Edward Edgeworth.

Human German online

. (page 12 of 20)
Online LibraryEdward EdgeworthHuman German → online text (page 12 of 20)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Herr Griitze, and Herr Lieutenant v. Rinnstein
showed no ardour to propose. Time fled. Baffled
Dr. Rothstein invoked his wife. With the cunning of
pervert Science he concealed his aims. He swore
untruthfully that Herr Fichte owned four hundred
thousand marks ; that Herr Griitze had invented a
new way of locking girders which would make
bridges for railways as cheap as bridges for false



THE HUMAN PROFESSOR 205

teeth ; and that Lieut, v. Rinnstein had won his
cousin's estates at stud-poker, and warned by the
cousin's ruin had vowed to gamble no more. Of
course in a week Frau Rothstein easily did what her
husband failed to do in forty weeks. She fed,
flattered, manoeuvred, fooled the three Hercules-
Apollos ; and she had the joy of seeing them pros-
trate at her daughters' feet.

Once, indeed, momentary hesitation threatened to
wreck the plot. Fraulein Roschen wavered. She
was displeased at the chill, exiguous love-making,
and recalled with thrills the book and the kiss given
her by Herr Dr. Beck. " Will Karl also give me a
book and a kiss ? " she asked herself, thinking of
Herr Griitze's sunlight moustache. '* And shall I
return them ? " At this moment Herr Engineer
Griitze entered the room and gave her the missing
kiss. She did return it, muttering, " Now for the
book." But instead of a book, Herr Griitze gave
her a whole bookful of kisses, seventeen chapters of
them, a preface, an index, and several errata. This
was the one romantic interlude in the eugenistic
wooing of the Rothstein brides.

The wedding was brilhant. Brides and bride-
grooms glowed ; but all six together were pale
compared with Herr Rothstein. When the happy
couples left — Herr Fichte for Stuttgart, Herr Griitze
for his new post in Dar es Salaam, Herr Lieut, v.



206 THE HUMAN GERMAN

Rinnstein for Thorn — the old man returned to his
dusty study ; and began to reread the ancestral
records of himself, of his wife, of the three young
men he had chosen for his girls. It was a bright
romance of unstained mental, moral, and bodily
health. Without a flaw ! In particular the Griitze
strain impressed him ; when crossed with Roschen's
it promised at least a brood of Goethes and Beth-
mann Hollwegs. Dr. Rothstein could not curb his
impatience ; he restlessly counted the days before
swift-winged telegrams from his daughters' scattered
homes would prove that Eugenics is right. He
neglected his work ; he lived in an ecstasy of es-
trangement ; he received no one save Privat-Docent
Dr. Beck ; he brooded. Lovelorn Dr. Beck still
professed to despise Eugenics ; and this so irritated
Dr. Rothstein that excuse was sought to avoid even
him.

Eleven months passed without news. But con-
fident Dr. Rothstein was not disappointed. And on
a sunny April morning his faith found its reward.
He was seated in his study, reading with impatient
contempt the foolish pamphlet by Prof. Loes-
Freiburg, Eugenics a Fraud, when the door-bell rang.
There was a rush of feet, then somebody stopped,
hesitated, launched a breathless " Extraordinary ! "
and flung open the door.

On the threshold in her dressing-gown stood Frau



THE HUMAN PROFESSOR 207

Privy Councillor Rothstein. She held excitedly
several sheets of telegram. Her eyes glittered.

** Eugene ! Imagine ! " she shouted. " There are
three of them ! Three of them all at once. ..."

Dr. Rothstein rose.

** How amazing ! " he stammered. " And all the
telegrams by the same messenger ! All born on the
same day. I've never ..." Frau Rothstein
stopped him.

" The telegram says they're all very weak and
undersized. The biggest weighs three and a half
pounds. The doctors hope that one may possibly
be saved, but the others ..."

" Very weak and undersized ! " exclaimed Dr.
Rothstein. " May be saved ? What on earth is the
matter ? How is Grete ? . . . How is darling
Roschen ? . . . How is Parnassia ? "

" Grete and Parnassia have nothing to do with
it," said Frau Dr. Rothstein. " Don't you under-
stand. There's only one telegram. It's from Africa.
They're aU Roschen 's."

And she waited a moment, looked with fright
about her ; and said in a strained voice with un-
natural solemnity :

" They're triplets."

As she finished the door opened ; and Herr Privat-
Docent Dr. Beck walked in.

"I'm sorry, Herr Colleague," he said, with ill-



208 THE HUMAN GERMAN

concealed malice. ** Evidently Heir Griitze and
Fraulein Roschen don't mix. These things are
inscrutable. By the way, did you see that queer
brochure by Loes of Freiburg ? It's called Eugenics
a Fraud. I'll send around my copy. ..."

And he smiled sardonically. Excellency Herr
Actual Privy Aulic Councillor Prof. Dr. Med., Jur.,
et Sc. Eugene Rothstein-Gottingen at first looked
at him with fury. But quickly the joy of Eugenics
stole into his aulic heart ; and he smiled too.



CHAPTER XIV
THE HUMAN WARRIOR

Wenn's die Soldaten durch die Stadt marschieren.
Dann offhen die Madchen Fenster und auch Tiiren.

Ei Warum ? Ei darum ?
Ei bloss wegen Tschinderassa, Bumderassasa.

{Soldiers' Sofig).

THRICE this week has Letitia been invaded
by senile apologetic men who wanted orders.
One was tout for a furniture remover ; the
second sold Persian carpets made in Chemnitz ; the
third offered cheap, at four and sixpence a bottle,
an exceptionally lethal brand of Hessian champagne.
The agents behaved in the courteous, deferential
way of their calling ; each ** gracious lady-ed "
unduly ; each on retiring bowed with deep-sea
profundity and said, " I recommend myself ! "
** Ich empfehle mich ! " And one more thing
common to all these modest callers was that the
cards they tendered bore the impressive recom-
mendation : " Lieutenant Out-of -Service."

Seldom a week passes without the card " Johann
Miiller, Leutnant a.D." being handed in at your
door, followed by an embarrassingly respectful,

bright-elbowed person with drill-ground reminis-
14 209



210 THE HUMAN GERMAN

cences in his walk, who asks for a small order, and
departs, recommending himself. It is a product of
the German militarism, which innocent Britons —
seeing from delusive distance — think unexception-
able. But the fates of many officers, as Dr. Gamradt
says, are evil ; and that is why some regiments can't
get officers, though some well-favoured regiments
get more than they need.

Oificers choose the Army as a means of livelihood.
Most have no private means, or only unearned
allowances from parents which may any day cease.
In the early stages of military life Herr Leutnant
pulls tolerably along. But every year means greater
trouble, greater dignity, and higher regimental
outlay. Herr Leutnant must live as a gentleman ;
he must pay silver-money into the regiment's re-
serve ; he must pay library money, and music
money, and representation money ; he must share
in gifts to retiring comrades ; and the cost of weekly
or fortnightly entertainments at which Bowie is
consumed by the bowl. He must find a wife or a
mistress. As life this is lively enough ; but as
liveUhood it's unliveable. Herr Leutnant finds that
out. He finds that the one way to get back his outlay
on education is to reach at least a battalion-com-
mander's rank, for no lower rank brings him suffi-
cient pension to live even modestly as officer in
retreat. His chance of attaining such rank is small ;



THE HUMAN WARRIOR 211

and his chance of commanding a corps and drawing
a corps commander's salary of £1500 is no chance
at all.

The Army List shows over ten thousand lieu-
tenants, and only two thousand five hundred
battalion-commanders or officers of higher pension
rank. So three officers out of four who start with
hope of an easy career leading to honourable idleness
retire unpensioned, or barely pensioned, while they
are still young, and, despite youth, unfitted for
civil careers. That is the source of the numberless
Lieutenants Out-of-Service. Their case is made worse
by the rule that they remember their army past ;
and old comrades treat them as declasses if they
adopt derogatory trades. As food costs money,
they put up with being declasses. That is why the
purse-proud bourgeois has meetings with Herr
Leutnant a.D. ; and if the bourgeois is not purse-
proud, but sensitive, he is pained that officers and
gentlemen should call at his flat and be snubbed by
pert Hedwig when they ask, " Is the gentleman at
home ? "

This tragic comedy of Army life is ironic heaven's
way of evening things up. Before becoming Out-of-
Service unprophetic Herr Leutnant looks down on
professional men, looks down more loftily still on
the grubbing tradesman — the Koofmich — who is not
" satisfactionscapable " — who cannot fight a duel.



212 THE HUMAN GERMAN

He little dreams that he will some day call at the
Koofmich's door, and say with respectful genu-
flexion : "I recommend myself." Ministers do
their best to frustrate heaven's ironical design.
They make sinecure posts to which retired lieu-
tenants are tied. But the resource is small. Suffi-
cient sinecures would cost as much as sufficient
pensions. So the super-scottish War Minister Falken-
hayn asks the Chambers of Commerce to influence
merchants to take Officers Out-of-Service as clerks,
and civilians write protests to the Tagehlatt signed
" A Clerk Out of Work."

A remedy planned is to reduce the number of
active lieutenants till it fits more closely the store
of pension-earning posts. Those who want this say
that half the lieutenant's work — and all his idling —
might be better done by non-coms. But the Army
suffers a famine in non-coms., due to the State's
super-scottish virtue. Time-expired conscripts are
not paid enough or privileged enough to make them
serve for more than the compulsory term ; and of
course were it not for compulsion few would serve
even that.

The pay, the food, the clothing, the lodging of the
human warrior are adequate when viewed from
compulsion standpoint. In a market of free con-
tract they would not recruit a hen. The State loves
tradition ; and all four things are measured by the



THE HUMAN WARRIOR 213

tradition of " Old-Prussian Thrift " — by the plain
living which made unconquerable the legions of
skinflint Frederick ; and would satisfy to-day if the
world had since stood still. But while the civil
standard of comfort has risen, the military standard
has lain flat as Brandenburg. The heroes of Ross-
bach and Hohenfriedberg who were starved by
Frederick, were starved also by their parents ; the
heroes of Zabern and Kopenick are spoiled at home,
and they get disagreeably shocked on reverting as
soldiers to the material standards of the eighteenth-
century boor.

Super-scottish parsimony shows from the start.
The conscript cannot join the colours without
bringing his parents' money or getting into debt.
He must spend at least ten shillings on necessary
equipment. He must buy half a dozen brushes,
cloths for rifle-cleaning, cloths for cleaning other
metal things, a warm woollen jacket, and socks,
or their substitute " foot-cloths " worn, hke the
Russian soldier's portianki, wound around the foot.
Herr Schneesieber, a veteran who published in
Zwei Jahre Dienstzeit his memories of thirty years'
service, says that young men prepare to join the
colours by saving their money up.

His super-scottish wage plagues the conscript
through two hard-up years. The nine shilling
monthly wage is barely enough for necessaries.



214 THE HUMAN GERMAN

and not to be stretched towards recreation. It is
paid three times a month, in sums of about three
marks, or about 3d. a day. Necessary outlay takes
a penny a day. There are sixty pfennigs for laundry,
ninety for hair-cutting, ninety for soap, for cleaning,
and sewing things. What remains over just repairs
the depreciation of brushes, jackets, clothes, and
socks.

For amusement, reading, postage, the human
warrior turns to wealthy parents, tribute from
servant girls (small as result of his low value as
ornament), and operations of credit. From such
sources the soldier supports the canteen. With the
canteen the super-scottish State acts hypersuper-
scottishly. In generous fits it rewards soldiers for
good shooting and other merits, and it takes the
money from the canteen surplus which the soldiers'
money has made. It requires the soldiers to buy
from the same source pious, none-too-human
journals which no one reads, and to pay for carts
which carry their bread, for buckets which carry their
water, and other things indispensable in army life.

Old-Prussian Thrift is stamped on every shirt a
Prussian soldier wears. The Ministry credits the
administrative units with fixed, modest sums, which
must not be exceeded ; and it instructs them to
spend as little of this as it can. So a pair of trousers
wanders from soldier to soldier, from one class of



THE HUMAN WARRIOR 215

troops to another, till it has formed part of half a
dozen " garnitures," and by virtue of patchwork
metabolism has nothing, except buttons, of its
original tissue. Straps, helmets, water-bottles, belts
last generations. Food does not last from one meal
to another. Until lately it cost just thirty pfennigs,
which is threepence-halfpenny, a day ; now it costs
a fraction more. The " small ration " allowed to
men in barracks (that is, most of the year) is
I J lb. of bread, lo grammes of roasted coffee, about
I lb. of raw meat with lo per cent of bone, 3 lb. of
potatoes, and about J pound of leguminous vege-
tables. At manoeuvres there are " large rations "
with 60 per cent more meat. The " larger ration "
is barely enough for marching men ; and as barrack
work is often as hard as marching, the small ration
is too small. Most men are thin and active during
their two years' service, and acquire their globi-
ferous symmetry in civil life. The soldier is super-
scottishly lodged. There are fine barracks in
Berlin, Potsdam, and elsewhere. But there are not
enough, and too often the brave fagades are veils for
the invariable Old-Prussian Thrift. Since the last
increase of peace strength the army is under-
barracked ; there are men lodged in forts enclosed
by wet ditches ; and others in corrugated iron sheds,
where they freeze and fry in turn. Even the good
barracks are ill-lighted and ill-heated. In summer



216 THE HUMAN GERMAN

men do without artificial light. Old- Prussian Thrift
makes off with the candles.

The human State finds fresh occasion for parsi-
mony in its way with the One- Year-Volunteer.
One- Year- Volunteering is abandoned in France, but
obtains here, as in Austria and in Russia. It is a
device by which the privileged middle-class youth
escapes the joy of living as common soldier in
breeches dating from 1900, with rations dating from
the Great Elector. The boy with a certain education
(equivalent to secondary) who reports himself before
reaching twenty as One- Year- Volunteer, serves only
half the compulsory term. He compensates the
super-scottish State by paying for equipment,
uniforms, and food. One- Year-Volunteers who
choose to serve with the cavalry must deposit
twenty pounds ; and must pay for shoeing their
own horses. The real qualification is not learning,
but wealth ; a doctor of science could not serve as
One-Year-Volunteer unless he paid for his boots.
The volunteers, since their clothes are not made by
the State, look very smart, though not as smart
as in Russia, where they outshine their own
officers. Medical One- Year- Volunteers serve only
six months with the battahons ; the other six they
practise as army doctors.

■ Most volunteers end as reserve or Landwehr
officers. They may not if they are Jews. Where



THE HUMAN WARRIOR 217

military exigencies permit, they are given time to
continue their professional or scientific studies ; and
many a ** One-Yearer " is the regiment's most
learned man, and teaches the colonel to spell.
Among them — in theory private soldiers — are doctors
of medicine, doctors of law, candidates of theology,
prize engineers, composers of symphonies, experts
on canalisation, and seekers for extra-Neptunian
planets. Some regiments are better at scholarship
than at shooting ; and naturally this is not to their
loss. Our young linguist acquaintance told us
something of that. It happened on the day he took
his place in the ranks of the 70th (Schneckenschritt)
Sharpshooters. He was alone in the barracks court-
yard polishing his spectacles in order to examine
the unfamiUar, somewhat terrifying mechanism of
his Mauser, 98. A raucous voice made him jump.
It came from a window, where a red-necked officer
stood making notes on a programme.

" One- Year- Volunteer Bubhtz, what is your
record ? "

** Candidatus Juris, Herr Captain : author of the
doctorial dissertation Anatocism and Perversions of
Usury under Justinian."

" Then you are the man we want. Just knock off
a barrack-room skit for our festival on Saturday.
Something lively and personal that the men will
understand, and with a few jokes about beer."



218 THE HUMAN GERMAN

Uniform training for war of miscellaneous scholars,
and the standardising of twenty successive privates
with one pair of breeches, make for the solidity and
coherence of national life. The mihtary imprint
stays ; you see it later in poUtics, in organisation,
in professorial militancy, in the disciplined tramp
of Socialist mobs. At Reichstag Elections nearly
three million political reservists who have learned
tactics as soldiers are being summoned to the
pohtical flag. These are the members of the Unions
of Time-Expired Soldiers (Kriegervereine) , who turn
out and try to vote Socialism out of the Reichstag.
The Soldiers' Unions are the strongest organisations
Germany has, outnumbering far the registered
Socialists, the Navy League, and other big leagues.
The Soldiers' Unions aim to keep old comrades
together and foster in civil life the specific army
virtues. The member must have served in Army or
Navy and taken the " flag-oath." He is required
to be loyal to the sovereign (of his own state),
obedient to law, respectful to authority, and good
as comrade. The Union notion is old. The first
was started in 1839 to bring together veterans of
the great wars ; and soon the Unions secured from
the State the privilege of burying members with
mihtary honours. In the long peace they decayed ;
in the war age that ended in 1871 they revived ; and
the new Unions admit all old soldiers. There are



THE HUMAN WARRIOR 219

32,000 Unions, and they have 2,900,000 members,
most of whom saw no fighting till now.

Soldiers' Unions are federated on the federal lines
of the Empire. The twenty-six states have their
own Unions ; each state's Unions are united in a
state Verbdnd ; and all state Verbande are repre-
sented in the imperial Kyffh'dtiser Bund. Prussia,
with 16,000 Unions and 1,700,000 members, comes
first. In populous places, infantrymen, cavalrymen,
and artillerists have their own Unions. The Unions
celebrate anniversaries of victories, birthdays of
sovereigns ; they bury worthily dead members ;
line the streets when the monarch comes ; and foster
patriotism. They keep up some orphanages and
do charitable work. State governments give them
railway fare reductions so that they may hold con-
gresses ; and they get fire-arms at low prices. They
publish newspapers. Their great work is the Kyff-
hauser monument, built twenty years ago to Wil-
helm I's memory. Wilhelm II calls them " an
army in mufti." A Reichstag Radical called them
'* Not Kriegervereine (Soldiers' Unions), but Krie-
chervereine (Unions of Reptiles)." They are pillars
of obedience. At Elections — Reichstag Elections,
at least, where nearly all members have votes — they
are indispensable ; some say that in 191 2 two million
members voted against Socialist candidates. Natur-
ally the two factions carr}^ on — on good military



220 THE HUMAN GERMAN

principles — fierce political wars ; and newspapers
teem with stories of boycott, derision, insult, and
assault. No beer-hall that quenches Socialist thirsts
ever gets the custom of a Soldiers' Union.

The German soldier is human, all-too-human for
alarmism. The " miracle of organisation," the
" war-machine of steel," the " iron army which
conquered at Sedan " is not as high, world-remote,
and tediously unhuman as British newspapers say.
You can prove its humanity any day, at the Doric
Konigsivachc — the guard-house — in the Linden, near
the Arsenal, in sight of the Kaiser's Schloss. There
towards midday a crowd collects. You count three
post card merchants, four youths from Mo. and Va.
with Sandow (wadding) chests, and seven and
twenty as unwashed, unlicked, unregenerate corner-
boys as you'd find in Berkeley Square. The corner-
boys hustle the passers ; spit on the gun ** Valeria "
brought from Paris ; and stare at the human soldiers.
All of them — post card men, Americans, and
Prussian corner-boys — await the Changing of the
Guard.

The displeasing thing in the ceremony is that no
nursemaids come. The guard is no draw. It is
merely nineteen youthful, medium-sized privates in
charge of a sergeant or corporal. The guards wear
blue tunics, bleached to twenty shades ; black, red-
piped breeches with olive knees, baggy enough to



THE HUMAN WARRIOR 221

rout (or hold the milk-bottle of) the least fastidious
nurse. Their rifles are not piled, but stuck singly
in black and white iron rests, and the number of
each is scrawled on the pavement. The soldiers are
good-looking, but not handsome ; their rough,
regular features suit the Doric columns ; and one
of them closely resembles the Archduke Karl Franz
Joseph. They would displease teutonological Mr.
Blatchford. They do not look inhumanly patriotic,
or unpleasantly zealous to conquer worn-out Eng-
land. They look human ; take a human interest
in the inhumanly dirty loungers ; and when an
infant's marble invades their area they throw it
humanly back.

At the end of the area is a soldier in overcoat.
He holds his rifle as holy men hold crucifixes. He
is the sentry. There is something droll and un-
reasonable about this sentry. He is handsome,
moustachioed, erect ; he should, you feel, look
martial, braggardly, and licentious. But he does
not do this at all. He is mild and peaceable. A
meek, scholarly, meticulous, unsoldierly air seems
to blow about him ; he recalls young Herr Dr.
Phil., Sc, Jur., Med., et Theol. Marzynski, author of
Predicative-Nominal Prefixes in Suhiya Language-
Stems. You ask yourself why. And the reason
gradually dawns — the sentry has blue spectacles
perched on his Doric nose.



222 THE HUMAN GERMAN

At a quarter to one the guard is changed. Half a
battahon of infantry, with band playing and colours
flying, comes from the Opera Place and makes for
the Schloss. An eagle standard shows the Emperor
is there. The column drops twenty pink soldiers
under a pink lieutenant ; and this is the new guard.
Meantime the old guard soldiers have fled behind
the portico, returned remarkably smartened, taken
up their rifles, and laid down their humanity. They
now look as stern as Niirnberg's wooden soldiers.
The guard is changed by an amazing manoeuvre done
in Prussian parade-step, a hammering, mathematical
goose-step which brings you quickly forward. All
lips are set ; all legs are straight ; and the nailed
boots rattle as they fall with steam-hammer pre-
cision. The pink lieutenant is excited. He flourishes
his sword far beyond need ; and he helps the men
into line by prodding at their belts. Then the re-
lieved guard-men pile their rifles to the right ; a
short-sighted soldier (not the sentry) takes off his
goggles, and the soldier who looks like the Archduke
Karl Franz Joseph makes off the last.

The short-sighted soldier is taken as a matter of
course. Herr Gamradt lent us Boysen's Army
Service, a conscripts' manual, with the official list
of " Slight Corporeal Defects which do not Prevent
Service with the Colours " ; and among the defects
which are no hindrance to soldiering are " short



THE HUMAN WARRIOR 223

sight " and ** a Supernumerary Toe which Owing
to its Position does not Impede the Possessor."
This laxity is necessary, for the official journal
Ver'6ffe7itlichungen der Milit'drsa7iit'dts'wesen says,
" Germans have the shortest sight in Europe ; the
percentage afflicted is 71." Some, says Herr Gamradt,
who is very modern in this, are blinded by Gothic
letters ; others by reading Ve7'dffentlichungen der
Militdrsanit'dtswesen. He laughed when Letitia
asked whether doctors would pass for service a lad
so myopic that he could not see his Supernumerary


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 12 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Online LibraryEdward EdgeworthHuman German → online text (page 12 of 20)