"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,
"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):
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
PRINCESS AMELIA COMES INTO THE WORLD.