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the Protestant faith was very nearly extinguished in the family : and then where should we in England have gone for a king? The third brother also took delight in Italy, where the priests converted him and his Protestant chaplain too. Mass was said in Hanover once more; and Italian soprani piped their Latin rhymes in place of the hymns which William the Pious and Dr. Luther sang. Louis XIV. gave this and other converts a splendid pension. Crowds of Frenchmen and brilliant French fashions came into his court. It is incalculable how much that royal bigwig cost Germany. Every prince imitated the French King, and had his Versailles, his Wilhelmshöhe or Ludwigslust; his court and its splendours ; his gardens laid out with statues; his fountains, and water-works, and Tritons; his actors, and dancers, and singers, and fiddlers ; his harem, with its inhabitants ; his diamonds and duchies for these latter ; his enormous festivities, his gaming-tables, tournaments, masquerades, and banquets lasting a week long, for which the people paid with their money, when the poor wretches had it ; with their bodies and very blood when they had none; being sold in thousands by their lords and masters, who gaily dealt in soldiers, staked a regiment upon the red at the gambling-table ; swapped a battalion against a dancing-girl's diamond necklace; and, as it were, pocketed their people.
As one views Europe, through contemporary books of travel in the early part of the last century, the landscape is awful-wretched wastes, beggarly and plundered; half-burned cottages and trembling peasants gathering piteous harvests; gangs of such tramping along with bayonets behind them, and corporals with canes and cats-ofnine-tails to flog them to barracks. By these passes my lord's gilt carriage floundering through the ruts, as he swears at the postilions, and toils on to the Residenz. Hard by, but away from the noise and brawling of the citizens and buyers, is Wilhelmslust or Ludwigsruhe, or Monbijou, or Versailles—it scarcely matters which, near to the city, shut out by woods from the beggared country, the enormous, hideous, gilded, monstrous marble palace, where the Prince is, and the Court, and the trim gardens, and huge fountains, and the forest where the ragged peasants are beating the game in it is death to them to touch a feather); and the jolly hunt sweeps by with its uniform of crimson and gold; and the Prince gallops ahead puffing his royal horn; and his lords and mistresses ride after him and the stag is pulled down; and the grand huntsman gives the knife in the midst of a chorus of bugles; and 'tis time the Court go home to dinner; and our noble traveller, it may be the Baron of Pöllnitz, or the Count de Königsmarck, or the excellent Chevalier de Seingalt, sees the procession gleaming through the trim avenues of the wood, and hastens to the inn, and sends his noble name to the marshal of the Court. Then our nobleman arrays himself in green and gold, or pink and silver, in the richest Paris mode, and is introduced by the chamberlain, and makes his bow to the jolly Prince, and the gracious Princess; and is presented to the chief lords and ladies, and then comes supper and a bank at Faro, where he loses or wins a thousand pieces by daylight. If it is a German court, you may add not a little drunkenness to this picture of high life ; but German, or French, or Spanish, if you can see out of your palace-windows beyond the trimcut forest vistas, misery is lying outside ; hunger is stalking about the bare villages, listlessly following precarious husbandry; ploughing stony fields with starved cattle; or fearfully taking in scanty harvests. Augustus is fat and jolly on his throne; he can knock down an ox, and eat one almost ; his mistress, Aurora von Königsmarck, is the loveliest, the wittiest creature ; his diamonds are the biggest and most brilliant in the world, and his feasts as splendid as those of Versailles. As for Louis the Great, he is more than mortal. Lift up your glances respectfully, and mark him eyeing Madame de Fontanges or Madame de Montespan from under his sublime periwig, as he passes through the great gallery where Villars and Vendôme, and Berwick, and Bossuet, and Massillon are waiting. Can Court be more splendid; nobles and knights more gallant and superb ; ladies more lovely? A grander monarch, or a more miserable starved wretch than the peasant his subject, you cannot look on.
bear both these types in mind, if we wish to estimate the old society properly. Remember the glory and the chivalry? Yes! Remember the grace and beauty, the splendour and lofty politeness; the gallant courtesy of Fontenoy, where the French line bids the gentlemen of the English guard to fire first ; the noble constancy of the old King and Villars his general, who fits out the last army with the last crownpiece from the treasury, and goes to meet the enemy and die or conquer for France at Denain. But round all that royal splendour lies a nation enslaved and ruined : there are people robbed of their rights--communities laid waste-faith, justice, commerce trampled upon, and well-nigh destroyed—nay, in the very centre of royalty itself, what horrible stains and meanness, crime and shame! It is but to a silly harlot that some of the noblest gentlemen, and some of the proudest women in the world, are bowing down ; it is the price of a miserable province that the King ties in diamonds round his mistress's white neck. In the first half of the last century, I say, this is going on all Europe over. Saxony is a waste as well as Picardy or Artois; and Versailles is only larger and not worse than Herrenhausen.
It was the first Elector of Hanover who made the fortunate match which bestowed the race of Hanoverian Sovereigns upon us Britons. Nine years after Charles Stuart lost his head, his niece Sophia, one of many children of another luckless dethroned sovereign, the Elector Palatine, married Ernest Augustus of Brunswick, and brought the reversion to the crown of the three kingdoms in her scanty trousseau.
One of the handsomest, the most cheerful, sensible, shrewd, accomplished of women, was Sophia, * daughter of poor Frederick, the winter king of Bohemia. The other daughters of lovely, unhappy Elizabeth Stuart went off into the Catholic Church ; this
one, luckily for her family, remained, I cannot say faithful to the Reformed Religion, but at least she adopted no other. An agent of the French
The portraits on the next page are from contemporary prints of this Princess, before her marriage and in her old age.
King's, Gourville, a convert himself, strove to bring her and her husband to a sense of the truth ; and tells us that he one day asked Madame the Duchess of Hanover, of what religion her daughter was, then a pretty girl of thirteen years old. The duchess replied that the princess was of no religion as yet. They were waiting to know of what religion her husband would be, Protestant or Catholic, before instructing her! And the Duke of Hanover having heard all Gourville's proposal, said that a change would be advantageous to his house, but that he himself was too old to change.
This shrewd woman had such keen eyes that she knew how to shut them upon occasion, and was blind to many faults which it appeared that her husband the Bishop of Osnaburg and Duke of Hanover committed. He loved to take his pleasure like other sovereigns—was a merry prince, fond of dinner and the bottle ; liked to go to Italy, as his brothers had done before him; and we read how
he jovially sold 6,700 of his Hanoverians to the seigniory of Venice. They went bravely off to the Morea, under command of Ernest's son, Prince Max, and only 1,400 of them ever came home again. The German princes sold a good deal of this kind of stock. You may remember how George III.'s Government purchased Hessians, and the use we made of them during the War of Independence.
The ducats Duke Ernest got for his soldiers he spent in a series of the most brilliant entertainments. Nevertheless, the jovial Prince was economical, and kept a steady eye upon his own interests. He achieved the electoral dignity for himself: he married his eldest son George to his beautiful cousin of Zell; and sending his sons out in command of armies to fight-now on this side, now that-he lived on, taking his pleasure, and scheming his schemes, a merry, wise prince enough, not, I fear, a moral prince, of which kind we shall have but very few specimens in the course of these lectures.
Ernest Augustus had seven children in all, some of whom were scapegraces, and rebelled against the parental system of primogeniture and non-division of property which the Elector ordained. “Gustchen,” the Electress writes about her second son :—“Poor Gus is thrust out, and his father will give him no more keep. I laugh in the day, and cry all night about it; for I am a fool with my children." Three of the six died fighting against Turks, Tartars, Frenchmen. One of them conspired, revolted, fled to Rome, leaving an agent behind him, whose head was taken off. The daughter, of whose early education we have made mention, was married to the Elector of Brandenburg, and so her religion settled finally on the Protestant side.
A niece of the Electress Sophia—who had been made to change her religion, and marry the Duke of Orleans, brother of the French King; a woman whose honest heart was always with her friends and dear old Deutschland, though her fat little body was confined at Paris, or Marly, or Versailles-has left us, in her enormous correspondence (part of which has been printed in German and French),