Crown-Prince Friedrich is still very young for marriage-speculations on his score: but Mamma has thought good to take matters in time. And so we shall, in the next ensuing parts of this poor History, have to hear almost as much about Marriage as in the foolishest Three-volume Novel, and almost to still less purpose. For indeed, in that particular, Friedrich's young Life may be called a ROMANCE FLUNG HELLS-OVER-HEAD;--Marriage being the one event there, round which all events turn,--but turn in the inverse or reverse way (as if the Devil were in them); not only towards no happy goal for him or Mamma, or us, but at last towards hardly any goal at all for anybody! So mad did the affair grow;-- and is so madly recorded in those inextricable, dateless, chaotic Books. We have now come to regions of Narrative, which seem to consist of murky Nothingness put on boil; not land, or water, or air, or fire, but a tumultuously whirling commixture of all the four;--of immense extent too. Which must be got crossed, in some human manner. Courage, patience, good reader!
QUEEN SOPHIE DOROTHEE HAS TAKEN TIME BY THE FORELOCK.
Already, for a dozen years, this matter has been treated of. Queen Sophie Dorothee, ever since the birth of her Wilhelmina, has had the notion of it; and, on her first visit afterwards to Hanover, proposed it to "Princess Caroline,"--Queen Caroline of England who was to be, and who in due course was;--an excellent accomplished Brandenburg-Anspach Lady, familiar from of old in the Prussian Court: "You, Caroline, Cousin dear, have a little Prince, Fritz, or let us call him FRED, since he is to be English; little Fred, who will one day, if all go right, be King of England. He is two years older than my little Wilhelmina: why should not they wed, and the two chief Protestant Houses, and Nations, thereby be united?" Princess Caroline was very willing; so was Electress Sophie, the Great-Grandmother of both the parties; so were the Georges, Father and Grandfather of Fred: little Fred himself was highly charmed, when told of it; even little Wilhelmina, with her dolls, looked pleasantly demure on the occasion. So it remained settled in fact, though not in form; and little Fred (a florid milk-faced foolish kind of Boy, I guess) made presents to his little Prussian Cousin, wrote bits of love-letters to her; and all along afterwards fancied himself, and at length ardently enough became, her little lover and intended,--always rather a little fellow:--to which sentiments Wilhelmina signifies that she responded with the due maidenly indifference, but not in an offensive manner.
After our Prussian Fritz's birth, the matter took a still closer form: "You, dear Princess Caroline, you have now two little Princesses again, either of whom might suit my little Fritzchen; let us take Amelia, the second of them, who is nearest his age?" "Agreed!" answered Princess Caroline again. "Agreed!" answered all the parties interested: and so it was settled, that the Marriage of Prussia to England should be a Double one, Fred of Hanover and England to Wilhelmina, Fritz of Prussia to Amelia; and children and parents lived thenceforth in the constant understanding that such, in due course of years, was to be the case, though nothing yet was formally concluded by treaty upon it. [Pollnitz,
Queen Sophie Dorothee of Prussia was always eager enough for treaty, and conclusion to her scheme. True to it, she, as needle to the pole in all weathers; sometimes in the wildest weather, poor lady. Nor did the Hanover Serene Highnesses, at any time, draw back or falter: but having very soon got wafted across to England, into new more complex conditions, and wider anxieties in that new country, they were not so impressively eager as Queen Sophie, on this interesting point. Electress Sophie, judicious Great-Grandmother, was not now there: Electress Sophie had died about a month before Queen Anne; and never saw the English Canaan, much as she had longed for it. George I., her son, a taciturn, rather splenetic elderly Gentleman, very foreign in England, and oftenest rather sulky there and elsewhere, was not in a humor to be forward in that particular business.
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.