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.
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.
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.]
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.
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 (
As to Friedrich Wilhelm, his plan in 1717, as all along, in this bewitched state of matters, was: To fortify his Frontier Towns; Memel, Wesel, to the right and left, especially to fortify Stettin, his new acquisition;--and to put his Army, and his Treasury (or Army-CHEST), more and more in order. In that way we shall better meet whatever goblins there may be, thinks Friedrich Wilhelm. Count Lottum, hero of the Prussians at Malplaquet, is doing his scientific uttermost in Stettin and those Frontier Towns. For the rest, his Majesty, invited by the Czar and France, has been found willing to make paction with them, as he is with all pacific neighbors. In fact, the Czar and he had their private Conference, at Havelberg, last year,--Havelberg, some sixty miles from Berlin, on the road towards Denmark, as Peter was passing that way;--ample Conference of. five days; [23d-28th November, 1716: Fassmann, p. 172.]--privately agreeing there, about many points conducive to tranquillity. And it was on that same errand, though ostensibly to look after Art and the higher forms of Civilization so called, that Peter had been to France on this celebrated occasion of 1717. We know he saw much Art withal; saw Marly, Trianon and the grandeurs and politenesses;--saw, among other things, "a Medal of himself fall accidentally at his feet;" polite Medal "just getting struck in the Mint, with a rising sun on it; and the motto, VIRES ACQUIRIT EUNDO." [Voltaire,
Such a transit, of the Barbaric semi-fabulous Sovereignties, could not but be wonderful to everybody there. It evidently struck Wilhelmina's fancy, now in her ninth year, very much. What her little Brother did in it, or thought of it, I nowhere find hinted; conclude only that it would remain in his head too, visible occasionally to the end of his life. Wilhelmina's Narrative, very loose, dateless or misdated, plainly wrong in various particulars, has still its value for us: human eyes, even a child's, are worth something, in comparison to human want-of-eyes, which is too frequent in History-books and elsewhere!--Czar Peter is now forty-five, his Czarina Catherine about thirty-one. It was in 1698 that he first passed this way, going towards Saardam and practical Ship-building: within which twenty years what a spell of work done! Victory of Pultawa is eight years behind him; [27th June, 1709.] victories in many kinds are behind him: by this time he is to be reckoned a triumphant Czar; and is certainly the strangest mixture of heroic virtue and brutish Samoeidic savagery the world at any time had.