George I. had got into quarrel with his Prince of Wales, Fred's Father,--him who is one day to be George II., always a rather foolish little Prince, though his Wife Caroline was Wisdom's self in a manner:--George I. had other much more urgent cares than that of marrying his disobedient foolish little Prince of Wales's offspring; and he always pleaded difficulties, Acts of Parliament that would be needed, and the like, whenever Sophie Dorothee came to visit him at Hanover, and urge this matter. The taciturn, inarticulately thoughtful, rather sulky old Gentleman, he had weighty burdens lying on him; felt fretted and galled, in many ways; and had found life, Electoral and even Royal, a deceptive sumptuosity, little better than a more or less extensive "feast of SHELLS," next to no real meat or drink left in it to the hungry heart of man. Wife sitting half-frantic in the Castle of Ahlden, waxing more and more into a gray-haired Megaera (with whom Sophie Dorothee under seven seals of secrecy corresponds a little, and even the Prince of Wales is suspected of wishing to correspond); a foolish disobedient Prince of Wales; Jacobite Pretender people with their Mar Rebellions, with their Alberoni combinations; an English Parliament jangling and debating unmelodiously, whose very language is a mystery to us, nothing but Walpole in dog-latin to help us through it: truly it is not a Heaven-on-Earth altogether, much as Mother Sophie and her foolish favorite, our disobedient Prince of Wales, might long for it! And the Hanover Tail, the Robethons, Bernstorfs, Fabrices, even the Blackamoor Porters,--they are not beautiful either, to a taciturn Majesty of some sense, if he cared about their doings or them. Voracious, plunderous, all of them; like hounds, long hungry, got into a rich house which has no master, or a mere imaginary one. "MENTERIS IMPUDENTISSIME," said Walpole in his dog-latin once, in our Royal presence, to one of these official plunderous gentlemen, "You tell an impudent lie!"--at which we only laughed. [Horace Walpole,
His Britannic Majesty by no means wanted sense, had not his situation been incurably absurd. In his young time he had served creditably enough against the Turks; twice commanded the REICHS-Army in the Marlborough Wars, and did at least testify his indignation at the inefficient state of it. His Foreign Politics, so called, were not madder than those of others. Bremen and Verden he had bought a bargain; and it was natural to protect them by such resources as he had, English or other. Then there was the World-Spectre of the Pretender, stretching huge over Creation, like the Brocken-Spectre in hazy weather;--against whom how protect yourself, except by cannonading for the Kaiser at Messina; by rushing into every brabble that rose, and hiring the parties with money to fight it out well? It was the established method in that matter; method not of George's inventing, nor did it cease with George. As to Domestic Politics, except it were to keep quiet, and eat what the gods had provided, one does not find that he had any.--The sage Leibnitz would very fain have followed him to England; but, for reasons indifferently good, could never be allowed. If the truth must be told, the sage Leibnitz had a wisdom which now looks dreadfully like that of a wiseacre! In Mathematics even,--he did invent the Differential Calculus, but it is certain also he never could believe in Newton's System of the Universe, nor would read the PRINCIPIA at all. For the rest, he was in quarrel about Newton with the Royal Society here; ill seen, it is probable, by this sage and the other. To the Hanover Official Gentlemen devouring their English dead-horse, it did not appear that his presence could be useful in these parts. [Guhrauer,
Nor are the Hanover womankind his Majesty has about him, quasi-wives or not, of a soul-entrancing character; far indeed from that. Two in chief there are, a fat and a lean: the lean, called "Maypole" by the English populace, is "Duchess of Kendal," with excellent pension, in the English Peeragy; Schulenburg the former German name of her; decidedly a quasi-wife (influential, against her will, in that sad Konigsmark Tragedy, at Hanover long since), who is fallen thin and old. "Maypole,"--or bare Hop-pole, with the leaves all stript; lean, long, hard;--though she once had her summer verdures too; and still, as an old quasi-wife, or were it only as an old article of furniture, has her worth to the royal mind, Schulenburgs, kindred of hers, are high in the military line; some of whom we may meet.
Then besides this lean one, there is a fat; of whom Walpole (Horace, who had seen her in boyhood) gives description. Big staring black eyes, with rim of circular eyebrow, like a coach-wheel round its nave, very black the eyebrows also; vast red face; cheeks running into neck, neck blending indistinguishably with stomach,--a mere cataract of fluid tallow, skinned over and curiously dizened, according to Walpole's portraiture. This charming creature, Kielmannsegge by German name, was called "Countess of Darlington" in this country--with excellent pension, as was natural. They all had pensions: even Queen Sophie Dorothee, I have noticed in our State-Paper Office, has her small pension, "800 pounds a year on the Irish Establishment:" Irish Establishment will never miss such a pittance for our poor Child, and it may be useful over yonder!--This Kielmannsegge, Countess of Darlington was, and is, believed by the gossiping English to have been a second simultaneous Mistress of his Majesty's; but seems, after all, to have been his Half-Sister and nothing more. Half-Sister (due to Gentleman Ernst and a Countess Platen of bad Hanover fame); grown dreadfully fat; but not without shrewdness, perhaps affection; and worth something in this dull foreign country, mere cataract of animal oils as she has become. These Two are the amount of his Britannic Majesty's resources in that matter; resources surely not extensive, after all!--
His Britannic Majesty's day, in St. James's, is not of an interesting sort to him; and every evening he comes precisely at a certain hour to drink beer, seasoned with a little tobacco, and the company of these two women. Drinks diligently in a sipping way, says Horace; and smokes, with such dull speech as there may be,--not till he is drunk, but only perceptibly drunkish; raised into a kind of cloudy narcotic Olympus, and opaquely superior to the ills of life; in which state he walks uncomplainingly to bed. Government, when it can by any art be avoided, he rarely meddles with; shows a rugged sagacity, where he does and must meddle: consigns it to Walpole in dog-latin,--laughs at his "MENTIRIS." This is the First George; first triumph of the Constitutional Principle, which has since gone to such sublime heights among us, --heights which we at last begin to suspect might be depths, leading down, all men now ask: Whitherwards? A much-admired invention in its time, that of letting go the rudder, or setting a wooden figure expensively dressed to take charge of it, and discerning that the ship would sail of itself so much more easily! Which it will, if a peculiarly good seaboat, in certain kinds of sea,--for a time. Till the Sinbad "Magnetic Mountains" begin to be felt pulling, or the circles of Charybdis get you in their sweep; and then what an invention it was!--This, we say, is the new Sovereign Man, whom the English People, being in some perplexity about the Pope aud other points, have called in from Hanover, to walk before them in the ways of heroism, and by command and by example guide Heavenwards their affairs and them. And they hope that he will do it? Or perhaps that their affairs will go thither of their own accord? Always a singular People!--
Poor George, careless of these ulterior issues, has always trouble enough with the mere daily details, Parliamentary insolences, Jacobite plottings, South-Sea Bubbles; and wishes to hunt, when he gets over to Hanover, rather than to make Marriage-Treaties. Besides, as Wilhelmina tells us, they have filled him with lies, these Hanover Women and their emissaries: "Your Princess Wilhelmina is a monster of ill-temper, crooked in the back and what not," say they. If there is to be a Marriage, double or single, these Improper Females must first be persuaded to consent. [
But Sophie Dorothee is diligent and urgent, by all opportunities; --and, at length, in 1723, the conjuncture is propitious. Domestic Jacobitism, in the shape of Bishop Atterbury, has got, itself well banished; Alberoni and his big schemes, years ago they are blown into outer darkness; Charles XII. is well dead, and of our Bremen and Verden no question henceforth; even the Kaiser's Spectre-Hunt, or Spanish Duel, is at rest for the present, and the Congress of Cambrai is sitting, or trying all it can to sit: at home or abroad, there is nothing, not even Wood's Irish Halfpence, as yet making noise. And on the other hand, Czar Peter is rumored (not without foundation) to be coming westward, with some huge armament; which, whether "intended for Sweden" or not, renders a Prussian alliance doubly valuable.
And so now at last, in this favorable aspect of the stars, King George, over at Herrenhausen, was by much management of his Daughter Sophie's, and after many hitches, brought to the mark. And Friedrich Wilhelm came over too; ostensibly to bring home his Queen, but in reality to hear his Father-in-law's compliance to the Double-Marriage,--for which his Prussian Majesty is willing enough, if others are willing. Praised be Heaven, King George has agreed to everything; consents, one propitious day (Autumn 1723, day not otherwise dated),--Czar Peter's Armament, and the questionable aspects in France, perhaps quickening his volitions a little. Upon which Friedrich Wilhelm and Queen Sophie have returned home, content in that matter; and expect shortly his Britannic Majesty's counter-visit, to perfect the details, and make a Treaty of it.