out (LOS ZU SCHLAGEN," as he calls it) with his best strength in behalf of a cause which, good soul, he thinks is essentially German;—all the readier if at any time it seem now exclusively German, the French, Spanish, English, and other unlovely Foreign world being clean cut loose from it, or even standing ranked against it. "When will it go off, then (WANN GEHT ES LOS)?" asks Friedrich Wilhelm often; diligently drilling his sixty thousand, and snorting contempt on "Ungermanism (UNDEUTSCHHEIT)," be it on the part of friends or of enemies. Good soul, and whether he will ever get Julich and Berg out of it, is distractingly problematical, and the Tobacco-Parliament is busy with him!
Curious to see, so far as dates go, how Friedrich Wilhelm changes his tune to Wife and Children in exact correspondence to the notes given out at Soissons for a Kaiser and his Pragmatic Sanction. Poor Prussian Household, poor back, and heart, of Crown-Prince; what a concert it is in this world, Smoking Parliament for souffleur! Let the big Diplomatist Bassoon of the Universe go this way, there are caresses for a young Soldier and his behavior in the giant regiment; let the same Bassoon sound that way, bangs and knocks descend on him; the two keep time together,—so busy is the Smoking Parliament with his Majesty of Prussia. The world has seen, with horror and wonder, Friedrich Wilhelm's beating of his grown children: but the pair of MEERKATZEN, or enchanted Demon-Apes, disguised as loyal Councillors, riding along with him the length of a Terrestrial Equator, have not been so familiar to the world. Seckendorf, Grumkow: we had often heard of Devil-Diplomatists; and shuddered over horrible pictures of them in Novels; hoping it was all fancy: but here actually is a pair of them, transcending all Novels;—perhaps the highest cognizable fact to be met with in Devil-Diplomacy. And it may be a kind of comfort to readers, both to know it, and to discern gradually what the just gods make of it withal. Devil-Diplomatists do exist, at least have existed, never doubt it farther; and their astonishingly dexterous mendacities and enchanted spider-webs,—CAN these go any road but one in this Universe?
That the Congress of Cambrai was not a myth, we convinced ourselves by a letter of Voltaire's, who actually saw it dining there in the Year 1722, as he passed that way. Here, for Soissons, in like manner, are two Letters, by a less celebrated but a still known English hand; which, as utterances in presence of the fact itself, leave no doubt on the subject. These the afflicted reader will perhaps consent to take a glance of. If the Congress of Soissons, for the sake of memorable objects concerned there, is still to be remembered, and believed in, for a little while,—the question arises, How to do it, then?
The writer of these Letters is a serious, rather long-nosed young English gentleman, not without intelligence, and of a wholesome and honest nature; who became Lord Lyttelton, FIRST of those Lords, called also "the Good Lord," father of "the Bad:" a lineal descendant of that Lyttelton UPON whom Coke sits, or seems to sit, till the end of things: author by and by of a History of Henry the Second and other well-meant books: a man of real worth, who attained to some note in the world. He is now upon the Grand Tour,—which ran, at that time, by Luneville and Lorraine, as would appear; at which point we shall first take him up. He writes to his Father, Sir Thomas, at Hagley among the pleasant Hills of Worcestershire,—date shortly after the assembling of that Congress to rear of him;—and we strive to add a minimum of commentary. The "piece of negligence," the "Mr. D.,"—none of mortals now knows who or what they were:—
TO SIR THOMAS LYTTELTON, BART., AT HAGLEY.
"LUNEVILLE 21st July" 1728.
"DEAR SIR,—I thank you for so kindly forgiving the piece of negligence I acquainted you of in my last. Young fellows are often guilty of voluntary forgetfulness in those affairs; but I assure you mine was quite accidental:"—Never mind it, my Son!
"Mr. D. tells you true that I am weary of losing money at cards; but it is no less certain that without them I shall soon be weary of Lorraine. The spirit of quadrille [obsolete game at cards] has possessed the land from morning till midnight; there is nothing else in every house in Town.
"This Court is fond of strangers, but with a proviso that strangers love quadrille. Would you win the hearts of the Maids of Honor, you must lose your money at quadrille; would you be thought a well-bred man, you must play genteelly at quadrille; would you get a reputation of good sense, show judgment at quadrille. However in summer one may pass a day without quadrille; because there are agreeable promenades, and little parties out of doors. But in winter you are reduced to play at it, or sleep, like a fly, till the return of spring.
"Indeed in the morning the Duke hunts,"—mark that Duke, and two Sons he has. "But my malicious stars have so contrived it, that I am no more a sportsman than a gamester. There are no men of learning in the whole Country; on the contrary, it is a character they despise. A man of quality caught me, the other day, reading a Latin Author; and asked me, with an air of contempt, Whether I was designed for the Church? All this would be tolerable if I was not doomed to converse with a set of English, who are still more ignorant than the French; and from whom, with my utmost endeavors, I cannot be absent six hours in the day. Lord" BLANK—Baltimore, or Heaven-knows-who,—"is the only one among them who has common sense; and he is so scandalously debauched, in his principles as well as practice, that his conversation is equally shocking to my morals and my reason."—Could not one contrive to get away from them; to Soissons, for example, to see business going on; and the Terrestrial Balance settling itself a little?
"My only improvement here is in the company of the Duke," who is a truly distinguished Duke to his bad Country; "and in the exercise of the Academy,"—of Horsemanship, or what? "I have been absent from the latter near three weeks, by reason of a sprain I got in the sinews of my leg. My duty to my dear Mother; I hope you and she continue well. I am, Sir, your dutiful Son.—G. L." [The Works of Lord George Lyttelton, by Ayscough (London, 1776), iii. 215.]
These poor Lorrainers are in a bad way; their Country all trampled to pieces by France, in the Louis-Fourteenth and still earlier times. Indeed, ever since the futile Siege of Metz; where we saw the great Kaiser, Karl V., silently weeping because he could not recapture Metz, [Antea, vol. v. p. 211.] the French have been busy with this poor Country;—new sections of it clipt away by them; "military roads through it, ten miles broad," bargained for; its Dukes oftenest in exile, especially the Father of this present Duke: [A famed Soldier in his day;] under Kaiser Leopold, "the little Kaiser in red stockings," one of whose Daughters he had to wife. He was at the Rescue of Vienna (Sobieski's), and in how many far fiercer services; his life was but a battle and a march. Here is his famed Letter to the Kaiser, when death suddenly called, Halt!
"WELS NEAR LINZ ON THE DONAU, 17th April, 1690.
"SACRED MAJESTY,—According to your Orders, I set out from Innspruck to come to Vienna; but I am stopped here by a Greater Master. I go to render account to Him of a life which I had wholly consecrated to you. Remember that I leave a Wife with whom you are concerned [QUI ROUS TOUCHE,—who is your lawful Daughter]; Children to whom I can bequeath nothing but my sword; and Subjects who are under Oppression.
"CHARLES OF LORRAINE."
(Henault, Abrege Chronologique, Paris, 1775, p. 850).[—Charles "V." the French uniformly call this one; Charles "IV." the Germans, who, I conclude, know better.]—and they are now waiting a good opportunity to swallow it whole, while the people are so busy with quadrille parties. The present Duke, returning from exile, found his Land in desolation, much of it "running fast to wild forest again;" and he has signalized himself by unwearied efforts in every direction to put new life into it, which have been rather successful. Lyttelton, we perceive, finds improvement in his company. The name of this brave Duke is Leopold; age now forty-nine; life and reign not far from done: a man about whom even Voltaire gets into enthusiasm. [Siecle de Louis XIV. (OEuvres, xxvi. 95-97); Hubner, t. 281.]
The Court and Country of Lorraine, under Duke Leopold, will prove to deserve this brief glance from Lyttelton and us. Two sons Duke Leopold has: the elder, Franz, now about twenty, is at Vienna, with the highest outlooks there: Kaiser Karl is his Father's cousin-german; and Kaiser Karl's young Daughter, high beautiful Maria Theresa,—the sublimest maiden now extant,—yes, this lucky Franz is to have her: what a prize, even without Pragmatic Sanction! With the younger son, Karl of Lorraine, Lyttelton may have made acquaintance, if he cared: a lad of sixteen; by and by an Austrian General, as his father had been; General much noised of,—whom we shall often see beaten, in this world, at the head of men.—But let us now get to Soissons itself, skipping an intermediate Letter or two:—
TO SIR THOMAS LYTTELTON, BART., AT HAGLEY.
"SOISSONS, 28th October," 1728.
"I thank you, my dear Sir, for complying so much with my inclinations as to let me stay some time at Soissons: but as you have not fixed how long, I wait for farther orders.
"One of my chief reasons for disliking Luneville was the multitude of English there; who, most of them, were such worthless fellows that they were a dishonor to the name and Nation. With these I was obliged to dine and sup, and pass a great part of my time. You may be sure I avoided it as much as possible; but MALGRE MOI I suffered a great deal. To prevent any comfort from other people, they had made a law among themselves, not to admit any foreigner into their company: so that there was nothing but English talked from June to January.—On the contrary, my countrymen at Soissons are men of virtue and good sense; they mix perpetually with the French, and converse for the most part in that language. I will trouble you no more upon this subject: but give me leave to say that, however capricious I may have been on other subjects, my sentiments in this particular are the strongest proofs I ever gave you of my strong and hereditary aversion to vice and folly.
"Mr. Stanhope," our Minister, the Colonel or Brigadier-General, "is always at Fontainebleau. I went with Mr. Poyntz," Poyntz not yet a dim figure, but a brilliant, who hints about employing me, "to Paris for four days, when the Colonel himself was there, to meet him; he received me with great civility and kindness. We have done expecting Mr. Walpole," fixed he in the Court regions; "who is obliged to keep strict guard over the Cardinal," sly old Fleury, "for fear the German Ministers should take him from us. They pull and haul the poor old gentleman so many ways, that he does not know where to turn, or into whose arms to throw himself." Never fear him!—
"Ripperda's escape to England,"—grand Diplomatic bulldog that was, who took refuge in Colonel Stanhope's at Madrid to no purpose, and kindled the sputtering at Gibraltar, is now got across to England, and will go to Morocco and farther, to no purpose,—"will very much embroil affairs; which did not seem to want another obstacle to hinder them from coming to an accommodation. If the Devil is not very much wanting to his own interests in this Business, it is impossible that the good work of Peace, should go on much longer. After all, most young fellows are of his party; and wish he may bring matters to a War; for they make but ill Ministers at a Congress, but would make good Soldiers in a Campaign.
"No news from Madam "BLANK" and her beloved Husband. Their unreasonable fondness for each other can never last: they will soon grow as cold to one another as the Town to The Beggars' Opera. And cannot warm again, you think? Pray Heaven I may prove a false prophet; but Married Love and English Music are too domestic to continue long in favor."...
NOVEMBER 20th, SOISSONS still. "This is one of the agreeablest Towns in France. The people are infinitely obliging to strangers: we are of all their parties, and perpetually share with them in their pleasures. I have learnt more French since I came hither, than I should have picked up in a twelvemonth in Lorraine....
"A fool with a majority on his side is the greatest tyrant in the world:—how can I go back to loiter in Lorraine, honored Father, where fools are in such majority? Then the extraordinary civilities I receive from Mr. Poyntz: He has in a manner taken me into his family; will evidently make an Apprentice of me. The first Packet that comes from Fontainebleau, I expect to be employed. Which is no small pleasure to me: and will I hope be of service."...
DECEMBER 20th. "A sudden order to Mr. Poyntz has broken all my measures. He goes to-morrow to Paris, to stay there in the room of Messrs. Stanhope and Walpole, who are on their return for England." Congress falling into complete languor, if we knew it! But ought not I to accompany this friendly and distinguished Mr. Poyntz, "who has already given me papers to copy;"—in fact I am setting off with him, honored Father!...
"Prince Frederick's journey,"—first arrival in England of dissolute Fred from Hanover, who had NOT been to Berlin to get married last summer,—"was very secret: Mr. Poyntz did not hear of it till Friday last; at least he had no public notice of it." Why should he? "There will be fine struggling for places" in this Prince's new Household. "I hope my Brother will come in for one." [Ayscough's Lyttelton, iii. 200-231.]—
But here we pull the string of the curtain upon Lyttelton, and upon his Congress falling into complete languor; Congress destined, after dining for about a year more, to explode, in the Treaty of Seville, and to leave the Kaiser sitting horror-struck, solitary amid the wreck of Political Nature,—which latter, however, pieces itself together again for him and others. Beneficent Treaty of Vienna was at last achieved; Treaty and Treaties there, which brought matters to their old bearing again,—Austria united with the Sea-Powers, Pragmatic Sanction accepted by them, subsidies again to be expected from them; Baby Carlos fitted with his Apanages, in some tolerable manner; and the Problem, with which Creation had groaned for some twenty years past, finally accomplished better or worse.
Lyttelton himself will get a place in Prince Frederick's Household, and then lose it; place in Majesty's Ministry at last, but not for a long while yet. He will be one of Prince Frederick's men, of the Carterets, Chesterfields, Pitts, who "patronize literature," and are in opposition to dark Walpole; one of the "West-Wickham set;"—and will be of the Opposition party, and have his adventures in the world. Meanwhile let him go to Paris with Mr. Poyntz; and do his wisest there and elsewhere.
"Who's dat who ride astride de pony, So long, so lean, so lank and bony? Oh, he be de great orator, Little-ton-y." [Caricature of 1741, on Lyttelton's getting into the Ministry, with Carteret, Chesterfield, Argyll, and the rest: see Phillimore's Lyttelton (London, 1845), i. 110; Johnson's Lives of the Poets, ? Lyttelton; &c. &c.]
For now we are round at Friedrich Wilhelm's Pomeranian Hunting again, in the New-year's time of 1729; and must look again into the magnanimous sick-room which ensued thereon; where a small piece of business is going forward. What a magnanimous patient Friedrich Wilhelm was, in Fassmann's judgment, we know: but, it will be good to show both sides of the tapestry, and let Wilhelmina also speak. The small business is only, a Treaty of Marriage for one of our Princesses: not Wilhelmina, but Louisa the next younger, who has been asked, and will consent, as appears.
Fassmann makes a very touching scene of it. King is in bed, ill of his gout after that slaughter of the 3,602 wild swine: attendants are sitting round his Majesty, in the way we know; Queen Sophie at his head, "Seckendorf and several others" round the bed. Letters arrive; Princess Frederika Louisa, a very young Lady, has also had a Letter; which, she sees by the seal, will be interesting, but which she must not herself open. She steps in with it; "beautiful as an angel, but rather foolish, and a spoilt child of fifteen," says Wilhelmina: trips softly in with it; hands it to the King. "Give it to thy Mother, let her read it," says the King. Mother reads it, with audible soft voice: Formal demand in marriage from the Serenity of Anspach, as foreseen.
"Hearken, Louisa (HORE, LUISE), it is still time," said the King: "Tell us, wouldst thou rather go to Anspach, now, or stay with me? If thou choose to stay, thou shalt want, for nothing, either, to the end of thy life. Speak!"—"At such unexpected question," says Fassmann, "there rose a fine blush over the Princess's face, who seemed to be at a loss for her answer. However, she soon collected herself; kissed his Majesty's hand, and said: 'Most gracious Papa, I will to Anspach!' To which the King: 'Very well, then; God give thee all happiness and thousand blessings!—But, hearken, Louisa,' the King's Majesty was pleased at the same time to add, 'We will make a bargain, thou and I. You have excellent, Flour at Anspach (SCHONES MEHL); but in Hams and Smoked Sausages you don't, come up, either in quality or quantity, to us in this Country. Now I, for my part, like good pastries. So, from time to time, thou shalt send me a box of nice flour, and I will keep thee in hams and sausages. Wilt thou, Louisa?' That the Princess answered Yea," says poor Fassmann with the tear in his eye, "may readily be supposed!" Nay all that heard the thing round the royal bed there—simple humanities of that kind from so great, a King—had almost or altogether tears in their eyes. [Fassmann, pp. 393, 394.]
This surely is a very touching scene. But now listen to Wilhelmina's account of another on the same subject, between the same parties. "At table;" no date indicated, or a wrong one, but evidently after this: in fact, we find it was about the beginning of March, 1729; and had sad consequences for Wilhelmina.
"At table his Majesty told the Queen that he had Letters from Anspach; the young Margraf to be at Berlin in May for his wedding; that M. Bremer his Tutor was just coming with the ring of betrothal for Louisa. He asked my Sister, If that gave her pleasure? and How she would regulate her housekeeping when married? My Sister had got into the way of telling him whatever she thought, and home-truths sometimes, without his taking it ill. She answered with her customary frankness, That she would have a good table, which should be delicately served; and, added she, 'which shall be better than yours. And if I have children, I will not maltreat them like you, nor force them to eat what they have an aversion to.'—'What do you mean by that?' replied the King: 'what is there wanting at my table?'—'There is this wanting,' she said, 'that one cannot have enough; and the little there is consists of coarse potherbs that nobody can eat.' The King," as was not unnatural, "had begun to get angry at her first answer: this last put him quite in a fury; but all his anger fell on my Brother and me. He first threw a plate at my Brother's head, who ducked out of the way; he then let fly another at me, which I avoided in like manner. A hail-storm of abuse followed these first hostilities. He rose into a passion against the Queen; reproaching her with the bad training she gave her children; and, addressing my Brother: 'You have reason to curse your Mother,' said he, 'for it is she that causes your being an ill-governed fellow (UN MAL GOUVERNE). I had a Preceptor,' continued he, 'who was an honest man. I remember always a story he told me in my youth. There was a man, at Carthage, who had been condemned to die for many crimes he had committed. While they were leading him to execution, he desired he might speak to his Mother. They brought his Mother: he came near, as if to whisper something to her;—and bit away a piece of her ear. I treat you thus, said he, to make you an example to all parents who take no heed to bring up their children in the practice of virtue!—Make the application,' continued he, always addressing my Brother: and getting no answer from him, he again set to abusing us till he could speak no longer. We rose from table. As we had to pass near him in going out, he aimed a great blow at me with his crutch; which, if I had not jerked away from it, would have ended me. He chased me for a while in his wheel-chair, but the people drawing it gave me time to escape into the Queen's chamber." [Wilhelmina, i. 159.]
Poor Wilhelmina, beaten upon by Papa in this manner, takes to bed in miserable feverish pain, is ordered out by Mamma to evening party, all the same; is evidently falling very ill. "Ill? I will cure you!" says Papa next day, and makes her swallow a great draught of wine. Which completes the thing: "declared small-pox," say all the Doctors now. So that Wilhelmina is absent thenceforth, as Fassmann already told us, from the magnanimous paternal sick-room; and lies balefully eclipsed, till the paternal gout and some other things have run their course. "Small-pox; what will Prince Fred think? A perfect fright, if she do live!" say the English Court-gossips in the interim. But we are now arrived at a very singular Prussian-English phenomenon; and ought to take a new Chapter.
Chapter VI. — IMMINENCY OF WAR OR DUEL BETWEEN THE BRITANNIC AND PRUSSIAN MAJESTIES.
The Double-Marriage negotiation hung fire, in the end of 1728; but everybody thought, especially Queen Sophie thought, it would come to perfection; old Ilgen, almost the last thing he did, shed tears of joy about it. These fine outlooks received a sad shock in the Year now come; when secret grudges burst out into open flame; and Berlin, instead of scenic splendors for a Polish Majesty, was clangorous with note of preparation for imminent War. Probably Queen Sophie never had a more agitated Summer than this of 1729. We are now arrived at that thrice-famous Quarrel, or almost Duel, of Friedrich Wilhelm and his Britannic Brother-in-law little George II.; and must try to riddle from those distracted Paper-masses some notice of it, not wholly unintelligible to the reader. It is loudly talked of, loudly, but alas also loosely to a degree, in all manner of dull Books; and is at once thrice-famous and extremely obscure. The fact is, Nature intended it for eternal oblivion;—and that, sure enough, would have been its fate long since, had not persons who were then thought to be of no importance, but are now seen to be of some, stood connected with it more or less.
Friedrich Wilhelm, for his own part, had seen in the death of George I. an evil omen from the English quarter; and all along, in spite of transient appearances to the contrary, had said to himself, "If the First George, with his solemnities and tacit sublimities, was offensive now and then, what will the Second George be? The Second George has been an offence from the beginning!" In which notions the Smoking Parliament, vitally interested to do it, in these perilous Soissons times, big with the fate of the Empire and Universe, is assiduous to confirm his Majesty. The Smoking Parliament, at Potsdam, at Berlin, in the solitudes of Wusterhausen, has been busy; and much tobacco, much meditation and insinuation have gone up, in clouds more abstruse than ever, since the death of George I.
It is certain, George II. was a proud little fellow; very high and airy in his ways; not at all the man to Friedrich Wilhelm's heart, nor reciprocally. A man of some worth, too; "scrupulously kept his word," say the witnesses: a man always conscious to himself, "Am not I a man of honor, then?" to a punctilious degree. For the rest, courageous as a Welf; and had some sense withal,—though truly not much, and indeed, as it were, none at all in comparison to what he supposed he had!—One can fancy the aversion of the little dapper Royalty to this heavy-footed Prussian Barbarian, and the Prussian Barbarian's to him. The bloody nose in childhood was but a symbol of what passed through life. In return for his bloody nose, little George, five years the elder, had carried off Caroline of Anspach; and left Friedrich Wilhelm sorrowing, a neglected cub,—poor honest Beast tragically shorn of his Beauty. Offences could not fail; these two Cousins went on offending one another by the mere act of living simultaneously. A natural hostility, that between George II. and Friedrich Wilhelm; anterior to Caroline of Anspach, and independent of the collisions of interest that might fall out between them. Enmity as between a glancing self-satisfied fop, and a loutish thick-soled man of parts, who feels himself the better though the less successful. House-Mastiff seeing itself neglected, driven to its hutch, for a tricksy Ape dressed out in ribbons, who gets favor in the drawing-room.
George, I perceive by the very State-Papers, George and his English Lords have a provoking slighting tone towards Friedrich Wilhelm; they answer his violent convictions, and thoroughgoing rapid proposals, by brief official negation, with an air of superiority,—traces of, a polite sneer perceptible, occasionally. A mere Clown of a King, thinks George; a mere gesticulating Coxcomb, thinks Friedrich Wilhelm. "MEIN BRUDER DER COMODIANT, My Brother the Play-actor" (parti-colored Merry-Andrew, of a high-flying turn)! was Friedrich Wilhelm's private name for him, in after days. Which George repaid by one equal to it, "My Brother the Head-Beadle of the Holy Roman Empire,"—"ERZ-SANDSTREUER," who solemnly brings up the SANDBOX (no blotting-paper yet in use) when the Holy Roman Empire is pleased to write. "ERZ-SANDSTREUER, Arch-Sandbox-Beadle of the HEILIGE ROMISCHE REICH;" it is a lumbering nickname, but intrinsically not without felicity, and the wittiest thing I know of little George.
Special cause of quarrel they had none that was of the least significance; and, at this time, prudent friends were striving to unite them closer and closer, as the true policy for both; English Townshend himself rather wishing it, as the best Prussian Officials eagerly did; Queen Sophie passionate for it; and only a purchased Grumkow, a Seckendorf and the Tobacco-Parliament set against it. The Treaty of Wusterhausen was not known; but the fact of some Treaty made or making, some Imperial negotiation always going on, was too evident; and Friedrich Wilhelm's partialities to the Kaiser and his Seckendorf could be a secret nowhere.
Negotiation always going on, we say; for such indeed was the case,—the Kaiser striving always to be loose again (having excellent reasons, a secret bargain to the contrary, to wit!) in regard to that Julich-and-Berg Succession; proposing "substitutes for Julich and Berg;" and Friedrich Wilhelm refusing to accept any imaginable substitute, anything but the article itself. So that, I believe, the Treaty of Wusterhausen was never perfectly ratified, after all; but hung, for so many years, always on the point of being so. These are the uses of your purchased Grumkow, and of riding the length of a Terrestrial Equator keeping a Majesty in company. If, by a Double-Marriage with England, that intricate web of chicanery had been once fairly slit in two, and new combinations formed, on a basis not of fast-and-loose, could it have been of disadvantage to either of the Countries, or to either of their Kings?—Real and grave causes for agreement we find; real or grave causes for quarrel none anywhere. But light or imaginary causes, which became at last effectual, can be enumerated, to the length of three or four.
CAUSE FIRST: THE HANOVER JOINT-HERITAGES, WHICH ARE NOT IN A LIQUID STATE.
FIRST, the "Ahlden Heritage" was one cause of disagreement, which lasted long. The poor Mother of George II. and of Queen Sophie had left considerable properties; "three million THALERS," that is 900,000 pounds, say some; but all was rather in an unliquid state, not so much as her Will was to be had. The Will, with a 10,000 pounds or so, was in the hands of a certain Graf von Bar, one of her confidants in that sad imprisonment: "money lent him," Busching says, [Beitrage zur Lebensgeschichte denkwurdiger Personen (Halle, 1783-1789), i. 306, ? NUSSLER. Some distracted fractions of Business Correspondence with this Bar, in Memoirs of Sophia Dorothea, —unintelligible as usual there.] "to set up a Wax-Bleachery at Cassel:"—and the said Count von Bar was off with it, Testamentary Paper and all; gone to the REICHSHOFRATH at Vienna, supreme Judges, in the Empire, of such matters. Who accordingly issued him a "Protection," to start with: so that when the Hanover people attempted to lay hold of the questionable wax-bleaching Count, at Frankfurt-on-Mayn,—secretly sending "a lieutenant and twelve men" for that object,—he produces his Protection Paper, and the lieutenant and twelve men had to hasten home again. [Ibid.] Count von Bar had to be tried at law,—never ask with what results;—and this itself was a long story. Then as to the other properties of the poor Duchess, question arises, Are they ALLODIA, or are they FEUDA,—that is to say, shall the Son have them, or the Daughter? In short, there was no end to questions. Friedrich Wilhelm has an Envoy at Hanover, one Kannegiesser, laboring at Hanover, the second of such he has been obliged to send; who finds plenty of employment in that matter. "My Brother the COMODIANT quietly put his Father's Will in his pocket, I have heard; and paid no regard to it (except what he was compelled to pay, by Chesterfield and others): will he do the like with his poor Mother's Will?" Patience, your Majesty: he is not a covetous man, but a self-willed and a proud,—always conscious to himself that he is the soul of honor, this poor Brother King!
Nay withal, before these testamentary bickerings are settled, here has a new Joint-Heritage fallen: on which may rise discussions. Poor Uncle Ernst of Osnabruck—to whom George I., chased by Death, went galloping for shelter that night, and who could only weep over his poor Brother dead—has not survived him many months. The youngest Brother of the lot is now gone too. Electress Sophie's Seven are now all gone. She had six sons: four became Austrian soldiers, three of whom perished in war long since; the other three, the Bishop, the King, the eldest of the Soldiers, have all died within two years (1726-1728): [Michaelis, i. 153. See Feder, Kurfurstinn Sophie; Hoppe, Geschichte der Stadt Hannover; &c.] Sophie Charlotte, "Republican Queen" of Prussia, Friedrich Wilhelm's Mother, whom we knew long since, was the one Daughter. Her also Uncle Ernst saw die, in his youth, as we may remember. They are all dead. And now the Heritages are to settle, at least the recent part of them. Let Kannegiesser keep his eyes open. Kannegiesser is an expert high-mannered man; but said to be subject to sharpness of temper; and not in the best favor with the Hanover people. That is Cause FIRST.
CAUSE SECOND: THE TROUBLES OF MECKLENBURG.
Then, secondly, there is the business of Mecklenburg; deplorable Business for Mecklenburg, and for everybody within wind of it,—my poor readers included. Readers remember—what reader can ever forget?—that extraordinary Duke of Mecklenburg, the "Unique of Husbands," as we had to call him, who came with his extraordinary Duchess, to wait on her Uncle Peter, the Russian (say rather SAMOEIDIC) Czar, at Magdeburg, a dozen years ago? We feared it was in the fates we might meet that man again; and so it turns out! The Unique of Husbands has proved also to be the unluckiest of Misgoverning Dukes in his Epoch; and spreads mere trouble all round him. Mecklenburg is in a bad way, this long while, especially these ten years past. "Owing to the Charles-Twelfth Wars," or whatever it was owing to, this unlucky Duke had fallen into want of more money; and impoverished Mecklenburg alleged that it was in no condition to pay more. Almost on his accession, while the tar-barrels were still blazing, years before we ever saw him, he demanded new subvention from his RITTERS (the "Squires" of the Country); subvention new in Mecklenburg, though common in other sovereign German States, and at one time in Mecklenburg too. The Ritters would not pay; the Duke would compel them: Ritters appeal to Kaiser in Reichshofrath, who proves favorable to the Ritters. Duke still declines obeying Kaiser; asserts that "he is himself in such matter the sovereign:" Kaiser fulminates what of rusty thunder he has about him; to which the Duke, flung on his back by it, still continues contumacious in mind and tongue: and so between thunder and contumacy, as between hammer and stithy, the poor Country writhes painfully ever since, and is an affliction to everybody near it.
For ten years past, the unluckiest of Misgoverning Dukes has been in utter controversy with his Ritters;—at law with them before the Courts of the Empire, nay occasionally trying certain of them himself, and cutting off their heads; getting Russian regiments, and then obliged to renounce Russian regiments;—in short, a very great trouble to mankind thereabouts. [Michaelis, ii. 416-435.] So that the Kaiser in Reichshofrath, about the date indicated (Year 1719), found good to send military coercion on him; and intrusted that function to the Hanover-Brunswick people, to George I. more especially; to whom, as "KREIS-HAUPTMANN" ("Captain of the Circle," Circle of Lower-Saxony, where the contumacy had occurred), such function naturally fell. The Hanover Sovereignty, sending 13,000 men, horse, foot and artillery into Mecklenburg, soon did their function, with only some slight flourishes of fighting on the part of the contumacious Duke,—in which his chief Captain, one Schwerin, distinguishes himself: Kurt von Schwerin, whom we shall know better by and by, for he went into the Prussian service shortly after. Colonel von Schwerin did well what was in him; but could not save a refractory Duke, against such odds. The contumacious Duke was obliged to fly his country;—deposed, or, to begin with, suspended, a Brother of his being put in as interim Duke:—and the Unique of Husbands and paragon of Mismanaging Dukes lives about Dantzig ever since, on a Pension allowed him by his interim Brother; contumacious to the last; and still stirring up strife, though now with diminished means, Uncle Peter being now dead, and Russian help much cut off.
The Hanover Sovereignties did their function soon enough: but their "expenses for it," these they have in vain demanded ever since. No money to be got from Mecklenburg; and Mecklenburg owes us "ten tons of gold,"—that is to say, 1,000,000 thalers, "tou" being the tenth part of a million in that coin. Hanover, therefore, holds possession—and has held ever since, with competent small military force—of certain Districts in Mecklenburg: Taxes of these will subsist our soldiery in the interim, and yield interest; the principal once paid, we at once give them up; principal, by these schedules, if you care to count them, is one million thalers (ten TONNEN GOLDES, as above said), or about 150,000 pounds. And so it has stood for ten years past; Mecklenburg the most anarchic of countries, owing to the kind of Ritters and kind of Duke it has. Poor souls, it is evident they have all lost their beaten road, and got among the IGNES FATUI and peat-pools: none knows the necessities and sorrows of this poor idle Duke himself! In his young years, before accession, he once tried soldiering; served one campaign with Charles XII., but was glad to "return to Hamburg" again, to the peaceable scenes of fashionable life there. [See German Spy (London, 1725, by Lediard, Biographer of Marlborough) for a lively picture of the then Hamburg,—resort of Northern Moneyed Idleness, as well as of better things.] Then his Russian Unique of Wives:—his probable adventures, prior and subsequent, in Uncle Peter's sphere, can these have been pleasant to him? The angry Ritters, too, their country had got much trampled to pieces in the Charles-Twelfth Wars, Stralsund Sieges: money seemed necessary to the Duke, and the Ritters were very scarce of it. Add, on both sides, pride and want of sense, with mutual anger going on CRESCENDO; and we have the sad phenomenon now visible: A Duke fled to Dantzig, anarchic Ritters none the better for his going; Duke perhaps threatening to return, and much flurrying his poor interim Brother, and stirring up the Anarchies:—in brief, Mecklenburg become a house on fire, for behoof of neighbors and self.
In these miserable brabbles Friedrich Wilhelm did not hitherto officially interfere; though not uninterested in them; being a next neighbor, and even, by known treaties, "eventual heir," should the Mecklenburg Line die out. But we know he was not in favor with the Kaiser, in those old years; so the military coercion had been done by other hands, and he had not shared in the management at all. He merely watched the course of things; always advised the Duke to submit to Law, and be peaceable; was sometimes rather sorry for him, too, as would appear.
Last year, however (1728),—doubtless it was one of Seckendorf's minor measures, done in Tobacco-Parliament,—Friedrich Wilhelm, now a pet of the Kaiser's, is discovered to be fairly concerned in that matter; and is conjoined with the Hanover-Brunswick Commissioners for Mecklenburg; Kaiser specially requiring that his Prussian Majesty shall "help in executing Imperial Orders" in the neighboring Anarchic Country. Which rather huffed little George,—hitherto, since, his Father's death, the principal, or as good as sole Commissioner,—if so big a Britannic Majesty COULD be huffed by paltry slights of that kind! Friedrich Wilhelm, who has much meditated Mecklenburg, strains his intellect, sometimes to an intense degree, to find out ways of settling it: George, who has never cared to meditate it, nor been able if he had, is capable of sniffing scornfully at Friedrich Wilhelm's projects on the matter, and dismissing them as moonshine. [Dubourgay Despatches and the Answers to them (more than once).] To a wise much-meditative House-Mastiff, can that be pleasant, from an unthinking dizened creature of the Ape species? The troubles of Mecklenburg, and discrepancies thereupon, are capable of becoming a SECOND source of quarrel.
CAUSES THIRD AND FOURTH:—AND CAUSE FIFTH, WORTH ALL THE OTHERS.
Cause THIRD is the old story of recruiting; a standing cause between Prussia and all its neighbors. And the FOURTH cause is the tiniest of all: the "Meadow of Clamei." Meadow of Clamei, some square yards of boggy ground; which, after long study, one does find to exist in the obscurest manner, discoverable in the best Maps of Germany,—some twenty miles south of the Elbe river, on the boundary between Hanover-Luneburg and Prussia-Magdeburg, dubious on which side of the boundary. Lonesome unknown Patch of Meadow, lying far amid peaty wildernesses in those Salzwedel regions: unknown to all writing mortals as yet; but which threatens, in this summer of 1729, to become famous as Runnymead among the Meadows of History! And the FIFTH cause—In short, there was no real "cause" of the least magnitude; the effect was produced by the combination of many small and imaginary ones. For if there is a will to quarrel, we know there is a way. And perhaps the FIFTH namable cause, in efficiency worth all the others together, might be found in the Debates of the Smoking Parliament that season, were the Journal of its Proceedings extant! We gather symptoms, indisputable enough, of very diligent elaborations and insinuations there; and conclude that to have been the really effective cause. Clouds had risen between the two Courts; but except for the Tobacco-Parliament, there never could have thunder come from them.
Very soon after George's accession there began clouds to rise; the perfectly accomplished little George assuming a severe and high air towards his rustic Brother-in-Law. "We cannot stand these Prussian enlistments and encroachments; rectify these, in a high and severe manner!" says George to his Hanover Officials. George is not warm on his throne till there comes in, accordingly, from the Hanover Officials a Complaint to that effect, and even a List of Hanoverian subjects who are, owing to various injustices, now serving in the Prussian ranks: "Your Prussian Majesty is requested to return us these men!"
This List is dated 22d January, 1728; George only a few months old in his new authority as yet. The Prussian Majesty grumbles painfully responsive: "Will, with eagerness, do whatever is just; most surely! But is his Britannic Majesty aware? Hanover Officials are quite misinformed as to the circumstances;"—and does not return any of the men. Merely a pacific grumble, and nothing done in regard to the complaints. Then there is the Meadow of Clamei which we spoke of: "That belongs to Brandenburg, you say? Nevertheless the contiguous parts of Hanover have rights upon it. Some 'eight cart-loads of hay,' worth say almost 5 pounds or 10 pounds sterling: who is to mow that grass, I wonder?"—
Friedrich Wilhelm feels that all this is a pettifogging vexatious course of procedure; and that his little Cousin the COMODIANT is not treating him very like a gentleman. "Is he, your Majesty!" suggests the Smoking Parliament.—About the middle of March, Dubourgay hears Borck, an Official not of the Grumkow party, sulkily commenting on "the constant hostility of the Hanover Ministry to us" in all manner of points;—-inquires withal, Could not Mecklenburg be somehow settled, his Prussian Majesty being somewhat anxious upon it? [Despatch, 17th March, 1729.] Anxious, yes: his poor Majesty, intensely meditative of such a matter in the night-watches, is capable of springing out of bed, with an "Eureka! I have found what will do!" and demanding writing materials. He writes or dictates in his shirt, the good anxious Majesty; despatches his Eureka by estafette on the wings of the wind: and your Townshend, your UNmeditative George, receives it with curt official negative, and a polite sneer. [Dubourgay, 12th-14th April, 1729; and the Answer from St. James's.]
A few weeks farther on, this is what the Newspapers report of Mecklenburg, in spite of his Prussian Majesty's desire to have some mercy shown the poor infatuated Duke: "The Elector of Hanover and the Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel," his Britannic Majesty and Squire in that sad business, "REFUSE to withdraw their forces out of Mecklenburg, or part with the Chest of the Revenues thereof, until an entire satisfaction be given them for the arrears of the Charges they have been at in putting the Sentence of the Aulic Council [Kaiser's REICHSHOFRATH and rusty thunder] into execution against the said Duke." [Salmon's Chronological Historian (London, 1748,—a Book never to be quoted without caution), ii. 216;—date (translated into new style), 10th July, 1729.]
Matters grew greatly worse when George paid his first Visit to Hanover in character of King, early in the Summer of 1729. Part of his road lies through Prussian Territory: "Shall he have free post-horses, as his late Majesty was wont?" asks the Prussian Official person. "If he write to request them, yes," answers Friedrich Wilhelm; "if he don't write, no." George does not write; pays for his post-horses;—flourishes along to Hanover, in absolute silence towards his clownish Brother-in-Law. You would say he looks over the head of him, as if there were no such clown in existence;—he has never yet so much as notified his arrival. "What is this? There exists no Prussia, then, for little George?" Friedrich Wilhelm's inarticulate, interjectionary utterances, in clangorous metallic tone, we can fancy them, now and then; and the Tobacco-Parliament is busy! British Minister Dubourgay, steady old military gentleman, who spells imperfectly, but is intent to keep down mischief, writes at last to Hanover, submissively suggesting, "Could not, as was the old wont, some notification of the King's arrival be sent hither, which would console his Prussian Majesty?" To which my Lord Townshend answers, "Has not been the custom, I am informed [WRONG informed, your Lordship]; not necessary in the circumstances." Which is a high course between neighbors and royal gentlemen and kinsfolk. The Prussian Court hereupon likewise shuts its lips; no mention of the Hanoverian Court, not even by her Majesty and to Englishmen, for several weeks past. [Dubourgay.] Some inarticulate metallic growl, in private, at dinner or in the TABAKS-COLLEGIUM: the rest is truculent silence. Nor are our poor Hanover Recruits (according to our List of Pressed Hanoverians) in the least sent back; nor the Clamei Meadows settled; "Big Meadow" or "Little one," both of which the Brandenburgers have mown in the mean time.
Hanover Pressed men not coming home,—I think, not one of them,—the Hanover Officials decide to seize such Prussian Soldiers as happen to be seizable, in Hanover Territory. The highway in that border-country runs now on this side of the march, now on that;—watch well, and you will get Prussian Soldiers from time to time! Which the Hanover people do; and seize several, common men and even officers. Here is once more a high course of proceeding. Here is coal to raise smoke enough, if well blown upon,—which, with Seckendorf and Grumkow working the bellows, we may well fancy it was! But listen to what follows, independently of bellows.
On the 28th June, 1729, hay lying now quite dry upon the Meadow of Clamei, lo, the Bailiff of Hanoverian Buhlitz, Unpicturesque Traveller will find the peat-smoky little Village of Buhlitz near by a dusty little Town called Luchow, midway from Hamburg to Magdeburg; altogether peaty, mossy country; in the Salzwedel district, where used to be Wendic populations, and a Marck or Border Fortress of Salzwedel set up against them:—Bailiff of Buhlitz, I say, sallies forth with several carts, with all the population of the Village, with a troop of horse to escort, and probably flags flying and some kind of drums beating;—publicly rakes together the hay, defiant of the Prussian Majesty and all men; loads it on his carts, and rolls home with it; leaving to the Brandenburgers nothing but stubble and the memory of having mown for Hanover to eat. This is the 28th June, 1729; King of Prussia is now at Magdeburg, reviewing his troops; within a hundred miles of these contested quag-countries: who can blame him that he flames up now into clear blaze of royal indignation? The correspondence henceforth becomes altogether lively: but in the Britannic Archives there is nothing of it,—Dubourgay having received warning from my Lord Townshend to be altogether ignorant of the matter henceforth, and let the Hanover Officials manage it. His Prussian Majesty returns home in the most tempestuous condition.
We may judge what a time Queen Sophie had of it; what scenes there were with Crown-Prince Friedrich and Wilhelmina, in her Majesty's Apartment and elsewhere! Friedrich Wilhelm is fast mounting to the red-hot pitch. The bullyings, the beatings even, of these poor Children, love-sick one of them, are lamentable to hear of, as all the world has heard:—"Disobedient unnatural whelps, biting the heels of your poor old parent mastiff in his extreme need, what is to be done with you?" Fritz he often enough beats, gives a slap to with his rattan; has hurled a plate at him, on occasion, when bad topics rose at table; nay at Wilhelmina too, she says: but the poor children always ducked, and nothing but a little noise and loss of crockery ensued. Fritz he deliberately detests, as a servant of the Devil, incorrigibly rebelling against the paternal will, and going on those dissolute courses: a silly French cockatoo, suspected of disbelief in Scripture; given to nothing but fifing and play-books; who will bring Prussia aud himself to a bad end. "God grant he do not finish on the gallows!" sighed the sad Father once to Grumkow. The records of these things lie written far and wide, in the archives of many countries as well as in Wilhelmina's Book.
To me there was one undiplomatic reflection continually present: Heavens, could nobody have got a bit of rope, and hanged those two Diplomatic swindlers; clearly of the scoundrel genus, more than common pickpockets are? Thereby had certain young hearts, and honest old ones too, escaped being broken; and many a thing might have gone better than it did. JARNI-BLEU, Herr Feldzeugmeister, though you are an orthodox Protestant, this thousand-fold perpetual habit of distilled lying seems to me a bad one. I do not blame an old military gentleman, with a brow so puckered as yours, for having little of the milk of human kindness so called: but this of breaking, by force of lies merely, and for your own uses, the hearts of poor innocent creatures, nay of grinding them slowly in the mortar, and employing their Father's hand to do it withal; this—Herr General, forgive me, but there are moments when I feel as if the extinction of probably the intensest scoundrel of that epoch might have been a satisfactory event!—Alas, it could not be. Seckendorf is lying abroad for his Kaiser; "the only really able man we have," says Eugene sometimes. Snuffles and lisps; and travels in all, as they count, about 25,000 miles, keeping his Majesty in company. Here are some glimpses into the interior, dull but at first-hand, which are worth clipping and condensing from Dubourgay, with their dates:—
30th JULY, 1729. To the respectable old Brigadier, this day or yesterday, "her Majesty, all in tears, complained of her situation: King is nigh losing his senses on account of the differences with Hanover; goes from bed to bed in the night-time, and from chamber to chamber, 'like one whose brains are turned.' Took a fit, at two in the morning, lately, to be off to Wusterhausen:"—about a year ago Seckendorf and Grumkow had built a Lodge out there, where his Majesty, when he liked, could be snug and private with them: thither his Majesty now rushed, at two in the morning; but seemingly found little assuagement. "Since his return, he gives himself up entirely to drink:—Seckendorf," the snuffling Belial, "is busy, above ground and below; has been heard saying He alone could settle these businesses, Double-Marriage and all, would her Majesty but trust him!"—
"The King will not suffer the Prince-Royal to sit next his Majesty at table, but obliges him to go to the lower end; where things are so ordered," says the sympathetic Dubourgay, "that the poor Prince often rises without getting one bit,"—woe's me! "Insomuch that the Queen was obliged two days ago [28th July, 1729, let us date such an occurrence] to send, by one of the servants who could be trusted, a Box of cold fowls and other eatables for his Royal Highness's subsistence!" [Dubourgay, 30th July, 1729.]
In the first blaze of the outrage at Clamei, Friedrich Wilhelm's ardent mind suggested to him the method of single combat: defiance of George, by cartel, To give the satisfaction of a gentleman. There have been such instances on the part of Sovereigns; though they are rare: Karl Ludwig of the Pfalz, Winter-king's Son, for example, did, as is understood, challenge Turenne for burning the Pfalz (FIRST burning that poor country got); but nothing came of it, owing to Turenne's prudence. Friedrich Wilhelm sees well that it all comes from George's private humor: Why should human blood be shed except George's and mine? Friedrich Wilhelm is decisive for sending off the cartel; he has even settled the particulars, and sees in his glowing poetic mind how the transaction may be: say, at Hildesheim for place; Derschau shall be my second; Brigadier Sutton (if anybody now know such a man) may be his. Seconds, place and general outline he has schemed out, and fixed, so far as depends on one party; will fairly fence and fight this insolent little Royal Gentleman; give the world a spectacle (which might have been very wholesome to the world) of two Kings voiding their quarrel by duel and fair personal fence.
In England the report goes, "not without foundation," think Lord Hervey and men of sarcastic insight in the higher circles, That it was his Britannic Majesty who "sent or would have sent a challenge of single combat to his Prussian Majesty," the latter being the passive party! Report flung into an INVERSE posture, as is liable to happen; "going" now with its feet uppermost; "not without foundation," thinks Lord Hervey. "But whether it [the cartel] was carried and rejected, or whether the prayers and remonstrances of Lord Townshend prevented the gauntlet being actually thrown down, is a point which, to me [Lord Hervey] at least, has never been cleared." [Lord Hervey, Memoirs of George II. (London, 1848), i. 127.]
The Prussian Ministers, no less than Townshend would, feel well that this of Duel will never do. Astonishment, FLEBILE LULIBRIUM, tragical tehee from gods and men, will come of the Duel! But how to turn it aside? For the King is determined. His truculent veracity of mind points out this as the real way for him; reasoning, entreating are to no purpose. "The true method, I tell you! As to the world and its cackling,—let the world cackle!" At length Borck hits on a consideration: "Your Majesty has been ill lately; hand perhaps not so steady as usual? Now if it should turn out that your Majesty proved so inferior to yourself as to—Good Heavens!" This, it is said, was the point that staggered his Majesty. Tobacco-Parliament, and Borck there, pushed its advantage: the method of duel (prevalent through the early part of July, I should guess) was given up. [Bielfeld, Lettres familieres et autres (Second edition, 2 vols. Leide, 1767), i. 117, 118.] Why was there no Hansard in that Institution of the Country? Patience, idle reader! We shall get some scraps of the Debates on other subjects, by and by.—But hear Dubourgay again, in the absence of Morning Newspapers:—
AUGUST 9th, 1729. "Berlin looks altogether warlike. At Magdeburg they are busy making ovens to bake Ammunition-bread; Artillery is getting hauled out of the Arsenal here;" all is clangor, din of preparation. "It is said the King will fall on Mecklenburg;" can at once, if he like. "These intolerable usages from England [Seckendorf is rumored to have said], can your Majesty endure them forever? Why not marry the Prince-Royal, at once, to another Princess, and have done with them!"—or words to that effect, as reported by Court-rumor to her Majesty and Dubourgay. And there is a Princess talked of for this Match, Russian Princess, little Czar's Sister (little Czar to have Wilhelmina, Double-Marriage to be with Russia, not with England); but the little Czar soon died, little Czar's Sister went out of sight, or I know not what happened, and only brief rumor came of that.
As for the Crown-Prince, he has not fallen desperate; no; but appears to have strange schemes in him, deep under cover. "He has said to a confidant [Wilhelmina, it is probable], 'As to his ill-treatment, he well knew how to free himself of that [will fly to foreign parts, your Highness?], and would have done so long since, 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." [Dubourgay, 11th August, 1729.] Means privately a flight to England, Dubourgay sees, and in a reticent diplomatic way is glad to see.
I possess near a dozen Hanoverian and Prussian Despatches upon this strange Business; but should shudder to inflict them on any innocent reader. Clear, grave Despatches, very brief and just, especially on the Prussian side: and on a matter too, which truly is not lighter than any other Despatch matter of that intrinsically vacant Epoch:—O reader, would I could bury all vacant talk and writing whatsoever, as I do these poor Despatches about the "eight cart-loads of hay"! Friedrich Wilhelm is fair-play itself; will do all things, that Earth or Heaven can require of him. Only, he is much in a hurry withal; and of this the Hanover Officials take advantage, perhaps unconsciously, to keep him in provocation. He lies awake at night, his heart is sore, and he has fled to drink. Towards the middle of August,—here again is a phenomenon,—"he springs out of bed in the middle of night," has again an EUREKA as to this of Clamei: "Eureka, I see now what will bring a settlement!" and sends off post-haste to Kannegiesser at Hanover. To Kannegiesser,—Herr Reichenbach, the special Envoy in this matter, being absent at the moment, gone to the Gohrde, I believe, where Britannic Majesty itself is: but Kannegiesser is there, upon the Ahlden Heritages; acquainted with the ground, a rather precise official man, who will serve for the hurry we are in. Post-haste; dove with olive-branch cannot go too quick;—Kannegiesser applying for an interview, not with the Britannic Majesty, who is at Gohrde, hunting, but with the Hanover Council, is—refused admittance. Here are Herr Kannegiesser's official Reports; which will themselves tell the rest of the story, thank Heaven:—
TO HIS PRUSSIAN MAJESTY (From Herr Kannegiesser).
No. 1. "DONE AT HANOVER, 15th AUGUST, 1729.
"On the 15th day of August, at ten o'clock in the morning, I received Two Orders of Council [these are THE EUREKA, never ask farther what they are]; despatched on the 13th instant at seven in the evening; whereupon I immediately went to the Council-chamber here; and informed the Herr von Hartoff, Private Secretary, who met me in a room adjoining, 'That, having something to propose to his Ministry [now sitting deliberative in the interior here; something to propose to his Ministry] on the part of the Prussian Ministers, it was necessary I should speak to them.' Herr von Hartoff, after having reported my demand, let me know, 'He had received orders from the Ministry to defer what I had to say to another time.'
"I replied, 'That, since I could not be allowed the honor of an audience at that time, I thought myself obliged to acquaint him I had received an Order from Berlin to apply to the Ministry of this place, in the name of the Ministers of Prussia, and make the most pressing instances for a speedy Answer to a Letter lately delivered to them by Herr Hofrath Reichenbath [my worthy Assistant here; Answer to his Letter in the first place]; and to desire that the Answer might be lodged in my hands, in order to remit it with safety.'
"Herr von Hartoff returned immediately to the Council-chamber; and after having told the Ministers what I had said, brought me the following answer, in about half-a-quarter of an hour [seven minutes by the watch]: 'That the Ministers of this Court would not fail answering the said Letter as soon as possible; and would take care to give me notice of it, and send the Answer to me.'"
That was all that the punctual Kannegiesser could get out of them. "But," continues he, "not thinking this reply sufficient, I added, 'That delays being dangerous, I would come again the next day for a more precise answer.'"
Rather a high-mannered positive man, this Kannegiesser, of the Ahlden Heritages; not without sharpness of temper, if the Hanover Officials drive it too far.
No. 2.—"AT HANOVER, 16th AUGUST, 1729.
"According to the orders received from the King my Master, and pursuant of my promise of yesterday, I went at noon this day to the Castle (SCHLOSS), for the purpose, of making appearance in the Council-chamber, where the Ministers were assembled.
"I let them know I was there, by Van Hartoff, Privy Secretary; and, in the mildest terms, desired to be admitted to speak with them. Which was refused me a second time; and the following answer delivered me by Van Hartoff: 'That since the Prussian Ministers had intrusted me with this Commission, the Ministers of this Court had directed him to draw up my yesterday's Proposals in writing, and report them to the Council.'
"Whereupon I said, 'I could not conceive any reason why I was the only person who could not be admitted to audience. That, however, as the Ministers of this Court were pleased to authorize him, Herr von Hartoff, to receive my Proposals, I was obliged to tell him,' as the first or preliminary point of my Commission, 'I had received orders to be very pressing with the said Ministers of this Court, for an Answer to a Letter from the Prussian Ministry, lately delivered by Herr Legationsrath von Reichenbach; and finding that the said Answer was not yet finished, I would stay two days for it, that I might be more secure of getting it. But that then I should come to put them in mind of it, and desire audience in order to acquit myself of the REST of my Commission.'
"The Privy Secretary drew up what I said in writing. Immediately afterwards he reported it to the Ministry, and brought me this answer: 'That the Ministers of this Court would be as good as their word of yesterday, and answer the above-mentioned Letter with all possible expedition.' After which we parted."
No. 3.—"AT HANOVER, 17th AUGUST, 1729
"At two in the afternoon, this day, Herr von Hartoff came to my house; and let me know 'He had business of consequence from the Ministry, and that he would return at five.' By my direction he was told, 'I should expect him.'
"At the time appointed he came; and told me, 'That the Ministers of the Court, understanding from him that I designed to ask audience to-morrow, did not doubt but my business would be to remind them of the Answer which I had demanded yesterday and the day before. That such applications were not customary among sovereign Princes; that they, the Ministers; 'dared not treat farther in that affair with me; that they desired me not to mention it to them again till they had received directions from his Britannic Majesty, to whom they had made their report; and that as soon as they received their instructions, the result of these should be communicated to me.'
"To this I replied, 'That I did not expect the Ministers of this Court would refuse me the audience which I designed to ask to-morrow; and that therefore I would not fail of being at the Council-chamber at eleven, next day,' according to bargain, 'to know their answer to the rest of my Proposals.'—Secretary Von Hartoff would not hear of this resolution; and assured me positively he had orders to listen to nothing more on the subject from me. After which he left me?"
No. 4.—"AT HANOVER, 18th AUGUST, 1729.
"At eleven, this day, I went to the Council-chamber, for the third time; and desired Secretary Hartoff 'To prevail with the Ministry to allow me to speak with them, and communicate what the King of Prussia had ordered me to propose.'
"Herr von Hartoff gave them an account of my request; and brought me for answer, 'That I must wait a little, because the Ministers were not yet all assembled.'" Which I did. "But after having made me stay almost an hour, and after the President of the Council was come, Herr von Hartoff came out to me; and repeated what he had said yesterday, in very positive and absolute terms, 'That the Ministers were resolved not to see me, and had expressly forbid him taking any Paper at my hands.'
"To which I replied, 'That this was very hard usage; and the world would see how the King of Prussia would relish it. But having strict orders from his Majesty, my most gracious Master, to make a Declaration to the Ministers of Hanover in his name; and finding Herr von Hartoff would neither receive it, nor take a copy of it, I had only to tell him that I was under the necessity of leaving it in writing,—and had brought the Paper with me,'" let Herr von Hartoff observe!—"'And that now, as the Council were pleased to refuse to take it, I was obliged to leave the said Declaration on a table in an adjoining room, in the presence of Herr von Hartoff and other Secretaries of the Council, whom I desired to lay it before the Ministry.'
"After this I went home; but had scarcely entered my apartment, when a messenger returned me the Declaration, still sealed as I left it, by order of the Ministers: and perceiving I was not inclined to receive it, he laid it on my table, and immediately left the house." [A Letter from an English Traveller to his Friend at London, relating to the Differences betwixt the Courts of Prussia and Hanover, with Copies of, &c. Translated from the French (London, A. Millar, at Buchanan's Head, 1730), pp. 29-34. An excellent distinct little Pamphlet; very explanatory in this matter,—like the smallest rushlight in a dark cellar of shot-lumber.]
Whereupon Kannegiesser, without loss of a moment, returns to Berlin, 19th August; and reports progress.
Simple honest Orson of a Prussian Majesty, what a bepainted, beribboned insulting Play-actor Majesty has he fallen in with!—"Hm, so? Hm, na!" and I see the face of him, all colors of the prism, and eyes in a fine frenzy; betokening thundery weather to some people! Instantly he orders 44,000 men to get on march; [Friedrich Wilhelm's "Manifesto" is in Mauvillon, ii. 210-215, dated "20th August, 1729" (the day after Kannegieseer's return).] and these instantly begin to stir; small preparation needed, ever-ready being the word with them. From heavy guns, ammunition-wagons and draught-horses, down to the last buckle of a spatterdash, things are all ticketed and ready in his Majesty's country; things, and still more evidently men. Within a week, the amazed Gazetteers (Newspaper Editors we now call them) can behold the actual advent of horse, foot and artillery regiments at Magdeburg; actual rendezvous begun, and with a frightful equable velocity going on day after day. On the 15th day of September, if Fate's almanac hold steady, there will be 44,000 of them ready there. Such a mass of potential-battle as George or the Hanover Officiality are—ready to fight?
Alas, far enough from that. Forces of their own they have, after a sort; subsidized Hessians, Danes, these they can begin to stir up; but they have not a regiment ready for fighting; and have NOTHING, if all were ready, which this 44,000 cannot too probably sweep out of the world. I suppose little George must have exhibited some prismatic colors of countenance, too. This insulted Orson is swinging a tremendous club upon the little peruked ribboned high gentleman, promenading loftily in his preserves yonder! The Prussian forces march, steady, continual; Crown-Prince Friedrich's regiment of Giants is on march, expressly under charge of Friedrich himself:—the young man's thoughts are not recorded for us; only that he gets praise from his Father, so dexterous and perfect is he with the Giants and their getting into gear. Nor is there, says our Foreign Correspondent, the least truth, in your rumor that the Prussian forces, officers or men, marched with bad will; "conspicuously the reverse is the truth, as I myself can testify." [Pamphlet cited above.] And his Britannic Majesty, now making a dreadful flutter to assemble as fast as possible, is like to get quite flung into the bogs by this terrible Orson!—
What an amazement, among the Gazetteers: thunder-clouds of war mounting up over the zenith in this manner, and blotting out the sun; may produce an effect on the Congress of Soissons? Presumably: and his Imperial Majesty, left sitting desolate on his Pragmatic Sanction, gloomily watching events, may find something turn up to his advantage? Prussia and England are sufficiently in quarrel, at any rate; perhaps almost too much.—The Pope, in these circumstances, did a curious thing. The Pope, having prayed lately for rain and got it, proceeds now, in the end of September, while such war-rumors are still at their height in Rome, to pray, or even do a Public Mass, or some other so-called Pontificality, "in the Chapel of Philip Neri in the New Church," by way of still more effectual miracle. Prays, namely, That Heaven would be graciously pleased to foment, and blow up to the proper degree, this quarrel between the two chief Heretic Powers, Heaven's chief enemies, whereby Holy Religion might reap a good benefit, if it pleased Heaven. But, this time, the miracle did not go off according to program. ["Extract of a Letter from Rome, 24th September, 1729," in Townshend's Despatch, Whitehall, 10th Outober, 1729.]
For at this point, before the Pope had prayed, but while the troops and artillery were evidently all on march ("Such an artillery as I," who am Kaiser's Artillery-Master, "for my poor part, never had the happiness to see before in any country," snuffles Seckendorf in the Smoking Parliament), and now swords are, as it were, drawn, and in the air make horrid circles,—the neighbors interfere: "Heavens I put up your swords!"—and the huge world-wide tumult suddenly (I think, in the very first days of this month September) collapses, sinks into something you can put into a snuff-box.
Of course it could never come to actual battle, after all. Too high a pickle-herring tragedy that. Here is a COMODIANT not wanting to be smitten into the bogs; an honest Orson who wants nothing, nor has ever wanted, but fair-play. Fair-play; and not to be insulted on the streets, or have one's poor Hobby quite knocked from under one!—Neighbors, as we say, struck in; France, Holland, all the neighbors, at this point: "Do it by arbitration; Wolfenbuttel for the one, Sachsen-Gotha for the other; Commissioners to meet at Brunswick!" And that, accordingly, was the course fixed upon; and settlement, by that method, was accomplished, without difficulty, in some six months hence. [16th April, 1730 (Forster, ii. 105).] Whether Clamei was awarded to Hanover or to Brandenburg, I never knew, or how the hay of it is cut at this moment. I only know there was no battle on the subject; though at one time there was like to be such a clash of battle as the old Markgraves never had with their old Wends; not if we put all their battlings into one.
Seckendorf's radiant brow has to pucker itself again: this fine project, of boiling the Kaiser's eggs by setting the world on fire, has not prospered after all. The gloomy old villain came to her Majesty one day, [Dubourgay, 30th July, 1729.] while things were near the hottest; and said or insinuated, He was the man that could do these businesses, and bring about the Double-Marriage itself, if her Majesty were not so harsh upon him. Whereupon her Majesty, reporting to Dubourgay, threw out the hint, "What if we (that is, you) did give him a forty or fifty thousand thalers verily, for he will do anything for money?" To which Townshend answers from the Gohrde, to the effect: "Pooh, he is a mere bag of noxious futilities; consists of gall mainly, and rusty old lies and crotchets; breathing very copperas through those old choppy lips of his: let him go to the—!" Next Spring, at the happy end of the Arbitration, which he had striven all he could to mar and to retard, he fell quite ill; took to his bed for two days,—colics, or one knows not what;—"and I can't say I am very sorry for him," writes the respectable Dubourgay. [25th April, 1730.] On the 8th day of September, 1729, Friedrich Crown-Prince re-enters Potsdam [Ib. 11th Sept. 1729.] with his two battalions of Giants; he has done so well, the King goes out from Berlin to see him march in with them; rejoicing to find something of a soldier in the young graceless, after all. "The King distributed 100,000 thalers (15,000 pounds) among his Army;" being well pleased with their behavior, and doubtless right glad to be out of such a Business. The Ahlden Heritages will now get liquidated; Mecklenburg,—our Knyphausen, with the Hanover Consorts, will settle Mecklenburg; and all shall be well again, we hope!—
The fact, on some of these points, turned out different; but it was now of less importance. As to Knyphausen's proceedings at Mecklenburg, after the happy Peace, they were not so successful as had been hoped. Need of quarrel, however, between the Majesties, there henceforth was not in Mecklenburg; and if slight rufflings and collisions did arise, it was not till after our poor Double-Marriage was at any rate quite out of the game, and they are without significance to us. But the truth is, though Knyphausen did his best, no settlement came; nor indeed could ever come. Shall we sum up that sorry matter here, and wash our hands of it?
TROUBLES OF MECKLENBURG, FOR THE LAST TIME.
Knyphausen, we say, proved futile; nor could human wit have succeeded. The exasperated Duke was contumacious, irrational; the two Majesties kept pulling different ways upon him. Matters grew from very bad to worse; and Mecklenburg continued long a running sore. Not many months after this (I think, still in 1729), the irrational Duke, having got money out of Russia, came home again from Dantzig; to notable increase of the Anarchies in Mecklenburg, though without other result for himself. The irrational Duke proved more contumacious than ever, fell into deeper trouble than ever;—at length (1733) he made Proclamation to the Peasantry to rise and fight for him; who did turn out, with their bill-hooks and bludgeons, under Captains named by him, "to the amount of 18,000 Peasants,"—with such riot as may be fancied, but without other result. So that the Hanover Commissioners decided to seize the very RESIDENZ Cities (Schwerin and Domitz) from this mad Duke, and make the country clear of him,—his Brother being Interim Manager always, under countenance of the Commissioners. Which transactions, especially which contemplated seizure of the Residence Cities, Friedrich Wilhelm, eventual heir, could not see with equanimity at all. But having no forces in the country, what could he do? Being "Joint-Commissioner" this long while past, though without armed interference hitherto, he privately resolves that he will have forces there; the rather as the poor Duke professes penitence, and flies to him for help. Poor soul, his Russian Unique of Wives has just died, far enough away from him this long while past: what a life they have had, these two Uniques!—
Enough, "on the 19th of October, 1733, Lieutenant-General Schwerin,"—the same who was Colonel Schwerin, the Duke's chief Captain here, at the beginning of these troubles, now Lientenant-General and a distinguished PRUSSIAN officer,—"marches into Mecklenburg with three regiments, one of foot, two of horse:" [Buchholz, i. 122, 142; Michaelis, ii. 433, 437.] he, doubtless, will help in quelling those Peasant and other Anarchies? Privately his mission is most delicate. He is not to fight with the Hanoverians; is delicately but effectually to shove them well away from the Residence Cities, and fasten himself down in those parts. Which the Lieutenant-General dexterously does. "A night's quarter here in Parchim,"—such is the Lieutenant-General's request, polite but impressive, from the outskirts of that little Town, a Town essential to certain objects, and in fact the point he is aiming at: "night's quarter; you cannot refuse it to this Prussian Company marching under the Kaiser's Commission?" No, the Hanoverian Lieutenant of Foot dare not take upon him to refuse:—but next morning, he is himself invited to withdraw, the Prussians having orders to continue here in Parchim! And so with the other points and towns, that are essential in the enterprise on hand. A dexterous Lieutenant-General this Schwerin:—his two Horse-Colonels are likewise men to be noted; Colonel Wreech, with a charming young Wife, perhaps a too charming; Colonel Truchsess von Waldburg, known afterwards, with distinction, in London Society and widely otherwise. And thus, in the end of 1733, the Mecklenburg Residence Cities, happen what may, are secured for their poor irrational Duke. These things may slightly ruffle some tempers at Hanover; but it is now 1733, and our poor Double-Marriage is clean out of the game by that time!—
The irrational Duke could not continue in his Residence Cities, with the Brother administering over him; still proving contumacious, he needed absolutely to be driven out, to Wismar or I know not whither; went wandering about for almost twenty years to come; disturbed, and stirring up disturbance. Died 1747, still in that sad posture; Interim Brother, with Posterity, succeeding. [Michaelis, ii. 434-440.] But Hanover and Prussia interfered no farther; the brother administered on his own footing, "supported by troops hired from Hamburg. Hanover and Prussia, 400 Hanoverians, 200 Prussians, merely retained hold of their respective Hypothecs [Districts held in pawn] till the expenses should be paid,"—million of THALERS, and by those late anarchies a new heavy score run up.
Prussia and Hanover retained hold of their Hypothecs; for as to the expenses, what hope was there? Fifty years hence we find the Prussian Hypothecs occupied as at first; and "rights of enlistment exercised." Never in this world were those expenses paid;—nor could be, any part of them. The last accounts were: George III. of England, on marrying, in 1761, a Mecklenburg Princess,—"Old Queen Charlotte," then young enough,—handsomely tore up the bill; and so ended that part of a desperate debt. But of the Prussian part there was no end, nor like to be any: "down to this day [says Buchholz, in 1775], two squadrons of the Ziethen Hussars usually lie there," and rights of enlisting are exercised. I conclude, the French Revolution and its Wars wiped away this other desperate item. And now let us hope that Mecklenburg is better off than formerly,—that, at least, our hands are clear of it in time coming. I add only, with satisfaction, that this Unique of Dukes was no ancestor of Old Queen Charlotte's, but only a remote Welsh-Uncle, far enough apart;—cannot be too far.
ONE NUSSLER SETTLES THE AHLDEN HERITAGES; SENDS THE MONEY HOME IN BOXES.
Knyphausen did not settle Mecklenburg, as we perceive! Neither did Kannegiesser and the unliquidated Heritages prosper, at Hanover, quite to perfection. One Heritage, that of Uncle Osnabruck, little George flatly refused to share: FEUDUM the whole of that, not ALLODIUM any part of it, so that a Sister cannot claim. Which, I think, was confirmed by the Arbitrators at Brunswick; thereby ending that. Then as to the Ahlden ALLODIA or FEUDA,—Kannegiesser, blamably or not, never could make much of the business. A precise strict man, as we saw at the Hanover Council-room lately; whom the Hanover people did not like. So he made little of it. Nay at the end of next year (December, 1730), sending in his accounts to Berlin, he demands, in addition to the three thalers (or nine shillings) daily allowed him, almost a second nine shillings for sundries, chiefly for "hair-powder and shoe-blacking"! And is instantly recalled; and vanishes from History at this point. [Busching, Beitrage, i. 307, &c.? Nussler.]
Upon which Friedrich Wilhelm selects another; "sends deal boxes along with him," to bring home what cash there is. This one's name is Nussler; an expectant Prussian Official, an adroit man, whom we shall meet again doing work. He has the nine shillings a day, without hair-powder or blacking, while employed here; at Berlin no constant salary whatever,—had to "borrow 75 pounds for outfit on this business;"—does a great deal of work without wages, in hope of effective promotion by and by. Which did follow, after tedious years; Friedrich Wilhelm finding him, on such proof (other proof will not do), FIT for promoting to steady employment.
Nussler was very active at Hanover, and had his deal boxes; but hardly got them filled according to hope. However, in some eighteen months he had actually worked out, in difficult instalments, about 13,000 pounds, and dug the matter to the bottom. He came home with his last instalment, not disapproved of, to Berlin (May, 1732); six years after the poor Duchess's death, so the Ahlden ALLODIA too had their end.
Chapter VII. — A MARRIAGE: NOT THE DOUBLE-MARRIAGE: CROWN-PRINCE DEEP IN TROUBLE.
While the Hanover Imminency was but beginning, and horrid crisis of War or Duel—was yet in nobody's thoughts, the Anspach Wedding [30th May, 1729] had gone on at Berlin. To Friedrich Wilhelm's satisfaction; not to his Queen's, the match being but a poor one. The bride was Frederika Louisa, not the eldest of their Daughters, but the next-eldest: younger than Wilhelmina, and still hardly fifteen; the first married of the Family. Very young she: and gets a very young Margraf,—who has been, and still is a minor; under his Mother's guardianship till now: not rich, and who has not had a good chance to be wise. The Mother—an excellent magnanimous Princess, still young and beautiful, but laboring silently under some mortal disease—has done her best to manage for him these last four or five years; [Pollnitz, Memoirs and Letters (English Translation, London, 1745), i. 200-204. There are "MEMOIRS of Pollnitz," then "MEMOIRS AND LETTERS," besides the "MEMOIRS of Brandenburg" (posthumous, which we often cite); all by this poor man. Only the last has any Historical value, and that not much. The first two are only worth consulting, cautiously, as loose contemporary babble,—written for the Dutch Booksellers, one can perceive.] and, as I gather, is impatient to see him settled, that she may retire and die.
Friday forenoon, 19th May, 1729, the young Margraf arrived in person at Berlin,—just seventeen gone Saturday last, poor young soul, and very foolish. Sublime royal carriage met him at the Prussian frontier; and this day, what is more interesting, our "Crown-Prince rides out to meet him; mounts into the royal carriage beside him;" and the two young fools drive, in such a cavalcade of hoofs and wheels,—talking we know not what,—into Potsdam; met by his Majesty and all the honors. What illustrious gala there then was in Potsdam and the Court world, read,—with tedium, unless you are in the tailor line,—described with minute distinctness by the admiring Fassmann. [pp.396-401.] There are Generals, high Ladies, sons of Bellona and Latona; there are dinners, there are hautboys,—"two-and-thirty blackamoors," in flaming uniforms, capable of cymballing and hautboying "up the grand staircase, and round your table, and down again," in a frightfully effective manner, while you dine. Madame Kamecke is to go as Oberhofmeisterinn to Anspach; and all the lackeys destined thither are in their new liveries, blue turned up with red velvet. Which is delightful to see. Review of the Giant grenadiers cannot fail; conspicuous on parade with them our Crown-Prince as Lieutenant-Colonel: "the beauty of this Corps as well as the perfection of their EXERCITIA,"—ah yes, we know it, my dim old friend. The Marriage itself followed, at Berlin, after many exercitia, snipe-shootings, feastings, hautboyings; on the 30th of the month; with torch-dance and the other customary trimmings; "Bride's garter cut in snips" for dreaming upon "by his Royal Majesty himself." The LUSTBARKEITEN, the stupendous public entertainments having ended, there is weeping and embracing (MORE HUMANO); and the happy couple, so-called happy, retire to Anspach with their destinies and effects.
A foolish young fellow, this new Brother-in-law, testifies Wilhelmina in many places. Finances in disorder; Mother's wise management, ceasing too soon, has only partially availed. King "has lent some hundreds of thousands of crowns to Anspach [says Friedrich at a later period], which there is no chance of ever being repaid. All is in disorder there, in the finance way; if the Margraf gets his hunting and his heroning, he laughs at all the rest; and his people pluck him bare at every hand." [Schulenburg's Letter (in Forster, iii. 72).] Nor do the married couple agree to perfection;—far from it: "hate one another like cat and dog (like the fire, COMME LE FEU)," says Friedrich: [Correspondence (more than once).] "his Majesty may see what comes of ill-assorted marriages!"—In fact, the union proved none of the most harmonious; subject to squalls always;—but to squalls only; no open tempest, far less any shipwreck: the marriage held together till death, the Husband's death, nearly thirty years after, divided it. There was then left one Son; the same who at length inherited Baireuth too,—inherited Lady Craven,—and died in Bubb Doddington's Mansion, as we often teach our readers.
Last year, the Third Daughter was engaged to the Heir-Apparent of Brunswick; will be married, when of age. Wilhelmina, flower of them all, still hangs on the bush, "asked," or supposed to be "asked by four Kings," but not attained by any of them; and one knows not what will be her lot. She is now risen out of the sickness she has had,—not small-pox at all, as malicious English rumor gave it in England;—and "looks prettier than ever," writes Dubourgay.
Here is a marriage, then; first in the Family;—but not the Double-Marriage, by a long way! The late Hanover Tornado, sudden Waterspout as we called it, has quenched that Negotiation; and one knows not in what form it will resuscitate itself. The royal mind, both at Berlin and St. James's, is in a very uncertain state after such a phenomenon.
Friedrich Wilhelm's favor for the Crown-Prince, marching home so gallantly with his Potsdam Giants, did not last long. A few weeks later in the Autumn we have again ominous notices from Dubourgay. And here, otherwise obtained, is a glimpse into the interior of the Berlin Schloss; momentary perfect clearness, as by a flash of lightning, on the state of matters there; which will be illuminative to the reader.
CROWN-PRINCE'S DOMESTICITIES SEEN IN A FLASH OF LIGHTNING.
This is another of those tragi-comic scenes, tragic enough in effect, between Father and Son; Son now about eighteen,—fit to be getting through Oxford, had he been an English gentleman of private station. It comes from the irrefragable Nicolai; who dates it about this time, uncertain as to month or day.
Fritz's love of music, especially of fluting, is already known to us. Now a certain Quantz was one of his principal instructors in that art, and indeed gave him the last finish of perfection in it. Quantz, famed Saxon music-master and composer, Leader of the Court-Band in Saxony, king of flute-players in his day,—(a village-farrier's son from the Gottingen region, and himself destined to shoe horses, had not imperative Nature prevailed over hindrances);—Quantz, ever from Fritz's sixteenth year, was wont to come occasionally, express from Dresden, for a week or two, and give the young man lessons on the flute. The young man's Mother, good Queen Feekin, had begged this favor for him from the Saxon Sovereignties; and pleaded hard for it at home, or at worst kept it secret there. It was one of the many good maternities, clandestine and public, which she was always ready to achieve for him where possible;—as he also knew full well in his young grateful heart, and never forgot, however old he grew! Illustrious Quantz, we say, gives Fritz lessons on the flute; and here is a scene they underwent;—they and a certain brisk young soldier fellow, Lieutenant von Katte, who was there too; of whom the reader will tragically hear more in time.
On such occasions Fritz was wont to pull off the tight Prussian coat or COATIE, and clap himself into flowing brocade of the due roominess and splendor,—bright scarlet dressing-gown, done in gold, with tags and sashes complete;—and so, in a temporary manner, feel that there was such a thing as a gentleman's suitable apparel. He would take his music-lessons, follow his clandestine studies, in that favorable dress:—thus Buffon, we hear, was wont to shave, and put on clean linen, before he sat down to write, finding it more comfortable so. Though, again, there have been others who could write in considerable disorder; not to say litter, and palpable imperfection of equipment: Samuel Johnson, for instance, did some really grand writing in a room where there was but one chair, and that one incapable of standing unless you sat on it, having only three feet. A man is to fit himself to what is round him: but surely a Crown-Prince may be indulged in a little brocade in his leisure moments!—
Fritz and Quantz sat doing music, an unlawful thing, in this pleasant, but also unlawful costume; when Lieutenant Katte, who was on watch in the outer room, rushes in, distraction in his aspect: Majesty just here! Quick, double quick! Katte snatches the music-books and flutes, snatches Quantz; hurries with him and them into some wall-press, or closet for firewood, and stands quaking there. Our poor Prince has flung aside his brocade, got on his military coatie; and would fain seem busy with important or indifferent routine matters. But, alas, he cannot undo the French hairdressing; cannot change the graceful French bag into the strict Prussian queue in a moment. The French bag betrays him; kindles the paternal vigilance,—alas, the paternal wrath, into a tornado pitch. For his vigilant suspecting Majesty searches about; finds the brocade article behind a screen; crams it, with loud indignation, into the fire; finds all the illicit French Books; confiscates them on the spot, confiscates all manner of contraband goods:—and there was mere sulphurous whirlwind in those serene spaces for about an hour! If his Majesty had looked into the wood-closet? His Majesty, by Heaven's express mercy, omitted that. Haude the Bookseller was sent for; ordered to carry off that poisonous French cabinet-library in mass; sell every Book of it, to an undiscerning public, at what price it will fetch. Which latter part of his order, Haude, in deep secrecy, ventured to disobey, being influenced thereto. Haude, in deep secrecy, kept the cabinet-library secure; and "lent" the Prince book after book from it, as his Royal Highness required them.
Friedrich, it is whispered in Tobacco-Parliament, has been known, in his irreverent impatience, to call the Grenadier uniform his "shroud (STERBEKITTEL, or death-clothes);" so imprisoning to the young mind and body! Paternal Majesty has heard this blasphemous rumor; hence doubtless, in part, his fury against the wider brocade garment.
It was Quantz himself that reported this explosion to authentic Nicolai, many years afterwards; confessing that he trembled, every joint of him, in the wood-closet, during that hour of hurricane; and the rather as he had on "a red dress-coat," whioh color, foremost of the flaring colors, he knew to be his Majesty's aversion, on a man's back. [Nicolai, Anekdoten (Berlin, 1790), ii. 148.] Of incomparable Quantz, and his heart-thrilling adagios, we hope to hear again, under joyfuler circumstances. Of Lieutenant von Katte,—a short stout young fellow, with black eyebrows, pock-marked face, and rather dissolute manners,—we shall not fail to hear.
Chapter VIII. — CROWN-PRINCE GETTING BEYOND HIS DEPTH IN TROUBLE.
It is not certain that the late Imminency of Duel had much to do with such explosions. The Hanover Imminency, which we likened to a tropical waterspout, or sudden thunderous blotting-out of the sky to the astonished Gazetteers, seems rather to have passed away as waterspouts do,—leaving the earth and air, if anything, a little REFRESHED by such crisis. Leaving, that is to say, the two Majesties a little less disposed for open quarrel, or rash utterance of their ill humor in time coming. But, in the mean while, all mutual interests are in a painful state of suspended animation: in Berlin there is a privately rebellious Spouse and Household, there is a Tobacco-Parliament withal;—and the royal mind, sensitive, imaginative as a poet's, as a woman's, and liable to transports as of a Norse Baresark, is of uncertain movement. Such a load of intricacies and exaggerated anxieties hanging on it, the royal mind goes like the most confused smoke-jack, sure only to HAVE revolutions; and we know how, afar from Soissons, and at home in Tobacco-Parliament, the machine is influenced! Enough, the explosive procedures continue, and are on the increasing hand.
Majesty's hunting at Wusterhausen was hardly done, when that alarming Treaty of Seville came to light (9th November, 1729), France and England ranked by the side of Spain, disposing of Princes and Apanages at their will, and a Kaiser left sitting solitary,—which awakens the domestic whirlwinds at Berlin, among other results. "CANAILLE ANGLAISE, English Doggery!" and similar fine epithets, addressed to Wilhelmina and the Crown-Prince, fly about; not to speak of occasional crockery and other missiles. Friedrich Wilhelm has forbidden these two his presence altogether, except at dinner: Out of my sight, ye Canaille Anglaise; darken not the sunlight for me at all!
This is in the Wusterhausen time,—Hanover Imminency only two months gone. And Mamma sends for us to have private dialogues in her Apartment there, with spies out in every direction to make signal of Majesty's return from his hunt,—who, however, surprises as on one occasion, so that we have to squat for hours, and almost get suffocated. [Wilhelmina, i. 172.] Whereupon the Crown-Prince, who will be eighteen in a couple of months, and feels the indignity of such things, begs of Mamma to be excused in future. He has much to suffer from his Father again, writes Dubourgay in the end of November: "it is difficult to conceive the vile stratagems that are made use of to provoke the Father against the Son." [Dubourgay, 28th November, 1729.] Or again, take this, as perhaps marking an epoch in the business, a fortnight farther on:—
DECEMBER 10th 1729. "His Prussian Majesty cannot bear the sight of either the Prince or Princess Royal: The other day, he asked the Prince: 'Kalkstein makes you English; does not he?' Kalkstein, your old Tutor, Borck, Knyphausen, Finkenstein, they are all of that vile clique!" To which the Prince answered, 'I respect the English because I know the people there love me;' upon which the King seized him by the collar, struck him fiercely with his cane," in fact rained showers of blows upon him; "and it was only by superior strength," thinks Dubourgay, "that the poor Prince escaped worse. There is a general apprehension of something tragical taking place before long."
Truly the situation is so violent, it cannot last. And in effect a wild thought, not quite new, ripens to a resolution in the Crown-Prince under such pressures: In reference to which, as we grope and guess, here is a Billet to Mamma, which Wilhelmina has preserved. Wilhelmina omits all trace of date, as usual; but Dubourgay, in the above Excerpt, probably supplies that defect:—
FRIEDRICH TO HIS MOTHER (Potsdam, December, 1729).
"I am in the uttermost despair. What I had always apprehended has at last come on me. The King has entirely forgotten that I am his Son. This morning I came into his room as usual; at the first sight of me," or at the first passage of Kalkstein-dialogue with me, "he sprang forward, seized me by the collar, and struck me a shower of cruel blows with his rattan. I tried in vain to screen myself, he was in so terrible a rage, almost out of himself; it was only weariness," not my superior strength, "that made him give up."
"I am driven to extremity. I have too much honor to endure such treatment; and I am resolved to put an end to it in one way or another." [Wilhelmina, i. 175.]
Is not this itself sufficiently tragical? Not the first stroke he had got, we can surmise; but the first torrent of strokes, and open beating like a slave;—which to a proud young man and Prince, at such age, is indeed INtolerable. Wilhelmina knows too well what he meaus by "ending it in one way or another;" but strives to reassure Mamma as to its meaning "flight," or the like desperate resolution. "Mere violence of the moment," argues Wilhelmina; terribly aware that it is deeper-rooted than that.
Flight is not a new idea to the Crown-Prince; in a negative form we have seen it present in the minds of by-standers: "a Crown-Prince determined NOT to fly," whispered they. [Dubourgay (9th August, 1729), supra, p. 129.] Some weeks ago, Wilhelmina writes: "The King's bad treatments began again on his reappearance" at Potsdam after the Hunting; "he never saw my Brother without threatening him with his cane. My Brother told me day after day, He would endure everything from the King, only not blows; and that if it ever came to such extremity, he would be prepared to deliver himself by running off." And here, it would seem, the extremity has actually come.
Wilhelmina, pitying her poor Brother, but condemning him on many points, continues: [i. 173, 174.] "Lieutenant Keith," that wild companion of his, "had been gone some time, stationed in Wesel with his regiment." Which fact let us also keep in mind. "Keith's departure had been a great joy to me; in the hope my Brother would now lead a more regular life: but it proved quite otherwise. A second favorite, and a much more dangerous, succeeded Keith. This was a young man of the name of Katte, Captain-Lieutenant in the regiment GENS-D'ARMES. He was highly connected in the Army; his Mother had been a daughter of Feldmarschall Graf von Wartensleben,"—a highest dignitary of the last generation. Katte's Father, now a General of distinction, rose also to be Feldmarschall; Cousins too, sons of a Kammer-President von Katte at Magdeburg, rose to Army rank in time coming; but not this poor Katte,—whom let the reader note!
"General Katte his Father," continues Wilhelmina, "had sent him to the Universities, and afterwards to travel, desiring he should be a Lawyer. But as there was no favor to expect out of the Army, the young man found himself at last placed there, contrary to his expectation. He continued to apply himself to studies; he had wit, book-culture, acquaintance with the world; the good company which he continued to frequent had given him polite manners, to a degree then rare in Berlin. His physiognomy was rather disagreeable than otherwise. A pair of thick black eyebrows almost covered the eyes of him; his look had in it something ominous, presage of the fate he met with: a tawny skin, torn by small-pox, increased his ugliness. He affected the freethinker, and carried libertinism to excess; a great deal of ambition and headlong rashness accompanied this vice." A dangerous adviser here in the Berlin element, with lightnings going!"Such a favorite was not the man to bring back my Brother from his follies. This I learned at our [Mamma's and my] return to Berlin," from the Wusterhausen and the Potsdam tribulations;—and think of it, not without terror, now that the extremity seems coming or come.
Chapter IX. — DOUBLE-MARRIAGE SHALL BE OR SHALL NOT BE.
For one thing, Friedrich Wilhelm, weary of all this English pother and futility, will end the Double-Marriage speculation; Wilhelmina shall be disposed of, and so an end. Friedrich Wilhelm, once the hunting was over at Wusterhausen, ran across, southward,—to "Lubnow," Wilhelmina calls it,—to Lubben in the Nether Lausitz, [25th October, 1729 (Fassmann, p. 404).] a short day's drive; there to meet incognito the jovial Polish Majesty, on his route towards Dresden; to see a review or so; and have a little talk with the ever-cheerful Man of Sin. Grumkow and Seckendorf, of course these accompany; Majesty's shadow is not surer.
Review was held at Lubben, Weissenfels Commander-in-chief taking charge; dinner also, a dinner or two, with much talk and drink;—and there it was settled, Wilhelmina has since known, that Weissenfels, Royal Highness in the Abstract, was to be her Husband, after all. Weissenfels will do; either Weissenfels or else the Margraf of Schwedt, thinks Friedrich Wilhelm; somebody shall marry the baggage out of hand, and let us have done with that. Grumkow, as we know, was very anxious for it; calculating thereby to out the ground from under the Old Dessauer, and make this Weissenfels Generalissimo of Prussia; a patriotic thought. Polish Majesty lent hand, always willing to oblige.
Friedrich Wilhelm, on his return homewards, went round by Dahme for a night:—not "Dam," O Princess, there is no such town or schloss! Round by Dahme, a little town and patch of territory, in the Saxon Countries, which was Weissenfels's Apanage;—"where plenty of Tokay" cheered the royal heart; and, in such mood, it seemed as if one's Daughter might do very well in this extremely limited position. And Weissenfels, though with dark misgivings as to Queen Sophie, was but too happy to consent: the foolish creature; a little given to liquor too! Friedrich Wilhelm, with this fine project in his head, drove home to Potsdam;—and there laid about him, on the poor Crown-Prince, in the way we have seen; terrifying Queen and Princess, who are at Berlin till Christmas and the Carnival be over. Friedrich Wilhelm means to see the Polish Majesty again before long,—probably so soon as this of Weissenfels is fairly got through the Female Parliament, where it is like there will be difficulties.
Christmas came to Berlin, and the King with it; who did the gayeties for a week or two, and spoke nothing about business to his Female Parliament. Dubourgay saw him, at Parade, on New-Year's morning; whither all manner of Foreign Dignitaries had come to pay their respects: "Well," cried the King to Dubourgay, "we shall have a War, then,"—universa1 deadly tug at those Italian Apanages, for and against an insulted Kaiser,—"War; and then all that is crooked will be pulled straight!" So spake Friedrich Wilhelm on the New-Year's morning; War in Italy, universal spasm of wrestle there, being now the expectation of foolish mankind: Crooked will be pulled straight, thinks Friedrich Wilhelm; and perhaps certain high Majesties, deaf to the voice of Should-not, will understand that of Can-not, Excellenz!—Crooked will become straight? "Indeed if so, your Majesty, the sooner the better!" I ventured to answer. [Dubourgay, 8th January, 1730.]
New Year's day is not well in, and the ceremonial wishes over, when Friedrich Wilhelm, his mind full of serious domestic and foreign matter, withdraws to Potsdam again; and therefrom begins fulminating in a terrible manner on his womankind at Berlin, what we called his Female Parliament,—too much given to opposition courses at present. Intends to have his measures passed there, in defiance of opposition; straightway; and an end put to this inexpressible Double-Marriage higgle-haggle. Speed to him! we will say.—Three high Crises occur, three or even four, which can now without much detail be made intelligible to the patient reader: on the back of which we look for some catastrophe and finis to the Business;—any catastrophe that will prove a finis, how welcome will it be!
WILHELMINA TO BE MARRIED OUT OF HAND. CRISIS FIRST: ENGLAND SHALL SAY YES OR SAY NO.
Still early in January, a few days after his Majesty's return to Potsdam, three high Official gentlemen, Count Fink van Finkenstein, old Tutor to the Prince, Grumkow and General Borck announce themselves one morning; "Have a pressing message from the King to her Majesty." [Wilhelmina, i. 180.] Queen is astonished; expecting anything sooner.—"This regards me, I have a dreading!" shuddered Wilhelmina to Mamma. "No matter," said the Queen, shrugging her shoulders; "one must have firmness; and that is not what I shall want;"—and her Majesty went into the Audience-chamber, leaving Wilhelmina in such tremors.
Finkenstein, a friendly man, as Borck too is, explains to her Majesty, "That they three have received each a Letter overnight,—Letter from the King, enjoining in the FIRST place 'silence under pain of death;' in the SECOND place, apprising them that he, the King, will no longer endure her Majesty's disobedience in regard to the marriage of his Daughter, but will banish Daughter and Mother 'to Oranienburg,' quasi-divorce, and outer darkness, unless there be compliance with his sovereign will; THIRDLY, that they are accordingly to go, all three, to her Majesty, to deliver the enclosed Royal Autograph [which Finkenstein presents], testifying what said sovereign will is, and on the above terms expect her Majesty's reply;"—as they have now sorrowfully done, Finkenstein and Borck with real sorrow; Grumkow with the reverse of real.
Sovereign will is to the effect: "Write to England one other time, Will you at once marry, or not at once; Yea or No? Answer can be here within a fortnight; three weeks, even in case of bad winds. If the answer be not Yea at once; then you, Madam, you at once choose Weissenfels or Schwedt, one or the other,—under what penalties you know; Oranienburg and worse!"
Here is a crisis. But her Majesty did not want firmness. "Write to England? Yes, willingly. But as to Weissenfels and Schwedt, whatever answer come from England,—Impossible!" steadily answers her Majesty. There was much discourse, suasive, argumentative; Grumkow "quoting Scripture on her Majesty, as the Devil can on occasion," says Wilhelmina. Express Scriptures, Wives, be obedient to your husbands, and the like texts: but her Majesty, on the Scripture side too, gave him as good as he brought. "Did not Bethuel the son of Milcah, [Genesis xxiv. 14-58.] when Abraham's servant asked his daughter in marriage for young Isaac, answer, We will call the damsel and inquire of her mouth. And they called Rebecca, and said unto her, Wilt thou go with this man? And she said, I will go." Scripture for Scripture, Herr von Grumkow! "Wives must obey their husbands; surely yes. But the husbands are to command things just and reasonable. The King's procedure is not accordant with that law. He is for doing violence to my Daughter's inclination, and rendering her unhappy for the rest of her days;—will give her a brutal debauchee," fat Weissenfels, so describable in strong language; "a younger brother, who is nothing but the King of Poland's Officer; landless, and without means to live according to his rank. Or can it be the State that will profit from such a marriage? If they have a Household, the King will have to support it.—Write to England; Yes; but whatever the answer of England, Weissenfels never! A thousand times sooner see my child in her grave than hopelessly miserable!" Here a qualm overtook her Majesty; for in fact she is in an interesting state, third month of her time: "I am not well; You should spare me, Gentlemen, in the state I am in.—I do not accuse the King," concluded she: "I know," hurling a glance at Grumkow, "to whom I owe all this;"—and withdrew to her interior privacies; reading there with Wilhelmina "the King's cruel Letter," and weeping largely, though firm to the death. [Wilhelmina, i. 179-182. Dubourgay has nothing,—probably had heard nothing, there being "silence under pain of death" for the moment.]
What to do in such a crisis? Assemble the Female Parliament, for one thing: good Madam Finkenstein (old Tutor's wife), good Mamsell Bulow, Mamsell Sonsfeld (Wilhelmina's Governess), and other faithful women:—well if we can keep away traitresses, female spies that are prowling about; especially one "Ramen," a Queen's soubrette, who gets trusted with everything, and betrays everything; upon whom Wilhelmina is often eloquent. Never was such a traitress; took Dubourgay's bribe, which the Queen had advised; and, all the same, betrays everything,—bribe included. And the Queen, so bewitched, can keep nothing from her. Female Parliament must, take precautions about the Ramen!—For the rest, Female Parliament advises two things: 1. Pressing Letter to England; that of course, written with the eloquence of despair: and then 2. That in case of utter extremity, her Majesty "pretend to fall ill." That is Crisis First; and that is their expedient upon it.
Letter goes to England, therefore; setting forth the extremity of strait, and pinch: "Now or never, O my Sister Caroline!" Many such have gone, first and last; but this is the strongest of all. Nay the Crown-Prince too shall write to his Aunt of England: you, Wilhelmina, draw out, a fit brief Letter for him: send it to Potsdam, he will copy it there! [Wilhelmina, i. 183.] So orders the Mother: Wilhelmina does it, with a terrified heart; Crown-Prince copies without scruple: "I have already given your Majesty my word of honor never to wed any one but the Princess Amelia your Daughter; I here reiterate that Promise, in case your Majesty will consent to my Sister's Marriage,"—should that alone prove possible in the present intricacies. "We are all reduced to such a state that"—Wilhelmina gives the Letter in full; but as it is professedly of her own composition, a loose vague piece, the very date of which you have to grope out for yourself, it cannot even count among the several Letters written by the Crown-Prince, both before and after it, to the same effect, which are now probably all of them lost, [TRACE of one, Copy of ANSWER from Queen Caroline to what seems to have been one, Answer rather of dissuasive tenor, is in State-Paper Office: Prussian Despatches, vol. xl,—dateless; probably some months later in 1780.] without regret to anybody; and we will not reckon it worth transcribing farther. Such Missive, such two Missives (not now found in any archive) speed to England by express; may the winds be favorable. Her Majesty waits anxious at Berlin; ready to take refuge in a bed of sickness, should bad come to worse.
DUBOURGAY STRIKES A LIGHT FOR THE ENGLISH COURT.
In England, in the mean while, they have received a curious little piece of secret information. One Reichenbach, Prussian Envoy at London—Dubourgay has long marvelled at the man and at the news he sends to Berlin. Here, of date 17th January, 1730, is a Letter on that subject from Dubourgay, official but private as yet, for "George Tilson, Esq.:"—Tilson is Under-Secretary in the Foreign Office, whose name often turns up on such occasions in the DUBOURGAY, the ROBINSON and other extinct Paper-heaps of that time. Dubourgay dates doubly, by old and new style; in general we print by the new only, unless the contrary be specified.
"TO GEORGE TILSON, ESQ. (Private.)
"BERLIN, 6th Jan. 1729 (by new style, 17th Jan. 1730).
"SIR,—I believe you may remember that we have for a long time suspected that most of Reichenbach's Despatches were dictated by some people here. About two days ago a Paper fell into my hands," realized quietly for a consideration, "containing an Account of money charged to the 'Brothers Jourdan and Lautiers,' Merchants here, by their Correspondent in London, for sending Letters from," properly in, or through, "your City to Reichenbach.
"Jourdan and Lautiers's London Correspondents are Mr. Thomas Greenhill in Little Bell Alley and Mr. John Motteux in St. Mary Axe. Mr. Guerin my Agent knows them very well; having paid them several little bills on my account:"—Better ask Mr. Guerin. "I know not through the hands of which of those Merchants the above-mentioned Letters have passed; but you have ways enough to find it out, if you think it worth while. I make no manner of doubt but Grumkow and his party make use of this conveyance to (SIC) their instructions to Reichenbach. In the Account which I have seen, 'eighteen-pence' is charged for carrying each Letter to Reichenbach: the charge in general is for 'Thirty-two Letters;' and refers to a former Account." So that they must have been long at it.
"I am, with the greatest truth,
Here is a trail which Tilson will have no difficulty in running down. I forget whether it was in Bell Alley or St. Mary Axe that the nest was found; but found it soon was, and the due springes were set; and game came steadily dropping in,—Letters to and Letters from,—which, when once his Britannic Majesty had, with reluctance, given warrant to open and decipher them, threw light on Prussian Affairs, and yielded fine sport and speculation in the Britannic Majesty's Apartment on an evening.
This is no other than the celebrated "Cipher Correspondence between Grumkow and Reichenbach;" Grumkow covertly instructing his slave Reichenbach what the London news shall be: Reichenbach answering him, To hear is to obey! Correspondence much noised of in the modern Prussian Books; and which was, no doubt, very wonderful to Tilson and Company;—capable of being turned to uses, they thought. The reader shall see specimens by and by; and he will find it unimportant enough, and unspeakably stupid to him. It does show Grumkow as the extreme of subtle fowlers, and how the dirty-fingered Seckendorf and he cooked their birdlime: but to us that is not new, though at St. James's it was. Perhaps uses may lie in it there? At all events, it is a pretty topic in Queen Caroline's apartment on an evening; and the little Majesty and she, with various laughters and reflections, can discern, a little, How a poor King of Prussia is befooled by his servants, and in what way a fierce Bear is led about by the nose, and dances to Grumkow's piping. Poor soul, much of his late raging and growling, perhaps it was only Grumkow's and not his! Does not hate us, he, perhaps; but only Grumkow through him? This doleful enchantment, and that the Royal Wild Bear dances only to tunes, ought to be held in mind, when we want anything with him.—Those, amid the teheeings, are reflections that cannot escape Queen Caroline and her little George, while the Prussian Express, unknown to them, is on the road.
WILHELMINA TO BE MARRIED OUT OF HAND. CRISIS SECOND: ENGLAND SHALL HAVE SAID NO.
The Prussian Express, Queen Sophie's Courier to England, made his best speed: but he depends on the winds for even arriving there; and then he depends on the chances for an answer there; an uncertain Courier as to time: and it was not in the power of speed to keep pace with Friedrich Wilhelm's impatience. "No answer yet?" growls Friedrich Wilhelm before a fortnight is gone. "No answer?"—and January has not ended till a new Deputation of the same Three Gentlemen, Finkenstein, Borck, Grumkow, again waits on the Queen, for whom there is now this other message. "Wednesday, 25th January, 1730," so Dubourgay dates it; so likewise Wilhelmina, right for once: "a day I shall never forget," adds she.
Finkenstein and Borck, merciful persons, and always of the English party, were again profoundly sorry. Borck has a blaze of temper in him withal; we hear he apprised Grumkow, at one point of the dialogue, that he, Grumkow, was a "scoundrel," so Dubourgay calls it,—which was one undeniable truth offered there that day. But what can anything profit? The Message is: "Whatever the answer now be from England, I will have nothing to do with it. Negative, procrastinative, affirmative, to me it shall be zero. You, Madam, have to choose, for Wilhelmina, between Weissenfels and Schwedt; otherwise I myself will choose: and upon you and her will alight Oranienburg, outer darkness, and just penalties of mutiny against the Authority set over you by God and men. Weissenfels or Schwedt: choose straightway." This is the King's message by these Three.
"You can inform the King," replied her Majesty, [Wilhelmina, i. 188.] "that he will never make me consent to render my Daughter miserable; and that, so long as a breath of life (UN SOUFFLE DE VIE) remains in me, I will not permit her to take either the one or the other of those persons." "Is that enough? For you, Sir," added her Majesty, turning to Grumkow, "for you, Sir, who are the author of my misfortunes, may my curse fall upon you and your house! You have this day killed me. But I doubt not, Heaven will hear my prayer, and avenge these wrongs." [Dubourgay, 28th January, 1730; Wilhelmina, i. 188 (who suppresses the maledictory part).]—And herewith to a bed of sickness, as the one refuge left!
Her Majesty does now, in fact, take to bed at Berlin; "fallen very ill," it would appear; which gives some pause to Friedrich Wilhelm till he ascertain. "Poorly, for certain," report the Doctors, even Friedrich Wilhelm's Doctor. The humane Doctors have silently given one another the hint; for Berlin is one tempest of whispers about her Majesty's domestic sorrows, "Poorly, for interesting reasons:—perhaps be worse before she is better, your Majesty!"—"Hmph!" thinks Friedrich Wilhelm out at Potsdam. And then the treacherous Ramen reports that it is all shamming; and his Majesty, a Bear, though a loving one, is driven into wrath again; and so wavers from side to side.
It is certain the Queen held, faster or looser, by her bed of sickness, as a main refuge in these emergencies: the last shift of oppressed womankind;—sanctioned by Female Parliament, in this instance. "Has had a miscarriage!" writes Dubourgay, from Berlin gossip, at the beginning of the business. Nay at one time she became really ill, to a dangerous length; and his Majesty did not at first believe it; and then was like to break his heart, poor Bear; aud pardoned Wilhelmina and even Fritz, at the Mother's request,—till symptoms mended again. [Wilhelmina, i. 207.] JARNI-BLEU, Herr Seckendorf, "Grumkow serves us honorably (DIENET EHRLICH)"—does not he!—Ambiguous bed of sickness, a refuge in time of trouble, did not quite terminate till May next, when her Majesty's time came; a fine young Prince the result; [23d May, 1730, August Ferdinand; her last child.] and this mode of refuge in trouble ceased to be necessary.
WILHELMINA TO BE MARRIED OUT OF HAND. CRISIS THIRD: MAJESTY HIMSELF WILL CHOOSE, THEN.
Directly on the back of that peremptory act of disobedience by the womankind on Wednesday last, Friedrich Wilhelm came to Berlin himself. He stormfully reproached his Queen, regardless of the sick-bed; intimated the infallible certainty, That Wilhelmina nevertheless would wed without delay, and that either Weissenfels or Schwedt would be the man. And this said, he straightway walked out to put the same in execution.
Walked, namely, to the Mother Margravine of Schwedt, the lady in high colors, Old Dessauer's Sister; and proposed to her that Wilhelmina should marry her Son.—"The supreme wish of my life, your Majesty," replied she of the high colors: "But, against the Princess's own will, how can I accept such happiness? Alas, your Majesty, I never can!"—and flatly refused his Majesty on those terms: a thing Wilhelmina will ever gratefully remember of her. [Wilhelmina, i. 197.]
So that the King is now reduced to Weissenfels; and returns still more indignant to her Majesty's apartment. Weissenfels, however, it shall be; and frightful rumors go that he is written to, that he is privately coming, and that there will be no remedy. [Wilhelmina, i. 197.] Wilhelmina, formerly almost too florid, is gone to a shadow; "her waist hardly half an ell;" worn down by these agitations. The Prince and she, if the King see either of them,—it is safer to run, or squat behind screens.
HOW FRIEDRICH PRINCE OF BAIREUTH CAME TO BE THE MAN, AFTER ALL.
In this high wind of extremity, the King now on the spot and in such temper, Borck privately advises, "That her Majesty bend a little,—pretend to give up the English connection, and propose a third party, to get rid of Weissenfels."—"What third party, then?"—"Well, there is young Brandenburg-Culmbach, for example, Heir-Apparent of Baireuth; Friedrich, a handsome enough young Prince, just coming home from the Grand Tour, we hear; will have a fine Territory when his Father dies: age is suitable; old kinship with the House, all money-quarrels settled eight or ten years ago: why not him?"—"Excellent!" said her Majesty; and does suggest him to the King, in the next Schwedt-Weissenfels onslaught. Friedrich Wilhelm grumbles an assent, "Well, then:—but I will be passive, observe; not a GROSCHEN of Dowry, for one thing!"—
And this is the first appearance of the young Margraf Friedrich, Heir-Apparent of Baireuth; who comes in as a hypothetic figure, at this late stage;—and will carry off the fair prize, as is well known. Still only doing the Grand Tour; little dreaming of the high fortune about to drop into his mouth. So many wooers, "four Kings" among them, suing in vain; him, without suing, the Fates appoint to be the man.
Not a bad young fellow at all, though no King. Wilhelmina, we shall find, takes charmingly to him, like a good female soul; regretless of the Four Kings;—finds her own safe little island there the prettiest in the world, after such perils of drowning in stormy seas.—Of his Brandenburg genealogy, degree of cousinship to Queen Caroline of England, and to the lately wedded young gentleman of Anspach Queen Caroline's Nephew, we shall say nothing farther, having already spoken of it, and even drawn an abstruse Diagram of it, [Antea, vol. v. p. 309c.] sufficient for the most genealogical reader. But in regard to that of the peremptory "Not a GROSCHEN of Dowry" from Friedrich Wilhelm (which was but a bark, after all, and proved the reverse of a bite, from his Majesty), there may a word of explanation be permissible.
The Ancestor of this Baireuth Prince Friedrich,—as readers knew once, but doubtless have forgotten again,—was a Younger Son; and for six generations so it stood: not till the Father of this Friedrich was of good age, and only within these few years, did the Elder branch die out, and the Younger, in the person of said Father, succeed to Baireuth. Friedrich's Grandfather, as all these progenitors had done, lived poorly, like Cadets, on apanages and makeshifts.
So that the Young Prince's Father, George Friedrich, present incumbent, as we may call him, of Baireuth, found himself—with a couple of Brothers he has, whom also we may transiently see by and by—in very straitened circumstances in their young years. THEIR Father, son of younger sons as we saw, was himself poor, and he had Fourteen of them as family. Now, in old King Friedrich I.'s time, it became apparent, as the then reigning Margraf of Baireuth's children all died soon after birth, that one of these necessitous Fourteen was likely to succeed in Baireuth, if they could hold out. Old King Friedrich thereupon said, "You have chances of succession; true enough,—but nobody knows what will become of that. Sell your chance to me, who am ultimate Heir of all: I will give you a round sum,—the little 'Domain of Weverlingen' in the Halberstadt Country, and say 'Half a Million Thalers;' there you can live comfortably, and support your Fourteen Children,"—"Done," said the necessitous Cousin; went to Weverlingen accordingly; and there lived the rest of his days, till 1708; leaving his necessitous Fourteen, or about Ten of them that were alive and growing up, still all minors, and necessitous enough.
The young men, George Friedrich at the top of them, kept silence in Weverlingen, and conformed to Papa; having nothing to live upon elsewhere. But they had their own thoughts; especially as their Cousin of Baireuth was more and more likely to die childless. And at length, being in the Kaiser's service as soldiers some of them, and having made what interest was feasible, they, early in Friedrich Wilhelm's reign, burst out. That is to say, appealed to the REICHSHOFRATH (Imperial Aulic Council at Vienna; chief Court of the Empire in such cases); openly protesting there, That their Papa had no power to make such a bargain, selling their birthright for immediate pottage; and that, in brief, they would not stand by it at all;—and summoned Friedrich Wilhelm to show cause why they should.
Long lawsuit, in consequence; lengthy law-pleadings, and much parchment and wiggery, in that German Triple-Elixir of Chancery;—little to the joy of Friedrich Wilhelm. Friedrich Wilhelm, from the first, was fairness itself: "Pay me back the money; and let it be, in all points, as you say!" answered Friedrich Wilhelm, from the first. Alas, the money was eaten; how could the money be paid back? The Reichshofrath dubitatively shook its wig, for years: "Bargain bad in Law; but Money clearly repayable: the Money was and is good;—what shall be done about the Money!" At length, in 1722, Friedrich Wilhelm, of himself, settled with this present Margraf, then Heir-Presumptive, How, by steady slow instalments, it could be possible, from the revenues of Baireuth, thriftily administered, to pay back that Half-Million and odd Thalers; and the now Margraf, ever since his accession in 1726, has been annually doing it. So that there is, at this time, nothing but composed kinship and friendship between the two Courts, the little and the big: only Friedrich Wilhelm, especially with his will crossed in this matter of the Baireuth Marriage, thinks to himself, "Throw more money into such a gulf? The 600,000 Thalers had better be got out first!" and says, he will give no Dowry at all, nor take any charge, not so much as give away the Bride, but be passive in the matter.
Queen Sophie, delighted to conquer Grumkow at any rate, is charmed with this notion of Baireuth; and for a moment forgets all other considerations: Should England prove slack and fail, what a resource will Baireuth be, compared with Weissenfels! And Wilhelmina entering, her Majesty breaks forth into admiration over the victory, or half-victory, just gained: What a husband for you this, my dear, in comparison! And as Wilhelmina cannot quite join in the rapture on a sudden; and cannot even consent, unless Papa too give his real countenance to the match, Mamma flies out upon the poor young Lady: [Wilhelmina, i. 201.] "Take the Grand Turk or the Great Mogul, then," said the Queen, "and follow your own caprice! I should not have brought so many sorrows on myself, had I known you better. Follow the King's bidding, then; it is your own affair. I will no longer trouble myself about your concerns;—and spare me, please, the sorrow of your odious presence, for I cannot stand it!" Wilhelmina wished to reply, but the answer was, "Silence! Go, I tell you!" "And I retired all in tears."
"All in tears." The Double-Marriage drifting furiously this long while, in such a sea as never was; and breakers now Close a-lee,—have the desperate crew fallen to staving-in the liquor-casks, and quarrelling with one another?—Evident one thing is, her Majesty cannot be considered a perfectly wise Mother! We shall see what her behavior is, when Wilhelmina actually weds this respectable young Prince. Ungrateful creature, to wish Papa's consent as well as mine! that is the maternal feeling at this moment; and Wilhelmina weeps bitterly, as one of the unluckiest of young Ladies.
Nay, her Brother himself, who is sick of this permanent hurricane, and would fain see the end of it at any price, takes Mamma's part; and Wilhelmina and he come to high words on the matter. This was the unkindest cut of all:—but, of course, this healed in a day. Poor Prince, he has his own allowance of insults, disgraces, blows; has just been found out in some plan, or suspicion of a plan; found out to be in debt at least, and been half miraculously pardoned;—and, except, in flight, he still sees no deliverance ahead. Five days ago, 22d January, 1730, there came out a Cabinet-Order (summary Act of Parliament, so to speak) against "lending money to Princes of the Blood, were it even to the Prince-Royal." A crime and misdemeanor, that shall now be; and Forfeiture of the Money is only part of the penalty, according to this Cabinet-Order. Rumor is, the Crown-Prince had purchased a vehicle and appurtenances at Leipzig, and was for running off. Certainty is, he was discovered to have borrowed 1,000 Thalers from a certain moneyed man at Berlin (money made from French scrip, in Mississippi Law's time);—which debt Friedrich Wilhelm instantly paid. "Your whole debt, then, is that? Tell me the whole!"—"My whole debt," answered the Prince; who durst not own to about 9,000 other Thalers (1,500 pounds) he has borrowed from other quarters, first and last. Friedrich Wilhelm saw perhaps some premonition of flight, or of desperate measures, in this business; and was unexpectedly mild: paid the 1,000 Thalers instantly; adding the Cabinet-Order against future contingencies. [Ranke, i. 296; Forster, &c.] The Prince was in this humor when he took Mamma's side, and redoubled Wilhelmina's grief.
DOUBLE-MARRIAGE, ON THE EDGE OF SHIPWRECK, FLIES OFF A KIND OF CARRIER-PIGEON, OR NOAH'S-DOVE, TO ENGLAND, WITH CRY FOR HELP.
Faithful Mamsell Bulow consoles the Princess: "Wait, I have news that will put her Majesty in fine humor!"—And she really proved as good as her word. Her news is, Dubourgay and Knyphausen, in this extremity of pinch, have decided to send off not letters merely; but a speaking Messenger to the English Court. One Dr. Villa; some kind of "English Chaplain" here, [Wilhelmina, i. 203; Dubourgay's Despatch, 28th January, 1730.] whose chief trade is that he teaches Wilhelmina English; Rev. Dr. Villa, who honors Wilhelmina as he ought, shall be the man. Is to go instantly; will explain what the fatal pass we are reduced to is, and whether Princess Wilhelmina is the fright some represent her there or not.
Her Majesty is overjoyed to hear it: who would not be? Her Majesty "writes Letters" of the due vehemency, thinks Wilhelmina,—dare not write at all, says Dubourgay;—but loads Villa with presents, with advices; with her whole heart speeds him under way. "Dismissed, turned off for some fault or other—or perhaps because the Princess knows enough of English?" so the rumor goes, in Villa's Berlin circle.
"The Chaplain set out with his despatches," says Wilhelmina, who does not name him, but is rather eloquent upon his errand; "loaded with presents from the Queen. On taking leave of me he wept warm tears. He said, saluting in the English fashion,"—I hope with bended knee, and the maiden's fingers at his lips—"'He would deny his Country, if it did not do its duty on this occasion.'" And so hastened forth on his errand. Like a Carrier-Pigeon sent in extremity;—like Noah's-Dove in the Deluge: may he revisit our perishing Ark with Olive in his bill!
END OF BOOK VI.