but so darkly that whether the dreadful apprehensions which

time:2023-12-01 04:48:58source:rnaedit:muv


but so darkly that whether the dreadful apprehensions which

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.

but so darkly that whether the dreadful apprehensions which

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.

but so darkly that whether the dreadful apprehensions which

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.


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.


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