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Steinkirk. Possibly, too, the Wolfenbüttel archives might be worth examining.
If these letters are accepted as genuine-and we see our way to no other conclusion-no doubt any longer remains as to either the course or the character of the intimacy between Sophia Dorothea and Königsmarck. Curiously enough, the very first of his letters, as reproduced here, and dated “Aht' (query Alt = Altkloster 7), July 1st, must have been written by him on the march with the Hanoverian regiment, of which we know from Colt's despatch of June 3, 1691, that he was in command on the march towards the Elbe. On July 27 he writes from Hamburg, whither we know from Colt* that he had at this very time been sent with the ratification of a treaty with Sweden; and in a later letter he observes that, had he gone on to Sweden, he might, on terms very advantageous to himself, have entered into the service of that monarchy. His resolution to remain at Hanover seems to have been due to the countenance given by the Princess to his attentions, and his letters, which had at first shown
liselt, havele mich he obtion of
One or two of them may be mentioned in a note, since it is impossible to enumerate the whole of them. Writing from Hanover on June 20, 1692, Colt mentions that on Sunday the 18th he gave 'a great diversion' (apparently in honour of the victory of La Hogue), which was attended by the Duke and Duchess and all the Court. In an undated letter from Brockhausen, the Princess writes that she went to Colt's fête ; on July 16 Königsmarck inquires from Diest on what day the fête was held; on July 13 the Princess replies that Sunday was the day. On July 5 (4th, Wilkins) Colt writes that the great waters have kept the Duke from Celle ; in an undated letter from Brockhausen the Princess says that they may be detained perhaps for a week by the foods; on the 7th she announces their departure for Celle on the following day. Further movements of the Celle Court are similarly noticed in corresponding passages ; particular attention may be directed to the postponement of the Electress of Brandenburg's promised arrival in August, and of a return visit to Berlin in November. Of course no coincidences similarly precise are traceable in the case of the letters dated from various stations of the troops in Flanders; but reference is made, in both despatches and letters, to the presence of Portland in the camp, to the losses of Celle soldiery at Steinkirk, and to the failure of the French design upon Charleroy. The incidents of the visit of the Elector of Bavaria to Brussels in August on the occasion of the Feast of the Miracles and of the appearance in camp of that most charming youth the Duke of Richmond (the description of whom seems copied straight from one of Van Dyk's chefs-d'æuvre) might perhaps be verified.
some restraint, begin to take a freer tone. Her movements between the country seats and hunting-places of her father and uncle frequently necessitated a separation, which added fuel to the flame, and before, in June 1692, Königsmarck started for the Flanders campaign passion had broken down every barrier. With the opening of this campaign begins the series of the Princess's letters, several of which are dated from Brockhausen, where the Celle Court was at the time staying. At this stage the correspondence on both sides is, when compared with the envoy's despatches, found to be particularly full of the “undesigned coincidences' of which we have spoken. It betrays every mood of an illicit passion-love, jealousy, and haunting fears; and such it continued in the fall of the year when, after her lover had come unhurt out of the terrible battle of Steinkirk, Sophia Dorothea accompanied the Duchess Eleonora on a visit to Wiesbaden--into the midst of the gossip of the • Reich. Her letters cease for a time after her return to Hanover, while Königsmarck writes more distractedly than hitherto, as if fate were beginning to be too strong for him. A sort of desperation appears to prompt his defiance--so far at least as intention goes of the malign influence which for some time previously had, both by the Princess and by him, been thought to be overshadowing their loves. He is enraged by the consciousness that he had responded to the advances made to him by Countess Platen, the Elector's mistress. That, however, she was luring him and Sophia Dorothea to their doom there is, so far as we know, no evidence to show, either in their correspondence or elsewhere, although it exhibits the Princess as distrusting her even when full of sympathetic advice.
The correspondence closes for the year 1692 with a brutally sarcastic tirade addressed to the Electoral Princess' by her jealous lover. When it re-opens in the early summer of 1693, Sophia Dorothea, whose husband had set out for the campaign in Flanders, is found dreaming or idling away her days in the electoral villeggiatura at Luisburg, or with her parents at Brockhausen. She indulges in a false sense of security due partly to her absent husband's acquiescence in this modicum of freedom, partly to the good humour of her mother-in-law, who only a year before had ‘lectured' her
nothin Flanders, is whose husband the early sucess' by
* 'Ab! what a little time to love is lent;
Dryden, The Rival Ladies,'
about Königsmarck's attentions.* Thus at Brockhausen the lovers venture upon a secret—but, as it proves, not wholly unobserved-nocturnal interview. After this the letters interchanged between Hanover and Celle become more passionate than ever, but also betray increasing apprehensions of discovery. Countess Platen herself vaguely warns the Princess of the risks she is running. In Sophia Dorothea's last letter, dated August 1693, she breaks forth into the hopeless cry, ‘Perhaps, in addition to the fact that 'you no longer love me, I am on the eve of being utterly
lost.' * In the same month Königsmarck reluctantly set forth on the campaign against the Danes, some incidents of which, mentioned in these letters, are also noted elsewhere. On his return to Hanover warnings came to him from old Marshal Podewils, and from Prince Ernest Augustus, his earliest acquaintance in the Electoral family ; but the passion of the pair pursued its headlong course, feeding itself even at this stage on jealousies. About the turn of the year Königsmarck had to absent himself, perhaps in quest of money; and at this point, after touching upon misères such as only a very realistic imagination could have invented, the correspondence comes to an end. The last of Königsmarck's letters, according to their sequence in the British Museum transcript, is that addressed to · Frole de
Kronbugler,' and bears a postscript, evidently intended for the confidante : "Speak for me to Léonisse, and tell her that whatever befals I will not abandon her.
On the events which followed nothing is added in these volumes to the little that was already known. In spite of the determination of the Hanoverian Court to suppress every trace, not only of the catastrophe, but also of the events which led up to it, we know on evidence independent of the Lund letters, that Königsmarck had made no secret of his devotion to the Princess. This is corroborated by the references in the letters themselves to the reproofs addressed to her by the Electress and to Countess Platen's comments, as well as by the many indications they have furnished that the intimacy of the pair had been watched, and its real character suspected by the Electoral
* In a later letter Königsmarck warns the Princess that the Electrese, though reckoned by her among her best friends, will sooner or later be her ruin. This is explicable, if he knew her to be guilty.
+ She adds: 'I must end this to-morrow ; I must go to Communion. A strange touch-if a fictitious one.
VOL. CXCIII. NO. Cccxcv.
family, and by Sophia Dorothea's parents. But we perceive no proof of any deliberate design to make use of this scandal, should it become demonstrable, so as to ruin the Princess. Even assuming the correctness of Schaumann's statement that in the winter of 1693–94 the Elector Ernest Augustus was seriously ill, the inference that his illness and the fear of his death stimulated the enemies of his daughter-in-law to quick action is hazardous in the extreme. The attempt to involve the Electress Sophia in the direct responsibility for the catastrophe in our opinion breaks down completely, while it would be preposterous to found any such conclusion on her subsequent belief in Sophia Dorothea's guilt. As to Countess Platen, the true facts as to her relations with Königsmarck remain shrouded in mystery. The story most generally believed * was that she had been disappointed in her final design of marrying her daughter to the man who had at one time captivated her own fancy. Whether or not in consequence of this manoeuvre and its breakdown, Königsmarck in April 1694 left Hanover and, without resigning his commission, paid a visit to Dresden, where he was well received by his acquaintance, the new Elector Frederick Augustus, and offered a commission in the Saxon army. Here, according to an uncontradicted statement in the · Relation examined by Leibniz,t he had l'indiscrétion de dire des
choses dont il se devoit taire,' and probably enough boasted, among other favours, of those of the Countess Platen. In any case his behaviour at Dresden must have made him more than ever a marked man at Hanover on his return
What is known as to the movements of the Princess during his absence can only be gathered from one or two passages in Cresset's despatches, and from the official rescript afterwards (July 23) addressed in her father's name to his minister at Vienna, the well-known H. C. von Bothmer, with the avowed intention of counteracting the attempts made to sow discord between the Duke and his brother the Elector. These attempts, it was stated, had taken the form of provoking ill will between the Electoral
* It is repeated, with additions, in the Account of the Court of George I. by the husband of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (Works, vol. i. p. 127).
† Köcher, p. 234.
her way she ne Elector an
Prince and his wife, through her lady-in-waiting, Fräulein von dem Knesebeck. There is, we must add, no evidence whatever that the Princess was subjected to actual ill-treatment by her husband even at this stage; but she certainly asserted afterwards that before they parted for the last time he had threatened her with an action for divorce. At all events, so the rescript continued, a determination arose in her to avoid him. To this end she paid a visit to her parents at Brockhausen, where we know from Cresset that she was staying in the middle of June. She left them again, however, before the end of the month, but was expected soon to come back to a neighbouring watering-place. This agrees with the statement of the rescript and the account in the 'Roman Octavia,' according to which she was sent back to Hanover by her father. On her way she gave offence by refusing to alight to pay her respects to the Elector and Electress at Herrenhausen; and at Hanover, hearing that her husband would within a few days return from Berlin, she resolved, as the rescript asserts, without awaiting his arrival, once more to betake herself to her parents. They refused to receive her.
It is within these few days, however, that a curtain of impenetrable darkness suddenly descends. On the night of July 1, 1694, Königsmarck left his house, to be seen no more. That his destination was the Leine Palace, and that he there had an interview with the Princess, is undoubted; but the purpose of that interview and the nature of the plan on which they agreed together can only be guessed. Was he merely to be her helper in an attempt at escape to Wolfenbüttel or to France from the intolerable restraints around her? Or was their flight intended to accomplish the design, avowed in some of the later Lund letters, of a permanent union between them? The one person who could have known the secret was the Princess's faithful-almost too faithful-attendant, Eleonora von dem Knesebeck. She persistently asserted the perfect innocence of her mistress in the face of threats which might have broken many a sterner spirit, and long after she had intrepidly effected her escape from the dungeon on the slopes of the Harz to which she had been consigned. But she confessed to having known of a plot,' and how serious she had thought it is shown by the fact that after she had beard of it tears and entreaties had been needed to keep her in the Princess's service. Yet the scope of this plot is as unknown to us as are the circumstances of the dire counterdesign by which it was cut short.
faithful –almoshe persistentle of threats. The after