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Autobiography of Andrew Dickson White

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and of the action which followed it. So precise was his
account that it even recalled phrases and other minutiae
of the conversation which I had forgotten, but which I at
once recognized as exact when thus reminded of them.
The existence of such a record really revives one's child-
like faith in the opening of the Great Book of human deeds
and utterances at ``the last day.''

Perhaps the most interesting phase of Bismarck's life
which a stranger could observe was his activity in the
imperial parliament.

That body sits in a large hall, the representatives of the
people at large occupying seats in front of the president's
desk, and the delegates from the various states--known
as the Imperial Council--being seated upon an elevated
platform at the side of the room, right and left of the
president's chair. At the right of the president, some
distance removed, sits the chancellor, and at his right hand
the imperial ministry; while in front of the president's
chair, on a lower stage of the platform, is the tribune from
which, as a rule, members of the lower house address the
whole body.

It was my good fortune to hear Bismarck publicly
discuss many important questions, and his way of speaking
was not like that of any other man I have ever heard. He
was always clothed in the undress uniform of a Prussian
general; and, as he rose, his bulk made him imposing.
His first utterances were disappointing. He seemed
wheezy, rambling, incoherent, with a sort of burdensome
self-consciousness checking his ideas and clogging his
words. His manner was fidgety, his arms being thrown
uneasily about, and his fingers fumbling his mustache
or his clothing or the papers on his desk. He puffed,
snorted, and floundered; seemed to make assertions without
proof and phrases without point; when suddenly he
would utter a statement so pregnant as to clear up a whole
policy, or a sentence so audacious as to paralyze a whole
line of his opponents, or a phrase so vivid as to run
through the nation and electrify it. Then, perhaps after
more rumbling and rambling, came a clean, clear, historical
illustration carrying conviction; then, very likely, a
simple and strong argument, not infrequently ended by
some heavy missile in the shape of an accusation or taunt
hurled into the faces of his adversaries; then, perhaps at
considerable length, a mixture of caustic criticism and
personal reminiscence, in which sparkled those wonderful
sayings which have gone through the empire and settled
deeply into the German heart. I have known many clever
speakers and some very powerful orators; but I have
never known one capable, in the same degree, of
overwhelming his enemies and carrying his whole country with
him. Nor was his eloquence in his oratory alone. There
was something in his bearing, as he sat at his ministerial
desk and at times looked up from it to listen to a speaker,
which was very impressive.

Twice I heard Moltke speak, and each time on the army
estimates. Nothing could be more simple and straight-
forward than the great soldier's manner. As he rose, he
looked like a tall, thin, kindly New England schoolmaster.
His seat was among the representatives, very nearly in
front of that which Bismarck occupied on the estrade. On
one of these occasions I heard him make his famous
declaration that for the next fifty years Germany must be in
constant readiness for an attack from France. He spoke
very rarely, was always brief and to the point, saying with
calm strength just what he thought it a duty to say--neither
more nor less. So Caesar might have spoken. Bismarck,
I observed, always laid down his large pencil and
listened intently to every word.

The most curious example of the eloquence of silence in
Bismarck's case, which I noted, was when his strongest
opponent, Windthorst, as the representative of the
combination of Roman Catholics and others generally in
opposition, but who, at that particular time, seemed to have
made a sort of agreement to support some of Bismarck's
measures, went to the tribune and began a long and very
earnest speech. Windthorst was a man of diminutive
stature, smaller even than Thiers,--almost a dwarf,--and
his first words on this occasion had a comical effect. He
said, in substance, ``I am told that if we enter into a
combination with the chancellor in this matter, we are
sure to come out second best.'' At this Bismarck raised
his head, turned and looked at the orator, the attention of
the whole audience being fastened upon both. ``But,''
continued Windthorst, ``the chancellor will have to get
up very early in the morning to outwit us in this matter.''
There was a general outburst of laughter as the two
leaders eyed each other. It reminded one of nothing so
much as a sturdy mastiff contemplating a snappish terrier.

As to his relations with his family, which, to some little
extent, I noticed when with them, nothing could be more
hearty, simple, and kindly. He was beautifully devoted
to his wife, and evidently gloried in his two stalwart sons,
Prince Herbert and ``Count Bill,'' and in his daughter,
Countess von Rantzau; and they, in return, showed a
devotion to him not less touching. No matter how severe
the conflicts which raged outside, within his family the
stern chancellor of ``blood and iron'' seemed to disappear;
and in his place came the kindly, genial husband, father,
and host.

The last time I ever saw him was at the Schnhausen
station on my way to Bremen. He walked slowly from the
train to his carriage, leaning heavily on his stick. He
seemed not likely to last long; but Dr. Schweninger's
treatment gave him a new lease of life, so that, on my
return to Berlin eighteen years later, he was still living.
In reply to a respectful message he sent me a kindly
greeting, and expressed the hope that he would, ere long,
be well enough to receive me; but he was even then sinking,
and soon passed away. So was lost to mortal sight
the greatest German since Luther.

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