Queen Ulrique was spared all these catastrophes. She had alarmed her Brother by a dangerous illness, sudden and dangerous, in 1775; who writes with great anxiety about it, to Another still more anxious: [See "Correspondence with Gustav III." (in
WILHELMINA'S DAUGHTER, ELIZABETH FREDERIKE SOPHIE, DUCHESS OF WURTEMBERG, APPEARS AT FERNEY (September, 1773).
Of our dear Wilhelmina's high and unfortunate Daughter there should be some Biography; and there will surely, if a man of sympathy and faculty pass that way; but there is not hitherto. Nothing hitherto but a few bare dates; bare and sternly significant, as on a Tombstone; indicating that she had a History, and that it was a tragic one. Welcome to all of us, in this state of matters, is the following one clear emergence of her into the light of day, and in company so interesting too! Seven years before her death she had gone to Lausanne (July, 1773) to consult Tissot, a renowned Physician of those days. From Lausanne, after two months, she visited Voltaire at Ferney. Read this Letter of Voltaire's:--
TO ELIZABETH FREDERIKE SOPHIE, DUCHESS OF WURTEMBERG (at Lausanne).
"MADAM,--I am informed that your most Serene Highness has deigned to remember that I was in the world. It is very sad to be there, without paying you my court. I never felt so cruelly the sad state to which old age and maladies have reduced me.
"I never saw you except as a child [1743, her age then 10]: but you were certainly the beautifulest child in Europe. May you be the happiest Princess [alas!], as you deserve to be! I was attached to Madam the Margravine [your dear Mother] with equal devotedness and respect; and I had the honor to be pretty deep in her confidence, for some time before this world, which was not worthy of her, had lost that adorable Princess. You resemble her;--but don't resemble her in--feebleness of health! You are in the flower of your age [coming forty, I should fear]: let such bright flower lose nothing of its splendor; may your happiness be able to equal [PUISSO EGALER] your beauty; may all your days be serene, and the sweets of friendship add a new charm to them! These are my wishes; they are as lively as my regrets at not being at your feet. What a consolation it would be for me to speak of your loving Mother, and of all your august relatives! Why must Destiny send you to Lausanne [consulting Dr. Tissot there], and hinder me from flying thither!-- Let your most Serene Highness deign to accept the profound respect of the old moribund Philosopher of Ferney.--V." [
The Answer of the Princess, or farther Correspondence on the matter, is not given; evident only that by and by, as Voltaire himself will inform us, she did appear at Ferney;--and a certain Swedish tourist, one Bjornstahl, who met her there, enables us even to give the date. He reports this anecdote:--
"At supper, on the evening of 7th September, 1773, the Princess sat next to Voltaire, who always addressed her 'VOTRE ALTESSE.' At last the Duchess said to him, 'TU ES ANON PAPA, JE SUIS TA FILLE, ET JE VOUZ ETRE APPELEE TA FILLE.' Voltaire took a pencil from his pocket, asked for a card, and wrote upon it:--
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