"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.