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.
His Britannic Majesty, we say, has in substance agreed to everything. And now, in the silence of Nature, the brown leaves of October still hanging to the trees in a picturesque manner, and Wood's Halfpence not yet begun to jingle in the Drapier's Letters of Dean Swift,--his Britannic Majesty is expected at Berlin. At Berlin; properly at Charlottenburg a pleasant rural or suburban Palace (built by his Britannic Majesty's late noble Sister, Sophie Charlotte, "the Republican Queen," and named after her, as was once mentioned), a mile or two Southwest of that City. There they await King George's counter-visit.
Poor Wilhelmina is in much trepidation about it; and imparts her poor little feelings, her anticipations and experiences, in readable terms:--
"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!--