Prinzessin Maria-Aurora to Prinzessin Sophie-Vittoria
What odd heads some people have!--Prinzessin Sophie-Vittoria to be sacrificed in marriage to Pfalzgraf Friedrich von Waldreck!--Astonishing!
I must not, you say, give my advice in favour of this man!--You now convince me, my dear, that you are nearer of kin than I thought you, to the family that could think of so preposterous a match, or you would never have had the least notion of my advising in his favour.
Ask for his picture. You know I have a good hand at drawing an ugly likeness. But I'll see a little further first: for who knows what may happen, since matters are in such a train; and since you have not the courage to oppose so overwhelming a torrent?
You ask me to help you to a little of my spirit. Are you in earnest? But it will not now, I doubt, do you service.--It will not sit naturally upon you. You are your mother's girl, think what you will; and have violent spirits to contend with. Alas! my dear, you should have borrowed some of mine a little sooner;--that is to say, before you had given the management of your estate into the hands of those who think they have a prior claim to it. What though a father's!--Has not the father other children?--And do they not all bear more of his stamp and image than you do?--Pray, my dear, call me not to account for this free question; lest your application of my meaning, on examination, prove to be as severe as that.
Now I have launched out a little, indulge me one word more in the same strain--I will be decent, I promise you. I think you might have know, that Avarice and Envy are two passions that are not to be satisfied, the one by giving, the other by the envied person's continuing to deserve and excel.--Fuel, fuel both, all the world over, to flames insatiate and devouring.
But since you ask for my opinion, you must tell me all you know or surmise of their inducements. And if you will not forbid me to make extracts from your letters for the entertainment of my aunt and cousin in the little island, who long to hear more of your affairs, it will be very obliging.
But you are so tender of some people who have no tenderness for any body but themselves, that I must conjure you to speak out. Remember, that a friendship like ours admits of no reserves. You may trust my impartiality. It would be an affront to your own judgment, if you did not: For do you not ask my advice? And have you not taught me that friendship should never give a bias against justice?--Justify them, therefore, if you can. Let us see if there be any sense, whether
sufficient reason or not in their choice. At present I cannot (and yet I know a good deal of your family) have any conception how all of them, your mother and your grandmother in particular, can join with the rest against judgments given. As to some of the others, I cannot wonder at any thing they do, or attempt to do, where self is concerned.
You are all too rich to be happy, child. For must not each of you, by the constitutions of your family, marry to be still richer? People who know in what their main excellence consists, are not to be blamed (are they) for cultivating and improving what they think most valuable?--Is true happiness any part of your family view?--So far from it, that none of your family but yourself could be happy were
they not rich. So let them fret on, grumble and grudge, and accumulate; and wondering what ails them that they have not happiness when they have riches, think the cause is want of more; and so go on heaping up, till Death, as greedy an accumulator as themselves, gathers them into his garner.
Well then once more I say, do you, my dear, tell me what you know of their avowed and general motives; and I will tell you more than you will tell me of their failings! Your grandmother has told you: Why must I ask you to let me know them, when you condescend to ask my advice on the occasion?
We have heard before you wrote, that all was not right between your relations and you at your coming home: that Prinz Friedrich visited you, and that with a prospect of success. But I concluded the mistake lay in the person; and that his address was to Arabella, the daughter of the the Duke of Birkenstock. And indeed had she been as good-natured as your plump ones generally are, I should have thought her too good for him by half. This must certainly be the thing, thought I; and my beloved friend is sent for to adviseand assist in her nuptial preparations. Who knows, said I to my mother, but that when the man has thrown aside his yellow full-buckled peruke, and his broad-brimmed beaver (both of which I suppose were his father's best of long standing) he may cut a tolerable figure dangling to the altar with Prinzessin Bell!--The woman, as she observes, should excel the man in features: and where can she match so well for a foil?
I indulged this surmise against rumour, because I could not believe that the absurdest people in Christendom could be so very absurd as to think of this man for you.
We heard, moreover, that you received no visiters. I could assign no reason for this, except that the preparations for your cousin were to be private, and the ceremony sudden, for fear this man should, as another man did, change his mind. others were with me to inquire what I knew of this; and of your not being in attendance at the parade of the Neuweinsfest after your return from us; to the disappointment of a little hundred of your admirers, to use their words. It was easy for me to guess the reason to be what you confirm--their apprehensions that Prinz Friedrich would intercept you there, and attempt to wait on you home.
My mother takes very kindly your compliments in your letter to her. Her words upon reading it were, 'Prinzessin Sophie is an admirable young lady: wherever she goes, she confers a favour: whomever she leaves, she fills with regret.'--And then a little comparative reflection--'O my Aurora, that you had a little of her sweet
No matter. The praise was yours. You are me; and I enjoyed it. The more enjoyed it, because--Shall I tell you the truth?--Because I think myself as well as I am--were it but for this reason, that had I twenty sisters, not one of them, nor all of them joined together, would dare to treat me as yours presume to treat you. The person who will bear much shall have much to bear all the world through; it is your own sentiment, grounded upon the strongest instance that can be given in your own family; though you have so little improved by it.
The result is this, that I am fitter for this world than you; you for the next than me:--that is the difference.--But long, long, for my sake, and for hundreds of sakes, may it be before you quit us for company more congenial to you and more worthy of you!
I communicated to my mother the account you give of your strange reception; also what a horrid wretch they have found out for you; and the compulsory treatment they give you. It only set her on magnifying her lenity to me, on my tyrannical behaviour, as she will call it [mothers must have their way, you know, my dear] to the man whom she so warmly recommends, against whom it seems there can be no just
exception; and expatiating upon the complaisance I owe her for her indulgence. So I believe I must communicate to her nothing farther--especially as I know she would condemn the correspondence between us as clandestine and undutiful proceedings, and divulge our secret besides; for duty implicit is her cry.
Yet is this not the right policy neither. For people who allow nothing will be granted nothing: in other words, those who aim at carrying too many points will not be able to carry any.
Now, my dear, I know you will be upon me with your grave airs: so in for the lamb, as the saying is, in for the sheep; and do you yourself look about you; for I'll have a pull with you by way of being aforehand. Hannibal, we read, always advised to attack the Romans upon their own territories.
You are pleased to say, and upon your word too! that your regards (a mighty quaint word for affections) are not so much engaged, as some of your friends suppose, to another person. What need you give one to imagine, my dear, that the last month or two has been a period extremely favourable to that other person, whom it has made an obliger of the daughter for his solicitude for her father.
But, to pass that by--so much engaged!--How much, my dear?--Shall I infer? Some of your friends suppose a great deal. You seem to own a little.
Don't be angry. It is all fair: because you have not acknowledged to me that little. People I have heard you say, who affect secrets, always excite curiosity.
But you proceed with a kind of drawback upon your averment, as if recollection had given you a doubt--you know not yourself, if they be [so much engaged]. Was it necessary to say this to me?--and to say it upon your word too?--But you know best.--Yet you don't neither, I believe. For a beginning love is acted by a subtle spirit; and oftentimes discovers itself to a by-stander, when the person possessed (why should I not call it possessed?) knows not it has such a demon.
But further you say, what preferable favour you may have for him to any other person, is owing more to the usage he has received, and for your sake borne, than to any personal consideration.
This is generously said. It is in character. But, O my friend, depend upon it, you are in danger. Depend upon it, whether you know it or not, you are a little in for't. Your native generosity and greatness of mind endanger you: all your friends, by fighting against him with impolitic violence, fight for him. And St. Germain, my life for yours, notwithstanding all his veneration and assiduities, has seen
further than that veneration and those assiduities (so well calculated to your meridian) will let him own he has seen--has seen, in short, that his work is doing for him more effectually than he could do it for himself. And have you not before now said, that nothing is so penetrating as the eye of a lover who has mystery? And who says St. Germain lacks mystery?
In short, my dear, it is my opinion, and that from the easiness of his heart and behaviour, that he has seen more than I have seen; more than you think could be seen--more than I believe you yourself know, or else you would let me know it.
Already, in order to restrain him from resenting the indignities he has received, and which are daily offered him, he has prevailed upon you to correspond with him privately. I know he has nothing to boast of from what you have written: but is not his inducing you to receive his letters, and to answer them, a great point gained? By your insisting that he should keep the correspondence private, it appears there is one secret which you do not wish the world should know: and he is master of that secret. He is indeed himself, as I may say, that secret! What an intimacy does this beget for the lover! How is it distancing the parent!
Yet who, as things are situated, can blame you?--Your condescension has no doubt hitherto prevented great mischiefs. It must be continued, for the same reasons, while the cause remains. You are drawn in by a perverse fate against inclination: but custom, with such laudable purposes, will reconcile the inconveniency, and make an inclination.--And I would advise you (as you would wish to manage on an occasion so critical with that prudence which governs all your actions) not to be afraid of entering upon a close examination into the true springs and grounds of this your generosity to that happy man.
It is my humble opinion, I tell you frankly, that on inquiry it will come out to be LOVE--don't start, my dear!--Has not your man himself had natural philosophy enough to observe already to you, that love takes the deepest root in the steadiest minds? The deuce take his sly penetration, I was going to say; for this was six or seven weeks ago.
I have been tinctured, you know. Nor on the coolest reflection, could I account how and when the jaundice began: but had been over head and ears, as the saying is, but for some of that advice from you, which I now return you. Yet my man was not half so--so what, my dear--to be sure St. Germain is a charming fellow. And were he only--but I will not make you glow, as you read--upon my word I will not.--Yet, my dear,
don't you find at your heart somewhat unusual make it go throb, throb, throb, as you read just here?--If you do, don't be ashamed to own it--it is your generosity, my love, that's all.--But as the Roman augur said, Caesar, beware of the Ides of March!
Adieu, my dearest friend.--Forgive, and very speedily, by the new found expedient, tell me that you forgive,