ground rose a jagged, steep promontory | monarch settled in Paris for the work of of the island of Ischia itself, and just intrigue and conspiracy, Meding seems to beyond jutted out a long spur of little have been to him eyes and hands, and all Procida, with its white castle surmount-in all. His memorials naturally contain ing it.

In the market-place was a general buzz of talk and movement amongst the crowd, eagerly awaiting the promised fireworks. We were obliged to leave just before they began, glad to find donkeys and donkeymen ready and willing to carry us up the hillside to Casamicciolà. Indeed, they | fought for the honor (or the money!), and I was reminded of the same sort of scene in former years at Cairo.

We are told that the great earrings I have described are of Greek origin, and are worn only by the married women. Short petticoats and wooden sandals used to complete their costume. The latter one still sees.

From Temple Bar.


much important information about the various causes and influences that conducted to the remarkable catastrophe of 1866, but there is nothing in them more interesting than the figure and personality of the king himself.

Born in Berlin in 1819, three days after Queen Victoria, George V. was in his boyhood taught to look on himself as a possible rival to her for the English throne, there having been some talk at that time- Meding goes too far in representing it as a strong movement - among the Tories for introducing a Salic law to exclude the Princess Victoria from the succession. Meding says the recollection of this rivalry disturbed the cordiality between the courts of England and Hanover ever after, though their relations continued friendly in form. However this may be, difficulties certainly arose now and again out of the peculiar situation of the two royal families as branches of the same house. A constant source of bitterness at Hanover was the persistent refusal of Queen Victoria to permit any of her subjects to accept the Hanoverian order of Guelph. This order had been founded by one of the Georges, and while the crowns were united, had been habitually conferred on English subjects and worn

A WELL-KNOWN epigram praises Heaven that with the death of George IV. the Georges ended, and it may give a moment's surprise to some to read that there was a George V., the best, the ablest, the unhappiest, the most interesting in mind and fortune of all the Georges. The fifth George inherited, indeed, only one of the crowns that were worn by the other four-by them, but on the separation of the their original ancestral crown of, Hanover, which could not, like that of England, be assumed by a woman, and consequently passed, on the death of William IV., in 1837, to his brother Ernest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland. When the latter died he was succeeded by his only son George, who was to be the last king of Hanover and the last of the Georges. Of this monarch personally the world has hitherto known little, but we are now enabled to make his better acquaintance by a book of memoirs on contemporary history, which has been recently published in Germany by Oscar Meding, who occupied peculiarly close relations with him during the last twenty years of his life. Meding's official position in the Hanoverian service was never higher than that of a clerk in the Office of the Interior, but he saw more of King George, and enjoyed a larger share of his confidence, than the ministers of the crown, of whom, indeed, the king, from his blindness, was curiously jealous; and after the annexation of Hanover, when the dethroned

crowns, it came under the same rules as other foreign orders, and these were not allowed to be accepted by English subjects except in a few specified and exceptional cases. Ernest Augustus and George V. both conferred the order repeatedly on Englishmen, but its acceptance was never permitted. This always gave high offence at Hanover. It was taken to spring from jealousy of the male line of Guelph, and to indicate disrespect to the head of the house. If so, the latter had his own peculiar opportunities for reprisal as head of the Guelphic house of Brunswick, of which the English royal family was now a subordinate branch. His consent was required to the marriages of the English princesses, and sometimes that consent was withheld after the mar riage was recognized by all other members of the house. This occurred in the case of the marriage of the princess Mary Adelaide with the Duke of Teck. George V. refused to regard it otherwise than as a morganatic one, because, while the duke's father was of royal blood, his mother be

longed only to the lesser nobility, and he could not, therefore, in the king's opinion, be treated as being of equal birth with the princess Mary.

ing himself by throwing a long silk purse with heavy gold tassels up into the air and catching it as it fell, and was warned to be careful of his eye, as the purse had already nearly struck his face; but the very next throw, it fell upon the right eye and impaired its vision permanently, though without as yet taking it altogether away. That was left for another accident in 1840.

Immediately after their marriage, the Duke and Duchess of Teck visited him in person at Vienna (where he then was) in order to procure his assent; but though he received them with the utmost kindness, he still adhered to his refusal, and at table, while the princess was set at his The elder Gräfe, the celebrated Berlin right, the Duke of Teck took place ac- oculist, was brought to the Palace of cording to his rank, and officially was not Herrenhausen to perform an operation treated as a relative of the family. But upon the injured organ, and by some fatal King George valued nothing so much as shake of the hand accidentally cut through his family. Pride is too weak a word to the optic nerve. The surgeon, driven to express his feeling for it. It was worship. despair by what he had done, took refuge The Guelphs had a providential rôle, a in suicide immediately on his return from divine mission: they were a sacred, a Hanover. The crown prince remained chosen house, and it was less humiliation henceforth in impenetrable darkness. He than sacrilege to give admission to infe- bore this calamity like a brave man and a rior blood. He would rather be head of philosopher. He never complained of it. the house of Guelph than king of Great He was full of that cheerful, if subdued Britain, France, and Ireland, and Defend-repose which so often surprises us, and er of the Faith; and at the very moment charms us, and reproves us, in the blind. when he refused to acknowledge the Duke He even took that light estimate of his of Teck as a full relative, he was already affliction which sometimes surprises us nothing more; the kingdom had departed, even more. He used to say that eyesight and forever, and even his vast private was the sense we could most easily disproperty was forced to be confiscated on pense with; and that is so far true. account of his continued attitude of irrec- Blindness, though a much more impres oncilability. sive, is a much less severe, calamity than deafness, for example. It secludes the sufferer less from the enjoyment of socie ty, it unfits him less for its business; and by virtue of its impressiveness it engages instant sympathy and help, while the other attracts too often little but ridicule. The deaf are less dependent, at least less obviously dependent on others than the blind; but their independence means isolation, whereas the dependence of the blind gives them often new limbs, new powers, new organs, both by the fresh faculties it develops in themselves, and the use it enables them to command of the ready assistance of others. Had Mr. Fawcett been deaf he would never have become postmaster-general, and it is questionable whether in such a case Prescott would have kept up sufficient interest to write his histories.

In reading Meding's sketches, we cannot escape a curious impression that from first to last a mysterious fatality always hung upon King George. Accident seems to play weightier parts and carry graver issues than in most other careers; opportunities come and tempt and are let slip, nobody can well say how; without wrong intention, without even any conspicuous error of judgment on the data that presented themselves, the wrong turn is always sure to be taken. The divinity that does not hedge kings seems ever lurking hard by, and weaving threads of ill omen that eventually converged in the remarkable catastrophe of 1866.

Nothing exercised a more peculiar and important influence on the character of George V., and through his character on his history, than his blindness, and his blindness was the result of three consecu- In his father's lifetime George was altive misfortunes. He perhaps had a con- ways treated as if he saw. Everybody stitutional tendency to it, for his father was obliged to speak of him and to him as was blind of one eye, but, at any rate, he if he had no defect, and though he never first lost the sight of the left eye in a dis- exhibited this sensitiveness himself, he ease of childhood, and then, in 1833, when still-from habit probably - often used he was fourteen, he seriously injured the the expression, "I see." He always said, other by an accident while at play with "I am glad to see you." But while he the present Duke of Cambridge in the was still crown prince, there was a party garden of Windsor Castle. He was amus-in Hanover who thought this defect le

gally disqualified him from the succession, and there was some dissatisfaction on the subject down even to the last year of his reign. In that year one of the leading newspapers of Berlin published in its Hanoverian correspondence an account of a religious ceremony that took place in connection with some family event in the palace, and mentioned that a sermon was preached from a certain text. On referring to this text, it was found to be, "Woe to the country whose king is blind." The paragraph was of course a mystification. No such sermon had been delivered, but the king was much hurt when it was discovered that the writer of the paragraph was a high official of his own treasury. This official immediately took to flight, and the king, with a truly royal magnanimity, supported the forsaken wife and children from his own private purse. But as to the prejudice against a blind king, the history of George V. shows both where it is wrong and where it is right. It is entirely wrong in considering blindness a necessary intellectual disqualification for government. On the contrary, this defect perhaps leaves to the mind more disposition and more leisure to reflect upon important affairs; and King George, at any rate, had a better and more enlightened grasp of public questions than any of his chief ministers. But his blindness exercised a curious and sinister effect on his relations with his counsellors. It made him excessively jealous of his monarchical prerogative, and even when he had the highest personal regard and affection for his ministers, he was morbidly suspicious of their making encroachments, and consequently never gave them his entire confidence. For the same reason he never had any minister of great ability. Meding ac counts for this by saying that Hanover was a small country, whose kings had always been resident abroad, and that its bureaucracy having accordingly got into humdrum ways, were not the stuff statesmen are made of. But in that case, if King George wanted a man of ability he might have gone beyond his own borders for him, as the king of Prussia did for Stein, as the emperor of Austria did for Beust. But the abler the minister the more suspicious and uneasy would George become, and he paid heavily in the end for the inferiority of his advisers.

Before leaving the subject of his blindness, it may be added that in spite of that defect he was an excellent and even daring rider. Of course he could not take

the right directions or turnings without assistance, but in some respects he had quite a wonderful sense for locality. "I remember," says Meding, "being one day with him on a hill at Goslar and ascending a watch-tower; he stood with his face to the north, and then explained the whole prospect round the horizon, naming every place and every hill without making a single mistake."

Meding's narrative begins with the year 1859, when he first came to Hanover to be assessor at the Landrostei (the office of local government for the metropolitan province). He was brought into personal relations with the king almost immediately after his arrival, inasmuch as from his literary qualifications he was selected to organize a press bureau for Hanover, to secure for the government an extensive connection with journals, to employ an efficient staff of leader-writers and correspondents, and in every possible way to get the views of Hanover represented far and wide in the German press. This was an enterprise in which the king took much more interest than his ministers. He had been brought up in England and knew something of the power of public opinion, which the official mind in Hanover was far above noticing. He gave directions to Meding every day in person, he even wrote leaders, and, more remarkable still, for one of his leaders the publisher of the newspaper in which it appeared was prosecuted before a Hanoverian court and his plant arrested by the Hanoverian police, though the proceedings were immediately quashed when Meding gave the minister of justice a hint as to how the land really lay. It was found incredibly easy to secure the German press. In Hanover this was done by means of a distribution of government printing jobs a cheap defence of monarchies though even this moderate douceur was often unnecessary, many of the country papers being only too glad to insert articles that wore the appearance of being original, whether they came from the government bureau or anywhere else. They had previously been in the habit of simply copying the leaders of the Liberal journals, from their want of ability to write leaders of their own. The German press outside of Hanover was reached by more ingenious devices: they were ap proached, not through the editors but through the correspondents - the Berlin newspapers through their correspondents in Vienna or Frankfort, and the Vienna newspapers through their correspondents

in Berlin or Dresden. Meding describes | and especially had she cultivated, as in this class of persons, who collect infor- that case she would almost certainly have mation in the government and newspaper done, friendly relations with the neighoffices during the day and despatch it in boring and connected family of Prussia. the evening in the form of letters to the The only instance of intercourse between various journals they serve, and he says the two families that is recorded in the he found no difficulty in making an ar- present volumes, is a brief meeting berangement with them by which they tween the king of Hanover and the presagreed to write their daily letters accord- ent emperor of Germany, then prince ing to his instructions. In this way he regent of Prussia. The circumstances of was able to make his voice heard through this meeting show the remarkable energy some of even the principal journals in and initiative of which the blind monarch Germany, and to get the Hanoverian view was capable. Napoleon III. had arranged of a question simultaneously asserted in an interview with the prince regent to the most diverse quarters, without stir- exchange views about the German quesring the smallest suspicion of collusion. tion, and no doubt other matters more The glimpses of German journalism we closely at that time affecting the French receive in these volumes are sadly unfa emperor's personal position. This intervorable, but both in regard to incompe- view caused considerable anxiety to the tence and to corruption, they are confirmed king of Hanover, who feared it would be by all we learn from other sources. misconstrued into an indication of a desire on the part of Prussia to separate itself from its understanding with the other German powers, and be used by the Prussian party in Germany to forward its own views of the situation at home. And there was no time to be lost, for Napoleon's proposal was made in the beginning of June, 1860, and on the 15th of the same month the interview was to take place at Baden-Baden. After praying earnestly, as was his custom, for light on the course he should pursue, the king resolved on the evening of the 12th of June to go at once in person to Berlin, and suggest to the prince regent that the other German princes should accompany him on the occasion of his meeting with Napoleon. Taking the midnight train and telegraphing to his ambassador to have a carriage awaiting him at the Berlin station, he changed his dress in the railway carriage for the uniform of the Prussian regiment of Hussars of which he was colonel, and the star and ribbon of the Prussian order of the Black Eagle, and immediately on arriving at Berlin drove to the royal palace. It was not yet seven o'clock, and the prince regent was not a little astonished when his servant came to his bedroom and announced that the king of Hanover had arrived at the palace. He hastened down to the room where the king awaited him, and after embracing and kissing one another, the latter immediately began: "You are to meet Napoleon in Baden? That will not do; it will be misinterpreted. I have come to tell you my view. You must not go alone. I will go with you; the others must come also. Then all misconstruction will be prevented, and you will meet Napoleon

King George was very fond of seabathing and yachting, and for these purposes resided on the island of Nonderney for some months every year. Here all ceremony was cast aside, and the life of the court was the happiest and freest. The island belonged to Hanover, but the king wished it to have the neutral character of an international bathing resort, and always maintained the incognito while he resided there. He wore only the plain black clothes of a citizen, with the star and ribbon of the Garter, and he had every day a little dinner to which the visitors on the island were invited without any strict regard being paid to their competency to appear at court. These little entertainments, where princes and clergy and players met on easy footing, were thoroughly enjoyed by the king, and made most agreeable to all who were present. An invitation to a trip on the royal yacht was however one of the terrors of Norderney for many. The king never suffered from seasickness, but he was often the only one on board except the crew who enjoyed this immunity. Herr von Manteuffel, brother of the Prussian minister of that name, frequently implored permission to remain ashore, but the king always withheld it with a laugh, enjoying the misery of the poor man, who was already ill by anticipation. The queen rarely accompanied him to Norderney. The tenderest affection reigned between them; he always called her, even before large companies, "my angel-queen;" but she was very much of a recluse, and her ways were solitary and peculiar. Much misfortune might have been spared the family had she been fonder of society,

more worthily, surrounded by the German | Meding, and Meding laid it before the princes." The prince thanked the king warmly for his visit, entered heartily into his proposal, and the result was that on the 15th he was accompanied by the rest of the German princes at his interview with the French emperor. The king stayed to dinner, returned to Hanover in the evening, and set out for Baden on the day after.

At Baden-Baden King George lived in the English Hotel, and on the morning following the interview, as he came from his chamber on the arm of his servant Mahlmann, a stranger was sitting in the salon. Mahlmann, who did not know him, and took him to be one of the occupants of the house, asked him angrily what brought him there, for that was the king of Hanover's room. The stranger advanced, and the king at once recognized the voice. It was Napoleon, who had come in plain dress and without attendant, and had requested that no ceremonious announcement of his visit should be made to the king. He produced the ribbon of the Legion of Honor and decorated King George with it, which was to the latter a source of embarrassment, as he had up till then entertained a prejudice against Napoleon, and was the only one of the German sovereigns who had not given him an order. The emperor remained long with the king, and repeated his visit again and again while in Baden, and completely overcame the prejudice of the latter by his charming manner, and the high reverence he professed for legitimism. His great idea was that the empire was the only form of government that could possibly represent the legitimist standpoint permanently in France. Count Chambord had no heir, and the Orleanist family were anti-legitimist, and it was the first empire that had really stemmed the Revolution. King George was thoroughly converted into an ardent admirer of the emperor, and telegraphed to Hanover for a courier to come on at once with the insignia of the order of George to bestow upon his new friend.

In re

king, whom it was meant to reach, and
for whose good offices it was a feeler.
The proposal was that Count Chambord
should recognize Napoleon, not as his
successeur légitime, which was of course
impossible, but as continuateur reconnu
de sa dynastie, and so exclude the preten-
sions of the house of Orleans.
turn for this, the emperor, on his part,
should secure to the count all the French
possessions of his family, the title of
Majesté royale, and a residence in any
French town except Paris; and should,
besides, maintain by arms the Bourbon
dynasty on the throne of Naples, and use
his influence to maintain them on that of
Parma. The king of Hanover entered
so far into the scheme that negotiations
were actually begun. But delays arose
the Italian question would not wait, and
Napoleon, who had kept his ships off Na-
ples ready for either course, according to
the result of these negotiations, finally
struck in in favor of Piedmont and Gari-
baldi. His Italian campaign - his war
for an idea, for which he has received so
much mistaken praise, is thus seen to be
only one of the selfish shifts of a selfish
and shifty life.

[ocr errors]

One of the oddest pictures in the book is the pilgrimage of King George and the royal family to Goslar to undergo the socalled " nature-cure of "Dr. Lampe. This Lampe was the ideal of the harmless and successful quack. He had been a shoemaker in the peaceful village to which he now attracted such illustrious people, and he professed to have discovered his panacea in certain ancient books and manuscripts which had long lain there in the dust. His treatment consisted of two parts outwardly of periodical rubbings; and inwardly of the use of juices expressed from some herbs of the Hartz, mixed by Lampe himself on a system known to no one else, and adapted with special modifications to every particular case that came before him. He had been frequently punished for quackery, but his punishments made his fortune. They adThe king's relations with Napoleon did vertised him in a way nothing else could, not end here. One of the most curious and drew patients from far and near. documents in Meding's volumes is a pro- Among others who visited him was the posal for arrangement with the Count Archduchess Constantine of Russia, the Chambord, which was undoubtedly drawn sister of the queen of Hanover, and she up by Napoleon at the beginning of the experienced so much benefit that she inItalian war, and which was sent in a very duced the queen to give the new cure a indirect and informal way to the court of trial. The king had always been a homoHanover. Count Walewski gave it to a opathist, but he now sent Lampe a formal French teacher in Hanover, who was license to practise his method of treat tutoring the crown prince; he gave it to|ment, bestowed on him the title of cure

« VorigeDoorgaan »