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William of Germany by Stanley Shaw

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the ordinary mortal as embodying ideas of grandeur, power, might, and
intellect to which the latter is unaccustomed. Education, economic
changes, and the art of manners have done much to conceal, if not
eradicate, human proneness to servility, and the Byzantinism of the
time of Caligula and Nero, of Tiberius, Constantine, or Nikiphoros, of
the Stuarts and the Bourbons, has long been modified into respect for
oneself as well as for the person one addresses. There are, however,
still traces of the old evil in the German atmosphere, and in especial
a tendency among officials of all grades to be humble and submissive
to those above them and haughty and domineering to those below them.
The tendency is perhaps not confined to Germany, but it seems, to the
inhabitant of countries where bureaucracy is not a powerful caste, to
penetrate German society and ordinary life to a greater degree--yet
not to a great degree--than in more democratic societies.

The Emperor naturally knows nothing of such a thing, for there is no
one superior to him in the Empire in point of rank, and he is much too
modern, too well educated, and of too kindly and liberal a nature to
encourage or permit Byzantinism towards him on the part of others.
Indeed Byzantinism was never a Hohenzollern failing. In his able work
on German civilization Professor Richard tells of some Silesian
peasants who knelt down when presenting a petition to Frederick
William I, and were promptly told to get up, as "such an attitude was
unworthy of a human being." Only on one occasion in the reign has an
action of the Emperor's afforded ground for the suspicion that he was
for a moment filled with the spirit of the Byzantine emperors--namely,
when he demanded the "kotow" from the Chinese Prince Tschun, who led
the "mission of atonement" to Germany. This, however, was not really
the result of a Byzantine character or spirit, but of the excusable
anger of a man whose innocent representative had been treacherously

Of affinity with the idea of Byzantinism is that as frequently
occurring idea in German court and ordinary life conveyed by the word
"reaction." Here again we have one of those qualities to be found
among mankind everywhere and always: the instinct opposed to change,
even to those changes for the good we call progress, the disposition
that made Horace deride the _laudator temporis acti se puero_ of his
day, the feeling of the man who laments the passing of the "good old
times" and the military veteran who assures us that "the country, sir,
is going to the dogs." In political life such men are usually to be
found professing conservatism, owners of land, dearer to them often
than life itself, which they fear political change will damage or
diminish. In Germany the Conservative forces are the old agrarian
aristocracy, the military nobility, and the official hierarchy, who
make a worship of tradition, hold for the most part the tenets of
orthodox Protestantism, dread the growing influence of industrialism,
and are members of the Landlords' Association: types of a dying
feudalism, disposed to believe nothing advantageous to the community
if it conflicts with any privilege of their class. Under the name of
Junker, the Conservative landowners of the region of Prussia east of
the Elbe, they have become everywhere a byword for pride, selfishness,
in a word--reaction. They and men of their kidney are to be
distinguished from the German "people" in the English sense, and hold
themselves vastly superior to the burghertum, the vast middle class.
They dislike the "academic freedom" of the university professor, would
limit the liberty of the press and restrain the right of public
meeting, and increase rather than curtail the powers of the police. On
the other hand, if they are a powerful drag on the Emperor's Liberal
tendencies--Liberal, that is, in the Prussian sense--towards a
comprehensive and well-organized social policy, they are at least
reliable supporters of his Government for the military and naval
budgets, since they believe as whole-heartedly in the rule of force as
the Emperor himself. The German Conservative would infinitely prefer a
return to absolute government to the introduction of parliamentary
government. At the same time it should not be supposed that the
Emperor or his Chancellor, or even his Court, are reactionary in the
sense or measure in which the Socialist papers are wont to assert. It
is doubtful if nowadays the Emperor would venture to be reactionary in
any despotic way. Given that his monarchy and the spirit that informs
it are secure, that Caesar gets all that is due to Caesar, and that he
and his Government are left the direction of foreign policy, he is
quite willing that the people should legislate for themselves, enjoy
all the rights that belong to them under the _Rechtsstaat_ established
by Frederick the Great, and, in short, enjoy life as best they can.



Heinrich von Treitschke, the German historian, writing to a friend,
speaks of the dismissal of Prince Bismarck as "an indelible stain on
Prussian history and a tragic stroke of fate the like of which the
world has never seen since the days of Themistocles."

Opinions may differ as to the indelibility of the stain--which must be
taken as a reflection on the conduct of the Emperor; and parallels
might perhaps be found, at least by students of English history, in
the dismissal of Cardinal Wolsey by Henry VIII, or that of the elder
Pitt by George III. But there may well be general agreement as to the
tragic nature of the fall, for it was a struggle between a strong
personality and the unknown, but irresistible, laws of fate.

The historic quarrel between the Emperor and his Chancellor was not
merely the inevitable clash between two dispositions fundamentally
different, but between--to adapt the expression of a modern poet--"an
age that was dying and one that was coming to birth." Old Prussia was
giving place to New Germany. The atmosphere of war had changed to an
atmosphere of peace. The standards of education and comfort were
rising fast. The old German idealism was being pushed aside by
materialism and commercialism, and the thoughts of the nation were
turning from problems of philosophy and art to problems of practical
science and experiment. Thought was to be followed by action. Mankind,
after conversing with the ancients for centuries, now began to
converse with one another. The desire for national expansion, if it
could not be gratified by conquest, was to be satisfied by the spread
of German influence, power, activity, and enterprise in all parts of
the world. Such a collision of the ages is tragedy on the largest
scale, for nothing can be more tragic--more inevitable or
inexorable--than the march of Progress.

The natures of the two men were, in important respects, fundamentally
different. Bismarck's nature was prosaic, primitive, unscrupulous,
domineering: a type which in an English schoolboy would be described
as a bully, with the modification that while the bully in an English
school is always depicted as a coward at heart (a supposition,
however, by no means always borne out in after-life), Bismarck had the
courage of a bull-dog. Moreover, Bismarck was a Conservative, a
statesman of expediency. The Emperor is a man of principle; and as
expediency, in a world of change, is a note of Conservatism, so, in
the same world, is principle the _leit-motiv_ of Liberalism. To call
the Emperor a man of principle may appear to be at variance with
general opinion as founded on exceptional occurrences, but these do
not supply sufficient material for a fair judgment, and there are many
acts of his reign which show him to be Liberal in disposition.

Not, it need hardly be said, Liberal in the English political sense.
Liberalism in England--the two-party country--usually means a strong
desire to vote against a Conservative on the assumption that the
Conservative is nearly always completely wrong and never completely
right. As will be seen later, there is no political Liberalism in the
English sense in Germany. The Emperor's Liberalism shows itself in his
sympathy with his people in their desire for improvement as a society
of which he is the head, selected by God and only restricted by a
constitutional compact solemnly sworn to by the contracting parties.
Proofs of this sympathy might be adduced--his determination to carry
through his grandfather's social policy against Bismarck's wish,
however hostile he was and is to Social Democracy; his steadfast peace
policy, however nearly he has brought his country to war; his
encouragement of the arts among the lower classes, however limited his
views on art may be; his friendly intercourse with people of all
nationalities and occupations.

The characters also of the two men were different. Bismarck's was the
result of civilian training; the Emperor's of military training.
Bismarck had small regard for manners, and would have scoffed had
anyone told him "manners makyth man"; the Emperor is courtesy itself,
as every one who meets him testifies. Bismarck was fond of eating and
drinking, with the appetite of a horse and the thirst of a drayman,
until he was nearly eighty, and smoked strong cigars from morning to
night--a very pleasant thing, of course, if you can stand it. The
Emperor has never cared particularly for what are called the pleasures
of the table, is fond of apples and one or two simple German dishes,
and has never been what in Germany is called a "chain-smoker."
Bismarck appears not to have had the faintest interest in art; the
Emperor, while of late disclaiming in all art company his lack of
expert knowledge, has always found delight in art's most classical

Yet the two men had some deeply marked traits of character in common.
The Emperor, as was Bismarck, is Prussian, that is to say mediaeval,
to the core, notwithstanding that he had an English mother and
lived in early childhood under English influences. He has always
exhibited, as Bismarck always did, the genuine qualities of the
Prussian--self-confidence, tenacity of purpose, absolute trust in his
own ideals and intolerance of those of other people, impatience of
rivalry, selfishness for the advantage of Prussia as against other
German States, as strong as that for the newly born Empire against
other countries. Finally, the Emperor is convinced, as Bismarck was
convinced, that in the first and last resort, a society, a people, a
nation, is based on force and by force alone can prosper, or even be
held together. Neither Bismarck nor the Emperor could ever sympathize
with those who look to a time when one strong and sensible policeman
will be of more value to a community than a thousand unproductive

Long before he became Imperial Chancellor Bismarck had done masterly
and important work for the country. In 1862 he began his career by
filling the post of interim Minister President of Prussia at a time
when the present Emperor was still an infant. It was on taking up the
position that he made the celebrated statement that "great questions
cannot be decided by speeches and majority-votes, but must be resolved
by blood and iron." Born in April, 1815, two months before the battle
of Waterloo, at Schoenhausen, in the Prussian Province of Saxony, not
far from Magdeburg, he studied at the universities of Gottingen and
Berlin and passed two steps of the official ladder--Auscultator and
Referendar--which may be translated respectively protocolist and
junior counsel. His parliamentary career began in 1846, two years
before the second French Revolution. At that time Prussia was an
absolute monarchy, without a Constitution or a Parliament. There was
no conscription, that foundation-stone of Prussian power and of the
modern German Empire. Then came the agitated days of 1848, the
sanguinary "March Days" in Berlin. Frederick William IV was on the
throne, and in 1847 permitted the calling of a Parliament, the
forerunner of the present Reichstag; but only to represent the
"rights," not the "opinions," of the people. "No piece of paper,"
cried the King, "shall come, like a second Providence, between God in
heaven and this land!" That, too, was Bismarck's sentiment,
courageously expressed by him when the Diet was debating the idea of
introducing the English parliamentary system, and proved by him in
character and conduct until the day of his death. He would have made a
splendid Jacobite!

The three "March Days," the 18th, 19th, and 20th of March, 1848, form
one of the few occasions in Prussian or German history on which Crown
and people came into direct and serious conflict. According to German
accounts of the episode the outbreak of the revolution in France was
followed by a large influx into Berlin of Poles and Frenchmen, who
instigated the populace to violence. Collisions with the police
occurred, and on March 15th barricades began to be erected. Traffic in
the streets was only possible with the aid of the military. The King
was in despair, not so much, the accounts say, at the danger he was in
of losing his throne as at the shedding of the blood of his folk, and
issued a proclamation promising to grant all desirable reforms,
abolishing the censorship of the press, and summoning the Diet to
discuss the terms of a Constitution. The citizens, however, continued
to build barricades, made their way into the courtyards of the palace,
and demanded the withdrawal of the troops. The King ordered the
courtyards to be cleared, the palace guard advanced, and, either by
accident or design, the guns of two grenadiers went off. No one was
hit, but cries of "Treason!" and "Murder!" were raised. Within an hour
a score of barricades were set up in various parts of the town and
manned by a medley of workmen, university students, artists, and even
men of the Landwehr, or military reserve.

At this time there were about 14,000 troops at the King's disposal,
and with these the authorities proceeded against the mob. A series of
scattered engagements between mob and military began. They lasted for
eight hours, until at midnight General von Prittwitz, who was in
command of the troops, was able to report to the King that the
revolution was subdued.

Next morning, however, the 19th, numerous deputations of citizens
presented themselves at the palace, and assuring the King that it was
the only means of preventing the further effusion of blood, renewed
the request for the withdrawal of the troops. The King consented,
notwithstanding the opposition of Prince, afterwards Emperor, William,
and the troops were drawn off to Potsdam. The citizens thereupon
appointed a National Guard, which took charge of the palace, and in
the evening a vast crowd appeared beneath the King's windows bearing
the corpses of those who had fallen at the barricades during the two
preceding days. The dead bodies were laid in rows in the palace
courtyard, and the King was invited out to see them. He could not but
obey, and bowed to the crowd as he stood bareheaded before the bodies.

It is clear from the occurrences in Berlin in 1848 that while the
Prussian idea of monarchy is deeply rooted in the German mind, the
possibility of a sudden change in public sentiment and a radical
alteration of the relations between Crown and people are never at any
time to be wholly disregarded. Hence it is that the Emperor and his
Government are so insistent on the doctrine of Heaven-granted
sovereignty, so ready to support more or less autocratic monarchies in
other parts of the world, and so sensitive to popular movements like
Anarchism and Nihilism in Russia, or the always-smouldering Polish
agitation and the propaganda of the Social Democracy in Germany. When
King Frederick William IV said to his assembled generals at Potsdam a
week after the "March Days," "Never have I felt more free or more
secure than when under the protection of my burghers," his words were
drowned in the buzz of murmurs and the angry clanking of swords. The
Emperor to-day might, or might not, endorse the words of his ancestor.
Most probably he would not; for, judging by his speeches, his care for
the army, the military state with which he surrounds himself, and his
habitual appearance in uniform, he, though in truth far more a civil
monarch than the War Lord foreign writers delight in painting him, is
evidently determined to rely only on his soldiers for every
eventuality at home as well as abroad.

Perhaps the best German authorities on Bismarck's falling-out with the
young Emperor are the statements regarding it to be found in the
memoranda supplied at the time by Prince Bismarck himself to Dr.
Moritz Busch; the Memoirs of Prince Hohenlohe-Schillingsfuerst,
subsequently Imperial Chancellor; and the monograph on Bismarck by Dr.
Hans Blum, one of the Chancellor's confidants. The memoranda supplied
to Busch make regrettably few references to the subject, beyond giving
the terms of the official resignation and some scanty addenda thereto;
but enough is said generally by Busch concerning Bismarck's
conversations to show that the Chancellor was deeply mortified by his
dismissal. Bismarck indeed expressly denies this in a conversational
statement quoted by an able Bismarckian writer of our own time, Dr.
Paul Liman; but in view of subsequent events and statements the denial
can hardly be taken as sincere. The passage referred to is as

"I bear no grudge against my young master, who is fiery and
lively. He wishes to make all men happy, and that is very
natural at his age. I, for my part, believe perhaps less in
this possibility, and have told him so too. It is very
natural that a mentor like myself does not please him, and
that he therefore rejects my advice. An old carthorse and a
young courser go ill in harness together. Only politics are
not so easy as a chemical combination: they deal with human
beings. I wish certainly that his experiments may succeed,
and am not in the least angry with him. I stand towards him
like a father whom a son has grieved; the father may suffer
thereby, but all the same he says to himself, 'He is a fine
young fellow.' When I was young I followed my King
everywhere: now that I am old I can no longer accompany my
master when he travels so far. Accordingly it is unavoidable
that counsellors who remained closer to him should win his
confidence at my expense. He is very easily influenced when
one puts before him ideas which he supposes will happily
affect the condition of the people, and he can hardly wait
to put them into operation. The Kaiser will achieve
reputation at once: I have my own to watch over, to defend.
I have sacrificed myself for renown and will not place it in

Prince Hohenlohe's Memoirs are much more valuable in respect of
positive information, and especially in supplying an account of the
incident taken from the lips of the Emperor himself. The Prince was
without his great predecessor's ability, but was much more amiable and
sincere. He was, moreover, a friend of both the parties concerned, and
he impartially jotted down events at the time they occurred. Lastly,
if he was a courtier at heart, he was that not wholly unknown thing,
an honest one. Dr. Hans Blum is obviously a partisan of the great
Chancellor's, but he may also be referred to for a fairly connected
account of the fall and the events that succeeded it up to the time of
Bismarck's death on July 30, 1898.

Apart from the differences in the ages and temperaments of the Emperor
and the Chancellor, there were differences in their views as to
certain measures of policy. There was a difference of opinion as to
German policy regarding Russia. Friendship with that country had been
the policy of both Emperor William I and Bismarck, and the latter had
effected a reinsurance treaty with Russia, stipulating for Russian
neutrality in case of a war between Germany and France,
notwithstanding the subsistence of the Triple Alliance between
Germany, Austria, and Italy. The reinsurance treaty, which had been
made for a period of three years, was now about to expire, and while
Bismarck desired its renewal, the Emperor, in a spirit of loyalty to
Austria, was against the renewal, and the treaty was not renewed. This
was the "new course" as it regarded Russia. The difference with regard
to the anti-Socialist Laws has been referred to in our chapter on the

The Royal Order of September, 1852, which has been mentioned as
leading immediately to the resignation, regulated intercourse between
the Prussian Ministers and the Crown, its chief provision being that
only the Minister President, and not individual Ministers, should have
audience of the Emperor regarding matters of home and foreign policy.
The Emperor desired the abrogation of the Order, for he wished to
consult with the Ministers individually. The text of Bismarck's
official resignation, after describing the origin of the Order,

"If each individual Minister can receive commands from his
Sovereign without previous arrangement with his colleagues,
a coherent policy, for which some one is to be responsible,
is an impossibility. It would be impossible for any of the
Ministers, and especially for the Minister President, to
bear the constitutional responsibility for the Cabinet as a
whole. Such a provision as that contained in the Order of
1852 could be dispensed with under the absolute monarchy and
could also be dispensed with to-day if we returned to
absolutism without ministerial responsibility. But according
to the constitutional arrangements now legally in force the
control of the Cabinet by a President under the Order of
1852 is indispensable."

The Emperor replied to Prince Bismarck's resignation in a
communication which the reader, according to his disposition, will
regard as an effusion of the heart, immensely creditable to its
composer, a model of an official reply as demanded by circumstances, a
striking example of the art of throwing dust in the public eye, or an
equally striking contribution to the literature of excusable
hypocrisy. It was as follows:--

"MY DEAR PRINCE,--With deep emotion I learn from your
request of the 18th instant that you have decided to retire
from the offices which you have filled for long years with
incomparable success. I had hoped not to have been compelled
to entertain the thought of separation during our lives.
While, however, in full consciousness of the important
consequences of your retirement, I am forced to accustom
myself to the thought. I do so, it is true, with a heavy
heart, but in the strong confidence that the grant of your
request will contribute as much as possible to the
protection and preservation for as long as possible of a
life and strength of unreplaceable value to the Fatherland.

"The grounds you offer for your resignation convince me that
any further attempt to induce you to reconsider your
determination would have no prospect of success. I
acquiesce, therefore, in your wish by hereby graciously
releasing you from your offices as Imperial Chancellor,
President of my State Ministry, and Minister of Foreign
Affairs, and trust that your counsels and energy, your
loyalty and devotion, will not be wanting to me and the
country in the future also.

"I have considered it as one of the most valued privileges
in my life that at the commencement of my reign I had you at
my side as my first counsellor. What you have done and
achieved for Prussia and Germany, what you have done for my
House, my ancestors, and me, will remain to me and the
German people in grateful and imperishable memory. But also
in foreign countries your wise and energetic peace policy,
which I, too, in the future also, as a result of sincere
conviction, decide to take as the guiding line of my
conduct, will be always gloriously recognized. It is not in
my power to requite your services as they deserve. I must
rest satisfied with assuring you of my own and the country's
ineffaceable thanks. As a sign of this thanks I confer on
you the rank of a Duke of Lauenburg. I will also send you a
life-sized picture of myself.

"God bless you, my dear Prince, and grant you still many
years of an old age undisturbed and blessed with the
consciousness of duty faithfully done.

"In this disposition I remain to you and yours in the future
also your sincere, obliged, and grateful Emperor and King,


The Emperor has never, so far as is publicly known, issued, or caused
to be issued, an official account of the episode and its _peripeties_,
but the story he poured, evidently out of a full heart, into the ears
of Prince Hohenlohe, then Statthalter of Alsace-Lorraine, during a
midnight drive from the railway station at Hagenau to the hunting
lodge at Sufflenheim, is an historical document of practically
official authenticity. It appears as follows in the Prince's

"STRASBURG, 26 _April_, 1890.

"On the evening of the 23rd, nine o'clock, I drove with
Thaden and Moritz to Hagenau, there to await the arrival of
the Emperor. We spent the evening with circle-officer Klemm.
I went to bed at eleven o'clock in the guest-room, and slept
until half-past twelve. Moritz and Thaden drove to the
station with a view to changing their clothes in the train.
At one o'clock I was again at the station, when the Emperor
punctually arrived. I presented the gentlemen to him, and
turned over General Hahnke to Baron Charpentier and
Lieutenant Cramer, for them to conduct him to the hunting
ground. Our journey lasted about an hour, during which the
Emperor related without a pause the whole story of his
quarrel with Bismarck. According to this the coolness had
already begun in December. The Emperor then demanded that
something should be done about the Working Class Question.
The Chancellor was against doing anything. The Emperor held
the view that if the Government did not take the initiative,
the Reichstag, _i.e_. the Socialists, Centre and
Progressives, would take the matter in hand, and then the
Government would lag behind. The Chancellor wanted to lay
the anti-Socialist Bill with the expulsion paragraph again
before the Reichstag, dissolving the chamber if it did not
accept the Bill, and then, if it came to disturbances, to
take energetic measures. The Emperor objected, saying that
if his grandfather, after a long and glorious reign, were
forced to repress disturbances no one would think ill of
him. It was different in his case, who had as yet
accomplished nothing. People would reproach him with
beginning his reign by shooting down his subjects. He was
ready to act, but he wished to do it with a good conscience
after endeavouring to redress the well-founded grievances of
the workmen, or at least after doing everything to meet
their justifiable claims.

"The Emperor therefore demanded at a ministerial conference
the submission of ministerial edicts which should contain
what subsequently they in fact did contain. Bismarck would
not hear of it. The Emperor then laid the question before
the Council of State, and eventually obtained the edicts in
spite of Bismarck's opposition. Bismarck, however, secretly
continued his opposition, and tried to persuade Switzerland
to persevere with its idea of an International Labour
Conference. The attempt was rendered nugatory by the loyal
attitude of the Swiss Minister in Berlin, Roth. At the very
same time Bismarck was trying to influence the diplomatists
against the conference.

"The relations between the Emperor and Bismarck, already
shaken by these dissensions, were still further embittered
by the question of the Cabinet Order of 1852. Bismarck had
often advised the Emperor to summon the Ministers to him.
This the Emperor did, and as the intercourse became more
frequent Bismarck took it ill, was jealous, and dragged out
the Order of 1852 so as to keep Ministers from the Emperor.
The Emperor resisted and acquired the abrogation of the
Cabinet Order. Bismarck at first agreed, but gave no further
sign in the matter. The Emperor now demanded either that the
recission of the Order should be laid before him, or that
Bismarck should resign--a demand which the Emperor
communicated to Bismarck through General von Hahnke. The
Chancellor delayed, but at length gave in the resignation on
March 18th. It should be added that already, at the
beginning of February, Bismarck had told the Emperor that he
would retire. Afterwards, however, he declared that he had
thought the position over and would remain--a thing not
agreeable to the Emperor, though he made no remonstrance
until the affair of the Cabinet Order came in addition. The
visit of Windthorst to the Chancellor also gave rise to
unpleasantness, though it was not the deciding factor. In
any case the last three weeks were filled with disagreeable
conversations between the Emperor and the Chancellor. It
was, as the Emperor expressed it, a 'devil of a time,' and
the question was, as the Emperor himself said, whether the
dynasty Bismarck or the dynasty Hohenzollern should reign.
The Emperor spoke very angrily, too, about the article in
the _Hamburg News_. In foreign policy Bismarck, according to
the Emperor, went his own way, and kept back from the
Emperor much of what he did. 'Yes,' he said, 'Bismarck had
it conveyed to St. Petersburg that I wanted to adopt an
anti-Russian policy. But for that,' the Emperor added, 'he
had no proofs.'

"This conversation," concludes Prince Hohenlohe, "between
the Emperor and myself was told partly on the way to the
lodge and partly on the way back. Between came the shooting;
but there was no sport, as the Emperor took his stand in the
dark under a tree on which was a cock that did not 'call.'"

The following further extracts from the Hohenlohe Memoirs are given
rather with the object of showing the state of the political and
social atmosphere in which the quarrel took place than as throwing any
fresh light on its course. In June of the preceding year (1889) occurs
an entry which registers the first signs of the coming storm. Prince
Hohenlohe is telling of a visit he made in June to the Grand Duke of
Baden, whom he found irritated by Bismarck's proposal, made in
connection with the arrest of a Prussian police officer by the Swiss,
to close the frontier against the canton Aargau. The Grand Duke, the
Prince relates, quoted Herbert Bismarck as saying he "could not
understand his father any longer and that people were beginning to
believe he was not right in his head."

The next entry in the Journal is dated Strasburg, August 24th. It
concerns another meeting with the Grand Duke, who now told him that
Bismarck had changed his views and that these oscillations had puzzled
the Emperor and at the same time heightened his self-consciousness;
moreover, that the Emperor noticed that things were being kept back
from him and was becoming suspicious. There had already been a
collision between the Emperor and the Chancellor and the latter might
have to go. What then? Probably the Emperor thought of conducting
foreign policy himself--but that, added the Grand Duke, would be very

The feeling at Court regarding Bismarck's fall is shown by a passage
in the Memoirs about this time. It runs:

"At 1.30 p.m. dinner (at the palace) at which I sat between
Stosch and Kameke. The former told me much about his own
quarrel with Bismarck, and was as gay as a snow-king that he
can now speak freely and that the great man is no longer to
be feared. This comfortable sentiment is obvious here on all

The anecdote still current in Berlin, that Bismarck actually threw an
inkstand at the Emperor's head is reduced to its proper proportions by
the following entry:

"The Grand Duke of Baden, with whom I was yesterday, knows a
good deal about the recent crisis. He says the cause of the
breach between the Emperor and Chancellor was a question of
power, and that all other differences of opinion about
social legislation and other things were only secondary. The
chief ground was the Cabinet Order of 1852, which Bismarck
pressed on the attention of the Ministers without the
Emperor's knowledge, and so hindered them from going to make
their reports to the Emperor. The Emperor wanted the Order
rescinded, while Bismarck was against it. Nor had the
conversation with Windthorst led to the breach. A talk
between the Emperor and Bismarck about this conversation is
said to have been so tempestuous that the Emperor
subsequently said when describing it, 'He (Bismarck) all but
threw the inkstand at me.'" To Hohenlohe Bismarck said, as
Hohenlohe remarked that the resignation had surprised him,
"Me also," and that three weeks before he did not think
things would end as they had. Bismarck added: "However, it
was to be expected, for the Emperor is now quite determined
to rule alone."

Finally the Prince's Journal has the following:

"Two things struck me in these last three days: one that no
one has any time and every one is in a greater hurry than
before; and secondly, that individualities have expanded.
Every individual is conscious of himself, while before,
under the predominating influence of Prince Bismarck,
individualities shrank and were kept down. Now they are all
swollen like sponges placed in water. That has its
advantages, but also its dangers. The single-minded will is

The period between the great Chancellor's fall and his death nine
years later was marked by so many incidents as to make it almost as
_mouvemente_ as the period of the fall itself. He retired to
Friedrichsruh, all the more immediately as the new Chancellor, General
von Caprivi, showed such indecent haste in taking possession of the
official residence that a portion of Bismarck's furniture was broken
and rendered useless. That Bismarck retired with the angry feelings of
a Coriolanus in his heart, or, as Anglo-Saxon slang would have it, of
a "bear with a sore head," became evident only a few weeks later. He
was visited by the inevitable interviewer, and chose the _Hamburg
News_ as the medium of communicating to the world his opinion of the
new _regime_ and the men who were conducting it; and made use of that
paper with such instant vigour and acerbity that little more than two
months from his retirement elapsed before the new Chancellor thought
it advisable to issue instructions to Germany's diplomatic
representatives warning them carefully to distinguish between the
"present sentiments and views of the Duke of Lauenburg and those of
the erstwhile Prince Bismarck," and to pay no serious attention to the
former. Bismarck replied in the _Hamburg News_ that he would not allow
his mouth to be closed, and set about proving that he meant what he
said. Nothing the men of the "new course" could do met with his
approval. The first thing he fell foul of was the Anglo-German
agreement of July 1, 1890, which gave Germany Heligoland in exchange
for Zanzibar, deploring the badness of the bargain for Germany, and
evidently not foreseeing the importance that island's position,
commanding the approaches to the mouths of the Elbe and the Weser, was
afterwards to possess. Besides the friendliness with England, the
detachment of Germany from Russia in favour of Austria, also a feature
of the "new course," did not please him as tending to drive Russia
into the arms of France.

His prescience, however, in this respect was demonstrated when a year
later the Czar saluted a French squadron in the harbour of Cronstadt
to the strains of the "Marseillaise" and signed a secret agreement
that was alluded to four years later by the French Premier, M. Ribot,
in the French Chamber of Deputies, who spoke of Russia as "our ally,"
and was publicly announced in 1897, on the occasion of President Felix
Faure's visit to St. Petersburg, by the Czar's now famous employment
of the words "_deux nations amies et alliees_."

The ex-Chancellor was as little satisfied with the new tariff treaties
entered into by General Caprivi with Austria, Italy, Belgium, and
other countries, which the Emperor, wiser, as events have shown, than
his former Minister, characterized on their passage by Parliament as
the country's "salvation" (_eine rettende Tat_). The ex-Chancellor's
caustic but mistaken criticism was punished by the calculated neglect
of the Berlin authorities to invite him to the ceremonies attending
the celebration of the ninetieth birthday of his old comrade, General
von Moltke, in October, 1890, and that of his funeral in the following
April: still more publicly punished in connexion with the marriage of
his son Herbert.

The wedding of the latter to Countess Marguerite Hoyos was to take
place in Vienna on June 21, 1892, and on the 18th Prince Bismarck
started with his family to attend it. The journey was a species of
triumphal progress to Vienna, but it was to end in disappointment and
chagrin. As the result of representations from Germany, made doubtless
with the Emperor's assent, if not at his suggestion, Bismarck was met
on his arrival with the news that the German Ambassador, Prince Reuss,
and the Embassy staff had orders to absent themselves from the
wedding, that the widow of the Crown Prince Rudolph, who had accepted
a card of invitation to it, had suddenly left Vienna, and that the
Emperor Franz Joseph would not receive him. The German action was
explained by the publication two months later of the edict,
stigmatized by Bismarck as an "Urias Letter," in which Caprivi warned
foreign Governments against attaching any importance to the utterances
of the Duke of Lauenburg. The Bismarckian and anti-Bismarckian storm
came up afresh in Germany. Bismarck was reproached by the Government
as "injuring monarchical feeling," and by his enemies as a traitor to
his country; while the angry statesman published a statement
expressing the opinion that

"the control of private social intercourse abroad, and the
influencing of dinner invitations, were not tasks for which
high officers of State were selected nor public money for
the payment of diplomatic representatives voted":

doubting, at the same time, "if the foreign archives of any other
country than Germany could show a parallel to the incident."

The storm, notwithstanding, had a good effect, for it brought out in
bold relief the immense regard and respect the overwhelming majority
of his countrymen entertained for the chief architect of their Empire;
and when Bismarck fell ill at Kissingen in 1893 the Emperor,
subordinating his political animosities to the chivalrous instincts of
his nature, telegraphed his sorrow to the patient and offered to lend
him one of the royal castles for the purpose of his convalescence.
Bismarck declined, but not ungratefully, and the way to a
reconciliation was opened. Next year, 1894, Bismarck suffered from
influenza, and when this time the Emperor sent an adjutant to
Friedrichsruh to express his regret, invited him to attend the
festivities on the forthcoming royal birthday, and sent along with the
invitation a flask of Steinberger Cabinet from the imperial cellar in
characteristic German proof of the sincerity of his feelings, the
country was delighted. Bismarck accepted the invitation and doubtless
drank the Steinberger; and the visit to Berlin followed in due time.

The reconciliation was completed amid sympathetic popular rejoicing.
The Emperor sent his brother, Prince Henry, to bring the ex-Chancellor
from the railway station to the palace, where the Emperor himself,
surrounded by a brilliant staff, stood to welcome the guest. Bismarck
spent the day at the palace with the Royal Family and was taken back
to the railway station in the evening by the Emperor. A few days later
the Emperor returned the visit at Friedrichsruh.

The quiet of the ex-Chancellor's last years was once unpleasantly
affected by the Reichstag in 1895, at the instance of his
parliamentary enemies, rejecting, to its everlasting discredit, a
proposal for an official vote of congratulation to the ex-Chancellor
on his eightieth birthday; but against this unpleasantness may be set
his gratification at the receipt of a telegram from the Emperor
expressing his "deepest indignation" at the rejection.

Prince Bismarck died on July 30th, 1898, and was laid to rest at
Friedrichsruh in the presence of the Emperor and Empress, while the
world paused for a moment in its occupations to discuss with
sympathetic admiration the dead man's personality and career.
Bismarck's spirit is still abroad in Germany, and the popular memory
of him is as fresh now as though he died but yesterday. It is more
than probable, much rather is it certain, that all trace of irritation
with the proud old Chancellor has long faded from the Emperor's mind:
indeed at no time does there seem to have been sentiments of personal
or permanent rancour on one side or the other. The episode, in short,
was an inevitable collision of ages, temperaments, and times,
regrettable no doubt as a possibly harmful example of political
discord among the leaders of the nation, but--with due respect for the
judgment of so capable an historian as von Treitschke--leaving no
"indelible stain" either on the pages of German history or on the
reputations of Bismarck or the Emperor.




A great English poet sings of the "spacious days" of Queen Elizabeth.
From the German standpoint the decade from the fall of Bismarck to the
end of the century may not inaptly be described as the spacious days
of William II and the modern German Empire. To the Englishman the
actual territorial acquisitions of Germany during the period must seem
comparatively insignificant, but, taken in connection with the
Emperor's speeches, the building of the German navy, the Caprivi
commercial treaties, the growth of friendly relations and of trade and
intercourse with America, North and South, they mean the opening of a
new era in the history of the Empire--the era of Weltpolitik.

Heligoland was obtained in exchange for Zanzibar in 1890, and is now
regarded by Germans much as Gibraltar or Malta is regarded by
Englishmen. The first Kiel regatta, due solely to the initiative of
the Emperor, and starting the development of sport in all fields which
is a feature of modern German progress, ethical and physical, was held
in 1894. The Caprivi commercial treaties were concluded within the
period. The Kiel Canal, connecting the Baltic and North Sea, and
giving the German fleet access to all the open waters of the earth,
was opened in 1895. In 1896 the Kruger telegram testified to imperial
interest in South African developments. The Hamburg-Amerika Line now
sent a specially fast mail and passenger steamer across the Atlantic.
The district of Kiautschau was leased from China in 1898, securing
Germany a foothold and naval base in the Far East. In the same year
the modern Oriental policy of the Empire was inaugurated by the
Emperor's visit to Palestine and his declaration in the course of it
that he would be the friend of Turkey and of the three hundred
millions of Mohammedans who recognized the Sultan as their spiritual
head. To this year also belongs the measure, the most important in its
consequences and significance of the reign hitherto, the passing of
the First Navy Law. Finally, in 1899 Germany acquired the Caroline
Islands by purchase from Spain, and certain Samoan Islands by
agreement with England and America.

Nothing was more natural as a result of the new world-policy than a
change in the mental outlook of the people. It inaugurated in Germany
an era somewhat analogous to the era inaugurated in England by the
widening and brightening of the Englishman's horizon under Elizabeth.
The analogy may not be closely maintainable throughout, but, generally
speaking, just as the eyes of Englishmen suddenly saw the
possibilities of expansion disclosed to them by Drake, Raleigh, and
Frobisher, so the Emperor's appeals, with the pursuance of German
colonial policy and the attempt to develop Germany's African
possessions, led to an awakening in Germany of a similar, if weaker,
kind. To this awakening the building of the German navy contributed;
and though it did not appeal to the German imagination as did the
deeds of the old navigators to that of Elizabethan Englishmen, it
widened the national outlook and fired the people with new imperial
ambitions. Hitherto, moreover, Germany's attention had been confined
almost solely to trade within continental boundaries: henceforth she
was to do business actively and enterprisingly with all parts of the

The Emperor's thoughts on the subject were expressed in January, 1896,
at a banquet in the Berlin palace given to a miscellaneous company of
leading personalities of the time. The occasion was the celebration of
the twenty-fifth year of the modern Empire's foundation. He said:

"The German Empire becomes a world-empire. Everywhere in the
farthest parts of the earth live thousands of our
fellow-countrymen. German subjects, German knowledge, German
industry cross the ocean. The value of German goods on the
seas amounts to thousands of millions of marks. On you,
gentlemen, devolves the serious duty of helping me to knit
firmly this greater German Empire to the Empire at home."

The expression "greater German Empire" immediately reminded the
Englishman of his own "Greater Britain," and he concluded that the
Emperor was secretly thinking of rivalling him in the extent and value
of his colonial possessions. Possibly he was, and doubtless he
ardently desired to see Germany owning large and fertile colonies; but
it is quite as probable he was thinking of his economic Weltpolitik,
and knew as well then as he does now that it must be left to time and
the hour to show whether they fall to her or not.

In the same order of ideas may be placed, though it is anticipating
somewhat, the Emperor's utterances at Aix in 1902 and three years
later at Bremen. At Aix, after describing the failure of Charlemagne's
successors to reconcile the duties of a Holy Roman Emperor with those
of a German King, he continued:

"Now another Empire has arisen. The German people has once
more an Emperor of its own choice, with the sword on the
field of battle has the crown been won, and the imperial
flag flutters high in the breeze. But the tasks of the new
Empire are different: confined within its borders it has to
steel itself anew for the work it has to do, and which it
could not achieve in the Middle Ages. We have to live so
that the Empire, still young, becomes from year to year
stronger in itself, while confidence in it strengthens on
all sides. The powerful German army guarantees the peace of
Europe. In accord with the German character we confine
ourselves externally in order to be unconfined internally.
Far stretches our speech over the ocean, far the flight of
our science and exploration; no work in the domain of new
discovery, no scientific idea but is first tested by us and
then adopted by other nations. This is the world-rule the
German spirit strives for."

At Bremen he said:

"The world-empire I dream of is a new German Empire which
shall enjoy on all hands the most absolute confidence as a
quiet, peaceable, honest neighbour--not founded by conquest
with the sword, but on the mutual confidence of nations
aiming at the same end."

The Emperor's world-policy was referred to more than once about this
time by Chancellor Prince Buelow in the Reichstag. "It is," he said on
one occasion, "Germany's intention and duty to protect the great and
ever-growing oversea interests which she has acquired through the
development of conditions." "We recognize," he continued,

"that we have no longer interests only round our own
fireside or in the neighbourhood of the church clock, but
everywhere where German industry and Germany's commercial
spirit have penetrated; and we must foster these interests
within the bounds of possibility and good sense."

"Our world-policy," he said on another occasion in the same place,

"is not a policy of interference, much less a policy of
intervention: had it interfered in South Africa (he was
alluding to the Boer War) it must have intervened, and
intervention implies the use of force."

On yet another occasion he explained that a prudent world-policy must
go hand in hand with a sound protective policy for home industry, and
that its basis must be a strong national home policy.

There is nothing in all this, even supposing Germany's interests at
that time were purposely exaggerated, to which the foreigner could
reasonably object. The foreigner felt perhaps slightly uncomfortable
when the same statesman, departing for a moment from his usual
objective standpoint, spoke of the German "traversing the world with a
sword in one hand and a spade and trowel in the other"; but otherwise
no act of Germany's world-policy need have inspired alarm, or need
inspire alarm at the present time, in sensible foreign minds. The
rapidity of its action probably helped to excite a feeling that it
could not be altogether honest or above-board; but it should be
remembered that the new Empire had much leeway to make up in the race
with other nations, and that quick development was rendered necessary
by her commercial treaties, by her protective system, by the
unexpected growth of industry and trade, by the continuous increase of
population, the development of the mercantile marine, and the growing
consciousness of national strength.

And if there is nothing in Germany's development of her world-policy
to which the foreigner can reasonably object, there is much in it at
which he can reasonably rejoice. Competition is good for him, for it
puts him on his mettle. A large and prosperous German population
extends his markets and means more business and more profit. The minds
of both Germans and the foreigner become broader, more mutually
sympathetic and appreciative. The elder Pitt warned his
fellow-countrymen against letting France become a maritime, a
commercial, or a colonial power. She has become all three, and what
injury has occurred therefrom to England or any other nation?

Germany's colonial development dates from about the year 1884, the
period of the "scramble for Africa." The first step to acquiring
German colonies for the Empire was taken in 1883, when a merchant of
Bremen, Edouard Luderitz, made an agreement with the Hottentots by
which the bay of Angra Pequena in South-West Africa, with an area of
fifty thousand square kilometres, was ceded to him. Luderitz applied
to Bismarck for imperial protection. Bismarck inquired of England
whether she claimed rights of sovereignty over the bay. Lord Granville
replied in the negative, but added that he did not consider the
seizure of possession by another Power allowable. Indignant at what he
called a "monstrous claim" on all the land in the world which was
without a master, Bismarck telegraphed to the German Consul at the
Cape to "declare officially to the British Government that Herr
Luderitz and his acquisitions are under the protection of the Empire."

The Bremen pioneer was fated to gain no advantage from his enterprise,
as he was drowned in the Orange River in 1886. His example as a
colonist, however, was followed by three Hanseatic merchants,
Woermann, Jansen, and Thormealen, of Hamburg, who acquired land in
Togo, a small kingdom to the east of the British Gold Coast, and in
the Cameroons, a large tract in the bend of the Gulf of Guinea,
extending to Lake Chad, and applied for German imperial protection.
Bismarck sent Consul-General Nachtigall with the gunboat _Moewe_ in
1884 to hoist the German flag at various ports. Five days after this
had been done the English gunboat _Flirt_ arrived, but was thus too
late to obtain Togoland and the Cameroons for England.

Dr. Carl Peters, the German Cecil Rhodes, now arrived at Zanzibar, and
on obtaining concessions from the Sultan founded the German East
Africa Company, with a charter from his Government. German hopes of
great colonial expansion began to run high, but they were dashed by
the Anglo-German agreement of June, 1890, delimiting the spheres of
England, Germany, and the Sultan of Zanzibar, and stipulating that
Germany should receive Heligoland from England in return for German
recognition of English suzerainty in Zanzibar and the possession of
Uganda, which had recently been taken for Germany by Dr. Peters. At
that time Germans thought very little of Heligoland, but there was
then no Anglo-German tension, and no apprehension of an English
descent on the German coast.

The lease for ninety-nine years of Kiautschau, a small area of about
four hundred square miles on the coast of China, was obtained from the
Chinese in connexion with the murder of two German missionaries in
1897 in the Shantung Province, of which Kiautschau forms a part. Herr
von Buelow, then only Foreign Secretary, referred to the transaction in
the Reichstag in words that may be quoted, as they describe German
foreign policy in the Far East. "Our cruiser fleet," he said,

"was sent to Kiautschau Bay to exact reparation for the
murder of German Catholic missionaries on the one hand, and
to obtain greater security for the future against a
repetition of such occurrences. The Government,"

he continued,

"has nothing but benevolent and friendly designs regarding China, and
has no wish either to offend or provoke her. We are ready in East Asia
to recognize the interests of other Great Powers in the certain
confidence that our own interests will be duly respected by them. In
one word--we desire to put no one in the shade, but we too demand our
place in the sun. In East Asia, as in the West Indies, we shall
endeavour, in accordance with the traditions of German policy, without
unnecessary rigour, but also without weakness, to guard our rights and
our interests."

In mentioning the West Indies the Foreign Secretary was alluding to a
quarrel Germany had at this time with the negro republic of Haiti,
owing to the arrest and imprisonment of a German subject in that
island. Kiautschau is administratively under the German Admiralty.

The Caroline, Marianne, and Palau Islands, including the Marschall
Islands and the islands of the Bismarck archipelago, were bought from
Spain this year for twenty-five million pesetas, or about one million
sterling. The islands are valuable in German eyes, not only for their
fertility and capacity for plantation development, but as affording
good harbourage and coaling stations on the sea-road to China, Japan,
and Central America. By the agreement with England and America, which
in this year also put an end to the thorny question of Samoan
administration, Germany acquired the Samoan islands of Upolu and
Sawaii in the South Sea.

The ten years we are now concerned with were perhaps the most
strenuous and picturesque of the Emperor's life hitherto. He was now
his own Chancellor, though that post was nominally occupied by General
von Caprivi and Prince Chlodwig Hohenlohe successively. He was
Chancellor, too, knowing that not a hundred miles off the old pilot of
the ship of State was watching, keenly and not too benevolently, his
every act and word. He was conscious that the eyes of the world were
fixed on him, and that every other Government was waiting with
interest and curiosity to learn what sort of rival in statecraft and
diplomacy it would henceforward have to reckon with. Naturally many
plans coursed through his restlessly active brain, but there were
always, one may imagine, two compelling and ever-present thoughts at
the back of them. One of these was a determination to promote the
moral and material prosperity of his people so as to make them a model
and thoroughly modern commonwealth; the other, the resolve that as
Emperor he would not allow Germany to be overlooked, to be treated as
a _quantite negligeable_, in the discussion or decision of
international affairs.

The Chancellorship of General von Caprivi, who had been successively
Minister of War and Marine, lasted from March, 1890, to October, 1894.
He may have been a good commanding general, but he has left no
reputation either as a man of marked character or as a statesman of
exceptional ability. Nor was either character or ability much needed.
He was, as every one knew, a man of immensely inferior ability to his
great predecessor, but every one knew also that the Emperor intended
to be his own Chancellor, pursue his own policy, and take
responsibility for it. Taking responsibility is, naturally, easier for
a Hohenzollern monarch than for most men, since he is responsible to
no one but himself. With the appointment of Caprivi the Emperor's
"personal regiment" may be said to have begun.

During General von Caprivi's term of office some measures of
importance have to be noted, among them the Quinquennat, which
replaced Bismarck's Septennat and fixed the military budget for five
years instead of seven; the reduction of the period of conscription
for the infantry from three years to two; and the decision not to
renew Bismarck's reinsurance treaty with Russia.

The chief event, however, with which Chancellor Caprivi's name is
usually associated, is the conclusion of commercial treaties between
Germany and most other continental countries. Other countries had
followed Germany's example and adopted a protective system, and with a
view to the avoidance of tariff wars, Caprivi, strongly supported, it
need hardly be said, by an Emperor who had just declared that "the
world at the end of the nineteenth century stands under the star of
commerce, which breaks down the barriers between nations," began a
series of commercial treaty negotiations.

The first agreements were made with Germany's allies in the Triplice,
Austria and Italy. Treaties with Switzerland and Belgium, Servia and
Rumania, followed. Russia held aloof for a time, but as a great
grain-exporting country she too found it advisable to come to terms.
With France there was no need of an agreement, since she was bound by
the Treaty of Frankfurt, concluded after the war of 1870, to grant
Germany her minimum duties. One of the regrettable results of the
Empire's new commercial policy was an antagonism between agriculture
and industry which now declared itself and has remained active to the
present day. The political cause of Caprivi's fall from power, if
power it can be called, was the twofold hostility of the Conservative
and Liberal parties in Parliament, that of the Conservatives being due
to the injury supposed to be done to landlord interests by the
commercial treaties, and that of the Liberals by an Education Bill,
which, it was alleged, would hand the Prussian school system
completely over to the Church. Perhaps the main cause, however, was
the general unpopularity he incurred by attacking, officially and
through the press, his predecessor, Bismarck, the idol of the people.

It was in the Chancellorship of Prince Hohenlohe, which ended in 1900,
that the most memorable events of this remarkable decade occurred;
but, as was to be expected, and as the Emperor himself must have
expected, the Prince, now a man of seventy-five, played a very
secondary part with regard to them. The Prince was what the Germans
call a "house-friend" of the Hohenzollern family and related to it. He
was useful, his contemporaries say, as a brake on the impetuous temper
of his imperial master, though he did not, we may be sure, turn him
from any of the main designs he had at heart. Prince Hohenlohe, in
character, was good-nature and amiability personified. He was beloved
by all classes and parties, and no foreigner can read his Memoirs
without a feeling of friendliness for a Personality so moderate and
calm and simple. A note he makes in one of his diaries amusingly
illustrates the simple side of his character. He is dining with the
Emperor, when the Emperor, catching the Prince's eye, which we may be
sure was on the alert to gather up any of the royal beams that might
come his way, raises his glass in sign of amity. "I felt so overcome,"
notes the Prince, "that I almost spilt the champagne."

The famous "Kruger telegram" episode occurred during the
Chancellorship of Prince Hohenlohe.

For many years the sending of the telegram was cited as a convincing
proof of the Emperor's "impulsive" character, and it was not until
1909 that the truth of the matter was stated by Chancellor von Buelow
in the Reichstag. In March of that year he said:

"It has been asked, was this telegram an act of personal
initiative or an act of State? In this regard let me refer
you to your own proceedings. You will remember that the
responsibility for the telegram was never repudiated by the
directors of our political business at the time. The
telegram was an act of State, the result of official
consultations; it was in nowise an act of personal
initiative on the part of his Majesty the Kaiser. Whoever
asserts that it was is ignorant of what preceded it and does
his Majesty completely wrong."

The Emperor's telegram to President Kruger, despatched on January 3,
1896, ran as follows:--

"I congratulate you most sincerely on having succeeded with
your people, and without calling on the help of foreign
Powers, by opposing your own force to an armed band which
broke into your country to disturb the peace, in restoring
quiet and in maintaining the independence of your country
against external attack."

The echoes of this historic message were heard immediately in every
country, but naturally nowhere more loudly than in England; and the
reverberation of them is audible to the present day. In Germany,
however, for a day or two, the telegram seems to have surprised no
one, was indeed spoken of with approval by deputies in the Reichstag,
and seems not to have occurred to any one in the light of a serious
diplomatic mistake. This state of feeling did not last long, and when
the English newspapers arrived an entirely new light was thrown on the
matter. The _Morning Post_ concluded an article with the words: "It is
not easy to speak calmly of the Kaiser's telegram. The English people
will not forget it, and in future will always think of it when
considering its foreign policy." The British Government's comment on
the telegram was to put a flying squadron in commission and issue an
official statement _urbi et orbi_, calling attention to the Convention
made with President Kruger in London in 1884, reserving the
supervision of the foreign relations of the Transvaal to the British

The Emperor himself appears to have recognized that he and his
advisers had made a serious blunder, and that a gesture which, it is
highly probable, was partly prompted by the chivalrous side of his
character, was certain to be gravely misunderstood. At any rate his
policy, or that of his Government, changed, and instead of following
up his encouraging words with mediation or intervention, he assumed an
attitude of neutrality towards the war which soon after began.
Subsequently, in the Reichstag, Chancellor von Buelow described the
course the German Government pursued immediately before and during the
war; and there seems no reason to discredit his account. The speech
was made apropos of the projected visit of President Kruger to Berlin,
when on his tour of despair to the capitals of Europe while the war
was still in progress. He was cheered by boulevard crowds in Paris,
itself a thing of no great significance, and was received at the
Elysee and by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, M. Delcasse. The
visitor was very reserved on both occasions, and confined himself to
sounding his hosts as to whether or not he could reckon on their good

From Paris he started for Berlin, where he had engaged a large and
expensive first-floor suite of rooms in a fashionable hotel. At
Cologne, however, shortly after entering Germany, a telegram from
Potsdam awaited him, announcing the Emperor's refusal to grant him
audience. The imperial telegram consisted of a few words to the effect
that the Emperor was "not in a position" to receive him. Nor in truth
was he. An audience at that moment would have meant war between
Germany and England.

As to German policy with regard to the Boer War, Prince Buelow
explained that the German Government deplored the war not only because
it was between two Christian and white races, that were, moreover, of
the same Germanic stock, but also because it drew within the evil
circle of its consequences important German economic and political
interests. He went on to describe their nature, enumerating under the
one head the thousands of German settlers in South Africa, the
industrial establishments and banks they had founded there, the busy
trade and the millions sterling of invested capital; while, as
regarded the other head, the Government had to take care that the war
exercised no injurious influence on German territory in that region.

The Government, the Chancellor claimed, had done everything consistent
with neutrality and the conservation of German interests to hinder the
outbreak of the war. It had "loyally" warned the two Dutch republics
of the disposition in Europe, and left them in no doubt as to the
attitude Germany would adopt if war should come. These communications
were not made directly, but through the Hague authorities and the
Consul-General of the Netherlands in Pretoria. At that time the United
States Government had come forward with a proposal for a submission of
the quarrel to its arbitration, but the proposal had been rejected by
President Kruger.

A little later the President changed his mind, but it was then too
late and war was declared. Once the die was cast, Germany could only
with propriety have interfered, provided she had reason to believe her
mediation would be accepted by both parties: otherwise her conduct
would not be mediation, but be regarded, in accordance with diplomatic
usage, as intervention with coercive measures in the background. For
such a policy Germany had no disposition, for it meant running the
risk of a diplomatic defeat on the one hand and of an armed conflict
with England on the other.

As regards the visit of the President to Berlin and the Emperor's
refusal to receive him, the Chancellor asked would a reception have
done any good either to the President or to Germany, and he answered
his own question with an emphatic negative. To the President an
audience would have been of no more use than the ovations and
demonstrations he was greeted with in Paris. To Germany a reception
would have meant a shifting of international relations to the
disadvantage of the country: in other words, would have meant the
risk, almost the certainty, of war. "Wars," said the Chancellor in
this connexion,

"are much more easily unchained through elementary popular
passions, through the passionate excitation of public
opinion, than in the old days through the ambitions of
monarchs or through the jealousies of Ministers."

And he concluded:

"With regard to England we stand entirely independent of
her: we are not a hair's-breadth more dependent on England
than England is on us. But we are ready on the basis of
mutual consideration and complete equality--about this
obvious preliminary condition for a proper relation between
two Great Powers we have never left any Power in doubt: I
say, we are ready on this basis to live with England in
peace, friendship, and harmony. To play the Don Quixote and
to lay the lance in rest and attack wherever in the world
English windmills are to be found, for that we are not
called upon."

But just then there was little prospect of "peace friendship, and
harmony" with England. The world remembers, and unfortunately the
English people do not forget, that they had nowhere more bitter and
offensive critics than in Germany. One refined method of opprobrium
was the unprohibited sale in the main streets of Berlin of spittoons
bearing the countenance of the English Colonial Minister, Mr.
Chamberlain. A war with England would at that moment have been highly
popular in Germany, but as the Chancellor wisely reminded the
Parliament, it was the duty of the statesman to protect international
relations from disturbance by intrigue or by popular demonstration.

Finally the Chancellor dealt with a report widely current in England
and Germany at the time, to the effect that the Emperor's refusal to
receive President Kruger was due to the influence of his uncle, King
Edward. The Chancellor emphatically denied that any pressure of the
kind from the English Court, or from any other source, had been
employed, and ended by saying:

"To suppose that his Majesty the Kaiser could allow himself
to be influenced by family relations shows little
understanding of his character, or of his love of country.
For his Majesty solely the national standpoint is decisive,
and if it were otherwise, and family relations or dynastic
considerations determined our foreign policy, I would not
remain Minister a day longer."

A precisely similar and unfounded charge, it will be remembered, was
made against King Edward VII in 1902, to the effect that it was Court
influence, not the deliberate judgment of the Cabinet, that was the
efficient cause of the co-operation of the British with the German
fleet in the demonstration off the coast of Venezuela.

A recent writer, Dr. Adolf Stein, gives an account of the sending of
the famous telegram which corroborates that of Prince von Buelow. The
telegram, according to this version, was a well-considered answer to a
question from the Transvaal Government put to the German Government a
month before the Raid occurred, and when the Transvaal Government got
the first inkling of the preparations being made for it. President
Kruger asked what attitude Germany would adopt in case of a war
between England and the Boer republics. The answer given to the person
who made the inquiry on behalf of the Transvaal Government was that
President Kruger might rest assured of Germany's

"diplomatic support in so far as it was also Germany's
interest that the independence of the Boer States should be
maintained, but that for anything beyond this he should not
reckon on Germany's assistance or that of any Great Power."

This answer, Dr. Stein says, was in course of transmission by the post
when the Raid occurred.

The Raid was made on January 1st. The event was at once telegraphed to
Berlin, where Prince Hohenlohe was Chancellor, with Freiherr Marschall
von Bieberstein, afterwards German Ambassador in Constantinople and
London, as his Foreign Secretary. According to Dr. Stein, they drew up
a telegram to President Kruger, and on the morning of the 3rd laid it
before the Emperor, who had come early from Potsdam for consultation
on the matter. The Chancellor, it should be mentioned, had been at
Potsdam the day previous, but at that time the news of the Raid had
not reached the Emperor. The Emperor, Chancellor, and Foreign
Secretary now decided that a telegram congratulating President Kruger
for having repulsed the Raid "without foreign aid" was the best
non-committal form to adopt. The Emperor, Dr. Stein continues, raised
some objections, but was over-persuaded by Prince Hohenlohe and von

As confirming this version, a little note in Lord Goschen's Biography
may be recalled, in which Lord Goschen confides to a friend a few
weeks before the Raid that the "Germans were taking the Boers under
their wing, as the Americans had done with the Venezuelans."

Enough perhaps has been said to show that the sending of the telegram
had nothing to do with the Emperor's "impulsive" character, and it
will only be fair to him to let the notion that it had drop finally
out of contemporary history. As an act of State it was in consonance
with German policy at the time. That policy, if it did not look to
acquiring possession of the Transvaal, may very well have looked to
enlisting the sympathies and friendship of the Dutch in South Africa,
and finding in them and their country a field for German enterprise
and a market for German goods; and there was therefore nothing
impulsive, however mistaken the act may have been as a matter of
foreign policy, in the German Government's congratulating President
Kruger on successful resistance to a private raid.

We have suggested that the telegram was partly due to a certain
element of chivalry in the Emperor's character. The Emperor was well
acquainted with other forms of government and other social systems
besides his own, and though a Hohenzollern could put himself in the
position of the chief of the little Boer republic, threatened as he
was with annihilation by a mighty and powerful opponent. Moreover,
there is always to be remembered the sympathy of view, particularly of
religious view, that existed in the two men as regarded their attitude
and duties to their respective "folk." The President had appealed to
the Emperor for help. The Emperor had had to refuse it, but had wired
that he would do all he could "diplomatically." He knew that this was
but a poor sort of assistance, but it was something, and when the Raid
occurred he gave the diplomatic assistance he had promised by sending
a telegram of congratulation. In any case--_tempi passati_. Foreign
policy is not concerned with sympathies or antipathies, and the whole
episode should be ignored, or, better still, forgotten.

The Kruger telegram, it turned out, was to usher in a long period of
tension between two countries of the same race, singularly alike in
their ideals of whatever is sound and praiseworthy in Christian
civilization, and almost equally mutual admirers of the fundamental
features of each other's national character. Unfortunately, along with
these fundamental features of the English and German national
characters, the love of money, the _auri sacra fames_, has to be
reckoned with, and in the race of nations for wealth and power the
fundamental qualities are apt, for a time, to be overborne and cease
to act. The rise of the modern German Empire to power and prosperity,
and the new world-situation thus created, largely by the Emperor, is
at the bottom of Anglo-German tension. As a main contributory cause of
both the power and the prosperity, was the creation of the German navy
at the period of which we write.

The following is a parable which he who runs may read:--

In a certain town, with a large and heterogeneous
population, there was once a "monster" shop. The firm (there
were three partners) had been established for hundreds of
years, had thrown out several branches, and by hard work,
enterprise, and honesty had acquired a leading position in
the trade of the town: so much so, indeed, that as time went
on it had also come to do the carriage and delivery of goods
for most of the smaller shops, though some of these were
large houses themselves and the majority of them in a fair
way of business. The smaller shops were naturally a little
jealous of the "monster," and it was the dream of every
owner of them to enlarge his premises and become the
proprietor of an equally great emporium as the "monster."
One day, therefore, a little cluster of shops, at some
distance from the "monster," suddenly resolved to form a
combination, and after settling a dispute with a neighbour
in consideration of a sum of money and a fruitful tract of
land, issued the prospectus of the new company and began to
do business on modern lines.

Almost from the very beginning the new company was a great
success: its situation was central; the company inspired its
members with enterprise and spirit; it was industrious,
energetic, and splendidly organized; and at last it began to
cut into the trade of the old-established "monster."
Competition might have gone on in the ordinary way had not
the new company made a departure in business methods that
gradually roused special uneasiness among the members of the
"monster" firm. Hitherto the latter had its delivery vans
travel all over the town, and so well was this part of its
system carried on that the firm acquired all but a monopoly
of carrying and delivery. The new company, however, now
began to do a little in the same line, whereupon the
"monster" took to building a superior type of van much more
powerful and imposing, if also much more expensive, than the
one previously in use. The new company naturally followed
suit, and in a surprisingly short time had built, or had
under construction, several vans of an exactly similar kind.
The "monster" saw the new departure of their rivals at first
with curiosity, then with contempt, then with anxiety, and
finally with suspicion and alarm. At the time of writing the
alarm appears to have abated, but a good deal of the
suspicion remains. The town is the world, the "monster"
Great Britain, and the rival company the modern German

It would require the Emperor himself properly to tell the story of his
creation of the modern German navy, and if he has a right to call any
part of his people's property his own, he is justified in speaking, as
he invariably does, of "my navy." As Prince William, his interest in
the subject may have been originally due, as has been seen, to his
partly English parentage, his frequent visits to England, and the fact
that his physical disability threatened to prevent him taking an
active part in the more strenuous duties of the soldier. It is very
probable that it was in the region that cradled the British navy the
idea of a great German navy was conceived by him. We have seen that
the Emperor, as Prince William, showed his enthusiasm in the matter by
delivering lectures on it in military circles, though it was not his
lot, but that of his brother Henry, to be assigned the navy as a
profession. In his Order to the Navy on ascending the throne, he spoke
of the "lively and warm interest" that bound him to the navy, shortly
afterwards issued directions for a new marine uniform on the English
model, and caused the introduction into the Lutheran Church service of
a special prayer for the arm. He gave a parliamentary soiree at the
New Palace in Potsdam, and before allowing his Conservative and
National Liberal guests to sit down to supper, made them listen to a
lecture which occupied two hours, giving particular attention, with
the aid of maps and plans, to the battle of the Yalu between the
fleets of China and Japan. He founded the Technical Shipbuilding
Society, and took, and takes, an animated part in its proceedings,
suggesting positions for the guns, the disposition of armour, the
dimensions of submarines, and a hundred other details. In 1908 he
delivered an after-dinner lecture at the "Villa Achilleion" in Corfu
on Nelson and the battle of Trafalgar, based on the writings of
Captain Mark Kerr of the _Implacable_, at which the situations of the
French, English, and Spanish fleets were sketched by the imperial
hand. To his admiration for the writings of Captain Mahan his
persistence in enlarging the fleet is said largely to be due. He is,
of course, assisted by a host of able experts, among whom Admiral von
Tirpitz--the ablest German since Bismarck, many Germans say--is the
most distinguished; but as he is his own Foreign Minister and own
Commander-in-Chief, he is, in the fullest sense, his own First Lord of
the Admiralty.

The Emperor closed one of his naval lectures with an anecdote which
the papers reported next day as being received with "stormy
amusement." It was about the metacentrum, the centre of gravity in
ship construction. The Emperor told of his having asked an old sea
lieutenant to explain to him the metacentrum. "I received the answer,"
said the Emperor, "that he did not know very exactly himself--it was a
secret. 'All I can say is,' the old seaman went on, 'that if the
metacentrum was in the topmast, the ship would over-turn.'" The
success of a jest, one is told, lies in the ear of the hearer.
Possibly something of the "stormy amusement" may have been called
forth by the reflection that the imperial metacentrum had on occasion
got misplaced.

In addition to the natural and accidental predispositions of the
Emperor, certain general considerations, which imposed themselves
irresistibly on all men's attention as the century drew to its close,
impelled him to more energetic action. A student of the history of
other countries as well as his own, and a watchful observer of the
tendencies of the time, he felt that the young Empire was incomplete
as long as it was without a navy corresponding in size and power to
its army, the organization of which had been completed. With its army
alone he regarded the Empire as a colossus, no doubt, but a colossus
standing on one leg, and was convinced that if the Empire was to be a
success it must have a navy at least able to withstand attack by any
of his continental neighbours and potential enemies.

On ascending the throne the Emperor was naturally most occupied with
the internal situation of his new inheritance, and spent a good deal
of his time railing at Social Democracy and the press, explaining the
nature of his Heaven-appointed kingship, and rousing his somewhat
lethargic people to a sense of their power and possibilities; but he
found a moment in 1891 to write under a photograph he gave the
retiring Postmaster-General Stephan:

"The world, at the end of the nineteenth century, stands
under the star of commerce; commerce breaks down the
barriers which separate the peoples and creates new
relations between the nations."

Then the idea slumbered in his mind for a few years, while he
continued to make his own people restless with criticism, perhaps
deserved, of their sluggishness, their pessimism, their party strife,
and foreign peoples equally restless with phrases like "_nemo me
impune lacessit_"; until the idea came suddenly to utterance in 1897,
when, on seeing the figure of Neptune on a monument to the Emperor
William, he broke out: "The trident should be in our grip!" From this
time, and for the next few years, the growth of the navy may be said
to have never long been far from his thoughts. In sending Prince Henry
to Kiautschau at the close of 1898 he made the remark that "imperial
power means sea power, and sea power and imperial power are dependent
on each other." Nine months afterwards at Stettin he used a phrase
alone sufficient to keep his name alive in history: "Our future lies
on the water!"

At Hamburg, in 1899, he laid emphasis on the changes in the world
which justify a naval policy one can see now was almost inevitable.

"A strong German fleet," he said, "is a thing of which we stand in
bitter need." And he continued:

"In Hamburg especially one can understand how necessary is a
powerful protection for German interests abroad. If we look
around us we see how greatly the aspect of the world has
altered in recent years. Old-world empires pass away and new
ones begin to arise. Nations suddenly appear before the
peoples and compete with them, nations of whom a little
before the ordinary man had been hardly aware. Products
which bring about radical changes in the domain of
international relations, as well as in the political economy
of the people, and which in old times took hundreds of years
to ripen, come to maturity in a few months. The result is
that the tasks of our German Empire and people have grown to
enormous proportions and demand of me and my Government
unusual and great efforts, which can then only be crowned
with success when, united and decided, without respect to
party, Germans stand behind us. Our people, moreover, must
resolve to make some sacrifice. Above all they must put
aside their endeavour to seek the excellent through the ever
more-sharply contrasted party factions. They must cease to
put party above the welfare of the whole. They must put a
curb on their ancient and inherited weakness--to subject
everything to the most unlicensed criticism; and they must
stop at the point where their most vital interests become
concerned. For it is precisely these political sins which
revenge themselves so deeply on our sea interests and our
fleet. Had the strengthening of the fleet not been refused
me during the past eight years of my Government,
notwithstanding all appeals and warnings--and not without
contumely and abuse for my person--how differently could we
not have promoted our growing trade and our interests beyond
the sea!"

Perhaps; but perhaps, too, it was as well for the peace of the world
that Germany had no great war fleet during those eight years of
troubled international relations, and that the gentle and adjusting
hand of Providence, not the mailed fist of the Emperor, was guiding
the destinies of nations.

Previous to the opening of the reign a German navy can hardly be said
to have existed. Yet it should not be forgotten that Germany also has
maritime traditions of no small interest, if of no great importance,
to the world. The Great Elector, the ancestor of the Emperor who ruled
Brandenburg from 1640 to 1688, was fully conscious of the profit his
people might acquire by sea commerce, and the little navy of high-sea
frigates which he built stood manfully, and often successfully, up to
the more powerful navies of Sweden and Spain. This fleet was known,
too, far away from Brandenburg, for the records tell how the Pope and
the Maltese Knights and Louis XIV willingly admitted it to their

But there was lacking what until lately has always hemmed German
progress--money; and the commercially-minded Dutch, a people
themselves with many German characteristics, kept the Germans from the
sea. Then came Frederick the Great, who ruled from 1740 to 1786, and
those Germans who are fond of claiming Shakespeare for their own will
also tell you that the plan drawn up by Frederick for Pitt's seven
years' struggle with France--that plan so unfortunately imitated
afterwards by the Emperor in his correspondence with Queen Victoria
during the Boer War--was the foundation-stone of British naval
supremacy! Frederick, too, saw the advantage of possessing a fleet,
but he had his hands full with France and Russia, and reluctantly had
to decline the offer of the French naval hero, Labourdonnais, to build
him a battle-fleet. At this period, and in the Great Elector's time,
Emden was the Plymouth of Prussia. When Frederick died, there followed
that time of which Germans themselves are ashamed--the hole-and-corner
time, the time when the parochial spirit was abroad and no German
burgher saw beyond the village church and the village pump; the
Biedermeier time (that comic figure of the German _Punch_), the time
of genuine German philistinism, when the people were lapped in an
idyllic repose and were content, as many are to-day, with the smallest
and simplest pleasures.

This spirit continued until the early quarter of the nineteenth
century, when Professor Frederick List roused the attention of his
countrymen, and notably that of Bismarck, to the necessity of an
independent national existence and a national economic policy. In 1836
a committee recommended naval coast protection, but it was not until
1848, when Denmark blockaded the German coast, that anything was done
to provide for it. In that year the National Assembly of delegates
from various German Diets, which met at Frankfort, voted for the
marine a million sterling to be levied on the German States, but only
one-half of the money could be collected. Still, three steam frigates,
one large and six small steam corvettes, and two sailing corvettes
were got together, but in 1852, owing to the poverty of the States,
two of the ships were sold to Prussia for L60,000 and the rest
disposed of by auction at less than a fourth of their value. The
officers and men were disbanded with a year's pay.

To this humiliating state of things Bismarck refers in his "Gedanken
und Erinnerungen." "The German fleet," he writes,

"and Kiel harbour as a foundation for its institution, were
from 1848 on one of the most burning thoughts at whose fire
German aspirations for unity were accustomed to warm
themselves and to concentrate. Meanwhile, however, the
hatred of my parliamentary opponents was stronger than the
interest for a German fleet, and it seemed to me that the
Progressive party at that time preferred to see the
newly-acquired rights of Prussia to Kiel, and the prospect
of a maritime future founded on its possession, rather in
the hands of the auctioneer, Hannibal Fischer, than in those
of a Bismarck Ministry."

From this on naval development in Prussia was slow; there was no
interest for a marine either among the governing classes or the
people; but it was not wholly neglected, for Wilhelmshaven was
acquired from the Duchy of Oldenburg, a small fleet was sent to the
Orient with a view to obtaining commercial treaties and concessions,
and a sum of L320,000 was devoted annually to naval requirements.
During the Danish War of 1864 a fleet of three screw corvettes, two
paddle steamers, and a few gunboats was considered sufficient to
protect the coasts and make a blockade impossible.

From 1885 onwards there had been several Navy Proposals, but it was in
that of 1889, a year after the Emperor's accession, that the beginning
of Germany's naval policy is to be found. In that Proposal it was
announced that the Government intended to depart from the previous
principles of naval policy which had "become antiquated owing to the
progress of science and the character of future naval warfare, as also
owing to the extension of Germany's oversea relations." Up to this
time German maritime needs had invariably been postponed to military
requirements. The necessity for a fleet was indeed recognized, but
only for purposes of coast defence and the prevention of a blockade of
the ports on the North Sea and Baltic. To this end no large fleet was
considered needful, particularly as the war with France had
demonstrated the futility of coast attack. During that war two small
fleets were sent from Cherbourg to blockade the North Sea and Baltic
coasts, but the admirals in charge found the task "impossible" and
returned to France after a few single engagements with divided honours
had occurred. At that time the German people felt entirely secure on
the score of invasion. The numerous espionage incidents of more recent
times prove that this feeling of security has entirely passed away,
and all countries are now armed as though they were to be invaded

Emperor William I did something, though not much, for the German navy.
Moltke was interested in it and proposed an armoured cruiser fleet,
but he was thinking chiefly of coast defence. Roon also took up the
matter and laid a Navy Bill before the Diet in 1865, but it was
rejected because, in Virchow's words, the Diet thought "the
Constitution more important than the development of the army and
navy." The war of 1866 showed the necessity of a fleet, and this time
the Diet accepted Roon's proposals. Still, however, the object was
coast defence; and when Emperor William I died the navy was relatively
of no consideration. In the ten years between 1881 and 1891 only one
armoured cruiser, the _Oldenburg_, was launched. With the accession of
the Emperor, however, began a new, and for the Emperor and the
Empire--why not candidly admit it?--a glorious chapter in German naval

An incident during the reign which really touched German national
pride, and was one of the reasons which caused the Emperor to
accelerate the building of a powerful fleet, was the eviction, if the
term is not too strong, of the German admiral, Diedrich, by the
Americans from the harbour of Manila in the course of the
Spanish-American War. Admiral Dewey was in command of a blockading
fleet at Manila. The ships of various nationalities, and among them
some German warships, were in the harbour. Various causes of
irritation arose between the Germans and Americans. There was talk of
Spain's being desirous of selling the Philippines to Germany, and the
impression got abroad in America that the Germans were inclined to
behave as if they were already the new masters of the islands. The
German warships kept going in and out of the harbour of Millesares, a
village close to Manila, in connexion with the exchange of
time-expired men, using search-lights, the American admiral thought,
in an unnecessary way, and doing other acts which he considered might
give information to blockade-running vessels.

In accordance with custom, the Germans, had at first supplied
themselves with permits from the American admiral for crossing the
blockade lines, but as time went on the German ships began to cross
the line without them. Admiral Dewey thereupon issued an order that
permits must be obtained. The German admiral sent his flag-lieutenant
to Admiral Dewey to protest, on the ground that warships are exempt
from blockade regulations. The American admiral's reply was to bring
his fist down on his cabin table and say,

"Tell Admiral Diedrich, with my compliments, that he must
obtain permits, and that if a German ship breaks the
blockade lines without one it spells war, for I shall fire
on the first vessel that attempts it."

The flag officer went back with the message, and Admiral Diedrich took
his ships, which were greatly inferior in number to those of the
Americans, out of the harbour.

The German navy, in contrast to the army, is a purely imperial
institution--an institution, according to the Constitution, "entirely
under the chief command of the Kaiser," consequently in no respect
administered or controlled by the federated kingdoms and states. One
speaks of the "royal" army, but of the "imperial" navy. The Emperor is
officially described as the navy's "Chef," superintends its
organization and disposition, with his brother Prince Henry as
Inspector-General, and appoints its officials and officers. He
exercises his functions through the Marine Cabinet, a creation of his
own, which serves as a connecting link between the Emperor and the

The legislative stages of the growth of the German navy have so far
been five in number. The first Navy Law passed the Reichstag on third
reading, on March 28, 1898, 212 members voting for it and 139 against,
in a Parliament of 397 members. It provided for the building of a
fleet of seventeen battleships within a certain time, and fixed the
age of the ships at twenty-five years. The new ships were divided into
ships-of-the-line (a new designation), large armoured cruisers, and
small armoured cruisers. This fleet, however, was not large enough to
have any influence on sea politics or seaborne trade, and the
occurrences of the Spanish-American War, just now begun and finished,
determined the Emperor to make further proposals. A great agitation
for the navy was started throughout the Empire, and on January 25,
1900, Admiral Tirpitz laid the second Navy Bill (a "Novelle," as it is
called) before the Reichstag.

The new measure demanded a doubling of the fleet. The first fleet was
intended chiefly with a view to coast defence, while the new fleet was
to assure "the economic development of Germany, especially of its
world-commerce." If the first Navy Bill had excited surprise and
uneasiness in England, the sensations roused by the second may be
imagined, not altogether because of the increase of German naval
power, but of the power that would result when the new German navy was
combined with the navies of Germany's allies of the Triplice. The
third Navy Bill was a consequence of the Russo-Japanese War and of the
lesson taught by the sea-fight of Tsuschima. It was laid before the
Reichstag on November 28, 1905, for "a stronger representation of the
Empire abroad." Its main object was to increase by almost one-half the
size of the battleships, thus following the lead of England, which had
decided on the new and famous "Dreadnought" class of vessel,
remarkable for its five revolving armoured turrets (instead of two
previously) and the number of its heavy guns. Hitherto English
warships had had an average tonnage of about 14,000 tons: the tonnage
of the original "Dreadnought" was 18,300 tons. Notwithstanding the
enormous nature of the financial demand (L47,600,000 within eleven
years) the Reichstag passed the Bill on May 19, 1905. A torpedo fleet
of 144 boats, in 24 divisions, was additionally provided for in this

The fourth Navy Bill was brought in in 1908, with the diminution of
the age of the German battleship from twenty-five to twenty years as
its principal aim. As a result the number of new ships to be built by
1912 was raised from six to twelve. The fifth and last Navy Bill was
passed last year, 1912, creating a third active squadron as reserve,
made up of existing vessels and three new battleships. The German navy
now consists of 41 battleships of the line, 12 large armoured
cruisers, and 30 small armoured cruisers, the cruisers being for
purposes of reconnaissance; the foreign-service fleet of 8 large and
10 small armoured cruisers; and an active reserve fleet of 16
battleships, 4 large and 12 small armoured cruisers.

Like sailors everywhere, the German sailor is a frank and hearty type
of his race, and welcome wherever he goes. The German naval officer is
usually of middle-class extraction, while a slightly larger proportion
of the officers of the army is taken from the _noblesse_. He is a
fine, frank, and manly fellow as a rule, and, like the Emperor,
perfectly willing to admit that his navy is closely modelled on that
of Great Britain. Moreover, in addition to a thorough knowledge of his
profession, he is able, in two cases out of three, to converse with
useful fluency in English, French, and in some cases Italian as well.

The navy, like the army, is recruited by conscription, but active
service is for three years, as in the German cavalry and artillery,
while only two years in the German infantry. Naturally young men of an
adventurous turn of mind frequently elect for the navy, as they hope
thereby to see something of the world. At the end of their third year
of service they may go back to civil life as reservists or may
"capitulate," that is, continue in active service for another year,
and renew their "capitulation" thenceforward from year to year. The
ordinary sailor receives (since 1912) the equivalent of 14s. 6d. in
cash monthly and 9s. for clothing, but when at sea additional pay of
6s. a month. The result of the system of conscription is that about 40
per cent. of the fleet's crews consist of what may be called seasoned
sailors, the remainder being three-year conscripts. The officer class
is recruited from young men who have passed a certain school standard
examination and enter the navy as cadets. The one-year-volunteer
system (_Einjaehriger Dienst_) only partially obtains in the navy, for
purposes, namely, of coast defence and other services on land. After
two years the cadet becomes a midshipman, and with five or six other
middies serves for a year or so on board ship, when he becomes a
sub-lieutenant and is promoted by seniority to full lieutenant,
captain-lieutenant (the English naval lieutenant with eight
years' service), corvette-captain (the English naval commander,
with three stripes), frigate-captain (corresponding in rank to a
lieutenant-colonel in the English army), and finally captain-at-sea
(with four stripes), when he may get command of a battleship. To reach
this great object of the German naval officer's ambition takes on an
average twenty-four years, or about the same period as in the British

The upper ranks, in ascending order, are contre-admiral (the English
rear-admiral), vice-admiral, admiral, grand-admiral (English Admiral
of the Fleet). There are only four grand-admirals in Germany, namely,
the Emperor (as "Chef" of the navy), his brother Prince Henry (as
inspector-general), retired Admiral von Koester (president of the Navy
League), and Admiral von Tirpitz (Secretary of Admiralty and the only
"active" grand-admiral). King George V of England is an admiral of the
German navy, as the Emperor is an admiral of the British navy.

Salutes are a matter of international agreement. They are: 33 guns
(simultaneously from all ships) for the Emperor and foreign monarchs,
21 for the Crown Prince of Germany or of a foreign country, 19 for a
grand-admiral or an ambassador, 17 for an admiral, the Secretary of
Admiralty or inspector-general, 15 for a vice-admiral, 13 for
contre-admiral, and so descending. 101 guns are fired on the Emperor's
birthday or on the birth of an imperial prince. 66 guns is the salute
when a German monarch ascends the imperial throne, and 101 when a
German Emperor dies.

The yearly salaries of German naval officers are as follows: Admiral,
L1,294 (of which L699 is "pay"), vice-admiral, L897 (L677 "pay"),
contre-admiral, L772 (L677 "pay"), captain-at-sea, L520 (L438 "pay"),
corvette-captain, L396 (L280 "pay"), full lieutenant, L174 (L120
"pay"), and so on downwards. Jews are not allowed to become officers
of the navy, thus following the practice in the army. There is no law
to prevent Jews becoming officers in either army or navy, but, as a
matter of tradition or prejudice, no regimental or naval commander is
willing to accept an Israelite among his officers.

It is time, however, to return to the personal doings of the Emperor.
He is responsible for Germany's foreign policy, and his duties in
connexion with it and with the navy must often have suggested to him
the desirability of seeing with his own eyes something of the Orient,
the new battlefield of the world's diplomacy, and possibly a new
Eldorado for European merchants and engineers. His journey to the
East, now undertaken, was, however, chiefly a religious one, though it
had also something of a chivalric character, since much of every
German's imagination is concerned with the Crusades, the Order of
Knight Templars, and similar historical or legendary incidents and
personalities in the early stages of the struggle between the
Christian and the Saracen. The birthplace of Christ has special
interest for a Hohenzollern who holds his kingship by divine grace,
and in the Emperor's case because his father had made the journey to
Jerusalem thirty years before. The Emperor, lastly, cannot but have
been glad to escape, if only for a time, such harassing concerns as
party politics, scribbling journalists, long-winded ministerial
harangues, and Social Democrats.

The journey of the Emperor and Empress to Palestine occupied about a
month from the middle of October, 1898, to the middle of the following
November, and while it was one of the most delightful and picturesque
experiences of the Emperor, it entailed some unforeseen and not
altogether agreeable consequences. It was very much criticized in
Germany as an exhibition of a theatrical kind, of the "decorative in
policy," as Bismarck used to say, who saw no utility in decoration,
and evidently did not agree with Shakspeare that the "world is still
deceived by ornament." It was objected that the Emperor should have
stayed at home to look after imperial business, that such a journey
must excite suspicion in England and France--in the former because
England is an Oriental power, and in the latter because France is
supposed to claim special protective rights over Christianity in the

The Englishman who reads what German writers say about the journey
gets the impression that the criticism was an expression of
jealousy--jealousy, as we know from Bismarck and Prince Buelow, being a
national German failing. Every German ardently desires to see Italy
and the Orient, but until of late years few Germans had the means of
gratifying the wish. In one point, however, the critics were right.
The Emperor, when in Damascus, after saying that he felt "deeply moved
at standing on the spot where one of the most knightly sovereigns of
all times, the great Sultan Saladin, stood," went on to say that
Sultan Abdul "and the three hundred million Mohammedans who, scattered
over the earth, venerated him as their Caliph, might be assured that
at all times the German Emperor would be their friend." It was a
harmless and vague remark enough, one would think, but political
writers in all countries have made great capital out of it ever since
whenever Germany's Oriental policy is discussed. At the risk of
repetition it may be said that that policy is, in the East as
elsewhere, a purely economic one. The Emperor's mistake perhaps
chiefly lay in raising hopes in Turkish minds which were very unlikely
to be realized.

The Emperor's allusion to Saladin as the most knightly sovereign of
all times was a bad blunder. He was doubtless carried away by a
combination, in his probably at this time somewhat excited
imagination, of the chivalrous figures of the crusading times with
thoughts of the German Knight Templars and other soldierly characters.
Saladin was a brave man physically, and fond of imperial magnificence,
as is only natural and necessary for an Oriental potentate to be; and
a good deal of Eastern legend grew up about him on that account.
Legend was enough for the Emperor in his then romantic mood. He
forgot, or did not know, that Saladin, from the point of view of a
modern and in reality far more knightly age, was a sanguinary
and fanatic ruffian, who showed no mercy to his Christian
prisoners--killed, in fact, one of them, Rainald de Chatillon, with
his own hand, sacked Jerusalem, turned the Temple of Solomon into a
mosque, after having it "disinfected" with rose-water, and killed Pope
Urban III, who died, the chronicles tell, of sorrow at the news.

The journey was, as has been said, a delightful and picturesque
experience for the Emperor and the Empress. They passed through Venice
with its marble palaces, sailed over the sapphire waters of the
Adriatic, and were received with great demonstrations of welcome by
the Sultan in Constantinople. When they were leaving, the Sultan gave
the Emperor a gigantic carpet, and the Emperor gave the Sultan a gold
walking-stick, an exact imitation of the stick Frederick the Great
used to lean on, and sometimes, very likely, apply to the backs of his
trusty but stupid lieges.

Before disposing of the events of this period of the Emperor's life
mention may be made of two or three occurrences which must have been a
source of political interest or social entertainment to him. From
among them we select the Dreyfus case and the historic scene arranged
for the painter, Adolf Menzel, in Sans Souci.

The Dreyfus case, though its investigation brought to light no fact
implicating the German authorities, naturally aroused interest
throughout Germany. The interest was felt equally in the army,
notwithstanding that it contains no Jewish officer, and among the
civil population. In France, it will be remembered, the case acquired
its importance from the charge, made by the anti-Semite Drumont and
his journal _La Libre Parole_, that the Jews were exploiting the
Government and the country. There is an anti-Semite party in Germany,
founded by the Court preacher Stoecker in 1878, but possibly owing to
the prudence and good citizenship of the Jews in Germany, it has
gained little weight or momentum since.

The "affaire," as it was universally known, was only once referred to
in the German Parliament, in January, 1898, when Chancellor von Buelow
declared "in the most positive way possible" that there had "never
been any traffic or relations of any kind whatsoever between Dreyfus
and any German authority," adding that the alleged finding of an
official German communication in the wastepaper basket of the German
Embassy in Paris was a fiction. The Chancellor concluded by saying
that the case had in no respect ever troubled relations between
Germany and France.

The incident most often cited as evidence of the Emperor's love of
recalling the days of his great ancestor, Frederick the Great, is the
concert he arranged at Sans Souci on June 13, 1895, to gratify, we may
be sure, as well as surprise, the famous painter. The incident and its
origin are described in a work already mentioned, the "Private Lives
of William II and His Consort," by a lady of the Court. The account
given below is illustrative of the unfriendly sentiments which are
evident throughout the work, but the lady is probably fairly accurate
as regards the incident, and in any case her gossip will give the
reader some notion, though by no means an entirely faithful one, of
the Court atmosphere at the time. Talk at the palace during afternoon
tea having turned on the fact that Adolf Menzel, the painter, would
shortly celebrate his eightieth birthday, some one remarked on the
refusal by the Court marshal in the previous reign to allow him to see
the scene of his celebrated "Flute Concert at Sans Souci," which he
was then composing, lighted up. The conversation, according to the
lady writer, continued thus:--

"'Maybe he was frightened at the prospect of furnishing a
couple of dozen wax candles,' sneered the Duke of Schleswig.

"'More likely he knew nothing of Menzel's growing
reputation,' suggested Begas, the sculptor.

"The Emperor overheard the last words. 'Are you prepared to
say that my grand-uncle's chief marshal failed to recognize
the genius of the foremost Hohenzollern painter?' he asked

"'I would not like to libel a dead man,' answered Begas,
'but appearances are certainly against the Count. I have it
from Menzel's own lips that the Court marshal refused him
all and every assistance when he was painting the scenes of
life in Sans Souci. The rooms of the chateau were accessible
to him only to the same extent as to any other paying
visitor or the hordes of foreign tourists, and he had to
make his sketches piece-meal, gathering corroborative and
additional material in museums and picture-galleries.'

"Quick as a flash the Kaiser turned to Count Eulenburg. 'I
shall repay the debt Prussia owes to Menzel,' he spoke, not
without declamatory effect. 'We will have the representation
of the Sans Souci flute concert three days hence. Your
programme is to be ready tomorrow morning at ten. Menzel,
mind you, must know nothing of this: merely command him to
attend us at the Schloss at supper and for a musical
evening.' And, turning round, he said to her Majesty: 'You
will impersonate Princess Amalia, and you, Kessel' (Adjutant
von Kessel, then Commander of the First Life Guards),
'engage all your tallest and best-looking officers to enact
the great King's military household.'

"Again the Kaiser addressed Count Eulenberg: 'Be sure to
have the best artists of the Royal Orchestra perform
Frederick the Great's compositions, and let Joachim be
engaged for the occasion.' Saying this, he took her
Majesty's arm, and bidding his guests and the Court a hasty
good-night, strode out of the apartment."

A description of the Empress's costume for the concert follows.

"Her Majesty's dress consisted of a petticoat of sea-green
satin, richly ornamented with silver lace of antique pattern
and an overdress of dark velvet, embroidered with gold and
set with precious stones. On her powdered hair, amplified by
one of Herr Adeljana, the Viennese coiffeur's, most
successful creations, sat a jaunty three-cornered hat having
a blazing aigrette of large diamonds in front, the identical
cluster of white stones which figured at the great
Napoleon's coronation, and which he lost, together with his
entire equipage, in the battle of Waterloo. In her ears her
Majesty wore pearl ornaments representing a small bunch of
cherries. Like the aigrette, they are Crown property, and
that Auguste Victoria thought well enough of the jewels to
rescue them from oblivion for this occasion was certainly
most appropriate."

The Emperor's costume is also described.

"He wore the cuirassier uniform of the great Frederick's period, a
highly ornamented dress that suited the War Lord, who was painted and
powdered to perfection, extremely well, especially as Wellington
boots, a very becoming wig and his strange head-gear really and
seemingly added to his figure, while his usually stern face beamed
pleasantly under the powder and rouge laid on by expert hands."

The arrival of Menzel is then narrated and the reception by the
Emperor, who took the part of an adjutant of Frederick the Great's,
and in that character "bombarded the helpless master," as the
chronicler says,

"with forty stanzas of alleged verse, in which the deeds of
Prussia's kings and the masterpieces that commemorate them
were extolled with a prosiness that sounded like an
afterclap of William's Reichstag and monument orations."

A real concert followed, and supper was taken in the Marble Hall
adjoining. The authoress concludes as follows:--

"I was contemplating these reminiscences (the pictures of La
Barberini) in silent reverie when the door opened and the
Kaiser came in with little Menzel.

"'I have a mind to engage Angeli to paint her Majesty's
picture in the costume of Princess Amalia,' said the Emperor
'What do you think of it?'

"'Angeli is painter to many emperors and kings,' replied the
Professor, and I saw him smile diplomatically as he moved
his spectacles to get a better view of the allegorical
canvas on the left wall that exhibits the nude figure of the
famous mistress in its entirety.

"'I am glad you agree with me on that point,' said the
Emperor, impatient to execute the idea that had crossed his
mind. 'I will telegraph to him to-night.'

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