OF KUR-PFALZ KARL PHILIP: HOW HE GOT A WIFE LONG SINCE, AND DID FEATS IN THE WORLD.
There reigns, in these years, at Heidelberg, as Elector Palatine, a kind-tempered but abrupt and somewhat unreasonable old gentleman, now verging towards sixty, Karl Philip by name; who has come athwart the Berlin Court and its affairs more than once; and will again do so, in a singularly disturbing way. From before Friedrich Wilhelm's birth, all through Friedrich Wilhelm's life and farther, this Karl Philip is a stone-of-stumbling there. His first feat in life was that of running off with a Prussian Princess from Berlin; the rumor of which was still at its height when Friedrich Wilhelm, a fortnight after, came into the world,-- the gossips still talking of it, we may fancy, when Friedrich Wilhelm was first swaddled. An unheard-of thing; the manner of which was this.
Readers have perhaps forgotten, that old King Friedrich I. once had a Brother; elder Brother, who died, to the Father's great sorrow, and made way for Friedrich as Crown-Prince. This Brother had been married a short time; he left a Widow without children; a beautiful Lithuanian Princess, born Radzivil, and of great possessions in her own country: she, in her crapes and close-cap, remained an ornament to the new Berlin Court for some time;--not too long. The mourning-year once out, a new marriage came on foot for the brilliant widow; the Bridegroom, a James Sobieski, eldest Prince of the famous John, King Sobieski; Prince with fair outlooks towards Polish Sovereignty, and handy for those Lithuanian Possessions of hers: altogether an eligible match.
This marriage was on foot, not quite completed; when Karl Philip, Cadet of the Pfalz, came to Berlin;--a rather idle young man, once in the clerical way; now gone into the military, with secular outlooks, his elder Brother, Heir-Apparent of the Pfalz, "having no children:"--came to Berlin, in the course of visiting, and roving about. The beautiful Widow-Princess seemed very charming to Karl Philip; he wooed hard; threw the Princess into great perplexity. She had given her Yes to James Sobieski; inevitable wedding-day was coming on with James; and here was Karl Philip wooing so:--in brief, the result was, she galloped off with Karl Philip, on the eve of said wedding-day; married Karl Philip (24th July, 1688); and left Prince James standing there, too much like Lot's Wife, in the astonished Court of Berlin. [Michaelis, ii. 93.] Judge if the Berlin. public talked,--unintelligible to Friedrioh Wilhelm, then safe in swaddling-clothes.
King Sobieski, the Father, famed Deliverer of Vienna, was in high dudgeon. But Karl Philip apologized, to all lengths; made his peace at last, giving a Sister of his own to be Wife to the injured James. This was Karl Philip's first outbreak in life; and it was not his only one. A man not ill-disposed, all grant; but evidently of headlong turn, with a tendency to leap fences in this world. He has since been soldiering about, in a loose way, governing Innspruck, fighting the Turks. But, lately, his elder Brother died childless (year 1716); and left him Kurfurst of the Pfalz. His fair Radzivil is dead long ago; she, and a successor, or it may be two. Except one Daughter, whom the fair Radzivil left him, he has no children; and in these times, I think, lives with a third Wife, of the LEFT-HAND kind.
His scarcity of progeny is not so indifferent to my readers as they might suppose. This new KUR-PFALZ (Elector-Palatine) Karl Philip is by genealogy--who, thinks the reader? Pfalz-NEUBURG by line; own Grandson of that Wolfgang Wilhelm, who got the slap on the face long since, on account of the Cleve-Julich matter! So it has come round. The Line of Simmern died out, Winter-King's Grandson the last of that; and then, as right was, the Line of Neuburg took the top place, and became Kur-Pfalz. The first of these was this Karl Philip's Father, son of the Beslapped; an old man when he succeeded. Karl Philip is the third Kur-Pfalz of the Neuburg Line; his childless elder Brother (he who collected the Pictures at Dusseldorf, once notable there) was second of the Neuburgs. They now, we say, are Electors-Palatine, Head of the House;--and, we need not add, along with their Electorate and Neuburg Country, possess the Cleve-Julioh Moiety of Heritage, about which there was such worrying in time past. Nay the last Kur-Pfalz resided there, and collected the "Dusseldorf Gallery," as we have just said; though Karl Philip prefers Heidelberg hitherto.
To Friedrich Wilhelm the scarcity of progeny is a thrice-interesting fact. For if this actual Neuburg should leave no male heir, as is now humanly probable,--the Line of Neuburg too is out; and then great things ought to follow for our Prussian House. Then, by the last Bargain, made in 1666, with all solemnity, between the Great Elector, our Grandfather of famous memory, and your serene Father the then Pfalz-Neuburg, subsequently Kur-Pfalz, likewise of famous memory, son of the Beslapped,--the whole Heritage falls to Prussia, no other Pfalz Branch having thenceforth the least claim to it. Bargain was express; signed, sealed, sanctioned, drawn out on the due extent of sheepskin, which can still be read. Bargain clear enough: but will this Karl Philip incline to keep it?
That may one day be the interesting question. But that is not the question of controversy at present: not that, but another; for Karl Philip, it would seem, is to be a frequent stone-of-stumbling to the Prussian House. The present question is of a Protestant-Papist matter; into which Friedrich Wilhelm has been drawn by his public spirit alone.