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TO THE RIGHT HON. HENRY FOX.
Dresden, 27 Sept. N. S. 1747.
Being the other night at an assembly where
go to get information and pick up intelligence, I met a privy-councillor there, whom I accosted, by asking him if he had any news?—he said none but what was very bad. In these critical times you may be sure such an answer alarmed me, and excited my curiosity; and upon my showing a desire to know what this news might be, he told me that the prince of Meinungen still continued obstinate, and that all his country was still left open to the ravages of the troops of Saxe Gotha. I had never heard in all my life that there was such a prince in being as the prince of Meinungen, and was totally ignorant that at this instant there was any war carried on in the heart of the empire; but to act
the minister a little, and not to seem quite uninformed, I told him that hitherto, I had had but a very imperfect account of that affair, and should be much obliged to him if he would inform me of its whole rise and progress, which he did in a very long discourse, the substance of which I thought might divert you; and, therefore, when I came home, I wrote down every particular that my memory retained, and now send it to you in the most faithful manner. You have often thought some of my strange stories exaggerated, which, however, upon inquiry have proved strictly true. The fol lowing one may possibly surprise you; but I assure you it is actually matter of fact.
The authors of Romance always endeavour to make their stories approach as near as possible to truth. May not the author of a true event take the same liberty (still adhering closely to facts) and write in such a manner as to resemble Romance as much as style will permit! I will try, and I wish it may be with the
same success as I have sometimes had, when I have endeavoured to amuse the man on earth that I love and esteem the most.
His serene highness, the reigning prince of Meinungen, is certainly in sense and extent of dominion, one of the least princes in the empire of Germany; but in folly and poverty you will hardly find one that exceeds him. His first step in life, in order to raise his power and character in Germany, was marrying a waiting-woman (of no family) of her serene highness the princess dowager of Meinungen, his lady mother. This stroke put the empire in a flame: the mis-alliance was reckoned infamous; and his cousin, the late king of Poland, wrote to the emperor, Charles the Sixth, to complain of this notorious contamination of blood, and to beg him to declare the children of such a marriage incapable of succeeding to the principality of Meinungen. But, as the court of Vienna had in those days ministers in it that were no enemy to a round sum of money properly applied, the
prince of Meinungen found means, by the force of gold, to baffle all the king of Poland's designs, and to have his children publicly declared capable of succeeding him. This step of the emperor's highly affronted the king of Poland, who, in his wrath, wrote a letter to his imperial majesty, which, after he had complained bitterly of the declaration that had been made, he ended with this remarkable paragraph—“ I must confess, that it is in your imperial majesty's power to create princes, but God alone can give me cousins." But, notwithstanding all this, the declaration remained valid during the life of Charles the Sixth ; but, upon the election of Charles the Seventh, the present king of Poland solicited the affair with such success, that the declaration of Charles the Sixth was set aside, and the children of his serene highness of Meinungen declared incapable of succeeding to their father; and thus the affair remains even unto this day. But, as this match of the prince's was only the effect of a hasty