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William of Germany by Stanley Shaw

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Trinity College Dublin



The Frontispiece is from a photograph by E. Bieber, of Berlin


I. INTRODUCTORY....................................... 1

II. YOUTH (1859-1881).................................. 10

III. PRE-ACCESSION DAYS (1881-1887)..................... 42

IV. "VON GOTTES GNADEN"................................ 56

V. THE ACCESSION (1888-1890).......................... 69

VI. THE COURT OF THE EMPEROR........................... 105

VII. "DROPPING THE PILOT"............................... 125

VIII. SPACIOUS TIMES (1891-1899)......................... 144

IX. THE NEW CENTURY (1900-1901)........................ 189

X. THE EMPEROR AND THE ARTS........................... 205

XI. THE NEW CENTURY--_continued_ (1902-1904)........... 237

XII. MOROCCO (1905)..................................... 255

XIII. BEFORE THE "NOVEMBER STORM" (1906-1907)............ 275

XIV. THE NOVEMBER STORM (1908).......................... 289

XV. AFTER THE STORM (1909-1913)........................ 321

XVI. THE EMPEROR TO-DAY................................. 342

INDEX ................................................... 391


William the Second, German Emperor and King of Prussia, Burgrave of
Nuernberg, Margrave of Brandenburg, Landgrave of Hessen and Thuringia,
Prince of Orange, Knight of the Garter and Field-Marshal of Great
Britain, etc., was born in Berlin on January 27, 1859, and ascended
the throne on June 15, 1888. He is, therefore, fifty-four years old
in the present year of his Jubilee, 1913, and his reign--happily yet
unfinished--has extended over a quarter of a century.

The Englishman who would understand the Emperor and his time must
imagine a country with a monarchy, a government, and a people--in
short, a political system--almost entirely different from his own. In
Germany, paradoxical though it may sound to English ears, there
is neither a government nor a people. The word "government" occurs
only once in the Imperial Constitution, the Magna Charta of modern
Germans, which in 1870 settled the relations between the Emperor and
what the Englishman calls the "people," and then only in an
unimportant context joined to the word "federal."

In Germany, instead of "the people" the Englishman speaks of when he
talks politics, and the democratic orator, Mr. Bryan, in America is
fond of calling the "peopul," there is a "folk," who neither claim
to be, nor apparently wish to be, a "people" in the English sense.
The German folk have their traditions as the English people have
traditions, and their place in the political system as the English
people have; but both traditions and place are wholly different from
those of the English people; indeed, it may be said are just the
reverse of them.

The German Emperor believes, and assumes his people to believe, that
the Hollenzollern monarch is specially chosen by Heaven to guide and
govern a folk entrusted to him as the talent was entrusted to the
steward in Scripture. Until 1848, a little over sixty years ago, the
Emperor (at that time only King of Prussia) was an absolute, or almost
absolute, monarch, supported by soldiers and police, and his wishes
were practically law to the folk. In that year, however, owing to the
influence of the French Revolution, the King by the gift of a
Constitution, abandoned part of his powers, but not any governing
powers, to the folk in the form of a parliament, with permission to
make laws for itself, though not for him. To pass them, that is; for
they were not to carry the laws into execution--that was a matter the
King kept, as the Emperor does still, in his own hands.

The business of making laws being, as experience shows, provocative of
discussion, discussion of argument, and argument of controversy, there
now arose a dozen or more parties in the Parliament, each with its own
set of controversial opinions, and these the parties applied to the
novel and interesting occupation of law-making.

However, it did not matter much to the King, so long as the folk did
not ask for further, or worse still, as occurred in England, for all
his powers; and accordingly the parties continued their discussions,
as they do to-day, sometimes accepting and sometimes rejecting their
own or the King's suggestions about law-making. Generally speaking,
the relation is not unlike that established by the dame who said to
her husband, "When we are of the same opinion, you are right, but when
we are of different opinions, I am right." If the Parliament does not
agree with the Emperor, the Emperor dissolves it.

These parties, from the situation of their seats in a parliament of
397 deputies, became known as the parties of the Right, or
Conservative parties, and the parties of the Left, or Liberal parties.
Between them sat the members of the Centre, who, as representing the
Catholic populations of Germany--roughly, twenty-two millions out of
sixty-six--became a powerful and unchanging phalanx of a hundred
deputies, which had interests and tactics of its own independently of
Right or Left.

By and by, one of the parties of the Left, representing the classes
who work with their hands as distinguished from the classes who work
with their heads, thought they would like to live under a political
system of their own making and began to show a strong desire to take
all power from the King and from the Parliament too. They agitated and
organized, and organized and agitated, until at length, having settled
on what was found to be an attractive theory, they made a wholly
separate party, almost a people and parliament of their own. This is
known as the Social Democracy, with, at present, no deputies.

Such, in a comparatively few sentences, is the political state of
things in Germany. It might indeed be expressed in still fewer words,
as follows: Heaven gave the royal house of Hohenzollern, as a present,
a folk. The Hohenzollerns gave the folk, as a present, a parliament, a
power to make laws without the power of executing them. The Social
Democrats broke off from the folk and took an anti-Hohenzollern and
anti-popular attitude, and the folk in their Parliament divided into
parties to pass the time, and--of course--make laws.

This may seem to be treating an important subject with levity. It is
intended merely as a statement of the facts. The system in Germany
works well, to an Englishman indeed surprisingly so. In England there
is no Heaven-appointed king; all the powers of the King, both that of
making laws and of administering them, have long ago been taken by the
people from the King and entrusted by them to a parliament, the
majority of whom, called the Government, represent the majority of the
electing voters. In the case of Germany the folk have surrendered some
of what an Englishman would term their "liberties," for example, the
right to govern, to the King, to be used for the common good; whereas
in the case of England, the people do not think it needful to
surrender any of their liberties, least of all the government of their
country, in order to attain the same end.

Thus, while the German Emperor and the German folk have the same aims
as the English King and the English people, the common weal and the
fair fame of their respective countries, the two monarchs and the two
peoples have agreed on almost contrary ways of trying to secure them.

The political system of Germany has had to be sketched introductorily
as for the Englishman, a necessary preliminary to an understanding of
the German Emperor's character and policy. One of the most important
results of the character and policy is the state of Anglo-German
relations; and the writer is convinced that if the character and
policy were better and more generally known there would be no
estrangement between the two countries, but, much more probably,
mutual respect and mutual good-will.

With the growth of this knowledge, the writer is tempted to believe,
would cease a delusion that appears to exist in the minds, or rather
the imaginations, of two great peoples, the delusion that the highest
national interests of both are fundamentally irreconcilable, and that
the policies of their Governments are fundamentally opposed.

It seems indeed as though neither in England nor in Germany has the
least attention been paid to the astonishing growth of commerce
between the countries or to the repeated declarations made through a
long series of years by the respective Governments on their countries'
behalf. The growth in commerce needs no statistics to prove it, for it
is a matter of everyday observation and comment. The English
Government declares it a vital necessity for an insular Power like
Great Britain, with colonies and duties appertaining to their
possession in all, and the most distant, parts of the world, to have a
navy twice as powerful as that of any other possibly hostile Power.
The ordinary German immediately cries out that England is planning to
attack him, to annihilate his fleet, destroy his commerce, and
diminish his prestige among the nations. The German Government
repeatedly declares that the German fleet is intended for defence not
aggression, that Germany does not aim at the seizure of other people's
property, but at protecting her growing commerce, at standing by her
subjects in all parts of the world if subjected to injury or insult,
and at increasing her prestige, and with it her power for good, in the
family of nations. The ordinary Englishman immediately cries out that
Germany is seeking to dispute his maritime supremacy, to rob him of
his colonies, and to appropriate his trade. Is it not conceivable that
both Governments are telling the truth, and that their designs are no
more and no less than the Governments represent them to be? The
necessity for Great Britain possessing an all-powerful fleet that will
keep her in touch with her colonies if she is not to lose them
altogether, is self-evident, and understood by even the most
Chauvinistic German. The necessity for Germany's possessing a fleet
strong enough to make her rights respected is as self-evident.
Moreover, if Germany's fleet is a luxury, as Mr. Winston Churchill
says it is, she deserves and can afford it. As a nation she has
prospered and grown great, not by a policy of war and conquest, but by
hard work, thrift, self-denial, fidelity to international engagements,
well-planned instruction, and first-rate organization. Why should she
not, if she thinks it advisable and is willing to spend the money on
it, supply herself with an arm of defence in proportion to her size,
her prosperity, and her desert? It may be that, as Mr. Norman Angell
holds, the entire policy of great armaments is based on economic
error; but unless and until it is clear that the German navy is
intended for aggression, its growth may be viewed by the rest of the
world with equanimity, and by the Englishman, as a connoisseur in such
matters, with admiration as well. A man may buy a motor-car which his
friends and neighbours think must be costly and pretentious beyond his
means; but that is his business; and if the man finds that, owing to
good management and industry and skill, his business is growing and
that a motor-car is, though in some not absolutely clear and definite
way, of advantage to him in business and satisfying to his legitimate
pride--why on earth should he not buy or build it?

The truth is that if our ordinary Englishman and German were to sit
down together, and with the help of books, maps, and newspapers,
carefully and without prejudice, consider the annals of their
respective countries for the last sixteen years with a view to
establishing the causes of their delusion, they could hardly fail to
confess that it was due to neither believing a word the other said; to
each crediting the other with motives which, as individuals and men of
honesty and integrity in the private relations of life, each would
indignantly repudiate; to each assuming the other to be in the
condition of barbarism mankind began to emerge from nineteen hundred
years ago; to both supposing that Christianity has had so little
influence on the world that peoples are still compelled to live and go
about their daily work armed to the teeth lest they may be bludgeoned
and robbed by their neighbours; that the hundreds of treaties solemnly
signed by contracting nations are mere pieces of waste paper only
testifying to the profundity and extent of human hypocrisy; that
churches and cathedrals have been built, universities, colleges, and
schools founded, only to fill the empty air with noise; that the
printing presses of all countries have been occupied turning out
myriads of books and papers which have had no effect on the reason or
conscience of mankind; that nations learn nothing from experience; and
to each supposing that he and his fellow-countrymen alone are the
monopolists of wisdom, honour, truth, justice, charity--in short, of
all the attributes and blessings of civilization. Is it not time to
discard such error, or must the nations always suspect each other? To
finish with our introduction, and notwithstanding that _qui s'excuse
s'accuse_, the biographer may be permitted to say a few words on his
own behalf. Inasmuch as the subject of his biography is still, as has
been said, happily alive, and is, moreover, in the prime of his
maturity, his life cannot be reviewed as a whole nor the ultimate
consequences of his character and policy be foretold. The biographer
of the living cannot write with the detachment permissible to the
historian of the dead. No private correspondence of the Emperor's is
available to throw light on his more intimate personal disposition and
relationships. There have been many rumours of war since his
accession, but no European war of great importance; and if a few minor
campaigns in tropical countries be excepted, Germany for over forty
years, thanks largely to the Emperor, has enjoyed the advantages of

From the pictorial and sensational point of view continuous peace is a
drawback for the biographer no less than for the historian. What would
history be without war?--almost inconceivable; since wars, not peace,
are the principal materials with which it deals and supply it with
most of its vitality and interest--must it also be admitted, its
charm? For what are Hannibal or Napoleon or Frederick the Great
remembered?--for their wars, and little else. Shakespeare has it

"Men's evil manners live in brass; their virtues
We write in water."

Who, asks Heine, can name the artist who designed the cathedral of
Cologne? In this regard the biographer of an emperor is almost as
dependent as the historian.

The biography of an emperor, again, must be to a large extent, the
history of his reign, and in no case is this more true than in that of
Emperor William. But he has been closely identified with every event
of general importance to the world since he mounted the throne, and
the world's attention has been fastened without intermission on his
words and conduct. The rise of the modern German Empire is the salient
fact of the world's history for the last half-century, and accordingly
only from this broader point of view will the Emperor's future
biographer, or the historian of the future, be able to do him or his
Empire justice.

Lastly, another difficulty, if one may call it so, experienced equally
by the biographer and the historian, is the fact that the life of the
Emperor has been blameless from the moral standpoint. On two or three
occasions early in the reign accounts were published of scandals at
the Court. They may not have been wholly baseless, but none of them
directly involved the Emperor, or even raised a doubt as to his
respectability or reputation. Take from history--or from biography for
that matter--the vices of those it treats of, and one-third, perhaps
one-half, of its "human interest" disappears.

In the circumstances, therefore, all the writer need add is that he
has done the best he could. He has ignored, certainly, at two or three
stages of his narration, the demands of strict chronological
succession; but if so, it has been to describe some of the more
important events of the reign in their totality. He has also felt it
necessary, as writing for English readers of a country not their own,
to combine a portion of history with his biography. If, at the same
time, he has ventured to infuse into both biography and history a
slight admixture of philosophy, he can only hope that the fusion will
not prove altogether disagreeable.




As the education of a prince, and the surroundings in which he is
brought up, are usually different from the education and surroundings
of his subjects, it is not surprising if, at least during some portion
of his reign, and until he has graduated in the university of life,
misunderstandings, if nothing worse, should occur between them: indeed
the wonder is that princes and people succeed in living harmoniously
together. They are separated by great gulfs both of sentiment and
circumstance. Bismarck is quoted by one of his successors, Prince
Hohenlohe, as remarking that every King of Prussia, with whatever
popularity he began his reign, was invariably hated at the close of

The prince that would rule well has to study the science of
government, itself a difficult and incompletely explored subject, and
the art of administration; he has to know history, and above all the
history of his own country; not that history is a safe or certain
guide, but that it informs him of traditions he will be expected to
continue in his own country and respect in that of others; he must
understand the political system under which his people choose to live,
and the play of political, religious, economic, and social forces
which are ever at work in a community; he must learn to speak and
understand (not always quite the same thing) other languages besides
his own; and concurrently with these studies he must endeavour to
develop in himself the personal qualities demanded by his high
office--health and activity of body, quick comprehension and decision,
a tenacious memory for names and faces, capacity for public speaking,
patience, and that command over the passions and prejudices, natural
or acquired, which is necessary for his moral influence as a ruler. On
what percentage of his subjects is such a curriculum imposed, and what
allowances should not be made if a full measure of success is not

But even when the prince has done all this, there is still a study,
the most comprehensive and most important of all, in which he should
be learned--the study of humanity, and in especial that part of it
with the care of whose interests and happiness he is to be charged. A
few people seem to have this knowledge instinctively, others acquire
something of it in the school of sad experience. It is not the fault
of the Emperor, if, in his youth, his knowledge of humanity was not
profound. There was always a strong vein of idealism and romance among
Hohenzollerns, the vein of a Lohengrin, a Tancred, or some mediaeval
knight. The Emperor, of course, never lived among the common people;
never had to work for a living in competition with a thousand others
more fortunate than he, or better endowed by nature with the qualities
and gifts that make for worldly success; never, so far as is known to
a watchful and exceptionally curious public, endured domestic sorrow
of a deep or lasting kind; never suffered materially or in his proper
person from ingratitude, carelessness, or neglect; never knew the
"penalty of Adam, the seasons' difference"; never, in short, felt
those pains one or more of which almost all the rest of mankind have
at one time or other to bear as best they may.

The Emperor has always been happy in his family, happy in seeing his
country prosperous, happy in the admiration and respect of the people
of all nations; and if he has passed through some dark hours, he must
feel happy in having nobly borne them. Want of knowledge of the trials
of ordinary humanity is, of course, no matter of reproach to him; on
the contrary, it is matter of congratulation; and, as several of his
frankest deliverances show, he has, both as man and monarch, felt many
a pang, many a regret, many a disappointment, the intensity of which
cannot be gauged by those who have not felt the weight of his

A discharge of 101 guns in the gardens of Crown Prince Frederick's
palace in Berlin on the morning of January 27, 1859, announced the
birth of the future Emperor. There were no portents in that hour.
Nature proceeded calmly with her ordinary tasks. Heaven gave no
special sign that a new member of the Hohenzollern family had appeared
on the planet Earth. Nothing, in short, occurred to strengthen the
faith of those who believe in the doctrine of kingship by divine

It was a time of political and social turmoil in many countries, the
groundswell, doubtless, of the revolutionary wave of 1848. The Crimean
War, the Indian Mutiny, and the war with China had kept England in a
continual state of martial fever, and the agitation for electoral
reform was beginning. Lord Palmerston was Prime Minister, with Lord
Odo Russell as Minister for Foreign Affairs and Mr. Gladstone as
Minister of Finance. Napoleon III was at war with Austria as the ally
of Italy, where King Emmanuel II and Cavour were laying the
foundations of their country's unity. Russia, after defeating Schamyl,
the hero of the Caucasus, was pursuing her policy of penetration in
Central Asia.

In Prussia the unrest was chiefly domestic. The country, while
nominally a Great Power, was neutral during the Crimean War, and
played for the moment but a small part in foreign politics. Bismarck,
in his "Gedanke und Erinnerungen," compares her submission to Austria
to the patience of the French noble-man he heard of when minister in
Paris, whose conduct in condoning twenty-four acts of flagrant
infidelity on the part of his wife was regarded by the French as an
act of great forbearance and magnanimity. Prince William, the
Emperor's grandfather, afterwards William I, first German Emperor, was
on the throne, acting as Prince Regent for his brother, Frederick
William IV, incapacitated from ruling by an affection of the brain.
The head of the Prussian Ministry, Manteuffel, had been dismissed, and
a "new era," with ministers of more liberal tendencies, among them von
Bethmann Hollweg, an ancestor of the present Chancellor, had begun.
General von Roon was Minister of War and Marine, offices at that time
united in one department. The Italian War had roused Germany anew to a
desire for union, and a great "national society" was founded at
Frankfurt, with the Liberal leader, Rudolf von Bennigsen, at its head.
Public attention was occupied with the subject of reorganizing the
army and increasing it from 150,000 to 210,000 men. Parliament was on
the eve of a bitter constitutional quarrel with Bismarck, who became
Prussian Prime Minister (Minister President) in 1862, about the grant
of the necessary army funds. Most of the great intellects of
Germany--Kant, Goethe, Schiller, Hegel, Fichte, Schleiermacher--had
long passed away. Heinrich Heine died in Paris in 1856. Frederick
Nietzsche was a youth, Richard Wagner's "Tannhaeuser" had just been
greeted, in the presence of the composer, with a storm of hisses in
the Opera house at Paris. The social condition of Germany may be
partially realized if one remembers that the death-rate was over 28
per _mille_, as compared with 17 per _mille_ to-day; that only a start
had been made with railway construction; that the country, with its
not very generous soil, depended wholly upon agriculture; that
savings-bank deposits were not one-twelfth of what they are now; that
there were 60 training schools where there are 221 to-day, and 338
evening classes as against 4,588 in 1910; that many of the principal
towns were still lighted by oil; that there was practically no navy;
and that the bulk of the aristocracy lived on about the same scale as
the contemporary English yeoman farmer. Berlin contained a little less
than half a million inhabitants, compared with its three and a half
millions of to-day, and the state of its sanitation may be imagined
from the fact that open drains ran down the streets.

The Emperor's father, Frederick III, second German Emperor, was
affectionately known to his people as "unser Fritz," because of his
liberal sympathies and of his high and kindly character. To most
Englishmen he is perhaps better known as the husband of the Princess,
afterwards Empress, Adelaide Victoria, eldest daughter of Queen
Victoria, and mother of the Emperor. Frederick III had no great share
in the political events which were the birth-pangs of modern Germany,
unless his not particularly distinguished leadership in the war of
1866 and that with France be so considered. The greater part of his
life was passed as Crown Prince, and a Crown Prince in Germany leads a
life more or less removed from political responsibilities. He
succeeded his father, William I, on the latter's death, March 9, 1888,
reigned for ninety-nine days, and died, on June 15th following, from
cancer of the throat, after an illness borne with exemplary fortitude.

To what extent the character of his parents affected the character of
the Emperor it is impossible to determine. The Emperor seldom refers
to his parents in his speeches, and reserves most of his panegyric for
his grandfather and his grandfather's mother, Queen Louise; but the
comparative neglect is probably due to no want of filial admiration
and respect, while the frequent references to his grandfather in
particular are explained by the great share the latter took in the
formation of the Empire and by his unbounded popularity. The Crown
Prince was an affectionate but not an easy-going father, with a
passion for the arts and sciences; his mother also was a
disciplinarian, and, equally with her husband, passionately fond of
art; and it is therefore not improbable that these traits descended to
the Emperor. As to whether the alleged "liberality" of the Crown
Prince descended to him depends on the sense given to the word
"liberal." If it is taken to mean an ardent desire for the good and
happiness of the people, it did; if it is taken to mean any
inclination to give the people authority to govern themselves and
direct their own destinies, it did not.

The mother of the Emperor, the Empress Frederick, had much of Queen
Victoria's good sense and still more of her strong will. A thoroughly
English princess, she had, in German eyes, one serious defect: she
failed to see, or at least to acknowledge, the superiority of most
things German to most things English. She had an English nurse, Emma
Hobbs, to assist at the birth of the future Emperor. She made English
the language of the family life, and never lost her English tastes and
sympathies; consequently she was called, always with an accent of
reproach, "the Englaenderin," and in German writings is represented as
having wished to anglicize not only her husband, her children, and her
Court, but also her adopted country and its people. A chaplain of the
English Church in Berlin, the Rev. J.H. Fry, who met her many times,
describes her as follows:--

"She was not the wife for a German Emperor, she so English
and insisted so strongly on her English ways. The result was
that she was very unpopular in Germany, and the Germans said
many wicked things of her. She hated Berlin, and if her son,
the present Emperor, had not required that she should come
to the capital every winter, she would have lived altogether
at Cronberg in the villa an Italian friend bequeathed to

"She was extremely musical, had extensively cultivated her
talents in this respect, and was an accomplished linguist.
Like her mother, Queen Victoria, she was unusually
strong-minded, and was always believed to rule over her
amiable and gentle husband. Her interest in the English
community was great, another reason for the dislike with
which the Germans regarded her. To her the community owes
the pretty little English church in the Mon Bijou Platz
(Berlin), which she used to attend regularly, and where a
funeral service, at which the Emperor was present, was held
in memory of her.

"German feeling was further embittered against her by the
Morell Mackenzie incident, and to this day controversy rages
round the famous English surgeon's name. The controversy is
as to whether or not Morell Mackenzie honestly believed what
he said when he diagnosed the Emperor's illness as
non-cancerous in opposition to the opinion of distinguished
German doctors like Professor Bergmann. Under German law no
one can mount the throne of Prussia who is afflicted with a
mortal sickness. For long it had been suspected that the
Emperor's throat was fatally affected, and, therefore, when
King William was dying, it became of dynastic and national
importance to establish the fact one way or other. Queen
Victoria was ardently desirous of seeing her daughter an
Empress, and sent Sir Morrell Mackenzie to Germany to
examine the royal patient. On the verdict being given that
the disease was not cancer, the Crown Prince mounted the
throne, and Queen Victoria's ambition for her daughter was

"The Empress also put the aristocracy against her by
introducing several relaxations into Court etiquette which
had up to her time been stiff and formal. Her relations with
Bismarck, as is well known, were for many years strained,
and on one occasion she made the remark that the tears he
had caused her to shed 'would fill tumblers.' On the whole
she was an excellent wife and mother. She was no doubt in
some degree responsible for the admiration of England as a
country and of the English as a people which is a marked
feature of the Emperor's character."

This account is fairly correct in its estimation of the Empress
Frederick's character and abilities, but it repeats a popular error in
saying that German law lays down that no one can mount the Prussian
throne if he is afflicted with a mortal sickness. There is no "German
law" on the subject, and the law intended to be referred to is the
so-called "house-law," which, as in the case of other German noble
families, regulates the domestic concerns of the House of
Hohenzollern. Bismarck disposes of the assertion that a Hohenzollern
prince mortally stricken is not capable of succession as a "fable,"
and adds that the Constitution, too, contains no stipulation of the
sort. The influence of his mother on the Emperor's character did not
extend beyond his childhood, while probably the only natural
dispositions he inherited from her were his strength of will and his
appreciation of classical art and music. Many of her political ideas
were diametrically opposed to those of her son. Her love of art made
her pro-French, and her visit to Paris, it will be remembered, not
being made _incognito_, led to international unpleasantness,
originating in the foolish Chauvinism of some leading French painters
whose ateliers she desired to inspect. She believed in a homogeneous
German Empire without any federation of kingdoms and states, advocated
a Constitution for Russia, and was satisfied that the common sense of
a people outweighed its ignorance and stupidity.

The Emperor has four sisters and a brother. The sisters are Charlotte,
born in 1860, and married to the Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Meiningen;
Victoria, born in 1866, and married to Prince Adolphus of
Schaumberg-Lippe; Sophie, born in 1870, and married to King
Constantine, of Greece; and Margarete, born in 1872, and married to
Prince Friederich Karl of Hessen.

The Emperor's only brother, Prince Henry of Prussia, was born in 1862,
and is married to Princess Irene of Hessen. He is probably the most
popular Hohenzollern to-day. He adopted the navy as a profession and
devotes himself to its duties, taking no part in politics. Like the
Emperor himself and the Emperor's heir, the Crown Prince, he is a
great promoter of sport, and while a fair golfer (with a handicap of
14) and tennis player, gives much of his leisure to the encouragement
of the automobile and other industries. Every Hohenzollern is supposed
to learn a handicraft. The Emperor did not, owing to his shortened
left arm. Prince Henry learned book-binding under a leading Berlin
bookbinder, Herr Collin. The Crown Prince is a turner. Prince Henry
seems perfectly satisfied with his position in the Empire as
Inspector-General of the Fleet, stands to attention when talking to
the Emperor in public, and on formal occasions addresses him as
"Majesty" like every one else. Only in private conversation does he
allow himself the use of the familiar _Du_. The Emperor has a strong
affection for him, and always calls him "Heinrich."

Many stories are current in Germany relating to the early part of the
Emperor's boyhood. Some are true, others partially so, while others
again are wholly apochryphal. All, however, are more or less
characteristic of the boy and his surroundings, and for this reason a
selection of them may be given. Apropos of his birth, the following
story is told. An artillery officer went to receive orders for the
salute to be discharged when the birth occurred. They were given him
by the then Prince Regent, afterwards Emperor William I. The officer
showed signs of perplexity. "Well, is there anything else?" inquired
the Regent. "Yes, Royal Highness; I have instructions for the birth of
a prince and for that of a princess (which would be 30 guns); but what
if it should be twins?" The Regent laughed. "In that case," he said,
"follow the Prussian rule--_suum cuique_."

When the child was born the news ran like wildfire through Berlin, and
all the high civil and military officials drove off in any vehicle
they could find to offer their congratulations. The Regent, who was at
the Foreign Office, jumped into a common cab. Immediately after him
appeared tough old Field-Marshal Wrangel, the hero of the Danish wars.
He wrote his name in the callers' book, and on issuing from the palace
shouted to the assembled crowd, "Children, it's all right: a fine
stout recruit." On the evening of the birth a telegram came from Queen
Victoria, "Is it a fine boy?" and the answer went back, "Yes, a very
fine boy."

Another story describes how the child was brought to submit cheerfully
to the ordeal of the tub. He was "water-shy," like the vast majority
of Germans at that time, and the nurses had to complain to his father,
Crown Prince Frederick, of his resistance. The Crown Prince thereupon
directed the sentry at the palace gate not to salute the boy when he
was taken out for his customary airing. The boy remarked the neglect
and complained to his father, who explained that "sentries were not
allowed to present arms to an unwashed prince." The stratagem
succeeded, and thereafter the lad submitted to the bathing with a good

Like all boys, the lad was fond of the water, though now in another
sense. At the age of two, nursery chroniclers relate, he had a toy
boat, the _Fortuna_, in which he sat and see-sawed--and learned not to
be sea-sick! At three he was put into sailor's costume, with the
bell-shaped trousers so dear to the hearts of English mothers fifty
years ago.

At the age of four he had a memorable experience, though it is hardly
likely that now, after the lapse of half a century, he remembers much
about it. This was his first visit to England in 1863, when he was
taken by his parents to be present at the marriage of his uncle, King
Edward VII, then Prince of Wales. The boy, in pretty Highland costume,
was an object of general attention, and occupies a prominent place in
the well-known picture of the wedding scene by the artist Frith. The
ensuing fifteen years saw him often on English soil with his father
and mother, staying usually at Osborne Castle, in the Isle of Wight.
Here, it may be assumed, he first came in close contact with the
ocean, watched the English warships passing up and down, and imbibed
some of that delight in the sea which is not the least part of the
heritage of Englishmen. The visits had a decided effect on him, for at
ten we find him with a row-boat on the Havel and learning to swim, and
on one occasion rowing a distance of twenty-five miles between 6 a.m.
and 3 p.m. About this time he used to take part with his parents in
excursions on the _Royal Louise_, a miniature frigate presented by
George IV to Frederick William III.

Still another story concerns the boy and his father. The former came
one day in much excitement to his tutor and said his father had just
blamed him unjustly. He told the tutor what had really happened and
asked him, if, under the circumstances, he was to blame. The tutor was
in perplexity, for if he said the father had acted unjustly, as in
fact he thought he had, he might lessen the son's filial respect.
However, he gave his candid opinion. "My Prince," he said, "the
greatest men of all times have occasionally made mistakes, for to err
is human. I must admit I think your father was in the wrong."
"Really!" cried the lad, who looked pained. "I thought you would tell
me I was in the wrong, and as I know how right you always are I was
ready to go to papa and beg his pardon. What shall I do now?" "Leave
it to me," the tutor said, and afterwards told the Crown Prince what
had passed. The Crown Prince sent for his son, who came and stood with
downcast eyes some paces off. The Crown Prince only uttered the two
words, "My son," but in a tone of great affection. As he folded the
Prince in his arms he reached his hand to the tutor, saying, "I thank
you. Be always as true to me and to my son as you have been in this

The last anecdote belongs also to the young Prince's private tutor
days. At one time a certain Dr. D. was teaching him. Every morning at
eleven work was dropped for a quarter of an hour to enable the pair,
teacher and pupil, to take what is called in German "second
breakfast." The Prince always had a piece of white bread and butter,
with an apple, a pear, or other fruit, while the teacher was as
regularly provided with something warm--chop, a cutlet, a slice of
fish, salmon, perch, trout, or whatever was in season, accompanied by
salad and potatoes. The smell of the meat never failed to appeal to
the olfactory nerves of the Prince, and he often looked, longingly
enough, at the luxuries served to his tutor. The latter noticed it and
felt sorry for him; but there was nothing to be done: the royal orders
were strict and could not be disobeyed. One day, however, the lesson,
one of repetition, had gone so well that in a moment of gratitude the
tutor decided to reward his pupil at all hazards. The lunch appeared,
steaming "perch-in-butter" for the tutor, and a plate of bread and
butter and some grapes for the pupil. The Prince cast a glance at the
savoury dish and was then about to attack his frugal fare when the
tutor suddenly said, "Prince, I'm very fond of grapes. Can't we for
once exchange? You eat my perch and I--" The Prince joyfully agreed,
plates were exchanged, and both were heartily enjoying the meal when
the Crown Prince walked in. Both pupil and tutor blushed a little, but
the Crown Prince said nothing and seemed pleased to hear how well the
lesson had gone that day. At noon, however, as the tutor was leaving
the palace, a servant stopped him and said, "His Royal Highness the
Crown Prince would like to speak with the Herr Doktor."

"Herr Doktor," said the Crown Prince, "tell me how it was that the
Prince to-day was eating the warm breakfast and you the cold."

The tutor tried to make as little of the affair as possible. It was a
joke, he said, he had allowed himself, he had been so well pleased
with his pupil that morning.

"Well, I will pass it over this time," said the Crown Prince,

"but I must ask you to let the Prince get accustomed to bear
the preference shown to his tutor and allow him to be
satisfied with the simple food suitable for his age. What
will he eat twenty years hence, if he now gets roast meat?
Bread and fruit make a wholesome and perfectly satisfactory
meal for a lad of his years."

During second breakfast next day, the Prince took care not to look up
from his plate of fruit, but when he had finished, murmured as though
by way of grace, "After all, a fine bunch of grapes is a splendid
lunch, and I really think I prefer it, Herr Doktor, to your
nice-smelling perch-in-butter."

The time had now come when the young Prince was to leave the paternal
castle and submit to the discipline of school. The parents, one may be
sure, held many a conference on the subject. The boy was beginning to
have a character of his own, and his parents doubtless often had in
mind Goethe's lines:--

"Denn wir koennen die Kinder nach unserem Willen nicht formen,
So wie Gott sie uns gab, so muss man sie lieben und haben,
Sie erzielen aufs best und jeglichen lassen gewaehren."

("We cannot have children according to our will:
as God gave them so must we love and keep them:
bring them up as best we can and leave each to its own

It had always been Hohenzollern practice to educate the Heir to the
Throne privately until he was of an age to go to the university, but
the royal parents now decided to make an important departure from it
by sending their boy to an ordinary public school in some carefully
chosen place. The choice fell on Cassel, a quiet and beautiful spot
not far from Wilhelmshohe, near Homburg, where there is a Hohenzollern
castle, and which was the scene of Napoleon's temporary detention
after the capitulation of Sedan. Here at the Gymnasium, or _lycee_,
founded by Frederick the Great, the boy was to go through the regular
school course, sit on the same bench with the sons of ordinary
burghers, and in all respects conform to the Gymnasium's regulations.
The decision to have the lad taught for a time in this democratic
fashion was probably due to the influence of his English mother, who
may have had in mind the advantages of an English public school. The
experiment proved in every way successful, though it was at the time
adversely criticized by some ultra-patriotic writers in the press. To
the boy himself it must have been an interesting and agreeable
novelty. Hitherto he had been brought up in the company of his
brothers and sisters in Berlin or Potsdam, with an occasional
"week-end" at the royal farm of Bornstedt near the latter, the only
occasions when he was absent from home being sundry visits to the
Grand Ducal Court at Karlsruhe, where the Grand Duchess was an aunt on
his father's side, and to the Court at Darmstadt, where the Grand
Duchess was an aunt on the side of his mother.

An important ceremony, however, had to be performed before his
departure for school--his confirmation. It took place at Potsdam on
September 1, 1874, amid a brilliant crowd of relatives and friends,
and included the following formal declaration by the young Prince:

"I will, in childlike faith, be devoted to God all the days
of my life, put my trust in Him and at all times thank Him
for His grace. I believe in Jesus Christ, the Saviour and
Redeemer. Him who first loved me I will love in return, and
will show this love by love to my parents, my dear
grandparents, my sisters and brothers and relatives, but
also to all men. I know that hard tasks await me in life,
but they will brace me up, not overcome me. I will pray to
God for strength and develop my bodily powers."

The boy and his brother Henry stayed in Cassel for three years, in the
winter occupying a villa near the Gymnasium with Dr. Hinzpeter, and in
summer living in the castle of Wilhelmshohe hard by. Besides attending
the usual school classes, they were instructed by private tutors in
dancing, fencing, and music. Both pupils are represented as having
been conscientious, and as moving among their schoolmates without
affectation or any special consciousness of their birth or rank. Many
years afterwards the Emperor, when revisiting Cassel, thus referred to
his schooldays there:

"I do not regret for an instant a time which then seemed so
hard to me, and I can truly say that work and the working
life have become to me a second nature. For this I owe
thanks to Cassel soil;"

and later in the same speech:

"I am pleased to be on the ground where, directed by expert
hands, I learned that work exists not only for its own sake,
but that man in work shall find his entire joy."

This is the right spirit; but if he had said "greatest joy" and "can
find," he would have said something more completely true.

The life at Cassel was simple, and the day strictly divided. The
future Emperor rose at six, winter and summer, and after a breakfast
of coffee and rolls refreshed his memory of the home repetition-work
learned the previous evening. He then went to the Gymnasium, and when
his lessons there were over, took a walk with his tutor before lunch.
Home tasks followed, and on certain days private instruction was
received in English, French, and drawing. His English and French
became all but faultless, and he learned to draw in rough-and-ready,
if not professionally expert fashion. Wednesdays and Saturdays, which
were half-holidays, were spent roving in the country, especially in
the forest, with two or three companions of his own age. In winter
there was skating on the ponds. The Sunday dinner was a formal affair,
at which royal relatives, who doubtless came to see how the princes
were getting on, and high officials from Berlin, were usually present.
After dinner the princes took young friends up to their private rooms
and played charades, in which on occasion they amused themselves with
the ever-delightful sport of taking off and satirizing their
instructors. At this time the future Emperor's favourite subjects were
history and literature, and he was fond of displaying his rhetorical
talent before the class. The classical authors of his choice were
Homer, Sophocles, and Horace. Homer particularly attracted him; it is
easy to imagine the conviction with which, as a Hohenzollern, he would
deliver the declaration of King Agamemnon to Achilles:--

"And hence, to all the host it shall be known
That kings are subject to the gods alone."

The young Prince left Cassel in January, 1877, after passing the exit
(_abiturient_) examination, a rather severe test, twelfth in a class
of seventeen. The result of the examination was officially described
as "satisfactory," the term used for those who were second in degree
of merit. On leaving he was awarded a gold medal for good conduct, one
of three annually presented by a patron of the Gymnasium.

A foreign resident in Germany, who saw the young Prince at this time,
tells of an incident which refers to the lad's appearance, and shows
that even at that early date anti-English feeling existed among the
people. It was at the military manoeuvres at Stettin:

"Then the old Emperor came by. Tremendous cheers. Then
Bismarck and Moltke. Great acclaim. Then passed in a
carriage a thin, weakly-looking youth, and people in the
crowd said, 'Look at that boy who is to be our future
Emperor--his good German blood has been ruined by his
English training.'"

Before closing the Emperor's record as a schoolboy it will be of
interest to learn the opinion of him formed by his French tutor at
Cassel, Monsieur Ayme, who has published a small volume on the
education of his pupil, and who, though evidently not too well
satisfied with his remuneration of L7 10s. a month, or with being
required to pay his own fare back from Germany to France, writes
favourably of the young princes. "The life of these young people
(Prince William and Prince Henry) was," he says,

"the most studious and peaceful imaginable. Up at six in the
morning, they prepared their tasks until it was time to go
to school. Lunch was at noon and tea at five. They went to
bed at nine or half-past. All their hours of leisure were
divided between lessons in French, English, music,
pistol-shooting, equitation, and walking. Now and then they
were allowed to play with boys of their own age, and on fete
days and their parents' birth-anniversaries they had the
privilege of choosing a play and seeing it performed at the
theatre. As pocket-money Prince William received 20s. a
month, and Henry 10s. Out of these modest sums they had to
buy their own notepaper and little presents for the servants
or their favourite companions."

As to Prince William's character as a schoolboy, Monsieur Ayme writes:

"I do not suppose William was ever punished while he was in
Cassel. He was too proud to draw down upon himself
criticism, to him the worst form of punishment. At the
castle, as at school, he made it a point of honour to act
and work as if he had made his plans and resolved to stick
to them. He was always among the first of his class, and as
for me I never had any need to urge him on. If I pointed out
to him an error in his task he began it over again of his
own accord. We did grammar, analysis, dictations, and
compositions, and he got over his difficulties by sheer
perseverance. For example, if he was reading a fine page of
Victor Hugo, or the like, he hated to be interrupted, so
deeply was he interested in the subject he was reading.
Style and poetry had a great effect upon him; he expressed
admiration for the form and was aroused to enthusiasm by
generous or noble ideas. Frederick the Great was the hero of
his choice, a model of which he never ceased dreaming, and
which, like his grandfather, he proposed as his own. It is
easy to conceive that after ten or twelve years of such
study, regularly and methodically pursued, the Prince must
have possessed a literary and scientific baggage more varied
and extensive than that of his companions. And he worked
hard for it, few lads so hard. To speak the truth, he was
much more disciplined and much more deprived of freedom and
recreation of all sorts than most children of his age."

_Par paranthese_ may be introduced here a reference to Prince Henry,
of whom Monsieur Ayme writes less enthusiastically.

"One day," the tutor writes, "I was dictating to him
something in which mention of a queen occurs. I came to the
words '... in addition to her natural distinction she
possessed that August majesty which is the appanage of
princesses of the blood royal....'

"Prince Henry laid down his pen and remarked, 'The author
who wrote this piece did not live much with queens.'

"'Why?' I asked.

"'Because I never observed the August majesty which attaches
to princesses of the blood royal, and yet I have been
brought up among them,' was the reply.

"William, however," continues Monsieur Ayme, "was the
thinker, prudent and circumspect; the wise head which knew
that it was not all truths which bear telling. He was not
less loyal and constant in his opinions. He admired the
French Revolution, and the declaration contained in 'The
Rights of Man,' though this did not prevent his declaiming
against the Terrorists."

One incident in particular must have appealed to the French tutor.
Monsieur Ayme and his Prussian pupil one day began discussing the
delicate question of the war of 1870. In the course of the discussion
both parties lost their tempers, until at last Prince William suddenly
got up and left the room. He remained silent and "huffed" for some
days, but at last he took the Frenchman aside and made him a formal
apology. "I am very sorry indeed," he said,

"that you took seriously my conduct of the other day. I
meant nothing by it, and I regret it hurt you. I am all the
more sorry, because I offended in your case a sentiment
which I respect above any in the world, the love of

But it is time to pass from the details of the Emperor's early youth,
and observe him during the two years he spent, with interruptions, at
the university. From Cassel he went immediately to Bonn, where, as
during the years of military duty which followed, we only catch
glimpses of him as he lived the ordinary, and by no means austere,
life of the university student and soldier of the time; that is to
say, the ordinary life with considerable modifications and exceptions.
He did not, like young Bismarck, drink huge flagons of beer at a
sitting, day after day. He was not followed everywhere by a
boar-hound. He fought no student's duels--though a secret performance
of the kind is mentioned as a probability in the chronicles--or go
about looking for trouble generally as the swashbuckling Junker,
Bismarck, did; for in the first place his royal rank would not allow
of his taking part in the bloody amusement of the _Mensur_, and his
natural disposition, if it was quick and lively, was not choleric
enough to involve him in serious quarrel. His studies were to some
extent interrupted by military calls to Berlin, for after being
appointed second lieutenant in the First Regiment of Foot Guards at
Potsdam on his tenth birthday, the Hohenzollern age for entering the
army, he was promoted to first lieutenant in the same regiment on
leaving Cassel.

For the most part the university lectures he attended were the courses
in law and philosophy, and he is not reported to have shown any
particular enthusiasm for either subject. The differences between an
English and a German university are of a fundamental kind, perhaps the
greatest being that the German university does not aim at influencing
conduct and character in the same measure as the English, but is
rather for the supply of knowledge of all sorts, as a monster
warehouse is for the supply of miscellaneous goods. Again, the German
university, which, like all American universities except Princetown,
has more resemblance to the Scottish universities than to those at
Oxford, Cambridge, or Dublin, is not residential nor divided into
colleges, but is departmentalized into "faculties," each with its own
professors and _privat docentes_, or official lecturers, mostly young
savants, who have not the rank or title of professor, but have
obtained only the _venia legendi_ from the university. The lectures,
as a rule of admirable learning and thoroughness, invariably laying
great and prosy stress on "development," are delivered in large halls
and may be subscribed for in as many faculties as the student chooses,
the cost being about thirty shillings or there-abouts per term for
each lecture "heard." Outside the university the student enjoys
complete independence, which is a privilege highly (and sometimes
violently) cherished, especially by non-studious undergraduates, under
the name "academic freedom." The German preparing for one or other of
the learned professions will probably spend a year or two at each of
three, or maybe four, universities, according to the special faculty
he adopts and for which the university has a reputation. There are
plenty of hard-working students of course; nowadays probably the great
majority are of this kind; but to a large proportion also the
university period is still a pleasant, free, and easy halting-place
between the severe discipline and work of the school and the stern
struggle of the working world.

The social life of the English university is paralleled in Germany by
associations of students in student "Corps," with theatrical uniforms
for their _Chargierte_ or officers, special caps, sometimes of
extraordinary shape, swords, leather gauntlets, Wellington boots, and
other distinguishing gaudy insignia. The Corps are more or less
select, the most exclusive of all being the Corps Borussia, which at
every university only admits members of an upper class of society,
though on rare occasions receiving in its ranks an exceptionally
aristocratic, popular, or wealthy foreigner. To this Corps, the name
of which is the old form of "Prussia," the Emperor belonged when at
Bonn, and in one or two of his speeches he has since spoken of the
agreeable memories he retains in connexion with it and the practices
observed by it.

Common to all university associations in Germany--whether Corps,
Landsmannschaft, Burschenschaft, or Turnerschaft--is the practice of
the _Mensur_, or student duel. It is not a duel in the sense usually
given to the word in England, for it lacks the feature of personal
hostility, hate, or injury, but is a particularly sanguinary form of
the English "single-stick," in which swords take the place of sticks.
These swords (_Schlaeger_), called, curiously enough, _rapiere_, are
long and thin in the blade, and their weight is such that at every
duel students are told off on whose shoulders the combatants can rest
their outstretched sword-arm in the pauses of the combat caused by the
duellists getting out of breath; consequently, an undersized student
is usually chosen for this considerate office. The heads and faces of
the duellists are swathed in bandages--no small incentive to
perspiration, the vital parts of their bodies are well protected
against a fatal prick or blow, and the pricks or slashes must be
delivered with the hand and wrist raised head-high above the shoulder.
It is considered disgraceful to move the head, to shrink in the
smallest degree before the adversary, or even to show feeling when the
medical student who acts as surgeon in an adjoining room staunches the
flow of blood or sews up the scars caused by the swords. The duel of a
more serious kind--that with pistols or the French rapier, or with the
bare-pointed sabre and unprotected bodies--is punishable by law, and
is growing rarer each year.

Take a sabre duel--"heavy sabre duel" is the German name for
it--arising out of a quarrel in a cafe or beer-house, and in which one
of the opponents may be a foreigner affiliated to some Corps or
Burschenschaft. Cards are exchanged, and the challenger chooses a
second whom he sends to the opponent. The latter, if he accepts the
challenge, also appoints a second; the seconds then meet and arrange
for the holding of a court of honour. The court will probably consist
of old Corps students--lawyer, a doctor, and two or three other
members of the Corps or Burschenschaft. The court summons the
opponents before it and hears their account of the quarrel; the
seconds produce evidence, for example the bills at the cafe or
beer-hall, showing how much liquor has been consumed; also as to age,
marriage or otherwise, and so on. Then the court decides whether there
shall be a duel, or not, and if so, in what form it shall be fought.

The duel may be fixed to take place at any time within six months, and
meanwhile the opponents industriously practise. The scene of the duel
is usually the back room of some beer-hall, with locked doors between
the duellists and the police. The latter know very well what is going
on, but shut their eyes to it. The opponents take their places at
about a yard and a half distance from advanced foot to advanced foot,
and a chalk line is drawn between them. Close behind each opponent is
his second with outstretched sword, ready to knock up the duellists'
weapons in case of too dangerous an impetuosity in the onset. The
umpire _(Unparteiischer)_, unarmed, stands a little distance from the
duellists. The latter are naked _to_ the waist, but wear a leather
apron like that of a drayman, covering the lower half of the chest,
and another piece of leather, like a stock, protecting their necks and
jugular veins. The duel may last a couple of hours, and any number of
rounds up to as many as two hundred may be fought. The rounds consist
of three or four blows, and last about twenty seconds each, when the
seconds, who have been watching behind their men in the attitude of a
wicket-keeper, with their sword-points on the ground, jump in and
knock up the duellists' weapons. When one duellist is disabled by skin
wounds--there are rarely any others--or by want of breath, palpitation
or the like, the duel is over, and the duellists shake hands. This
description, with some slight modifications, applies to the ordinary
Corps _Mensuren_, which are simply a bloody species of gymnastic

On one occasion early in the reign the Emperor spoke of the Corps
system with great enthusiasm, and especially endorsed the practice of
the _Mensur_. "I am quite convinced," he said at Bonn in 1891, three
years after his accession,

"that every young man who enters a Corps receives through
the spirit which rules in it, and supposing he imbibes the
spirit, his true directive in life. For it is the best
education for later life a young man can obtain. Whoever
pokes fun at the German student Corps is ignorant of its
true tendency, and I hope that so long as student Corps
exist the spirit which is fostered in them, and which
inspires strength and courage, will continue, and that for
all time the student will joyfully wield the _Schlaeger_."

Regarding the _Mensur_, he went on:

"Our _Mensuren_ are frequently misunderstood by the public,
but that must not let us be deceived. We who have been Corps
students, as I myself was, know better. As in the Middle
Ages through our gymnastic exercises (_Turniere_) the
courage and strength of the man was steeled, so by means of
the Corps spirit and Corps life is that measure of firmness
acquired which is necessary in later life, and which will
continue to exist as long as there are universities in

The word for firmness used by the Emperor was _Festigkeit_, which may
also be translated determination, steadiness, fortitude, or
resoluteness of character. It may be that practice of the _Mensur_,
which is held almost weekly, has a lifelong influence on the German
student's character. It probably enables him to look the adversary in
the eye--look "hard" at him, as the mariners in Mr. A.W. Jacobs's
delightful tales look at one another when some particularly ingenious
lie is being produced. In a way, moreover, it may be said to
correspond to boxing in English universities, schools, and gymnasia.
But, on the whole, the Anglo-Saxon spectator finds it difficult to
understand how it can exercise any influence for good on the moral
character of a youth, or determine, as the Emperor says it does, a
disposition which is cowardly or weak by nature to bravery or
strength, save of a momentary and merely physical kind. The Englishman
who has been present at a _Mensur_ is rather inclined to think the
atmosphere too much that of a shambles, and the chief result of the
practice the cultivation of braggadocio.

Besides, the practice is illegal, and though purposely overlooked,
save in one German city, that of Leipzig, where it is punished with
some rigour, the Emperor, who is supposed to embody the majesty and
effectiveness of the law, is hardly the person to recommend it. His
inconsistency in the matter on one occasion placed him in an
undignified position. Two officers of the army quarrelled, and one, an
infantry lieutenant, sent a challenge to the other, an army medical
man. The latter refused on conscientious grounds, whereupon he was
called on by a military court of honour to send in his resignation.
The case was sent up to the Emperor, who upheld the decision of the
court of honour, adding the remark that if the surgeon had
conscientious scruples on the point he should not remain in the army.
An irate Social Democratic editor thereupon pointed out that such a
decision came with a bad grace from a man with whom, or with any of
whose six sons, no one was allowed to fight. The Emperor is still a
member of the Borussia Corps, but chiefly shows his interest by
keeping its anniversaries in mind, by every few years attending one of
its annual drinking festivals (_Commers_), and by paying a substantial
yearly subscription.

The German student Corps, historically, go back to the fourteenth
century, when the first European universities were established at
Bologna, Paris, and Orleans. Universities then were not so called from
the universality of their teachings, but rather as meaning a
corporation, confraternity, or collegium, and were in reality social
centres in the towns where they were instituted. The most renowned was
that of Paris, and here was founded the first student Corps. It was
called the "German Nation of Paris," a corporation of students, with
statutes, oaths, special costumes, and other distinctive features. At
first, strange to say, it contained more Englishmen than Germans. The
"Nation" had a procurator, a treasurer, and a bedell, the last to look
after the legal affairs of the association. Drinking was not the
supposed purpose of the society, but the Corps mostly assembled, as
German Corps do to-day, for drinking purposes.

The earliest form of German student associations Was the
Landsmannschaft. To this society, composed of elders and juniors,
new-comers, called Pennales, were admitted after painful ceremonies
and became something like the "fags" at an English public school. The
object of the original Landsmannschaft was to keep alive the spirit of
nationality. The object of the German Corps is different. It is to
beget and perpetuate friendship, and this accounts for the steady
goodwill the Emperor has always shown towards the comrades of his Bonn
and Borussia days.

An ancient form of Corps entertainment is called the Hospiz, now,
however, much modified. Upon invitation the members of the Corps meet
in a beer-hall or in the rooms of one of the Corps. The president is
seated with a house-key on the table before him as a symbol of
unfettered authority. As members arrive, the president takes away
their sticks and swords and deposits them in a closet. The guests sit
down and are handed filled pipes and a lighted _fidibus_, or
pipe-lighter. Bread and butter and cheese, followed by coffee, are
offered. After this, the real work of the evening begins--the
drinking. A large can of beer stands on a stool beside the president.
The latter calls for silence by rapping three times on the table with
the house-key, and the Hospiz is declared open. Thenceforward only the
president pours out the beer, unless he appoints a deputy during his
absence. The president's great aim and honour is to make every one,
including himself, intoxicated. He begins by rapping the table with
his glass and saying "Significat ein Glas." In response all drain
their glasses. Then comes a "health to all," and this is followed by a
"health to each." "The Ladies" follow, including toasts to the pretty
girls of the town, and ladies known to be favourites of those present.
Married ladies or women of bad reputation must not be toasted in the

A story is told of a toast the Emperor, in these his Lohengrin days,
once proposed at a Borussia meeting. "On the Kreuzberg" (a hill near
Bonn), he said,

"I saw a picture, the ideal of a German woman. She united in
herself beauty of face and an imposing form, the roses in
her cheeks spoke of the modesty peculiar to our maids, and
her voice sounded harmoniously like the lute of the
Minnesingers on the Wartburg. She told me her name--may it
be blessed."

The toast found its way into the local papers and gave birth to a
romantic legend connecting the future Emperor with a pretty and modest
girl of the town, but no true basis for it has ever been discovered.

In toasting the Ladies in a Hospiz each of those present may name the
lady of his choice, and if two name the same lady they have a drinking
bout to determine which is entitled to claim her. The one who first
admits that he can drink no more--usually signified by a hasty and
zigzag retreat from the room--is declared the loser. If a guest comes
late to the Hospiz he must drink fast so as to catch up with earlier
arrivals, unless he has been drinking elsewhere, when he is let off
with drinking a "general health."

The close of the Emperor's student days was marked by an event which
was to have a great influence on his life and happiness. It was in
1879 that he made the acquaintance of the young lady who was, a couple
of years later, to become his wife, and subsequently Empress. When at
Bonn Prince William had developed a liking for wild-game shooting, and
accepted an invitation from Duke Frederick of Schleswig-Holstein to
shoot pheasants at Primkenau Castle, the Duke's seat in Silesia. More
than one romantic story is current about the first meeting of the
lovers, but that most generally credited, as it was published at or
near the time, represents the young sportsman as meeting the lady
accidentally in the garden of the castle. He had arrived at night and
gone shooting early next morning before being introduced to the family
of his host, and on his return surprised the fair-haired and blue-eyed
Princess Auguste Victoria as she lay dozing in a hammock in the
garden. The student approached, the words "little Rosebud" on his
lips, but hastily withdrew as the Princess, all blushes, awoke. The
pair met shortly afterwards at breakfast, when the visitor learned who
the "little rosebud" was whom he had surprised. The Princess was then
twenty-two, but looked much younger, a privilege from nature she still
possesses in middle age. The impression made on the student was deep
and lasting, and the engagement was announced on Valentine's Day, in
February, 1880. The marriage was celebrated on February 27th of the
following year at the royal palace in Berlin. Great popular rejoicing
marked the happy occasion, Berlin was gaily flagged to celebrate the
formal entrance of the bride into the capital, and most other German
cities illuminated in her honour. The imperial bridegroom came from
Potsdam at the head of a military escort selected from his regiment
and preceded the bridal cortege, in which the ancient coronation
carriage, with its smiling occupant, and drawn by eight prancing
steeds, was the principal feature. On the day following the marriage
the young couple went to Primkenau for the honeymoon.

The marriage with a princess of Schleswig-Holstein was not only an
event of general interest from the domestic and dynastic point of
view. It had also political significance, for it meant the happy close
of the troubled period of Prussian dealings with those conquered

A story throwing light on the young bride's character is current in
connexion with her wedding. One of the hymns contained a
strophe--"Should misfortune come upon us," which her friends wanted
her to have omitted as striking too melancholy a note. "No," she said,

"let it be sung. I don't expect my new position to be always
a bed of roses. Prince William is of the same mind, and we
have both determined to bear everything in common, and thus
make what is unpleasant more endurable."

Since the marriage their domestic felicity, as all the world is aware,
has never been troubled, and the example thus given to their subjects
is one of the surest foundations of their influence and authority in
Germany. The secret of this felicity, affection apart, is to be sought
for in the strong moral sense of the Emperor regarding what he owes to
himself and his people, but no less perhaps in the exemplary character
of the Empress. As a girl at Primkenau she was a sort of Lady
Bountiful to the aged and sick on the estate, and led there the simple
life of the German country maiden of the time. It was not the day of
electric light and central heating and the telephone; hardly of lawn
tennis, certainly not of golf and hockey; while motor-cars and
militant suffragettes were alike unknown. Instead of these delights
the Princess, as she then was, was content with the humdrum life of a
German country mansion, with rare excursions into the great world
beyond the park gates, with her religious observances, her books, her
needlework, her plants and flowers, and her share in the management of
the castle.

These domestic tastes she has preserved, and the saying, quoted in
Germany whenever she is the subject of conversation, that her
character and tastes are summed up in the four words _Kaiser, Kinder,
Kirche_, and _Kueche_--Emperor, children, church, and kitchen--is as
true as it is compendious and alliterative. It is often assumed,
especially by men, that a woman who cultivates these tastes cultivates
no other. This is not as true as is often supposed of the Empress, as
a journal of her voyage to Jerusalem in 1898, published on her return
to Germany, goes to show. Following the traditions and example of the
queens and empresses who have preceded her, she has always given
liberally of her time and care, as she still does, to the most
multifarious forms of charity. She has a great and intelligible pride
in her clever and energetic husband, while her interest in her
children is proverbial. She appears to have no ambition to exercise
any influence on politics or to shine as a leader of society. Like the
Emperor, she is not without a sense of humour, and is always amused by
the racy Irish stories (in dialect) told her and a little circle of
guests by Dr. Mahaffy, of Trinity College, Dublin, who is a welcome
guest at the palace.

The offspring of the marriage, it may be here noted, is a family of
seven children--six sons and a daughter--as follows:--

Crown Prince Frederick William, born 1882
Prince Eitel Frederick " 1883
Prince Adalbert " 1884
Prince August William " 1887
Prince Oscar " 1888
Prince Joachim " 1890
Princess Victoria Louise " 1892

The Crown Prince was born on June 6th at the Marble Palace in Potsdam.
He was educated at first privately by tutors, and later at the
military academy at Ploen, not far from Kiel. When eighteen he became
of age and began his active career as an officer in the army. He is
now commander of the First Regiment of Boay Guards ("Death's Head"
Hussars) at Langfuhr, near Danzig, with the rank of major. He was
married in June, 1905, to Cecilie, Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin,
and is the father of four children, all boys. The Crown Princess is
one of the cleverest, most popular, and most charming characters in
Germany, of the brightest intelligence and the most unaffected
manners. The leading trait in the Crown Prince's character is his love
of sport, from big-game shooting (on which he has written a book) to
lawn tennis. In May last he began to learn golf. He is personally
amiable, has pleasant manners, and is highly popular with all classes
of his future subjects. He is credited with ability, but is not
believed to have inherited the intellectual manysidedness of his
father. The only part he can be said to have taken in public life as
yet is having called the imperial attention to the Maximilian Harden
allegations regarding Count Eulenburg and a court "camarilla,"
referred to later, and having, while sitting in a gallery of the
Reichstag, demonstrated by decidedly marked gestures his disagreement
with the Government's Morocco policy.

Since his marriage the Emperor has more than once publicly
congratulated himself on his good fortune in having such a consort as
the Empress. The most graceful compliment he paid her was in her own
Province of Silesia in 1890, when he said:

"The band which unites me with the Province--that of all the
provinces of the Empire which is nearest to my heart--is the
jewel which sparkles at my side, Her Majesty the Empress. A
native of this country, a model of all the virtues of a
German princess, it is her I have to thank that I am in a
position joyfully to perform the onerous duties of my

Only the other day at Altona, after thirty years of married life, he
referred to her, again in her home Province and again as she sat
smiling beside him, as the

"first lady of the land, who is always ready to help the
needy, to strengthen family ties, to discharge the duties of
her sex, and suggest to it new aims. The Empress has
bestowed a home life on the House of Hohenzollern such as
Queen Louise, alone perhaps, conferred."

Queen Louise, the famous wife of Frederick William III, died in 1810
and is buried in the mausoleum at Charlottenburg, the suburb of
Berlin. She has remained ever since, for the German nation, the type
of womanly perfection.




The seven years between the date of his marriage and that of his
accession were chiefly filled in by the future Emperor with the
conscientious discharge of his regimental duties and the preparation
of himself, by three or four hours' study daily at the various
Ministries, among them the Foreign Office, where he sat at the feet of
Bismarck, for the imperial tasks he would presumably have to undertake

Emperor William I, now a man of eighty-four, was still on the throne.
Born in 1797, he lived with his parents, Frederick William III and
Queen Louise, in Koenigsberg and Memel for three years after the
battle of Jena, won the Iron Cross at the age of seventeen in the war
with Napoleon in 1814, took part in the entry of the Allies into
Paris, and devoted himself thenceforward, until he became King of
Prussia in 1861, chiefly to the reorganization of the army. For a year
during the troubled times of 1848 he was forced to take refuge in
England, from whence he returned to live quietly at Coblenz until
called to the Regency of Prussia in 1858. He was the Grand Master of
Prussian Freemasonry. The attempts on his life in Berlin in 1878 by
the anarchists Hoedel and Nobiling are still spoken of by eye-witnesses
to them. Both attempts were made within a period of three weeks while
the King was driving down Unter den Linden, and on both occasions
revolver shots were fired at him. Hoedel's attempt failed, but in view
of Socialist agitation, the would-be assassin was beheaded (the
practice still in Prussia) a few weeks later. Pellets from Nobiling's
weapon struck the King in the face and arm, and disabled him from work
for several weeks. The political events of the reign, including the
Seven Weeks' War with Austria in 1866, which ended at Sadowa, where
King William was in chief command, and that with France in 1870, when
he was present as Commander-in-Chief at Gravelotte and Sedan, are
frequently referred to by Bismarck in his "Gedanke und Erinnerungen,"
and to these the reader may be referred.

The high and amiable character of the old Emperor, as he became after
1870, is common knowledge. He was a thoroughgoing Hohenzollern in his
views of monarchy and his relations to his folk, but he was at the
same time the type of German chivalry, the essence of good nature, the
soul of honour, and the slave of duty. He was extremely fond of his
grandson, Prince William, and it is clear from the latter's speeches
subsequently that the affection was ardently reciprocated.

Of Emperor William, Bismarck writes in the highest terms, describing
his "kingly courtesy," his freedom from vanity, his impartiality
towards friend and foe alike; in a word, he says, Emperor William was
the idea "gentleman" incorporated. On the other hand, Bismarck tells
how the old Emperor all his life long stood in awe of his consort, the
Empress Augusta, Bismarck's great enemy and the clearing-house
(_Krystallisationspunkt_), as he describes her, of all the opposition
against him; and how the Emperor used to speak of her as "the
hot-head" ("_Feuerkopf_")--"a capital name for her," Bismarck adds,
"as she could not bear her authority as Queen to be overborne by that
of anyone else." The Iron Chancellor, by the way, mentions a curious
fact in connexion with the attempt on Emperor William's life by
Nobiling. The Chancellor says he had noticed that in the seventies the
Emperor's powers had begun to fail, and that he often lost the thread
of a conversation, both in hearing and speaking. After the Nobiling
attempt this disability, strangely enough, completely disappeared. The
fact was noticed by the Emperor himself, for one day he said jestingly
to Bismarck: "Nobiling knew better than the doctors what I really
needed--a good blood-letting."

Referring to the Empress Frederick at this period, Bismarck writes:

"With her I could not reckon on the same good-will as I
could with her husband (Emperor Frederick). Her natural and
inborn sympathy for her native country showed itself from
the very beginning in the endeavour to shift the weight of
Prussian-German influence on the European grouping of the
Powers into the scale of England, which she never ceased to
regard as her Fatherland; and, in consciousness of the
opposition of interests between the two great Asiatic
Powers, England and Russia, to see Germany's power, in case
of a breach, used for the benefit of England."

An incident may be mentioned here which took place at what was to turn
out to be the Emperor William's death-bed and refers particularly to
our young Prince William. Bismarck was talking to the sick Emperor a
few days before the latter's death. The Chancellor spoke about the
necessity of publishing an Order, already drawn up in November of the
preceding year, appointing Prince William regent in case the necessity
for such a measure should occur. The sick Emperor expressed the hope
that Bismarck would stand by his successor. Bismarck promised to do so
and the Emperor pressed his hand in token of satisfaction. Then,
suddenly, Bismarck relates, the Emperor became delirious and began to
rave. Prince William was the central figure in his ravings. He
evidently thought his grandson was at his bedside and exclaimed, using
the familiar _Du_; "_Du_ you must always keep on good terms with the
Czar (Alexander III) ... there is no need to quarrel in that quarter."
Thereafter he was silent, and Bismarck left the sick-room.

The Prince's parents, Crown Prince Frederick and his English consort,
had also their Court at the Marmor Palais in Potsdam, and their palace
in Berlin, but the life they led was comparatively simple. The Crown
Prince and Princess were great travellers and consequently often
absent from Germany; and when at home, while the Crown Prince, in his
serious-minded fashion, was absorbed in study, the Crown Princess
divided her time between the practice of the arts and correspondence
with her now grown-up sons and daughters.

Still, it is clear from the signs of the time that there was a good
deal of intrigue going on throughout this pre-accession period, or, if
intrigue is too strong a term for it, a good deal of friction, social
and political, in high circles. It was chiefly caused, if the old
Chancellor's statements to his sycophantic adorer, Busch, are to be
credited, by the interference of the Empress Augusta and her
daughter-in-law, the Crown Princess, in the sphere of politics, the
Empress seeking to influence her husband in favour of the Catholics,
whom she had taken under her protection, and the Crown Princess
trying, as we have seen, to influence German policy in favour of

Exactly what part Prince William took in it all is not very clear. One
thing we know, that he greatly displeased Bismarck by his constant
attendance at the Waldersee _salon_, then a social centre in Berlin.
Countess Waldersee, who is still living in Hannover, was the daughter
of an American banker named Lee. She married Frederick, Prince of
Schleswig, but he died six months after the wedding. His widow
afterwards married Count Waldersee, who was subsequently to command
the international forces during the Boxer troubles in China. Bismarck
detested Waldersee, perhaps because many people spoke of him as his
probable successor, and consequently looked with anything but favour
on his imperial pupil's visit to the Waldersees.

The great figure of the time, however, was neither the Emperor nor the
Crown Prince nor Prince William, but Prince Bismarck, who, as
Chancellor for now more than a quarter of a century, had throughout
that period guided the destinies of Prussia and the German Empire.
Emperor William and Crown Prince Frederick and Prince William were
playing, doubtless, more or less prominent parts on the public stage,
but all things of moment gravitated towards Bismarck, whose days were
spent, now persuading or convincing the Emperor, now warring with a
Parliament growing impatient of his dictatorial attitude, now
countermining the intrigues and opposition of his adversaries at Court
and in the Ministries. He hardly ever went into society, but though he
spent his days growling in his den at the Foreign Office when he was
not immersed in work, he was the great popular figure of Berlin;
indeed, it might be said, of all Germany.

As second lieutenant, Prince William had naturally a good deal to
learn, though, entering life, as we have seen, as a "fine young
recruit," having had a "military governor" appointed to his service
when he was four, being made an officer at the age of ten, and having
passed most of his life hitherto in a military society and atmosphere,
he had less perhaps to learn than the ordinary young German officer.
He went through the usual drills, and doubtless felt, as keenly as
does the young officer everywhere, their monotonous and seemingly
unnecessary repetitions, but they fulfilled the object in view and
gave him the well-set-up bearing and martial tread which still
distinguish him. Living in the old Town Castle of Potsdam, in rooms
that had once been occupied by Frederick the Great, he entered with
zest into the task of learning the mechanism of his regiment and at
the same time of the army generally, though it cannot have been as
interesting a task then as now, when science has added so many new
branches to military organization. Both he and his young wife were as
hospitable as their not too generous means and occasional cheques from
the Emperor William would allow, particularly to any Borussian of the
Prince's Bonn university days who might be passing through Berlin or
Potsdam. The young Prince and Princess took part, as was to be
expected of them, in the festivities and ceremonies of the Emperor's
and Crown Prince's Court, and, when they had nothing more interesting
to do, might be seen strolling arm in arm about the streets in Potsdam
looking into the shops as young married people do in every town, and
being apparently, as the story-books say, as happy as the day is long.

On the whole, however, during these pre-accession years, only glimpses
of Prince William's character and doings are obtainable, but, though
meagre, they are sufficient to suggest that in his case, too, if we
extend the saying to cover the entire period of youth, the child was
father to the man. The chief, almost the only, reliable authorities
for the inner history of the time are the memoirs and notes left by
the two Chancellors, Prince Bismarck and Prince Hohenlohe--_en
passant_ let the hope be expressed here that in the interests of
Germany herself another Chancellor, Prince Bernhard Ernst von Buelow,
now living in retirement at Rome, will enlighten the world as to that
of the last ten or twelve stirring years, _quorum pars magna fuit_.
Both Bismarck and Hohenlohe were excellent judges of character, and
have, described, though with regrettable brevity, the character of
Prince William about this time. Talking to his confidant, Dr. Busch,
in June, 1882, Bismarck says of the Prince:

"He is quite different from the Emperor William, and wishes
to take the government into his own hands; he is energetic
and determined, not at all disposed to put up with
parliamentary co-regents, a regular guardsman; Philopater
and Antipater at Potsdam! He is not at all pleased at his
father (Crown Prince Frederick) taking up with professors,
with Mommsen, Virchow, Forckenbeck. Perhaps he may one day
develop into the _rocher de bronze_ of which we stand in

This _rocher de bronze_ is an expression constantly employed by
devoted royalists and imperialists in Germany. It was first used by
Frederick William IV, who, in the jargon which in his time passed for
the German language, exclaimed: "_Ich werde meine Souvereinetat
stabilizieren wie ein rocher de bronze_."

Again, about this time Bismarck says:

"Up to that time (when Prince William was studying at the
Ministries) he knew little, and indeed did not trouble
himself much about it, but preferred to enjoy himself in the
society of young officers and such-like,"

and he goes on to tell how the Prince took--or did not take--to this
Ministerial education. It was proposed that the Under Secretary of
State, Herrfurth, who was reputed to be well informed, particularly in
statistics, should instruct him about internal questions. The Prince
agreed and invited Herrfurth to lunch, but afterwards told Bismarck he
could not stand him, "with his bristly beard, his dryness and
tediousness." Could Bismarck suggest some one else? The Chancellor
mentioned Privy Councillor von Brandenstein. The Prince did not
object, had the Baron several times to meals, but paid so little
attention to his explanations that Brandenstein lost patience and
begged for some other employment. Concerning a rendezvous, Bismarck

"He (Prince William) has more understanding, more courage
and greater independence (than his grandfather), but in his
leaning for me he goes too far. He was 'surprised' that I
had waited for him, a thing his grandfather was incapable of

and the Chancellor adds:

"It is only in trifles and matters of secondary importance
that one occasionally has reason to find fault with him, as,
for instance, in the form of his State declarations--but
that is youthful vivacity which time will correct. Better
too much than too little fire."

Busch relates, under date of April 6, 1888, Bismarck's birthday, how
Prince William came to offer his congratulations, and, having done so,
invited himself to dinner. The meal over, he made a speech toasting
Bismarck, in which he said:

"The Empire is like an army corps that has lost its
commander-in-chief in the field, while the officer who is
next to him in rank lies severely wounded. At this critical
moment forty-six million loyal German hearts turn with
solicitude and hope to the standard, and the standard-bearer
in whom all their expectations are centred. The
standard-bearer is our illustrious Prince, our great
Chancellor. Let him lead us. We will follow him. Long may he

Prince Hohenlohe's references to Prince William as Emperor are
frequent and full, but he has little to say about his character as
Prince William beyond noting, when there was some talk of the Prince
directly succeeding Emperor William, that he was "too young." On an
occasion subsequently Prince Hohenlohe amusingly notes that the
Emperor shook hands with him until his fingers "nearly cracked." This
is still a genial gesture of the Emperor's.

One document, however, is available to show the spirit of religious
tolerance which then animated our young Lutheran Prince, as it has
animated him, it may be added, ever since. Pius IX had been succeeded
in the Papacy by the more liberal Leo XIII, and the Kulturkampf had
come to an end. Prince William, writing to an uncle, Cardinal
Hohenlohe, says:--

"That this unholy Kulturkampf is at an end is a thing which
rejoices me beyond expression. Of late many eminent
Catholics, among them Kopp (afterwards Cardinal) have
frequently visited me and honoured me with a confidence at
once complete and gratifying. I was often so happy as to be
able to be the interpreter of their wishes (to the Emperor
and Bismarck, presumably) and do them some service. So it
has been granted to my youth to co-operate in this work of
peace. This has given me great pleasure and happiness.

"Give my regards to Galimberti and lay my respects at the
feet of the Pope.

"Thy devoted nephew,


With his future subjects Prince William was brought into close
relations only in a very limited way. No one, save perhaps Bismarck,
seems to have known or suspected his true character and aims. This was
natural enough, since it is not until a man comes to occupy some
influential or prominent position that the public begins to take an
interest in him. His father would be Emperor before him, and fate
might have it that he himself would not live to come to the throne.
Royal highnesses are not uncommon in a country with such a feudal
history and so many courts as Germany. The young Prince, moreover, was
never, to use a phrase of to-day, in the limelight. He was never
involved in a notorious scandal. He had not, as his eldest son, the
present Crown Prince, has, published a book. He was more or less
absorbed in the army, the early grave of so many dawning talents. And
there was no newspaper press devoted to chronicling the doings and
sayings of the fashionable world of his time. His natural abilities
would doubtless have secured him reputation and success in any sphere
of life, but, as he himself would probably be the first to admit, much
of his fame, and even much of his merit, is due to the splendid
opportunities afforded him by his birth and position.

At the same time it is obvious that if his people at this period had
not much opportunity of studying the young Prince, he had been
studying them and their requirements as these latter appeared to him.
He had evidently thought much on Germany's conditions and prospects
before he came to the throne, and was Empire-building in imagination
long before he became Emperor. It is not hard to guess the drift of
his meditations. The success of the Empire depended on the success of
Prussia, and the success of Prussia, ringed in by possibly hostile
Powers, on union under a Prussian King whom Germans should swear
fealty to and regard as a Heaven-granted leader. From the history of
Prussia he drew the conclusion that force, physical force, well
organized and equipped, must be the basis of Germany's security.
Physical force had made Brandenburg into Prussia, and Prussia into the
still nascent modern German Empire. He knew that France was only
waiting for the day to come when she would be powerful enough to
recover her lost provinces. Russia was friendly, but there was no
certainty she would always be so. Austria was an ally, but many people
in Austria had not forgotten Sadowa, and in any case her military and
naval forces were far from being efficient. An irresistible army, and
a national spirit that would keep it so, were consequently Germany's
first essentials.

Simultaneously a new fact of vital importance for Germany's prosperity
presented itself for consideration--the growth of world-policy in
trade, the expansion of commerce through the development caused by new
conditions of transport and intercommunication in which other nations
were already engaged. The Prince saw his country's merchants beginning
to spread over the earth, and believing in the doctrine that trade
follows the flag, he felt that the flag, with the power and protection
it affords, must be supplied. For this it appeared to him that a navy
was as indispensable as was an efficient army for Germany's internal
security. All other great countries had fine navies, while to Germany
this complement of Empire was practically wanting. Accordingly he now
took up the study of naval science and naval construction.

There was an occasion, however, at this time when the young Prince
attracted general attention, if only for a few days. It was when as
colonel of the Body Guard Hussars, he ordered his officers to withdraw
from a Berlin club in which hazard and high play had ruined some of
the younger and less wealthy members. The committee of the club used
their influence to cause Emperor William to make the new commander
cancel his order. The Emperor sent for his grandson and requested its

"Majesty," said the young commander, "permit me a question--am I still
commander of the regiment?"

"Of course--"

"Well, then, will your Majesty allow me to maintain the order--or else
accept my resignation?"

"Oh," said the Emperor, who was in reality pleased with the young
disciplinarian, "there can be no talk of such a thing. I could not
find so good a commanding officer again in a hurry."

When the club committee's ambassadors came to the Emperor to learn the
result of his intervention, his answer was, "Very sorry, gentlemen; I
did my best, but the colonel refuses."

The political situation as regards France was just now highly
precarious. General Boulanger, whom Gambetta once described as "one of
the four best officers in France," had become Minister of War in the
de Freycinet Cabinet of 1886. Relying on a supposed superiority of the
French army, he prepared for a war of revenge against Germany and
aimed, with the help of Deroulede and Rochfort, at suppressing the
parliamentary _regime_ and establishing himself as dictator. His plans
were answered in Germany by the acceptance of Bismarck's Septennat
proposals for increasing the army and fixing its budget for seven
years in advance. The war feeling in France diminished, and though it
revived for a time owing to the arrest of the French frontier police
commissary Schnaebele, it finally died out on that officer's release
at the particular request of the Czar to Emperor William. Boulanger's
subsequent history only concerns France. He was sent to a provincial
command, but returned to Paris, where he was joyously received and
elected to Parliament by a large majority. He might, it is believed, a
year or two later, on being elected by the department of the Seine,
with Paris at his back, have made a successful _coup d'etat_ on the
night of his triumphant election, but his courage at the last moment
failed, and on learning that he was about to be arrested he fled to
Brussels, where he committed suicide on the grave of his mistress.

The time, however, was approaching, the most interesting, and as the
succession of events have shown, the most momentous for the Empire
since 1870, when Prince William's accession was obviously at hand.
During the year 1887 and the early part of 1888 the attention of the
world was fixed, first curiously, then anxiously, then sympathetically
on the situation in Berlin. Emperor William was an old man just turned
ninety; he was fast breaking up and any week his death might be
announced. Hereditarily the Crown Prince Frederick, now fifty-six,
should succeed, and a new reign would open which might introduce
political changes of moment to other countries as well as Germany. The
new reign was indeed to open, but only to prove one of the shortest in

In January, 1887, a Shadow fell on the House of Hohenzollern, the
Shadow that must one day fall on every living creature. It was noticed
that the Crown Prince was hoarse, had caught a cold, or something of
the kind. A stay at Ems did him no good, Doctors Tobold and von
Bergmann, the leading specialists of the day, were consulted, a
laryngoscopic examination followed, the presence of cancer was
strongly suspected, and an operation was advised. At this juncture, at
the suggestion, it is said, of Queen Victoria, it was decided to
summon the specialist of highest reputation in England, Sir Morell
Mackenzie, who, having examined the patient, and basing his opinion on
a report of Professor Virchow's, declared that the growth was not
malignant. It was now May, and on Mackenzie's advice the patient
visited England, where, accompanied by Prince William, he was present
at the celebration of Queen Victoria's Jubilee. Some months after his
return to the Continent were spent with his family in Tirol and Italy,
until November found him in San Remo, where a meeting of famous
surgeons from Vienna, Berlin, and Frankfort-on-Main finally diagnosed
the existence of cancer, and Mackenzie coincided with the judgment.

The old Emperor died on March 9th. He had taken cold on March 3rd, and
on the 7th a chronic ailment of the kidneys from which he suffered
became worse, he could not sleep, his strength began to ebb, and it
was clear the end was near. On the 6th, however, he was able to speak
for a few minutes with Prince William, with Bismarck, and with his
only daughter, the Grand Duchess of Baden, who had arrived post-haste
the night before to be present at the death-bed. The Grand Duchess, as
the Emperor spoke, besought him not to tire himself by talking. "I
have no time to be tired," he murmured, in a flicker of the sense of
duty which had been a lifelong feature of his character, and a few
hours later he passed quietly away. The funeral, headed by Prince
William and the Knights of the Black Eagle, took place on the 20th.
The new Emperor Frederick, who had hurried from San Remo on receiving
news of the Emperor's condition, was too ill to join it, but stood
behind a closed window of his palace and saluted as the coffin went

The incidents of the Emperor Frederick's ascent of the throne, the
amnesty and liberal-minded proclamations to his people, and in
particular the heroic resignation with which he bore his fate, are
events of common knowledge. One of them was the so-called Battenberg
affair. Queen Victoria desired a marriage between Princess Victoria,
the present Emperor's sister, then aged twenty-two, and Prince
Alexander of Battenberg, at that time Prince of Bulgaria, so as to
secure him against Russia by an alliance with the imperial house of
Germany. Prince Bismarck objected on the ground that the marriage
would show Germany in an unfriendly light at St. Petersburg, and might
subject a Prussian princess to the risk of expulsion from Sofia.
Another account is that the Chancellor feared an increase of English
influence at the German Court with the Prince of Bulgaria as its
channel. In any case, the result of the Chancellor's opposition was to
place the sick Emperor in a delicate and painful situation. It was
ended by his yielding to the Chancellor's representations, and the
marriage did not come off.

Meanwhile, the Emperor's malady was making fatal progress. The Shadow
was growing darker and more formidable. A season of patiently-borne
suffering followed, until Death in his terrific majesty appeared and
another Emperor occupied the throne.



Prince William is now German Emperor and King of Prussia. Before
observing him as trustee and manager of his magnificent inheritance a
pause may be made to investigate the true meaning of a much-discussed
phrase which, while suggesting nothing to the Englishman though he
will find it stamped in the words "Dei gratia" on every shilling piece
that passes through his hands, is the bed-rock and foundation of the
Emperor's system of rule and the key to his nature and conduct.

Government in Germany is dynastic, not, as in England and America,
parliamentary or democratic. The King of Prussia possesses his
crown--such is the theory of the people as well as of the dynasty--by
the grace of God, not by the consent of the people. The same may be
said of the German Emperor, who fills his office as King of Prussia.
To the Anglo-Saxon foreigner the dynasty in Germany, and particularly
in Prussia, appears a sort of fetish, the worship of which begins in
the public schools with lessons on the heroic deeds of the
Hohenzollerns, and with the Emperor, as high priest, constantly
calling on his people to worship with him. This view of the kingly
succession may seem Oriental, but it is not surprising when one
reflects that the Hohenzollern dynasty is over a thousand years old
and during that time has ruled successively in part of Southern
Germany, in Brandenburg, in Prussia, until at last, imperially, in all
Germany. Moreover, it has ruled wisely on the whole; in the course of
centuries it has brought a poor and disunited people, living on a soil
to a great extent barren and sandy, to a pitch of power and prosperity
which is exciting the envy and apprehension of other nations.

In England government passed centuries ago from the dynasty to the
people, and there are people in England to-day who could not name the
dynasty that occupies the English throne. Such ignorance in Germany is
hardly conceivable. In Prussia government has always been the appanage
of the Hohenzollerns, and the Emperor is resolved that, supported by
the army, it shall continue to be their appanage in the Empire.
Government means guidance, and no one is more conscious of the fact
than the Emperor, for he is trying to guide his people all the time.
Frederick William IV once said to the Diet: "You are here to represent
rights, the rights of your class and, at the same time, the rights of
the throne: to represent opinion is not your task." This relation of
government and people has become modified of recent years to a very
obvious degree, but constitutionally not a step has been taken in the
direction of popular, that is to say parliamentary, rule.

England and Germany are both constitutional monarchies, but both the
monarch and the Constitution in Germany are different from the monarch
and the Constitution in England. The British Constitution is a growth
of centuries, not, like the German Constitution, the creation of a
day. The British Constitution is unwritten, if it is stamped, as Mary
said the word "Calais" would be found stamped on her heart after
death, on the heart and brain of every Englishman. The German
Constitution is a written document in seventy-eight chapters, not
fifty years old, and on which, compared with the British Constitution,
the ink is not yet dry. In England to the people the Constitution is
the real monarch: in Germany the monarchy is to the people what the
British Constitution is to the Englishman; and while in England the
monarch is the first counsellor to the Constitution, in Germany the
Constitution is the first counsellor to the monarch.

The consequence in England is representative government, with a
political career for every ordinary citizen; the consequence in
Germany is constitutional monarchy, properly so-called, with a
political career for no common citizen. Neither system is perfect, but
both, apparently, give admirable national results. And yet, of course,
an Englishman cannot help thinking that if Herr Bebel were made
Minister to-morrow, Social Democracy would cease to exist.

The people acquiesce in the Hohenzollern view, not indeed with perfect
and entire unanimity, for the small Progressive party demand a
parliamentary form of government, if not on the exact model of that
established in England. The Social Democrats, evidently, would have no
government at all. Many English people suppose that Germans generally
must desire parliamentary rule and would help them to get it, for
multitudes of English people are firmly persuaded that it is England's
mission to extend to other peoples the institutions which have suited
her so well, without sufficiently considering how different are their
circumstances, geographical position, history, traditions, and
national character. A very similar mistake is made in Germany by
multitudes of Germans, who believe it is Germany's mission to impose
her culture, her views of man and life, on the rest of the world.

The Prussian view of monarchy, expressed in the words "von Gottes
Gnaden" ("By the Grace of God"), is a political conception, which,
under its customary English translation, "by Divine Right," has often
been ridiculed by English writers. Lord Macaulay, it will be
remembered, in his "History of England," asserts that the doctrine
first emerged into notice when James the Sixth of Scotland ascended
the English throne. "It was gravely maintained," writes Macaulay,

"that the Supreme Being regarded hereditary monarchy, as
opposed to other systems of government, with peculiar
favour; that the rule of succession in order of
primogeniture was a divine institution anterior to the
Christian, and even to the Mosaic, dispensation; that no
human power, not even that of the whole legislature, no
length of adverse possession, though it extended to ten
centuries, could deprive the legitimate prince of his
rights; that his authority was necessarily always despotic;
that the laws by which, in England and other countries, the
prerogative was limited, were to be regarded merely as
concessions which the sovereign had freely made and might at
his pleasure resume; and that any treaty into which a king
might enter with his people was merely a declaration of his
present intention, and not a contract of which the
performance could be demanded."

The statement exactly expresses the ideas on the subject attributed
abroad to the Emperor.

The distinguished German historian, Heinrich von Treitschke, writes of
King Frederick William IV, the predecessor of Emperor William I, as

"He believed in a mysterious enlightenment which is granted
'von Gottes Gnaden' to kings rather than other mortals. All
the blessings of peace, which his People could expect under
a Christian monarch, should Proceed from the wisdom of the
Crown alone; he regarded his high office like a patriarch of
the Old Testament and held the kingship as a fatherly power
established by God Himself for the education of the people.
Whatever happened in the State he connected with the person
of the monarch. If only his age and its royal awakener had
understood each other better! He had, however, in his
strangely complicated process of development, constructed
such extraordinary ideals that though he might sometimes
agree in words with his contemporaries he never did as to
the things, and spoke a different language from his people.
Even General Gerlach, his good friend and servant, used to
say: 'The ways of the King are wonderful;' and the not less
loyal Bunsen wrote about a complaint of the monarch that 'no
one understands me, no one agrees with me,' the
commentary--'When one understood him, how could one agree
with him?'"

It was this king, be it parenthetically remarked, who said, when his
people were clamouring for a Constitution, in 1847: "Now and never
will I admit that a written paper, like a second Providence, force
itself between our God in Heaven and this land"--and a few months
later had to sign the document his people demanded.

Von Treitschke, writing on the last birthday of Emperor William I,
thus spoke of the doctrine:

"A generation ago an attempt was made by a theologizing
State theory to inculcate the doctrine of a power of the
throne, divine, released from all earthly obligations. This
mystery of the Jacobins never found entrance into the clear
common sense of our people."

Prince Bismarck's view of the doctrine was explained in a speech he
made to the Prussian Diet in 1847. He was speaking on "Prussia as a
Christian State." "For me," he said,

"the words 'von Gottes Gnaden,' which Christian rulers join
to their names, are no empty phrase, but I see in them the
recognition that the princes desire to wield the sceptre

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