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?
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,
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?