Prinzessin Sophie-Vittoria von Pfalz-Kognat-Obersayn, to Prinzessin Maria-Aurora von Sachsen-Veldenz
I have been hindered from prosecuting my intention. Neither nights nor mornings have been my own. My mother has been very ill; and would have no other nurse but me. I have not stirred from her bedside (for she kept her bed); and two nights I had the honour of sharing it with her.
Her disorder was a very violet colic. The contentions of these fierce, these masculine spirits, and the apprehension of mischiefs that may arise from the increasing animosity which all here have against Prinz Friedrich, and his too well known resenting and intrepid character, she cannot bear. Then the foundations laid, as she dreads, for jealousy and heart-burnings in her own family, late so happy and so united, afflict exceedingly a gentle and sensible mind, which has from the beginning, on all occasions, sacrificed its own inward satisfaction to outward peace. My sisters and grandmother, who used very often to jar, are now so entirely one, and are so much together, (caballing was the word that dropt from my mother's lips, as if at unawares,) that she is very fearful of the consequences that may follow;--to my prejudice, perhaps, is her kind concern; since she sees that they behave to me every hour with more and more shyness and reserve: yet, would she but exert that authority which the superiority of her fine talents gives her, all these family feuds might perhaps be extinguished in their but yet beginnings; especially as she may be assured that all fitting concessions shall be made by me, not only as my obvious due to my grandmother, but for the sake of so excellent and so indulgent a mother.
For, if I may say to you, my dear, what I would not to any other person living, it is my opinion, that had she been of a temper that would have borne less, she would have had ten times less to bear, than she has had. No commendation, you'll say, of the generosity of those spirits which can turn to its own disquiet so much condescending goodness.
Upon my word I am sometimes tempted to think that we may make the world allow for and respect us as we please, if we can but be sturdy in our wills, and set out accordingly. It is but being the less beloved for it, that's all: and if we have power to oblige those we have to do with, it will not appear to us that we are. Our flatterers will tell us any thing sooner than our faults, or what they know we do not like to hear.
Were there not truth in this observation, is it possible that my sisters could make their very failings, their vehemences, of such importance to all the family? 'How will my daughter, how will my niece, take this or that measure? What will she say to it? Let us consult her about it;' are references always previous to every resolution taken by their superiors, whose will ought to be theirs. Well may they expect to be treated with this deference by every other person, when my father himself, generally so absolute, constantly pays it to them; and the more since their grandmother's bounty has given independence to a spirit that was before under too little restraint.--But whither may these reflections lead me!--I know you do not love any of us but my mother and me; and, being above all disguises, make me sensible that you do not oftener than I wish.--Ought I then to add force to your dislikes of those whom I wish you to like?--of my father especially; for he, alas! has some excuse for his impatience of contradiction. He is not naturally an ill-tempered man; and in his person and air, and in his conversation too, when not under the torture of a gouty paroxysm, every body distinguishes the Prince born and educated.
Our sex perhaps must expect to bear a little--uncourtliness shall I call it?--from the husband whom as the lover they let know the preference their hearts gave him to all other men.--Say what they will of generosity being a manly virtue; but upon my word, my dear, I have ever yet observed, that it is not to be met with in that sex one time in ten that it is to be found in ours.--But my father was soured by the cruel distemper I have named; which seized him all at once in the very prime of life, in so violent a manner as to take from the most active of minds, as his was, all power of activity, and that in all appearance for life.--It imprisoned, as I may say, his lively spirits in himself, and turned the edge of them against his own peace; his extraordinary prosperity adding to his impatiency. Those, I believe, who want the fewest earthly blessings, most regret that they want any.
But my sisters! What excuse can be made for their haughty and morose temper? They are really, my dear, I am sorry to have occasion to say it, an ill-temper'd coterie of young ladies; and treat my mother sometimes--Indeed they are not dutiful.--But, possessing every thing, they have the vice of age, mingled with the ambition of youth, and enjoy nothing--but their own haughtiness and ill-temper, I was going to say.--Yet again am I adding force to your dislikes of some of us.--Once, my dear, it was perhaps in your power to have moulded them as you pleased.--Could you have been
my sister!--Then had I friend in a sister.
But no more of this. I will prosecute my former intention in my next; which I will sit down to as soon as breakfast is over; dispatching this by the messenger whom you have so kindly sent to inquire after us on my silence. Mean time, I am,
Your most affectionate and obliged
friend and servant,