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he had been received in a private audience by the Emperor, who asked him after his Duchess, pretending not to know, or really not knowing the state of affairs. A few months later the sovereign sent him the letters-patent which granted the legitimacy to Sophia Dorothea, and the title of Countess of Wilhelmsbourg to the Dame of Harbourg. * This imperial message,' say the memoirs of the time, 'caused a great surprise to the Duke of Zell, who looked askance at Eléonore and gave vent to a significant “hum, hum,” for he had his suspicions—and they were right; the wily French lady had written, as she alone knew how to write, a letter to the Emperor, who had graciously complied with her desire.'
When the Duchess of Brunswick wrote the news to her niece Madame Princess Palatine, with whom she kept up a constant correspondence, she said that the scandal was something unheard of. • And, she adds, 'we shall soon have to say “Madame la Duchesse” to this little clot of dirt, for is there another name for that mean intrigante who comes from nowhere?' On which the haughty Palatine answers: ‘Nowhere ? my dear aunt, you are mistaken, if you will allow me to say so; she comes from a French family, and therefore from a fraud. Here the people themselves own without a blush that there is not one noble house which could prove more than four quarters of nobility on either side, paternal or maternal, and dukes and duchesses laugh openly at their own genealogical trees, which, most of them, are just as fanciful as the one I made for my cook or the one George William secured for d'Olbreuse.'
In the meanwhile Sophia Dorothea was growing into a lovely maiden, full of fun and not over-wise; her parents seem to have sadly neglected her education, and not even to have surrounded her with the right sort of ladies to restrain and guide her undisciplined nature, which the Duchess Sophia calls wholesale and without scruples a French nature, this to her mind including everything
The girl was scarcely twelve when a scandal broke out in the Ducal Court, some love letters having been found by the Countess of Reuss in a drawer of the young lady's 'Bonheur du Jour;' they had been written to her by a page, a mere boy, Christian Augustus von Haxthausen, who was sent away to a dire exile which lasted all his life; while a Frenchwoman, Madame Théange, who had been the messenger of love, was kept a prisoner for many months and at last sent back penniless to France.
This little adventure does not seem to have prevented the young princes of the reigning Houses of Europe from falling in love with the pretty young Duchess, who was now in a recognised position; for her father, the Duke of Zell, yielding to the constant entreaties of the Countess of Wilhelmsbourg, had addressed a request to the Emperor asking his sanction to a marriage 'ad morganaticum.' This was granted him on condition that nothing should be altered in the contract he had signed in favour of his brother, by which the Duchy of Zell and all other privileges should come to Ernest Augustus at his death.
In spite of this favourable clause the marriage was a sore trial to the Duchess Sophia, who wrote her niece a letter which was found in the papers of Madame' after her death, in which she says, curiously enough, for a lady of rank and a respectable woman :
Is it not a pity that Ernest Augustus and myself should have made such a blunder, and called to our Court tható little clot of dirt'? (this name being the only one she gives her sister-in-law in all her letters], the more so (she goes on] that we had at hand the Biegle, whom William liked well enough ; though she was not so fascinating as his French vixen, who really is a splendid Stückfleisch, she would have done very well, and at least have remained in her proper place. Nerer mind, Sophia Dorothea will avenge us all : she is a little canaille (this word is in French], and we shall see.
At this moment the girl of whom she spoke so bluntly was promised in marriage to a young German prince of little importance, a fact at which the Duchess rejoiced heartily; but this first fiancé was of delicate health and died of consumption. Another match was at once arranged for her with Prince George, son of the King of Denmark, who had very nearly given his consent when his Queen deliberately opposed her will against it and manifested great indignation on the subject. Well done!' writes the Duchess Sophia, 'fancy a King's son for that bit of a bastard! Upon my word one has to come from Poitou to be so impudent!'
In the meanwhile Ernest Augustus had become very friendly with his dear brother, George William, who, having led a quiet and retired comparatively modest life, had heaped up gold and wealth of all kinds. The Duke of Brunswick was well aware of this, for all along he had been counting on his fingers and he had come to the conclusion that such a fortune was worthy of a slight sacrifice ; therefore, behind the back of his proud Duchess, he made an overture to the Duke of Zell, and suggested that a marriage between the pretty Sophia Dorothea and his own heavy son, George Louis, who was twenty-two years of age and something of a bear, would not be such a bad affair, provided, of course, that the dowry of the young Duchess should be made equal to the match; 100,000 thalers paid yearly to the bride would do very well.
Eléonore of Zell ought to have jumped at this proposal, which was likely to put an end to the snubbing ways of the Duchess Sophia and bring her to a footing of equality with her ; but she was a good mother in her way; the tears of her daughter, who had no wish to marry her cousin, touched her heart, and to the cross Duchess Sophia's stupefaction, she did not give her consent at once, but demurred about it for a long time. However, though she was actually acknowledged as Duchess of Zell and reigning sovereign, her former position did not allow her sufficient authority to make her will prevalent; the marriage was decided, and in her intense vexation Sophia of Brunswick found some relief in the tears of the women she most despised who were about to enter into closer relationship with her haughty self. It is very curious to see how she looks at the matter in her letters to her niece, the Palatine :
Ernest Augustus (she says) had always a queer head, but that such an idea could have entered into it passes all my understanding; however 100,000 thalers a year is a goodly sum to pocket, without speaking of a pretty wife who will find a match in my son, George Louis, the most pig-headed, stubborn lad who erer lived, and who has round his brains such a thick crust that I defy any man or wornan ever to discover what is in them. He does not care much for the marriage himself, but the 100,000 thalers a year have tempted him, as they would any one else.
And on the 2nd of December, 1682, a marriage was celebrated at Zell between George Louis of Brunswick, who thirty-two years later became King of England under the title of George the First, and Sophia Dorothea of Zell, the daughter of Eléonore d'Olbreuse. Though this marriage proved to be a most unhappy one, the young lived long enough with her husband to present him with two children: a son, who became George the Second of England, and a daughter, who married Frederick William the First of Prussia, the father of Frederick the Great.
Therefore the direct descendants of Eléonore d'Olbreuse, the little clot of dirt,' now occupy the two greatest thrones in Europe: being represented in England by Queen Victoria, and in Germany by Wilhelm the Second.
ADRIENNE VAY AMSTEL.
COTTAGE HOMES FOR THE AGED POOR
The question of Old Age Pensions is now almost ripe for legislation, but the difficulties are so great that even the strongest Government may well hesitate to face them. The facts which have led to the demand are very startling and grievous.
Mr. Charles Booth, in his valuable book the Aged Poor, published in 1894, shows from official returns that at 65 years of
per cent. of the population are paupers ; at 70 years of age 30 per cent. ; and at 75 nearly 40 per cent.; of these old paupers about one-third, or 114,144, are in the workhouse, and two-thirds, or 262,283, receive Out-Relief.
The amount granted to Out-Relief in the great majority of Unions is 28. 6d. or 3s. per week. In one Union I know the following card is printed and placed in the Board Room :
Scale of Outdoor Relief allowed in Ordinary Cases. Not able-bodied.
Is it any wonder that the poor look forward to old age with feelings of horror and despair ? How can a man or woman of 70 find food, clothing, coals and rent, on 28. 6d. per week?
In the North Riding of Yorkshire the Guardians give Out-Relief to the aged poor whenever they can. I visited not long since the 21 workhouses connected with the North Riding Unions, and made special inquiries with regard to the aged poor; and I found very few of the deserving poor in those houses, and as a rule the old people can, so long as they have relations to help them, manage to exist on the weekly pittance from the Guardians; and it is, I venture to think, most praiseworthy of the Guardians that they give, whenever practicable, Out-Relief to these old people, for they recognise the fact that there is nothing more humiliating or degrading to our country poor than to force them into the workhouse.
The public probably little realise what a country workhouse is.
In the North Riding workhouses, including five situated in joint Unions outside the administrative county, I found about 1,000 North Riding paupers ; of these about 400 were over 65 years of age, 200 were children, and 60 were classed as imbeciles; the remaining 340 were infirm or unfit for work, women with illegitimate children, widows, &c. There were very few able-bodied paupers, and I do not include tramps. In other words:
I do not think that more than 5 per cent., certainly not 10 per cent., of the aged inmates could be described as deserving. I made special inquiries on this point from the workhouse Masters and Relieving Officers who went through the lists with me, and they assured me that almost all the respectable deserving old people had Out-Relief, and that the few who entered the house were those who from bodily infirmity could not be attended to by their relations, or had no one to look after them. The lot of these poor old things is very terrible in a country workhouse; they have to pass the closing days of their life in the daily and hourly company of the very lowest and most degraded of their kind; men and women they would never have associated with in their village homes; and now, with generally grievous bodily infirmities requiring constant attention, they have to pass their time huddled up in a chair listening to the foul talk of those around them, or lying bedridden, often alone in neglected misery, attended occasionally by some rough paupers who take no pains to conceal the wish that the poor sufferer was dead; for in a small workhouse the Master and Matron are often the only officials, and it is impossible for them to give constant attention to two or three special inmates, and the infirmary, when there is
is reserved for infectious cases or confinements. The new order of the Local Government Board is merciful and well intended, but from the reports in the papers and letters in the Times, it seems very doubtful whether efficient nurses can be obtained, and where only three or four inmates require attention there would be little work for a nurse to do. In the large workhouses it is different; there it is possible to classify and separate the inmates to a certain extent, and the old sufferers are placed in a comfortable infirmary with a trained nurse to attend to their constant needs.
I venture to think it is a disgrace to the country that the poor should in case of failure of health, or other causes over which they have no control, have nothing to look forward to in old age but the alternative of a miserable pittance in their homes, or the degrading