HISTORY OF FRIEDRICH II OF PRUSSIA
FREDERICK THE GREAT
By Thomas Carlyle
BOOK V.—DOUBLE-MARRIAGE PROJECT, AND WHAT ELEMENT IT FELL INTO.—1723-1726.
Chapter I. — DOUBLE-MARRIAGE IS DECIDED ON.
We saw George I. at Berlin in October, 1723, looking out upon his little Grandson drilling the Cadets there; but we did not mention what important errand had brought his Majesty thither.
Visits between Hanover and Berlin had been frequent for a long time back; the young Queen of Prussia, sometimes with her husband, sometimes without, running often over to see her Father; who, even after his accession to the English crown, was generally for some months every year to be met with in those favorite regions of his. He himself did not much visit, being of taciturn splenetic nature: but this once he had agreed to return a visit they had lately made him,—where a certain weighty Business had been agreed upon, withal; which his Britannic Majesty was to consummate formally, by treaty, when the meeting in Berlin took effect. His Britannic Majesty, accordingly, is come; the business in hand is no other than that thrice-famous "Double-Marriage" of Prussia with England; which once had such a sound in the ear of Rumor, and still bulks so big in the archives of the Eighteenth Century; which worked such woe to all parties concerned in it; and is, in fact, a first-rate nuisance in the History of that poor Century, as written hitherto. Nuisance demanding urgently to be abated;—were that well possible at present. Which, alas, it is not, to any great degree; there being an important young Friedrich inextricably wrapt up in it, to whom it was of such vital or almost fatal importance! Without a Friedrich, the affair could be reduced to something like its real size, and recorded in a few pages; or might even, with advantage, be forgotten altogether, and become zero. More gigantic instance of much ado about nothing has seldom occurred in human annals;—had not there been a Friedrich in the heart of it.
Crown-Prince Friedrich is still very young for marriage-speculations on his score: but Mamma has thought good to take matters in time. And so we shall, in the next ensuing parts of this poor History, have to hear almost as much about Marriage as in the foolishest Three-volume Novel, and almost to still less purpose. For indeed, in that particular, Friedrich's young Life may be called a ROMANCE FLUNG HELLS-OVER-HEAD; Marriage being the one event there, round which all events turn,—but turn in the inverse or reverse way (as if the Devil were in them); not only towards no happy goal for him or Mamma, or us, but at last towards hardly any goal at all for anybody! So mad did the affair grow;—and is so madly recorded in those inextricable, dateless, chaotic Books. We have now come to regions of Narrative, which seem to consist of murky Nothingness put on boil; not land, or water, or air, or fire, but a tumultuously whirling commixture of all the four;—of immense extent too. Which must be got crossed, in some human manner. Courage, patience, good reader!
QUEEN SOPHIE DOROTHEE HAS TAKEN TIME BY THE FORELOCK.
Already, for a dozen years, this matter has been treated of. Queen Sophie Dorothee, ever since the birth of her Wilhelmina, has had the notion of it; and, on her first visit afterwards to Hanover, proposed it to "Princess Caroline,"—Queen Caroline of England who was to be, and who in due course was;—an excellent accomplished Brandenburg-Anspach Lady, familiar from of old in the Prussian Court: "You, Caroline, Cousin dear, have a little Prince, Fritz, or let us call him FRED, since he is to be English; little Fred, who will one day, if all go right, be King of England. He is two years older than my little Wilhelmina: why should not they wed, and the two chief Protestant Houses, and Nations, thereby be united?" Princess Caroline was very willing; so was Electress Sophie, the Great-Grandmother of both the parties; so were the Georges, Father and Grandfather of Fred: little Fred himself was highly charmed, when told of it; even little Wilhelmina, with her dolls, looked pleasantly demure on the occasion. So it remained settled in fact, though not in form; and little Fred (a florid milk-faced foolish kind of Boy, I guess) made presents to his little Prussian Cousin, wrote bits of love-letters to her; and all along afterwards fancied himself, and at length ardently enough became, her little lover and intended,—always rather a little fellow:—to which sentiments Wilhelmina signifies that she responded with the due maidenly indifference, but not in an offensive manner.
After our Prussian Fritz's birth, the matter took a still closer form: "You, dear Princess Caroline, you have now two little Princesses again, either of whom might suit my little Fritzchen; let us take Amelia, the second of them, who is nearest his age?" "Agreed!" answered Princess Caroline again. "Agreed!" answered all the parties interested: and so it was settled, that the Marriage of Prussia to England should be a Double one, Fred of Hanover and England to Wilhelmina, Fritz of Prussia to Amelia; and children and parents lived thenceforth in the constant understanding that such, in due course of years, was to be the case, though nothing yet was formally concluded by treaty upon it. [Pollnitz, Memoiren, ii. 193.]
Queen Sophie Dorothee of Prussia was always eager enough for treaty, and conclusion to her scheme. True to it, she, as needle to the pole in all weathers; sometimes in the wildest weather, poor lady. Nor did the Hanover Serene Highnesses, at any time, draw back or falter: but having very soon got wafted across to England, into new more complex conditions, and wider anxieties in that new country, they were not so impressively eager as Queen Sophie, on this interesting point. Electress Sophie, judicious Great-Grandmother, was not now there: Electress Sophie had died about a month before Queen Anne; and never saw the English Canaan, much as she had longed for it. George I., her son, a taciturn, rather splenetic elderly Gentleman, very foreign in England, and oftenest rather sulky there and elsewhere, was not in a humor to be forward in that particular business.
George I. had got into quarrel with his Prince of Wales, Fred's Father,—him who is one day to be George II., always a rather foolish little Prince, though his Wife Caroline was Wisdom's self in a manner:—George I. had other much more urgent cares than that of marrying his disobedient foolish little Prince of Wales's offspring; and he always pleaded difficulties, Acts of Parliament that would be needed, and the like, whenever Sophie Dorothee came to visit him at Hanover, and urge this matter. The taciturn, inarticulately thoughtful, rather sulky old Gentleman, he had weighty burdens lying on him; felt fretted and galled, in many ways; and had found life, Electoral and even Royal, a deceptive sumptuosity, little better than a more or less extensive "feast of SHELLS," next to no real meat or drink left in it to the hungry heart of man. Wife sitting half-frantic in the Castle of Ahlden, waxing more and more into a gray-haired Megaera (with whom Sophie Dorothee under seven seals of secrecy corresponds a little, and even the Prince of Wales is suspected of wishing to correspond); a foolish disobedient Prince of Wales; Jacobite Pretender people with their Mar Rebellions, with their Alberoni combinations; an English Parliament jangling and debating unmelodiously, whose very language is a mystery to us, nothing but Walpole in dog-latin to help us through it: truly it is not a Heaven-on-Earth altogether, much as Mother Sophie and her foolish favorite, our disobedient Prince of Wales, might long for it! And the Hanover Tail, the Robethons, Bernstorfs, Fabrices, even the Blackamoor Porters,—they are not beautiful either, to a taciturn Majesty of some sense, if he cared about their doings or them. Voracious, plunderous, all of them; like hounds, long hungry, got into a rich house which has no master, or a mere imaginary one. "MENTERIS IMPUDENTISSIME," said Walpole in his dog-latin once, in our Royal presence, to one of these official plunderous gentlemen, "You tell an impudent lie!"—at which we only laughed. [Horace Walpole, Reminiscences of George I. and George II. (London, 1786.)]
His Britannic Majesty by no means wanted sense, had not his situation been incurably absurd. In his young time he had served creditably enough against the Turks; twice commanded the REICHS-Army in the Marlborough Wars, and did at least testify his indignation at the inefficient state of it. His Foreign Politics, so called, were not madder than those of others. Bremen and Verden he had bought a bargain; and it was natural to protect them by such resources as he had, English or other. Then there was the World-Spectre of the Pretender, stretching huge over Creation, like the Brocken-Spectre in hazy weather;—against whom how protect yourself, except by cannonading for the Kaiser at Messina; by rushing into every brabble that rose, and hiring the parties with money to fight it out well? It was the established method in that matter; method not of George's inventing, nor did it cease with George. As to Domestic Politics, except it were to keep quiet, and eat what the gods had provided, one does not find that he had any.—The sage Leibnitz would very fain have followed him to England; but, for reasons indifferently good, could never be allowed. If the truth must be told, the sage Leibnitz had a wisdom which now looks dreadfully like that of a wiseacre! In Mathematics even,—he did invent the Differential Calculus, but it is certain also he never could believe in Newton's System of the Universe, nor would read the PRINCIPIA at all. For the rest, he was in quarrel about Newton with the Royal Society here; ill seen, it is probable, by this sage and the other. To the Hanover Official Gentlemen devouring their English dead-horse, it did not appear that his presence could be useful in these parts. [Guhrauer, Gottfried Freiherr von Leibnitz, eine Biographie (Breslau, 1842); Ker of Kersland, Memoirs of Secret Transactions (London, 1727)].
Nor are the Hanover womankind his Majesty has about him, quasi-wives or not, of a soul-entrancing character; far indeed from that. Two in chief there are, a fat and a lean: the lean, called "Maypole" by the English populace, is "Duchess of Kendal," with excellent pension, in the English Peeragy; Schulenburg the former German name of her; decidedly a quasi-wife (influential, against her will, in that sad Konigsmark Tragedy, at Hanover long since), who is fallen thin and old. "Maypole,"—or bare Hop-pole, with the leaves all stript; lean, long, hard;—though she once had her summer verdures too; and still, as an old quasi-wife, or were it only as an old article of furniture, has her worth to the royal mind, Schulenburgs, kindred of hers, are high in the military line; some of whom we may meet.
Then besides this lean one, there is a fat; of whom Walpole (Horace, who had seen her in boyhood) gives description. Big staring black eyes, with rim of circular eyebrow, like a coach-wheel round its nave, very black the eyebrows also; vast red face; cheeks running into neck, neck blending indistinguishably with stomach,—a mere cataract of fluid tallow, skinned over and curiously dizened, according to Walpole's portraiture. This charming creature, Kielmannsegge by German name, was called "Countess of Darlington" in this country—with excellent pension, as was natural. They all had pensions: even Queen Sophie Dorothee, I have noticed in our State-Paper Office, has her small pension, "800 pounds a year on the Irish Establishment:" Irish Establishment will never miss such a pittance for our poor Child, and it may be useful over yonder!—This Kielmannsegge, Countess of Darlington was, and is, believed by the gossiping English to have been a second simultaneous Mistress of his Majesty's; but seems, after all, to have been his Half-Sister and nothing more. Half-Sister (due to Gentleman Ernst and a Countess Platen of bad Hanover fame); grown dreadfully fat; but not without shrewdness, perhaps affection; and worth something in this dull foreign country, mere cataract of animal oils as she has become. These Two are the amount of his Britannic Majesty's resources in that matter; resources surely not extensive, after all!—
His Britannic Majesty's day, in St. James's, is not of an interesting sort to him; and every evening he comes precisely at a certain hour to drink beer, seasoned with a little tobacco, and the company of these two women. Drinks diligently in a sipping way, says Horace; and smokes, with such dull speech as there may be,—not till he is drunk, but only perceptibly drunkish; raised into a kind of cloudy narcotic Olympus, and opaquely superior to the ills of life; in which state he walks uncomplainingly to bed. Government, when it can by any art be avoided, he rarely meddles with; shows a rugged sagacity, where he does and must meddle: consigns it to Walpole in dog-latin,—laughs at his "MENTIRIS." This is the First George; first triumph of the Constitutional Principle, which has since gone to such sublime heights among us,—heights which we at last begin to suspect might be depths, leading down, all men now ask: Whitherwards? A much-admired invention in its time, that of letting go the rudder, or setting a wooden figure expensively dressed to take charge of it, and discerning that the ship would sail of itself so much more easily! Which it will, if a peculiarly good seaboat, in certain kinds of sea,—for a time. Till the Sinbad "Magnetic Mountains" begin to be felt pulling, or the circles of Charybdis get you in their sweep; and then what an invention it was!—This, we say, is the new Sovereign Man, whom the English People, being in some perplexity about the Pope and other points, have called in from Hanover, to walk before them in the ways of heroism, and by command and by example guide Heavenwards their affairs and them. And they hope that he will do it? Or perhaps that their affairs will go thither of their own accord? Always a singular People!—
Poor George, careless of these ulterior issues, has always trouble enough with the mere daily details, Parliamentary insolences, Jacobite plottings, South-Sea Bubbles; and wishes to hunt, when he gets over to Hanover, rather than to make Marriage-Treaties. Besides, as Wilhelmina tells us, they have filled him with lies, these Hanover Women and their emissaries: "Your Princess Wilhelmina is a monster of ill-temper, crooked in the back and what not," say they. If there is to be a Marriage, double or single, these Improper Females must first be persuaded to consent. [Memoires de Bareith.] Difficulties enough. And there is none to help; Friedrich Wilhelm cares little about the matter, though he has given his Yes,—Yes, since you will.
But Sophie Dorothee is diligent and urgent, by all opportunities;—and, at length, in 1723, the conjuncture is propitious. Domestic Jacobitism, in the shape of Bishop Atterbury, has got, itself well banished; Alberoni and his big schemes, years ago they are blown into outer darkness; Charles XII. is well dead, and of our Bremen and Verden no question henceforth; even the Kaiser's Spectre-Hunt, or Spanish Duel, is at rest for the present, and the Congress of Cambrai is sitting, or trying all it can to sit: at home or abroad, there is nothing, not even Wood's Irish Halfpence, as yet making noise. And on the other hand, Czar Peter is rumored (not without foundation) to be coming westward, with some huge armament; which, whether "intended for Sweden" or not, renders a Prussian alliance doubly valuable.
And so now at last, in this favorable aspect of the stars, King George, over at Herrenhausen, was by much management of his Daughter Sophie's, and after many hitches, brought to the mark. And Friedrich Wilhelm came over too; ostensibly to bring home his Queen, but in reality to hear his Father-in-law's compliance to the Double-Marriage,—for which his Prussian Majesty is willing enough, if others are willing. Praised be Heaven, King George has agreed to everything; consents, one propitious day (Autumn 1723, day not otherwise dated),—Czar Peter's Armament, and the questionable aspects in France, perhaps quickening his volitions a little. Upon which Friedrich Wilhelm and Queen Sophie have returned home, content in that matter; and expect shortly his Britannic Majesty's counter-visit, to perfect the details, and make a Treaty of it.
His Britannic Majesty, we say, has in substance agreed to everything. And now, in the silence of Nature, the brown leaves of October still hanging to the trees in a picturesque manner, and Wood's Halfpence not yet begun to jingle in the Drapier's Letters of Dean Swift,—his Britannic Majesty is expected at Berlin. At Berlin; properly at Charlottenburg a pleasant rural or suburban Palace (built by his Britannic Majesty's late noble Sister, Sophie Charlotte, "the Republican Queen," and named after her, as was once mentioned), a mile or two Southwest of that City. There they await King George's counter-visit.
Poor Wilhelmina is in much trepidation about it; and imparts her poor little feelings, her anticipations and experiences, in readable terms:—
"There came, in those weeks, one of the Duke of Gloucester's gentlemen to Berlin,"—DUKE OF GLOUCESTER is Fred our intended, not yet Prince of Wales, and if the reader should ever hear of a DUKE OF EDINBURGH, that too is Fred,—"Duke of Gloucester's gentlemen to Berlin," says Wilhelmina: "the Queen had Soiree (APPARTEMENT); he was presented to her as well as to me. He made me a very obliging compliment on his Master's part; I blushed, and answered only by a courtesy. The Queen, who had her eye on me, was very angry I had answered the Duke's compliments in mere silence; and rated me sharply (ME LAVA LA TETE D'IMPORTANCE) for it; and ordered me, under pain of her indignation, to repair that fault to-morrow. I retired, all in tears, to my room; exasperated against the Queen and against the Duke; I swore I would never marry him, would throw myself at the feet—" And so on, as young ladies of vivacious temper, in extreme circumstances, are wont:—did speak, however, next day, to my Hanover gentleman about his Duke, a little, though in an embarrassed manner. Alas, I am yet but fourteen, gone the 3d of July last: tremulous as aspen-leaves; or say, as sheet-lightning bottled in one of the thinnest human skins; and have no experience of foolish Dukes and affairs!—
"Meanwhile," continues Wilhelmina, "the King of England's time of arrival was drawing nigh. We repaired, on the 6th of October, to Charlottenburg to receive him. The heart of me kept beating, and I was in cruel agitations. King George [my Grandfather, and Grand Uncle] arrived on the 8th, about seven in the evening;"—dusky shades already sinking over Nature everywhere, and all paths growing dim. Abundant flunkies, of course, rush out with torches or what is needful. "The King of Prussia, the Queen and all their Suite received him in the Court of the Palace, the 'Apartments' being on the ground-floor. So soon as he had saluted the King and Queen, I was presented to him. He embraced me; and turning to the Queen said to her, 'Your daughter is very big of her age!' He gave the Queen his hand, and led her into her apartment, whither everybody followed them. As soon as I came in, he took a light from the table, and surveyed me from head to foot. I stood motionless as a statue, and was much put out of countenance. All this went on without his uttering the least word. Having thus passed me in review, he addressed himself to my Brother, whom he caressed much, and amused himself with, for a good while." Pretty little Grandson this, your Majesty;—any future of history in this one, think you? "I," says Wilhelmina, "took the opportunity of slipping out;"—hopeful to get away; but could not, the Queen having noticed.
"The Queen made me a sign to follow her; and passed into a neighboring apartment, where she had the English and Germans of King George's Suite successively presented to her. After some talk with these gentlemen, she withdrew; leaving me to entertain them, and saying: 'Speak English to my Daughter; you will find she speaks it very well.' I felt much less embarrassed, once the Queen was gone; and picking up a little courage, I entered into conversation with these English. As I spoke their language like my mother-tongue, I got pretty well out of the affair, and everybody seemed charmed with me. They made my eulogy to the Queen; told her I had quite the English air, and was made to be their Sovereign one day. It was saying a great deal on their part: for these English think themselves so much above all other people, that they imagine they are paying a high compliment when they tell any one he has got English manners.
"Their King [my Grandpapa] had got Spanish manners, I should say: he was of an extreme gravity, and hardly spoke a word to anybody. He saluted Madam Sonsfeld [my invaluable thrice-dear Governess] very coldly; and asked her 'If I was always so serious, and if my humor was of the melancholy turn?' 'Anything but that, Sire,' answered the other: 'but the respect she has for your Majesty prevents her from being as sprightly as she commonly is.' He wagged his head, and answered nothing. The reception he had given me, and this question, of which I heard, gave me such a chill, that I never had the courage to speak to him,"—was merely looked at with a candle by Grandpapa.
"We were summoned to supper at last, where this grave Sovereign still remained dumb. Perhaps he was right, perhaps he was wrong; but I think he followed the proverb, which says, Better hold your tongue than speak badly. At the end of the repast he felt indisposed. The Queen would have persuaded him to quit table; they bandied compliments a good while on the point; but at last she threw down her napkin, and rose. The King of England naturally rose too; but began to stagger; the King of Prussia ran up to help him, all the company ran bustling about him; but it was to no purpose: he sank on his knees; his peruke falling on one side, and his hat [or at least his head, Madam!] on the other. They stretched him softly on the floor; where he remained a good hour without consciousness. The pains they took with him brought back his senses, by degrees, at last. The Queen and the King [of Prussia] were in despair all this while. Many have thought this attack was a herald of the stroke of apoplexy which came by and by,"—within four years from this date, and carried off his Majesty in a very gloomy manner.
"They passionately entreated him to retire now," continues Wilhelmina; "but he would not by any means. He led out the Queen, and did the other ceremonies, according to rule; had a very bad night, as we learned underhand;" but persisted stoically nevertheless, being a crowned Majesty, and bound to it. He stoically underwent four or three other days, of festival, sight-seeing, "pleasure" so called;—among other sights, saw little Fritz drilling his Cadets at Berlin;—and on the fourth day (12th October, 1723, so thinks Wilhelmina) fairly "signed the Treaty of the Double-Marriage," English Townshend and the Prussian Ministry having settled all things. [Wilhelmina, Memoires de Bareith, i. 83, 87,—In Coxe (Memoirs of Sir Robert Walpole, London, 1798), ii. 266, 272, 273, are some faint hints, from Townshend, of this Berlin journey.]
"Signed the Treaty," thinks Wilhelmina, "all things being settled." Which is an error on the part of Wilhelmina. Settled many or all things were by Townshend and the others: but before signing, there was Parliament to be apprised, there were formalities, expenditure of time; between the cup and the lip, such things to intervene;—and the sad fact is, the Double-Marriage Treaty never was signed at all!—However, all things being now settled ready for signing, his Britannic Majesty, next morning, set off for the GOHRDE again, to try if there were any hunting possible.
This authentic glimpse, one of the few that are attainable, of their first Constitutional King, let English readers make the most of. The act done proved dreadfully momentous to our little Friend, his Grandson; and will much concern us!
Thus, at any rate, was the Treaty of the Double-Marriage settled, to the point of signing,—thought to be as good as signed. It was at the time when Czar Peter was making armaments to burn Sweden; when Wood's Halfpence (on behalf of her Improper Grace of Kendal, the lean Quasi-Wife, "Maypole" or Hop-pole, who had run short of money, as she often did) were about beginning to jingle in Ireland; [Coxe (i. 216, 217, and SUPPLY the dates); Walpole to Townshend, 13th October, 1723 (ib. ii. 275): "The Drapier's Letters" are of 1724.] when Law's Bubble "System" had fallen, well flaccid, into Chaos again; when Dubois the unutterable Cardinal had at length died, and d'Orleans the unutterable Regent was unexpectedly about to do so,—in a most surprising Sodom-and-Gomorrah manner. [2d December, 1723: Barbier, Journal Historique du Regne de Louis XV. (Paris, 1847), i. 192, 196; Lacretelle, Histoire de France, 18me siecle; &c.] Not to mention other dull and vile phenomena of putrid fermentation, which were transpiring, or sluttishly bubbling up, in poor benighted rotten Europe here or there;—since these are sufficient to date the Transaction for us; and what does not stick to our Fritz and his affairs it is more pleasant to us to forget than to remember, of such an epoch.
Hereby, for the present, is a great load rolled from Queen Sophie Dorothee's heart. One, and, that the highest, of her abstruse negotiations, cherished, labored in, these fourteen years, she has brought to a victorious issue,—has she not? Her poor Mother, once so radiant, now so dim and angry, shut in the Castle of Ahlden, does not approve this Double-Marriage; not she for her part;—as indeed evil to all Hanoverian interests is now chiefly her good, poor Lady; and she is growing more and more of a Megaera every day. With whom Sophie Dorothee has her own difficulties and abstruse practices; but struggles always to maintain, under seven-fold secrecy, some thread of correspondence and pious filial ministration wherever possible; that the poor exasperated Mother, wretchedest and angriest of women, be not quite cut off from the kinship of the living, but that some soft breath of pity may cool her burning heart now and then. [In Memoirs of Sophia Dorothea (London, 1845), ii. 385, 393, are certain fractions of this Correspondence, "edited" in an amazing manner.] A dark tragedy of Sophie's, this; the Bluebeard Chamber of her mind, into which no eye but her own must ever look.
PRINCESS AMELIA COMES INTO THE WORLD.
In reference to Queen Sophie, and chronologically if not otherwise connected with this Double-Marriage Treaty, I will mention one other thing. Her Majesty had been in fluctuating health, all summer; unaccountable symptoms turning up in her Majesty's constitution, languors, qualms, especially a tendency to swelling or increase of size, which had puzzled and alarmed her Doctors and her. Friedrich Wilhelm, on conclusion of the Marriage-Treaty, had been appointed to join his Father-in-law, Britannic George, at the Gohrde, in some three weeks' time, and have a bout of hunting. On the 8th of November, bedtime being come, he kissed his Wilhelmina and the rest, by way of good-by; intending to start very early on the morrow:—long journey (150 miles or so), to be done all in one day. In the dead of the night, Queen Sophie was seized with dreadful colics,—pangs of colic or who knows what;—Friedrich Wilhelm is summoned; rises in the highest alarm; none but the maids and he at hand to help; and the colic, or whatever it may be, gets more and more dreadful.
Colic? O poor Sophie, it is travail, and no colic; and a clever young Princess is suddenly the result! None but Friedrich Wilhelm and the maid for midwives; mother and infant, nevertheless, doing perfectly well. Friedrich Wilhelm did not go on the morrow, but next day; laughed, ever and anon in loud hahas, at the part he had been playing; and was very glad and merry. How the experienced Sophie, whose twelfth child this is, came to commit such an oversight is unaccountable; but the fact is certain, and made a merry noise in Court circles. [Pollnitz, ii. 199; Wilhelmina, i. 87, 88.]
The clever little Princess, now born in this manner, is known by name to idle readers. She was christened AMELIA; and we shall hear of her in time coming. But there was, as the Circulating Libraries still intimate, a certain loud-spoken braggart of the histrionic-heroic sort, called Baron Trenck, windy, rash, and not without mendacity, who has endeavored to associate her with his own transcendent and not undeserved ill-luck; hinting the poor Princess into a sad fame in that way. For which, it would now appear, there was no basis whatever! Most condemnable Trenck;—whom, however, Robespierre guillotined finally, and so settled that account and others.
Of Sophie Dorothee's twelve children, including this Amelia, there are now eight living, two boys, six girls; and after Amelia, two others, boys, are successively to come: ten in all, who grew to be men and women. Of whom perhaps I had better subjoin a List; now that the eldest Boy and Girl are about to get settled in life; and therewith close this Chapter.
FRIEDRICH WILHELM'S TEN CHILDREN.
Marriage to Sophie Dorothee, 28th November, 1706.
A little Prince, born 23d November, 1707, died in six months. Then came,
1. FREDERIKA SOPHIE WILHELMINA, ultimately Margravine of Baireuth, after strange adventures in the marriage-treaty way. Wrote her Memoires there, about 1744. Of whom we shall hear much. Left a Daughter, her one child; Daughter badly married, to "Karl reigning Duke of Wurtemberg" (Poet Schiller's famous Serene Highness there), from whom she had to separate, &c., with anger enough, by and by.
After Wilhelmina in the Family series came a second Prince, who died in the eleventh month. Then, 24th January, 1712,
After whom (1713) a little Princess, who died in few months. And then,
3. FREDERIKA LOUISA, born 28th September, 1714; age now about nine. Margravine of Anspach, 30th May, 1729; Widow 1757. Her one Son, born 1736, was the LADY-CRAVEN'S Anspach. Frederika Louisa died 4th February, 1734.
4. PHILIPPINA CHARLOTTE, born 13th of March, 1716; became Duchess of Brunswick (her Husband was Eldest Brother of the "Prince Ferdinand" so famous in England in the Seven-Years War); her Son was the Duke who invaded France in 1792, and was tragically hurled to ruin in the Battle of Jena, 1806. The Mother lived till 1801; Widow since 1780.
After whom, in 1717, again a little Prince, who died within two years (our Fritz then seven,—probably the first time Death ever came before him, practically into his little thoughts in this world): then,
5. SOPHIE DOROTHEE MARIA, born 25th January, 1719; Margravine of Schwedt, 1734 (eldest Magraf of Schwedt, mentioned above as a comrade of the Crown-Prince). Her life not very happy; she died 1765. Left no son (Brother-in-law succeeded, last of the Schwedt MARGRAVES): her Daughter, wedded to Prince Friedrich Eugen, a Prussian Officer, Cadet of Wurtemberg and ultimately Heir there, is Ancestress of the Wurtemberg Sovereignties that now are, and also (by one of HER daughters married to Paul of Russia) of all the Czar kindred of our time. [Preuss, iv. 278; Erman, Vie de Sophie Charlotte, p. 2722.]
6. LOUISA ULRIQUE, born 24th July, 1720; married Adolf Friedrich, Heir-Apparent, subsequemly King of Sweden, 17th July, 1744; Queen (he having acceded) 6th April, 1751; Widow 1771; died, at Stockholm, 16th July, 1782. Mother of the subsequent Kings; her Grandson the DEPOSED> [OErtel, p. 83; Hubner, tt. 91, 227.]
7. AUGUST WILHELM, born 9th August, 1722; Heir-Apparent after Friedrich (so declared by Friedrich, 30th June, 1744); Father of the Kings who have since followed. He himself died, in sad circumstances, as we shall see, 12th June, 1758.
8. ANNA AMELIA, born 9th November, 1723,—on the terms we have seen.
9. FRIEDRICH HEINRICH LUDWIG, born 18th January, 1726;—the famed Prince Henri, of whom we shall hear.
10. AUGUST FERDINAND, born 23d May, 1730: a brilliant enough little soldier under his Brother, full of spirit and talent, but liable to weak health;—was Father of the "Prince Louis Ferdinand," a tragic Failure of something considerable, who went off in Liberalism, wit, in high sentiment, expenditure and debauchery, greatly to the admiration of some persons; and at length rushed desperate upon the Frenoh, and found his quietus (10th October, 1806), four days before the Battle of Jena.
Chapter II. — A KAISER HUNTING SHADOWS.
Treaty of Double-Marriage is ready for signing, once the needful Parliamentary preludings are gone through; Treaty is signed, thinks Wilhelmina,—forgetting the distance between cup and lip!—As to signing, or even to burning, and giving up the thought of signing, alas, how far are we yet from that! Imperial spectre-huntings and the politics of most European Cabinets will connect themselves with that; and send it wandering wide enough,—lost in such a jungle of intrigues, pettifoggings, treacheries, diplomacies domestic and foreign, as the course of true-love never got entangled in before.
The whole of which extensive Cabinet operations, covering square miles of paper at this moment,—having nevertheless, after ten years of effort, ended in absolute zero,—were of no worth even to the managers of them; and are of less than none to any mortal now or henceforth. So that the method of treating them becomes a problem to History. To pitch them utterly out of window, and out of memory, never to be mentioned in human speech again: this is the manifest prompting of Nature;—and this, were not our poor Crown-Prince and one or two others involved in them, would be our ready and thrice-joyful course. Surely the so-called "Politics of Europe" in that day are a thing this Editor would otherwise with his whole soul, forget to all eternity! "Putrid fermentation," ending, after the endurance of much mal-odor, in mere zero to you and to every one, even to the rotting bodies themselves:—is there any wise Editor that would connect himself with that? These are the fields of History which are to be, so soon as humanly possible, SUPPRESSED; which only Mephistopheles, or the bad Genius of Mankind, can contemplate with pleasure.
Let us strive to touch lightly the chief summits, here and there, of that intricate, most empty, mournful Business,—which was really once a Fact in practical Europe, not the mere nightmare of an Attorney's Dream;—and indicate, so far as indispensable, how the young Friedrich, Friedrich's Sister, Father, Mother, were tribulated, almost heart-broken and done to death, by means of it.
IMPERIAL MAJESTY ON THE TREATY OF UTRECHT.
Kaiser Karl VI., head of the Holy Romish Empire at this time, was a handsome man to look upon; whose life, full of expense, vicissitude, futile labor and adventure, did not prove of much use to the world. Describable as a laborious futility rather. He was second son of that little Leopold, the solemn little Herr in red stockings, who had such troubles, frights, and runnings to and fro with the sieging Turks, liberative Sobieskis, acquisitive Louis Fourteenths; and who at length ended in a sea of futile labor, which they call the Spanish Succession War.
This Karl, second son, had been appointed "King of Spain" in that futile business; and with much sublimity, though internally in an impoverished condition, he proceeded towards Spain, landing in England to get cash for the outfit;—arrived in Spain; and roved about there as Titular-King for some years, with the fighting Peterboroughs, Galways, Stahrembergs; but did no good there, neither he nor his Peterboroughs. At length, his Brother Joseph, Father Leopold's successor, having died, [17th April, 1711.] Karl came home from Spain to be Kaiser. At which point, Karl would have been wise to give up his Titular Kingship in Spain; for he never got, nor will get, anything but futile labor from hanging to it. He did hang to it nevertheless; and still, at this date of George's visit and long afterwards, hangs,—with notable obstinacy. To the woe of men and nations: punishment doubtless of his sins and theirs!—
Kaiser Karl shrieked mere amazement and indignation, when the English tired of fighting for him and it. When the English said to their great Marlborough: "Enough, you sorry Marlborough! You have beaten Louis XIV. to the suppleness of wash-leather, at our bidding; that is true, and that may have had its difficulties: but, after all, we prefer to have the thing precisely as it would have been without any fighting. You, therefore, what is the good of you? You are a—person whom we fling out like sweepings, now that our eyesight returns, and accuse of common stealing. Go and be—!"
Nothing ever had so disgusted and astonished Kaiser Karl as this treatment,—not of Marlborough, whom he regarded only as he would have done a pair of military boots or a holster-pistol of superior excellence, for the uses that were in him,—but of the Kaiser Karl his own sublime self, the heart and focus of Political Nature; left in this manner, now when the sordid English and Dutch declined spending blood and money for him farther. "Ungrateful, sordid, inconceivable souls," answered Karl, "was there ever, since the early Christian times, such a martyr as you have now made of me!" So answered Karl, in diplomatic groans and shrieks, to all ends of Europe. But the sulky English and Allies, thoroughly tired of paying and bleeding, did not heed him; made their Peace of Utrecht [Peace of Utrecht, 11th April, 1713; Peace of Rastadt (following upon the Preliminaries of Baden), 6th March, 1714.] with Louis XIV., who was now beaten supple; and Karl, after a year of indignant protests and futile attempts to fight Louis on his own score, was obliged to do the like. He has lost the Spanish crown; but still holds by the shadow of it; will not quit that, if he can help it. He hunts much, digests well; is a sublime Kaiser, though internally rather poor, carrying his head high; and seems to himself, on some sides of his life, a martyred much-enduring man.
IMPERIAL MAJESTY HAS GOT HAPPILY WEDDED.
Kaiser Karl, soon after the time of going to Spain had decided that a Wife would be necessary. He applied to Caroline of Anspach, now English Princess of Wales, but at that time an orphaned Brandenburg-Anspach Princess, very Beautiful, graceful, gifted, and altogether unprovided for; living at Berlin under the guardianship of Friedrich the first King. Her young Mother had married again,—high enough match (to Kur-Sachsen, elder Brother of August the Strong, August at that time without prospects of the Electorate);—but it lasted short while: Caroline's Mother and Saxon Stepfather were both now, long since, dead. So she lived at Berlin brilliant though unportioned;—with the rough cub Friedrich Wilhelm much following her about, and passionately loyal to her, as the Beast was to Beauty; whom she did not mind except as a cub loyal to her; being five years older than he. [Forster, i. 107.] Indigent bright Caroline, a young lady of fine aquiline features and spirit, was applied for to be Queen of Spain; wooer a handsome man, who might even be Kaiser by and by. Indigent bright Caroline at once answered, No. She was never very orthodox in Protestant theology; but could not think of taking up Papistry for lucre's and ambition's sake: be that always remembered on Caroline's behalf.
The Spanish Majesty next applied at Brunswick Wolfenbuttel; no lack of Princesses there: Princesa Elizabeth, for instance; Protestant she too, but perhaps not so squeamish? Old Anton Ulrich, whom some readers know for the idle Books, long-winded Novels chiefly, which he wrote, was the Grandfather of this favored Princess; a good-natured old gentleman, of the idle ornamental species, in whose head most things, it is likely, were reduced to vocables, scribble and sentimentality; and only a steady internal gravitation towards praise and pudding was traceable as very real in him. Anton Ulrich, affronted more or less by the immense advancement of Gentleman Ernst and the Hanoverian or YOUNGER Brunswick Line, was extremely glad of the Imperial offer; and persuaded his timid Grand-daughter, ambitious too, but rather conscience-stricken, That the change from Protestant to Catholic, the essentials being so perfectly identical in both, was a mere trifle; that he himself, old as he was, would readily change along with her, so easy was it. Whereupon the young Lady made the big leap; abjured her religion; [1st May, 1707, at Bamberg.]—went to Spain as Queen (with sad injury to her complexion, but otherwise successfully more or less);—and sits now as Empress beside her Karl VI. in a grand enough, probably rather dull, but not singularly unhappy manner.
She, a Brunswick Princess, with Nephews and Nieces who may concern us, is Kaiserinn to Kaiser Karl: for aught I know of her, a kindly simple Wife, and unexceptionable Sovereign Majesty, of the sort wanted; whom let us remember, if we meet her again one day. I add only of this poor Lady, distinguished to me by a Daughter she had, that her mind still had some misgivings about the big leap she had made in the Protestant-Papist way. Finding Anton Ulrich still continue Protestant, she wrote to him out of Spain:—"Why, O honored Grandpapa, have you not done as you promised? Ah, there must be a taint of mortal sin in it, after all!" Upon which the absurdly situated old Gentleman did change his religion; and is marked as a Convert in all manner of Genealogies and Histories;—truly an old literary gentleman ducal and serene, restored to the bosom of the Church in a somewhat peculiarly ridiculous manner. [Michaelis, i. 131.]—But to return.
IMPERIAL MAJESTY AND THE TERMAGANT OF SPAIN.
Ever after the Peace of Utrecht, when England and Holland declined to bleed for him farther, especially ever since his own Peace of Rastadt made with Louis the year after Kaiser Karl had utterly lost hold of the Crown of Spain; and had not the least chance to clutch that bright substance again. But he held by the shadow of it, with a deadly Hapsburg tenacity; refused for twenty years, under all pressures, to part with the shadow: "The Spanish Hapsburg Branch is dead; whereupon do not I, of the Austrian Branch, sole representative of Kaiser Karl the Fifth, claim, by the law of Heaven, whatever he possessed in Spain, by law of ditto? Battles of Blenheim of Malplaquet, Court-intrigues of Mrs. Masham and the Duchess: these may bring Treaties of Utrecht, and what you are pleased to call laws of Earth;—but a Hapsburg Kaiser knows higher laws, if you would do a thousand Utrechts; and by these, Spain is his!"
Poor Kaiser Karl: he had a high thought in him really though a most misguided one. Titular King of Men; but much bewildered into mere indolent fatuity, inane solemnity, high sniffing pride grounded on nothing at all; a Kaiser much sunk in the sediments of his muddy Epoch. Sure enough, he was a proud lofty solemn Kaiser, infinitely the gentleman in air and humor; Spanish gravities, ceremonials, reticences;—and could, in a better scene, have distinguished himself by better than mere statuesque immovability of posture, dignified endurance of ennui, and Hapsburg tenacity in holding the grip. It was not till 1735, after tusslings and wrenchings beyond calculation, that he would consent to quit the Shadow of the Crown of Spain; and let Europe BE at peace on that score.
The essence of what is called the European History of this Period, such History as a Period sunk dead in spirit, and alive only in stomach, can have, turns all on Kaiser Karl, and these his clutchings at shadows. Which makes a very sad, surprising History indeed; more worthy to be called Phenomena of Putrid Fermentation, than Struggles of Human Heroism to vindicate itself in this Planet, which latter alone are worthy of recording as "History" by mankind.
On the throne of Spain, beside Philip V. the melancholic new Bourbon, Louis XIV.'s Grandson, sat Elizabeth Farnese, a termagant tenacious woman, whose ambitious cupidities were not inferior in obstinacy to Kaiser Karl's, and proved not quite so shadowy as his. Elizabeth also wanted several things: renunciation of your (Kaiser Karl's) shadowy claims; nay of sundry real usurpations you and your Treaties have made on the actual possessions of Spain,—Kingdom of Sicily, for instance; Netherlands, for instance; Gibraltar, for instance. But there is one thing which, we observe, is indispensable throughout to Elizabeth Farnese: the future settlement of her dear Boy Carlos. Carlos, whom as Spanish Philip's second Wife she had given to Spain and the world, as Second or supplementary INFANT there,—a troublesome gift to Spain and others.
"This dear Boy, surely he must have his Italian Apanages, which, you have provided for him: Duchies of Parma and Piacenza, which will fall heirless soon. Security for these Italian Apanages, such as will satisfy a Mother: Let us introduce Spanish garrisons into Parma and Piacenza at once! How else can we be certain of getting those indispensable Apanages, when they fall vacant?" On this point Elizabeth Farnese was positive, maternally vehement; would take no subterfuge, denial or delay: "Let me perceive that I shall have these Duchies: that, first of all; or else not that only, but numerous other things will be demanded of you!"
Upon which point the Kaiser too, who loved his Duchies, and hoped yet to keep them by some turn of the game, never could decide to comply. Whereupon Elizabeth grew more and more termagant; listened to wild counsels; took up an Alberoni, a Ripperda, any wandering diplomatic bull-dog that offered; and let them loose upon the Kaiser and her other gainsayers. To the terror of mankind, lest universal war should supervene. She held the Kaiser well at bay, mankind well in panic; and continually there came on all Europe, for about twenty years, a terror that war was just about to break out, and the whole world to take fire. The History so called of Europe went canting from side to side; heeling at a huge rate, according to the passes and lunges these two giant figures, Imperial Majesty and the Termagant of Spain, made at one another,—for a twenty years or more, till once the duel was decided between them.
There came next to no war, after all; sputterings of war twice over,—1718, Byng at Messina, as we saw; and then, in 1727, a second sputter, as we are to see:—but the neighbors always ran with buckets, and got it quenched. No war to speak of; but such negotiating, diplomatizing, universal hope, universal fear, and infinite ado about nothing, as were seldom heard of before. For except Friedrich Wilhelm drilling his 50,000 soldiers (80,000 gradually, and gradually even twice that number), I see no Crowned Head in Europe that is not, with immeasurable apparatus, simply doing ZERO. Alas, in an age of universal infidelity to Heaven, where the Heavenly Sun has SUNK, there occur strange Spectre-huntings. Which is a fact worth laying to heart.—Duel of Twenty Years with Elizabeth Farnese, about the eventualities of Parma and Piacensa, and the Shadow of the lost Crown of Spain; this was the first grand Spectrality of Kaiser Karl's existence; but this was not the whole of them.
IMPERIAL MAJESTY'S PRAGMATIC SANCTION.
Kaiser Karl meanwhile was rather short of heirs; which formed another of his real troubles, and involved him in much shadow-hunting. His Wife, the Serene Brunswick Empress whom we spoke of above, did at length bring him children, brought him a boy even; but the boy died within the year; and, on the whole, there remained nothing but two Daughters; Maria Theresa the elder of them, born 1717,—the prettiest little maiden in the world;—no son to inherit Kaiser Karl. Under which circumstances Kaiser Karl produced now, in the Year 1724, a Document which he had executed privately as long ago as 1713, only his Privy Councillors and other Official witnesses knowing of it then; [19th April, 1713 (Stenzel, iii. 5222).] and solemnly publishes it to the world, as a thing all men are to take notice of. All men had notice enough of this Imperial bit of Sheepskin, before they got done with it, five-and-twenty years hence. [Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, 1748.] A very famous Pragmatic Sanction; now published for the world's comfort!
By which Document, Kaiser Karl had formally settled, and fixed according to the power he has, in the shape of what they call a Pragmatic Sanction, or unalterable Ordinance in his Imperial House, "That, failing Heirs-male, his Daughters, his Eldest Daughter, should succeed him; failing Daughters, his Nieces; and in short, that Heirs-female ranking from their kinship to Kaiser Karl, and not to any prior Kaiser, should be as good as Heirs-male of Karl's body would have been." A Pragmatic Sanction is the high name he gives this document, or the Act it represents; "Pragmatic Sanction" being, in the Imperial Chancery and some others, the received title for Ordinances of a very irrevocable nature, which a sovereign makes, in affairs that belong wholly to himself, or what he reckons his own rights. [A rare kind of Deed, it would seem; and all the more solemn. In 1438, Charles VI. of France, conceding the Gallican Church its Liberties, does, it by "SANCTION PRAGMATIQUE;" Carlos III. of Spain (in 1759, "settling the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies on his third son") does the like,—which is the last instance of "PRAGMATIC SANCTION" in this world.]
This Pragmatic Sanction of Kaiser Karl's, executed 19th April, 1713, was promulgated, "gradually," now here now there, from 1720 to 1724, [Stenzel, pp. 522, 523.]—in which later year it became universally public; and was transmitted to all Courts and Sovereignties, as an unalterable law of Things Imperial. Thereby the good man hopes his beautiful little Theresa, now seven years old, may succeed him, all as a son would have done, in the Austrian States and Dignities; and incalculable damages, wars, and chances of war, be prevented, for his House and for all the world.
The world, incredulous of to-morrow, in its lazy way, was not sufficiently attentive to this new law of things. Some who were personally interested, as the Saxon Sovereignty, and the Bavarian, denied that it was just: reminded Kaiser-Karl that he was not the Noah or Adam of Kaisers; and that the case of Heirs-female was not quite a new idea on sheepskin. No; there are older Pragmatic Sanctions and settlements, by prior Kaisers of blessed memory; under which, if Daughters are to come in, we, descended from Imperial Daughters of older standing, shall have a word to say!—To this Kaiser Karl answers steadily, with endless argument, That every Kaiser is a Patriarch, and First Man, in such matters; and that so it has been pragmatically sanctioned by him, and that so it shall and must irrevocably be. To the other Powers, and indolent impartial Sovereigns of the world, he was lavish in embassies; in ardent representations; and spared no pains in convincing them that to-morrow would surely come, and that then it would be a blessedness to have accepted this Pragmatic Sanction, and see it lying for you as a Law of Nature to go by, and avoid incalculable controversies.
This was another vast Shadow, or confused high-piled continent of shadows, to which our poor Kaiser held with his customary tenacity. To procure adherences and assurances to this dear Pragmatic Sanction, was, even more than the shadow of the Spanish Crown, and above all after he had quitted that, the one grand business of his Life henceforth. With which he kept all Europe in perpetual travail and diplomacy; raying out ambassadors, and less ostensible agents, with bribes, and with entreaties and proposals, into every high Sovereign Court and every low; negotiating unweariedly by all methods, with all men. For it was his evening-song and his morning-prayer; the grand meaning of Life to him, till Life ended. You would have said, the first question he asks of every creature is, "Will you covenant for my Pragmatic Sanction with me? Oh, agree to it; accept that new Law of Nature: when the morrow comes, it will be salutary for you!"
Most of the Foreign Potentates idly accepted the thing,—as things of a distant contingent kind are accepted;—made Treaty on it, since the Kaiser seemed so extremely anxious. Only Bavaria, having heritable claims, never would. Saxony too (August the Strong), being in the like case, or a better, flatly refused for a long time; would not, at all,—except for a consideration. Bright little Prince Eugene, who dictated square miles of Letters and DIplomacies on the subject (Letters of a steady depth of dulness, which at last grows almost sublime), was wont to tell his Majesty: "Treatying, your Majesty? A well-trained Army and a full Treasury; that is the only Treaty that will make this Pragmatic Sanction valid!" But his Majesty never would believe. So the bright old Eugene dictated,—or, we hope and guess, he only gave his clerks some key-word, and signed his name (in three languages, "Eugenio von Savoye") to these square miles of dull epistolary matter,—probably taking Spanish snuff when he had done. For he wears it in both waistcoat-pockets;—has (as his Portraits still tell us) given up breathing by the nose. The bright little soul, with a flash in him as of Heaven's own lightning; but now growing very old and snuffy.
Shadow of Pragmatic Sanction, shadow of the Spanish Crown,—it was such shadow-huntings of the Kaiser in Vienna, it was this of the Pragmatic Sanction most of all, that thwarted our Prussian Double-Marriage, which lay so far away from it. This it was that pretty nearly broke the hearts of Friedrich, Wilhelmina, and their Mother and Father. For there never was such negotiating; not for admittance to the Kingdom of Heaven, in the pious times. And the open goings-forth of it, still more the secret minings and mole-courses of it, were into all places. Above ground and below, no Sovereign mortal could say he was safe from it, let him agree or not. Friedrich Wilhelm had cheerfully, and with all his heart, agreed to the Pragmatic Sanction; this above ground, in sight of the sun; and rashly fancied he had then done with it. Till, to his horror, he found the Imperial moles, by way of keeping assurance doubly sure, had been under the foundations of his very house for long years past, and had all but brought it down about him in the most hideous manner!—
THIRD SHADOW: IMPERIAL MAJESTY'S OSTEND COMPANY.
Another object which Kaiser Karl pursued with some diligence in these times, and which likewise proved a shadow, much disturbance as it gave mankind, was his "Ostend East-India Company." The Kaiser had seen impoverished Spain, rich England, rich Holland; he had taken up a creditable notion about commerce and its advantages. He said to himself, Why should not my Netherlands trade to the East, as well as these English and Dutch, and grow opulent like them? He instituted (OCTROYA) an "Ostend East-India Company," under due Patents and Imperial Sheepskins, of date 17th December, 1722, [Buchholz, i. 88; Pfeffel, Abrege Chronologique de l'Histoire d'Allemagne (Park, 1776), ii. 522.] gave it what freedom he could to trade to the East. "Impossible!" answered the Dutch, with distraction in their aspect; "Impossible, we say; contrary to Treaty of Westphalia, to Utrecht, to Barrier Treaty; and destructive to the best interests of mankind, especially to us and our trade-profits! We shall have to capture your ships, if you ever send any."
To which the Kaiser counterpleaded, earnestly, diligently, for the space of seven years,—to no effect. "We will capture your ships if you ever send any," answered the Dutch and English. What ships ever could have been sent from Ostend to the East, or what ill they could have done there, remains a mystery, owing to the monopolizing Maritime Powers.
The Kaiser's laudable zeal for commerce had to expend itself in his Adriatic Territories,—giving privileges to the Ports of Trieste and Fiume; [Hormayr, OEsterreichischer Plutarch, x. 101.] making roads through the Dalmatian Hill-Countries, which are useful to this day;—but could not operate on the Netherlands in the way proposed. The Kaiser's Imperial Ostend East-India Company, which convulsed the Diplomatic mind for seven years to come, and made Europe lurch from side to side in a terrific manner, proved a mere paper Company; never sent any ships, only produced Diplomacies, and "had the honor to be." This was the third grand Shadow which the Kaiser chased, shaking all the world, poor crank world, as he strode after it; and this also ended in zero, and several tons of diplomatic correspondence, carried once by breathless estaffettes, and now silent, gravitating towards Acheron all of them, and interesting to the spiders only.
Poor good Kaiser: they say he was a humane stately gentleman, stately though shortish; fond of pardoning criminals where he could; very polite to Muratori and the Antiquaries, even to English Rymer, in opening his Archives to them,—and made roads in the Dalmatian Hill-Country, which remain to this day. I do not wonder he grew more and more saturnine, and addicted to solid taciturn field-sports. His Political "Perforce-Hunt (PARFORCE JAGD)," with so many two-footed terriers, and legationary beagles, distressing all the world by their baying and their burrowing, had proved to be of Shadows; and melted into thin air, to a very singular degree!
Chapter III. — THE SEVEN CRISES OR EUROPEAN TRAVAIL-THROES.
In process of this so terrific Duel with Elizabeth Farnese, and general combat of the Shadows, which then made Europe quake, at every new lunge and pass of it, and which now makes Europe yawn to hear the least mention of it, there came two sputterings of actual War. Byng's sea-victory at Messina, 1718; Spanish "Siege of Gibraltar," 1727, are the main phenomena of these two Wars,—England, as its wont is, taking a shot in both, though it has now forgotten both. And, on the whole, there came, so far as I can count, Seven grand diplomatic Spasms or Crises,—desperate general European Treatyings hither and then thither, solemn Congresses two of them, with endless supplementary adhesions by the minor powers. Seven grand mother-treaties, not to mention the daughters, or supplementary adhesions they had; all Europe rising spasmodically seven times, and doing its very uttermost to quell this terrible incubus; all Europe changing color seven times, like a lobster boiling, for twenty years. Seven diplomatic Crises, we say, marked changings of color in the long-suffering lobster; and two so-called Wars,—before this enormous zero could be settled. Which high Treaties and Transactions, human nature, after much study of them, grudges to enumerate. Apanage for Baby Carlos, ghost of a Pragmatic Sanction; these were a pair of causes for mankind! Be no word spoken of them, except with regret and on evident compulsion.
For the reader's convenience we must note the salient points; but grudge to do it. Salient points, now mostly wrapt in Orcus, and terrestrially interesting only to the spiders,—except on an occasion of this kind, when part of them happens to stick to the history of a memorable man, To us they are mere bubblings-up of the general putrid fermentation of the then Political World; and are too unlovely to be dwelt on longer than indispensable. Triple Alliance, Quadruple Alliance, Congress of Cambrai, Congress of Soissons; Conference of Pardo, Treaty of Hanover, Treaty of Wusterhausen, what are they? Echo answers, What? Ripperda and the Queen of Spain, Kaiser Karl and his Pragmatic Sanction, are fallen dim to every mind. The Troubles of Thorn (sad enough Papist-Protestant tragedy in their time),—who now cares to know of them? It is much if we find a hearing for the poor Salzburg Emigrants when they get into Preussen itself. Afflicted human nature ought to be, at last, delivered from the palpably superfluous; and if a few things memorable are to be remembered, millions of things unmemorable must first be honestly buried and forgotten! But to our affair,—that of marking the chief bubblings-up in the above-said Universal Putrid Fermentation, so far as they concern us.
CONGRESS OF CAMBRAI.
We already saw Byng sea fighting in the Straits of Messina; that was part of Crisis Second,—sequel, in powder-and-ball, of Crisis First, which had been in paper till then. The Powers had interfered, by Triple, by Quadruple Alliance, to quench the Spanish-Austrian Duel (about Apanage for Baby Carlos, and a quantity of other Shadows): "Triple Alliance" [4th January, 1717.] was, we may say, when France, England, Holland laboriously sorted out terms of agreement between Kaiser and Termagant: "Quadruple" [18th July, 1718.] was when Kaiser, after much coaxing, acceded, as fourth party; and said gloomily, "Yes, then." Byng's Sea-fight was when Termagant said, "No, by—the Plots of Alberoni! Never will I, for my part, accede to such terms!" and attacked the poor Kaiser in his Sicilies and elsewhere. Byng's Sea-fight, in aid of a suffering Kaiser and his Sicilies, in consequence. Furthermore, the French invaded Spain, till Messina were retaken; nay the English, by land too, made a dash at Spain, "Descent on Vigo" as they call it,—in reference to which take the following stray Note:—
"That same year [1719, year after Byng's Sea-fight, Messina just about recaptured], there took effect, planned by the vigorous Colonel Stanhope, our Minister at Madrid, who took personal share in the thing, a 'Descent on Vigo,' sudden swoop-down upon Town and shipping in those Gallician, north-west regions. Which was perfectly successful,—Lord Cobham leading;—and made much noise among mankind. Filled all Gazettes at that time;—but now, again, is all fallen silent for us,—except this one thrice-insignificant point, That there was in it, 'in Handyside's Regiment,' a Lieutenant of Foot, by name STERNE, who had left, with his poor Wife at Plymouth, a very remarkable Boy called Lorry, or LAWRENCE; known since that to all mankind. When Lorry in his LIFE writes, 'my Father went on the Vigo expedition,' readers may understand this was it. Strange enough: that poor Lieutenant of Foot is now pretty much all that is left of this sublime enterprise upon Vigo, in the memory of mankind;—hanging there, as if by a single hair, till poor TRISTRAM SHANDY be forgotten too." [Memoirs of Laurence Sterne, written by himself for his Daughter (see Annual Register, Year 1775, pp. 50-52).]
In short, the French and even the English invaded Spain; English Byng and others sank Spanish ships: Termagant was obliged to pack away her Alberoni, and give in. She had to accede to "Quadruple Alliance," after all; making it, so to speak, a Quintuple one; making Peace, in fact, [17th February, 1720.]—general Congress to be held at Cambrai and settle the details.
Congress of Cambrai met accordingly; in 1722,—"in the course of the year," Delegates slowly raining in,—date not fixable to a day or month. Congress was "sat," as we said,—or, alas, was only still endeavoring to get seated, and wandering about among the chairs,—when George I. came to Charlottenburg that evening, October, 1723, and surveyed Wilhelmina with a candle. More inane Congress never met in this world, nor will meet. Settlement proved so difficult; all the more, as neither of the quarrelling parties wished it. Kaiser and Termagant, fallen as if exhausted, had not the least disposition to agree; lay diplomatically gnashing their teeth at one another, ready to fight again should strength return. Difficult for third parties to settle on behalf of such a pair. Nay at length the Kaiser's Ostend Company came to light: what will third parties, Dutch and English especially, make of that?
This poor Congress—-let the reader fancy it—spent two years in "arguments about precedencies," in mere beatings of the air; could not get seated at all, but wandered among the chairs, till "February, 1724." Nor did it manage to accomplish any work whatever, even then; the most inane of Human Congresses; and memorable on that account, if on no other. There, in old stagnant Cambrai, through the third year and into the fourth, were Delegates, Spanish, Austrian, English, Dutch, French, of solemn outfit, with a big tail to each,—"Lord Whitworth" whom I do not know, "Lord Polwarth" (Earl of Marchmont that will be, a friend of Pope's), were the English Principals: [Scholl, ii. 197.]—there, for about four years, were these poor fellow-creatures busied, baling out water with sieves. Seen through the Horn-Gate of Dreams, the figure of them rises almost grand on the mind.
A certain bright young Frenchman, Francois Arouet,—spoiled for a solid law-career, but whose OEDIPE we saw triumphing in the Theatres, and who will, under the new name of VOLTAIRE, become very memorable to us,—happened to be running towards Holland that way, one of his many journeys thitherward; and actually saw this Congress, then in the first year of its existence. Saw it, probably dined with it. A Letter of his still extant, not yet fallen to the spiders, as so much else has done, testifies to this fact. Let us read part of it, the less despicable part,—as a Piece supremely insignificant, yet now in a manner the one surviving Document of this extraordinary Congress; Congress's own works and history having all otherwise fallen to the spiders forever. The Letter is addressed to Cardinal Dubois;—for Dubois, "with the face like a goat," [Herzogin von Orleans, BRIEFE.] yet lived (first year of this Congress); and Regent d'Orleans lived, intensely interested here as third party:—and a goat-faced Cardinal, once pimp and lackey, ugliest of created souls, Archbishop of this same Cambrai "by Divine permission" and favor of Beelzebub, was capable of promoting a young fellow if he chose:—
"TO HIS EMINENCE CARDINAL DUBOIS (from Arouet Junior).
"CAMBRAI, July, 1722.
"... We are just arrived in your City, Monseigneur; where, I think, all the Ambassadors and all the Cooks in Europe have given one another rendezvous. It seems as if all the Ministers of Germany had assembled here for the purpose of getting their Emperor's health drunk. As to Messieurs the Ambassadors of Spain, one of them hears two masses a day, and the other manages the troop of players. The English Ministers [a LORD POLWARTH and a LORD WHITWORTH] send many couriers to Champagne, and few to London. For the rest, nobody expects your Eminence here; it is not thought you will quit the Palais-Royal to visit the sheep of your flock in these parts [no!], it would be too bad for your Eminence and for us all.... Think sometimes, Monseigneur, of a man who [regards your goat-faced Eminence as a beautiful ingenious creature; and such a hand in conversation as never was]. The one thing I will ask [of your goat-faced Eminence] at Paris will be, to have the goodness to talk to me." [OEuvres de Voltaire, 97 vols. (Paris, 1825-1834), lxviii. 95, 96.]
Alas, alas!—The more despicable portions of this Letter we omit, as they are not history of the Congress, but of Arouet Junior on the shady side. So much will testify that this Congress did exist; that its wiggeries and it were not always, what they now are, part of a nightmare-vision in Human History.—
Elizabeth Farnese, seeing at what rate the Congress of Cambrai sped, lost all patience with it; and getting more and more exasperations there, at length employed one Ripperda, a surprising Dutch Black-Artist whom she now had for Minister, to pull the floor from beneath it (so to speak), and send it home in that manner. Which Ripperda did. An appropriate enough catastrophe, comfortable to the reader; upon which perhaps he will not grudge to read still another word?
CONGRESS OF CAMBRAI GETS THE FLOOR PULLED FROM UNDER IT.
Termagant Elizabeth had now one Ripperda for Minister; a surprising Dutch adventurer, once secretary of some Dutch embassy at Madrid; who, discerning how the land lay, had broken loose from that subaltern career, had changed his religion, insinuated himself into Elizabeth's royal favor; and was now "Duke de Ripperda," and a diplomatic bull-dog of the first quality, full of mighty schemes and hopes; in brief, a new Alberoni to the Termagant Queen. This Ripperda had persuaded her (the third year of our inane Congress now running out, to no purpose), That he, if he were sent direct to Vienna, could reconcile the Kaiser to her Majesty, and bring them to Treaty, independently of Congresses. He was sent accordingly, in all privacy; had reported himself as laboring there, with the best outlooks, for some while past; when, still early in 1725, there occurred on the part of France,—where Regent d'Orleans was now dead, and new politics bad come in vogue,—that "sending back," of the poor little Spanish: Infanta, ["5th April, 1725, quitted Paris" (Barbier, Journal du Regne de Louis XV., i. 218).] and marrying of young Louis XV. elsewhere, which drove Elizabeth and the Court of Spain, not unnaturally, into a very delirium of indignation.
Why they sent the poor little Lady home on those shocking terms? It seems there was no particular reason, except that French Louis was now about fifteen, and little Spanish Theresa was only eight; and that, under Duc de Bourbon, the new Premier, and none of the wisest, there was, express or implicit, "an ardent wish to see royal progeny secured." For which, of course, a wife of eight years would not answer. So she was returned; and even in a blundering way, it is said,—the French Ambassador at Madrid having prefaced his communication, not with light adroit preludings of speech, but with a tempest of tears and howling lamentations, as if that were the way to conciliate King Philip and his Termagant Elizabeth. Transport of indignation was the natural consequence on their part; order to every Frenchman to be across the border within, say eight-and-forty hours; rejection forever of all French mediation at Cambrai or elsewhere; question to the English, "Will you mediate for us, then?" To which the answer being merely "Hm!" with looks of delay,—order by express to Ripperda, to make straightway a bargain with the Kaiser; almost any bargain, so it were made at once. Ripperda made a bargain: Treaty of Vienna, 30th April, 1725: [Scholl, ii. 201; Coxe, Walpole, i. 239-250.] "Titles and Shadows each of us shall keep for his own lifetime, then they shall drop. As to realities again, to Parma and Piacenza among the rest, let these be as in the Treaty of Utrecht; arrangeable in the lump;—and indeed, of Parma and Piacenza perhaps the less we say, the better at present." This was, in substance, Ripperda's Treaty; the Third great European travail-throe, or change of color in the long-suffering lobster. Whereby, of course, the Congress of Cambrai did straightway disappear, the floor miraculously vanishing under it; and sinks—far below human eye-reach by this time—towards the Bottomless Pool, ever since. Such was the beginning, such the end of that Congress, which Arouet LE JEUNE, in 1722, saw as a contemporary Fact, drinking champagne in Ramillies wigs, and arranging comedies for itself.
FRANCE AND THE BRITANNIC MAJESTY TRIM THE SHIP AGAIN: HOW FRIEDRICH WILHELM CAME INTO IT. TREATY OF HANOVER, 1725.
The publication of this Treaty of Vienna (30th April, 1725),—miraculous disappearance of the Congress of Cambrai by withdrawal of the floor from under it, and close union of the Courts of Spain and Vienna as the outcome of its slow labors,—filled Europe, and chiefly the late mediating Powers, with amazement, anger, terror. Made Europe lurch suddenly to the other side, as we phrased it,—other gunwale now under water. Wherefore, in Heaven's name, trim your ship again, if possible, ye high mediating Powers. This the mediating Powers were laudably alert to do. Duc de Bourbon, and his young King about to marry, were of pacific tendencies; anxious for the Balance: still more was Fleury, who succeeded Duc de Bourbon. Cardinal Fleury (with his pupil Louis XV. under him, producing royal progeny and nothing worse or better as yet) began, next year, his long supremacy in France; an aged reverend gentleman, of sly, delicately cunning ways, and disliking war, as George I. did, unless when forced on him: now and henceforth, no mediating power more anxious than France to have the ship in trim.
George and Bourbon laid their heads together, deeply pondering this little less than awful state of the Terrestrial Balance; and in about six months they, in their quiet way, suddenly came out with a Fourth Crisis on the astonished populations, so as to right the ship's trim again, and more. "Treaty of Hanover," this was their unexpected manoeuvre; done quietly at Herrenhausen, when his Majesty next went across for the Hanover hunting-season. Mere hunting:—but the diplomatists, as well as the beagles, were all in readiness there. Even Friedrich Wilhelm, ostensibly intent on hunting, was come over thither, his abstruse Ilgens, with their inkhorns, escorting him: Friedrich Wilhelm, hunting in unexpected sort, was persuaded to sign this Treaty; which makes it unusually interesting to us. An exceptional procedure on the part of Friedrich Wilhelm, who beyond all Sovereigns stays well at home, careless of affairs that are not his:—procedure betokening cordiality at Hanover; and of good omen for the Double-Marriage?
Yes, surely;—and yet something more, on Friedrich Wilhelm's part. His rights on the Cleve-Julich Countries; reversion of Julich and Berg, once Karl Philip shall decease:—perhaps these high Powers, for a consideration, will guarantee one's undoubted rights there? It is understood they gave promises of this kind, not too specific. Nay we hear farther a curious thing: "France and England, looking for immediate war with the Kaiser, advised Friedrich Wilhelm to assert his rights on Silesia." Which would have been an important procedure! Friedrich Wilhelm, it is added, had actual thoughts of it; the Kaiser, in those matters of the RITTER-DIENST, of the HEIDELBERG PROTESTANTS, and wherever a chance was, had been unfriendly, little less than insulting, to Friedrich Wilhelm: "Give me one single Hanoverian brigade, to show that you go along with me!" said his Prussian Majesty;—but the Britannic never altogether would. [OEuvres de Frederic, i. 153.] Certain it is, Friedrich Wilhelm signed: a man with such Fighting-Apparatus as to be important in a Hanover Treaty. "Balance of Power, they tell me, is in a dreadful way: certainly if one can help the Balance a little, why not? But Julich and Berg, one's own outlook of reversion there, that is the point to be attended to:—Balance, I believe, will somehow shift for itself!" On these principles, Friedrich Wilhelm signed, while ostensibly hunting. [Fassmann, p. 368; Forster, Urkundenbuch, p. 67.] Treaty of Hanover, which was to trim the ship again, or even to make it heel the other way, dates itself 3d September, 1725, and is of this purport: "We three, France, England, Prussia to stand by each other as one man, in case any of us is attacked,—will invite Holland, Denmark, Sweden and every pacific Sovereignty to join us in such convention,"—as they all gradually did, had Friedrich Wilhelm but stood firm.
For it is a state of the Balances little less than awful. Rumor goes that, by the Ripperda bargain, fatal to mankind, Don Carlos was to get the beautiful young Maria Theresa to wife: that would settle the Parma-Piacenza business and some others; that would be a compensation with a witness! Spain and Austria united, as in Karl V.'s time; or perhaps some Succession War, or worse, to fight over again!—
Fleury and George, as Duc de Bourbon and George had done, though both pacific gentlemen, brandished weapons at the Kaiser; strongly admonishing him to become less formidable, or it would be worse for him. Possible indeed, in such a shadow-hunting, shadow-hunted hour! Fleury and George stand looking with intense anxiety into a certain spectral something, which they call the Balance of Power; no end to their exorcisms in that matter. Truly, if each of the Royal Majesties and Serene Highnesses would attend to his own affairs,—doing his utmost to better his own land and people, in earthly and in heavenly respects, a little,—he would find it infinitely profitabler for himself and others. And the Balance of Power would settle, in that case, as the laws of gravity ordered: which is its one method of settling, after all diplomacy!—Fleury and George, by their manifestoing, still more by their levying of men, George I. shovelling out his English subsidies as usual, created deadly qualms in the Kaiser; who still found it unpleasant to "admit Spanish Garrisons in Parma;" but found likewise his Termagant Friend inexorably positive on that score; and knew not what would become of him, if he had to try fighting, and the Sea-Powers refused him cash to do it.
Hereby was the ship trimmed, and more; ship now lurching to the other side again. George I. goes subsidying Hessians, Danes; sounding manifestoes, beating drums, in an alarming manner: and the Kaiser, except it were in Russia, with the new Czarina Catherine I. (that brown little woman, now become Czarina [8th February, 1725. Treaty with Kaiser (6th August, 1726) went to nothing on her death, 11th May, 1727.]), finds no ally to speak of. An unlucky, spectre-hunting, spectre-hunted Kaiser; who, amid so many drums, manifestoes, menaces, is now rolling eyes that witness everywhere considerable dismay. This is the Fourth grand Crisis of Europe; crisis or travail-throe of Nature, bringing forth, and unable to do it, Baby Carlos's Apanage and the Pragmatic Sanction. Fourth conspicuous change of color to the universal lobster, getting itself boiled on those sad terms, for twenty years. For its sins, we need not doubt; for its own long-continued cowardices, sloths and greedy follies, as well as those of Kaiser Karl!—
At this Fourth change we will gladly leave the matter, for a time; much wishing it might be forever. Alas, as if that were possible to us! Meanwhile, let afflicted readers, looking before and after, readier to forget than to remember in such a case, accept this Note, or Summary of all the Seven together, by way of help:—
TRAVAIL-THROES OF NATURE FOR BABY CARLOS'S ITALIAN APANAGE; SEVEN IN NUMBER.
1. Triple Alliance, English, Dutch, French (4th January, 1717), saying, "Peace, then! No Alberoni-plotting; no Duel-fighting permitted!" Same Powers, next year, proposing Terms of Agreement; Kaiser gloomily accepting them; which makes it Quadruple Alliance (18th July, 1718); Termagant indignantly refusing,—with attack on the Kaiser's Sicilies.
2. First Sputter of War; Byng's Sea-fight, and the other pressures, compelling Termagant: Peace (26th January, 1720); Congress of Cambrai to settle the Apanage and other points.
3. Congress of Cambrai, a weariness to gods and men, gets the floor pulled from under it (Ripperda's feat, 30th April, 1725); so that Kaiser and Termagant stand ranked together, Apanage wrapt in mystery,—to the terror of mankind.
4. Treaty of Hanover (France, England, Prussia, 3d September, 1725) restores the Balances, and more. War imminent. Prussia privately falls off,—as we shall see.
[These first Four lie behind us, at this point; but there are Three others still ahead, which we cannot hope to escape altogether; namely:]
5. Second Sputter of War: Termagant besieges Gibraltar (4th March, 1727—6th March, 1728): Peace at that latter date;—Congress of Soissons to settle the Apanage and other points, as formerly.
6. Congress of Soissons (14th June, 1728—9th November, 1729), as formerly, cannot in the least: Termagaut whispers England;—there is Treaty of Seville (9th November, 1729), France and England undertaking for the Apanage. Congress vanishes; Kaiser is left solitary, with the shadow of Pragmatic Sanction, in the night of things. Pause of an awful nature:—but Fleury does not hasten with the Apanage, as promised. Whereupon, at length,
7. Treaty of Vienna (16th March, 1731): Sea-Powers, leading Termagant by the hand, Sea-Powers and no France, unite with Kaiser again, according to the old laws of Nature;—and Baby Carlos gets his Apanage, in due course;—but does not rest content with it, Mamma nor he, very long!
Huge spectres and absurd bugaboos, stalking through the brain of dull thoughtless pusillanimous mankind, do, to a terrible extent, tumble hither and thither, and cause to lurch from side to side, their ship of state, and all that is embarked there, BREAKFAST-TABLE, among other things. Nevertheless, if they were only bugaboos, and mere Shadows caused by Imperial hand-lanterns in the general Night of the world,—ought they to be spoken of in the family, when avoidable?
Chapter IV. — DOUBLE-MARRIAGE TREATY CANNOT BE SIGNED.
Hitherto the world-tides, and ebbs and flows of external Politics, had, by accident, rather forwarded, than hindered the Double-Marriage. In the rear of such a Treaty of Hanover, triumphantly righting the European Balances by help of Friedrich Wilhelm, one might have hoped this little domestic Treaty would, at last, get itself signed. Queen Sophie did hasten off to Hanover, directly after her husband had left it under those favorable aspects: but Papa again proved unmanageable; the Treaty could not be achieved.
Alas, and why not? Parents and Children, on both sides, being really desirous of it, what reason is there but it should in due time come to perfection, and, without annihilating Time and Space, make four lovers happy? No reason. Rubs doubtless had arisen since that Visit of George I., discordant procedures, chiefly about Friedrich Wilhelm's recruiting operations in the Hanover territory, as shall be noted by and by: but these the ever-wakeful enthusiasm of Queen Sophie, who had set her whole heart with a female fixity on this Double-Marriage Project, had smoothed down again: and now, Papa and Husband being so blessedly united in their World Politics, why not sign the Marriage-Treaty? Honored Majesty-Papa, why not!—"Tush, child, you do not understand. In these tremendous circumstances, the celestial Sign of the BALANCE just about canting, and the Obliquity of the Ecliptic like to alter, how can one think of little marriages? Wait till the Obliquity of the Ecliptic come steadily to its old pitch!"—
Truth is, George was in general of a slow, solemn, Spanish turn of manners; "intolerably proud, too, since he got that English dignity," says Wilhelmina: he seemed always tacitly to look down on Friedrich Wilhelm, as if the Prussian Majesty were a kind of inferior clownish King in comparison. It is certain he showed no eagerness to get the Treaty perfected. Again and again, when specially applied to by Queen Sophie, on Friedrich Wilhelm's order, he intimated only: "It was a fixed thing, but not to be hurried,—English Parliaments were concerned in it, the parties were still young," and so on;—after which brief answer he would take you to the window, and ask, "If you did not think the Herrenhausen Gardens and their Leibnitz waterworks, and clipped-beech walls were rather fine?" [Pollnitz, Memoiren, ii. 226, 228, &c.]
In fact, the English Parliaments, from whom money was so often demanded for our fat Improper Darlingtons, lean Improper Kendals and other royal occasions, would naturally have to make a marriage-revenue for this fine Grandson of ours;—Grandson Fred, who is now a young lout of, eighteen; leading an extremely dissolute life, they say, at Hanover; and by no means the most beautiful of mortals, either he or the foolish little Father of him, to our old sad heart. They can wait, they can wait! said George always.
But undoubtedly he did intend that both Marriages should take effect: only he was slow; and the more you hurried him, perhaps the slower. He would have perfected the Treaty "next year," say the Authorities; meant to do so, if well let alone: but Townshend whispered withal, "Better not urge him." Surly George was always a man of his word; no treachery intended by him, towards Friedrich Wilhelm or any man. It is very clear, moreover, that Friedrich Wilhelm, in this Autumn 1725, was, and was like to be, of high importance to King George; a man not to be angered by dishonorable treatment, had such otherwise been likely on George's part. Nevertheless George did not sign the Treaty "next year" either,—such things having intervened;—nor the next year after that, for reasons tragically good on the latter occasion!
These delays about the Double-Marriage Treaty are not a pleasing feature of it to Friedrich Wilhelm; who is very capable of being hurt by slights; who, at any rate, dislikes to have loose thrums flying about, or that the business of to-day should be shoved over upon to-morrow. And so Queen Sophie has her own sore difficulties; driven thus between the Barbarians (that is, her Husband), and the deep Sea (that is, her Father), to and fro. Nevertheless, since all parties to the matter wished it, Sophie and the younger parties getting even enthusiastic about it; and since the matter itself was good, agreeable so far to Prussia and England, to Protestant Germany and to Heaven and Earth,—might not Sophie confidently hope to vanquish these and other difficulties; and so bring all things to a happy close?
Had it not been for the Imperial Shadow-huntings, and this rickety condition of the celestial Balance! Alas, the outer elements interfered with Queen Sophie in a singular manner. Huge foreign world-movements, springing from Vienna and a spectre-haunted Kaiser, and spreading like an avalanche over all the Earth, snatched up this little Double-Marriage question; tore it along with them, reeling over precipices, one knew not whitherward, at such a rate as was seldom seen before. Scarcely in the Minerva Press is there record of such surprising, infinite and inextricable obstructions to a wedding or a double-wedding. Time and space, which cannot be annihilated to make two lovers happy, were here turned topsy-turvy, as it were, to make four lovers,—four, or at the very least three, for Wilhelmina will not admit she was ever the least in love, not she, poor soul, either with loose Fred or his English outlooks,—four young creatures, and one or more elderly persons, superlatively wretched; and even, literally enough, to do all but kill some of them.
What is noteworthy too, it proved wholly inane, this huge world-ocean of Intrigues and Imperial Necromancy; ran dry at last into absolute nothing even for the Kaiser, and might as well not have been. And Mother and Father, on the Prussian side, were driven to despair and pretty nearly to delirium by it; and our poor young Fritz got tormented, scourged, and throttled in body and in soul by it, till he grew to loathe the light of the sun, and in fact looked soon to have quitted said light at one stage of the business.
We are now approaching Act Second of the Double-Marriage, where Imperial Ordnance-Master Graf von Seckendorf, a Black-Artist of supreme quality, despatched from Vienna on secret errand, "crosses the Palace Esplanade at Berlin on a summer evening of the year 1726;" and evokes all the demons on our little Crown-Prince and those dear to him. We must first say something of an important step, shortly antecedent thereto, which occurred in the Crown-Prince's educational course.
Chapter V. — CROWN-PRINCE GOES INTO THE POTSDAM GUARDS.
Amid such commotion of the foreign elements and the domestic, an important change occurs in the Crown-Prince's course of schooling. It is decided that, whatever be his progress in the speculative branches, it is time he should go into the Army, and practically learn soldiering. In his fourteenth year, 3d May, 1725, [Preuss, i. 26; 106; and Buch fur Jedermann (a minor book of his, on the same subject, Berlin, 1837), ii. 13.] not long before the Treaty of Hanover, he was formally named Captain, by Papa in War-council. Grenadier Guards, Potsdam Lifeguards, to be the regiment; and next year he is nominated Major, and, a vacancy occurring, appointed to begin actual duty. It is on the "20th of August, 1726, that he first leads out his battalion to the muster," on those terms. His age is not yet fifteen by four months;—a very tiny Major among those Potsdam giants; but by rank, we observe, he rides; and his horse is doubtless of the due height. And so the tiny Cadet-drillings have ended; long Files of Giants, splendent in gold-lace and grenadier-caps, have succeeded; and earnest work instead of mimic, in that matter, has begun.
However it may have fared with his other school-lessons, here now is a school-form he is advanced to, in which there will be no resource but learning. Bad spelling might be overlooked by those that had charge of it; bad drilling is not permissible on any terms. We need not doubt the Crown-Prince did his soldier-duty faithfully, and learned in every point the conduct of an officer: penalty as of Rhadamanthus waited upon all failure there. That he liked it is by no means said; he much disliked it, and his disgusts were many. An airy young creature:—and it was in this time to give one instance, that that shearing of his locks occurred: which was spoken of above, where the Court-Chirurgus proved so merciful. To clog the winged Psyche in ever-returning parade-routine and military pipe-clay,—it seems very cruel. But it is not to be altered: in spite of one's disgusts, the dull work, to the last item of it, has daily to be done. Which proved infinitely beneficial to the Crown-Prince, after all. Hereby, to his Athenian-French elegancies, and airy promptitudes and brilliancies, there shall lie as basis an adamantine Spartanism and Stoicism; very rare, but very indispensable, for such a superstructure. Well exemplified, through after life, in this Crown-Prince.
OF THE POTSDAM GIANTS, AS A FACT.
His regiment was the Potsdam Grenadier Guard; that unique giant-regiment, of which the world has heard so much in a vague half-mythical way. The giant-regiment was not a Myth, however, but a big-boned expensive Fact, tramping very hard upon the earth at one time, though now gone all to the ghostly state. As it was a CLASS-BOOK, so to speak, of our Friedrich's,—Class-Book (printed in huge type) for a certain branch of his schooling, the details of which are so dim, though the general outcome of it proved so unforgettable,—readers, apart from their curiosity otherwise, may as well take a glimpse of it on this occasion. Vanished now, and grown a Giant Phantom, the like of it hardly again to be in this world; and by accident, the very smallest Figure ever ranked in it makes it memorable there!—
With a wise instinct, Friedrich Wilhelm had discerned that all things in Prussia must point towards his Army; that his Army was the heart and pith; the State being the tree, every branch and leaf bound, after its sort, to be nutritive and productive for the Army's behoof. That, probably for any Nation in the long-run, and certainly for the Prussian Nation straightway, life or death depends on the Army: Friedrich Wilhelm's head, in an inarticulate manner, was full of this just notion; and all his life was spent in organizing it to a practical fact. The more of potential battle, the more of life is in us: a MAXIMUM of potential battle, therefore; and let it be the OPTIMUM in quality! How Friedrich Wilhelm cared, day and night, with all his heart and all his soul, to bring his Army to the supreme pitch, we have often heard; and the more we look into his ways, the more we are impressed with that fact. It was the central thing for him; all other things circulating towards it, deriving from it: no labor too great, and none too little, to be undergone for such an object. He watched over it like an Argus, with eyes that reached everywhere. Discipline shall be as exact as Euclid;—short of perfection we do not stop! Discipline and ever better discipline; enforcement of the rule in all points, improvement of the rule itself where possible, were the great Drill-sergeant's continual care. Daily had some loop fallen, which might have gone ravelling far enough; but daily was he there to pick it up again, and keep the web unrent and solidly progressive.