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!
Thus, at any rate, was the Treaty of the Double-Marriage settled, to the point of signing,--thought to be as good as signed. It was at the time when Czar Peter was making armaments to burn Sweden; when Wood's Halfpence (on behalf of her Improper Grace of Kendal, the lean Quasi-Wife, "Maypole" or Hop-pole, who had run short of money, as she often did) were about beginning to jingle in Ireland; [Coxe (i. 216, 217, and SUPPLY the dates); Walpole to Townshend, 13th October, 1723 (ib. ii. 275):
Hereby, for the present, is a great load rolled from Queen Sophie Dorothee's heart. One, and, that the highest, of her abstruse negotiations, cherished, labored in, these fourteen years, she has brought to a victorious issue,--has she not? Her poor Mother, once so radiant, now so dim and angry, shut in the Castle of Ahlden, does not approve this Double-Marriage; not she for her part;--as indeed evil to all Hanoverian interests is now chiefly her good, poor Lady; and she is growing more and more of a Megaera every day. With whom Sophie Dorothee has her own difficulties and abstruse practices; but struggles always to maintain, under seven-fold secrecy, some thread of correspondence and pious filial ministration wherever possible; that the poor exasperated Mother, wretchedest and angriest of women, be not quite cut off from the kinship of the living, but that some soft breath of pity may cool her burning heart now and then. [In
PRINCESS AMELIA COMES INTO THE WORLD.
In reference to Queen Sophie, and chronologically if not otherwise connected with this Double-Marriage Treaty, I will mention one other thing. Her Majesty had been in fluctuating health, all summer; unaccountable symptoms turning up in her Majesty's constitution, languors, qualms, especially a tendency to swelling or increase of size, which had puzzled and alarmed her Doctors and her. Friedrich Wilhelm, on conclusion of the Marriage-Treaty, had been appointed to join his Father-in-law, Britannic George, at the Gohrde, in some three weeks' time, and have a bout of hunting. On the 8th of November, bedtime being come, he kissed his Wilhelmina and the rest, by way of good-by; intending to start very early on the morrow:--long journey (150 miles or so), to be done all in one day. In the dead of the night, Queen Sophie was seized with dreadful colics,--pangs of colic or who knows what;-- Friedrich Wilhelm is summoned; rises in the highest alarm; none but the maids and he at hand to help; and the colic, or whatever it may be, gets more and more dreadful.
Colic? O poor Sophie, it is travail, and no colic; and a clever young Princess is suddenly the result! None but Friedrich Wilhelm and the maid for midwives; mother and infant, nevertheless, doing perfectly well. Friedrich Wilhelm did not go on the morrow, but next day; laughed, ever and anon in loud hahas, at the part he had been playing; and was very glad and merry. How the experienced Sophie, whose twelfth child this is, came to commit such an oversight is unaccountable; but the fact is certain, and made a merry noise in Court circles. [Pollnitz, ii. 199; Wilhelmina, i. 87, 88.]
The clever little Princess, now born in this manner, is known by name to idle readers. She was christened AMELIA; and we shall hear of her in time coming. But there was, as the Circulating Libraries still intimate, a certain loud-spoken braggart of the histrionic-heroic sort, called Baron Trenck, windy, rash, and not without mendacity, who has endeavored to associate her with his own transcendent and not undeserved ill-luck; hinting the poor Princess into a sad fame in that way. For which, it would now appear, there was no basis whatever! Most condemnable Trenck;-- whom, however, Robespierre guillotined finally, and so settled that account and others.
Of Sophie Dorothee's twelve children, including this Amelia, there are now eight living, two boys, six girls; and after Amelia, two others, boys, are successively to come: ten in all, who grew to be men and women. Of whom perhaps I had better subjoin a List; now that the eldest Boy and Girl are about to get settled in life; and therewith close this Chapter.