"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,
"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!