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_Hohenzollern_, on leaving the shores of Russia narrowly missed being
cut in two by another vessel. And one more sign of evil omen - a
fearful tempest shook the Imperial yacht in Russian waters.

Let us, whose Emperor was a prisoner of the Germans in 1871, pray that
some day a German Emperor may be taken prisoner by the Russian
army - not like at Narva, but in all seriousness.

I said in my last letter that it might well be that William's journey
to Russia might result in stiffening the resolution of the Emperor
Alexander. And so it has proved, for scarcely had his Imperial guest
returned to Berlin, than a ukase raised the Russian Customs tariff and
imposed a new duty of 20 per cent. on German imports. A fine result
this, of that which the German Press, before William's departure,
described as the Russo-German Economic Entente, at a moment when, even
for the Berlin newspapers, the prospects of a political _entente_ were
somewhat dubious.

For this reason, Professor Delbrück says quite bluntly, in the
"Prussian Annals," that William II's journey to Russia has been a
lamentable fiasco; that the Tzar declined to listen to any diplomatic
conversation; that he ridiculed and entertained his Imperial guest with
a series of military parades whilst the Russian general staff was
carrying out important manoeuvres on the western frontiers.

In the same spirit as that of the ex-deputy Professor, the whole German
and Austrian Press have been demanding that, for the peace of Europe,
the German and Austrian troops should be withdrawn from their
respective frontiers, so as to compel the Russian forces to do the same.

That is all very well, but inasmuch as the military zones of the Great
Russian Empire are separated by enormous distances, and the movement of
troops being very much easier for Germany and Austria than for Russia,
one would like to know precisely what is the idea at the back of these
demands. As soon as ever he returned to Germany, two very significant
ideas occurred to William II: one, to make a display of the warmest
sentiments for his august _pis-aller_, the Emperor of Austria; the
other, to have his faithful ally Italy play some scurvy trick on
France, Russia's friend.

To this end, the German Emperor proceeded to hold a review of the
Austro-Hungarian Fleet and went beyond the official programme by going
aboard the ironclad _Francis Joseph_, flying the flag of Admiral
Sterneck. After this, inviting himself to luncheon with the Archduke
Charles Stephen, commanding the Austrian squadron, he made a fervent
speech, wishing health and glory to his precious ally the Emperor of
Austria.



September 27, 1890. [13]

When Germany agreed to withdraw her armies from the soil of France, she
replaced them by other soldiers: crossing-sweepers, clerks, workmen,
bankers (industrials or "reptiles" as the case might be), as well
organised, linked up and drilled as her best troops. Unceasingly,
therefore, and without rest, it behoves us to be on our guard and to
defend ourselves.

A good many amiable Frenchmen will shrug their shoulders at this, but
if we act otherwise we shall be delivered over to our enemies, bound
hand and foot, at the psychological moment.

And now, dear reader, to return to William II. You will grant, I
think, that since we have followed the interminable zig-zags of his
wanderings throughout Europe, we are entitled to coin and utter a new
proverb: "A rolling monarch gathers no prestige."



November 1, 1890. [14]

For mastodons like Bismarck, William II prepares a refrigerating
atmosphere which freezes them alive. Splendid mummies like Von Moltke
he smothers with flowers. The men whom William dismisses and discards
are great men in the eyes of Germany, even though in history they may
not be so, because the ex-Chancellor is of inferior character, and
because certain successes of Von Moltke were due rather to luck than
design. Nevertheless, they are in William's way and he gets rid of
them, by different means. He needs about him men of a different stamp
to those of the iron age; for the present, he is satisfied with
courtiers, later he will demand valets. All those who are of any
worth, all those who stand erect before his shadow, will be sacrificed
sooner or later. His autocratic methods will end by producing the same
results as those of the most jealous of democracies.

Let us bear in mind how often, under Bismarck and William I, the German
Press made mock of our fatal French mania for change, pointing out to
Europe how the everlasting see-saw of Ministers of War was bound to
reduce our national defences to a position of inferiority. In two
years William is at his fourth!

Soon, no doubt, William II will be able to score a personal success in
the matter of his intrigues against Count Taaffe. His benevolence
spares not his allies. We know the measure of his good-will towards
Italy. Lately, it seems, the Emperor, King of Prussia, said to the
Count of Launay, King Humbert's Ambassador at Berlin, "Do not forget
that, sooner or later, Trieste is destined to become a German port."
And it was doubtless with this generous idea in his mind that he had
his compliments conveyed to M. Crispi for his anti-irridentist speech
at Florence.

That the Triple Alliance is the "safeguard of peace," has become a
catchword that each of the allies repeats with wearisome reiteration.
But there! It is not that William II does not wish for war: it is
Germany which forbids him to seek it. It was not M. Crispi who
declined to seek a pretext for attacking France: it was Italy that
forbade him to find it. It is not the Germanised Austrians who
hesitate to provoke Russia: it is the Slavs who threaten that if a
provocation takes place they will revolt.

Let me add that the official organs in Germany, Italy and Vienna only
raise a smile nowadays when they describe Russia and France as
thunderbolts of war.



November 12, 1890. [15]

At the outset of the reign of William II, referring to his father, I
spoke of the "dead hand" and its power over the living. Now, what has
the young King of Prussia done since his accession to the Throne? He,
the flatterer of Bismarck, this disciple of Pastor Stöker, this
out-and-out soldier, this hard and haughty personage, who was wont to
blame his august parents for their bourgeois amiability and their
frequent excursions? He carries out everything that his father
planned, but he does it under impulse from without and he does it
badly, without forethought, without the sincerity or the natural
quality which is revealed in a man by a course of skilful action
legitimate in its methods.

He smashed Von Bismarck in brutal fashion. His father, on the other
hand, was wont to say: "I will not touch the Chancellor's statue, but I
will remove the stones, one by one, from his pedestal, so that some
fine day it will collapse of itself."

It is a curious thing that these reforms and ideas, not having been
applied by the monarch whose character would have harmonised perfectly
with their conception and execution, now possess no reversionary value.
They lose it completely by being subjected to a false paternity.

It is true that occasionally William II envoys some real satisfaction,
such as that which he has derived from the coming of the King of
Belgium. So impatient was His Majesty to return his visit, that he
could not wait for the good season and therefore he came in the bad.
At Ostend, Leopold II had caused sand to be strewn at William's coming
(the beach being conveniently handy). The King of Prussia only spread
mud. Why was the King of Belgium in such a hurry? After the visit of
General Pontus to Berlin and his three days in retirement with the
German headquarters staff, people at Brussels are still asking what
more King Leopold could possibly have to settle in person with Messrs.
Moltke and Waldersee at these same headquarters?

The _Courier de Bruxelles_ informs us that certain proposals for an
alliance were made to Leopold II during his stay at Potsdam. What!
Could Prussia possibly have dared to think of laying an impious hand
upon Belgian neutrality! But if not, why should they have been at such
pains formerly to prove to me that the thing was inconceivable?
Prussia wants a Belgian alliance and the King refuses. Splendid! But
let him tell us so himself! I confess that such a document would
interest me far more than all that I have published on the subject!
May not the explanation of King Leopold's journey be, that William II
would like a mobilisation in Belgium just as he wants one in Italy? M.
Bleichroder will supply the cash. He has already got his bargain
money, viz. Pastor Stöcker in disgrace, and the repudiation of
anti-Semitism by its ex-partisan, William II.



November 27, 1890. [16]

How can one avoid taking an interest in William II of Hohenzollern? He
is one of those people who, by every means and in every way, insist on
being noticed. This up-to-date Emperor is obsessed by the idea of
making profit, for purposes of advertisement, out of every sensation;
he loves to upset calculations and produce every kind of astonishment.
He believes that he has not fulfilled his part, until he has made a
number of people lift their arms to heaven at least once a day and
exclaim: "William is marvellous!" He wants to hear this cry arise from
the humblest and the highest, from the miner's gallery and the palace
of his "august confederates," from the workman's cottage and the homes
of the middle-class, from the officers' club, from church and chapel,
from the Parliament of the Empire and the House of Peers.

Being _blasé_ himself, it pleases him to tickle public opinion with
spicy fare; his lack of mental balance compels him to these endless and
senseless choppings and changes, to all these schemes projected,
proclaimed and cast aside.

The former Court of his grandfather is already in ruins, the work of
Bismarck crumbling in the dust; in less than no time he has reduced the
old aristocratic and feudal Prussian monarchy to the purest kind of
democratic Caesarism.

Perched above every political party in Germany, William the Young wants
to be the one and only ruler and judge of all. Among themselves let
them differ as and when they will, it being always understood that all
these separate opinions must equally be sacrificed to the Emperor.

Before long the King of Prussia will endeavour to be at one and the
same time the spiritual head of the Lutheran Church and the temporal
Pope of the Catholic Church, the leader of economists, the cleverest of
stategists, the one and only socialist, the most marvellous incarnation
of the warrior of German legends, the greatest pacifist of modern
times, explorer in his day and soothsayer whenever he likes. In his
own eyes, William is all these.

Have not the delegates of the old House of Peers ingenuously complained
during these last few days that they no longer possess any initiative
of legislation? But they have just as much or as little as the
honourable members of the Prussian Diet.

All schemes of reform emanate from the Emperor. The people have no
right to be Emperor. Surely that is simple enough?

To bulk larger in the public eye, William dwells apart; he can no
longer endure that any one should presume to think himself useful or
agreeable to him or to give him advice. He is fulfilling the
prediction that he made of himself when he was twenty-one: "When I come
to reign I shall have no friends; I shall only have dupes."

More infatuated with himself than ever, the Emperor wears his mystic
helmet _à la_ Lohengrin, tramples the purple underfoot and has the
throne surrounded by his life-guards, wearing the iron-plated bonnets
of the days of Frederick II. Thus he deludes himself with the dream of
absolute authority. His mania for power is boundless, his pride knows
no limits. He recognises only God and Himself.

To his recruits, he says: "After having sworn fidelity to your masters
upon earth, swear the same oath to your Saviour in Heaven!"

But in his moments of solitude, in the privacy of the potentate's
toilet-chamber, must it not be dreadful for him to reflect that his
silver helmet rests on ears that suppurate, that his voice comes from a
mouth afflicted with fistula of the bone, and that there are days when
his sceptre is at the mercy of the surgeon's knife?



December 11, 1890. [17]

The rumour has spread, and has not yet been authoritatively
contradicted, that William is suffering from disease of the brain. Is
not this in itself good and sufficient reason to make him wish to prove
that no one in his Empire can do as much brain work as he can? We,
whose minds are so confused in the endeavour to follow William's
movements at a distance, where little things escape us, can imagine
what it must be to observe them from close at hand!

One of the chief glories of his reign will be to have produced the
diagnosis of a new disease, "locomotor Caesarism" of the restless type.
Before his case, these symptoms were always associated with paralysis.
Here is a discovery that may turn out to be more genuine that that of
Dr. Koch.

The unfortunate Koch is one more of William's victims. It was his
Imperial will that Germany should wake up one morning to find herself
possessed of a Pasteur of her own. He could not even wait long enough
to allow the necessary experiments to be made with a remedy which is so
violent that it may well be mortal. At the word of command "Forward,
march," Koch found himself propelled by His Majesty into the position
of a benevolent genius.


Dr. Henri Huchard has expressed his opinion of Koch's method in the
following words: "In therapeutics, daring is always permissible, so
long as it preserves its respect for human life."

A few days ago, the German Emperor was thrusting his advice on a man of
science, to-day he is overthrowing the most venerable traditions of the
Prussian monarchy with the scheme of M. Miguel, the new system, for
taxing incomes and legacies, opening a campaign against the nobility
and the old conservatives. With the help of an official of the
"younger generation" - for thus is he pleased to describe his Minister
of Finance - he begins to make war on the "old school."

With the "old school" in his mind's eye, he conceives another idea,
namely, that of a new method of teaching in the elementary, secondary
and high schools, upon which it will be unnecessary to improve for the
next hundred years. He sets the faithful M. Hinzpeter to work, and
compels him to toil night and day to prepare a complete programme in
all haste - whereupon behold the Emperor holding forth to the collegians
just as he does to the recruits.

"Down with Latin!" cries William. "Let us make Germans instead of
Greeks and Romans! Let us teach our children the practical side of
life." All of which does not prevent him from adding: "Let us teach
them the fabulous history of our race."

William insists that his name shall be on every lip - that he be
recognised as father of his workmen, father of collegians, father of
the country at large. It is his ambition to look upon all his subjects
as his sons. Much good may it do them!



December 27, 1890. [18]

The Emperor of Germany, determined supporter of triumphant militarism,
and, therefore, the deadly enemy of every permanent and beneficial
social reform, has suddenly stopped short in his attempts to improve
the condition of the masses.

If you ask: To whom does William II give satisfaction? the only
possible answer is: Himself! For it matters nothing to him whether
these plans of his succeed or fail. The thing that does matter to him
is, that he should have left his mark everywhere, and that, after a
quarter of a century or more, legislators shall inevitably find, in
every project of law, the sacred mark, the holy seal of William's mind.



[1] From _La Nouvelle Revue_, of April 15, 1890, "Letters on Foreign
Policy."

[2] This paper had been, till then, in the service of Prince Bismarck.

[3] _La Nouvelle Revue_, May 1, 1890, "Letters on Foreign Policy."

[4] _La Nouvelle Revue_, May 15, 1890, "Letters on Foreign Policy."

[5] _La Nouvelle Revue_, June 1, 1890, "Letters on Foreign Policy."

[6] _La Nouvelle Revue_, June 15, 1890, "Letters on Foreign Policy."

[7] Several pages of the "Letters on Foreign Policy" of June 12 give
proofs, undeniable and complete, that the preparation of crimes
committed by anarchists in Europe was instigated at Berlin, William
knowing and approving the fact.

[8] _La Nouvelle Revue_, July 16, 1890, "Letters on Foreign Policy."

[9] _La Nouvelle Revue_, August 1, 1890, "Letters on Foreign Policy."

[10] _La Nouvelle Revue_, August 16, 1890, "Letters on Foreign Policy."

[11] _La Nouvelle Revue_, September 1, 1890, "Letters on Foreign
Policy."

[12] _La Nouvelle Revue_, September 15, 1890, "Letters on Foreign
Policy."

[13] _La Nouvelle Revue_, October 1, 1890, "Letters on Foreign Policy."

[14] _La Nouvelle Revue_, November 1, 1890, "Letters on Foreign Policy."

[15] _La Nouvelle Revue_, November 16, 1890, "Letters on Foreign
Policy."

[16] _La Nouvelle Revue_, December 1, 1890, "Letters on Foreign Policy."

[17] _La Nouvelle Revue_, December 15, 1890, "Letters on Foreign
Policy."

[18] _La Nouvelle Revue_, January 1, 1891, "Letters on Foreign Policy."




CHAPTER II

1891-1892


The danger to France of a _rapprochement_ with Germany - The Empress
Frederick's visit to Paris - William II as _summus episcopus_ of the
German Evangelical Church - Reception of the Alsace-Lorraine deputation in
Berlin - The law against espionage in Germany: every German is a spy
abroad - Christening of the Imperial yacht, the _Hohenzollern_ - Further
increase of the military effective force in peace-time - The _Youth of
William the Second_, by Mr. Bigelow.


January 12, 1891. [1]

The Berlin _Post_ thinks that we should be able to get on very well
without Alsace-Lorraine, and that the best thing for us to do, if we are
"reasonable souls," is simply to become reconciled with Germany. The
reasonable ones among us are directed to prove to us others (who must
needs be "gloomy lunatics") the folly of believing in the Russian
alliance, and gently to prepare us for a last and supreme act of cowardly
surrender - namely, to give William II a friendly reception at Cannes or
in Paris.

The chief argument with which they would persuade us is, that Berlin is
quite willing to receive our philosophers and our doctors. But we are
more than quits on this score, seeing the number of Germans that we
entertain and enrich in Paris. To prove that we owe them nothing in the
matter of hospitality, it should be enough to ascertain on the 27th inst.
how many Germans will celebrate the birthday of William II in one of our
first-rate hotels.

Heaven be praised, hatred of the Hohenzollerns is not yet dead in France!
If it be true that the corpse of an enemy always smells sweet, the person
of a living enemy must always remain hateful.

Before we discuss the possibility of the King of Prussia visiting Paris,
however, let us wait until M. Carnot has been to Berlin.



January 29, 1891. [2]

The nearer we approach to 1900, the less desire have I to be up-to-date.
I persist in the belief that the solution of the problems of European
policy in which France is concerned, would have been more readily
attainable by an old fashioned fidelity to the memory of our misfortunes
than by scorning to learn by our experience.

Certain well-meaning, end-of-the century sceptics may be able lightly to
throw off that past in which they have (or believe they have) lost
nothing, whilst we of the "mid-century" are borne down under its heavy
burden. These people neglect no occasion to advise us to forget and they
do it gracefully, lightly showing us how much more modern it is to crown
oneself with roses than to continue to wear tragically our trailing
garments of affliction and mourning.

I should be inclined to judge with more painful severity those witty
writers who advise us to light-hearted friendship with Bismarck the
"great German," with William the "sympathetic Emperor", with Richard
Wagner "the highest expression of historical poetry and musical art,"
those men who prepared and who perpetuate Prussia's victories - I should
judge them differently, I say, were it not that I remember my former
anger against the young decadents and the older _roués_ in the last days
of the Empire.

All of them used to make mock of patriotism in a jargon mixed with slang
which greatly disturbed the minds of worthy folk, who became half ashamed
at harbouring, in spite of themselves, the ridiculous emotions "of
another age."

But these same decadents and _roués_, after a period of initiation
somewhat longer than that which falls to the lot of ordinary mortals,
behaved very gallantly in the Terrible Year.

True, in order to convince them that they had been wrong in regarding the
theft of Schleswig-Holstein as a trifle, wrong in applauding the victory
of Sadowa, and declaring that each war was the last, it required such
disasters, that not one of us can evoke without trembling the memory of
those events, whose lurid light served to open the eyes of the blindest.

"Understand this," Nefftzer was wont to insist (before 1870), "we can
never wish that Prussia should be victorious without running the risk of
bringing about our own defeat; we must not yield to any of her
allurements nor even smile at any of her wiles."

If the people of Paris applaud Wagner, he who believed himself to be the
genius of victorious Germany personified, it can only be in truth that
Paris has forgotten. And in that case, there will only be left, of those
who rightly remember, but a few mothers, a few widows, a few old
campaigners and your humble servant!

So that we may recognise each other in this world's wilderness, we will
wear in our button-holes and in our bodices that blue flower which grows
in the streams of Alsace-Lorraine, the forget-me-not!

And we shall vanish, one by one, disappearing with the dying century,
_that is, unless some surprise of sudden war, such as one must expect
from William II, should cure us of our antiquated attitude_.

Need I speak of these rumours of disarmament, wherewith the German Press
now seeks to lull us, rumours which spread the more persistently since,
at last, we have come to believe in our armaments?

"Germany is satisfied and seeks no further conquests," says William II.
But does it follow that we also should be satisfied with the bitter
memories of our defeats, and resolved that, no matter what may happen, we
shall never object to Prussia's victories? I never forget that William
II, as a Prince, in his grandfather's time, said, "When I come to the
Throne I shall do my best to make dupes." This rumour of disarmament is
part of his dupe-making. The real William reveals himself in his true
colours when he awakens his aide-de-camp in the middle of the night, to
go and pay a surprise visit to the garrison at Hanover.

In Militarism the German Emperor finds his complete expression and the
emblem of his character. His empire is not a centralised empire and only
the army holds it together.

And for this reason William has favoured the army this year at the
expense of all the other public services, by increasing its peace-footing
strength and the number of its officers, by ordering more than two
hundred locomotives and a corresponding amount of rolling stock intended
to expedite mobilisation. Seventy new batteries have been formed. The
artillery has been furnished with new ammunition, the infantry with new
weapons, and the strategic network of railways has been completed!

Abroad, every one, friends and enemies alike, think as I do on the
subject of disarmament.

"This plaything of William the Second's leisure moments," says _The
Standard_ (although a fervent admirer of Queen Victoria's grandson),
"this disarmament idea, is a myth." Our faithful and loyal supporter,
the _Sviet_, says the same thing: "Disarmament is a myth, Germany talks
of it unceasingly, but she strengthens her frontiers, east and west. On
the north," adds the Russian organ, "she is converting Heligoland into a
fortress; on the south-east, she is increasing the defences of Breslau,
and holds in readiness two thousand axle-trees _of the width of the
Russian railways_."

It is only in France that a few up-to-date journalists take this
disarmament talk of the German Emperor quite seriously. To them, we may


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