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Bismarck and the Foundation of the German Empire by James Wycliffe Headlam

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strongly as their co-religionists, and, while he was still at
Versailles, a cardinal and bishop of the Church addressed a memorial to
the King of Prussia on this matter. This attempt to influence the
foreign policy of the new Empire, and to use it for a purpose alien to
the direct interest of Germany, was very repugnant to Bismarck and was
quite sufficient to arouse feelings of hostility towards the Roman
Catholics. These were increased when he heard that the Roman Catholic
leaders were combining to form a new political party; in the elections
for the first Reichstag this movement was very successful and fifty
members were returned whose sole bond of union was religion. This he
looked upon as "a mobilisation of the Church against the State"; the
formation of a political party founded simply on unity of confession
was, he said, an unheard-of innovation in political life. His distrust
increased when he found that their leader was Windthorst, a former
Minister of the King of Hanover, and, as a patriotic Hanoverian, one of
the chief opponents of a powerful and centralised Government. The
influence the Church had in the Polish provinces was a further cause of
hostility, and seemed to justify him in condemning them as anti-German.
During the first session the new party prominently appeared on two
occasions. In the debate on the address to the Crown they asked for the
interference of Germany on behalf of the Pope; in this they stood alone
and on a division found no supporters. Then they demanded that in the
Constitution of the Empire certain clauses from the Prussian
Constitution should be introduced which would ensure freedom to all
religious denominations. Here they gained considerable support from some
other parties.

An impartial observer will find it difficult to justify from these acts
the charge of disloyalty to the Empire, but a storm of indignation arose
in the Press, especially in the organs of the National Liberal party,
and it was supported by those of the Government.

The desire for conflict was awakened; meetings were held in the autumn
of 1871 to defend the Protestant faith, which hardly seemed to have been
attacked, and a clearer cause for dispute soon occurred. It was required
by the authorities of the Church that all bishops and priests should
declare their assent to the new Vatican decrees; the majority did so,
but a certain number refused; they were of course excommunicated; a
secession from the Roman Catholic Church took place, and a new communion
formed to which the name of Old Catholics was given. The bishops
required that all the priests and religious teachers at the universities
and schools who had refused to obey the orders of the Pope should be
dismissed from their office; the Prussian Government refused their
assent. The legal question involved was a difficult one. The Government
held that as the Roman Catholic Church had changed its teachings, those
who maintained the old doctrine must be supported in the offices
conferred on them. The Church authorities denied there had been any
essential change. On the whole we may say that they were right; a priest
of the Catholic Church held his position not only in virtue of his
assent to the actual doctrines taught, but was also bound by his vow of
obedience to accept any fresh teaching which, in accordance with the
Constitution of the Church and by the recognised organ of Government,
should in the future also be declared to be of faith. The duty of every
man to obey the laws applies not only to the laws existing at any
moment, but to any future laws which may be passed by the proper agent
of legislation. Even though the doctrine of infallibility were a new
doctrine, which is very doubtful, it had been passed at a Council; and
the proceedings of the Council, even if, in some details, they were
irregular, were not more so than those of any other Council in the past.

The action of the Government in supporting the Old Catholics may,
however, be attributed to another motive. The Catholics maintained that
Bismarck desired to take this opportunity of creating a national German
Church, and reunite Protestants and Catholics. To have done so, had it
been possible, would have been indeed to confer on the country the
greatest of all blessings. We cannot doubt that the thought had often
come into Bismarck's mind; it would be the proper and fitting conclusion
to the work of creating a nation. It was, however, impossible; under no
circumstances could it have been done by a Protestant statesman; the
impulse must have come from Bavaria, and the opposition of the Bavarian
bishops to the Vatican decrees had been easily overcome. Twice an
opportunity had presented itself of making a national German Church:
once at the Reformation, once after the Revolution. On both occasions it
was lost and it will never recur.

The result, however, was that a bitter feeling of opposition was created
between Church and State. The secessionist priests were maintained in
their positions by the Government, they were excommunicated by the
bishops; students were forbidden to attend their lectures and the people
to worship in the churches where they ministered. It spread even to the
army, when the Minister of War required the army chaplain at Cologne to
celebrate Mass in a church which was used also by the Old Catholics. He
was forbidden to do so by his bishop, and the bishop was in consequence
deprived of his salary and threatened with arrest.

The conflict having once begun soon spread; a new Minister of Culture
was appointed; in the Reichstag a law was proposed expelling the Jesuits
from Germany; and a number of important laws, the so-called May laws,
were introduced into the Prussian Parliament, giving to the State great
powers with regard to the education and appointment of priests; it was,
for instance, ordered that no one should be appointed to a cure of
souls who was not a German, and had not been brought up and educated in
the State schools and universities of Prussia. Then other laws were
introduced, to which we have already referred, making civil marriage
compulsory, so as to cripple the very strong power which the Roman
Catholic priests could exercise, not only by refusing their consent to
mixed marriages, but also by refusing to marry Old Catholics; a law was
introduced taking the inspection of elementary schools out of the hands
of the clergy, and finally a change was made in those articles of the
Prussian Constitution which ensured to each denomination the management
of its own affairs. Bismarck was probably not responsible for the
drafting of all these laws; he only occasionally took part in the
discussion and was often away from Berlin.

The contrast between these proposals and the principles he had
maintained in his earlier years was very marked; his old friend Kleist
recalled the eloquent speech which in former years he had made against
civil marriage. Bismarck did not attempt to defend himself against the
charge of inconsistency; he did not even avow that he had changed his
personal opinions; he had, however, he said, learnt to submit his
personal convictions to the requirements of the State; he had only done
so unwillingly and by a great struggle. This was to be the end of the
doctrine of the Christian State. With Gneist, Lasker, Virchow, he was
subduing the Church to this new idol of the State; he was doing that
against which in the old days he had struggled with the greatest
resolution and spoken with the greatest eloquence. Not many years were
to go by before he began to repent of what he had done, for, as he saw
the new danger from Social Democracy, he like many other Germans
believed that the true means of defeating it was to be found in
increased intensity of religious conviction. It was, however, then too

He, however, especially in the Prussian Upper House, threw all the
weight of his authority into the conflict. It was, he said, not a
religious conflict but a political one; they were not actuated by hatred
of Catholicism, but they were protecting the rights of the State.

"The question at issue," he said, "is not a struggle of an
Evangelical dynasty against the Catholic Church; it is the old
struggle ... a struggle for power as old as the human race ...
between king and priest ... a struggle which is much older than
the appearance of our Redeemer in this world.... a struggle which
has filled German history of the Middle Ages till the destruction
of the German Empire, and which found its conclusion when the
last representative of the glorious Swabian dynasty died on the
scaffold, under the axe of a French conqueror who stood in
alliance with the Pope.[12] We are not far from an analogous
solution of the situation, always translated into the customs of
our time."

He assured the House that now, as always, he would defend the Empire
against internal and external enemies. "Rest assured we will not go to
Canossa," he said.

In undertaking this struggle with the Church he had two enemies to
contend with--the Pope and the government of the Church on the one side,
on the other the Catholic population of Germany. He tried to come to
some agreement with the Pope and to separate the two; it seemed in fact
as if the real enemy to be contended against was not the foreign
priesthood, but the Catholic Democracy in Germany. All Bismarck's
efforts to separate the two and to procure the assistance of the Pope
against the party of the Centre were to be unavailing; for some years
all official communication between the German Government and the Papal
See was broken off. It was not till the death of Pius IX. and the
accession of a more liberal-minded Pope that communication was restored;
then we are surprised to find Bismarck appealing to the Pope to use his
influence on the Centre in order to persuade them to vote for a proposed
increase in the German army. This is a curious comment on the boast, "We
will not go to Canossa."

The truth is that in undertaking the conflict and associating himself
with the anti-Clerical party Bismarck had stirred up an enemy whom he
was not able to overcome. He soon found that the priests and the
Catholics were men of a different calibre to the Liberals. They dared to
do what none of the Progressives had ventured on--they disobeyed the
law. With them it was not likely that the conflict would be confined to
Parliamentary debates. The Government attempted to meet this resistance,
but in vain. The priests were deprived of their cures, bishops were
thrown into prison, nearly half the Catholic parishes in Prussia were
deprived of their spiritual shepherds, the churches were closed, there
was no one to celebrate baptisms or weddings. Against this resistance
what could the Government do? The people supported the leaders of the
party, and a united body of one hundred members under Windhorst, ablest
of Parliamentary leaders, was committed to absolute opposition to every
Government measure so long as the conflict continued. Can we be
surprised that as the years went on Bismarck looked with some concern on
the result of the struggle he had brought about?

He attempted to conceal the failure: "The result will be," he said,
"that we shall have two great parties--one which supports and maintains
the State, and another which attacks it. The former will be the great
majority and it will be formed in the school of conflict." These words
are the strongest condemnation of his policy. It could not be wise for
any statesman to arrange that party conflict should take the form of
loyalty and disloyalty to the Empire.

There can be little doubt that his sense of failure helped to bring
about a feeling of enmity towards the National Liberals. Suddenly in the
spring of 1877 he sent in his resignation. There were, however, other
reasons for doing this. He had become aware that the financial policy of
the Empire had not been successful; on every side it seemed that new
blood and new methods were required. In financial matters he had little
experience or authority; he had to depend on his colleagues and he
complained of their unfruitfulness. Influenced perhaps by his perception
of this, under the pretext--a genuine pretext--of ill-health, he asked
the Emperor to relieve him of his offices. The Emperor refused. "Never,"
he wrote on the side of the minute. Instead he granted to Bismarck
unlimited leave of absence. In the month of April the Chancellor retired
to Varzin; for ten months he was absent from Berlin, and when he
returned, recruited in health, in February, 1878, it was soon apparent
that a new period in his career and in the history of the Empire was to




The year 1878 forms a turning-point both in internal and in external
politics. Up to this year Prussia has been allied with the two Eastern
monarchies; the Empire has been governed by the help of the National
Liberal party; the chief enemy has been the Clericals. The traditions of
the time before the war are still maintained. After this year the
understanding with Russia breaks down; instead of it the peace of Europe
is preserved by the Triple Alliance with Austria and Italy. In internal
affairs the change is even more marked; the rising power of the
Socialists is the enemy to be fought against; for this conflict, peace
has to be made with the Catholics--the May laws are modified or
repealed. The alliance with Liberalism breaks down, and the efforts of
the Government are devoted to a far-reaching scheme of financial reform
and social legislation.

When, in April, 1877, the Emperor refused to accept Bismarck's
resignation, the whole country applauded the decision. In the Reichstag
a great demonstration was made of confidence in the Chancellor. Everyone
felt that he could not be spared at a time when the complications in the
East were bringing new dangers upon Europe, and in the seclusion of
Varzin he did not cease during the next months to direct the foreign
policy of the Empire. He was able with the other Governments of Europe
to prevent the spread of hostilities from Turkey to the rest of Europe,
and when the next year the English Government refused its assent to the
provisional peace of San Stefano, it was the unanimous desire of all the
other States that the settlement of Turkey should be submitted to a
Congress at Berlin over which he should preside. It was the culmination
of his public career; it was the recognition by Europe in the most
impressive way of his primacy among living statesmen. In his management
of the Congress he answered to the expectations formed of him. "We do
not wish to go," he had said, "the way of Napoleon; we do not desire to
be the arbitrators or schoolmasters of Europe. We do not wish to force
our policy on other States by appealing to the strength of our army. I
look on our task as a more useful though a humbler one; it is enough if
we can be an honest broker." He succeeded in the task he had set before
himself, and in reconciling the apparently incompatible desires of
England and Russia. Again and again when the Congress seemed about to
break up without result he made himself the spokesman of Russian wishes,
and conveyed them to Lord Beaconsfield, the English plenipotentiary.
None the less the friendship of Russia, which had before wavered, now
broke down. A bitter attack on Germany and Bismarck was begun in the
Russian Press; the new German fiscal policy led to misunderstandings;
the Czar in private letters to the Emperor demanded in the negotiations
that were still going on the absolute and unconditional support of
Germany to all Russian demands as the condition of Russian friendship.
In the autumn of the next year matters came near to war; it was in these
circumstances that Bismarck brought about that alliance which ever since
then has governed European politics. He hastily arranged a meeting with
Count Andrassy, the Austrian Minister, and in a few days the two
statesmen agreed on a defensive alliance between the two Empires. Many
years later, in 1886, the instrument of alliance was published. It was
agreed that if either of the German States was attacked by Russia the
other would join to defend it; if either was attacked by France the
other would observe neutrality; but if the French were supported by
Russia then the first clause would come into force. The Emperor of
Austria willingly gave his assent; it was only after a prolonged
struggle that Bismarck was able to gain the assent of his own sovereign.
This alliance, which in the next year was joined by Italy, again gave
Germany the ruling position in Europe.

During this crisis in foreign affairs Bismarck was occupied by another,
which threatened to be equally serious, in home politics. In the spring
of 1878 an attempt was made on the life of the Emperor; a young man,
named Hobel, a shoemaker's apprentice, shot at him in the streets of
Berlin, fortunately without result. The attempt naturally created
intense indignation throughout the country. This was increased when it
became known that he had been to some extent connected with the
Socialist party, and it seemed as though the motives of the crime were
supplied by the violent speeches made at Socialist gatherings. Bismarck
had long regarded the growth of Socialism with concern. He determined to
use this opportunity to crush it. He at once brought into the Bundesrath
a very severe law, forbidding all Socialist agitation and propaganda. He
succeeded in passing it through the Council, but it was thrown out in
the Reichstag by a very large majority. No one voted for it except the
Conservatives. The law indeed was so drawn up that one does not see how
anyone could have voted for it; the first clause began, "Printed
writings and unions which follow the aims of Social Democracy may be
forbidden by the Federal Council," but, as was pointed out, among the
aims of Social Democracy were many which were good in themselves, and
many others which, though they might be considered harmful by other
parties, were at least legitimate. Directly afterwards the Reichstag was
prorogued. Ten days later, another attempt was made on the Emperor's
life; this time a man of the name of Nobeling (an educated man who had
studied at the University) shot at him while driving in the Unter den
Linden, and wounded him severely in the head and arms with large shot.
The Emperor was driven home to his palace almost unconscious, and for
some time his life was in danger. This second attempt in so short a time
on the life of a man almost eighty years of age, so universally loved
and respected, who had conferred such benefits on his country, naturally
aroused a storm of indignation. When Bismarck received the news his
first words were, "Now the Reichstag must be dissolved." This was done;
the general elections took place while the excitement was still hot, and
of course resulted in a great loss to those parties--especially the
National Liberals--who had voted against the Socialist law; the Centre
alone retained its numbers. Before this new Parliament a fresh law was
laid, drafted with much more skill. It absolutely forbade all speeches
or writing in favour of plans for overthrowing the order of society, or
directed against marriage and property. It enabled the Government to
proclaim in all large towns a state of siege, and to expel from them by
the mere decree of the police anyone suspected of Socialist agitation.
The law, which was easily carried, was enforced with great severity; a
state of siege was proclaimed in Berlin and many other places. Socialist
papers, and even books, for instance the writings of Lassalle, were
forbidden; they might not even be read in public libraries; and for the
next twelve years the Socialist party had to carry on their propaganda
by secret means.

This Socialist law is very disappointing; we find the Government again
having recourse to the same means for checking and guiding opinion which
Metternich had used fifty years before. Not indeed that the Socialists
themselves had any ground for complaint; their avowed end was the
overthrow of government and society; they professed to be at war with
all established institutions; if they confined their efforts to legal
measures and did not use violence, it was only because the time had not
yet come. The men who avowed admiration for the Paris Commune, who were
openly preparing for a revolution more complete than any which Europe
had hitherto seen, could not complain if the Government, while there was
yet time, used every means for crushing them. The mistake was in
supposing that this measure would be successful. Bismarck would, indeed,
had he been able, have made it far more severe; his own idea was that
anyone who had been legally convicted of holding Socialist opinions
should be deprived of the franchise and excluded from the Parliament.
What a misunderstanding does this shew of the whole object and nature of
representative institutions! It had been decided that in Germany
Parliament was not to govern; what then was its function except to
display the opinions of the people? If, as was the case, so large a
proportion of the German nation belonged to a party of discontent, then
it was above all desirable that their wishes and desires should have
open expression, and be discussed where they could be overthrown. The
Government had enormous means of influencing opinion. In the old days
the men of letters had been on principle in opposition; now Germany was
flooded by papers, books, and pamphlets; all devoted to the most
extravagant praise of the new institutions. The excuse which was made
for these laws was not a sufficient one. It is seldom necessary to meet
political assassination by repressive measures, for they must always
create a danger which they intend to avert. There was not the slightest
ground for supposing that either Hobel or Nobeling had any confederates;
there was no plot; it was but the wild and wicked action of an
individual. It was as absurd to put a large party under police control
for this reason as it was to punish Liberals for the action of Sand. And
it was ineffective, as the events of the next years shewed; for the
Socialist law did not spare Germany from the infection of outrage which
in these years overran Europe.

The Socialist laws were soon followed by other proposals of a more
useful kind, and now we come to one of the most remarkable episodes in
Bismarck's career. He was over sixty years of age; his health was
uncertain; he had long complained of the extreme toil and the constant
annoyance which his public duties brought upon him. It might appear that
he had finished his work, and, if he could not retire altogether, would
give over the management of all internal affairs to others. That he
would now take upon himself a whole new department of public duties,
that he would after his prolonged absence appear again as leader and
innovator in Parliamentary strife--this no one anticipated.

Up to the year 1876 he had taken little active part in finance; his
energies had been entirely absorbed by foreign affairs and he had been
content to adopt and support the measures recommended by his technical
advisers. When he had interfered at all it had only been on those
occasions when, as with regard to commercial treaties, the policy of his
colleagues had impeded his own political objects. In 1864 he had been
much annoyed because difference on commercial matters had interfered
with the good understanding with Austria, which at that time he was
trying to maintain. Since the foundation of the Empire almost the
complete control over the commercial policy of the Empire had been
entrusted to Delbrueck, who held the very important post of President of
the Imperial Chancery, and was treated by Bismarck with a deference and
consideration which no other of his fellow-workers received, except
Moltke and Roon. Delbrueck was a confirmed Free-Trader, and the result
was that, partly by commercial treaties, and partly by the abolition of
customs dues, the tariff had been reduced and simplified. The years
following the war had, however, not been altogether prosperous; a great
outbreak of speculation was followed in 1873 by a serious commercial
crisis. And since that year there had been a permanent decrease in the
Imperial receipts. This was, for political reasons, a serious
inconvenience. By the arrangement made in 1866 the proceeds of the
customs and of the indirect taxation (with some exceptions) were paid
into the Exchequer of the Federation, and afterwards of the Empire. If
the receipts from these sources were not sufficient to meet the Imperial
requirements, the deficit had to be made up by contributions paid (in
proportion to their population) by the separate States. During later
years these contributions had annually increased, and it is needless to
point out that this was sufficient to make the relations of the State
Governments to the central authorities disagreeable, and to cause some
discontent with the new Constitution. This meant also an increase of the
amount which had to be raised by direct taxation. Now Bismarck had
always much disliked direct taxes; he had again and again pointed out
that they were paid with great reluctance, and often fell with peculiar
hardship on that very large class which could only just, by constant and
assiduous labour, make an income sufficient for their needs. Worst of
all was it when they were unable to pay even the few shillings required;
they then had to undergo the hardship and disgrace of distraint, and see
their furniture seized and sold by the tax-collectors. He had therefore
always wished that the income derived from customs and indirect taxation
should be increased so as by degrees to do away with the necessity for
direct taxation, and if this could be done, then, instead of the States
paying an annual contribution to the Empire, they would receive from the
central Government pecuniary assistance.

The dislike of direct taxation is an essential part of Bismarck's
reform; he especially disapproved of the Prussian system, the barbarous
system, as he called it, according to which every man had to pay a small
portion, it might be even a few _groschen_, in direct taxes.

"I ascribe," he said, "the large part of our emigration
to the fact that the emigrant wishes to escape the
direct pressure of the taxes and execution, and to go to
a land where the _klassensteuer_ does not exist, and where
he will also have the pleasure of knowing that the produce
of his labours will be protected against foreign

His opinion cannot be called exaggerated if it is true that, as he
stated, there were every year over a million executions involving the
seizure and sale of household goods on account of arrears of taxation.
It was not only the State taxes to which he objected; the local rates
for municipal expenses, and especially for education, fell very heavily
on the inhabitants of large cities such as Berlin. He intended to devote
part of the money which was raised by indirect taxation to relieving the

His first proposals for raising the money were of a very sweeping
nature. He wished to introduce a State monopoly for the sale of tobacco,
brandy, and beer. He entered into calculations by which he proved that
were his policy adopted all direct taxation might be repealed, and he
would have a large surplus for an object which he had very much at
heart--the provision of old-age pensions. It was a method of legislation
copied from that which prevails in France and Italy. He pointed out with
perfect justice that the revenue raised in Germany from the consumption
of tobacco was much smaller than it ought to be. The total sum gained by
the State was not a tenth of that which was produced in England by the
taxing of tobacco, but no one could maintain that smoking was more
common in England than in Germany. In fact tobacco was less heavily
taxed in Germany than in any other country in Europe.

In introducing a monopoly Bismarck intended and hoped not only to
relieve the pressure of direct taxation,--though this would have been a
change sufficient in its magnitude and importance for most men,--but
proposed to use the very large sum which the Government would have at
its disposal for the direct relief of the working classes. The Socialist
law was not to go alone; he intended absolutely to stamp out this
obnoxious agitation, but it was not from any indifference as to the
condition of the working classes. From his earliest days he had been
opposed to the Liberal doctrine of _laissez-faire_; it will be
remembered how much he had disliked the _bourgeois_ domination of the
July Monarchy; as a young man he had tried to prevent the abolition of
guilds. He considered that much of the distress and discontent arose
from the unrestricted influence of capital. He was only acting in
accordance with the oldest and best traditions of the Prussian Monarchy
when he called in the power of the State to protect the poor. His plan
was a very bold one; he wished to institute a fund from which there
should be paid to every working man who was incapacitated by sickness,
accident, or old age, a pension from the State. In his original plan he
intended the working men should not be required to make any contribution
themselves towards this fund. It was not to be made to appear to them as
a new burden imposed on them by the State. The tobacco monopoly, he
said, he looked on as "the patrimony of the disinherited."

He did not fear the charge of Socialism which might be brought against
him; he defended himself by the provisions of the Prussian law. The Code
of Frederick the Great contained the words:

"It is the duty of the State to provide for the sustenance and support
of those of its citizens who cannot procure sustenance themselves"; and
again, "work adapted to their strength and capacity shall be supplied to
those who lack means and opportunity of earning a livelihood for
themselves and those dependent on them."

In the most public way the new policy was introduced by an Imperial
message, on November 17, 1881, in which the Emperor expressed his
conviction that the social difficulties could not be healed simply by
the repression of the exaggerations of Social Democracy, but at the same
time the welfare of the workmen must be advanced. This new policy had
the warm approval of both the Emperor and the Crown Prince; no one
greeted more heartily the change than Windthorst.

"Allow me," he once said to Bismarck, "to speak
openly: you have done me much evil in my life, but, as
a German patriot, I must confess to you my gratitude
that after all his political deeds you have persuaded our
Imperial Master to turn to this path of Social Reform."

There were, he said, difficulties to be met; he approved of the end, but
not of all the details,

"and," he continued, "something of the difficulty, if I
may say so, you cause yourself. You are often too stormy
for us; you are always coming with something new and
we cannot always follow you in it, but you must not
take that amiss. We are both old men and the Emperor
is much older than we are, but we should like ourselves
in our lifetime to see some of these reforms established.
That I wish for all of us and for our German country,
and we will do our best to help in it."

Opinions may differ as to the wisdom of Bismarck's social and financial
policy; nobody can deny their admiration for the energy and patriotism
which he displayed. It was no small thing for him, at his age, to come
out of his comparative retirement to bring forward proposals which would
be sure to excite the bitterest opposition of the men with whom he had
been working, to embark again on a Parliamentary conflict as keen as any
of those which had so taxed his energies in his younger years. Not
content with inaugurating and suggesting these plans, he himself
undertook the immediate execution of them. In addition to his other
offices, in 1880 he undertook that of Minister of Trade in Prussia, for
he found no one whom he could entirely trust to carry out his proposals.
During the next years he again took a prominent part in the
Parliamentary debates; day after day he attended to answer objections
and to defend his measures in some of his ablest and longest speeches.
By his proposals for a duty on corn he regained the support of most of
the Conservatives, but in the Reichstag which was elected in 1884 he
found himself opposed by a majority consisting of the Centre,
Socialists, and Progressives. Many of the laws were rejected or
amended, and it was not until 1890 that, in a modified form, the whole
of the social legislation had been carried through.

For the monopoly he gained no support; scarcely a voice was raised in
its favour, nor can we be surprised at this. It was a proposal very
characteristic of his internal policy; he had a definite aim in view and
at once took the shortest, boldest, and most direct road towards it,
putting aside the thought of all further consequences. In this others
could not follow him; quite apart from the difficulties of organisation
and the unknown effect of the law on all those who gained their
livelihood by the growth, preparation, and sale of tobacco, there was a
deep feeling that it was not safe to entrust the Government with so
enormous a power. Men did not wish to see so many thousands enrolled in
the army of officials, already too great; they did not desire a new
check on the freedom of life and occupation, nor that the Government
should have the uncontrolled use of so great a sum of money. And then
the use he proposed to make of the proceeds: if the calculations were
correct, if the results were what he foretold, if from this monopoly
they would be able to pay not only the chief expenses of the Government
but also assign an old-age pension to every German workman who reached
the age of seventy--what would this be except to make the great majority
of the nation prospective pensioners of the State? With compulsory
attendance at the State schools; with the State universities as the only
entrance to public life and professions; when everyone for three years
had to serve in the army; when so large a proportion of the population
earned their livelihood in the railways, the post-office, the customs,
the administration--the State had already a power and influence which
many besides the Liberals regarded with alarm. What would it be when
every working man looked forward to receiving, after his working days
were over, a free gift from the Government? Could not this power be used
for political measures also; could not it become a means for checking
the freedom of opinions and even for interfering in the liberty of

He had to raise the money he wanted in another way, and, in 1879, he
began the great financial change that he had been meditating for three
years; he threw all his vigour into overthrowing Free Trade and
introducing a general system of Protection.

In this he was only doing what a large number of his countrymen desired.
The results of Free Trade had not been satisfactory. In 1876 there was a
great crisis in the iron trade; owing to overproduction there was a
great fall of prices in England, and Germany was being flooded with
English goods sold below cost price. Many factories had to be closed,
owners were ruined, and men thrown out of work; it happened that, by a
law passed in 1873, the last duty on imported iron would cease on the
31st of December, 1876. Many of the manufacturers and a large party in
the Reichstag petitioned that the action of the law might at any rate be
suspended. Free-Traders, however, still had a majority, for the greater
portion of the National Liberals belonged to that school, and the law
was carried out. It was, however, apparent that not only the iron but
other industries were threatened. The building of railways in Russia
would bring about an increased importation of Russian corn and
threatened the prosperity, not only of the large proprietors, but also
of the peasants. It had always been the wise policy of the Prussian
Government to maintain and protect by legislation the peasants, who were
considered the most important class in the State. Then the trade in
Swedish wood threatened to interfere with the profits from the German
forests, an industry so useful to the health of the country and the
prosperity of the Government. But if Free Trade would injure the market
for the natural products of the soil, it did not bring any compensating
advantages by helping industry. Germany was flooded with English
manufactures, so that even the home market was endangered, and every
year it became more apparent that foreign markets were being closed. The
sanguine expectations of the Free-Traders had not been realised;
America, France, Russia, had high tariffs; German manufactured goods
were excluded from these countries. What could they look forward to in
the future but a ruined peasantry and the crippling of the iron and
weaving industries? "I had the impression," said Bismarck, "that under
Free Trade we were gradually bleeding to death."

He was probably much influenced in his new policy by Lothar Bucher, one
of his private secretaries, who was constantly with him at Varzin.
Bucher, who had been an extreme Radical, had, in 1849, been compelled
to fly from the country and had lived many years in England. In 1865 he
had entered Bismarck's service. He had acquired a peculiar enmity to the
Cobden Club, and looked on that institution as the subtle instrument of
a deep-laid plot to persuade other nations to adopt a policy which was
entirely for the benefit of England. He drew attention to Cobden's
words--"All we desire is the prosperity and greatness of England." We
may in fact look on the Cobden Club and the principles it advocated from
two points of view. Either they are, as Bucher maintained, simply
English and their only result will be the prosperity of England, or they
are merely one expression of a general form of thought which we know as
Liberalism; it was an attempt to create cosmopolitan institutions and to
induce German politicians to take their economic doctrines from England,
just as a few years before they had taken their political theories. In
either case these doctrines would be very distasteful to Bismarck, who
disliked internationalism in finance as much as he did in constitutional
law or Socialist propaganda.

Bismarck in adopting Protection was influenced, not by economic theory,
but by the observation of facts. "All nations," he said, "which have
Protective duties enjoy a certain prosperity; what great advantages has
America reached since it threatened to reduce duties twice, five times,
ten times as high as ours!" England alone clung to Free Trade, and why?
Because she had grown so strong under the old system of Protection that
she could now as a Hercules step down into the arena and challenge
everyone to come into the lists. In the arena of commerce England was
the strongest. This was why she advocated Free Trade, for Free Trade was
really the right of the most powerful. English interests were furthered
under the veil of the magic word Freedom, and by it German enthusiasts
for liberty were enticed to bring about the ruin and exploitation of
their own country.

If we look at the matter purely from the economic point of view, it is
indeed difficult to see what benefits Germany would gain from a policy
of Free Trade. It was a poor country; if it was to maintain itself in
the modern rivalry of nations, it must become rich. It could only become
rich through manufactures, and manufactures had no opportunity of
growing unless they had some moderate protection from foreign

The effect of Bismarck's attention to finance was not limited to these
great reforms; he directed the whole power of the Government to the
support of all forms of commercial enterprise and to the removal of all
hindrances to the prosperity of the nation. To this task he devoted
himself with the same courage and determination which he had formerly
shewn in his diplomatic work.

One essential element in the commercial reform was the improvement of
the railways. Bismarck's attention had long been directed to the
inconveniences which arose from the number of private companies, whose
duty it was to regard the dividends of the shareholders rather than the
interests of the public. The existence of a monopoly of this kind in
private hands seemed to him indefensible. His attention was especially
directed to the injury done to trade by the differential rate imposed on
goods traffic; on many lines it was the custom to charge lower rates on
imported than on exported goods, and this naturally had a very bad
effect on German manufactures. He would have liked to remedy all these
deficiencies by making all railways the property of the Empire (we see
again his masterful mind, which dislikes all compromise); in this,
however, he was prevented by the opposition of the other States, who
would not surrender the control of their own lines. In Prussia he was
able to carry out this policy of purchase of all private lines by the
State; by the time he laid down the Ministry of Commerce hardly any
private companies remained. The acquisition of all the lines enabled the
Government greatly to improve the communication, to lower fares, and to
introduce through communications; all this of course greatly added to
the commercial enterprise and therefore the wealth of the country.

He was now also able to give degrees his encouragement and support to
those Germans who for many years in countries beyond the sea had been
attempting to lay the foundations for German commerce and even to
acquire German colonies. Bismarck's attitude in this matter deserves
careful attention. As early as 1874 he had been approached by German
travellers to ask for the support of the Government in a plan for
acquiring German colonies in South Africa. They pointed out that here
was a country fitted by its climate for European occupation; the
present inhabitants of a large portion of it, the Boers, were anxious to
establish their independence of England and would welcome German
support. It was only necessary to acquire a port, either at Santa Lucia
or at Delagoa Bay, to receive a small subsidy from the Government, and
then private enterprise would divert the stream of German emigration
from North America to South Africa. Bismarck, though he gave a courteous
hearing to this proposal, could not promise them assistance, for, as he
said, the political situation was not favourable. He must foresee that
an attempt to carry out this or similar plans would inevitably bring
about very serious difficulties with England, and he had always been
accustomed to attach much importance to his good understanding with the
English Government. During the following years, however, the situation
was much altered. First of all, great enterprise had been shewn by the
German merchants and adventurers in different parts of the world,
especially in Africa and in the Pacific. They, in those difficulties
which will always occur when white traders settle in half-civilised
lands, applied for support to the German Government. Bismarck, as he
himself said, did not dare to refuse them this support.

"I approached the matter with some reluctance; I
asked myself, how could I justify it, if I said to these
enterprising men, over whose courage, enthusiasm, and
vigour I have been heartily pleased: 'That is all very
well, but the German Empire is not strong enough, it
would attract the ill-will of other States.' I had not the
courage as Chancellor to declare to them this bankruptcy
of the German nation for transmarine enterprises."

It must, however, happen that wherever these German settlers went, they
would be in the neighbourhood of some English colony, and however
friendly were the relations of the Governments of the two Powers,
disputes must occur in the outlying parts of the earth. In the first
years of the Empire Bismarck had hoped that German traders would find
sufficient protection from the English authorities, and anticipated
their taking advantage of the full freedom of trade allowed in the
British colonies; they would get all the advantages which would arise
from establishing their own colonies, while the Government would be
spared any additional responsibility. He professed, however, to have
learnt by experience from the difficulties which came after the
annexation of the Fiji Islands by Great Britain that this hope would not
be fulfilled; he acknowledged the great friendliness of the Foreign
Office, but complained that the Colonial Office regarded exclusively
British interests. As a complaint coming from his mouth this arouses
some amusement; the Colonial Office expressed itself satisfied to have
received from so high an authority a testimonial to its efficiency which
it had rarely gained from Englishmen.

The real change in the policy of the Empire must, however, be attributed
not to any imaginary shortcomings of the English authorities; it was an
inevitable result of the abandonment of the policy of Free Trade, and
of the active support which the Government was now giving to all forms
of commercial enterprise. It was shewn, first of all, in the grant of
subsidies to mail steamers, which enabled German trade and German
travellers henceforward to be carried by German ships; before they had
depended entirely on English and French lines. It was not till 1884 that
the Government saw its way to undertake protection of German colonists.
They were enabled to do so by the great change which had taken place in
the political situation. Up to this time Germany was powerless to help
or to injure England, but, on the other hand, required English support.
All this was changed by the occupation of Egypt. Here England required a
support on the Continent against the indignation of France and the
jealousy of Russia. This could only be found in Germany, and therefore a
close approximation between the two countries was natural. Bismarck let
it be known that England would find no support, but rather opposition,
if she, on her side, attempted, as she so easily could have done, to
impede German colonial enterprise.

In his colonial policy Bismarck refused to take the initiative; he
refused, also, to undertake the direct responsibility for the government
of their new possessions. He imitated the older English plan, and left
the government in the hands of private companies, who received a charter
of incorporation; he avowedly was imitating the East India Company and
the Hudson's Bay Company. The responsibilities of the German Government
were limited to a protection of the companies against the attack or
interference by any other Power, and a general control over their
actions. In this way it was possible to avoid calling on the Reichstag
for any large sum, or undertaking the responsibility of an extensive
colonial establishment, for which at the time they had neither men nor
experience. Another reason against the direct annexation of foreign
countries lay in the Constitution of the Empire; it would have been
easier to annex fresh land to Prussia; this could have been done by the
authority of the King; there was, however, no provision by which the
Bundesrath could undertake this responsibility, and it probably could
not be done even with the assent of the Reichstag unless some change
were made in the Constitution. It was, however, essential that the new
acquisitions should be German and not Prussian.

All these changes were not introduced without much opposition; the
Progressives especially distinguished themselves by their prolonged
refusal to assent even to the subsidies for German lines of steamers. In
the Parliament of 1884 they were enabled often to throw out the
Government proposals. It was at this time that the conflict between
Bismarck and Richter reached its height. He complained, and justly
complained, that the policy of the Progressives was then, as always,
negative. It is indeed strange to notice how we find reproduced in
Germany that same feeling which a few years before had in England nearly
led to the loss of the colonies and the destruction of the Empire.

It is too soon even now to consider fully the result of this new
policy; the introduction of Protection has indeed, if we are to judge by
appearances, brought about a great increase in the prosperity of the
country; whether the scheme for old-age pensions will appease the
discontent of the working man seems very doubtful. One thing, however,
we must notice: the influence of the new policy is far greater than the
immediate results of the actual laws passed. It has taught the Germans
to look to the Government not only as a means of protecting them against
the attacks of other States, but to see in it a thoughtful, and I think
we may say kindly, guardian of their interests. They know that every
attempt of each individual to gain wealth or power for his country will
be supported and protected by the Government; they know that there is
constant watchfulness as to the dangers to life and health which arise
from the conditions of modern civilisation. In these laws, in fact,
Bismarck, who deeply offended and irretrievably alienated the survivors
of his own generation, won over and secured for himself and also for the
Government the complete loyalty of the rising generation. It might be
supposed that this powerful action on the part of the State would
interfere with private enterprise; the result shews that this is not the
case. A watchful and provident Government really acts as an incentive to
each individual. Let us also recognise that Bismarck was acting exactly
as in the old days every English Government acted, when the foreign
policy was dictated by the interests of British trade and the home
policy aimed at preserving, protecting, and assisting the different
classes in the community.

Bismarck has often been called a reactionary, and yet we find that by
the social legislation he was the first statesman deliberately to apply
himself to the problem which had been created by the alteration in the
structure of society. Even if the solutions which he proposed do not
prove in every case to have been the best, he undoubtedly foresaw what
would be the chief occupation for the statesmen of the future. In these
reforms he had, however, little help from the Reichstag; the Liberals
were bitterly opposed, the Socialists sceptical and suspicious, the
Catholics cool and unstable allies; during these years the chronic
quarrel between himself and Parliament broke out with renewed vigour.
How bitterly did he deplore party spirit, the bane of German life, which
seemed each year to gain ground!

"It has," he said, "transferred itself to our modern public life and the
Parliaments; the Governments, indeed, stand together, but in the German
Reichstag I do not find that guardian of liberty for which I had hoped.
Party spirit has overrun us. This it is which I accuse before God and
history, if the great work of our people achieved between 1866 and 1870
fall into decay, and in this House we destroy by the pen what has been
created by the sword."

In future years it will perhaps be regarded as one of his chief claims
that he refused to become a party leader. He saved Germany from a
serious danger to which almost every other country in Europe which has
attempted to adopt English institutions has fallen a victim--the
sacrifice of national welfare to the integrity and power of a
Parliamentary fraction. His desire was a strong and determined
Government, zealously working for the benefit of all classes, quick to
see and foresee present and future evil; he regarded not the personal
wishes of individuals, but looked only in each matter he undertook to
its effect on the nation as a whole. "I will accept help," he said,
"wherever I may get it. I care not to what party any man belongs. I have
no intention of following a party policy; I used to do so when I was a
young and angry member of a party, but it is impossible for a Prussian
or German Minister." Though the Constitution had been granted, he did
not wish to surrender the oldest and best traditions of the Prussian
Monarchy; and even if the power of the King and Emperor was limited and
checked by two Parliaments it was still his duty, standing above all
parties, to watch over the country as a hundred years before his
ancestors had done.

His power, however, was checked by the Parliaments. Bismarck often
sighed for a free hand; he longed to be able to carry out his reforms
complete and rounded as they lay clear before him in his own brain; how
often did he groan under all the delay, the compromise, the surrender,
which was imposed upon him when, conscious as he was that he was only
striving for the welfare of his country, he had to win over not only the
King, not only his colleagues in the Prussian Ministry, his
subordinates, who had much power to check and impede his actions, but,
above all, the Parliaments. It was inevitable that his relation to them
should often be one of conflict; it was their duty to submit to a
searching criticism the proposals of the Government and to amend or
reject them, and let us confess that it was better they were there. The
modifications they introduced in the bills he proposed were often
improvements; those they rejected were not always wise. The drafting of
Government bills was often badly done; the first proposals for the
Socialistic law, the original drafts of many of his economic reforms,
were all the better when they had been once rejected and were again
brought forward in a modified form. More than this, we must confess that
Bismarck did not possess that temperament which would make it wise to
entrust him with absolute dictatorial power in internal matters. He
attempted to apply to legislation habits he had learnt in diplomacy. And
it is curious to notice Bismarck's extreme caution in diplomacy, where
he was a recognised master, and his rashness in legislation, where the
ground was often new to him. In foreign affairs a false move may easily
be withdrawn, a change of alliance quickly made; it often happens that
speed is more important than wisdom. In internal affairs it is
different; there, delay is in itself of value; moreover, false
legislation cannot be imposed with impunity, laws cannot be imposed and

Bismarck often complained of the conduct of the Reichstag. There were in
it two parties, the Socialists and the Centre, closely organised,
admirably disciplined, obedient to leaders who were in opposition by
principle; they looked on the Parliamentary campaign as a struggle for
power, and they maintained the struggle with a persistency and success
which had not been surpassed by any Parliamentary Opposition in any
other country. Apart from them the attitude of all the parties was
normally that of moderate criticism directed to the matter of the
Government proposals. There were, of course, often angry scenes;
Bismarck himself did not spare his enemies, but we find no events which
shew violence beyond what is, if not legitimate, at least inevitable in
all Parliamentary assemblies. The main objects of the Government were
always attained; the military Budgets were always passed, though once
not until after a dissolution. In the contest with the Clerical party
and the Socialists the Government had the full support of a large
majority. Even in the hostile Reichstag of 1884, in which the
Socialists, Clericals, and Progressives together commanded a majority, a
series of important laws were passed. Once, indeed, the majority in
opposition to the Government went beyond the limits of reason and honour
when they refused a vote of L1000 for an additional director in the
Foreign Office. It was the expression of a jealousy which had no
justification in facts; at the time the German Foreign Office was the
best managed department in Europe; the labour imposed on the secretaries
was excessive, and the nation could not help contrasting this vote with
the fact that shortly before a large number of the members had voted
that payments should be made to themselves. The nation could not help
asking whether it would not gain more benefit from another L1000 a year
expended on the Foreign Office than from L50,000 a year for payment of
members. Even this unfortunate action was remedied a few months later,
when the vote was passed in the same Parliament by a majority of twenty.

Notwithstanding all their internal differences and the extreme party
spirit which often prevailed, the Reichstag always shewed determination
in defending its own privileges. More than once Bismarck attacked them
in the most tender points. At one time it was on the privileges of
members and their freedom from arrest; both during the struggle with the
Clericals and with the Socialists the claim was made to arrest members
during the session for political utterances. When Berlin was subject to
a state of siege, the President of the Police claimed the right of
expelling from the capital obnoxious Socialist members. On these
occasions the Government found itself confronted by the unanimous
opposition of the whole House. In 1884, Bismarck proposed that the
meetings of the Reichstag should be biennial and the Budget voted for
two years; the proposal was supported on the reasonable grounds that
thereby inconvenience and press of work would be averted, which arose
from the meeting of the Prussian and German Parliaments every winter.
Few votes, however, could be obtained for a suggestion which seemed to
cut away the most important privileges of Parliament.

Another of the great causes of friction between Bismarck and the
Parliament arose from the question as to freedom of debate. Both before
1866, and since that year, he made several attempts to introduce laws
that members should be to some extent held responsible, and under
certain circumstances be brought before a court of law, in consequence
of what they had said from their places in Parliament. This was
represented as an interference with freedom of speech, and was bitterly
resented. Bismarck, however, always professed, and I think truly, that
he did not wish to control the members in their opposition to the
Government, but to place some check on their personal attacks on
individuals. A letter to one of his colleagues, written in 1883, is

"I have," he says, "long learned the difficulties which educated
people, who have been well brought up, have to overcome in order
to meet the coarseness of our Parliamentary _Klopfechter_
[pugilists] with the necessary amount of indifference, and to
refuse them in one's own consciousness the undeserved honour of
moral equality. The repeated and bitter struggles in which you
have had to fight alone will have strengthened you in your
feeling of contempt for opponents who are neither honourable
enough nor deserve sufficient respect to be able to injure you."

There was indeed a serious evil arising from the want of the feeling of
responsibility in a Parliamentary assembly which had no great and
honourable traditions. He attempted to meet it by strengthening the
authority of the House over its own members; the Chairman did not
possess any power of punishing breaches of decorum. Bismarck often
contrasted this with the very great powers over their own members
possessed by the British Houses of Parliament. He drew attention to the
procedure by which, for instance, Mr. Plimsoll could be compelled to
apologise for hasty words spoken in a moment of passion. It is strange
that neither the Prussian nor the German Parliament consented to adopt
rules which are really the necessary complement for the privileges of

The Germans were much disappointed by the constant quarrels and disputes
which were so frequent in public life; they had hoped that with the
unity of their country a new period would begin; they found that, as
before, the management of public affairs was disfigured by constant
personal enmities and the struggle of parties. We must not, however,
look on this as a bad sign; it is rather more profitable to observe that
the new institutions were not affected or weakened by this friction. It
was a good sign for the future that the new State held together as
firmly as any old-established monarchy, and that the most important
questions of policy could be discussed and decided without even raising
any point which might be a danger to the permanence of the Empire.

Bismarck himself did much to put his relations with the Parliament on a
new and better footing. Acting according to his general principle, he
felt that the first thing to be done was to induce mutual confidence by
unrestrained personal intercourse. The fact that he himself was not a
member of the Parliament deprived him of those opportunities which an
English Minister enjoys. He therefore instituted, in 1868, a
Parliamentary reception. During the session, generally one day each
week, his house was opened to all members of the House. The invitations
were largely accepted, especially by the members of the National Liberal
and Conservative parties. Those who were opponents on principle, the
Centre, the Progressives, and the Socialists, generally stayed away.
These receptions became the most marked feature in the political life of
the capital, and they enabled many members to come under the personal
charm of the Chancellor. What an event was it in the life of the young
and unknown Deputy from some obscure provincial town, when he found
himself sitting, perhaps, at the same table as the Chancellor, drinking
the beer which Bismarck had brought into honour at Berlin, and for which
his house was celebrated, and listening while, with complete freedom
from all arrogance or pomposity, his host talked as only he could!

The weakest side of his administration lay in the readiness with which
he had recourse to the criminal law to defend himself against political
adversaries. He was, indeed, constantly subjected to attacks in the
Press, which were often unjust and sometimes unmeasured, but no man who
takes part in public life is exempt from calumny. He was himself never
slow to attack his opponents, both personally in the Parliament, and
still more by the hired writers of the Press. None the less, to defend
himself from attacks, he too often brought his opponents into the police
court, and _Bismarckbeleidigung_ became a common offence. Even the
editor of _Kladderadatsch_ was once imprisoned. He must be held
personally responsible, for no action could be instituted without his
own signature to the charge. We see the same want of generosity in the
use which he made of attempts, or reputed attempts, at assassination. In
1875, while he was at Kissingen, a young man shot at him; he stated that
he had been led to do so owing to the attacks made on the Chancellor by
the Catholic party. No attempt, however, was made to prove that he had
any accomplices; it was not even suggested that he was carrying out the
wishes of the party. It was one of those cases which will always occur
in political struggles, when a young and inexperienced man will be
excited by political speeches to actions which no one would foresee, and
which would not be the natural result of the words to which he had
listened. Nevertheless, Bismarck was not ashamed publicly in the
Reichstag to taunt his opponents with the action, and to declare that
whether they would or not their party was Kuhlmann's party; "he clings
to your coat-tails," he said. A similar event had happened a few years
before, when a young man had been arrested on the charge that he
intended to assassinate the Chancellor. No evidence in support of the
charge was forthcoming, but the excuse was taken by the police for
searching the house of one of the Catholic leaders with whom the accused
had lived. No incriminating documents of any kind were found, but among
the private papers was the correspondence between the leaders in the
party of the Centre dealing with questions of party organisation and
political tactics. The Government used these private papers for
political purposes, and published one of them. The constant use of the
police in political warfare belonged, of course, to the system he had
inherited, but none the less it was to have been hoped that he would
have been strong enough to put it aside. The Government was now firmly
established; it could afford to be generous. Had he definitely cut
himself off from these bad traditions he would have conferred on his
country a blessing scarcely less than all the others.

The opposition of the parties in the Reichstag to his policy and person
did not represent the feelings of the country. As the years passed by
and the new generation grew up, the admiration for his past achievements
and for his character only increased. His seventieth birthday, which he
celebrated in 1885, was made the occasion for a great demonstration of
regard, in which the whole nation joined. A national subscription was
opened and a present of two million marks was made to him. More than
half of this was devoted to repurchasing that part of the estate at
Schoenhausen which had been sold when he was a young man. The rest he
devoted to forming an institution for the help of teachers in higher
schools. A few years before, the Emperor had presented to him the
Sachsen Wald, a large portion of the royal domains in the Duchy of
Lauenburg. He now purchased the neighbouring estate of Friedrichsruh, so
that he had a third country residence to which he could retire. It had a
double advantage: its proximity to the great forest in which he loved
to wander, and also to a railway, making it little more than an hour
distant from Berlin. He was able, therefore, at Friedrichsruh, to
continue his management of affairs more easily than he could at Varzin.




Well was it for Germany that Bismarck had not allowed her to fall into
the weak and vacillating hands of a Parliamentary government. Peace has
its dangers as well as war, and the rivalry of nations lays upon them a
burden beneath which all but the strongest must succumb. The future was
dark; threatening clouds were gathering in the East and West; the
hostility of Russia increased, and in France the Republic was wavering;
a military adventurer had appeared, who threatened to use the desire for
revenge as a means for his personal advancement. Germany could no longer
disregard French threats; year by year the French army had been
increased, and in 1886 General Boulanger introduced a new law by which
in time of peace over 500,000 men would be under arms. Russia had nearly
550,000 soldiers on her peace establishment, and, against this, Germany
only 430,000. They were no longer safe; the duty of the Government was
clear; in December, 1886, they brought forward a law to raise the army
to 470,000 men and keep it at that figure for seven years. "We have no
desire for war," said Bismarck, in defending the proposal; "we belong
(to use an expression of Prince Metternich's) to the States whose
appetite is satisfied; under no circumstances shall we attack France;
the stronger we are, the more improbable is war; but if France has any
reason to believe that she is more powerful than we, then war is
certain." It was, he said, no good for the House to assure the
Government of their patriotism and their readiness for sacrifice when
the hour of danger arrived; they must be prepared beforehand. "Words are
not soldiers and speeches not battalions."

The House (there was a majority of Catholics, Socialists, and
Progressives) threw out the bill, the Government dissolved, and the
country showed its confidence in Bismarck and Moltke; Conservatives and
National Liberals made a coalition, the Pope himself ordered the
Catholics not to oppose the Government (his support had been purchased
by the partial repeal of a law expelling religious orders from Prussia),
and the Emperor could celebrate his ninetieth birthday, which fell in
March, 1887, hopeful that the beneficent work of peaceful reform would
continue. And yet never was Bismarck's resource so needed as during the
last year in which he was to serve his old master.

First, a French spy was arrested on German soil; the French demanded his
release, maintaining that German officers had violated the frontier.
Unless one side gave way, war was inevitable; the French Government,
insecure as it was, could not venture to do so; Bismarck was strong
enough to be lenient: the spy was released and peace was preserved.
Then, on the other side, the passionate enmity of Russia burst out in
language of unaccustomed violence; the national Press demanded the
dismissal of Bismarck or war; the Czar passed through Germany on his way
to Copenhagen, but ostentatiously avoided meeting the Emperor; the
slight was so open that the worst predictions were justified. In
November, on his return, he spent a few hours in Berlin. Bismarck asked
for an audience, and then he found that despatches had been laid before
the Czar which seemed to shew that he, while avowedly supporting Russia
in Bulgarian affairs, had really been undermining her influence. The
despatches were forged; we do not yet know who it was that hoped to
profit by stirring up a war between the two great nations. We can well
believe that Bismarck, in the excitement of the moment, spoke with an
openness to which the Czar was not accustomed; he succeeded, however, in
bringing about a tolerable understanding. The Czar assured him that he
had no intention of going to war, he only desired peace; Bismarck did
all that human ingenuity could to preserve it. By the Triple Alliance he
had secured Germany against the attack of Russia. He now entered into a
fresh and secret agreement with Russia by which Germany agreed to
protect her against an attack from Austria; he thereby hoped to be able
to prevent the Czar from looking to France for support against the
Triple Alliance. It was a policy of singular daring to enter into a
defensive alliance with Russia against Austria, at the same time that he
had another defensive alliance with Austria against Russia.[13] To shew
that he had no intention of deserting his older ally, he caused the text
of the treaty with Austria to be published. This need no longer be
interpreted as a threat to Russia. Then, that Germany, if all else
failed, might be able to stand on her own resources, another increase of
the army was asked for. By the reorganisation of the reserve, 500,000
men could be added to the army in time of war. This proposal was brought
before the Reichstag, together with one for a loan of twenty-eight
million marks to purchase the munitions of war which would be required,
and in defence of this, Bismarck made the last of his great speeches.

It was not necessary to plead for the bill. He was confident of the
patriotism of the House; his duty was to curb the nervous anxiety which
recent events had produced. These proposals were not for war, but for
peace; but they must indeed be prepared for war, for that was a danger
that was never absent, and by a review of the last forty years he shewed
that scarcely a single year had gone by in which there had not been the
probability of a great European conflict, a war of coalitions in which
all the great States of Europe would be ranged on one side or the other.
This danger was still present, it would never cease; Germany, now, as
before, must always be prepared; for the strength of Germany was the
security of Europe.

"We must make greater exertions than other Powers on account of
our geographical position. We lie in the middle of Europe; we can
be attacked on all sides. God has put us in a situation in which
our neighbours will not allow us to fall into indolence or
apathy. The pike in the European fish-pond prevent us from
becoming carp."

It was not their fault if the old alliance with Russia had broken down;
the alliance with Austria still continued. But, above all, Germany must
depend on her army, and then they could look boldly into the future. "It
will calm our citizens if they think that if we are attacked on two
sides we can put a million good soldiers on the frontier, and in a few
weeks support them by another million." But let them not think that this
terrible engine of war was a danger to the peace of Europe. In words
which represent a profound truth he said: "It is just the strength at
which we aim that makes us peaceful. That sounds paradoxical, but it is
so. With the powerful engine into which we are forming the German army
one undertakes no offensive war." In truth, when the army was the
nation, what statesman was there who would venture on war unless he were
attacked? "If I were to say to you, 'We are threatened by France and
Russia; it is better for us to fight at once; an offensive war is more
advantageous for us,' and ask for a credit of a hundred millions, I do
not know whether you would grant it,--I hope not." And he concluded: "It
is not fear which makes us lovers of peace, but the consciousness of our
own strength. We can be won by love and good-will, but by them alone;
_we Germans fear God and nothing else in the world, and it is the fear
of God which makes us seek peace and ensue it_."

These are words which will not be forgotten so long as the German tongue
is spoken. Well will it be if they are remembered in their entirety.
They were the last message of the older generation to the new Germany
which had arisen since the war; for already the shadow of death lay over
the city; in the far South the Crown Prince was sinking to his grave,
and but a few weeks were to pass before Bismarck stood at the bedside of
the dying Emperor. He died on March 9, 1888, a few days before his
ninety-first birthday, and with him passed the support on which
Bismarck's power rested.

He was not a great man, but he was an honourable, loyal, and courteous
gentleman; he had not always understood the course of Bismarck's policy
or approved the views which his Minister adopted. The restraint he had
imposed had often been inconvenient, and Bismarck had found much
difficulty in overcoming the prejudices of his master; but it had none
the less been a gain for Bismarck that he was compelled to explain and
justify his action to a man whom he never ceased to love and respect.
How beneficial had been the controlling influence of his presence the
world was to learn by the events which followed his death.

That had happened to which for five and twenty years all Bismarck's
enemies had looked forward. The foundation on which his power rested was
taken away; men at once began to speculate on his fall. The noble
presence of the Crown Prince, his cheerful and kindly manners, his known
attachment to liberal ideas, his strong national feeling, the success
with which he had borne himself on the uncongenial field of battle, all
had made him the hope of the generation to which he belonged. Who was so
well suited to solve the difficulties of internal policy with which
Bismarck had struggled so long? Hopes never to be fulfilled! Absent from
his father's deathbed, he returned to Berlin a crippled and dying man,
and when a few weeks later his body was lowered into the grave, there
were buried with him the hopes and aspirations of a whole generation.

His early death was indeed a great misfortune for his country. Not that
he would have fulfilled all the hopes of the party that would have made
him their leader. It is never wise to depend on the liberalism of a
Crown Prince. When young and inexperienced he had been in opposition to
his father's government--but his father before him had, while heir to
the throne, also held a similar position to his own brother. As Crown
Prince, he had desired and had won popularity; he had been even too
sensitive to public opinion. His, however, was a character that required
only responsibility to strengthen it; with the burden of sovereignty he
would, we may suppose, have shewn a fixity of purpose which many of his
admirers would hardly have expected of him, nor would he have been
deficient in those qualities of a ruler which are the traditions of his
family. He was not a man to surrender any of the prerogatives or
authority of the Crown. He had a stronger will than his father, and he
would have made his will felt. His old enmity to Bismarck had almost
ceased. It is not probable that with the new Emperor the Chancellor
would long have held his position, but he would have been able to
transfer the Crown to a man who had learnt wisdom by prolonged
disappointment. How he would have governed is shewn by the only act of
authority which he had time to carry out. He would have done what was
more important than giving a little more power to the Parliament: he
would at once have stopped that old and bad system by which the Prussian
Government has always attempted to schoolmaster the people. During his
short reign he dismissed Herr von Puttkammer, the Minister of the
Interior, a relative of Bismarck's wife, for interfering with the
freedom of election; we may be sure that he would have allowed full
freedom of speech; and that he would not have consented to govern by aid
of the police. Under him there would not have been constant trials for
_Majestaetsbeleidigung_ or _Bismarckbeleidigung_. This he could have done
without weakening the power of the Crown or the authority of the
Government; those who know Germany will believe that it was the one
reform which was still required.

The illness of the Emperor made it desirable to avoid points of
conflict; both he and Bismarck knew that it was impossible, during the
few weeks that his life would be spared, to execute so important a
change as the resignation of the Chancellor would have been. On many
points there was a difference of opinion, but Bismarck did not unduly
express his view, nor did he threaten to resign if his advice were not
adopted. When, for instance, the Emperor hesitated to give his assent to
a law prolonging the period of Parliament, Bismarck did not attempt to
control his decision. When Herr Puttkammer was dismissed, Bismarck did
not remonstrate against an act which was almost of the nature of a
personal reprimand to himself. It was, however, different when the
foreign policy of the Empire was affected, for here Bismarck, as before,
considered himself the trustee and guarantor for the security of
Germany. An old project was now revived for bringing about a marriage
between the Princess Victoria of Prussia and Prince Alexander of
Battenberg. This had been suggested some years before, while the Prince
was still ruler of Bulgaria; at Bismarck's advice, the Emperor William
had refused his consent to the marriage, partly for the reason that
according to the family law of the Hohenzollerns a marriage with the
Battenberger family would be a mesalliance. He was, however, even more
strongly influenced by the effect this would have on the political
situation of Europe.

The foundation of Bismarck's policy was the maintenance of friendship
with Russia; this old-established alliance depended, however, on the
personal good-will of the Czar, and not on the wishes of the Russian
nation or any identity of interests between the two Empires. A marriage
between a Prussian princess and a man who was so bitterly hated by the
Czar as was Prince Alexander must have seriously injured the friendly
relations which had existed between the two families since the year
1814. Bismarck believed that the happiness of the Princess must be
sacrificed to the interests of Germany, and the Emperor William, who,
when a young man, had for similar reasons been required by his father to
renounce the hand of the lady to whom he had been devotedly attached,
agreed with him. Now, after the Emperor's death the project was revived;
the Emperor Frederick wavered between his feelings as a father and his
duty as a king. Bismarck suspected that the strong interest which the
Empress displayed in the project was due, not only to maternal
affection, but also to the desire, which in her would be natural enough,
to bring over the German Empire to the side of England in the Eastern
Question, so that England might have a stronger support in her perennial
conflict with Russia. The matter, therefore, appeared to him as a
conflict between the true interests of Germany and those old Court
influences which he so often had had to oppose, by which the family
relationships of the reigning sovereign were made to divert his
attention from the single interests of his own country. He made it a
question of confidence; he threatened to resign, as he so often did
under similar circumstances; he let it be known through the Press what
was the cause, and, in his opinion, the true interpretation, of the
conflict which influenced the Court. In order to support his view, he
called in the help of the Grand Duke of Baden, who, as the Emperor's
brother-in-law, and one of the most experienced of the reigning Princes,
was the proper person to interfere in a matter which concerned both the
private and the public life of the sovereign. The struggle, which
threatened to become serious, was, however, allayed by the visit of the
Queen of England to Germany. She, acting in German affairs with that
strict regard to constitutional principle and that dislike of Court
intrigue that she had always observed in dealings with her own
Ministers, gave her support to Bismarck. The marriage did not take

Frederick's reign lasted but ninety days, and his son ruled in his
place. The new Emperor belonged to the generation which had grown up
since the war; he could not remember the old days of conflict; like all
of his generation, from his earliest years he had been accustomed to
look on Bismarck with gratitude and admiration. In him, warm personal
friendship was added to the general feeling of public regard; he had
himself learnt from Bismarck's own lips the principles of policy and the
lessons of history. It might well seem that he would continue to lean
for support on the old statesman. So he himself believed, but careful
observers who saw his power of will and his restless activity foretold
that he would not allow to Bismarck that complete freedom of action and
almost absolute power which he had obtained during the later years of
the old Emperor. They foretold also that Bismarck would not be content
with a position of less power, and there were many ready to watch for
and foment the differences which must arise.

In the first months of the new reign, some of Bismarck's old enemies
attempted to undermine his influence by spreading reports of his
differences with the Emperor Frederick, and Professor Geffken even went
so far as to publish from the manuscript some of the most confidential
portions of the Emperor's diary in order to shew that but for him
Bismarck would not have created the new Empire. The attempt failed, for,
rightly read, the passages which were to injure Bismarck's reputation
only served to shew how much greater than men thought had been the
difficulties with which he had had to contend and the wisdom with which
he had dealt with them.

From the very beginning there were differences of opinion; the old and
the new did not think or feel alike. Bismarck looked with disapproval on
the constant journeys of the Emperor; he feared that he was compromising
his dignity. Moltke and others of the older generation retired from the
posts they filled; Bismarck, with growing misgivings, stayed on. His
promises to his old master, his love of power, his distrust of the
capacity of others, all made it hard for him to withdraw when he still
might have done so with dignity. We cannot doubt that his presence was
irksome to his master; his influence and authority were too great;
before them, even the majesty of the Throne was dimmed; the Minister was
a greater man than the Sovereign.

If we are to understand what happened we must remember how exceptional
was the position which Bismarck now occupied. He had repeatedly defied
the power of Parliament and shewn that he was superior to the Reichstag;
there were none among his colleagues who could approach him in age or
experience; the Prussian Ministers were as much his nominees as were the
officials of the Empire. He himself was Chancellor, Minister-President,
Foreign Minister, and Minister of Trade; his son was at the head of the
Foreign Office and was used for the more important diplomatic missions;
his cousin was Minister, of the Interior; in the management of the most
critical affairs, he depended upon the assistance of his own family and
secretaries. He had twice been able against the will of his colleagues
to reverse the whole policy of the State. The Government was in his
hands and men had learnt to look to him rather than to the Emperor. Was
it to be expected that a young man, ambitious, full of spirit and
self-confidence, who had learnt from Bismarck himself a high regard for
his monarchical duties, would acquiesce in this system? Nay, more; was
it right that he should?

It was a fitting conclusion to his career that the man who had restored
the monarchical character of the Prussian State should himself shew that
before the will of the King he, as every other subject, must bow.

Bismarck had spent the winter of 1889 at Friedrichsruh. When he returned
to Berlin at the end of January, he found that his influence and
authority had been undermined; not only was the Emperor influenced by
other advisers, but even the Ministry shewed an independence to which he
was not accustomed. The chief causes of difference arose regarding the
prolongation of the law against the Socialists. This expired in 1890,
and it was proposed to bring in a bill making it permanent. Bismarck
wished even more than this to intensify the stringency of its provisions.
Apparently the Emperor did not believe that this was necessary. He hoped
that it would be possible to remove the disaffection of the working men
by remedial measures, and, in order to discuss these, he summoned a
European Congress which would meet in Berlin.

Here, then, there was a fundamental difference of opinion between the
King of Prussia and his Minister; the result was that Bismarck did not
consider himself able to defend the Socialist law before the Reichstag,
for he could not any longer give full expression to his own views; the
Parliament was left without direction from the Government, and
eventually a coalition between the extreme Conservatives, the Radicals,
and the Socialists rejected the bill altogether. A bitterly contested
general election followed in which the name and the new policy of the
Emperor were freely used, and it resulted in a majority opposed to the
parties who were accustomed to support Bismarck. These events made it
obvious that on matters of internal policy a permanent agreement between
the Emperor and the Chancellor was impossible. It seems that Bismarck
therefore offered to resign his post as Minister President, maintaining
only the general control of foreign affairs. But this proposition did
not meet with the approval of the Emperor. There were, however, other
grounds of difference connected even with foreign affairs; the Emperor
was drawing closer to England and thereby separating from Russia.

By the middle of March, matters had come to a crisis. The actual cause
for the final difference was an important matter of constitutional
principle. Bismarck found that the Emperor had on several occasions
discussed questions of administration with some of his colleagues
without informing him; moreover, important projects of law had been
devised without his knowledge. He therefore drew the attention of the
Emperor to the principle of the German and Prussian Constitutions. By
the German Constitution, as we have seen, the Chancellor was responsible
for all acts of the Ministers and Secretaries of State, who held office
as his deputies and subordinates. He therefore claimed that he could
require to be consulted on every matter of any importance which
concerned any of these departments. The same right as regards Prussian
affairs had been explicitly secured to the Minister-President by a
Cabinet order of 1852, which was passed in order to give to the
President that complete control which was necessary if he was to be
responsible for the whole policy of the Government. The Emperor answered
by a command that he should draw up a new order reversing this decree.
This Bismarck refused to do; the Emperor repeated his instructions. It
was a fundamental point on which no compromise was possible; the
Emperor proposed to take away from the Chancellor that supreme position
he had so long enjoyed; to recall into his own hands that immediate
control over all departments which in old days the Kings of Prussia had
exercised and, as Bismarck said, to be his own Prime Minister. In this
degradation of his position Bismarck would not acquiesce; he had no
alternative but to resign.

The final separation between these two men, each so self-willed and
confident in his own strength, was not to be completed by ceremonious
discussions on constitutional forms. It was during an audience at the
castle, that the Emperor had explained his views, Bismarck his
objections; the Emperor insisted that his will must be carried out, if
not by Bismarck, then by another. "Then I am to understand, your
Majesty," said Bismarck, speaking in English; "that I am in your way?"
"Yes," was the answer. This was enough; he took his leave and returned
home to draw up the formal document in which he tendered his
resignation. This, which was to be the conclusion of his public life,
had to be composed with care; he did not intend to be hurried; but the
Emperor was impatient, and his impatience was increased when he was
informed that Windthorst, the leader of the Centre, had called on
Bismarck at his residence. He feared lest there was some intrigue, and
that Bismarck proposed to secure his position by an alliance with the
Parliamentary opposition. He sent an urgent verbal message requiring the
resignation immediately, a command with which Bismarck was not likely
to comply. Early next morning, the Emperor drove round himself to his
house, and Bismarck was summoned from his bed to meet the angry
sovereign. The Emperor asked what had taken place at the interview with
Windthorst, and stated that Ministers were not to enter on political
discussions with Parliamentary leaders without his permission. Bismarck
denied that there had been any political discussion, and answered that
he could not allow any supervision over the guests he chose to receive
in his private house.

"Not if I order it as your sovereign?" asked the Emperor.

"No. The commands of my King cease in my wife's drawing-room," answered
Bismarck. The Emperor had forgotten that Bismarck was a gentleman before
he was a Minister, and that a Prussian nobleman could not be treated
like a Russian _boyar_.[14]

No reconciliation or accommodation was now possible. The Emperor did all
he could to make it appear that the resignation was voluntary and
friendly. He conferred on the retiring Chancellor the highest honours:
he raised him to the rank of Field Marshal and created him Duke of
Lauenburg, and publicly stated his intention of presenting him with a
copy of his own portrait. As a soldier, Bismarck obediently accepted the
military honour; the new title he requested to be allowed not to use; he
had never been asked whether he desired it.

No outward honours could recompense him for the affront he had
received. What profited it him that the Princes and people of Germany
joined in unanimous expression of affection and esteem, that he could
scarcely set foot outside his house for the enthusiastic crowd who
cheered and followed him through the streets of Berlin? For twenty-four
years he had been Prussian Minister and now he was told he was in the
way. His successor was already in office; he was himself driven in haste
from the house which so long had been his home. A final visit to the
Princes of the Royal House, a last audience with the Emperor, a hasty
leave-taking from his friends and colleagues, and then the last
farewell, when in the early morning he drove to Charlottenburg and alone
went down into the mausoleum where his old master slept, to lay a rose
upon his tomb.

The rest he had so often longed for had come, but it was too late. Forty
years he had passed in public life and he could not now take up again
the interests and occupations of his youth. Agriculture had no more
charms for him; he was too infirm for sport; he could not, like his
father, pass his old age in the busy indolence of a country gentleman's
life, nor could he, as some statesmen have done, soothe his declining
years by harmless and amiable literary dilettanteism. His religion was
not of that complexion that he could find in contemplation, and in
preparation for another life, consolation for the trials of this one. At
seventy-five years of age, his intellect was as vigorous and his energy
as unexhausted as they had been twenty years before; his health was
improved, for he had found in Dr. Schweninger a physician who was not
only able to treat his complaints, but could also compel his patient to
obey his orders. He still felt within himself full power to continue his
public work, and now he was relegated to impotence and obscurity.
Whether in Varzin or Friedrichsruh, his eyes were always fixed on
Berlin. He saw the State which he had made, and which he loved as a
father, subjected to the experiment of young and inexperienced control.
He saw overthrown that carefully planned system by which the peace of
Europe was made to depend upon the prosperity of Germany. Changes were
made in the working of that Constitution which it seemed presumption for
anyone but him to touch. His policy was deserted, his old enemies were
taken into favour. Can we wonder that he could not restrain his
impatience? He felt like a man who sees his heir ruling in his own house
during his lifetime, cutting down his woods and dismissing his old
servants, or as if he saw a careless and clumsy rider mounted on his
favourite horse.

From all parts of Germany deputations from towns and newspaper writers
came to visit him. He received them with his customary courtesy, and
spoke with his usual frankness. He did not disguise his chagrin; he had,
he said, not been treated with the consideration which he deserved. He
had never been accustomed to hide his feelings or to disguise his
opinions. Nothing that his successors did seemed to him good. They made
a treaty with England for the arrangement of conflicting questions in
Africa; men looked to Bismarck to hear what he would say before they
formed their opinion; "I would never have signed the treaty," he
declared. He quickly drifted into formal opposition to the Government;
he even made arrangements with one of the Hamburg papers that it should
represent his opinions. He seemed, to have forgotten his own principle
that, in foreign affairs at least, an opposition to the policy of the
Government should not be permitted. He claimed a privilege which as
Minister he would never have allowed to another. He defied the
Government. "They shall not silence me," he said. It seemed as though he
was determined to undo the work of his life. Under the pretext that he
was attacking the policy of the Ministers, he was undermining the
loyalty of the people, for few could doubt that it was the Emperor at
whom the criticisms were aimed.

In his isolation and retirement, the old uncompromising spirit of his
ancestors once more awoke in him. He had been loyal to the Crown--who
more so?--but his loyalty had limits. His long service had been one of
personal and voluntary affection; he was not a valet, that his service
could be handed on from generation to generation among the assets of the
Crown. "After all," he would ask, "who are these Hohenzollerns? My
family is as good as theirs. We have been here longer than they have."
Like his ancestors who stood out against the rule of the Great Elector,
he was putting personal feeling above public duty. Even if the action of
the new Government was not always wise, he himself had made Germany
strong enough to support for a few years a weak Ministry.

More than this, he was attempting to destroy the confidence of the
people in the moral justice and necessity of the measures by which he
had founded the Empire. They had always been taught that in 1870 their
country had been the object of a treacherous and unprovoked attack.
Bismarck, who was always living over again the great scenes in which he
had been the leading actor, boasted that but for him there would never
have been a war with France. He referred to the alteration in the Ems
telegram, which we have already narrated, and the Government was forced
to publish the original documents. The conclusions drawn from these
disclosures and others which followed were exaggerated, but the naive
and simple belief of the people was irretrievably destroyed. Where they
had been taught to see the will of God, they found only the machinations
of the Minister. In a country where patriotism had already taken the
place of religion, the last illusion had been dispelled; almost the last
barrier was broken down which stood between the nation and moral

Bismarck's criticism was very embarrassing to the Government; by
injuring the reputation of the Ministry he impaired the influence of the
nation. It was difficult to keep silence and ignore the attack, but the
attempts at defence were awkward and unwise. General Caprivi attempted
to defend the treaty with England by reading out confidential minutes,
addressed by Bismarck to the Secretary of the Minister for Foreign
Affairs, in which he had written that the friendship of England and the
support of Lord Salisbury were more important than Zanzibar or the whole
of Africa. He addressed a circular despatch to Prussian envoys to inform
them that the utterances of Prince Bismarck were without any actual
importance, as he was now only a private man. This only made matters
worse; for the substance of the despatch quickly became known (another
instance of the lax control over important State documents which we so
often notice in dealing with German affairs), and only increased the
bitterness of Bismarck, which was shared by his friends and supporters.

For more than two years the miserable quarrel continued; Bismarck was
now the public and avowed enemy of the Court and the Ministry. Moltke
died, and he alone of the great men of the country was absent from the
funeral ceremony, but in his very absence he overshadowed all who were
there. His public popularity only increased. In 1892, he travelled
across Germany to visit Vienna for his son's wedding. His journey was a
triumphal progress, and the welcome was warmest in the States of the
South, in Saxony and Bavaria. The German Government, however, found it
necessary to instruct their ambassador not to be present at the wedding
and to take no notice of the Prince; he was not even granted an audience
by the Austrian Emperor. It was held necessary also to publish the
circular to which I have already referred, and thereby officially to
recognise the enmity.

The scandal of the quarrel became a grave injury to the Government of
the country. A serious illness of Bismarck caused apprehension that he
might die while still unreconciled. The Emperor took the opportunity,
and by a kindly message opened the way to an apparent reconciliation.
Then a change of Ministry took place: General Caprivi was made the
scapegoat for the failures of the new administration, and retired into
private life, too loyal even to attempt to justify or defend the acts
for which he had been made responsible. The new Chancellor, Prince
Hohenlohe, was a friend and former colleague of Bismarck, and had in old
days been leader of the National party in Bavaria. When Bismarck's
eightieth birthday was celebrated, the Emperor was present, and once
more Bismarck went to Berlin to visit his sovereign. We may be allowed
to believe that the reconciliation was not deep. We know that he did not
cease to contrast the new marks of Royal favour with the kindly courtesy
of his old master, who had known so well how to allow the King to be
forgotten in the friend.

As the years went on, he became ever more lonely. His wife was dead, and
his brother. Solitude, the curse of greatness, had fallen on him. He had
no friends, for we cannot call by that name the men, so inferior to
himself, by whom he was surrounded--men who did not scruple to betray
his confidence and make a market of his infirmities. With difficulty
could he bring himself even to systematic work on the memoirs he
proposed to leave. Old age set its mark on him: his beard had become
white; he could no longer, as in former days, ride and walk through the
woods near his house. His interest in public affairs never flagged, and
especially he watched with unceasing vigilance every move in the
diplomatic world; his mind and spirit were still unbroken when a sudden
return of his old malady overtook him, and on the last day of July,
1898, he died at Friedrichsruh.

He lies buried, not among his ancestors and kinsfolk near the old house
at Schoenhausen, nor in the Imperial city where his work had been done;
but in a solitary tomb at Friedrichsruh to which, with scanty state and
hasty ceremony, his body had been borne.


[Footnote 1: There seems no authority for the statement that the
Bismarcks had sprung from a noble Bohemian family.]

[Footnote 2: It is to this visit that a well-known anecdote refers;
having landed at Hull one Sunday morning, he was walking along the
streets whistling, when a chance acquaintance of the voyage asked him to
desist. Disgusted, he left the town. The story, as generally told, says
that he went to Edinburgh; we can have no doubt that Scarborough was

[Footnote 3: _Life of Herr v. Thadden-Triglaff_, by Eleanor, Princess of

[Footnote 4: This trait is confirmed by Busch, who in his record of the
conversations of Bismarck observes that with one or two exceptions he
seldom had a good word to say for his colleagues.]

[Footnote 5: I take the metaphor from Gerlach, but the English language
does not allow me to adopt the whole.]

[Footnote 6: Kohl prints a memorandum of this year (1861) which probably
is that sent to Herr von Below; in it the ideas of the letter are
developed at greater length and the language is more cautious; Bismarck
recommends in it a representation of the people at the Diet, but points
out that under present circumstances the consent of the Diet could not
be attained; the plan to which he seems to incline is that of a separate
union between some of the States; exactly the plan which Radowitz had
followed and Bismarck had ten years before so bitterly opposed.]

[Footnote 7: Speech of January 28, 1886.]

[Footnote 8: The complication of offices became most remarkable when
Bismarck in later years undertook the immediate direction of trade. He
became Minister of Finance for Prussia; and we have a long
correspondence which he carries on with himself in his various
capacities of Prussian Minister, Prussian representative in the Council,
and Chancellor of the Empire.]

[Footnote 9: Sybel states that this was not the case.]

[Footnote 10: Some of the more exaggerated statements were contradicted
at the time, apparently by Prince Radziwill, but in the excitement of
the moment no one paid attention to this.]

[Footnote 11: Comte Herisson d'Herisson, _Journal d'un officier

[Footnote 12: The Ghibellines were expelled from Italy in 1267, when
Conradin of Hohenstaufen was beheaded by Charles of Anjou.]

[Footnote 13: Our knowledge of this treaty is still very incomplete;
even the date is not certain, but it seems most probable that it was
executed at this time. Neither Bismarck's own memoirs nor Busch's book
throw any light upon it.]

[Footnote 14: It must be remembered that our knowledge of these events
is imperfect and probably inaccurate; it is at least one-sided. It comes
entirely from the published statements of those who gained their
information directly or indirectly from Bismarck.]



Alexander, Prince, of Battenberg,

Army, 295

Arnim, Count, 19-21, 46

Arnim, Oscar von, marries Malvina
von Bismarck, 25

Augustenburg, Frederick, Prince
of, 202-209, 213-224, 227,
228, 230-237, 246


Bazaine, Marshal, 361, 373

Benedetti, Count Vincent, 270-272,
275, 277-282, 322, 330-333,
336-338, 340-342

Bennigsen, 392, 394

Berlin, its condition after the
Revolution, 47, 50, 51

Bismarck, the family of, its
origin and history, 1-12

Bismarck, August von, 5

Bismarck, August von, the
Landrath, 8

Bismarck, August Friedrich
von, 9

Bismarck, Bernhard von, 11, 22,

Bismarck, Carl Alexander von, 9

Bismarck, Friedrich von, the
"Permutator," 5

Bismarck, Friedrich Wilhelm
von, 9

Bismarck, Herbert von, 347

Bismarck, Herbort von, 2

Bismarck, Karl Wilhelm Friedrich
von, 10; his marriage,
10; moves to Pomerania, 11,
21; to Schoenhausen, 22, 25,

Bismarck, Malvina von, 11, 22;
marries Oscar von Arnim, 25

Bismarck, Nicolas (or Claus)
von, 3

Bismarck, Otto Eduard Leopold
von, his birth, 1; ancestry, 1-12;
destined for Diplomatic
Service, 14; at school in Berlin,
14, 15; enters at Goettingen,
15; his personal appearance
and character, 16; enters Corps
of Hanoverians, 16; his university
career, 16-18; leaves
Goettingen, 18; enters at Berlin,
18; takes degree of Doctor
of Law, 19; early official life,
19; appointed Auscultator at
Berlin, 19; transferred to administrative
side and to Aix-la-Chapelle,
19; his life at
Aix, 20; transferred to Potsdam,
21; begins army service
in Jaeger at Potsdam, 21;
transferred to Jaeger at Stettin,
21; settles in Pomerania,
22; his attendance at lectures
in agricultural college near
Greifswald, 22; his successful
management of the Pomeranian
estates, 22, 23; takes
Kniephof on division of estates,
23; his wildness, 23; enters
as lieutenant of Landwehr in
cavalry, 23; saves groom from
drowning, 23; his restlessness
and discontent, 24; travels, to
Paris, London, Hull, Scarborough,
York, Manchester, 24;
his letters from Schoenhausen,
25-27; member of Diets of
Pomerania and of province
containing Schoenhausen, 27;
Referendar at Potsdam, resigns,
28; his hatred of
Prussian bureaucracy, 28, 61;
his interest in his duties as
landed proprietor, 28; Inspector
of Dykes for Jerichow,
29; his intimacy with the religious
coterie at Triglaff, 29,
30; his religious convictions
and their effect on his monarchical
feeling, 31, 32; his
engagement, 32; summoned to
attend meeting of Estates General
in Berlin, 33; enters on
his Parliamentary duties, 38;
opposes action of Liberals,
38-40; his remarks on Prussia
and England, 41; on the Jews
and the Christian State, 41,
42; returns to Pomerania, 43;
his marriage, 43; his wedding
journey, meets the King of
Prussia, returns to Schoenhausen,
43, 44; his sentiments
on the Revolution, writes to
the King, hurries to Berlin,
45, 46; collects signatures for
address of loyalty, 46; at meeting
of Estates General, 46,
47; writes articles, takes part
in calling meeting, and in
founding the _Kreuz Zeitung_,
48, 49; his counsels and aid
to the King, 50, 51; takes
seat in new Assembly, 52;
opposes amnesty, 51, 52; in
new Parliament, opposes Parliamentary
control of taxes,
54, 55; opposes reference to
foreign customs, 55-59; believes
in Parliament for
Prussia, 60-62; his hatred of
Liberalism, 60; on civil marriage
and Christianity, 63, 64;
on the Prussian nobility, 64;
his geniality, 65; his Parliamentary
speeches, 66, 67; his
partial knowledge of the people,
68; sustains the King's
refusal of the German crown,
73, 74; advocates independence
of Prussia, 74-78; in
Parliament of Erfurt, 79, 80;
advises peace with Austria, 81;
defends the Ministry, 82-84;
Ambassador at Frankfort, 84,
85; his characteristics, 86; at
Frankfort, 86; letters to his
wife, 88-91; his opinions of
the diplomatists, 89-91;
entrusted with management
of the Press, 92; his idea
of newspapers, 94; smoking in
the military commission, 95,
96; his defence of Prussian interests,
96, 97; home and social
life in Frankfort, 98; his distaste
for Parliamentary life,
99; duel with Vincke, 99, 100;
member of House of Lords,
100; his power of work, his
despatches, 100, 101; on
special mission to Vienna, 101;
his policy of seeking allies for
Prussia against Austria, 102,
103; his policy as to Russia
and the Western Powers, 104-110;
his policy toward France,
113-120; sent to Paris, meets
Napoleon, 118; his ideal of
foreign policy, 121-125; loss
of popularity at Court, 125,
126; his attitude toward the
new Ministry, 128; recalled
from Frankfort, 129; appointed
Minister to St. Petersburg,
132; his advice as to
Austria, 133, 134; his journeys,
his prolonged illness, and
its effect, 135; supports the
Government, 136; his sentiments
as to France, 137, 138;
returns to Russia, 138; interview
with Prince Regent, 139;
his friendship with Roon, 143;
sent for by Roon, his reply,
145-147; arrives in Berlin, interview
with the King, 147;
his memorandum and letter
on German affairs, 148, 149;
returns to St. Petersburg, 150;
goes to Berlin, 153; offered
post of Minister-President,
appointed Minister to Paris,
154; in Paris, 155; visits London,
meets Disraeli, 156, 157;
his advice to Roon, 158; leave
of absence, 159; summoned to
Berlin, 160; appointed Minister-President,
161; conversation
with the King, 163; his
House speeches on the Budget,
their effect, 163-167; on the
House address to the King,
169; his course on the Polish
question, 171-177; difficulties
of his position, 177-179; conflict
with Chairman of House,
180; disliked by the Crown
Prince, 184, 185; not responsible
for conflict, 190; his
foreign policy, 192; with the
King at Gastein, 193; dissuades
the King from attending
Congress at Frankfort, 193-195;
his course as to Schleswig-Holstein,
195, 199-201, 203,
206-224, 226-238; his satisfaction
with Peace of Vienna,
226; concludes treaty of Gastein,
238; created Count, 239;
visits France, 241; interview
with Napoleon, 241-243; returns
to Berlin, 243; concludes
commercial treaty with Italy,
245; adopts hostile attitude
toward Austria, 246; prepares
for war, 247, 248; fails in
health, 249; concludes treaty
with Italy, 250; influences the
King toward war, 251; desires
war in order to reform German
Confederation, 252-256; attempt
on his life, 257; takes
no part in management of
army, 259; leaves Berlin to
join army, 259; at battle of
Koeniggraetz, 260, 261; his life
during the campaign, 261, 262;
advises acceptance of French
offer of mediation, 262, 263;
considers terms of peace, 264;
desires control of North Germany,
266; his policy and motives,
267-273; his interview
with Benedetti, 270-272; his
terms of peace, 273-275; his
management of peace preliminaries,
his persuasion of
the King, 275, 276; his treatment
of demands of France,
his interviews with Benedetti,
277-286; his course toward
Russia, 283, 284; has laid
foundation for German union,
284-286; begins to think and
act as a German, 286; secures
Parliamentary majority, 287;
his moderation, 288; voted
donation of money, 289, 290;
his role of creative statesman,
291; dictates outlines of new
Federal Constitution, 292; his
plan of Constitution, 293-307;
supports Constitution before
Assembly, 308-212; defends
withholding of money from
King of Hanover, 313, 314;
summons Parliament to consider
tariff, 316; refuses to
admit Grand Duke of Baden
into Federation, 317; refuses
to support Napoleon's acquirement
of Luxemburg, 318; preserves
the peace, visits Paris,
319; interview with Benedetti
as to the Spanish Succession,
322; his efforts to secure acceptance
of Spanish throne by
Prince Leopold of Hohenzolhen,
322-327; his motives,
328, 329; retires to Varzin,
330; goes to Berlin, 333; his
policy, 334; orders Werther
from Paris, sees Lord Loftus,
336; receives telegram from
the King announcing the Benedetti
incident, 338; prepares
statement and causes its publication,
339; his purpose, 340;
meets the King at Brandenburg,
342; announces to Parliament
France's declaration of
war, 343; pardons the Hanoverian
Legion, 345; leaves for
seat of war, 346; his health
during the campaign, 346; at
Gravelotte, 347; at Sedan,
348; refuses to modify terms
of surrender, 349; defers renewal

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