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.
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