We have engravings of this Picture; which are of clumsy poor quality, and misrepresent it much: an excellent Copy in oil, what might be called almost a fac-simile and the perfection of a Copy, is now (1854) in Lord Ashburton's Collection here in England. In the Berlin Galleries,--which are made up, like other Galleries, of goat-footed Pan, Europa's Bull, Romulus's She-Wolf, and the correggiosity of Correggio; and contain, for instance, no Portrait of Frederick the Great; no Likenesses at all, or next to none at all, of the noble series of Human Realities, or of any part of them, who have sprung not from the idle brains of dreaming Dilettanti, but from the Head of God Almighty, to make this poor authentic Earth a little memorable for us, and to do a little work that may be eternal there:--in those expensive Halls of "High Art" at Berlin, there were, to my experience, few Pictures more agreeable than this of Pesne's. Welcome, like one tiny islet of Reality amid the shoreless sea of Phantasms, to the reflective mind, seriously loving and seeking what is worthy and memorable, seriously hating and avoiding what is the reverse, and intent not to play the dilettante in this world.
The same Pesne, an excellent Artist, has painted Friedrich as Prince-Royal: a beautiful young man with MOIST-looking enthusiastic eyes of extraordinary brilliancy, smooth oval face; considerably resembling his Mother. After which period, authentic Pictures of Friedrich are sought for to little purpose. For it seems he never sat to any Painter, in his reigning days; and the Prussian Chodowiecki, [Pronounce KODOV-YETSKI;--and endeavor to make some acquaintance with this "Prussian Hogarth," who has real worth and originality.] Saxon Graff, English Cunningham had to pick up his physiognomy from the distance, intermittently, as they could. Nor is Rauch's grand equestrian Sculpture a thing to be believed, or perhaps pretending much to be so. The commonly received Portrait of Friedrich, which all German limners can draw at once,--the cocked-hat, big eyes and alert air, reminding you of some uncommonly brisk Invalid Drill-sergeant or Greenwich Pensioner, as much as of a Royai Hero,--is nothing but a general extract and average of all the faces of Friedrich, such as has been tacitly agreed upon; and is definable as a received pictorial-myth, by no means as a fact, or credible resemblance of life.
But enough now of Pictures. This of the Little Drummer, the painting and the thing painted which remain to us, may be taken as Friedrich's first appearance on the stage of the world; and welcomed accordingly. It is one of the very few visualities or definite certainties we can lay hold of, in those young years of his, and bring conclusively home to our imagination, out of the
waste Prussian dust-clouds of uninstructive garrulity which pretend to record them for us. Whether it came into existence as a shadowy emanation from the Stralsund Expedition, can only be matter of conjecture. To judge by size, these figures must have been painted about the year 1715; Fritz some three or four years old, his sister Wilhelmina seven.Yes,
It remains only to be intimated, that Friedrich Wilhelm, for his part, had got all he claimed from this Expedition: namely, Stettin with the dependent Towns, and quietness in Pommern. Stettin was, from of old, the capital of his own part of Pommern; thrown in along with the other parts of Pommern, and given to Sweden (from sheer necessity, it was avowed), at the Peace of Westphalia, sixty years ago or more:--and now, by good chance, it has come back. Wait another hundred years, and perhaps Swedish Pommern altogether will come back! But from all this Friedrich Wilhelm is still far. Stettin and quiet are all he dreams of demanding there.Yes,
Stralsund he did not reckon his; left it with the Danes, to hold in pawn till some general Treaty. Nor was there farther outbreak of war in those regions; though actual Treaty of Peace did not come till 1720, and make matters sure. It was the new Queen of Sweden, Ulrique Eleonora (Charles's younger Sister, wedded to the young Landgraf of Hessen-Cassel),--much aided by an English Envoy,--who made this Peace with Friedrich Wilhelm. A young English Envoy, called Lord Carteret, was very helpful in this matter; one of his first feats in the diplomatic world. For which Peace, [Stockholm, 21st January, 1720: in Mauvillon (i. 380-417) the Document itself at large.] Friedrich Wilhelm was so thankful, good pacific armed-man, that happening to have a Daughter born to him just about that time, he gave the little creature her Swedish Majesty's name; a new "Ulrique," who grew to proper stature, and became notable in Sweden, herself, by and by. [Louisa Ulrique, born 24th July, 1720; Queen of Sweden in time coming.]Yes,
In the Autumn of 1717, Peter the Great, coming home from his celebrated French journey, paid Friedrich Wilhelm a visit; and passed four days at Berlin. Of which let us give one glimpse, if we can with brevity.Yes,
Friedrich Wilhelm and the Czar, like in several points, though so dissimilar in others, had always a certain regard for one another; and at this time, they had been brought into closer intercourse by their common peril from Charles XII., ever since that Stralsund business. The peril was real, especially with a Gortz and Alberoni putting hand to it; and the alarm, the rumor, and uncertainty were great in those years. The wounded Lion driven indignant into his lair, with Plotting Artists now operating upon the rage of the noble animal: who knows what spring he will next take? George I. had a fleet cruising in the Baltic Sounds, and again a fleet;-- paying, in that oblique way, for Bremen and Verden; which were got, otherwise, such a bargain to his Hanover. Czar Peter had marched an Army into Denmark; united Russians and Danes count fifty thousand there; for a conjunct invasion, and probable destruction, of Sweden: but that came to nothing; Charles looking across upon it too dangerously, "visible in clear weather over from the Danish side." [1716: Fassmann, p. 171.] So Peter's troops have gone home again; Denmark too glad to get them away. Perhaps they would have stayed in Denmark altogether; much liking the green pastures and convenient situation,--had not Admiral Norris with his cannon been there! Perhaps? And the Pretender is coming again, they say? And who knows what is coming?--How Gortz, in about a year hence was laid hold of, and let go, and then ultimately tried and beheaded (once his lion Master was disposed of); [19th March, 1719: see Kohler (