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A History of the Four Georges, Volume I

And orderly walks of Herrenhausen

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[Sidenote: 1714--Hanover]

"The old town of Hanover," says Thackeray, "must look still pretty much as in the time when George Louis left it. The gardens and pavilions of Herrenhausen are scarce changed since the day when the stout old Electress Sophia fell down in her last walk there, preceding but by a few weeks to the tomb James the Second's daughter, whose death made way for the Brunswick Stuarts in England. . . . You may see at Herrenhausen the very rustic theatre in which the Platens danced and performed masks and sang before the Elector and his sons. There are the very fauns and dryads of stone still glimmering through the brandies, still grinning and piping their ditties of no tone, as in the days when painted nymphs hung garlands round them, appeared under their leafy arcades with gilt crooks, guiding rams with gilt horns, descended from 'machines' in the guise of Diana or Minerva, and delivered immense allegorical compliments to the princes returned home from the campaign." Herrenhausen, indeed, is changed but little since those days of which Thackeray speaks. But although not many years have passed since Thackeray went to visit Hanover before delivering his lectures on "The Four Georges," Hanover itself has undergone much alteration. If one of the Georges could now

return to his ancestral capital he would indeed be bewildered at the great new squares, the rows of tall vast shops and warehouses, the spacious railway-station, penetrated to every corner at night by the keen electric light. But in passing from Hanover to Herrenhausen one goes back, in a short drive, from the {56} days of the Emperor William of Germany to the days of George the Elector. Herrenhausen, the favorite residence of the Electors of Hanover, is but a short distance from the capital. Thackeray speaks of it as an ugly place, and it certainly has not many claims to the picturesque. But it is full of a certain curious half-melancholy interest, and well fitted to be the cradle and the home of a decaying Hanoverian dynasty. In its galleries one may spend many an hour, not unprofitably, in studying the faces of all the men and women who are famous, notorious, or infamous in connection with the history of Hanover. The story of that dynasty has more than one episode not unlike that of the unfortunate Sophia Dorothea and Koenigsmark, her lover. A good many grim legends haunt the place and give interest to some of the faces, otherwise insipid enough, which look out of the heavy frames and the formal court-dresses of the picture-gallery.

[Sidenote: 1714--The entry into London]

On the evening of August 5, 1714, four days after Queen Anne's death, Lord Clarendon, the lately appointed English Minister at the Court of Hanover, set out for the palace of Herrenhausen to bear to the new King of Great Britain the tidings of Queen Anne's death. About two o'clock in the morning he entered the royal apartments of the ungenial and sleepy George, and, kneeling, did homage to him as King of Great Britain. George took the announcement of his new rank without even a semblance of gratification. He had made up his mind to endure it, and that was all. He was too stolid, or lazy, or sincere to affect the slightest personal interest in the news. He lingered in Hanover as long as he decently could, and sauntered for many a day through the prim, dull, and orderly walks of Herrenhausen. He behaved very much in the fashion of the convict in Prior's poem, who, when the cart was ready and the halter adjusted,

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