The procession moved slowly on to the famous Abbey, the Emperor riding a grey horse, saluting at intervals as he rode along. On arrival at the Abbey an incident occurred. As soon as Queen Alexandra's carriage arrived and drew up, the Emperor, according to the accounts of eyewitnesses, ran to the door of the carriage with so much alacrity that he had reached it before the royal servants, and when it appeared that her Majesty was not to alight from that side of the carriage, the Emperor motioned the lacqueys round to the other door, and was there before them to assist her Majesty. This he did, after himself opening the door. The Emperor remained in England only a very few days after the funeral, seeing old friends, among them Lord Kitchener.
As of interest to both Englishmen and Germans may be mentioned the tour through India undertaken by the Crown Prince in November. Steele once happily said of a Lady Hastings that "to love her was a liberal education"; to make a tour through India, it might similarly be said, is an education in the extent and character of British imperial power and administration. The Crown Prince naturally devoted a goodly share of his time to the delights of sport, including tiger-shooting and pig-sticking, but he must also have learned much of England's fine imperial spirit from his intercourse with an official hierarchy as honest and conscientious as that of his own country. The Crown Prince, on his return home, published a volume of hunting reminiscences which does no small credit to him as an author.
The Emperor's "shining armour" political remark dates from this period. He was on a visit to his Triplice ally, Kaiser Franz Josef, in September, 1910, and made a speech at the Vienna Town Hall on the 21st which contained a reference to the loyal conduct he claimed Germany had observed when the action of Austria-Hungary in annexing Bosnia and Herzegovina, despite the wording of the Treaty of Berlin, had raised an outcry in other countries, and in particular strained Austrian relations with Russia. After thanking his audience for the personal reception given him, he continued:
"On the other hand, it seems to me I read in your resolution the agreement of the city of Vienna with the action of an ally in taking his stand in shining armour at a grave moment by the side of your most gracious sovereign."
The outcry caused in the world by Austria's high-handed annexation, and especially in Russia, theoretically always Austria's most probable enemy, owing to conflicting interests in the Balkans, subsided, we know, as suddenly as it was raised. The reason, it is currently believed, and the form in which the rays of the shining armour acted, was an intimation from the Emperor to the Czar that, if necessary, Germany was prepared to fight for Austria.
Peoples are said to have the institutions, and husbands the wives, they deserve; but if German cities, and especially Berlin, have the police they deserve, the fact speaks very uncomplimentarily for their inhabitants. Foreigners in Germany, coming from countries where manners are more natural and obliging, frequently use the adjectives "brutal" and "stupid" when speaking of the Prussian constable. The proceedings of the Berlin police during the Moabit riots in the capital in September this year are often quoted as an example of their brutality, while, as to stupidity, it is enough to say that a stranger in Berlin, discussing its mounted police, naively remarked that what most struck him about them was the look of intelligence on the faces of the horses. Judgments of this kind are too sweeping. It should be remembered that Germany is surrounded by countries of which the riff-raff is at all times seeking refuge in it or passing through it, that polyglot swindlers of every kind, the most refined as well as the most commonplace, abound, and that Anarchists are not yet an extinct species. For the Prussian police, moreover, there is a Social Democrat behind every bush.
Possibly to this condition of things, and to the suspicion that Social Democratic organizers were about, was due the gallant charge made by half a dozen policemen, with drawn swords in their hands and revolvers at their belts, on four inoffensive English and American journalists during the Moabit riots. Towards midnight of September 29th the journalists were seated in an open taximeter cab, in a brilliantly lighted square, which some little time before had been swept of rioters—rioters from the Berlin police point of view being any one, man, woman, or child, who is, with guilty or innocent intent, it makes no difference, in or near a theatre of disturbance. Suddenly half a dozen burly policemen, led on by a police spy, as he afterwards turned out to be, charged the cab and laid about them with their swords. They probably only intended to use the flat of their weapons, but one of them succeeded in slashing deeply the hand of Reuter's representative, who was of the party. The other journalists escaped with contusions and bruises, thanks chiefly to the sides of the cab impeding the sword-play of the attackers.
The journalists naturally complained to their Ambassadors, who took up their cause with commendable readiness. Without immediate effect, however; the authorities, though themselves very strong on the point of duty, wondered much at journalists being in a place where duty alone could have brought them, and refused any sort of apology or other satisfaction. The Government, however, eventually expressed its "regret," and a year or two after, possibly in the spirit of conciliation and compensation, agreed to give foreign journalists in Berlin the passe-partout, or coupe-fil, as it is known in France, which is one of the privileges most valued by the journalist, native and foreign, in Paris.
Among the international agreements of the year was a commercial one between Germany and America. Commercial relations between the two countries have never been quite satisfactory to either, and if there is no tariff war, occasions of tariff tension, with consequent disturbance of trade, constantly arise. Germany's European commercial treaties have secured her a sufficiency of raw material for her industry. Her chief object now is not so much perhaps to facilitate imports of material from other countries as to find markets, in America as elsewhere, for her industry's finished products. Consequently she strongly dislikes the high tariff barriers of the United States, inaugurated by the Dingley tariff of 1897, and has in addition certain grievances against that country regarding customs administration in respect of appraisement, invoices, and the like. Her commercial connexion with America dates from the treaty of "friendship and commerce" made by Frederick the Great, and having the most-favoured-nation treatment as its basis; a regular treaty of the same kind between Prussia and America was entered into in 1828; and since then commercial relations have been regulated provisionally by a series of short-term agreements which, however, America claims, do not confer on Germany unrestricted right to most-favoured-nation treatment. By the agreement now in force, concluded this year (1910), America and Germany grant each other the benefit of their minimum duties.
Since the "November storm" the Emperor had made no reference to the doctrine of Divine Right, nor given any indication of a desire to exercise the "personal regiment" which is the natural corollary to it. It has been seen that the doctrine, viewed from the English standpoint, is a species of mental malady to which Hohenzollern monarchs are hereditarily subject. It recurs intermittently and particularly whenever a Hohenzollern monarch speaks in Koenigsberg, the Scone of Prussia, where Prussian Kings are crowned. When at Koenigsberg this year the Emperor suffered from a return of the royal idee fixe. "Here my grandfather," he said,
"placed, by his own right, the crown of the Kings of Prussia on his head, once again laying stress upon the fact that it was conferred upon him by the Grace of God alone, not by Parliament, by meetings of the people, or by popular decisions; and that he considered himself the chosen instrument of Heaven and as such performed his duties as regent and as ruler."
Speaking of himself on the occasion he said:
"Considering myself as an Instrument of the Lord, without being misled by the views and opinions of the day, I go my way, which is devoted solely and alone to the prosperity and peaceful development of our Fatherland."
The Emperor, by the way, on this occasion made what sounds like an indirect reference to the Suffragette craze. "What shall our women," he asked, after mentioning the pattern Queen of Prussia, Queen Louise,
"learn from the Queen? They must learn that the principal task of the German woman does not lie in attending public meetings and belonging to societies, in the attainment of supposed rights in which women can emulate men, but in the quiet work of the home and in the family."
The Emperor's reference to his divine appointment did not pass without a good deal of popular criticism in Germany, but nearly all Germans were at one with the Emperor in his view of the proper sphere for womanly activities.
The Emperor's domestic life for the last two or three years, including the early months of the present year, have passed without special cause of interest or excitement, if we except the visit he and the Empress made to London in May, 1911, to be present at the unveiling of Queen Victoria's statue, and the announcement he was able to make a few months ago that his only daughter, Princess Victoria Louise, had become engaged to Prince Ernest August, Duke of Cumberland, the still persisting claimant to the Kingdom of Hannover, absorbed by Prussia in 1866. The visit to London lasted only five days and produced no incident particularly worthy of record. The engagement of Princess Victoria Louise, while generally believed to be a love-match, possesses also political significance for Germany, not indeed as putting an end to the claim of the Duke of Cumberland, but as practically effecting a reconciliation between the Hohenzollerns and Guelphs. The young Duke of Brunswick had already implicitly renounced his claim to Hannover by entering the German army and taking the oath of allegiance to the Emperor as War Lord, so that, when his father dies, the Guelph claim to Hannover will die with him.
It is difficult to determine whether the Government's abandonment of its design to amend the Prussian franchise system in 1910, its submissive attitude towards the Pope's Borromeo Encyclical in 1911, the rapid rise in food prices which marked both years, or finally, the Emperor's failure to secure a slice of Morocco for Germany had most antagonizing effect on German popular feeling; but whatever the cause, the general elections of January, 1912, proved a tremendous Socialist victory, which must have been, and still remains, gall and wormwood to the Emperor. Notwithstanding official efforts, over one-third of the votes polled at the first ballots went for Social Democratic candidates. The number of seats thus obtained was 64, and this number, after the second ballots, rose to 110, thus making the Socialist party numerically the strongest in the Reichstag. Up to the present, however, Herr Bebel and his cohorts appear to be happy in possessing power rather than in using it.
Before completing the Emperor's domestic chronicle of more recent years, a few lines may be devoted to the role in which he has last appeared before the public—that of farmer. On February 12, 1913, he attended a meeting of the German Agricultural Council in Berlin, and with only a few statistical notes to help him narrated in lively and amusing fashion his experiences as owner of a farm, the management of which he has been personally supervising since 1898. The farm is part of the Cadinen Estate, bequeathed to him by an admirer and universally known for the majolica ware made out of the clay found on the property. The Emperor was able to show that he had achieved remarkable success with his farm, and particularly with a fine species of bull, Bos indicus major, he maintained on it. A year or two before, at a similar meeting, when speaking of the same breed of bull, he caused much hilarity among the military portion of his audience by jokingly remarking that it had "nothing to do with the General Staff." On the present occasion he also caused laughter by recounting how he had "fired," to use an American expression exactly equivalent to the German word employed by the Emperor, a tenant who "wasn't any use." The Emperor, however, would, as it turned out, have done better by not mentioning the incident, for the Supreme Court at Leipzig a few days subsequently quashed the Emperor's order of ejectment on the tenant and condemned him to pay all the costs in the case. The role of farmer, it may be added, is one which, had he been born a country gentleman like Bismarck, the Emperor would have filled with complete success. But in what role would he not have done well?
Foreign politics everywhere for the last three or four years have been full of incident, outcry, and bloodshed. The state of things, indeed, prevailing in the world for some time past is extraordinary. A visitant from another planet would imagine that normal peace and abnormal war had changed places, and that civilized mankind now regard peace as an interlude of war, not war as an interlude of peace. He would be wrong, of course, but the race in armament, which threatens to leave the nations taking part in it financially breathless and exhausted, might easily lead him astray. On some of the situations with which these politics are concerned we may briefly touch.
For the last three or four years the dominant note in the music of what is called the European Concert, taking Europe for the moment to include Great Britain, has been the state of Anglo-German relations. There have been times, as has been seen, when public feeling in both England and Germany was strongly antagonized, but all through the period there has been evident a desire on the part of both Governments to adopt a mutually conciliatory attitude, and if the war in the Balkans does not lead to a general international conflagration, which at present appears improbable, the two countries may arrive at a permanent understanding. There was, and not so very long ago, a similar state of tension, prolonged for many years, between England and France. That tension not only ceased, but was converted into political friendship by the Anglo-French Agreement of 1904. Parallel with this tension between England and France was the tension between England and Russia, owing to the latter's advance towards England's Indian possessions. The latter state of things ended with the Anglo-Russian Agreement of 1907, and it should engender satisfaction and hope, therefore, to those who now apprehend a war between England and Germany to note that neither of the tensions referred to, though both were long and bitter, developed into war.
The tension between England and Germany of late years has been tightened rather than relaxed by ministerial speeches as well as by newspaper polemics in both countries. One of the most disturbing of the former was the speech delivered by Mr. Lloyd George at the Mansion House on July 21, 1911. Doubtless with the approval of the Prime Minister, Mr. Asquith, Mr. Lloyd George said:
"I believe it is essential, in the highest interest not merely of this country, but of the world, that Britain should at all hazards maintain her place and her prestige amongst the Great Powers of the world. Her potent influence has many a time been in the past, and may yet be in the future, invaluable to the cause of human liberty. It has more than once in the past redeemed continental nations, which are sometimes too apt to forget that service, from overwhelming disasters and even from national extinction. I would make great sacrifices to preserve peace. I conceive that nothing would justify a disturbance of international goodwill except questions of the gravest national moment. But if a situation were to be forced upon us in which peace could only be preserved by the surrender of the great and beneficent position Britain has won by centuries of heroism and achievement, by allowing Britain to be treated, where her interests are vitally affected, as if she were of no account in the cabinet of nations, then I say emphatically that peace at that price would be a humiliation intolerable for a great country like ours to endure."
These rhetorical platitudes were uttered at the time of the "conversations" between the French and German Foreign Offices about the compensation claimed by Germany for giving France, once for all, a free hand in Morocco. Germany was apparently making demands of an exorbitant character, and what Mr. Lloyd George really meant was that if Germany persisted in these demands England would fight on the side of France in order to resist them. As a genuinely democratic speaker, however, he followed the rule of many publicists, who are paid for their articles by the column and say to themselves, "Why use two words when five will do?"
Another unfortunate remark that may be noted in this connexion was that made by Mr. Winston Churchill in referring to the German navy as "to some extent a luxury." The remark, though true (also to a certain extent), was unfortunate, for it irritated public opinion in Germany, where it was regarded as a species of impertinent interference.
As evidence of the desire on the part of the Emperor and his Government for a friendly arrangement with England may be quoted the statement made in December, 1910, by the German Chancellor, Herr von Bethmann-Hollweg, to the following effect:—
"We also meet England in the desire to avoid rivalry in regard to armaments, and non-binding pourparlers, which have from time to time taken place, have been conducted on both sides in a friendly spirit. We have always advanced the opinion that a frank and sincere interchange of views, followed by an understanding with regard to the economic and political interests of the two countries, offers the surest means of allaying all mistrust on the subject of the relations of the Powers to each other on sea and land."
The Chancellor went on to explain that this mistrust had manifested itself "not in the case of the Governments, but of public opinion."
With regard, in particular, to a naval understanding between England and Germany, Chancellor von Buelow, in a Budget speech in March, 1909, declared that up to that time no proposals regarding the dimensions of the fleets or the amount of naval expenditure which could serve as a basis for an understanding had been made on the side of England, though non-binding conversations had taken place on the subject between authoritative English and German personalities. In March last year (1912) such proposals may be said to have been made in the form of a suggestion by Sir Edward Grey during the Budget debate that the ratio of 16 to 10 (i.e., 50 per cent. more and 10 per cent. over) should express the naval strength of the two countries. The suggestion was "welcomed" by Admiral von Tirpitz on behalf of Germany in February, 1913. And there the matter rests.
A perhaps inevitable result of the tension between England and Germany during the period under consideration has been the amount of mutual espionage discovered to be going on in both countries. An incident that attracted wide attention was the arrest in 1910 of Captains Brandon and Trench, the former of whom was arrested at Borkum and the latter at Emden. They were tried before the Supreme Court at Leipzig, and were both sentenced to incarceration in a fortress for four years. Many other arrests, prosecutions, and sentences have taken place both in England and Germany since then, with the consequence that English travellers in Germany and German travellers in England, particularly where the travellers are men of military bearing and are in seaside regions, are now liable, under very small provocation, to a suspicion of being spies. An English lady recently made the acquaintance of a German in England. He was a very nice man, she said, and went on to relate how they were talking one day about Ireland. She happened to mention Tipperary. "Oh, I know Tipperary," the German officer said; "it is in my department." "It was a revelation to me," the lady concluded when repeating the conversation to her friends. As a matter of fact, the Intelligence Departments of the army in both Germany and England are well acquainted with the roads, hills, streams, forts, harbours, and similar details of topography in almost all countries of the world besides their own.
In regard to 1911 should be recorded the journey of the Crown Prince and Crown Princess to England to represent the Emperor at the coronation of King George in June; the outbreak in September of the Turco-Italian War, which placed the Emperor in a dilemma, of which one fork was his duty to Italy as an ally in the Triplice and the other his platonic friendship with the Commander of the Faithful; and, lastly, the suspicion of the Emperor's designs that arose in connexion with the fortification of Flushing at a cost to Holland of some L3,000,000. The Emperor was supposed to have insisted on the fortification in order to prevent the use of the Netherlands by Great Britain as a naval base against Germany. Like many another scare in connexion with foreign policy, the supposition may be regarded only as a product of intelligent journalistic "combination."
Finally, among subsidiary occurrences, should be mentioned the meeting of the Emperor and the Czar in July, 1912, at Port Baltic in Finnish waters, accompanied by their Foreign Ministers, with the official announcement of the stereotyped "harmonious relations" between the two monarchs that followed; and the premature prolongation, with the object of showing solidarity regarding the Balkan situation, of the Triple Alliance, which, entered into, as mentioned earlier, in the year 1882, had already been renewed in 1891, 1896, and 1902. The next renewal should be in 1925, unless in the meantime an international agreement to which all Great Powers are signatories should render it superfluous.
The war in the Balkans need only be referred to in these pages in so far as it concerns Germany. The position of Germany in regard to it, so far, appears simple; she will actively support Austria's larger interests in order to keep faith with her chief ally of the Triplice, and so long as Austria and Russia can agree regarding developments in the Balkan situation, there is no danger of war among the Great Powers. People smiled at the declaration of the Powers some little time ago that the status quo in the Balkans should be maintained; but it should be remembered that the whole phrase is status quo ante bellum, and that, once war has broken out, the status, the position of affairs, is in a condition of solution, and that no new status can arise until the war is over and its consequences determined by treaties. The result of the present war, let it be hoped, will be to confine Turkey to the Orient, where she belongs, and that the Balkan States, possibly after a period of internecine feud, will take their share in modern European progress and civilization.
The amount of declaration, asseveration, recrimination (chiefly journalistic), rectification, intimidation, protestation, pacification, and many other wordy processes that have been employed in almost all countries with the avowed object of maintaining peace during the last four years is in striking contrast to the small progress actually made in regard to a final settlement of either of the two great international points at issue—the limitation of armaments and compulsory arbitration.
Enough perhaps has been said in preceding pages to show the attitude of the Emperor, and consequently the attitude of his Government, towards them. A history of the long agitation in connexion with them is beyond the scope of this work. The agitation itself, however, may be viewed as a step, though not a very long one, on the way to the desired solution, and it is a matter for congratulation that the two subjects have been, and are still being, so freely and copiously and, on the whole, so sympathetically and hopefully ventilated. The great difficulty, apparently, is to find what diplomatists call the proper "formula"—the law-that-must-be-obeyed. Unfortunately, the finding of the formula cannot be regarded as the end of the matter; there still remains the finding of what jurists call the "sanction," that is to say, the power to enforce the formula when found and to punish any nation which fails to act in accordance with it. Nothing but an Areopagus of the nations can furnish such a sanction, but with the present arrangements for balancing power in Europe, to say nothing of the ineradicable pugnacity, greed, and ambition of human nature, such an Areopagus seems very like an impossibility. Time, however, may bring it about. If it should, and the Golden Age begin to dawn, an epoch of new activities and new horizons, quite possibly more novel and interesting than any which has ever preceded it, will open for mankind.
THE EMPEROR TO-DAY
What strikes one most, perhaps, on looking back over the Emperor's life and time, are two surprising inconsistencies, one relating to the Emperor himself, the other to that part of his time with which he has been most closely identified.
The first arises from the fact that a man so many-sided, so impulsive, so progressive, so modern—one might almost say so American—should have altered so little either in character or policy during quarter of a century. This is due to what we have called his mediaeval nature. He is to-day the same Hohenzollern he was the day he mounted the throne, observing exactly the same attitude to the world abroad and to his folk at home, tenacious of exactly the same principles, enunciating exactly the same views in politics, religion, morals, and art—in everything which concerns the foundations of social life. He still believes himself, as his speeches and conduct show, the selected instrument of Heaven, and acts towards his people and addresses them accordingly. He still opposes all efforts at political change, as witness his attitude towards electoral reform, towards the Germanization of Prussian Poland, towards the Socialists, towards Liberalism in all its manifestations. He is still, as he was at the outset of his reign, the patron of classical art, classical drama, and classical music. He is still the War Lord with the spirit of a bishop and a bishop with the spirit of the War Lord. He is still the model husband and father he always has been. Most men change one way or another as time goes on. With the Emperor time for five-and-twenty years appears to have stood still.
The inconsistency relating to his time arises from the contrast between the real and the seeming character of the reign. For, strikingly and anomalously enough, while the Emperor has been steadily pursuing an economic policy, a policy of peace, his entire reign, as one turns over the pages of its history, seems to resound, during almost every hour, with martial shoutings, confused noises, the clatter of harness, the clash of swords, and the tramp of armies. From moment to moment it recalls those scenes from Shakespearean drama in which indeed no dead are actually seen upon the stage, but at intervals the air is filled with battle cries, "with excursions and alarms," with warriors brandishing their weapons, calling for horses, hacking at imaginary foes, and defying the world in arms.
And yet in reality it has been a period of domestic peace throughout. Though there has been incessant talk of war, and at times war may have been near, it never came, unless the South West African and Boxer expeditions be so called. Commerce and trade have gone on increasing by leaps and bounds. The population has grown at the rate of nearly three-quarters of a million a year. Emperor William the First's social policy has been closely followed. The navy has been built, the army strengthened, the Empire's finances reorganized; in whatever direction one looks one finds a record of solid and substantial and peaceful progress and prosperity. A great deal of it is owing, admittedly, to the Germans themselves, but no small share of it is due to the "impulsive" Emperor's consistency of character and conduct.
Probably the inconsistencies are only apparent. Germany and her Emperor have grown, not developed, if by development is meant a radical alteration in structure or mentality, and if regard is had to the real Germany and the real Emperor, not to the Germany of the tourist, and not to the Emperor of contemporary criticism. It has been seen that the Emperor's nature and policy have not altered. The Constitution of Germany has not altered, nor her Press, nor her political parties, nor her social system, nor, indeed, any of the vital institutions of her national life. With one possible exception—the navy. The navy is a new organic feature, and, like all organisms, is exerting deep and far-reaching influences. Germany, of course, is in a process of development, a state of transition. But nations are at all times in a state of transition, more or less obvious; and it will require yet a good many years to show what new forms and fruits the development now going on in Germany is to bring. The Emperor, it is safe to say, will remain the same, mediaeval in nature, modern in character, to the end of his life.
The main thing, however, to be noted both about Germany and the German Emperor is what they stand for in the movement of world-ideas at the present time. Germans cause foreigners to smile when they prophesy that their culture, their civilization, will become the culture and the civilization of the world. The sameness of ideas that prevailed in mediaeval times about life and religion—about this life and the life to come—was succeeded, and first in Germany, by an enormous diversity of ideas about life and religion, beginning with the Rationalism (or "enlightenment," as the Germans call it) which set in after the Reformation and the Renaissance; and this diversity again promises—let us at least hope—to go back, in one of the great circles that make one think human thought, too, moves in accordance with planetary laws, to a sameness of views among the nations in regard to the real interests of society, which are peace, religious harmony through toleration, commercial harmony through international intercourse, and the mutual goodwill of governments and peoples. For all this order of ideas the Emperor, notwithstanding his mailed fist and shining armour, stands, and in this spirit both he and the German mind are working.
More than half a century has passed over the Emperor's head; let us look a little more closely at him as the man and the monarch he is to-day. Time appears to have dealt gently with him; the heart, one hears it said, never grows bald, and in all but years the Emperor is probably as young and untiring as ever.
His personal appearance has altered little in the last decade. An observer, who had an opportunity of seeing him at close quarters in 1902, describes him, as he then appeared, as follows:—
"I was standing within arm's length of him at Cuxhaven, where we were waiting the landing of Prince Henry, his brother, on his return from America. The Deutschland had to be warped alongside the quay, and the Emperor, in the uniform of a Prussian general of infantry, meanwhile mixed with the suite and chatted, now to one, now to another, with his usual bonhomie. I was speaking to the American attache, Captain H——, when the Emperor came up, and naturally I stood a little to one side.
"The thing that most struck me was the Emperor's large grey eyes. As they looked sharply into those of Captain H—— or glanced in my direction, they seemed to show absolutely no feeling, no sentiment of any kind. Not that they gave the notion of hardness or falsity. They were simply like two grey mirrors on which outward things made no impression.
"Two other features did not strike me as anything out of the ordinary, but the whole face had an air of ability, cleverness, briskness, and health. The Emperor is about middle height, with the body very erect, the walk firm, and is very energetic in his gestures. I did not notice the shortness of the left arm, but that may have been because his left hand was leaning on his sword-hilt. Captain H—— told me he could not put on his overcoat without assistance, and that the hand is so weak he can do very little with it. There was nothing of a Hohenzollern hanging under-lip."
The following judgment was formed a year or two ago by an American diplomatist: "I have often met him," the diplomatist said,
"and only speak of the impression he made on me. I would describe him as intelligent rather than intellectual. He appreciates men of learning and of philosophic mind, and while not learned and philosophic himself, enjoys seeing the learned and philosophic at work, and gladly recognizes their merit when their labours are thorough and well done. His mind is marvellously quick, but it does not dwell on anything for long at a time. It takes in everything presented to it in, so to speak, a hop, skip, and jump.
"In company he is never at rest, and surprises one by his lively play of features and the entirely natural and unaffected expression of his thoughts. He is sitting at a lecture, perhaps, when a notion occurs to him, and forthwith indicates it by a humorous grimace or wink to some one sitting far away from him. He is always saying unexpected things. On the whole, he is a right good fellow, and I can imagine that, though he can come down hard on one with a heavy hand and stern look, he does not do so by the instinct of a despot, but acting under a sense of duty."
Another diplomatist has remarked the Emperor's habit in conversation of tapping the person he is talking to on the shoulder and of scrutinizing him all over—"ears, nose, clothes, until it makes one feel quite uncomfortable."
The next sketch of him is as he may be seen any day during the yachting week in June at Kiel:—
"The Emperor is in the smoking-room of the Yacht Club, dressed in a blue lounge suit with a white peaked cap. He is sitting carelessly on the side of a table, dangling his legs and discussing with fellow-members and foreign yachtsmen the experience of the day, now speaking English, now French, now German. He seems quite in his element as sportsman, and puts every one at ease round him. His expression is animated and his voice hearty, if a little strident to foreign ears. His right hand and arm are in ceaseless movement, emphasizing and enforcing everything he says. He asks many questions and often invites opinion, and when it differs from his own, as sometimes happens, he takes it quite good-humouredly."
To-day the Emperor is outwardly much the same as he has just been described. He is perhaps slightly more inclined to stoutness. His features, though they speak of cleverness and manliness, are forgotten as one looks into the keen and quickly moving grey eyes with their peculiar dash of yellow. He is well set up, as is proper for a soldier ever actively engaged in military duties, and his stride continues firm and elastic. He is still constantly in the saddle. His hair, still abundant, is yet beginning to show the first touches of the coming frost of age, and the reddish brown moustache, once famous for its haughtily upturned ends, has taken, either naturally or by the aid of Herr Haby, the Court barber, who attends him daily, a nearly level form.
In public, whether mounted or on foot, he preserves the somewhat stern air he evidently thinks appropriate to his high station, but more frequently than formerly the features relax into a pleasant smile. The colour of the face is healthy, tending to rosiness, and the general impression given is that of a clever man, conscious, yet not overconscious, of his dignity. The shortness of the left arm, a defect from birth, is hardly noticeable.
The extirpation of a polypus from the Emperor's throat in 1903, which must have been one of the severest trials of his life when the history of his father's mortal illness is remembered, might lead one to suppose that his vocal organs would always suffer from the effects of the operation. It has fortunately turned out otherwise. His voice was originally strong by nature, and remains so. It never seems tired, even when, as it often does, it pleases him to read aloud for his own pleasure or that of a circle of friends. It frequently occurs that he will pick up a book, one of his ancient favourites, Horace or Homer perhaps, Mr. Stewart Houston Chamberlain's "Foundations of the Nineteenth Century"—a work he greatly admires—or a modern publication he has read of in the papers, and read aloud from it for an hour or an hour and a half at a time. Nor is his reading aloud confined to classical or German books. He is equally disposed to choose works in English or French or Italian, and when he reads these he is fond of doing so with a particularly clear and distinct enunciation, partly as practice for himself, and partly that his hearers may understand with certainty. This is not all, for there invariably follows a discussion upon what has been read, and in it the Emperor takes a constant and often emphatic part. It has been remarked that at the close of the longest sitting of this character his voice is as strong and sonorous as at the beginning.
He is still the early riser and hard worker he has always been; still devotes the greater part of his time to the duties that fall to him as War Lord; still races about the Empire by train or motor-car, reviewing troops, laying foundation-stones, unveiling statues, dedicating churches, attending manoeuvres, encouraging yachting at Kiel by his presence during the yachting week, or hurrying off to meet the monarch of a foreign country. He still enjoys his annual trip along the shores of Norway or breaks away from the cares of State to pass a few weeks at his Corfu castle, dazzling in its marble whiteness and overlooking the Acroceraunian mountains, or to hunt or shoot at the country seat of some influential or wealthy subject. In fine, he is still engaged with all the energy of his nature, if in a somewhat less flamboyant fashion than during his earlier years, in his, as he believes, divinely appointed work of guiding Prussia's destiny and building up the German Empire.
It is because he is an Empire-builder that his numerous journeys abroad and restlessness of movement at home have earned for him the nickname of the "travelling Kaiser." The Germans themselves do not understand his conduct in this respect. If one urges that Hohenzollern kings, and none of them more than the Great Elector and Frederick the Great, were incessant travellers, they will reply that their kings had to be so at a time when the Empire was not yet established, when rebellious nobles had to be subdued, and when the spirit of provincialism and particularism had to be counteracted. Hence, they say, former Hohenzollerns had to exercise personal control in all parts of their dominions, see that their military dispositions were carried out, and study social and economic conditions on the spot; but nowadays, when the Empire is firmly established, when the administration is working like a clock and the post and telegraph are at command, the Emperor should stay at home and direct everything from his capital.
The Emperor himself evidently takes a different view. He does not consider the forty-year-old Empire as completed and consolidated, but regards it much as the Great Elector or Frederick the Great regarded Prussia when that kingdom was in the making. He believes in propagating the imperial idea by his personal presence in all parts of the Empire, and at the same time observing the progress that is being made there. He is, finally, a believer in getting into personal touch, as far as is possible, with foreign monarchs, foreign statesmen, and foreign peoples, for he doubtless sees that with every decade the interests of nations are becoming more closely identified.
In connexion with the subject of the Emperor's travelling, mention may be made of the fact that many years ago he thought it necessary to explain himself publicly in reference to the idea, prevalent among his people at the time, that he was travelling too much. "On my travels," he said,
"I design not only to make myself acquainted with foreign countries and institutions, and to foster friendly relations with neighbouring rulers, but these journeys, which have been often misinterpreted, have high value in enabling me to observe home affairs from a distance and submit them to a quiet examination."
He expresses something in the same order of thought in a speech telling of his reflections on the high sea concerning his responsibilities as ruler:
"When one is alone on the high sea, with only God's starry heaven above him, and holds communion with himself, one will not fail to appreciate the value of such a journey. I could wish many of my countrymen to live through hours like these, in which one can take reckoning of what he has designed and what achieved. Then one would be cured of over self-estimation—and that we all need."
When the Emperor is about to start on a journey, confidential telegrams are sent to the railway authorities concerned, and immediately a thorough inspection of the line the Emperor is about to travel over is ordered. Tunnels, bridges, points, railway crossings, are all subjected to examination, and spare engines kept in immediate readiness in case of a breakdown occurring to the imperial train. The police of the various towns through which the monarch is to pass are also communicated with and their help requisitioned in taking precautions for his safety. Like any private person, the Emperor pays his own fares, which are reckoned at the rate of an average of fifteen shillings to one pound sterling a mile. A recent journey to Switzerland cost him in fares L200. Of late years he has saved money in this respect by the more frequent use of the royal motor-cars. The royal train is put together by selecting those required from fifteen carriages which are always ready for an imperial journey. If the journey is short, a saloon carriage and refreshment car are deemed sufficient; in case of a long journey the train consists of a buffer carriage in addition, with two saloon cars for the suite and two wagons for the luggage. The train is always accompanied by a high official of the railway, who, with mechanics and spare guard, is in direct telephonic communication with the engine-driver and guard. The carriages are coloured alike, ivory-white above the window-line and lacquered blue below.
All the carriages, with the exception of the saloon dining-car, are of the corridor type. A table runs down the centre of the dining-car; the Emperor takes his seat in the centre, while the rest of the suite and guests take their places at random, save that the elder travellers are supposed to seat themselves about the Emperor. If the Emperor has guests with him they naturally have seats beside or in the near neighbourhood of their host. Breakfast is taken about half-past eight, lunch at one, and dinner at seven or eight. The Emperor is always talkative at table, and often draws into conversation the remoter members of the company, occasionally calling to them by their nickname or a pet name. He sits for an hour or two after dinner, with a glass of beer and a huge box of cigars before him, discussing the incidents of the journey or recalling his experiences at various periods of his reign.
The Emperor's disposition of the year remains much what it was at the beginning of the reign. The chief changes in it are the omission of a yachting visit to Cowes, which he made annually from 1889 to 1895, and, since 1908, the habit of making an annual summer stay at his Corfu castle, "Achilleion," instead of touring in the Mediterranean and visiting Italian cities. January is spent in Berlin in connexion with the New Year festivities, ambassadorial and other Court receptions, drawing-rooms, and balls, and the celebration of his birthday on the 27th. The Berlin season extends into the middle of February, so that part of that month also is spent in Berlin. During the latter half of February and in March the Emperor is usually at Potsdam, occasionally motoring to Berlin to give audience or for some special occasion. April and part of May are passed in Corfu. Towards the end of May the Emperor returns to Germany and goes to Wiesbaden for the opera and Festspiele in the royal theatre; but he must be in Berlin before May has closed, for the spring parade of the Berlin and Potsdam garrisons on the vast Tempelhofer Field. His return on horseback from this parade is always the occasion of popular enthusiasm in Berlin's principal streets. In early June the Emperor stays at Potsdam or perhaps pays a visit to some wealthy noble, and at the end of the month the yachting week calls him to Kiel. Once that is over he proceeds on his annual tour along the coast of Norway. September sees him back in Germany for the autumn manoeuvres. October and November are devoted to shooting at Rominten or some other imperial hunting lodge, or with some large landowner or industrial magnate. The whole of December is usually spent at Potsdam, save for an annual visit to his friend Prince Fuerstenberg at Donaueschingen. Naturally he is in Potsdam for Christmas, when all the imperial family assemble to celebrate the festival in good old German style.
In music, as we know, he retains the classical tastes he has always cultivated and sometimes dictatorially recommended. Good music, he has said, is like a piece of lace, not like a display of fireworks. He still has most musical enjoyment in listening to Bach and Handel. The former he has spoken of as one of the most "modern" of composers, and will point out that his works contain melodious passages that might be the musical thought of Franz Lehar or Leo Fall. He has no great liking for the music of Richard Strauss, and his admiration of Wagner, if certain themes, that must, one feels, have been drawn from the music of the spheres, be excepted, is respectful rather than rapturous. Of Wagner's works the "Meistersingers" is "my favourite."
A faculty that in the Emperor has developed with the years is that of applying a sense of humour, not originally small, to the events of everyday life. He is always ready to joke with his soldiers and sailors, with artists, professors, ministers—in short, with men of every class and occupation. Several stories in illustration of his humour are current, but a homely example or two may here suffice. He is sitting in semi-darkness in the parquet at the Royal Opera House. "Le Prophete" is in rehearsal, and it is the last act, in which there is a powder cask, ready to blow everything to atoms, standing outside the cathedral. Fraulein Frieda Hempel, as the heroine, appears with a lighted torch and is about to take her seat on the cask. Suddenly the imperial voice is heard from the semi-gloom: "Fraulein Hempel, it is evident you haven't had a military training or you wouldn't take a light so near a barrel of gunpowder." And the prima donna has to take her place on the other side of the stage. Or he is presenting Professor Siegfried Ochs, the famous manager of the Philharmonic Concerts, with the Order of the Red Eagle, third class, and with a friendly smile gracefully excuses himself for conferring an "Order of the third class on a musician of the first class," by pleading official rule. A third popular anecdote tells of a lady seated beside him at the dinner-table. Salad is being offered to her, but she thinks she is bound to give all her attention to the Emperor and takes no notice of it. Thereupon the Emperor: "Gnadige Frau, an Emperor can wait, but the salad cannot." Possibly the Emperor had in mind Louis XIII, who complained that he never ate a plate of warm soup in his life, it had to pass through so many hands to reach him.
The German takes his theatre as he takes life, seriously. To cough during a performance attracts embarrassing attention, a sneeze almost amounts to misdemeanour. To the German the theatre is a part of the machinery of culture, and accordingly he is not so easily bored as the Anglo-Saxon playgoer, who demands that drama shall contain that great essential of all good drama, action. To the Anglo-Saxon, the more plentiful and rapid the action is, the better. The German, differing from most Anglo-Saxons, likes historical scenes, great processions, costume festivals, the representation of mediaeval events in which his monarchs and generals played conspicuous parts. The Emperor has the same disposition and taste.
Yet both national taste and disposition, like other of the nation's characteristics, are slowly altering with the growth of the modern spirit, and Germans now begin to require something of a more modern kind, a more social order, something that comes home more to their business and bosoms. Greater variety in subject is asked for, more laughter and tears, more representations of scenes and life dealing with everyday doings and the fate of the people as distinguished from the doings and fate of their rulers and the upper classes. The Emperor has not followed his people in the new direction. He regards the stage as a vehicle of patriotism, an instrument of education, a guider of artistic taste, an inculcator of old-time morality. Its aim, he appears to think, is not to help to produce, primarily, the good man and good citizen, but the good man and good monarchist, and—perhaps—not so much primarily the good monarchist as the liege subject of the Hohenzollern dynasty. Having secured this, he looks for the elevation of the public taste along his own lines. He assumes that the public taste can be elevated from without, from above, when it can only be elevated proportionately with its progress in general education and its purification from within. Consequently he is for the "classical," as in the other arts. But apart from its aims and uses, the theatre has always appealed to him. His fondness for it is a Hohenzollern characteristic, which has shown itself, with more or less emphasis, in monarch after monarch of the line. Nor is it surprising that monarchs should take pleasure in the stage, since the theatre is one of the places which brings them and their subjects together in the enjoyment of common emotions, and shows them, if only at second hand, the domestic lives of millions, from personal acquaintance with which their royal birth and surroundings exclude them.
The Emperor treats all artists, male and female, in the same friendly and unaffected manner. There is never the least soupcon of condescension in the one case or flirtation in the other, but in both a lively and often unexpectedly well-informed interest in the play or other artistic performance of the occasion, and in the actors' or actresses' personal records. The nationality of the artist has apparently nothing to do with this interest. The Emperor invites French, Italian, English, American or Scandinavian artists to the royal box after a performance as often as he invites the artists of his own country, and, once launched on a conversation, nothing gives him more pleasure than to expound his views on music, painting, or the drama, as the case may be. "Tempo—rhythm—colour," he has been heard to insist on to a conductor whom in the heat of his conviction he had gradually edged into a corner and before whom he stood with gesticulating arms—"All the rest is Schwindel." At an entertainment given by Ambassador Jules Cambon at the French Embassy after the Morocco difficulty had been finally adjusted, he became so interested while talking to a group of French actors that high dignatories of the Empire, including Princes, the Imperial Chancellor and Ministers, standing in another part of the salon, grew impatient and had to detach one of their number to call the Emperor's attention to their presence. Since then, it is whispered, it has become the special function of an adjutant, when the occasion demands it, diplomatically and gently to withdraw the imperial causeur from too absorbing conversation.
Several anecdotes are current having reference to the Emperor as sportsman. One of them, for example, mentions a loving-cup of Frederick William III's time, kept at the hunting lodge of Letzlingen, which is filled with champagne and must be emptied at a draught by anyone visiting the lodge for the first time. This is great fun for the Emperor, who a year or two ago made a number of Berlin guests, including Chancellor von Bethmann-Hollweg, the Austrian Ambassador, Szoghenyi-Marich, the Secretary for the Navy, Admiral von Tirpitz, and the Crown Prince of Greece stand before him and drain the cup. As the story goes, "the attempts of the guests to drink out of the heavy cup, which is fixed into a set of antlers in such a way as to make it difficult to drink without spilling the wine, caused great amusement."
The principles of sport generally, it may be here interpolated, are not quite the same in Germany as in England, though no country has imitated England in regard to sport so closely and successfully as Germany. Up to a comparatively few years ago the Germans had neither inclination nor means for it, and though always enthusiastic hunters, hunting—not the English fox-hunting, but hunting the boar and the bear, the wolf and the deer—was almost the sole form of manly sport practised. Turnen, the most popular sort of German indoor gymnastics, only began in 1861, a couple of years after the birth of the Emperor. There are now nearly a dozen cricket clubs alone in Berlin, football clubs all over the Empire, tennis clubs in every town, rowing clubs at all the seaports and along the large rivers, nearly all following English rules and in numerous cases using English sporting terms. At the same time sport is not the religion it is in England—indeed, to keep up the metaphor, hardly a living creed.
The German attitude towards sport is not altogether the same as the English attitude. In England the object of the game is that the best man shall win, that he shall not be in any way unfairly or unequally handicapped vis-a-vis his opponent, and the honour, not the intrinsic value of the prize, is the main consideration. These principles are not yet fully understood or adopted in Germany, possibly owing to the early military training of the German youth making the carrying off the prize anyhow and by any means the main object. It is Realpolitik in sport, and a Realpolitik which is not wholly unknown in England; but while the spirit of Realpolitik is still perceivable in German sport, it is equally perceivable that the standard English way of viewing sporting competition is becoming more and more approached in Germany.
The Emperor is an enthusiastic patron of sport of all healthy outdoor kinds, not as sympathizing with the English youth's disposition to regard play as work and work as play, to give to his business any time he can spare from his sport, but because he estimates at its full value its place in the national health-budget. His personal likings are for bear-shooting, deer-stalking, and yachting, but he also wields the lawn-tennis racket and the rapier with fair skill. The names of several of his hunting lodges—-Rominten, Springe, Hubertusstock, and so on—are familiar to many people in all countries. Rominten preserve is in East Prussia, and embraces about four square miles, with little lakes and some rising ground. September is the Emperor's favourite month for visiting it. Here one year he shot a famous eight-and-twenty-ender antelope, which had come across from Russian territory. Before the present reign the deer, or pig, or other wild animal used to be beaten up to the royal sportsman of the day, but that practice has long ceased, and the Emperor has to tramp many a mile, and at times crawl on all fours for hundreds of yards, to get a shot.
We have seen that the Emperor's position as King and Emperor renders inevitable his adoption, either of natural bent, which is extremely probable, or from a policy in harmony with the wishes of his people, of a view of the monarch's office that to perhaps most Englishmen living under parliamentary rule must seem antiquated, not to say absurd. This attitude apart, the Emperor possesses, as it is hoped has been sufficiently shown, as modern and progressive a spirit as any of his contemporaries. His instant recognition of all useful modern appliances, particularly, of course, those of possible service in war, is a prominent feature of his mentality. He went, doubtless, too far in heralding Count Zeppelin, in 1909, as "the greatest man of the century," but the very words he chose to use marked his appreciation of the new aeronautical science Count Zeppelin was introducing. Similarly, the moment the automobile had entered on the stage of reliability it won a place in the imperial favour, and is now his most constant means of locomotion. He has never, it is true, emulated the enterprise of his son, the Crown Prince, whom Mr. Orville Wright had as a companion for a quarter of an hour in the air at Potsdam three years ago, but his interest in the aeroplane is none the less keen because he is too conscious of his responsibilities to subject his life to unnecessary risk.
Before closing our sketch of the Emperor as a man by quoting appreciations written by two contemporary writers, one German and the other English, it may be added that there is a statesman still—it is pleasant to think—alive who could, an he only would, draw the Emperor's character perfectly, both as man and monarch. Indeed, as has been seen, he has more than once sketched parts of it in Parliament, but only parts—the whole character of the Emperor, on all its sides and in all its ramifications, has yet to be revealed. Here need only be quoted what Chancellor Buelow—and also, by the way, Princess Buelow—publicly said about the Emperor as man. The Prince's most noteworthy statement was made in the Reichstag in 1903, when, in answer to Leader-of-the-Opposition Bebel, the Prince said, "One thing at least, the Emperor is no Philistine," and proceeded to explain, rather negatively and disappointingly, that the Emperor possesses what the Greeks call megalopsychia—a great soul. One knows but too well the English Philistine, that stolid, solid, self-sufficient bulwark of the British Constitution. The German Philistine is his twin brother, the narrow-minded, conservative burgher. Other epithets the Prince applied to the imperial character were "simple," "natural," "hearty," "magnanimous," "clear-headed," and "straightforward"; while Princess Buelow, during a conversation her husband was having with the French journalist, M. Jules Huret, in 1907, interjected the remark that he was "a person of good birth, fils de bonne maison, the descendant of distinguished ancestors, and a modern man of great intelligence."
But let us see how the Emperor appears to his contemporaries. Dr. Paul Liman, who has made the most serious attempt to sketch the character of the Emperor that has yet appeared in German, writes:—
"We see in him a nature whose ground-tone is enthusiasm, phantasy, and a passionate impulse towards action. Filled with the highest sense of the imperial rights and duties assigned to him, convinced that these are the direct expression of a divine will, he has inwardly thrown off the bonds of modern constitutional ideas and in words recently spoken, where he claimed responsibility for fifty-eight million people, converted these ideas into a formula that, while unconstitutional, is yet moral and deeply earnest. These words were doubly valuable as giving insight into the soul of a man who can be mistaken in his conclusions and means, but not in his motives, since these are directed to the general weal. Here, too, we find the explanation of the fact that at one time he comes before us surrounded with the blue and hazy nimbus of the romantic period, and at another as the most modern prince of our time. Out of the rise in him of the consciousness of majesty there grows a greater sense of duty, and instead of keeping watch from his turret over his people he loses himself in detail. And precisely here must he fail, because modern life with its development is far too rich in complications and activities to admit of its submitting to patriarchal benevolence. And because an artistic strain and a strong fantasy simultaneously work in him, he moves joyfully beyond the limits of the actual to raise before our eyes the highly coloured dream of the picture of a time in which all men, all nations, will be friendly and reconciled—an artist's dream. Here is something characteristic, something unusual, to give particular charm to a personality which has no parallel in the history of the dynasty hitherto. There may be concealed in it the seed of illustrious deeds, but only too often disappointment and contempt lie scornfully in wait when the deed is accomplished. For the heaven we erect on earth always comes to naught, and the idealist is always vanquished in the strife with fact."
So far, Dr. Liman. Mr. Sydney Brooks, in a sketch in Maclure's Magazine for July, 1910, writes:—
"The drawback to any and to every regime of paternal absolutism is that the human mind is limited. The Kaiser will not admit it, but his acts prove it. It is not given to one man to know more about everything than anybody else knows about anything; and the Kaiser, who is a good deal of a dilettante, and believes himself omniscient, at times speaks from a lamentable half-knowledge, and occasionally has to call in the imperial authority to back up his verdicts against the judgments of experts.
"Unquestionably his mind is of an unusual order. It is a facile, quickly moving instrument; it works in flashes; it assimilates seemingly without effort, and it is at its best under the highest pressure. The Kaiser is not to be laughed at for wanting to know all there is to be known, but he may justly be criticized for failing to distinguish between the attempt and its failure....
"Is it all charlatanerie? Is it all of a part with his speech in Russian to the regiment of which the Czar made him honorary colonel, a studied trumpery effort, designed for a momentary effect? Is the Kaiser just glitter and tinsel, impulse and rhapsody, with nothing solid beneath? Is it his supreme object to make an impression at any cost, to force, like another Nero, the popular applause by arts more becoming to a cabotin than a sovereign? Vanity, restlessness, a consuming desire for the palm without the dust—an intense and theatrical egotism—are these the qualities that give the clue to his character and actions?
"I do not think so altogether. The Kaiser has scattered too much. In an age of specialists on many subjects he speaks like an amateur. He is always the hero, and often the victim, of his own imagination; like a star actor, he cannot bear to be outshone; he is morbidly, almost pruriently, conscious of the effect he is producing. And on all matters of intellect and taste his influence makes for blatant mediocrity. But he is not meretricious; at bottom he is not by any means as superficial and insincere as he often seems. He is one of those men in whom an instinct becomes an immutable truth, an idea a conviction, and a suspicion a certainty, by an almost instantaneous process; and, the process completed, action follows forthwith. The Kaiser is always resolved to do the right thing; the right thing, by some quaint but invariable coincidence, is whatever he is resolved to do."
These appreciations from afar may be as sound as they are brilliant, but they rather refer to the non-essential parts of the character of the Emperor in the first flush of imperial glory than to the essential character as it has developed with the years.
As a man—he will be dealt with as monarch presently—his essential character must be judged from his conduct, and conduct extending over a good many years. One might say, conduct and reputation, but that reputation is so often the result of a confused mixture of superficial observation, gossip, tittle-tattle, envy, hatred and uncharitableness, and, in the case of an Emperor, of merely picturesque and effective writing.
There is another source which would materially help us in forming a judgment, but it is wholly wanting in the case of the Emperor. No private correspondence of his is, as yet, available to the world.
Again, a man's character is determined by his motives, if it is not the other way about; in any case, a man's motives are for the most part inscrutable and can only be deduced from conduct, while the world usually makes the mistake of explaining conduct by attributing its own motives. Tried, then, by the standard of conduct, the only one available, the Emperor, as a man, shows us a high type of humanity. It may not, probably does not, appeal to Englishmen wholly, but there are features of it which must command, and do command, the respect of people of all nationalities. And, first of all, he is a good man; good as a Christian, good as a husband, good as a father, good as a patriot. With all the power and temptation to gratify his inclinations, he has no personal vices of the baser sort. He is moderate in the satisfaction of his appetites, whether for food or wine. He is no debauchee, no voluptuary, no gambler. He is faithful to old friends and comrades. He has high ideals, and is not ashamed of them. He is neither indolent nor fussy; neither a cynic, nor an intriguer, nor a fool; he is neither wrong-headed nor stubborn; he is honest and sincere to a degree that does him honour as a man, if it has sometimes proved perilous and blameworthy in him as a monarch. He is optimistic, and on good grounds. He is no physical or intellectual giant, but he is a man of more than average all-round intelligence and capacity. If this appreciation is correct, or even approximately correct, it is a testimonial, whatever may be its worth, to great merit.
Yet the Emperor as man has his failings and drawbacks, though they are such as time is almost sure to diminish or eradicate. Notably in his earlier years he lacked judgment, the power of balancing considerations and arriving at conclusions from them which men more gifted with poise would endorse as logical and inevitable. He does not, like spare Cassius, see quite through the deeds of men, as his friendship for Count Phili Eulenburg and the malodorous "Camarilla" go to show, and his choice of Imperial Chancellors, his grand viziers, has not in every instance been happy. He has less tact than character, as he showed once in Vienna, where he greatly pained the Foreign Minister, Count Goluchowski, one day at a club by calling to him, "Golu, Golu, come and sit beside your Kaiser." He has the German masculine enjoyment in a kind of humour which would have delighted Fox and the three-bottle men, but would sadly shock the susceptibilities of an Oxford aesthete. He has a share of personal vanity, but it springs from the desire to look the Emperor he is, not because he supposes for a moment that he is an Adonis. He is theatrical in exactly the same spirit—the desire imperially to impress his folk in the sense of the German word imponieren, a word that needs no translation. If he has lost much of Dr. Liman's "romantik," he still retains the "scatteredness" of Mr. Sidney Brooks, though the Emperor would rather hear it called "many-sidedness." En resume he has the defects of his qualities, but to no man or woman's unmerited loss or injury, and if we weigh the good qualities with the bad, we find a fine balance remaining to his credit as a man.
The fierce light which beats upon a throne, if it is apt to dazzle the bystander, helps those at a distance, especially in these days of the still fiercer light of modern publicity, to judge fairly the throne's occupant. The character of the Emperor as monarch ought, therefore, as far as is possible in the absence of archives marked "secret and confidential" and yet lying in the ministries of all countries, to disclose itself nowadays with reasonable clearness. Yet, even still, different and conflicting opinions regarding it are to be gathered in Germany and out of it.
Indeed, his own people are among the severest critics. One of them, Professor Quidde, early in the reign, made an extraordinarily ingenious, but quite unjustifiable, comparison of him to Caligula, which, though only consisting of classical quotations and making no mention of the Emperor, was seen by everybody to refer to him and has caused discussion ever since. While many foreign critics have done the Emperor justice, others in turn have made him out to be arrogant, snobbish, bombastic, superficial, incompetent, and insincere. To writers of this class he is always the German War Lord, ready to pounce, like a highwayman or pirate, on any unprotected person or property he may come across, regardless of treaty obligations, of international disaster, or of the dictates of humanity. One day they announce he is planning the annexation of Holland in order to get a further set of naval bases, the next that he means to take Belgium to make a road for his armies into France, a third that he is about to set at naught the Monroe doctrine and with his Dreadnoughts seize Brazil. All these things are conceivable and not impossible, but they are in the very highest degree improbable, and, as yet at least, ought not to be considered seriously. To sensible and better-informed people everywhere he is a Prussian king of the best type, a sincere friend of peace, with a mania for pushing the maxim "Si vis pacem para bellum" to extremes, politically the most influential man in Europe, and, with all his faults, one of the greatest Germans of his time.
The character of the Emperor, as monarch, is reflected very largely in the character of the Germany of to-day.
Germany is optimistic, ardently desirous of peace, bent on worthily maintaining the great place she has won, and deserved to win, among the nations, and so materially prosperous as to make many Germans tremble at the thought that the prosperity may be too great to last. This, however, is not to assert that in Germany everything is couleur de rose. There are not a few things in the Empire's social and political conditions which are antiquated or promise no good. Noxious as well as beneficial forces have been introduced into the social life of the country and are beginning to make themselves felt. German home-life is ceasing to be the admirable and exemplary thing it was before the present era of class rivalry, commercialism, the parvenu and the snob. The idealism which made the Empire a possibility is passing away. There is need, and a general demand, for franchise reform in Prussia, and a change in the spirit of Prussian bureaucratic administration would be acceptable, though it is, perhaps, hopeless to expect it. The opposition in Germany between the monarchic and the democratic principle, if not more marked than it was twenty or thirty years ago, is manifesting itself over a wider and perhaps deeper area. The relations between capital and labour are far from satisfactory adjustment. Social democracy is yearly gaining fresh adherents, and if guilty of no political violence, is yet a constant source of danger to domestic peace. The German middle class, that bourgeoisie which is the backbone and strength of the Empire, is losing its Spartan simplicity and its content with small and moderate pleasures; and the national virtues of thrift and self-denial are yielding to the temptations of wealth and luxury. Business credit is unduly stretched, speculation in land has attained disturbing proportions, and the banking world is in too many instances allied with hazardous or doubtful enterprises. Nevertheless the country as a whole is sound, intellectually, morally, and financially.
It would be difficult to mention any of the greater tasks of imperial administration to which the Emperor does not continue to devote personal attention. He is the life and soul of the army and navy, though it should not be forgotten that as regards the latter he has in Admiral Tirpitz an executive talent worthy of his own directive. His interest in the mercantile marine remains what it was when in 1887, as Prince William, he drew up an expert opinion which decided the Hamburg-Amerika Company to build their fast ocean-going steamers at home instead of abroad, and by the success of the experiment commenced the modern development of Germany's shipbuilding industry. Indeed, his attention to the Hamburg line, familiarly known as the "Hapag" line, from the initial letters of its legal title, "Hamburg-Amerika Packetfahrt-Aktien Gesellschaft," and to the Norddeutsche line from Bremen, has given rise to the unfounded belief that he is heavily interested in their financial success. Herr Albert Ballin, the Director of the Hamburg line, though a Jew, is among his intimates and advisers, and the Emperor is said to have caused umbrage more than once to Court officials and the aristocracy by giving directors of both lines precedence at his table. Without the Emperor's personal support it is probable that neither the firm of Krupp at Essen nor the splendid shipbuilding yards at Hamburg, Bremen, Stettin and elsewhere would continue to progress as they are doing. He neglects no opportunity of stimulating Germany's internal and external trade. He is at all times ready to encourage the introduction of useful achievements of modern science and invention. And lastly, by tactful treatment of other German rulers, and a wise policy of non-interference with their States, he is promoting a feeling of federal solidarity.
The Emperor's conception of his relations to the people remains to-day what he was brought up in and what it was when he mounted the throne. In England, America, and France the people are the real rulers, and their monarch or president is their highest official servant and representative. The idea is not perhaps constitutionally expressed, but it is universally and deeply felt in the countries named. In Germany the opposite theory obtains—for how long it must be left to the future to say. In Germany the Emperor is the real ruler, the genuine monarch, and the people are his subjects, the country his country. Hence, while an English king in an official document or public statement would not think of putting himself first and the people or country second, the German Emperor's official statements and speeches constantly repeat such expressions as "I and my people," "I and the army," "my capital," "me and the Fatherland," and a score more; so that Anglo-Saxons and other foreigners acquire the impression that the word "my" is no figure of rhetoric or pride, but a simple claim of ownership or possession. And the official relation between monarch and people is reflected in the people's ordinary life. To the foreigner it continually appears that the public are the servants of the official, not the contrary, whether officialism takes the shape of a post-office clerk, a tramcar conductor, a shop salesman, a policeman, or a waiter. All these functionaries are the possessors of an authority which the citizen is expected to, and usually does, obey. The explanation of such a state of things is a little abstruse, but an attempt may be made at giving it.
The period immediately preceding the reign of Frederick the Great was a period of absolute monarchy in Germany, a system introduced from France, where Louis XIV had proclaimed the doctrine L'etat, c'est moi, according to which the lives and property of the subject belonged to the Prince, whose will was to be obeyed without question or demur. There were now four hundred courts in Germany in imitation of the Court of Versailles, and the smaller the principality the greater the absolutism. Absolutism, however, required an army to support it; hence the establishment of standing and mercenary armies and the disuse of arms by the citizen. The result, to quote Professor Ernst Richard's work on "German Civilization," was that
"the pride of the burgher and the peasant was broken. A submissive servility hopelessly pervaded the masses, and even the best had lost all social and national feeling, all sense of being part of a greater body.... The luxurious life and the arrogance of the ruling classes were accepted as a matter of course, one might say as a divine institution. Thus those traits of character, which had come to light under the cruel stress of the Thirty Years War, fostered by the rule of despotism and the worst vices, took deeper root. To these belong that greed for social position, for titles and the smiles of the great; servility towards those who hold a higher position as bearers of official titles and dignity, a fear of publicity, above all a rather remarkable inclination to a peevish, petty, and sceptical attitude as regards the knowledge and ability of others. The exaltation of the position of the prince extended to his Court and his officials, as well as to the nobility, which had long since become a Court nobility."
But absolutism had to go with the changes in human thought under the influence of Rationalism, which brought with it the idea of the State, not the absolute prince, as ruler. This idea was embodied in the Rechtstaat, or State based on law, which was introduced by Frederick the Great, the "first servant of the State." The State, he said, exists for the sake of the citizens. "One must be insane," he wrote,
"to imagine that men should have said to one of their equals, 'We will raise you so that we may be your slaves, we will give you the power to guide our thoughts according to yours.' They rather said: 'We need you in order to execute our laws, that you show us the way, and defend us. But we understand that you will respect our liberties.'"
The Rechtstaat exists in Germany to the present day, the Emperor is at the head of it, and the people are content to live within its confines. It is not, as has been seen, coterminous with the whole liberty of the subject, but is yet a vast bundle of rights and obligations which in public, and much of private, life leaves as little as possible to the unaided or undirected intelligence or goodwill of the citizen. It is an exaggeration, but still expresses a popular feeling even in Germany itself—and certainly describes an impression made on the Anglo-Saxon—to say that outside this bundle of laws and regulations, which, clearly and logically paragraphed, orders to a nicety all the public, and many of the private, relations of the citizens, everything is forbidden or discouraged by authority. Yet, as has been said, the people are satisfied with it, and it must be admitted that if it confines individual liberty within what to the Anglo-Saxon seem narrow limits, still, by directing the individual to common ends, it works great public advantage. It is in truth a very intelligent and practical form of Socialism, infinitely less oppressive to the people than would be the socialism of the professed Socialist.
It left, however, the German caste system of Frederick's day undisturbed; as Professor Richard says:
"The nobility retained its privileged position. It was considered a law of nature that the noblemen should assist the monarch in the administration of the State and as leaders of the army; the peasant should cultivate the fields and provide food; the commoner should provide money through industry and commerce."
To the Anglo-Saxon, of course, brought up with individualistic views of life and demanding complete personal freedom, the German Rechtstaat would be galling, not to say intolerable. The Englishman, however, has his Rechtstaat too, but the limits it places on his liberty are not nearly so restrictive in regard to public meeting, public talking, public writing, in short, public action of all sorts, as in Germany. Besides, the spirit of laws in England, as naturally follows from the Englishman's political history, is a much more liberal one than the German spirit, which is still to some extent under the influence of the age of absolutism.
The German conception of the Rechtstaat entails, as one of its consequences, a sharp contrast between the rights and privileges of the Crown and the rights and privileges of the people; and therefore, while the Emperor is never without apprehension that the people may try to increase their rights and privileges at the expense of those of the Crown, the people are not without apprehension that the Crown may try to increase its rights and privileges at the expense of the political liberties of the people. To this apprehension on the part of the people is to be attributed their widespread dissatisfaction with the Emperor's so-called "personal regiment," which, until recently, was the chief hindrance to his popularity. In truth the Emperor is in a difficult position. To be popular with the people he must be popular with the Parliament, but if he were to seek popularity with the Parliament he would lose popularity and prestige with the aristocracy and large landowners, who have still a good deal of the old-time contempt for the mere "folk," the burgher, and he would lose it with the military officer class, which is aristocratic in spirit, and is, as the Emperor is constantly assuring it, the sole support of throne and Empire. In addition to this it has to be remembered that a large majority of South Germany is Catholic, and, generally speaking, no great lover of Prussia, its people, and their airs of stiff superiority.
The personal relations of the Emperor to his people, and in especial to the vast burghertum, are precisely those to be expected from his traditional and constitutional relations. He is not popular, but he is widely and sincerely respected. His preference for the army, intelligible though it is, and the cleavage that separates Government and people, explain to some extent the want of popularity, using that word in its "popular" sense; while the consciousness of all the nation owes to his "goodwill," his initiative and energy, his conscientiousness in all directions, is quite sufficient to account for the respect. It is, in truth, in part at least, the respect which excludes the popularity. No one is ever likely to be popular, anywhere, who is constantly endeavouring to teach people how to live and what to think, and at the same time seems to have no social weaknesses to reconcile him with those—no small number—who are fond of cakes and ale. Some of the Emperor's acts and speeches have postponed, if not precluded, eventual popularity—his breach with Bismarck, for example, the whole "personal regiment," and speeches like that at Potsdam in 1891, when he told his recruits that if he had to order them to shoot down their brothers, or even their parents, they must obey without a murmur. Speeches of this last kind live long in public memory. In his dealings with his people the Emperor is neither arrogant—"high-nosed" is the elegant German expression: "arrogant" is no German word, Prince Buelow would doubtless say— towards his subjects, nor are they cringing towards him, though this statement does not exclude the excusable embarrassment an ordinary mortal may be expected to feel in the presence of a monarch. The Emperor himself desires no "tail-wagging" from his subjects, and though there is something of the autocrat in him, there is nothing of the despot.
Certainly for the present, Germans, with rare exceptions, are satisfied with him. They are prospering under him. The shoe pinches here and there, and if it pinches too hard they will cry out and perhaps do more than cry out. They do not consider the Emperor perfect, but they forgive his errors, and particularly the errors of his impetuous youth, even though on three or four occasions they brought the country into danger. Monarchy has been defined as a State in which the attention of the nation is concentrated on one person doing interesting things: a republic, as a State in which the attention is divided between many who are all doing uninteresting things: Germans find their Emperor interesting, and that is a stage on the road to popularity.
The imperial ego, which is quite consistent with the German view of monarchical rule and conformity with the Rechtstaat, is specially advertised by the pictures and statues of the Emperor which are to be found all over Germany, to the apparent exclusion of the pictures and statues of national and local men of distinction. The Emperor's picture almost monopolizes the walls of every public and municipal office, every railway-station refreshment-room, every shop, every restaurant throughout the Empire. Wherever it turns the eye is confronted by the portrait or bust of the Emperor, and if it is not his portrait or bust, it is the portrait or bust of one or other of his ancestors. An exception should be made in the case of Bismarck, the reproduction of whose rugged features, shaggy eyebrows, and bulky frame are not infrequent; statues and portraits, too, of Moltke and Roon, though much more rarely met with than those of Bismarck, are to be seen, while those of Goethe, Schiller, Kant, Lessing, Wagner, or other German "Immortal," are still rarer. Only once, or perhaps twice, in all Germany is there to be found a public statue of Heine—for Heine was a Jew and said many unpleasant, because true, things about his country. The travelling foreigner in Germany after a while begins to wonder if he is not in some far Eastern country where ancestor-worship obtains, and where one tremendous personality overshadows, obscures, and obliterates all the rest. In truth, however, this is not the lesson of the imperial images for the foreigner. They teach him that he is in a country with a system of government and views of the State different from his own, that the Empire is ruled in a military, not a civic spirit, and that the counterfeit presentment of the Emperor, always in dazzling uniform, is the sign of the national acceptance of system, views, and spirit.
A similar lesson is taught by the Emperor's speeches. In England the King rarely speaks in public, and then with well-calculated brevity and reserve. In five words he will open a museum and with a sentence unveil a monument. The Emperor's speeches fill four stout volumes—and he is only fifty-four. The speeches deal with every sort of topic, and have been delivered in all parts of the Empire—now to Parliament, now to his assembled generals, now at the celebration of some national or individual jubilee, now at the dedication of a building or the opening of a bridge. The style is always clear and logical, in this respect contrasting favourably with the German style of twenty years ago, when the language wriggled from clause to clause in vermiform articulations until the thought found final expression in a mob of participles and infinitives. Metaphors abound in the speeches, some of them slightly far-fetched, but others of uncommon beauty, appropriateness, and pith. There is no brilliant employment of words, but not seldom one comes across such terse and happy phrases as the famous "We stand under the star of commerce," "Our future lies on the water," "We demand a place in the sun."
On the English reader the speeches will be apt to pall, unless he is thoroughly saturated with Prussian historic, military, and romantic lore and can place himself mentally in the position of the Emperor. The tone, never quite detached from consciousness of the imperial ego, hardly ever descends to the level of familiar conversation nor rises to heights of eloquence that carry away the hearer. With three or four exceptions, there is no argumentation in the speeches, for they are not meant to persuade or convince, but to enjoin and command. They do not contain any of the important and interesting facts and figures of which, nevertheless, the Emperor's mind must be full, and they are wanting in wit and humour, though nature has endowed the Emperor with both.
On the other hand, it should be remembered that they are the speeches of an Emperor, not of a statesman. The speeches have no political timeliness or object save that of rousing and directing imperial spirit among the people by appeals to their imagination and patriotism. Had the Emperor been actuated by the spirit of a Minister or statesman, he would have been far more alive to the fact than he appears to have been, that every word he uttered would instantly find an echo in the Parliament, Press, and Stock Exchange of all other countries.
The Emperor's fundamental mistakes, as disclosed by his speeches, appear to an Englishman to have been in assuming when they were made that the Empire was in a less advanced stage of consolidation and settlement than it in fact was, and in underrating the intelligence, knowledge, and patriotism of his people. From this point of view his early speeches in particular sound jejune or superfluous. What would the Englishman say to a king who began his reign by a series of homilies on Alfred the Great or Elizabeth or Queen Victoria; by using strong language about the Labour party or the Fabian Society; by appeals to throne and altar; by describing to Parliament the chief duties of the monarch; by recommending the London County Council to build plenty of churches; by calling journalists "hunger-candidates"; by frequent references to the battles of Waterloo and Trafalgar? Yet, mutatis mutandis, this is not so very unlike what the young Emperor did, and not for a year or two, but for several years after his accession. To an Englishman such addresses would appear rather ill-timed academic declamation.
Yet there was much, and perhaps is still much, to account for, if not quite justify, the Emperor's rhetoric. The peculiarity of Germany's monarchic system placed, and places, the monarch in a patriarchal position not very different from that of Moses towards the Israelites—a leader, preacher, and prophet. Again, the Empire, when the Emperor came to the throne, was not a homogeneous nation inspired by a centuries-old national spirit, but suffered, as it still in a measure suffers, from the particularism of the various kingdoms and States composing it: in other words, from too local a patriotism and stagnation of the imperial idea. Thirdly, the Empire had no navy, while an Empire to-day without a navy is at a tremendous and dangerous disadvantage in world-politics, and the mere conception that a navy was indispensable had to be created in a country lying in the heart of Europe and with only one short coast-line.