Hello folks - your comments are always welcome. Posted by Scriptor Senex at Cozy in Texas 19 April at Newer Post Older Post Home. Subscribe to: Post Comments Atom. My Main Blog. Currently reading The Inheritance Cycle - among books I am currently reading.
Currently Reading on the Kindle The Etymologicon. Books awaiting reading. Fiction ranked with 10 stars this year. Non-Fiction ranked with 10 stars this year. About Me Scriptor Senex View my complete profile. Total Pageviews. Literary Blogs to Visit. Morwenstow 3 hours ago. Brit Lit Blogs. Morwenstow 10 hours ago. Words And Peace. Read or skip 12 22 hours ago. Manda Scott wins McIlvanney Prize 1 day ago. Bookfoolery and Babble. Fiona Friday - Interaction 1 day ago. His eccentricities might have led a stranger to think him at times insane ; but when it came to matters of importance, he showed ex- traordinary shrewdness.
In the memoirs of the lively Wilhelmina, Margravine of Bayreuth, there is an amusing account of the marriage of this Duke of Weimar with her sister-in-law Charlotte, who was beautiful 8 A Grand Duchess as an angel, but at times only fit for a lunatic asylum. The duke, who was looking out for a consort, had seen the portrait of Charlotte, and fell fathoms deep in love with the sweet presentment of girlish loveliness.
He at once demanded her hand in marriage, on the condition that his proposal should be kept secret until his arrival at Bayreuth. This was agreed to. Nevertheless, preparations for the wedding were made quietly. The suitor duly arrived, and at first his behaviour was as it should be. He frequendy looked at the beautiful princess, whose charms were set oflF to the best advantage by her toilette, which had been carefully supervised by Wilhelmina.
She was evidently most anxious to get the half-crazy princess, who, however, showed no signs of flightiness on this occasion, off her hands. Everything having, so far, gone oflF well, there was great dismay when, on the following day, the eccentric lover seemed to have forgotten his matrimonial intentions. He did nothing but talk, and " the lies he told were so extravagant that the devil himself could not exceed them. The Margravine Wilhelmina showed no pity for her unfortunate, half-mad sister-in-law, who, when it was made clear to her disordered brain that she was to be the wife of the duke, " fell on her knees weeping like an idiot.
The newly married pair remained at Bayreuth for a week, during which time there was a constant dread lest one or other of the eccentric couple should run away. This, however, did not occur. As may be supposed, the marriage did not turn out happily. We get, however, only frag- mentary glimpses of the couple. We know the beautiful Charlotte died after giving birth to a son, Constantine, who became an orphan at eleven years old, the wayward duke dying of fever.
We must now turn to another portion of Germany and make acquaintance with another reigning duke, who, in his own person and in the surroundings of his ducal court, presented a great contrast to the eccentric ruler of Weimar. In the Duchy of Brunswick was governed by Duke Karl, who has a distinct interest for us, as being father to Anna Amalia, the heroine of our story. We learn from memoirs and contemporary literature at the beginning of the eighteenth century that Germany was much behind other European nations in refinement and mental cultivation.
We read in Doctor Vehse's voluminous histories of the manners and customs which prevailed at the electoral court of Celle, of the immorality, drunkenness, and iUiterate state of the reigning dukes all over Germany ; whilst the royal court of Prussia afforded anything but a bright example to the smaller states.
Readers of biographies and memoirs will recall some very lively incidents A Grand Duchess ii described by the Margravine of Bayreuth, who was a princess of the royal house of Prussia, and her testimony is supported by many other writers. The treatment of men of genius, artists, and musicians, was of the shabbiest character. Klop- stock, the founder, as we may call him, of German poetry, owed to a foreign prince the small pension which kept him from starvation.
It is pleasant to find a different position of affiiirs prevailing at the Court of Brunswick, which seems to have served as a pioneer to Attic Weimar. At Wolfenbiittel, the capital of Brunswick, there was every inducement to attract men of letters and artists : a fine picture gallery, a handsome library and academy, and the Collegium Carolinum, founded by Duke Karl, to which a number of learned professors were attached.
Elector of Hanover and King of England. Her 12 A Grand Duchess had been brought up in a different school, did not share her husband's scholarly tastes, and if it had been left to her, the duke's children, and especially the daughters, would have fared badly. On October 24th, , the bells of Wolfen- biittel rang out to announce that Her Royal Highness had given birth to a daughter ; this was a grievous disappointment which, after the manner of the time, was resented as being the fault of the unwelcome intruder.
Having caused her parents this first trial, she was never looked upon with affection ; the duchess especially pre- served a grudge against her daughter which lasted her lifetime, and which tinged the childhood of the little Anna Amalia with bitterness,, and clouded her early girlhood. This conduct on the part of the duchess bears out the character given of her by her sister, the Margravine of Bayreuth, ' " Charlotte is very handsome, very satirical, false, jealous and mother was the unfortunate Sophia Dorothea of Celle, thus forming a " link " between the present royal family of England and the ducal house of Weimar.
With such surroundings Amalia's childhood could not have been happy. In her "Gedanken," or book of recoUections, she says : " When I look back to my childhood, that spring-time of life, what do I see? An ever-recurring round of sacrifices made for others. I was not loved by my parents, who on every occasion kept me in the background, my brothers and sisters being always considered first. I was treated, in fact, like an outcast, and yet Thou, O my Creator, hadst endowed me with a sensitive, loving heart, which suffered misery from this want of tenderness and pined for aflTection.
I was starving for love, and I received the hard crust of mere duty. Her nature was, however, so generous, that she was always ready to forget the treatment she had received. An interesting letter from the little princess to her father, when she was seven years old, contains a covert reproach for the distinction made between her and her brothers and sisters. It was written in French, the language then used at royal courts. When I am older I shall acquit myself much better in every way, and give you satisfaction in my lessons. Therefore, my dear Papa, I beg of you to have patience with me, and you will find que je rrCen recule A Grand Duchess 15 pour mieux sauter.
I hope, dearest Papa, you wiU return soon, and that you will always honour me with your precious affection. With every assur- ance of my fond love and with every sentiment of profound respect, I remain, my very dear Papa, " Your obedient and devoted daughter, "Anna Amalia. It does not seem, however, to have altered the position of the poor litde princess, who, as she grew older and wiser, ceased to make any complaints, finding them, no doubt, useless.
She tells her pitiful tale in her " Gedanken. I suffered myself to be reproached, insulted, beiiten, without uttering a word, and as ht as possible persisted in my own course.
By degrees I became indifferent to the slights put upon me. I submitted to the indignity of having my place as the eldest taken from me, and withdrew without murmur- ing into the background. At the same time there was profit to be derived from this school, hard as it was. Anna Amalia learned how to withdraw into herself, and how to keep her feelings under command, to measure the worth of men and of things, and how to appraise the value of love and applause. She accustomed herself to a proper reserve, which kept all familiarity at a distance, and, guarded by this shield, she filled her mind with mental riches.
For this purpose no place was better suited than the court of the duke, her father. Here the greatest sympathy for art and artists was encouraged, and the galleries were filled with the finest masterpieces. The duke's openly expressed opinion was that the greatest gift any one can give to his children is a taste for knowledge. These words show that those who represented Duke Karl as an N A Grand Duchess 17 indifFerent father, judged only by the coldness, or haughtiness of his manner.
But it must be remembered this sort of distance between parent and child was the rule, not the exception, in the eighteenth century. There is no doubt that, as the young Amalia grew older, she was taken more notice of by the duke, who found her an intelligent and appreciative listener. The praises of her different instructors had, moreover, flattered his parental vanity. All those who had to do with the formation of the young princess's mind prophesied that she would make a mark in the intellectual world.
Her studies were pressed forward with great zeal, Amalia find- ing no labour too much to attain knowledge. There can be no doubt that the atmosphere of learning, and the studious habits inculcated in early youth, together with the constant association with men celebrated in every branch of literature and science, laid a foundation in the young girl's mind of reverence for genius and appreciation of talent, and that this feeling was the incentive, which caused her in after-years to gather round her little court at Weimar a group of the most in- tellectual and artistic men and women of the time.
Her studious life at Wolfenbiittel was inter- rupted by a not unusual event in a woman's, and more especially in a princess's life. It will be remembered that, by his fether's will, Constantine was left a ward of the Emperor of Austria, who appointed two guardians, Duke Frederick III. Both guardians are said to have played the part of the wicked uncle in the story-book. I 1 A Grand Duchess 19 other companion but the court fool, or jester, who, however, showed himself anything but a fool. It is said that he managed to give his young charge a feir amount of education, and when the opportunity offered, got the young duke out of the hands of his unkind guardians.
This tale, not being supported by any trust- worthy evidence, must be looked upon as an exaggeration of the actual facts. The delicacy and constant ill-health of the young duke, together with his shy and nervous nature, made it im- possible for him to be often seen by his people. Still, there seems no reason to suppose he had been unfeirly treated in any way ; although it could not be said that either of his guardians had administered their trust, in regard to the two duchies of Weimar and Eisenach, as honourable guardians should.
Grievous was the condition of the poorer classes, from the amount of taxation imposed upon them ; yet, in spite of these exorbitant imposts and customs duties, the treasury was practically empty. The ducal residences were in a ruinous condition, and everything that was valuable had disappeared. Such had been the shameful conduct of these unjust stewards. The duke was, there- fore, by no means a bad match for his daughter, who, as she was the eldest, was bound to make way for the others coming after her. In all probability it was the Margravine who had displayed her match-making powers in marrying Constantine's eccentric father to her mad sister-in-law, Charlotte of Bayreuth , who now suggested this alUance between the young pair.
She frankly acknowledges that she was glad to be released from " the bondage in which she was kept," and experienced no regret at leaving a home where she had been shown so little affection, but felt like a caged bird who, at last, receives its freedom — or rather, she says, " like a sick person " who has been long deprived of every healthy enjoyment and, " rising from a sick bed, breathes the fresh air of heaven.
She could hardly have imagined he would turn out so poor a creature as this pale, depressed and listless boy, only two years older than herself, with little education, but with kind and gende ways. He was accompanied by his chief minister and adviser. Count von Biinau, who had been placed in this position by the emperor. Biinau was a man of great ability who for many years had held posts of importance at the Austrian Court.
After the death of Charles VII. He was fortunate in possessing the friendship of the learned philosopher, Winckel- mann. Duke Constantine had known the minister at Gotha and had engaged him to enter his service. In the suite of the young duke there was likewise a man destined to play an important part in the young duchess's life. This was Anton von Fritsch, at this time only twenty-five years old, a clever and a rising man.
We shall meet him again later on. It was altogether what may be called a marriage of convenience. Amalia, indeed, honesdy acknow- ledges that love had nothing to do with the afiair. But I did not complain. He was undoubtedly not fashioned so as to take a young girl's fancy ; nevertheless, his portrait repre- sents an amiable and gentle-looking youth.
There is neither obstinacy nor vice in his face, and it was not long before his amiable qualities and the good sense which made him respected as well as loved, endeared him to his young wife, who, for the rest, only required a moderate amount of kindness to make her happy. The marriage took place on March i6th, The festivity with all its countless ceremonies, which are fully detailed in the different accounts of the wedding, need not be repeated here. The young pair then set out on their homeward journey, the preparations for which were similar to those for "a journey through the desert.
The newly married pair travelled in a berline or roomy coach, and what with the bad roads and the breakdown of one of the carriages, did not reach their destination until March 24th, when they made a triumphal entry into Weimar. The young duke, aware that his subjects had suffered considerably through the pernicious system of government pursued by the regent, had ordered that no expense was to be incurred in decorating or illuminating the town.
The soldiers made a military display, lining the streets through which the youthful couple drove in an open carriage, so that all those who wished could see them. Duke Constantine, his pale face working with nervous emotion, made a curious contrast to his rosy young bride, who wore a purple dress embroidered in gold, with an underskirt also embroidered.
Her hair, which was powdered, was drawn high over a cushion, with a rose at the side. The childish face wore such a friendly look, there was such goodness and determination to like her people and her surroundings, and to do her duty, however ungrateful the task might be, that each one felt that a friend and not a stranger had entered Weimar. And yet the outlook that lay before her was by no means a bright one. Let us listen for a moment to the sharp voice of Henrietta von EggloiFstein.
During the minority everything of value has disappeared, and even the household has been dismissed. We find, however, the young duchess giving her father a rather depressing account of her surroundings. She describes the town as " insignificant," the castle or residence having small windows sunk in the thickness of the wall ; it had all the air of a watch-tower, and stood on the bank of the river Ilm. In August the Margrave Frederick of Branden- burg, writing to the Duke of Brunswick, tells A Grand Duchess 27 him that it is reported everywhere that letters addressed to the duke and duchess were kept from them, and that it was not convenable that such a liberty should be allowed.
Later in August we find the young duchess complaining to the duke, her father, that her husband wishes her to have some lady of experience in court etiquette about the court : some one who would act as lady-in-waiting and know her duties. Her suspicions, however, were probably unfounded ; for her father sided with Duke Constantine.
Every human being, and more especially those of our rank, has need of help from others, both in small as well as in great things, and for a princess the need is of more importance. For my part I do not believe that human nature is so black as it is painted ; and, as a rule, there are not so many who betray the secrets of those whom they serve — at least, this is not my experience.
It is somewhat remarkable and bears out what has been said as to the Duke of Brunswick's conduct as a father, that, from the time of the young duchess's marriage, a true affection and confidence seems to have existed between father and daughter.
Novels of Nineteenth Century Europe
And this leads the reader of the very voluminous correspondence to the conclusion that the duke had not any share in the cruel neglect and unkindness, which had poisoned Anna Amalia's childhood. We hear nothing more of the lady-in-waiting aflPair, which naturally feU into the background by reason of so many weightier matters taking A Grand Duchess 29 up attention. There were rumours and signs in the air of the coming Seven Years' War, which was only held in abeyance by reason of the death of Frederick the Great's grandmother, the Hanoverian princess, wife to George, Elector of Hanover and King of England.
She was also grandmother to Anna Amalia who duly went into mourning for her august relative. The period of mourning had not expired when, on the morning of September 5th, , the joybells of Weimar rang out a right merry peal to announce that a prince had been born to the youthful duke and duchess. The whole town was in a tumult of delight. New life seemed to come into the face of the dying duke, whose heart was bound up in his young wife, her influence being now omnipotent.
Duke Constantine understood, for he knew full well that he was in truth sick unto death. Therefore when Biinau produced from his pocket the draft he had prepared, and, sitting opposite to the sofa where lay the pale-faced duke, proceeded to read out his proposals, the first of which was that the newly born prince should have as guardians the Duchess Amalia and Frederick V. And where would the duchess be with such a coadjutor? Biinau on this occasion reckoned without his host, or rather he under-estimated alike the love of the duke for his young wife and the capacity the latter possessed in matters of business.
He went away quite content with the draft of the wiU in his pocket. He had it engrossed, duly signed and sealed, locked it up in his safe, and then waited the course of events, the whole business being finished by February 2ist, A few more months went by. The little Prince had been baptized Karl August He was iK A Grand Duchess 31 now five months old, had a litde gilt sleigh in which he was driven over the ice and, being a strong, sturdy baby, he clapped his hands with delight.
But his sickly father lay on the sofa in his sitting-room, shivering under a weight of fiirs. No doubt the cold hand of death was already upon him. He lingered on till May came, and then, when the leaves were beginning to sprout and tokens of summer were at hand, the feeble flicker of life suddenly stopped, and poor Constantine looked his last on his young wife and baby boy.
On the day of his decease, in feet, only a few hours later, G unt Biinau called together a council as is necessary on such occasions , and to them read the will, which he had locked up in his bureau, and with the provisions of which we are acquainted. Given at Wilhelmsburg, March 22nd, The King of Denmark's office was limited to a mere honorary guardianship over the young duke, Anna Amalia being appointed sole guardian of her son, with the duke of Brunswick as joint guardian until the duchess reached the age of twenty-one.
The Council was still more amazed to find a " conclusion " from the emperor added to the codicil, stating that the duchess had accepted the guardianship of the hereditary prince on the condition that His Majesty the King of Poland, as Elector of Saxony, would accept the office of co-trustee ; which office His Majesty had accepted in writing, and was therefore dispensed from being sworn as trustee or guardian.
The consternation caused by this last clause of the codicil was universal. Nothing but mischief could come of such a choice as the Elector of Saxony for guardian. Each one asked the other K A Grand Duchess 33 who could have counselled such an injudicious step. The private secretary of Minister von Biinau, Fritsch, writing to his father, tells him that the report in Weimar was that this codicil had been drawn up by Assistant Counsellor Nonne, who was suspected of having influenced both the duke and duchess, and had acted in this underhand manner in order to advance himself.
The immediate result of the codicil was to throw ministerial and official business into the utmost confusion, as nothing could be done without the signature of the duchess, and that was value- less so long as she was under age she was just nineteen. Now came a new surprise. On this motion being made, a conclusion was put in by the court advocate to the effect that the emperor had six months previously, August , granted to the duchess the veniam aetatis.
This coup Tetat completely annihilated Biinau and his party, their only remaining chance being to raise a clamour as to the Elector of Saxony, whose appointment as guardian was unpopular with VOL. The Duke of Brunswick in alarm writes to Biinau. Biinau, sulky at his defeat, says Vienna is resolved that the Elector shall remain guardian. Vienna is bombarded with petitions from all parts of Weimar, Eisenach, Gotha, etc. But Vienna is obstinate ; the Elector must stand.
In despair Biinau is approached. Will he not use his powers of persuasion? And Biinau yields. Not to Austria, but to Denmark does he turn for help, and gets it. The personal influence of King Frederick brings about the desired release from the dreaded danger, and the resignation of the Elector restores confidence to Weimar and the surrounding states. But there is still Vienna to be accounted with. No wonder the young heart felt weary of her load of troubles. She must have made a pathetic picture, sitting at her council-table with grave, elderly men around her, her fair head covered with a long crepe veil reaching to the ground, the sign of her widowed state.
Not often has a girl in her teens, such weighty matters laid before her. And as we think of her we recall another picture nearly a century later, when another young princess was roused from her sleep in the early dawn of a summer's morning, to hear that greatness had come to her and that she was Queen of England. Although Anna Amalia's responsibilities as regent of a little duchy may not compare with the cares of a great empire, still the burden laid upon each of these two was more nearly equal than might at first sight appear. Amalia's lack of money and friends at this juncture should be thrown into the balance, making her charge more heavy.
She had plenty of courage and a superabundant energy. It was a strong character, that of this little duchess, and its force and 36 A Grand Duchess decision are eminently remarkable in her struggle with Minister von Biinau, who, having been disappointed in his ambitious attempt to become ruler of the duchy, now tried to place Weimar altogether under the thumb of Austria.
- The Last of the Sky Pirates (The Edge Chronicles, Book 5; The Rook Trilogy, Book 1)!
- Prevention and Youth Crime: Is Early Intervention Working? (Researching Criminal Justice);
- Theory of Groups.
- Month: January 2018.
- Vulnerability and Adaptation Assessments: An International Handbook.
- Libertine Enlightenment.
- A progressive grammar of the Telugu language.
This was not a loyal act, and in the young regent's mind it discounted the service the minister had done in the matter of the Elector of Saxony. When, later, the doubts she entertained of the minister's sincerity were no longer mere sus- picions, but became in her opinion certainties, the duchess resolved to act. On a trifling con- tradiction taking place between her and the minister, she wrote him a letter, hurriedly put together, conveying the impression that she had lost her confidence in him and that his retire- ment would be pleasing to her.
view Alanna Knight's e-books for kindle
Biinau at once recognised that he could not, with regard to his own dignity, retain oflice any longer, and sent in his resignation. One can easily understand that, although Amalia had brought about this event, she was a little afraid of the consequences of her own act. In her letter announcing the news to her father, she puts forward the plea that Biinau had em- A Grand Duchess 37 bittered the last days of her husband by his overbearing and insatiable love of power.
Duke Karl passes this by as childish nonsense, and practically tells his daughter he washes his hands of the mess she has got into ; if she won't follow his advice and ask the minister to withdraw his resignation, he, the duke, will do nothing. But Amalia has a spirit, and she will not "knuckle under " ; she " takes the responsibility of what may happen" and accepts the great man's re- signation, who accordingly packs his trunks and retires in high dudgeon. He lived for some years on one of his estates not far from Weimar, and from a letter preserved in the state archives it is evident Anna Amalia availed herself of his counsels, although apparently he took no part in the government The letter in question is addressed to her unde, Frederick the Great, who at this date, , had entered on the Seven Years' War.
She braced herself to the work before her and looked her responsi- bilities in the face. The first and most necessary duty was to replace Biinau. It was well known that the secret codicil, which had been sprung upon the ministers, had giving the necessary orders to protect him while he resides in Saxony from being subjected to any bad treatment, such as being made prisoner or otherwise.
I need not say that by so doing Your Majesty will confer on me an obligation for which I shall be everlastingly grateful, and with the assurance of my respect and affection.
Keller, Commandant at Leipzig. A Geheimerath had a seat at the Privy Couiicil but not an assistant Geheimerath. All this talk and gossip, which was inevitable in so small a place as Weimar, was annoying to the duchess, who, for the rest, had many anxieties on her mind. She must have missed the devotion of her young husband, who had shown his love and confidence in so remarkable a manner. The cares and anxieties of life had come all too early on one so young and inexperienced. As she writes in her Gedanken : " Never did I pray with such devotion as I did in this my hour of need.
I believe I might have become a saint. The situation was indeed peculiar. So young to be regent, to command, to rule, I, who all my life had been humiliated, depressed. Truth and self-love struggled for the mastery, and truth prevailed," 40 A Grand Duchess On September 8th, , the duchess gave birth to a son, who was named after his father, Constantine. This event seems to have infused new life and spirit into the young mother, who rose up from her trial full of zeal and de- termination to do her duty towards her children and her subjects to the best of her capacity.
She was resolved to make herself and her little duchy a feature of the century. That Weimar should win a special reputation for refinement and culture was her ambition. We generally find that those who have a steady purpose, nearly always reach the goal they have in view, and so it fell out with Amalia, whose dearest wishes were in the end realised. But not for many years did the fruition come. Mean- time she tells us how she studied day and night to make herself mistress of her new duties. I also felt the absolute need I had of a friend, in whom I could place entire confidence.
There were several who sought to be my confidants or my advisers. Some tried flattery, others commended themselves by a show of sincerity, but in none could I detect the ring of true aflFection which is above all temptations. There can hardly be a parallel found in history of so heavy a burden being laid upon such young shoulders. The condition of the duchy was deplorable : the treasury was empty, agriculture neglected ; the upper classes were extravagant, whilst the people were miserably poor and discontented. She had to face the heavy task of bringing order into the general disorder, of replenishing by some means K A Grand Duchess 43 the empty exchequer, of giving her subjects a measure of education, of providing hospitals for the sick and asylums for the aged poor.
What a task for a girl under twenty! Anna Amalia naturally looked to her ministers, and especially to Nonne, for assistance. She had given him many marks of favour. But he was not a satisfactory minister. It is difficult, as it generally is in such cases, to grasp what the cause of his falling into disfavour actually was. One account represents his disgrace to have been due to his answer to his royal mistress's demand for an increased vote, for the maintenance of the court and the court ceremonials, which the master of the ceremonies.
Von Witzleden, had estimated at 1, thalers. Von Nonne went too far, when in his reply he said : " Your highness's poor subjects are drained of the last halfpenny they earn by the sweat of their brow, to supply luxuries and display, at the court of the best princess in the world. At the next sitting of the Council, however, a respectful amendment was made to the " Pro Memoria," by which Her Serene Highness was limited in the matter of her signature to such papers as had to do with foreign powers, or memorials, etc.
This limitation of her authority was not pleasing to the duchess. It soon became evident that neither Geheimerath von Rhediger nor Geheimerath von Nonne had suc- ceeded in obtaining her confidence or friendship. It can, however, be found in the archives at Weimar, A Grand Duchess 45 had been tutor to her young husband, who had given him the rank of Assistant Geheimerath. In 1 76 1, during Amalia's guardianship, he was raised to that of Geheimerath, and in a decree of the emperor elevated him to the peerage. In her Gedankeriy Anna Amalia speaks of the character of Greiner with warm admiration.
A true friend! How happy I was to possess such an one! And now how glad I am to speak of this excellent man and to let the world know what obligations he has conferred upon me. His name is Greiner, his rank Privy Councillor. He was not a great genius, but a thoughtful man, gifted with much intelligence. He had worked his way up from the bottom, so that he was conversant with every department of aflfairs.
Just and delicate feeling animated him, and he was capable of sincere friendship. He was the friend of his friend ; and his soul being animated with the loftiest feelings, there was no room for the ignoble vice of flattery. I loved him as if he were my father, and like a child I sat at his feet. From him have I heard the truth, and from him have I learned to love it. It must not be thought, however, that Amalia had devolved the cares of the duchy on Greiner. The energetic princess followed to the letter the programme she had sketched in the "Pro Memoria. She will be present at the sittings of the council ; and, during the time when it is not in session, she will receive reports in writing or by word of mouth, and give to each one attention, consult over them with her advisers and judge accordingly.
The clear, sensible eyes of the youthful regent examined carefully into the workings of every department, and while the intelligent and quick penetration she possessed went to the bottom of every intrigue, her small, energetic hands, with narrow, pointed fingers, were ready to work at all hours for the good of the people. And none the less weU did she govern her duchy, because she cared litde for the opinion of men, so long as she had the consciousness that she was doing her duty. Fortunately, by the prudence of her ministers and the pity her youth and widowed condition excited, Weimar came out of the long struggle with small hurt.
On more than one occasion Amalia stood up bravely in defence of her litde duchy. It is certain that, in her appreciation of Greiner, she in no way overestimated his services. With- out his advice and ever ready co-operation, it would have been impossible for one, so young and inexperienced as Amalia was, to have steered her course through such a sea of difficulty.
Un- like the preceding ministers, Greiner gave his full approbation to her plans for improving the duchy. The country was undoubtedly impoverished, and the approaching war was likely still further to drain its resources ; but still, with economy and for so great a purpose, he felt sure the duchess would herself set an example much might be accomplished. Here was diplomacy on the part of Minister Greiner, and good results followed therefrom. The duchess, delighted at having a friendly collaborator in her schemes, set to work with zeal.
Weimar, the capital of the duchy, K A Grand Duchess 49 wanting in all necessaries of a capital, should be taken in hand first. In truth it needed supervision. There was the lighting of the streets. Since Weimar had been lighted by lanterns, which were carried for the higher classes by their servants, who walked before their masters ; or, if of lower rank, by the persons themselves. There were few private carriages, and the principal conveyance, for ladies especially, was the sedan chair, or chaise d porteurs.
This method of getting about had this inconvenience, that, as the chairman also exercised the office of watchman, he often deposited the chair and its occupant on the pavement, while he proceeded to perform the duty of crying out the time of night in a leisurely manner. There were graver matters that required immediate attention.
There was a pressing need for schools for the children, for additions to the public library, and for making some sort of attempt at a museum. Anna Amalia courageously set to work, beginning with the library. This had already been the object of much interest to the earlier Dukes of Weimar. Now ' See Introduction. The shelves in the library at Wilhelmsburg were denuded of their books, which were carted down to the library for which they had been originally intended, and where they made a goodly show.
In the Gymnasium Illustre there were three hundred and twenty pupils who had only seven teachers and two unpaid assis- tants. In the school for the nobility there was a preceptor who received thirty gulden yearly, the stipend of a mere village schoolmaster in England. Measures were taken to set this matter right, but it nevertheless took consider- able time. Herder, who came many years later to Weimar, found that the masters in the Gym- nasium, after thirty-one years of study, had not got through the New Testament.
But if Weimar was not altogether satisfectory, Jena filled the heart of the young duchess with pride. There the court had long been patrons of learping and art ; it was a bright spot or beacon, which led the duchess forward in her task of bringing Weimar to a similar standard of ' These books were placed in the Residenz of Wilhelmsburg by Leonard Schurzfleisch.
See Introduction. The reputation of the learned body of professors in Jena remains to the present day ; but it is not too much to say that, well-founded as this reputation was, Jena owed something to the interest taken and the assistance given by Anna Amalia, whose early training in her father's house had imbued her with a deep reverence for knowledge in all its branches. The professors of the Jena University were made welcome at Weimar, where they found in this girlish duchess an intelligent sympathiser in the intellectual developments in progress. Her bright face as she listened to their grave discourse, and eager co-operation so far as her limited means went, acted as an incentive and spur to their zeal for the diffusion of knowledge.
Unfortunately, the means at her disposal, were not in these early days of her regency, equal to her desire to do universal good. It is a great thing, however, to know precisely what you want, and not to be led astray into wider fields. Amalia possessed this somewhat rare quality ; and in reading her corre- spondence with artists, both in France and Italy, and with friends who travelled in far countries, one is surprised at the clearness and decision with which she makes known exactly what she wants and what she will pay.
It must also be said that, in the matter of friends, she was blessed to a degree not very usual in persons of her rank. Those who assisted her did their work in a remarkable manner ; and to them was, in a measure, due the success which attended her efforts to educate the people committed to her care. It was no doubt trying to a young, enthusiastic nature like Amalia's, to find herself curbed and thwarted by the necessary economy she had to practise.
In A Grand Duchess 53 a letter to her father dated she complains bitterly that she is obliged, in consequence of the strain of the war, to give out of her private purse eight thousand thalers to pay the expenses of the court. She lays the blame on Witzleben, the Comptroller, "who allows the lower class of servants to pillage as much as they like, and when reproved gets on his high horse and is offended.
But then comes a prudent answer from Duke Karl. Wait awhile, have patience, in time all will go well. Also, at the Court of Brunswick, where she had been in her youth humiliated and 54 A Grand Duchess despised, now that it was known that the great king, her Uncle Frederick, had said she was too good for the land over which she was duchess, a complete change took place and she was honoured by all. May Heaven grant that this unhappy war may cease. Prince Frederick Augustus of Brunswick, Anna Amalia was not handsome, or even decidedly pretty ; nevertheless " she gave the impression that she was handsome.
In her first youth, especially, she charmed by the bright expression of her fuU round face, which was lit up by remarkably brilliant eyes, like stars, which could soften at will into the sweetest and most loving tenderness. A Roman nose which others, not blinded by fraternal affection, called a Brunswick A Grand Duchess 55 nose, inherited from papa, but slightly softened in height and ponderosity , a beautiful profile some people called it more ; a strong-minded, energetic profile, with the aquiline Brunswick nose, again reminiscent of papa , and the sharp pointed little chin, reminiscent of mamma.
She is not tall, but looks taller than she is from her elegant pro- portions. She listens to the advice of experience, but is a slave to no one. She gives generously, but never allows herself to be impor- tuned. Her temper is lively and her will is strong, but every emotion of her mind is subject to the dictates of reason.
Slow in making friends, she is steadfast and constant. She cares not to listen to gossip ; she is a distinguished musician, and her talent has been cultivated in the best school. In her relations to her children she is ideal. Putting this aside, his testimony is worth having. Another member of the family also bears witness to the feelings entertained by the people of Weimar for their duchess.
Newsletter #86 June August, 2009
Her correspondence with her uncle, Frederick the Great, preserved in the state archives at Weimar, is most interesting, and exhibits both the great king and the little duchess his niece , in a most favourable light. The feeding of the large army of Frederick, and the recruiting which was carried on extensively, were the two great causes of complaint. The last named for much, and English readers especially like to draw their own conclusions, although a biographer may direct his readers' attention, as a barrister directs a jury to his client's case; for, after all, a biography means nothing, if not a fair trial, "from bias free and prejudice.
It seems to me that if such inanimate things as pictures, china, wine, gain in value and become mellow with years ; so too a man's life, his failures, his successes, his infirmities, require the softening touch of death, before they are laid in all their bareness before a cold, cynical world. A Grand Duchess 57 especially excited Amalia's indignation. Her first letter to the Prussian king, dated February , deals with this point, and is written in very spirited terms.
Nevertheless we have managed to evade this order as much as possible and have only sent as few men as we could spare. This terrible situation has induced me to oppose the demands made by Vienna, which, during the last three months, has been pressing me to complete the before-mentioned contingent, I do not deny. Sire, that it was my reliance on your goodness that gave me strength boldly to refuse the demands of Austria ; and now I implore you to grant your protection to this my unfortunate and ruined country. I beseech Your Majesty to cancel the order for the levy of the before-named recruits and to believe that I shall return this great favour by the most grateful affection.
These sentiments have, in fact, filled my heart since my early childhood when I was first made aware that I had the honour of belonging to you, and these feelings will remain in my heart as long as I continue to live. Amalia, accompanied by Von Nonne, visited Eisenach and greatly cheered the spirits of the inhabitants by the glad tidings that, by her influence, Frederick had given up the idea of besieging the town.
She could not, however, free her duchy from the constant exactions of the recruiting oflicers. On one occasion the duchess, having got timely notice that one of these, Lieutenant Reim, was coming to Weimar to lay his hands on every man and boy in the place, advised the young men to conceal themselves in the woods ; and with true motherly care gave them warm cloaks lest they should catch cold.
After this coup d'etat we find her writing to His Majesty the King of Prussia. I have too much confidence in Your Majesty's goodness to believe that you will allow him to act in such a manner. I implore you to be merciful towards me and my unhappy people. March 20th, Also the duchess must not believe everything told to her ; as, in war-time, many irregularities would naturally take place. Soon, however, worse things came to pass. In November 1 a " bureau of Directors " had been established in Saxony, which had for its principal object the levy of troops.
From Weimar four hundred men were demanded. Out of all patience at this horrible tyranny, Amalia again has recourse to her pen. She writes an imploring letter begging that this terribly cruel recruiting may be stopped. She calls almost hysterically upon her A Grand Duchess 6i uncle to save her poor harassed subjects ; and this time the king replies in a letter dated Meissen, November 30th, However well disposed to comply with your Highness's request, I cannot in this case, when my need for recruits is so urgent, that it is quite impossible for me to cancel the order for recruiting in Weimar.
I also beg Your High- ness to remember that it is only out of con- sideration for yourself that I gave orders that, with the exception of the recruits, no other levy should be made on Weimar, and my esteem and friendship for you will always continue, etc. It was well for the great king, her uncle, to talk of what might have happened if Austria had occupied winter quarters. Did not that much offended nation, which considered it had been tricked badly in the matter of the Elector of Saxony, threaten to force her to pay an exorbitant indemnity for not keeping faith ; a threat which the Duke of Brunswick, her father, characterises as an instance of the hard- heartedness produced by this accursed war?
There seemed no refuge on any side except, perhaps, in Uncle Frederick ; and so she continues to apply to him on every occasion, with a childlike confidence that at last seems to have secured his friendship. From this time the relations between uncle and niece become most cordial. Anna Amalia sends fruit from the gardens of Belvedere, which pleases the king ; who in return sends what he calls a trifling present, but is really a royal gift which evidently much delights the duchess, from her rapturous letter of thanks. At different intervals we find her visiting the great king at Potsdam and Berlin, at which court she made a lasting friend- ship with the Landgrafin of Hesse Darmstadt A Grand Duchess 63 Caroline Henrietta, called the Great on account of qualities of her mind.
There is no doubt that Anna Amalia gained much from her inter- course with the Landgrafin, and, as we shall see later, this friendship led to a closer connection between the duchies of Weimar and Hesse Darmstadt. We left Amalia fighting the battle for her little duchy, which was in truth nearing total extinction when, at the critical moment, the joyful news came of the cessation of the cruel and never-to-be-forgotten seven years of suffering that Germany had gone through valiantly.
To add to Amalia's happiness she had the joy of receiving Uncle Frederick at Weimar, on his homeward journey, and presenting to him her children. With the young Karl August the great king was well pleased, prophesying that he had the makings of a fine soldier and good ruler, if only niece Amalia did not make a milksop of him ; and Amalia, overflowing with pride at this praise of her boy, promised she would be guided in all things by Uncle Frederick, and so the visit ended happily.
Peace was made and hopes of coming prosperity were in all minds; the duchess, for the first time since her marriage, made a short 64 A Grand Duchess journey from home and visited Aix-la-Chapelle, then the fashionable watering-place, which was resorted to by crowned heads and princes. The journey there must have been somewhat perilous ; for, in a letter home, she expresses astonishment that she arrived at her journey's end without breaking an arm or a leg, and more surprised still that her berline had held out through such a journey.
The letter in which these expressions occur is written in gay spirits, and ends with her compliments to the court circle. On her return Weimar gave its duchess a warm welcome. She was met by a torchlight procession, and serenaded by the school children. The pleasure of feeling that she was understood and loved, by those for whom she had done so much, gratified the youthful duchess. Her return home was, however, saddened by the loss of one whom she prized, not only for his valuable services, but also for his warm friendship for her and her children. That princes do not have many sincere friends is unfortunately too true ; but in Greiner the duchess-regent had one who never swerved from his duty towards her.
She had, in many ways, shown her appreciation of this friendship. This request she, on the first occasion, absolutely refused to grant. In her letter to Fritsch she talks of the services her aged minister had rendered to her, and to the duchy she had been called to govern ; of his devotion to her interest and to the country generally ; of the order he had brought into the disorder he had found; and of the irre- parable loss it would be to her if she were robbed of the help of this able counsellor, especially in times when men from day to day grew more and more hard to fathom.
She then goes on to say that the thought had come to her mind to propose to pay his debts, although she was not instructed as to their amount ; but that could be easily ascertained ; or at least to return to him the bond for six VOL. At the last sitting of the Council this same proposal had been started by some of the members, but it had been opposed by others, and there the matter had rested. To retain him in the ministry is all important. It would be well to return him the bond for the six hundred thalers, but not from the Treasury : that would make a disturbance, and it would injure Your Royal Highness, if the people thought you con- ferred favours at the expense of the State.
But the sum could be paid from the Privy Purse, over which fund Your Highness has sole authority. A Grand Duchess 67 so experienced and so devoted to her interests. And at this juncture the loss of Greiner was all the more felt, as a terrible famine spread all over the land, bringing in its train the usual horrors of pestilence of different kinds, which afiected not only human beings, but also the cattle and horses, amongst which a terrible mortality took place.
You would oblige me much, Herr Geheimerath, if you would help me to get my mother's permission to give thalers out of my own purse, to be divided between the poor in this town, and those in Eisenach. I could not find a better use for my money. On Sundays the regent showed herself to the people in the garden of the old castle of Wilhelmsburg called the Welsche Garten. This garden was extensive ; it was laid out in the French fashion — somewhat after the pattern of Versailles — with broad, straight walks, or alleys, extending south, east and west. There were four-cornered beds of flowers, canals with rustic bridges, a Baby- lonian watch-tower, with a spiral staircase, while the many walks were inviting for lovers' rambles or pleasant picnics.
After them came the tall halberdiers and a dwarf. She fed the goldfish 1 The now lovely park was a wilderness situated to the left of the Welsche Garten. In winter the Sunday programme was different. A procession of court sleighs drove through the streets, each sleigh being driven by a gentleman, who sat behind the ladies. Before each sleigh rode an outrider, and on short winter afternoons the drive was generally to Tiefurt or Ettersburg, where tea would be taken, the company returning by torchlight.
Or, again, the duchess, dressed in a long-skirted riding habit, green or black, and mounted on a white horse, rode through the streets. The people gazed at her in admiration ; her small feet causing the greatest wonder. For it was her custom to put on every day a pair of new shoes with red heels which, when once used, were given to the ladies-in-waiting, who wore them, thereby inflicting on their poor feet unspeakable suffering.
At the theatre where it was the custom for none but the court party to applaud the duchess appeared in a cloak of different coloured silks, 70 A Grand Duchess which was thrown over her dress and had long falling sleeves. In the delightful description of Weimar and its little court, given.
The Court party arrived at eight o'clock. The duchess was splendid in a domino, and was set off by some fine jewels. She danced with a light step really beautifully, and with much dignity. The young princes, who wore fancy dresses as Zephyr and Cupid, also danced well. The masquerade was very crowded and animated, and there were a number of masks. There was also a faro table, the smallest stake half a gulden ; the duchess never put down less than half a louis d'or, but she liked to dance better than to play, and remaned at the table only a short time.
She danced with every mask who was presented to her, and remained till nearly three o'clock. Then all was nearly over. Some students from Jena were present, this being the last redoute of the season. The duchess sent me one of her own Savoyard costumes.
Related The Missing Duchess (Inspector Faro, Book 8)
Copyright 2019 - All Right Reserved