The truth of this story having been questioned, it may be mentioned that the Prussian Staats Anzeiger, or official Berlin Gazette, of June 4, 1829, contains the following royal decree:
"By order of his majesty the king, Anna Countess Dohna having claimed to be the wife of Prince William of Prussia, I hereby decree that such a union if it ever took place, be null and void.
"FREDERICK WILLIAM, Rex.
"ANTHONY VON ALTENSTEIN, "Secretary of State."
I have seen it mentioned both in German and foreign publications that the three Counts of Brandenburg, two of them distinguished generals, and the third for many years Prussian envoy at Brussels, were the issue of the union of Countess Anna Dohna and old Emperor William of Germany. But this is not true; for their father, a famous premier and soldier, of whom a fine statue exists at Berlin, was the son of King Frederick-William II. of Prussia, and his morganatic wife, the Countess of Dohenhoff.
With regard to Count Douglas, I may state that the kaiser's intimacy with him dates back to many years prior to his accession to the throne. Like his twin brother, Count Louis Douglas, the Swedish statesman, who until a few weeks ago occupied the post of minister of foreign affairs at Stockholm, Count Willie Douglas may be said to have royal blood in his veins, for his father, old Count Douglas, now dead, married the morganatic daughter of a royal princess of the reigning house of Baden. On the old count's death, William, the elder of the twins, inherited his mother's vast property, while Louis, the younger, took possession of his father's estates in Sweden.
William was educated in Germany, is an officer of the Prussian army, as well as a member of the Prussian House of Lords: Louis was brought up in Sweden, entered the Swedish army, became chamberlain to the Crown Prince of Sweden, married the daughter of Count Ehrensward, late minister of foreign affairs at Stockholm, and eventually succeeded to his father-in-law's post at the head of Sweden's foreign office. Like his twin brother in Prussia, he is exceedingly conservative, imbued with the necessity of retaining the old feudal prerogatives, and of placing every obstacle in the way of the rising tide of democracy. Indeed, whatever influence he exercises over the King and Crown Prince of Sweden, is as reactionary as any influence which his German brother may be said to enjoy over the kaiser.
The Douglas twins are descended from the great Scotch family of Douglas, and are therefore allied to the Duke of Hamilton and the Marquis of Queensberry. Their ancestors emigrated to Prussia from Scotland at the time of the Thirty Years' War, fought under Gustavus-Adolphus, and afterwards returned with him to Sweden, where they became members of the Swedish nobility. Count Willie, like his brother, displays all the hereditary traits of the Scotch house that bears his name, having the peculiar jaw, falling underlip, and dark complexion of the celebrated "Black Douglas." Yet neither of the twins speaks a word of English, nor has ever visited the land of his sire, though they bear the Douglas motto of "Do or Die." Count Willie has few British sympathies, but some British tastes, being famous as a four-in-hand whip, and as a magnificent shot. He is also very hospitable, and entertains at Berlin in a right royal fashion, his wealth, derived from the mines which he owns in the Hartz Mountains, enabling him to do so without hesitation on the score of expense.
It is no secret that Emperor William has, on two or three occasions, offered a cabinet office to his friend William Douglas, who has, however, invariably declined it, much to the relief of those who are convinced that the same peculiar moral and psychological affinity exists between the Douglas twins as that attributed to the Corsican brothers. It would have been, they declare, a dangerous experiment to have had one of them directing the foreign policy of Germany, and the other that of the kingdoms of Sweden and Norway.
It may interest my American readers to add that a few years ago Count Willie Douglas was the defendant in an extraordinary lawsuit at Berlin which had an American end to it. It seems that some thirty years ago a man of the name of Brandt died in the United States, leaving a fortune of several millions of dollars. Having no near relatives in America, the lawyers advertised for any heirs that he might have left behind him in Germany. The father of Count Douglas was at the time burgomaster of the little town of Aschersleben, and one day some of the inhabitants of the place bearing the name of Brandt placed a lot of papers in his hands, asking him to glance over them, and to see whether there was any truth in the statement that they were heirs to an immense fortune in America. The old count, in his capacity of burgomaster, declared that the affair looked to him very questionable, that he believed it was a mere swindle, and that there was surely nothing in it for them. Whether he returned to them the papers or not, is unknown, but he declared to the day of his death that he had restored them, whereas the Brandts of Aschersleben swear that he did not. Eventually, they brought suit against his son, not merely for the recovery of the documents, but likewise for the fortune, actually alleging that the latter had been appropriated by old Count Douglas, with the connivance of the late Prince Bismarck, who had received a large share of the plunder. It is scarcely necessary to state that they were non-suited.
Emperor William's intimacy with Count and Countess Goertz may be said to be a sort of inherited friendship, the count's father, president of the Hessian House of Lords, and his consort, a princess of Sayn-Wittgenstein, having been the most intimate friends of Emperor and Empress Frederick, whose acquaintance they made through the late Grand Duke and Grand Duchess of Hesse. In order to show the affectionate relations existing between the parents of the kaiser and those of the present head of the ancient and illustrious house of Goertz, it is merely necessary to state that Professor Hintzpeter, who for a number of years directed the education of Emperor William and his brother Henry, and who, as their old tutor, retains much influence over both the imperial brothers, was selected by Emperor and Empress Frederick for the purpose, on the personal recommendation of the late Count and Countess Goertz, in whose family he had resided for a number of years as tutor to their son.
In fact, the present Count Goertz, who is some eight or nine years the senior of the emperor, can boast, like the latter, of having been a pupil of old Hintzpeter, who in some respects is the German counterpart of the late Czar Alexander's tutor, M. Pobietnotzoff. That William shares the confidence placed by his parents in the Goertz family is shown by the fact that when he found it necessary, at one time, to obtain the services of a tutor for one of his young relatives, in a case, it must be added, of particular delicacy, he at once nominated to the post Professor Krenge, who at the time was tutoring the sons of the present Count Goertz. Countess Goertz is a woman of great beauty, which she may be said to have inherited from her mother, the so-celebrated Countess of Villeneuve, wife to the Brazilian envoy to the Court of Brussels, and renowned throughout Europe on account of her loveliness.
Although the admiration which the kaiser displays for the fascinating countess is of the most undisguised character, it fails to excite the jealousy either of his consort or the count, and the relations between the empress and the countess are so close that the former has been known to lend to her friend articles of jewelry, and even of dress, for use at fancy dress balls and elsewhere. The emperor and the count are also as united and unrestrained with each other as two men can be who have the same tastes, who have been intimately acquainted since childhood, and whose parents have been close friends before them. It is doubtful whether William ever enjoys himself so much, or feels so thoroughly at home, as when visiting the Goertzes at Schlitz. There his days are spent in shooting and hunting with the count, and the evenings in composing new melodies, and setting songs to music with the countess. The emperor's children and the young Goertzes are bound by equal ties of affection, and are old-time playmates, so that there seems every likelihood of this friendship between the Hohenzollerns and the former reigning sovereign house of Goertz being continued in the third generation.
No account of the emperor's private life can be properly written without including a brief sketch of General Count von Hahnke, and of Baron von Lucanus. The former is the chief of the military cabinet of the emperor, and the other is at the head of his civil cabinet, that is to say, he occupies the post of principal private secretary. Both of them accompany the emperor wherever he goes, and in fact constitute his very shadow, enjoying by reason of their proximity to the sovereign, and by their close association with him, a far greater degree of power and influence than any cabinet minister.
Baron Lucanus is an extremely good-looking man, whose popular nickname at Berlin, namely, "the emperor's Blackie Man," is in nowise due to any swarthiness of complexion, but to the fact that among the great dignitaries in attendance on the emperor, he is the only one in civilian attire, while moreover he is invariably selected by the sovereign to convey to any cabinet minister, whose resignation is required, the imperial intimation "that he has ceased to please."
It was Baron von Lucanus who communicated to Prince Bismarck the emperor's request and subsequent peremptory command for the surrender of the chancellorship of the empire, and it was he, too, who was sent to ask Bismarck's successor, General Count Caprivi, for his resignation; in fact, there has not been a single ministerial head to fall during the last ten years—and they have been very numerous during the present reign—where Herr von Lucanus has not been the imperial emissary of these evil tidings. This is so well known in Berlin that the moment the baron is seen to be calling at the residence of any distinguished statesman who happens to be in office, it is at once taken for granted that the axe has once more fallen, and that it is another case of a ministerial downfall.
The Berliners declare that Emperor William pitches upon Lucanus for these particular jobs in consequence of his being the son of a Halberstadt druggist, and as such, more likely to be proficient in the art of sugar-coating the bitter pills than any mere military officer! He owes his patent of nobility to the late Emperor Frederick, who entertained a very high opinion of his intelligence, and it is worthy of note that he first came to the fore in the entourage of the emperor when Prince Bismarck's power as chancellor commenced to wane. He is a man of about fifty, and served for a quarter of a century in the Department of Public Worship. It was, however, as an expert in art matters, and as an intelligent assistant in the organization of the Imperial Museum of Science and Art at Berlin, that he first attracted the notice and good-will of the late emperor, and particularly of the Empress Frederick.
His military colleague, General Count von Hahnke, although a charming man, is, nevertheless, one of the most bitterly-hated officers of the German army; this is due to the fact that he has virtually usurped the prerogatives and the power of the minister of war, who has been reduced to a mere instrument of his wishes. This is not altogether the fault of the general, for the emperor insists on retaining absolute control of the army in his own hands, and of exercising its command in every particular, no appointment being made without his initiative and sanction, while everything is done through Count Hahnke as supreme head of the military cabinet of his majesty.
A few years ago the general lost his son under singularly tragical and somewhat mysterious circumstances. The misfortune occurred during one of the annual yachting trips of the kaiser, young Hahnke being a lieutenant on board the yacht. According to the official version, the young officer met with his death while coasting down a mountain road at one of the Norwegian ports at which the yacht had touched, his bicycle getting beyond his control, and precipitating itself with its rider over a low stone parapet into a fierce torrent hundreds of feet below. The emperor happened at the time to have a bruise on the face, caused by a block and tackle swinging against him during a squall, while on deck, and on the strength of this temporary disfigurement, a story most painful to the emperor was circulated to the effect that his black eye was due to a blow from young Hahnke, who resented some indignity in connection with the practical jokes and rough horse-play so frequent on board the Hohenzollern during the emperor's annual holiday. It was added that the young officer had been given by military and naval etiquette the alternative of blowing out his brains, or of taking his life in some other way, as the only means of saving his name from disgrace and his honor from loss; and a certain degree of color was given to the tale by the fact that it was published at full length in a London society newspaper, at the very time when its proprietor and editor was sojourning at Marienbad with the Prince of Wales, and in daily intercourse with the British heir apparent, who was naturally supposed to know the truth about young Hahnke's death. Perhaps the most striking and convincing evidence of the absurd fabrication of this story, which has given much sorrow, both to the emperor and empress, is to be found in the fact that the young officer's father remained at the head of the emperor's military cabinet, and has never abandoned, even temporarily, his service near the kaiser; this the general would certainly not have done had William been in any sense of the word responsible for the death of his boy. In fact it was the kindly and tactful sympathy of both the emperor and the empress that enabled the bereaved father to bear his loss with fortitude, and his gratitude for the kindness shown to him by his sovereign is of a deep and undying quality.
Great is the contrast between the Court of Berlin to-day and the aspect which it presented during the closing years of the reign of old Emperor William, and were any of the latter's familiars to return to the place where so much of their existence had been spent, they would indeed find themselves amidst strange surroundings and strange faces. In those days, grey and white hair were the rule rather than the exception. To-day the contrary is the case, and not merely do the dignitaries of the court and of the army belong to a younger generation, but also the members of the imperial circle, that is to say, the princes and princesses of the blood, with whom the emperor and empress associate as kinsfolk and near relatives.
The few older members of the reigning house of Prussia who survive—the contemporaries of the grandfather and father of William II.—find the atmosphere of the court so different from what they have been accustomed to in the past, so out of keeping with their ideas—in one word, feel themselves so little at home there, that they prefer to stay away as much as they can. Thus Prince Albert of Prussia, one of the grandest looking soldiers of the imperial army, and certainly one of the most gigantic in stature, divides his time between Brunswick, where he holds a court of his own as regent, and England, where he is accustomed to spend his holidays. The widowed Princess Frederick-Charles lives nearly all the year round in Italy with her chamberlain, Baron Wangenheim, whom she is understood to have morganatically married, and in whose company she occasionally visits the pope, a circumstance which has led to the rumor that she has joined the Church of Rome. The widowed Empress Frederick is either at her lovely castle of Kronberg, near Homburg, which is stocked from garret to cellar with those art treasures of which she is one of the finest connaisseuses in Europe, or else is traveling about in Italy, Austria or England. Indeed the only contemporary of the old Emperor who still remains at Berlin, and who is occasionally to be seen at court, giving one the impression of a spectre of the past, is Prince George, who bears a startling resemblance to the old kaiser particularly when arrayed in uniform.
While slightly eccentric, he is remarkably accomplished, and has not only written a number of German plays over the pen-name of "George Conrad," which have been successfully staged in Germany, but is even the author of a drama written in the purest and most exquisitely correct French, sparkling with Parisian wit and brilliancy, which has had long runs in many theatres without either the actors or the public being aware that it was from the pen of a prince of Prussia.
Until the war of 1870, Prince George was on terms of the utmost intimacy with the de Goncourts, the Dumases, de Girardin, and all the principal literary lights of France, with whom he was wont to foregather on a footing of artistic equality each year at Ems, a German watering-place much frequented by the French prior to the great struggle of 1870; of course, since that time his intercourse with French people has been much more restricted, and through a feeling of delicacy and tact, with which he is not usually credited, he has refrained from visiting Paris, or even from setting his foot on French territory since the war. This, however, has not prevented him from keeping himself au courant of every literary and dramatic event that takes place on the banks of the Seine, and a French academician of my acquaintance who was presented to him last summer at Ems, and who spent several days there in his company, could not sufficiently express his amazement, not merely at the extraordinary purity of the prince's French, but likewise at the amazing manner in which he seems to have kept track of everything that has happened at Paris in the world of letters and art, as well as of the French idioms, figures of speech, and even witticisms of the present day.
The delicacy which Prince George manifests with regard to the French people, and his fear lest his admiration for them should be misinterpreted, is largely due to the treatment that he received at the hands of Empress Eugenie at Carlsbad, in 1874 or 1875. Having been a frequent and welcome guest at the Tuileries during the reign of Napoleon III., the prince, when he found that the widowed empress had arrived at Carlsbad, and had taken up her residence at the very hotel at which he was staying, naturally considered that he could not do otherwise than take some notice of her presence; if he affected to ignore her, he would have exposed himself to the reproach of gross discourtesy; at the same time he felt that any public form of attention might prove unwelcome to her, and might possibly serve to impair her son's prospects of recovering his father's throne; so he contented himself with sending her every day magnificent baskets of flowers, and with bowing to her with the utmost deference, but without attempting to accost her when he met her in the gardens or park. He likewise caused it to be intimated to her secretary, M. Pietri, that if at any moment she felt disposed to accord him an audience, he would be only too glad of the opportunity to "lay his homage at the feet of her majesty." That was all. Yet such as it was, the empress managed to turn it to political account, for she suddenly left Carlsbad, making it known throughout France, by means of the press, that she had been compelled to quit the baths, and to interrupt the cure, in consequence of the undesirable attentions which Prince George of Prussia persisted in forcing upon her. Naturally, the newspapers made the most of her story, and were filled with denunciations and abuse of the prince, some of the sheets asserting, by way of explanation of his conduct, that he was mentally unbalanced, his mother having been an acknowledged lunatic, and his brother. Prince Alexander, an imbecile. Nothing can be further from the truth. It cannot be denied that he has a few harmless and kindly eccentricities which would attract no attention whatever in an ordinary septuagenarian, but which excite comment merely by reason of his rank as a prince of the blood. He is a gentle, brilliantly accomplished, chivalrous old fellow, without an enemy in the world, and is a great favorite with the emperor's children, who will deeply miss him when he passes over to the majority, and is laid to rest in the family vault of the house of Hohenzollern.
With this exception, the princes and princesses of the blood of the Court of Berlin are all of much the same age as the emperor. They comprise Prince Henry, his only brother, who is due home from China in the spring of 1900, and his consort, Princess Irene of Hesse, sister of the young czarina. Then there is Prince Frederick-Leopold, the extremely wealthy son of Prussia's celebrated cavalry general, Prince Frederick-Charles, to whom belonged the credit of taking the French stronghold of Metz, in the war of 1870. He is married to a younger sister of the empress, and is, therefore, not only the cousin, but likewise the brother-in-law of the kaiser.
Prince Adolph, of Schaumburg-Lippe, although nominally stationed at Bonn, is also accustomed to spend the entire season at Berlin, with his wife, Princess Victoria of Prussia, a sister of the kaiser. The latter is credited with the intention of investing Prince Adolph with the regency of Brunswick, should it be vacated by Prince Albert, or else of appointing him Viceroy of Alsace-Lorraine. Princess Aribert of Anhalt and her husband, too, are very conspicuous figures in the imperial circle, the princess being a special favorite of the kaiser. She is his first cousin, being the offspring of Queen Victoria's daughter Helena, who married Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein, the guardian of the present empress, who spent much of her girlhood in England with Prince and Princess Christian, so that her friendship with Princess Aribert may be said to date from childhood. Duke Ernest-Gunther of Schleswig-Holstein, the only brother of the empress, has quieted down to a great extent since his marriage a year ago to Princess Dorothy of Coburg, and inasmuch as his eighteen-year-old wife appears to be supremely happy, there is every reason to believe that he has demonstrated the truth of the good old adage, according to which "reformed rakes make the best husbands!" The only daughter of the King of Wurtemberg has made her home at Potsdam and at Berlin since her marriage to the Prince of Wied, and as she is not only the cousin, but likewise the most intimate friend of the young Queen of Holland, the kaiser finds considerable political advantage in lavishing tokens of his affection and regard upon both her and her husband.
Another young couple belonging to the Court of Berlin are Prince and Princess William of Hohenzollern. The princess is a daughter of the Sicilian branch of the house of Bourbon, while her husband is the eldest son of that Leopold of Hohenzollern, on account of whose election to the throne of Spain in 1870, France embarked upon her disastrous war with Germany. Young Prince William of Hohenzollern, it may be added, figured for a time as Crown Prince of Roumania, and as heir to the throne of his uncle, King Charles; but after living for some time at Bucharest, he came to the conclusion that life in Roumania as crown prince was infinitely less agreeable than that of a scion of the house of Hohenzollern at Berlin, so he renounced his rights to the Roumanian throne, and came back to Berlin to live.
His younger brother, Charles of Hohenzollern, divides his time between Berlin and Potsdam; he is married to Princess Josephine of Belgium, daughter of that Count of Flanders, who is brother and next heir to King Leopold. Besides these, there are Prince and Princess Albert of Saxe-Altenburg, and several other young couples belonging to the junior sovereign houses of the German empire, who prefer to make their home at Berlin, and at Potsdam, rather than in the smaller and infinitely less brilliant capitals of their respective countries. Moreover, it has now become the fashion among the various non-Prussian rulers of the German Confederation, to send the junior members of their families—the young men—to Berlin for a time, in order to complete their military education under the eyes of the kaiser, and to be in touch with that general staff which is virtually the Supreme Council of War of the German army.
It is for this reason that Prince Louis of Bavaria, although he notoriously dislikes the kaiser and resents his assumption of superiority, claiming that the members of the Wittelsbach family are not the vassals, but the allies of the emperor, nevertheless has sent first his eldest son, and then each of his younger ones in turn, to spend a year or two at the Court of Berlin, under the immediate direction and eye of the kaiser. Prince Louis was particularly anxious that his eldest son, Rupert, as future King of Bavaria, should get in touch with the emperor, and become thoroughly acquainted, not only with Prussian methods, but also with the leading statesmen and generals, and with the trend of political aims and aspirations at Berlin. The example of Prince Louis has been followed by all the other petty German sovereigns, so that there are always about a score of non-Prussian but German young princes of the blood, giving life and gayety to the Courts of Berlin, and Potsdam, and taking a leading part in Berlin society.
Among the princes there is none, however, who possesses so striking an individuality as William's only brother, Henry. His assignment to the command of the German naval forces in the far Orient a couple of years ago, created much comment and speculation, being construed by many, both in Germany and abroad, as a banishment resulting from the kaiser's jealousy and dislike of the very popular Sailor Prince. I do not believe for one moment that this supposed jealousy exists, although everything that can possibly be conceived has been done, unintentionally and intentionally, to create it, in a manner which I will describe a little further on.
The reason of Prince Henry's being sent to the far Orient was of a twofold character. In the first place, the Chinese Empire seemed to be on the eve of a break-up, and each of the various Great Powers of Europe, was exerting its utmost energies to secure the lion's share in the game of grab in progress at Pekin. Scions of European royalty who visit China and Japan are few and far between, and the emperor very naturally thought that the presence of Prince Henry at the head of the German naval forces in Chinese waters—a prince who in addition to being the kaiser's only brother, is brother-in-law to the Russian czar, and a grandson of the Queen of England,—would have the effect of giving to the cause of Germany in the Orient an importance and a prestige which would atone for the inferiority of its naval strength in that part of the globe. Then, too, the emperor is generally believed to have foreseen the conflict between Spain and the United States, and to have known beforehand of the intention of the latter to make a dash upon Manila, in order to secure possession of the rich and fertile Philippine archipelago at the first outbreak of hostilities. Germany's navy is of such relatively recent origin that its flag-officers are far from possessing either the spirit of resource, or the cleverness and diplomacy for which the commanding generals of the German army are so distinguished. They are men who, officially, intellectually, and socially, are of an inferior calibre, the majority of them being of plebeian birth. The emperor held, therefore, that it was all-important that Germany's squadron in the far Orient should be, at that particular juncture, under the command of an officer such as Prince Henry, who, by reason of his royal rank and his intimate knowledge of his brother's views and wishes, would have the necessary boldness, tact, and presence of mind to know exactly how to deal with any crisis that might arise.
I am perfectly aware that there is a disposition in the United States to blame Prince Henry for the bad feeling which was caused by the attitude of the German warships at Manila during the few months that followed the great American naval victory gained under the guns of that city, but the trouble was due to the Prussian rear-admiral, Diederichs, who, to use the expressive phrase of the English captain, Sir Edward Chichester, in endeavoring to excuse him in the eyes of Admiral Dewey, "had no sea-manners," and there is no doubt that had Prince Henry been at Manila, instead of Diederichs, at that moment, there would have been no friction whatsoever, either between the naval commanders, or subsequently between the two nations, for Prince Henry possesses precisely those qualities which would have resulted in feelings of good-will and friendship with Admiral Dewey. He is modest, honest, broad-minded, speaks English perfectly, and is entirely free from any affectation or pose. He is a man, indeed, who has so many qualities in common with Dewey that it is impossible that they should not have understood each other, and under the circumstances it is most unfortunate that the prince happened to be in the northernmost portion of the China seas at the very time that the battle of Manila was fought. It may be remembered that matters went on very much more smoothly between the Germans and the Americans at Manila after the withdrawal of Admiral Diederichs.
There was another very important reason for sending Prince Henry to Manila; he is, of all the members of his house, the one most strongly imbued with liberal and progressive ideas in political affairs. In fact, he seems to have inherited all those political views of his father, Emperor Frederick, which were a source of so much concern and apprehension to the late Prince Bismarck. To tell the truth, the political views and aspirations of Henry are diametrically opposed to those of his elder brother, a circumstance which does not, however, in any way impair the affection existing between the two.
At the time when he sent off Prince Henry to China, the kaiser was far from well, and was suffering more than usually from the painful malady of the ear already referred to, and which is identical with the disease which first of all wrecked the mind and then killed his grand-uncle, King Frederick William IV. Added to this, he is firmly imbued with the idea that he is destined to meet with a sudden death at the hands of an assassin, a conviction which never leaves him, and which is perhaps responsible for that species of stern and even aggressive air with which he, gazes at the cheering crowds when he rides home at the head of his troops through the streets of Berlin or of Potsdam after a day spent in military manoeuvres on the great plains of Tempelhof.
If any of my readers feel disposed to condemn him for this apprehension,—it would be unjust to style it fear,—let them try to imagine how they themselves would feel if they knew that there were scores of desperate men and women who had sworn to take their lives by means of bullets or explosive bombs, fired or hurled from the centre of some dense crowd, which would destroy the life of the victim of such an outrage without a moment's warning, or without being able to even so much as raise a hand in self-defense.
Now at the time when Prince Henry sailed for China, the young crown prince was sixteen years of age; that is to say, he lacked two years of the attainment of his majority. Had anything untoward happened to the kaiser during the minority of the crown prince, Prince Henry would, according to the laws of the house of Hohenzollern and of the Prussian constitution, have been appointed as regent until his nephew came of age. Prince Henry's right to the regency, as nearest male relative, was one of which he could not be deprived, save by altogether exceptional and questionable methods, which both policy and fraternal affection forbade the emperor to employ. Yet he realized that were Henry to be entrusted with the regency he would change in the most radical fashion the course of the ship of state; would introduce measures dear to the late Emperor Frederick, but to which he, the kaiser, was unalterably opposed, and would, in short, undo everything that he himself had done; so that when eventually the crown prince came of age there would be no longer any possibility of his continuing his father's policy, a policy which the emperor has been at great pains to inculcate into his boy.
With Prince Henry at the Antipodes, there was an excuse for vesting the regency either in the harmless hands of Frederick-Leopold, or in those of Prince Albert, whose ideas on the subject of government are to a great extent in keeping with those of the kaiser. That was one of the reasons why Henry was sent off to China, and any doubt upon the subject will be removed by remembering the fact that his sojourn in the far East will terminate with the eighteenth birthday,—the coming of age—of his nephew, the young crown prince.
That such real and lasting affection should subsist between William and Henry is indeed surprising, and speaks volumes for the warm-heartedness, and I might almost say magnanimity of the kaiser's character. For everything that could possibly have contributed to render him jealous of his brother, has been done, as I remarked above.
Henry was always favored at the expense of William by his father and mother, as well as by the entire imperial family. In fact, the late emperor gave a striking expression of his preference for his younger son, when at the time of the prince's marriage to Princess Irene of Hesse, he pressed into Henry's hand a slip of paper—he could not speak any longer, owing to the awful malady which carried him off,—on which he had written, "You at least have never given me a moment's sorrow, and will make as good a husband as you have been a loving son;" and when soon after this Emperor Frederick breathed his last, it was found that he had left the major part of his fortune either to Henry directly, or to Empress Frederick, in trust for this, his favorite son.
This privileged position in the affection of his parents, aye, and it may be added in the hearts of the German people, is due in a large measure to Prince Henry's education. He was brought up, so to speak, at sea, and the moral profession is of all others the one which calls forth all the best qualities of a man, develops manliness, and diminishes pride and affectation. Before he was twenty years of age, he had twice circumnavigated the globe, visiting every corner of the earth, and carrying the flag of Germany into regions where it had never been seen before. This in itself was sufficient to interest Germans in the young prince, the first of his house to seek adventures in such far distant climes; and this healthy, manly, interesting mode of life was compared to his advantage with the somewhat dissipated existence of a young army officer, which his elder brother, prior to his marriage, indulged in at Berlin.
Occasionally, stories reached the public through the press of feats of gallantry performed by the royal sailor, such as the plunging overboard once in a squall, and at another time in shark-infested waters, to save drowning sailors; while every incident which thus became known concerning the young prince served to confirm his countrymen in the belief that he was endowed in an altogether exceptional degree with those qualities which we are so fond of ascribing to "those who go down to the sea in ships." These long sea voyages had, moreover, the effect of keeping him clear of all those court and political intrigues with which Emperor William was surrounded, as if with a very network, prior to his accession to the throne; intrigues, I may add, which since William became emperor, have been devoted to many a futile endeavor designed to create mischief between the two brothers. It is probable that they will have less effect than ever from henceforth, since William, now that his eldest boy has attained his majority, will have no longer any reason to apprehend the possibility of Henry's undoing, in the capacity of regent, all the work that he, the kaiser, has accomplished during the eleven years of his reign; indeed, now that this danger is eliminated, the two brothers are likely to become more intimate than ever, and the Court of Berlin will probably see much more of the sailor prince than heretofore. Henry is the very life of his brother's court, as he is not only extremely fond of making fun, even at the expense sometimes of his majesty, especially about the excessively earnest attitude which the emperor assumes, with regard to the most trivial questions. Absolutely unconventional, save on his own quarter-deck, he carries about with him an atmosphere of brightness and breeziness which is almost as infectious and as bracing as a whiff of sea air.
For all his love of skylarking, and the freedom of his manners, his name has never been associated with any questionable story, save by the gutter element of the Parisian press, which endeavored to drag him into the Dreyfus case by declaring that Germany's strange attitude in the affair was due to the alleged knowledge the French War Department of terrible immorality proved to have been committed by Prince Henry during frequent secret visits to Paris. Of course there is not a word of truth in these contemptible stories, and the prince's reputation as a perfect husband and a healthy-minded gentleman, stands high, even in Berlin, where people are overfond of scandalous gossip. Certainly there are plenty of stories current about the pranks that he has played, but these are all of an innocent and boyish character. The prince creates the impression of the most complete wholesomeness; his six feet of well set up manhood, his bright eyes and clear, tanned skin, seem the outward and visible sign of a thoroughly clean and sound mind; common sense, frankness, fearlessness, dignity and kindness, are written in his every feature in a way that reminds people vividly of his lamented father; while the easy movements of an athletic body, always apparently in the pink of condition, are evidently allied to the smooth serenity of a mind confident in itself, but modest with the humility of knowledge.
After having said so much that is pleasant of the prince, I must, in pursuance of my determination to give the shadows as well as the lights of my portraits, admit that there are two particulars in which Prince Henry cannot be said to shine. One of these is public speaking, and the other is shooting; he is as unfortunate in the one respect as in the other.
His only public utterance of any importance was made at the time of his departure for China, when he addressed the emperor in such extravagant terms, referring to his "consecrated majesty," and so on, that it created mingled feelings of amazement and amusement from one end of the civilized world to the other! There has always been an impression in my mind that there was in this extraordinary speech just a suspicion of a disposition to guy his brother: for not only were the terms that he used entirely foreign to his character,—their outre tenor bordering on the ridiculous,—but it is impossible for anyone who has ever heard him chaffing his seasick brother while out yachting, putting his head in at the cabin door every now and again, and calling out, "Well, Willie, how do you feel now, and what has become of your imperial dignity?" to believe that he was really serious when he so solemnly ascribed divine attributes to this selfsame Willie.
I heard that after the prince's arrival in China, where banquets were given in his honor by the German and English leading colonists, he was repeatedly asked to make a few remarks in reply to the toasts drunk in his honor, but that on each occasion he politely informed his hosts that he would see them in Jericho before he got on his feet to address them. "Only once in my life," he was wont to say, "did I make a speech, and I shall never hear the end of that to the close of my days!" A little later on, when the Shanghai correspondent of the London Times was presented to him, he himself referred to this most celebrated and oft-quoted speech by inquiring good-humoredly, and withal plaintively, "By the way, don't you think your newspapers have roasted me enough about it?"
With regard to his shooting, there is no scion of royalty who has been the cause of more gun accidents than the prince. He had not attained his majority before he managed, while shooting in the game preserves of his uncle, the Grand Duke of Baden, to wound a gamekeeper so severely that the man was crippled for life, and has since been in the receipt of a generous pension from the prince. Then in Corfu, while clambering up a steep hill, he had the misfortune to unintentionally discharge his gun, the lead lodging in a Greek gentleman who was following a few feet behind him and grievously injuring him; while at a later period he succeeded in inflicting serious damage upon a Turkish dignitary appointed by the Sultan to attend him during his shooting trips in Syria. It is of him, too, that is related the story of how, when asked as a youth of twenty, by Queen Victoria, during one of his stays at Balmoral, what sport he had had while out deer stalking, he replied proudly: "Well, grandma, I did not succeed in killing a stag, but I hit quite a number." It is recorded that there was a painful silence after this remark, and that the prince was not again urged to go out deer stalking during his stay at Balmoral!
Princess Henry is probably the least favored, both as to beauty and brilliancy of intellect, of the daughters of the late Grand Duke of Hesse, and of his consort, Princess Alice, second daughter of Queen Victoria. Her three sisters, the Grand Duchess Sergius of Russia, Princess Louis of Battenberg, and the young czarina, are renowned for their loveliness and their cleverness, the latter inherited from their talented mother; whereas Princess Irene and her brother, the reigning Grand Duke of Hesse, take far more after their father. Princess Irene was born in 1866, during the Seven Weeks' War, when her father was called upon to fight his own brothers in the Prussian army, and his brother-in-law, the late Emperor Frederick, then Crown Prince of Prussia. Her baptismal sponsors were the officers and men belonging to the two cavalry regiments under her father's special command during that war:—there is no other princess in Europe who has ever had two entire regiments of cavalry for godfathers! The name of Irene was bestowed upon her by way of gratitude for the restoration of peace, and she used always to be known in her young days at Darmstadt as the "Friedenskind," or "child of peace." After her mother's death from diphtheria, it was the latter's eldest sister, the now widowed Empress Frederick, who endeavored, as far as possible, to look after the children, and it was perhaps this that led to Prince Henry's falling in love with his cousin. The match was strongly opposed by Prince Bismarck, partly upon the ground of the close relationship of the parties, but mainly on account of his hatred for the reigning house of Hesse. But when Prince Henry declared that he would remain single all his life unless he were allowed to marry Princess Irene, consent was given, and the wedding took place at Charlottenburg in the presence of the dying Emperor Frederick, this being the last public ceremony at which he was present. One of the saddest of sights, indeed, was that presented by "Unser Fritz," almost too weak to stand, giving his voiceless blessing after the ceremony to his favorite son, and to his new daughter-in-law, who, having been born in a time of war and misery, was entering upon her new life as a wife at a time when the whole nation was once more sorrowing. While Princess Irene is perhaps less attractive than her sisters, she is more interested in philanthropic movements than any other member of her family, and at Kiel, where she makes her home, she is greatly liked, especially by the poor. She is a magnificent equestrienne, and a very clever shot, being infinitely more successful in this respect than her husband, who is so devoted to her that he bears this superiority with the greatest equanimity.
Although Prince Frederick-Leopold has certainly relieved himself from any imputation of effeminacy by the conspicuous part he took in the long-distance rides between Berlin and Vienna, and by his magnificent horsemanship, yet he does not convey to people the impression of manliness that constitutes so distinguishing a characteristic of his cousins, Prince Henry and the kaiser. He is lacking alike in virility and intellect, and seems to have no other aim and aspiration in life than to live up to his name and reputation as the leader of masculine fashion or "Gigerl Koenig," which may be rendered into English as "king of the dudes." They say at the Court of Berlin that he is so particular about the fit of his clothes that he will never remain seated for more than five minutes at a time, not even when traveling, for fear of spoiling the crease in his trousers or of making them baggy at the knees! He does not attempt to disguise the fact that the faultlessness of his coats or of his uniforms is an object of paramount importance. These are, however, very harmless weaknesses, which are more than atoned for by the fact that he is an excellent father and husband, but the obstinacy of his temper and his vagaries as a leader of masculine fashion at Berlin have often been a source of impatience and irritation to the kaiser. It is only just to lay stress on his excellence both as a husband and a father, as all sorts of stories have been circulated, not merely in the foreign press, but also in the German newspapers, charging him with intemperance and with brutality towards his wife, who is a younger sister of the empress, such as to necessitate the intervention of the kaiser.
These stories are pure calumnies, and originate in a confusion between the prince and his father, the celebrated cavalry general. The latter, popularly known as the "Red Prince," was the commander to whom Metz capitulated in 1870, and was not only noted for his hard drinking, but likewise for his rough usage of his amiable and formerly lovely consort when he was in his cups. He is credited with having frequently beaten her, either with his fist or with his riding whip, when crazed with drink; and it is no secret that she left him on three occasions with the avowed intention of securing a separation and even divorce, and was only persuaded to return to her husband by the entreaties of the old emperor.
Of course all this was a matter of court gossip at the time, and three or four years ago the stories formerly current concerning the father, who has been dead for more than a decade, were revived with regard to his son, for no other reason than that the prince had quite frequently rendered himself subject to disciplinary measures by the kaiser. If the latter has, however, ordered him to remain under arrest in his palace at various times, it has not been as a punishment for having horsewhipped his wife when drunk, as some foreign illustrated papers would have the world believe, but only because the prince had been guilty of some neglect in military duty, or had disobeyed the wishes of the emperor in connection with the management of his household.
Thus, some two or three winters ago, Princess Frederick-Leopold was almost drowned while out skating near Potsdam; she broke through the ice, was completely unconscious when miraculously rescued by four peasants who happened to be in the neighborhood, and was only brought back to life with the utmost difficulty. The emperor and empress were naturally much concerned and distressed by this accident; but William's sympathy changed into very serious anger when he learnt that the princess had remained so long under the ice and had been dependent on the courage and bravery of the peasants who rescued her, only because neither her husband nor any of the gentlemen of his household had been in attendance upon her. In fact, she was quite alone with a lady-in-waiting, who lost her head, and was completely unable to offer any assistance when the mishap occurred. The emperor also discovered that on the previous day the princess had, without any escort whatsoever, skated alone all the way from Potsdam to Brandenburg and back, a remarkable feat, calling for much endurance and attended by no little danger. Now, as I have already stated, it is contrary to the rules of court etiquette and usage for any prince or princess of the blood to leave their residence, unattended, and it was on account of the infraction of this regulation that the kaiser sentenced both the prince and his consort to several weeks' arrest in their palace. It was this circumstance that gave rise to the ridiculous and sensational tale of the prince having been punished by the emperor in consequence of the latter having caught him in the act of beating the princess while in a fit of drunken fury.
Prince Frederick-Leopold is a great traveller, and has not only spent a considerable time in India as the guest of his brother-in-law, the Duke of Connaught, when the latter was in military command at Bombay, but, moreover, he has visited China and Japan, and devoted several months to a tour in the United States, which was wound up by some rather exciting events at Coney Island before his return home to Berlin.
Of the bachelorhood days of the kaiser's other brother-in-law, Duke Ernest-Gunther of Schleswig-Holstein, already mentioned several times in these pages, especially in connection with the anonymous letter scandal, the least said the better. A hard-drinking, dissipated, and somewhat coarse-mannered cavalry officer, he has often been a source of perpetual anger to the kaiser and of distress to his sister, the excellent empress. He managed to get his name involved in all sorts of unsavory speculations on the stock exchange and in gambling scandals, invariably, it is true, as a victim; while at least three foreign footlight favorites were expelled from Germany by the police on account of the scandals created by his association with them. On one occasion, he even had the audacity to appear at Charlottenburg with a notorious American "demi-mondaine" seated beside him on the box of his drag, although his sister, the empress, was present at the races, as well as a large number of ladies of the court and many great dignitaries. Seeing the servants of his coach arrayed in the familiar liveries of his house, they all naturally imagined that the lady beside the duke was one of his sisters, either Princess Frederick-Leopold or Princess Fedora, and accorded to her the homage which would have belonged by right to either of these two princesses, but which was totally misplaced when conceded to a woman of such unenviable notoriety as the fair stranger who sat beside the duke. Needless to add that the emperor was furious when he heard of the affair, and after giving orders for the immediate expulsion of the woman, directed the prince to leave Berlin, and to remain at his castle of Prinkenau until he had expiated his gross and flagrant breach of the proprieties.
Duke Ernest-Gunther was a suitor for the hand of quite a large number of princesses, and among those to whom he proposed were the daughters of the Prince of Wales and of the latter's brother, the Duke of Coburg, his suit being rejected with touching unanimity in each instance, in consequence of his unenviable reputation. Yet strangely enough, as stated previously, he seems to have developed into an exemplary husband, although his marriage was contracted under circumstances which, verged on a tragedy; for his wife, a mere seventeen-year-old girl, just issuing from the school-room when he made an offer for her hand, was literally flung into his arms by both her parents, who were determined to separate from each other, and who had been informed by Emperor Francis-Joseph of Austria, and by King Leopold of Belgium, that no such step could be tolerated until after the marriage of little Princess "Dolly," the only daughter of this ill-matched couple. The betrothal took place in due course at Vienna. But before the marriage could follow, the young girl's mother, namely, Princess Louise of Coburg and of Belgium, deliberately eloped from the Austrian capital with her husband's chamberlain, the Hungarian Count Keglewitch; and what was worse, took her daughter with her. The trio fled to Nice, where they were visited by King Leopold, who after endeavoring in vain to persuade the princess to return to her husband at Vienna, discarded her in hot anger, declaring that she was no longer his daughter!
The next act in the drama was a challenge issued by Prince Philip of Coburg against Count Keglewitch, who left Nice for the encounter: the duel was fought in the army riding-school at Vienna, the commander of the metropolitan garrison and the minister of war acting as seconds to Prince Philip, although duelling is strictly forbidden by law in Austria, as it is in Germany. Prince Philip received a painful wound in the hand, and the count forthwith left to rejoin the princess at Nice. The publicity given to this duel had the unfortunate result, however, of calling attention to the presence of poor little Princess Dorothy at Nice with her misguided mother and the count, and the princess having been warned by the Austrian authorities and the French police that her daughter would be taken from her by force unless she relinquished her hold upon the child, she sent her back to Vienna, whence the girl was immediately dispatched to Dresden and placed under the care of the mother and the unmarried sister of the German empress, with whom she remained until her marriage.
Shortly after her departure from Nice, her mother was forced to take flight in consequence of the persecution to which she was subjected by her creditors; and with a shamelessness that can only be explained on the score of an unbalanced mind, she deliberately returned to Austria with her lover, and coolly took up her residence at his castle near Agram, where the count actually made preparations for a siege, in order to resist by force any attempt on the part of the authorities to take the princess from him.
Ultimately, both were captured by strategy, and while the princess was conveyed under police escort to Vienna, and lodged at the request of her husband in a lunatic asylum, on the sworn statements of two court physicians concerning her insanity, the count was placed under close arrest at Agram on the charge of grossly immoral conduct, unbecoming an officer and a gentleman. Before he had been very long in the military prison, this charge was changed to one of forgery; for it was discovered that there were notes in circulation at Vienna and Paris to the extent of more than a million dollars, which the count had negotiated, and which bore the forged signature of Princess Louise's sister, the widowed Crown Princess Stephanie of Austria.
The count of course denied that he had forged the signature, but as the fact remains that he negotiated the notes, and that Princess Louise, who, failing himself, can alone have been the culprit, is officially declared insane, and legally irresponsible, he has had to bear the brunt of the affair, and is now, after having undergone the terrible ceremony of military degradation, working out a sentence of five years' penal servitude in a fortress; doubtless comparing his fate with that of the celebrated Baron Trench, who was imprisoned for years in the dungeons of Spandau, and of Magdeburg, for having compromised the fair name of the sister of Frederick the Great by indiscreet attentions.
Princess Louise is now under strict restraint in an asylum for the insane near Dresden, and inasmuch as both her father, King Leopold of the Belgians, and her husband, have declined to pay any of her debts, public sales of her belongings, even of her dresses and her under-garments, were permitted to take place at Vienna and at Nice for the benefit of her creditors. It is only fair to the unfortunate princess to state that her entire married life has been one of uninterrupted misery, owing to the brutality and drunken habits of her husband, who is noted as one of the most dissolute princes in all Europe. In fact if court gossip at Berlin and Vienna is to be believed, the princess first became enamored of Count Keglewitch when the latter, in attendance on the princely couple as their chamberlain, interfered one day to protect her from the blows of her husband.
It was amidst circumstances such as these that Princess Dorothy was married to Duke Ernest-Gunther of Schleswig-Holstein, neither her father nor her mother being present at her marriage; the reigning Duke of Coburg, as chief of the Coburg family figuring in the place of her parents, and giving her away at the altar. That with such a father, such a mother, and with a husband of such a past reputation for dissipation and wildness, the little princess should have found happiness in marriage, is, to say the least, surprising. But the duke seems devoted to his little wife, while she on her side is completely wrapped up in her husband, and thinks him perfect, in every way.
Yet another brother-in-law of the kaiser who is a conspicuous figure at the Court of Berlin, is Prince Adolphus of Schaumburg-Lippe, married to Princess Victoria, the least attractive and least popular of William's sisters. After several flirtations of a rather sensational character with young Count Andrassy, and several other gay diplomats and noblemen, which were a source of amusement to the court, although of great concern to her mother, she ultimately fell in love with Prince Alexander of Battenburg, who at the time had just been forced to abandon the throne of Bulgaria, and who was certainly one of the handsomest and most fascinating of European princes. The prince, who was at the time, to put matters plainly, out of a job, being without fortune or future, was persuaded by his relatives, notably by his brother Henry, who had married Princess Beatrice of England, to apply for her hand; this he did, on the understanding that his marriage to her would facilitate his restoration to the German army, from which he had resigned on ascending the throne of Bulgaria; for as a general of the Prussian army, he anticipated retrieving the prestige and fame which he had lost as ruler of Bulgaria.
Prince Bismarck, however, set his face strongly against the match on the ground that it would impair the friendly relations between the Courts of Berlin and St. Petersburg, Prince Alexander being for personal reasons an object of the most intense animosity to the late czar. Indeed, it was this hatred on the part of the late Emperor of Russia that had rendered it impossible for Prince Alexander to retain his throne of Bulgaria. Old Emperor William, supported his chancellor in the matter, and while the late Emperor Frederick, at that time merely crown prince, remained quite passive, the cause of Princess Victoria and Prince Alexander was strongly championed by Empress Frederick and Queen Victoria. The controversy continued even after the death of old Emperor William, and finally, in face of the persistent hostility in the matter displayed by Prince Bismarck, and by the present kaiser, it was arranged that the couple should be married, not in Germany, but in England, at Windsor Castle, and that they should make their home elsewhere than in Germany. This, however, did not meet the views of Prince Alexander, who thus saw all his ambition for a military career in the German army frustrated instead of promoted by the union. So at the very last moment, within a few days of the date appointed for the wedding at Windsor, and after all the trousseau had been purchased and the wedding presents bought, he deliberately jilted his royal fiancee, and married at Nice, an actress named Mlle. Loesinger, an offspring of the valet and the cook of the old Austrian General Faviani.
The prince, it may be remembered, subsequently abandoned the title and status of a Prince Battenberg, secured the title of Count Hartenau from his father's old friend and comrade, the Emperor of Austria, as well as a colonelcy in the Austrian army, and died as major-general in command of a brigade at Gratz.
It was more than a year after this, that Princess Victoria found a husband in the insignificant-looking and inoffensive Prince Adolph of Schaumburg-Lippe, son of Prince George of that ilk, the prince at that time serving as Captain of Hussars at Bonn. Soon afterwards, Emperor William learning that Prince Waldemar of Lippe was dying, took advantage of the fact that he was rather weak-minded to induce him to sign a species of will bequeathing the regency of the principality at his death to Prince Adolph of Schaumburg-Lippe, the next heir to the throne of Lippe; his brother Alexander of Lippe being an incurable lunatic. On the strength of this document, which was of a purely personal character, and which was neither ratified by the legislature of the principality of Lippe, nor recognized by the federal council of the German empire, Prince Adolph, with the assistance of a couple of Prussian regiments, coolly took possession of the principality of Lippe, proclaimed himself regent, and assumed the reins of government.
According to the laws of Germany governing the succession of its sovereign houses, the regency in such a case as that presented by the principality of Lippe, should have fallen to the lot of the nearest living agnate. The latter happened to be Count Ernest of Lippe, chief of the Beisterfeld branch of the Lippe family. Prince Adolph, however, and his brother-in-law, Emperor William, took the ground that Count Ernest was debarred from the regency, and from succession to the throne on the death of the crazy Prince Alexander, by the fact that sometime in the early part of the last century one of his male ancestors had contracted a mesalliance, and thus brought a plebeian strain into the family. This contention was accepted neither by the people of Lippe, nor by the count; they appealed to the tribunals of the empire, and to every reigning family of Germany in turn, the entire non-Prussian press, as well as many newspapers in Prussia itself, espousing their cause.
Finally, the emperor and his brother-in-law were forced by popular clamor to consent to bring the matter before a tribunal of arbitration, composed of the principal judges of the Supreme Federal Court at Leipzig, presided over for the occasion by the dean and veteran of German sovereigns, King Albert of Saxony. The tribunal, after due deliberation, rendered a decision against the emperor and Prince Adolph; directing the latter to at once surrender the regency and the Lippe estates, which are immensely valuable, yielding an income of eight hundred thousand dollars, to Count Ernest of Lippe, on the ground that if a mesalliance such as the one contracted by the count's eighteenth-century ancestor were to be considered sufficient to invalidate his rights to the regency and to the succession to the throne, as the nearest living male relative of the crazy reigning prince, half the thrones of Germany would have to be vacated by their present occupants.
It was pointed out by the arbitrators that if the contention of Prince Adolph and the kaiser were admitted, the Grand Duke of Baden would have to abandon his throne; the branch of the Baden family to which he belonged being descended from a prince of Baden who contracted a mesalliance at the close of the last century; that all the children of the emperor himself would be barred from succession to the throne of Germany, since the great-grandfather of the present Empress of Germany was the offspring of a terrible mesalliance; while last, but not least, Prince Adolph himself was descended from a prince of Lippe who towards the close of the last century, fell in love with and married the daughter of a mere writ-server, whose blood flows in the veins of the emperor's brother-in-law.
Emperor William and Prince Adolph bitterly resented the setback to which they were subjected by this decree of the King of Saxony; and although they were forced to yield in the present instance, they threatened to reopen the entire question should anything untoward happen to the present regent, Count Lippe, for they insist that under no circumstances can any of his sons be permitted to inherit either his rights or his honors, owing to the fact that his wife, the Countess of Lippe, is also the issue of a mesalliance, her mother having been an American girl, a native of Philadelphia, who married Count Leopold Wartensleben. On the strength of this, Prussian authorities, military as well as civilian, while directed to accord to the Count of Lippe the honors due to the regent of a German sovereignty, are forbidden to recognize in any way either the count's consort or his children, on the ground that these can only be regarded as morganatic, and as such debarred from the tokens of respect due to full-fledged members of a sovereign house.
Naturally, all this has served to render Prince Adolph and his wife extremely unpopular throughout the length and breadth of Germany; and when a short time ago there was a question of appointing the prince as regent of the Duchy of Brunswick in succession to Prince Albert of Prussia, who is tired of the post, or as a stadtholder of Alsace-Lorraine in the place of Prince Herman Hohenlohe, the press throughout Germany, and even in Prussia, raised its voice in protest against the emperor's forcing his brother-in-law into places for which he was in no sense of the word fitted, either by his talents, his administrative skill, his tact, or his intellectual abilities.
Although Germany's young crown prince has until now been more or less of a stranger to court functions and gaieties at Berlin, his time being absorbed by his studies at the military academy of Ploen, and his holidays spent in travel and Alpine expeditions, yet, as he is about to celebrate his majority, and has passed from the stages of boyhood to those of manhood, he will be from henceforth a personage of the utmost importance—second only in rank to the emperor.
Destined, in course of time, to succeed to the throne and to the immense responsibilities of his father, and to become virtually the autocratic ruler of a nation of fifty million people, as well as the absolute master of the greatest military power on the face of the globe, every scrap of information concerning this youth must naturally be of vast interest, not only to his future subjects, but also to the entire civilized world. Under the circumstances, therefore, it is satisfactory to be able to say truthfully that Germany's future kaiser is a fine, healthy-minded, healthy-bodied lad, disposed to take an extremely serious view of his duties and his obligations, and who, thanks to the excellent education which he has received both from his parents and his teachers, seems destined to prove a wise as well as a popular monarch.
It seems but the other day that the young crown prince, as a chubby ten-year-old lad, was being introduced by his father to the officers and men of the first regiment of Foot Guards at Potsdam, to which, in accordance with traditional usage, he was appointed on his tenth birthday as lieutenant. There may be some of my readers who were present on that occasion, and who may remember the spectacle presented by the little fellow, vainly endeavoring to keep step with the giant strides of these huge grenadiers, the tallest men in the German army, during the march-past that followed the ceremony. Since then there have been so many portraits of the crown prince published, as he appeared at that time, that this taken in conjunction with the rapid flight of years, renders it difficult to realize that he is now no longer a little boy, but a youth considerably taller and almost as broad and stalwart as his father, whose best friend he has become.
William and his eldest boy are fondly devoted to each other. To the crown prince, his father is in every sense of the word "William second to none;" while the kaiser himself is entirely wrapped up in his heir. For the last few years the emperor has given every spare moment that he could snatch away from his multifarious occupations to the task of instilling his ideas and views into the crown prince. In talking and reasoning with him, he has treated the lad as far older than his years, has discussed with him, in fact, as if he were a man; and it is due to this that Germany's future emperor is at the present moment remarkably mature for his age, and really in a position to view matters with a degree of experience and knowledge that are unrivalled in so young a man. As a general rule, young people are unwilling to accept the advice of their elders, or to benefit by their experience, convinced that their seniors are behind the spirit of the age, and in no sense of the word up to date. But with the German crown prince this is different: he is so imbued with the idea that his father is wiser and better than anyone else in the world, that he is willing and glad to accept the paternal recommendations and to benefit by paternal advice.
Yet with all this the lad is not a prig, nor is he forward or presumptuous. True, he has a keen sense of his own dignity, but it takes the form of an extreme simplicity, and of an absolute lack of affectation, since he is intelligent enough to realize that his rank and position are sufficiently assured to render it unnecessary that he should call attention thereto either by his manner or by his speech. He is modest too, very frank, particularly courteous to old people, boyishly chivalrous to women, and firmly convinced that there is no member of the fair sex in the entire world who is so ideally perfect in appearance, as well as in character, as his mother.
I would not for all the world that this description of the crown prince should in any way convey the impression to my readers that he is a milksop or an overgrown child! Devoted to every form of sport, a splendid gymnast, a clever oarsman, a skilful driver and a bold rider, an excellent shot, he is in every sense of the word a manly young fellow, who, however, has been kept free from all contact with the darker sides of life, and who still retains, therefore, mingled with the experience of a grown man, much of the innocence and freshness of mind of a mere boy. Indeed, he is a son of whom any father and mother might well be proud!
Fair-haired and blue-eyed, with the down of a blond moustache upon his upper lip, the young prince is a typical Hohenzollern, and resembles his grandfather, Emperor Frederick, more than he does his father. He is passionately devoted to everything military, and keenly relishes the idea that the six months following the attainment of his majority are to be devoted to military duties at Potsdam, for although he has held a commission of lieutenant of the first regiment of Foot Guards since his tenth year, he is only now about to be called upon to fulfil the duties of his rank with the regiment.
It will be in every sense of the word an arduous training, for the first regiment of Guards being considered all the world over as the crack corps of the German army, and as the embodiment of military perfection in every sense of the word, its officers, realizing that it is, so to speak, the star phalanx of Germany, are engaged, morning, noon and night, in maintaining it at its proper standard, and there are no officers anywhere in Europe who are so hard worked as those of the first regiment of Prussian Guards;—that regiment which in the days of Frederick the Great's father was composed entirely of giants, recruited, or rather purchased often, at a cost of several thousand dollars apiece, from all parts of the world!
The prince must be on the drill grounds and the manoeuvre fields as early as four o'clock in the morning, returning for a sort of luncheon towards ten or eleven; he must devote his afternoon to military studies of one kind or another; while from four o'clock till seven his time will be taken up by barrack-room inspections, company reports, and the other thousand and one duties incidental to regimental life in Germany. In the case of the crown prince the work will be exceptionally heavy, as he is expected to acquire in the course of six months an experience which other subalterns take years to obtain. At the end of the term in question he is to go to Bonn, there to take his seat, like his father before him, on the benches of the celebrated university as an ordinary student.
From his eighteenth birthday the crown prince will have an establishment and a civil list of his own. He will have his court marshal, who will be at the same time the treasurer, governor, and chief officer of his household. He will have his aids-de-camp, who will, as far as possible, be young men of his own age and alive to the responsibilities of their office; he will also have a palace of his own, stables of his own, and his own shooting. Indeed the forest of Spandau has already been for some time past strictly preserved in view of his coming of age.
This particular forest has from time immemorial been assigned as the particular game-park of the heir to the crown. The crown prince is to make his home in the so-called "Stadtschloss" at Potsdam, where he will occupy the same suite of apartments that was tenanted by his parents during the alterations that recently took place at the "Neues Palais." This palace was erected at the close of the seventeenth century, and contains, among other objects of interest, the furniture used by Frederick the Great, the coverings of which were nearly all torn to shreds by the claws of his dog; his writing-table covered with ink-stains, his library filled with Trench books, music composed by himself, etc. The various halls and rooms are kept nearly in the same manner, indeed, as when he used them. Adjoining his bedroom there is a small cabinet, where he used to dine alone or with Voltaire, without attendants, everything coming through the floor on a dumbwaiter, the king himself placing the dishes on the table.
It is in this palace, haunted, one might almost say, at every point by memories and by the spirit of the most famous of Prussian kings, a monarch distinguished as a general, as an administrator and as a philosopher, that Germany's future emperor will from henceforth make his home until he in turn, on the death of his father, will migrate, as did the latter, from the so-called Stadtschloss to the "Neues Palais," two miles and a half distant. The crown prince is also to have a residence of his own at Berlin, where he is to occupy the Bellevue Palace during the court season.
Among other characteristics of the young crown prince is his fondness for animals, and the extraordinary influence which, even as a child, he has always seemed to exercise over them. He succeeded in training his ponies, his dogs and other domestic pets to perform such clever tricks that on several occasions he managed, with the assistance of his brothers, to organize very creditable circus performances, usually in honor of the birthday of his father or his mother. There was one instance especially that I may recall, which took place some years ago. This particular performance began in the afternoon at three, with a prologue spoken by Prince August William, in which he mentioned the different items of the programme. Then each of the royal lads led his pony in front of the box in which the imperial couple sat with their guests, and the crown prince put his horse "Daretz," through all kinds of tricks, of a high school character, winding up by making the horse kneel in token of salute before the emperor and empress. More trick riding on another horse named "Puck," belonging to the crown prince, followed, and thereupon there was a comical intermezzo, in which Prince Adalbert and Prince Eitel took the part of two clowns. Later on, the crown prince's dogs were brought on the scene, and his favorite "Tom" went through some extraordinary antics, walking about all over the ring on his hind legs, tolling bells, driving other of the prince's dogs with reins, and jumping through hoops covered with tissue paper. The whole affair lasted over two hours, was very entertaining, even to grown-up people who did not happen to be related to the organizers of the entertainment, and did great credit to the cleverness of the crown prince, and above all to the marvellous influence which he exercises over animals of every description.
Military tastes in the royal lad have been developed by the games and pastimes in which he and his brothers were encouraged to indulge; hence, in the grounds of the Bellevue Palace at Berlin, as well as in a corner of the great park of the Neues Palais at Potsdam, the boys constructed full-fledged forts with water-filled moats, and cleverly constructed bastions, which were stormed from time to time in due form, and being defended with the utmost tenacity, hard knocks were ofttimes given and received. The playmates of the crown prince and his brothers have been not merely the sons of nobles forming part of the imperial household and court, but likewise the children of employes of much less exalted rank, such as the sons of lodge-keepers, gardeners, game-keepers, etc., who all played and tumbled with the young princes on a footing of the most perfect equality, drubbing one another totally irrespective of rank. It is a pleasant thing to know that friendships thus formed subsist in after life; as an instance, when the kaiser's sister, now crown princess of Greece, sent to Germany some time ago for a nursery governess for her young children, she was able to acquire the services of her old girlhood playmate, the daughter of one of the gardeners employed at the "Neues Palais."
The crown prince may be said to have traveled over all Germany, and that, too, in the most democratic and sensible fashion. In Germany, and, in fact, all over the continent of Europe, a pedestrian tour, domestic and foreign, constitutes part and parcel of the education of every youth, especially those of the industrial classes. No apprenticeship is considered complete without the accomplishment of a trip of this kind, which is usually performed with a knapsack on the back, and in the most economical manner imaginable. This portion of the youth's life is known as his "wanderjahr" and the traveler is known by the name of "wanderbuersche" The trip serves to broaden the mind of the "buersche," to render him self-reliant, and to give him a knowledge and experience of the world—aye, and of his craft as well—that he could never obtain if he remained at home. Emperor William, who in many things is so exceedingly reactionary, and so apparently assured that royalty is constructed of an entirely different clay than that used for ordinary folks, gave a manifestation of those democratic notions which constitute such a paradox to the remainder of his character by sending forth his three eldest boys each year during their holidays on a pedestrian tour through the length and breadth of his dominions, just as if they were the sons of artisans, and were compelled to learn a trade for a living. The crown prince and his brothers traveled, not in a palace-car, nor in carriages, but on foot, with knapsacks on their backs, and spending the nights at mere roadside inns. They had no servant with them, only their military governor, Colonel von Falkenheyn, and his assistant, the latter a lieutenant of the guards, and the name tinder which they journeyed was an incognito one; indeed, so cleverly did they manage to conceal their identity that it was hardly ever revealed.
It is difficult to imagine anything that appealed more to the masses in Germany than this manner adopted by the kaiser for making his sons acquainted with the world. It was felt that the royal lads, with their knapsacks on their backs, afoot, and with no indication of their rank, would obtain by actual experience a contact with the people and a knowledge which they could never hope to acquire if they had toured through the land in special trains, on horseback, or in splendidly-appointed carriages. Moreover, it makes every German youth, trudging along the dusty roads, and ignorant for the most part of where and how he is to sup and sleep that night, feel that after all his lot is not such a very unenviable one, since even his future monarch has been a "wanderbuersche," like himself.
It is probable that before the education of the crown prince is considered complete, he will be sent on a trip around the world, mainly with the object of endowing him with that breadth of mind which foreign travel alone can give, and partly also with the idea of reviving the dormant loyalty of Germans who have settled in foreign lands. Emperor William has frequently expressed the opinion that among the hitherto unused factors in German politics, are the Germans established in the United States, in Australia, and in other equally distant climes. While he does not in any way expect or imagine that Germans who have thus emigrated from the Fatherland, will render themselves guilty of any disloyalty to the land of their adoption, yet he believes that by keeping alive their memories of the old country, and their affection for its reigning house they may help Germany by using their political influence in their new home for the benefit of Germany. Thus William, in spite of all that has been said to the contrary, has in contemplation an eventual understanding if not an actual alliance with the United States; this result to be brought about largely through the influence of the immense and prosperous German population in America, and he believes that the project is likely to be promoted and fostered by a visit of his eldest son, the crown prince, to the United States for the purpose of making himself acquainted, not only with the country, but above all with its German inhabitants.
In making the grand tour of the world, the crown prince will be but following in the footsteps of the heirs to the thrones of Austria and Belgium, who have both visited the United States for the purpose of improving their minds, and of fitting themselves more thoroughly for their duties as twentieth century rulers. The present Emperor of Russia, and his younger brother, the late Czarevitch George, likewise started on a tour round the world, which in the case of George was cut short at Bombay by that sickness to which he subsequently succumbed, while the globe-trotting tour of Nicholas was brought to a sudden close through his attempted assassination in Japan.
No pen-sketch of the young Crown Prince of Germany would be complete without a reference to his remarkable skill as a violinist, an instrument which he has been studying steadily ever since his eighth year, under the direction of the Berlin court violinist Von Exner. He seems to have inherited all the musical talent for which the reigning house of Prussia is so celebrated, and to which I propose to devote at least a part of the following chapter.
If it is observable that the taste, ear, and talent for music prevail among the inhabitants of the mountain districts of the world far more extensively than among the populations of the plains, it is no less true that nearly all persons belonging to the exalted spheres of life, for instance, emperors and kings and their consorts, as well as princes and princesses of the blood, are not only passionately fond of music, but frequently absolute melomaniacs. In none of the reigning houses, however, is this particular branch of art developed to such an extent as in the Hohenzollern family. Thus the collection of the compositions for the flute by Frederick the Great discovered some ten years ago in the lumber rooms of the "Neues Palais" at Potsdam, and recently published after being edited by Professor Spitta, proves that the royal patron of Voltaire, and the founder of Prussia's military power was no mere dilettante, but a real genius in the art of composition. Prince Louis Ferdinand, the son of Frederick the Great's brother, who courted and met with a premature death at Saalfeld, while rashly engaging the French enemy, against strict orders, showed, with all his eccentricities, remarkable musical gifts, leaving in fact behind him a variety of compositions for orchestras. He also wrote a march which is published under his name.
Among the collection of marches constantly used in the Prussian army, is one composed by Frederick-William III. in 1806, which occupies a place between that of Frederick the Great, written in 1741, and the well-known Dessauer march. In that very same collection are the so-called "Geschwind Marsch," No. 148, for infantry, the "Parade Marsch" No. 51, for cavalry, and the "Marsch Fuer Cavallerie" No. 55, which emanate from the pen of Princess Charlotte of Prussia, niece of old Emperor William, and first wife of the present reigning Duke of Saxe-Meiningen. It is doubtless from her that Prince Bernhardt of Saxe-Meiningen, married to the eldest sister of the present kaiser, has inherited his powers of composition, for his name figures on the title page of many a piece of music; and among his other more important works has been the setting to music of "the Persians of Aeschylus," which has been most successfully staged at Athens. This is published under the initials of "E.B." (Erbprinz Bernhardt).
Though King Frederick-William IV. did not himself add anything to royal musical literature, as did his predecessors on the throne, he devoted much attention to ecclesiastical melody and song. The Berlin cathedral choir of men and boys—trained to sing without musical accompaniments—owes its origin to his ambition for having a choir in his own Protestant basilica at Berlin, corresponding more or less to the Pope's in the Sistine Chapel of Rome. It was he who engaged Mendelssohn as director of this choir, as well as composer; and it was the latter's successor, the director of the music of the Chapel Royal at the Prussian court, who compiled a collection of volumes containing settings of many of the Psalms of David, most beautifully arranged.
Among living Hohenzollerns, musical talent is most strongly developed. Prince Albert, regent of Brunswick, is not only a composer of rare genius, but likewise a most talented organist. His son, Prince Joachim, has inherited his talent for composition, and is the author of some eight works, which have been printed for circulation, in court circles only, and have not become the property of the public; the cleverest of them being a festal march, written for his father's birthday, and a grand funeral march. He shares his father's intense devotion to Bach and Handel, as well as his fondness for the works of Mendelssohn, Beethoven and Mozart, and is a most accomplished performer on the violoncello, being a pupil of the well-known master of that instrument, Professor Luedemann. Prince Albert's sister, the widowed Duchess William of Mecklenberg-Schwerin, has been particularly active as a composer of songs for mezzo soprano, but none of her works, which are printed for private circulation under the initials of "A.H.M.", have been placed on public sale. Her songs, some thirty in number, are melodious and full of feeling. She seems to thoroughly understand how to bring out the meaning of the words of her composition, the melody of one of them, "Ein Duerres Blatt" furnishing a particularly striking illustration of this peculiarity; they left a very lasting impression upon my mind. Among her collections is an English song, beginning with the words: