« ZurückWeiter »
the Prussian troops, which were established on certain days by Frederic the Great, in commemoration of some of his most splendid victories, and at which it was his glory to station his troops as on the day of battle, and fight it over again in miniature, with all the pomp and energy, as if his crown depended upon
the issue. The battle of Schweidnitz was one of his most favourite battles, in which, after a contest of twelve hours, unexampled, perhaps, in the annals of modern warfare, for the valour and resolution displayed by both the belligerents, the Prussians began to give way, and Frederic, with tears in his eyes, beheld his troops retreating. At the critical moment of all moments, General Seidlitz, one of the most celebrated cavalry officers of Europe, burst upon the enemy with the whole force of his reserve, turned the tide of fortune in favour of the Pruesians, and saved Silesia to the present monarchy.
The anniversary of this celebrated battle was at hand, and Frederic was collecting his troops from all parts of his kingdom to fight on the plains of Frauenberg. General Bude, therefore, took the advantage of this circumstance, and resolved upon his immediate departure from Hanover, where he did not conceive he was performing his duty in prolonging the stay of Prince William after his affair with Hardenberg ; and although the Bishop of Osnaburg was not under his immediate superintendence, yet with the knowledge which he possessed of some of the characters, with whom he was in the daily habit of associating, he very properly considered that he was acting in the fulfilment of his duty to his Sovereign, to remove his sons from a quarter, where their morals were momentarily exposed to be undermined, and those habits engrafted upon them, which would eventually cover them with disgrace and obloquy.
A consultation was held by the individuals, composing the suite of the royal Princes, who were in a degree, responsible for their conduct; and at the same time, themselves strictly bound to keep a vigilant eye upon all their proceedings. The result of their deliberations was, that no time should
be lost in removing them from Hanover, where some of the connexions which they had formed, were by no means of that character, which could confer any benefit upon them, either morally or intellectually.
Immediate arrangements were therefore made for the departure of the young Princes, to the great regret of a certain class, who looked upon them as their prey, and who certainly used every exertion, as well as stratagem within their power, to extract the last guinea from their pockets. It must also be observed, that although George III. shewed no great predilection for any retrenchment in particular departments of his household, yet that in some points he was a rigid economist, frequently descending to actual meanness, and in this disposition, he met with a very able and active coatljutor in his Queen, who was known at this time to be accumulating a private fortune, but upon which, heavy drains were made by the profligacies of her darling son, “ the handsomest man in Europe,” according to her affirmation. The allowance made by George III. for the travelling expences of his sons, were niggardly in the extreme. Prince William was allowed only £100 a year for pocket money, not the common allowance of the son of an English gentleman; and the sum which his provident royal father allowed for travelling expenses was barely sufficient to defray the common expenses, much less to allow of any of those extravagancies to which the royal Princes were so prone, and in which they appeared determined to indulge, notwithstanding the unpleasant consequences, with which they were often attended.
These circumstances frequently placed the individuals to whose superintendence they were entrusted, in the most embarrassing situation. To deprive them of all opportunity of gambling, were to abstract them from all society, and although they were prevented from frequenting the established gambling houses, yet, in all the private parties, the love of high play predominated, and the royal Princes have been frequently known to lose at a single sitting, twice the amount of their annual allowance. There were not, however, wanting those
individuals in Hanover, nor in the other cities of Germany, in which they fixed their temporary abode, who were fully disposed to supply them secretly with the sinews of gambling, provided an enormous profit was secured to them. The Jews of Hanover, were ready with their well-filled purses, to supply them with any amount which they required, on some bond or obligation payable at a distant date, provided they were allowed to charge nearly one hundred per cent for the accommodation.
Some of these money transactions with the Jews were carried on with so much secrecy, and which it was the policy of the Jews strictly to preserve, that they never came to the knowledge of those, who would immediately have put a stop to them, nor had they the slightest idea of the royal Princes being involved in any such transactions, until the obligations for which they had rendered themselves liable, were sent to London for payment, and to the discredit of George III., be it said, that the majority of them were returned dishonoured, accompanied by a threat, that if any attempt were made to enforce the payment by legal proceedings, the guilty parties, who had so basely connived at the vicious propensities of the royal Princes, would be dealt with according to the laws of the country in which they resided, and banished for ever from the city and territory of Hanover. With some, this threat had the desired effect; there were, however, others, who were determined to stand upon their rights, and who told the King of England bluntly, that they valued neither him nor his country, that Hanover was not the world, and that it would become a sovereign better to pay the debts of his sons, than dispute the paynient with an empty threat attached to it. By perseverance, these people obtained their money; but they lost the countenance of the court party at Hanover: others lost their money, but they obtained an equivalent for it, which was the custom and patronage of all the higher classes, whose extravagancies drove them on the brink of insolvency, and who were willing to pay an exorbitant bonus for any temporary loan, which they might require.
From Hanover the royal Princes directed their course to
Berlin, at that time the focus of all that was great or grand in the military world. It was the school of all the rising heroes of Europe, and the model by which the European Governments regulated their military tactics; but it was also the theatre of the most extraordinary scenes occasioned by the great influx of strangers from all the countries of Europe, the diversity of manners, and the national characteristic traits, which displayed themselves so conspicuously in the court of the great Frederic. So different were the costumes which were at this time exbibited in the squares and public places of Berlin, that it became a difficult point to determine in what country the stranger was sojourning; but this very circumstance had an injurious effect upon the national character of the Germans, reducing them to that effeminacy and petit-maitreship, for which the French were at this time distinguished, and who were looked upon as the guide and pattern for all the modistes, both male and female. To the credit of the English Princes, it must be acknowledged, that during their travels in Germany, they exhibited no particular partiality for the frippery and gaudy finery of the Paris school of fashion, for except on their appearance at court, or other state occasions, their usual dress was that of a plain English gentleman, at the same time, not wholly divested of those absurdities and monstrosities, for which the English style of dress was then so remarkable. Prince William as a sailor, never could endure the appendage of a bag-wig; but he cared not how long his tail reached behind, and when he saw the long tapering tail of Frederic, with its characteristic curl at the bottom, he could never be induced to appear in a bag-wig, although it was then one of the adjuncts of a fashionable dress.
It may appear a trivial subject; but it is, nevertheless, true, that the character of a people, and particularly their greatness and antiquity, are to be determined by their costume; nor did Prince William, in the estimate which he formed of the different people with whom he associated, discard that truth from his notice. The frivolities of French fashions have done more to effeminate the Germans, and to lower them in the scale of nations, than any other of the great operating causes, by
which the decline of a people is brought about. The English never were remarkable for a national costume; but, that they are a degenerated race, since fashion became their idol, no one will be bold enough to deny, and in no race of men is that degeneracy more conspicuous than in our sailors. The real old fashioned man-o-war's man is nearly extinct, and we have now a race of puny, new-fangled, modern cock boat lubbers, that disgrace the noble service to which they belong, by a foppish attention to their dress; formerly, Jack looked himself in large loose canvass trousers, looking marvellously like unto a couple of bran new flour sacks; now he appears in the smart-made pantaloon trousers; his shoes were formerly decorated with large buckles, now he is not dressed, unless he sports a pair of wellingtons. He was formerly seen at Portsmouth Point, or in his land localities of Blackwall, Poplar, Limehouse, Shadwell, or Ratcliffe Highway with a blue jacket, which was evidently never made for him, double breasted, with a flat collar, and mother-of-pearl buttons, placed as close to each other as plums in a Christmas pudding; now the jacket which he wears, fits him to a nicety. There is a show of fashion about him, and instead of a long plaited pig-tail, for without a pig-tail, no jack-tar is half complete, he now wears his hair a la militaire, closely cropped behind, and the front dressed in the newest fashion. The former were the men, whom the immortal Nelson led on to victory, or, who to speak in other words, enabled him to gain the victory; these were the men, who with Prince William in the Prince George, humbled the pride of the Spaniards, and who with Rodney gave to England the sovereignty of the seas. If then the change of dress, and a slavish obedience to the ruling fashion, have an influence on the character of a people, Prince William was by no means in error, when he attributed the effeminacy of the Germans, as he beheld them, to their vicious adherence to the rules of fashion. In this particular, a very marked difference existed between the two brothers, but this may in a great degree be attributed to the difference of the professions to which they belonged. Prince William had no particular end to gain