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you say. " prosit," and you look him in the eye. If
he feels thirsty, he says, " I come immediately ; " if
he wishes to delay the response, he says, " I come
soon," but he must not forget you ; when next he
drinks, you are the friend with whom he " comes."
And sometimes the German rises to propose the
company, and he says, " I drink my bloom," where-
upon the entire company drinks the bloom ; or if he
be exceedingly thirsty, he says, " I drink my bloom,
and that which hangs thereto " — and he empties his
glass. There may be small men in the party to
whom " that which hangs thereto " may be more than
sufficient, but if they wish to be strictly polite they
must not leave a drop. These are only a few among
hundreds of rules, observed most rigidly among the
students and in the drinking clubs.

One evening I walked out to a little tavern among
the Thuringian hills, one of those quiet places at the
end of a beautiful stroll which the German loves. It



Common Things 21

was a curious old place, smoky-raftered and hung
with prints half a century old. The long tables
were filled with men and women and a sprinkling
of children, and the beer flowed free. Along in
the evening a white-bearded old man came around
and distributed a leaflet on which was printed a
German song. After every one was supplied, the old
man struck a gong, and at once the whole party
began to sing with right good-will, — joyously and
unaffectedly. There were, as I knew, solid German
citizens and business men in the company, as well
as students and workmen with their wives ; for a
German beer resort is nothing if not democratic.
All these sang together and enjoyed it well, stopping
at places indicated in the song by the words, " beer-
pause," and after a long look into the tall wooden
mugs, they sang again. It was really delightful
enough in its entire simplicity and complete socia-
bility, but the sentiment of the songs — and there
were many of them — was amusing enough to a
stranger. They were not singing love ditties or
national hymns, nor yet music-hall ballads. Each
song was the work of a local poet, and it expressed
in highflown language the glories of this particular
beer-place, — how good the beer was, how jolly and
benevolent and honest the host was, what a splendid
view there was from the windows, how sweet the bar-
maid looked, and such sausages as she served ! And



2 2 Seen in Germany

business men and all, they sang the glories of the
place for an hour or more, and then they walked
home in the cool of the evening, sober but sociable.
One could not help thinking how shy an American
or an English gathering would have been in express-
ing such warm sentiments for a host ; they would
have felt that they were being used for advertising
purposes ; and there is nothing that sooner stings
the dignity of your American.

The German has not reached the point of revolt
against advertising. Like everything else, advertising
is limited by law ; the cities provide certain large
wooden columns at street intersections upon which
placards may be pasted, and the streets are not dis-
figured by dead-walls bearing patent-medicine adver-
tisements. One coming into New York or any other
American city must perforce be impressed with the
virtues of somebody's soap or pain-killer painted in
letters that seem to fill the landscape, and in London
the trams and 'buses are one mass of traveling adver-
tisements. This disfigurement is unknown in Ger-
many, and yet the Germans have their own effective
methods of proclaiming the excellence of their wares.
Look at the gimcrack toy which your boy is playing
with, and you will find upon it the words, " Made in
Germany," and if you travel in Germany you will
find that you are very persistently plied with circulars
and pamphlets by post and otherwise. Last summer




1



s
5



24 Seen in Germany

Barnuni's circus visited Germany for the first time,
and brought with it American methods of advertis-
ing. I am not exaggerating when I say that Barnum
paralyzed the Germans, — both paralyzed and scan-
dalized them. They did n't think it possible for any
business enterprise to make so much noise ; it was
positively undignified. For Barnum bought up store-
windows and store-fronts by the hundreds, and his
enormous colored prints, such as had never before
been seen in Germany, told the wonders of the show
to gaping multitudes. They disapproved of all this,
but they went to the show. I heard complaints
afterwards that the circus was too big ; they, felt that
they were losing money when there were perform-
ances in three rings, and they could see only one
at a time.

The Germans, as a rule, disapprove of all for-
eigners, especially the English and French, and dur-
ing our Spanish war they hated us most ardently. I
don't know that the Germans are peculiar in this
respect ; every country thinks best of its own. But
the individual German ordinarily treats a stranger
with the greatest kindness and hospitality. I have
had a hundred examples of this. Curiously enough,
the ordinary German — I do not refer to the edu-
cated classes — cannot tell foreigners apart, not even
a Frenchman from an Englishman, except, of course,
those Germans who live on the French border.



Common Things 25

The reason for this is simple. Unlike New York,
for instance, where all the races of the earth dwell
together in unity, Berlin, and most other German
cities, are most uncosmopolitan. The proportion of
foreign residents is exceedingly small, so that the
Germans have had little experience in distinguishing
nationalities. Recently, however, Italians have ap-
peared in Germany, to do such hard manual labor
as they do in New York.

The German experiences especial difficulty in dis-
tinguishing Americans from Englishmen. Several
times during the Boer war, when the anti-British
feeling was strongest, street boys called after us,
" English, English, poison-throwers," — no doubt re-
ferring to the throwing of lyddite shells by the
British forces in South Africa.

But I heard of one German who knew an Ameri-
can every time he saw him. He was a professor of
ethnology, — a gentle, absent-minded old man who
wore thick prism glasses that made his eyes stare out
blue and big, giving him a look of perpetual aston-
ishment. He had made a study of the craniums of
his American students, and it was amusing enough to
find that he looked upon Americans as a class, as
incipient red Indians. He had formed the curious
theory that all Americans, owing to the nature of
their climate, and other conditions of environment,
were gradually acquiring the characteristics of the



26 Seen in Germany

Indian aborigines, — high cheek-bones, straight,
coarse hair, and a bronze-colored complexion. I
learned that he sometimes stopped Americans on
the streets and requested the privilege of examining
their cheek-bones, always with a look of humorous
astonishment. 1 suppose that in time we shall have
a voluminous and learned monograph on the sub-
ject, done as only a German professor can do it.

The ordinary German has a rather hazy idea of
America and Americans, although it is perhaps as
clear as the ordinary English idea. He knows
Milwaukee, for he has a cousin there ; he knows
Hoboken, for that is where the German ships land ;
and he has heard of Niagara Falls and Chicago.
The only Americans 1 ever heard mentioned, not
of course among the educated people, who are toler-
ably familiar with things American, were Carl Schurz,
Dewey, and McKinley. The Spanish-American war
did more than anything else has ever done to educate
Europe on American affairs. Previous to 1898, they
heard of our lynchings, train-robberies, political dis-
honesty, and international marriages, which confirmed
them in the view that we were vulgar, energetic, and
rich ; but now the papers contain a good deal of
American news. All Americans, it may be said in
passing, are still regarded as rich.

An English-speaking stranger in Germany is as-
tonished by the wide knowledge of his language, and



Common Thin



gs 27



not only among hotel porters, waiters, and others who
have special need to cater to the tourist element, hut
among business men who seldom meet tourists, shop-
keepers, barbers, and, of course, professors, military
officers, and so on. An ordinary tourist who wishes
merely to see the country, has little need of knowl-
edge of the German language. English is the great-
est of commercial languages, with a world-wide use,
and it is quite necessary to business enterprise, es-
pecially in foreign countries, for the German to be
able to speak English fluently. As a result, thou-
sands of young Germans go to Great Britain every
year and serve an apprenticeship in English business-
houses, barber-shops, restaurants, hotels, and the
like, gaining a knowledge of the language and of the
weights and measures, and at the same time studying
business methods generally. Indeed, England has
unintentionallv given much of the instruction that
has enabled the German to win some of his greatest
business triumphs of recent years, so that the pupil
now threatens the commercial supremacy of the
master. During this preliminary service in England,
the German is willing to work for little or nothing,
considering his occupation in the light of an educa-
tional course. Thus London is brimful of Germans,
— barber-shops with only an English-speaking pro-
prietor, restaurants that swarm with German waiters,
and shops that employ German workmen. Of late



28 Seen in Germany

years many German boys go to Ireland to learn
the language, and acquire at the same time the
Irish middle-class opinion of England, which they
cherish and propagate on their return to their native
land. Perhaps that is one of the sources of Ger-
man dislike for the Englishman. Another thing that
the German boy acquires in Ireland is a rich and
varied brogue, and one of the most amusing things
one hears in Germany is the waiter who speaks
German-Irish-Enplish. A music-hall comedian who
could adequately imitate this combination as I have
frequently heard it, would certainly make his for-
tune. Next to this in ludicrousness is the Cock-
ney English of many porters and waiters, learned,
I have no doubt, within the sound of Bow Bells.
Much of the language acquirements of the waiter-
class is, however, barely skin deep. Talk about
food, forks, and fees, and the waiter understands in-
stantly ; but ask him a question outside of the realm
of the dining-room, and he is lost, and so are you.
Some Germans of the better class come to America
to learn the language ; but this, as I understand, is
looked upon with disfavor, for many of those who
come never return, finding undreamed-of business
chances here, to say nothing of plenty of German
society. I met a young German, the son of a
general in the imperial army, who was, moreover,
a " von." He had been in New York for nearly



Common Things



29



two years, he spoke English fluently, and he was
returning to do his final service of four weeks in the
army. A military career in Germany was open to




A German Double-Deck Tram-Car

him, and it had been his intention in America merely
to learn the language; but he liked American life so
well that he had decided to return and make his
home in New York.

A hundred and one small things point significantly



30 Seen in German^



to the recent remarkable developments in Germany,
and they are quite as convincing as the difficult gov-
ernment statistics of industrial progress, exports, and
growth of population. In no fewer than three hotels
at which I stopped, I was lighted to bed with an
old-fashioned candle in a quaint brass candlestick,
and in each case the porter apologized, and ex-
plained that they were just then fitting the building
with electricity, and that in another month or more
every room would have its own incandescent lamps.
We in America have been content to take our pro-
gress more slowly. From the candle-stage we rose to
the kerosene-oil lamp, and from that we drifted to
the gaslight-stage, and that in turn was superseded
by electricity. But the German has made a swift
leap from dim candlehood to the blaze of electric-
light-hood, — and not only in hotels, but in private
houses and business buildings. In the same way, the
transit system of many German cities has been sud-
denly transformed from crude lumbering 'buses
dravvn by horses, to the most approved electric cars
and automobiles, skipping entirely the intermediary
stages of horse cars, cable cars, and often passing
even the trolley stage, and springing at once to the
underground wire or storage system. When the
German made up his mind to advance, he advanced
all the way ; he took no half measures. An Amer-
ican engineer who was visiting Germany after an



Common Things 3 1

absence of three years, told me that the great cities,
especially Hamburg, Berlin, Nuremberg, and a few
others, actually seemed made over in the short time
since his last visit.

*' Lightning has literally struck Germany," he
said, and he pointed out how the cities blazed with
electricity, — streets, show-windows, hotels, restau-
rants, and private dwellings. Berlin is brilliant com-
pared with London. Indeed, no country in the
world, not even the United States, is advancing more
rapidly in electrical development than Germany.

Then there is the matter of the development of
the mechanical sense among the people at large. I
sometimes think that we Americans are becoming a
race of mechanics ; we are surrounded by machines
of more or less intricate mechanism, and we learn to
operate them, take them apart and repair them.
The principles of machinery are coming to us
with our grammar and geography. We have bicy-
cles, sewing-machines, phonographs ; we play on
pianos by machinery ; our farmers are literally sur-
rounded by machines ; we talk by telephone and use
call bells; we speak of currents and cut-offs, dynamos
and batteries, with easy familiarity ; we ride in ma-
chines and we write with machines. And Germany
seems to be following in the same direction. Nearly
every town of any consequence in Germany has one
or more agencies for American sewing-machines and



32 Seen in Germany

for the American kodak. Bicycles and tricycles are
everywhere, and motor-carriages can be seen in the
streets of most of the cities. All large new buildings
are being fitted with elevators and call-bell systems,
though in most cases the elevators are very tame
affairs in the matter of speed. Indeed, so new is the
elevator that there exists a humorous confusion of
names. In some places it goes by the English name
" lift ; " in some, by the American name " elevator ; "
in others, by the French term ; while the patriotic
Germans call it in some instances, " fahrstuhl," and
in others, " aufzug." The slot machine has also had
a remarkable development in Germany. At many
railway stations, if one wishes to go out on the plat-
form to meet a friend, he must perforce drop a ten-
pfennig piece (two and a half cents) in a slot machine
and draw a ticket. He may buy unlimited postal
cards, candy, and gimcracks at slot-machines ; he
may drop the equivalent of a penny in the slot and
hear phonographic music, or see moving pictures.
But the most notable development of all is the
automatic restaurant. There are several of these
curious institutions in Berlin, two very fine ones in
Friedrich Strasse, and they are also to be found in
other German cities. They are large, brilliantly
fitted rooms, with metal and glass walls which con-
tain a great number of pockets and slots. Supposing
you wish a glass of beer and a sandwich, you drop



Common Things 33

your twenty-pfennig piece in the proper beer-place,
and having set a glass underneath a spout, you turn
a handle and immediately your glass is foaming full.
Then you cross the room to the sandwich depart-
ment, where, through a glass wall, you may see all
the varieties of sandwiches in stock. When you
have selected the kind you wish, a coin in the slot
will cause it to drop out on a little shelf, and thence
to a plate or into your hand. Should you desire
coffee, milk, salad, cold meat, preserves, and in some
cases warm dishes, they are all to be had for the
dropping of a coin, and the food furnished is well
cooked and fresh. Tables are provided at which one
may stand or sit and eat his lunch. One would
think that such institutions would in nowise attract
the leisurely German, who loves to sit long over his
beer and sausages; but they are quite as popular as
our own quick-lunch restaurants, being especially
crowded in the evenings.

There are many other evidences that the German
is deep in the dust and grime of the machinery
age. In more than one great manufacturing estab-
lishment hundreds of labor-saving machines of Amer-
ican make are to-day in operation, whole plants,
indeed, being fitted with them throughout.

I had the pleasure while in Berlin of visiting the
factory where the Mauser rifle, the best known of
military small arms, is made. It is a huge plant,

3



34 Seen in Germany

fitted with hundreds of lathes, boring machines,
screw-making machines, and so on, and what was
my astonishment to see on nearly all of the machines
the name of a well-known Connecticut manufacturer.
These Connecticut machines made the rifles with
which the Spaniards shot our soldiers at San Juan
and El Caney. Indeed a great manufacturing estab-
lishment in Berlin is engaged solely in the manufac-
ture of machinery of various sorts from American
models. In science we have learned much from the
Germans ; in machinery the Germans are learning
much from us. And this introduction of labor-
saving devices is going on all over the empire to a
degree that can hardly be realized by a foreigner ;
it is one of the causes of the greatly increased output
of German factories.



II



THE KAISER



II

THE KAISER

His Personality and his Passions

THE American visitor who sees William II.
of Germany for the first time is curi-
ously impressed with the influence of the
comic paper. He discovers that his im-
agination in picturing the Kaiser has followed the
exaggerations of the caricaturist rather than the sober
reality of the photograph. For the German Kaiser
is not at all what his caricaturists, at least his foreign
caricaturists, make him. In the first place, he is
not a large man, neither tall, nor inordinately broad
of shoulders. Somehow it is the natural bent of
the human mind to associate majesty with physical
bigness. I believe the old Egyptians represented
their Ptolemys and Rameses as giants. And
William, who knows the psychology of royalty to
the seventh shading, has built high on this feeling.
Any one of the seventy-eight court photographers,
more or less, in Berlin, will tell you how carefully
William always arranges the groupings when he is



38 Seen in Germany

to have his picture taken in company with others ;
and a study of the resulting photographs will show
how, almost invariably, William looms tall above
the shorter men who surround him. A favorite
picture represents the Kaiser standing side by
side with the famous artist, Menzel, whose four
feet, something, of stature gives William the frame
of a Goth. In one of the galleries there is a por-
trait of the Kaiser in full naval uniform, standing
on the bridge of one of his ships of war. The
canvas, which is so hung as to strike the visitor
as he enters the doorway, is of enormous size and
the figure of the emperor stands out of it with
gigantic impressiveness. Even in many of his
smaller pictures, the cabinet photographs, the camera
has been moved so close that the Kaiser's face
nearly fills the plate, thereby giving an extraordinary
impression of hugeness. The caricaturists have
naturally exaggerated the suggestions given by these
various portraits, and it is with something of a
shock that one realizes, for the first time, that the
Kaiser is, after all, only a man of common stature,
or less.

In other ways, also, a first view of the Kaiser
impresses one. A photograph gives no hint of
color. The Kaiser is a brown-faced man, the brown
of wind and weather, of fierce riding on land and of
a glaring sun on the sea. His face is thinner than




The German Kaiser



40 Seen in Germany

one has pictured and there is a hint of weariness
about the eyes. His hair gives the impression of
being thin, and his famous moustache is not so long
nor so jauntily fierce as one has imagined. There is
many a dry-goods clerk in Berlin who has out-
Kaisered the Kaiser in growing a moustache.

But, owing to the sin of retouching, there is one
thing that few of William's photographs show to
advantage, and it is the most impressive character-
istic of his face. And that is its singular sternness
in repose. Square, iron jaws, thin, firm lips, a
certain sharpness and leanness of visage, a penetra-
ting eye, all speak of invincible determination, pride,
dignity. Indeed, herein lies the force of personal
majesty, for William, however much one may smile
at his passion for royal display, has many of those
splendid attributes of character which would make a
man great in any sphere of life. It would be a large
company of Germans, indeed, among whom one
would fail to select him instinctively as the leader.
A first impression, therefore, may thus be summed
up : The Kaiser is less a great king than one has
imagined, and more a great man. The longer one
remains in Germany, and the more he learns of
William and his extraordinary activities, the deeper
grows this impression. We Americans have never
quite overcome our first prejudices against the Kaiser,
bred during the early days of his reign, when the



The Kaiser 41

mantle of royalty — and the Hohenzollern mantle
at that — was new to his shoulders, and he said
and did strange things ; but in Europe, where they
have grown accustomed to his vagaries, now, indeed,
much less pronounced in their manifestations, and
have set them down as the expressions of a strong
and original individuality, the Kaiser occupies a
place of high and genuine esteem. An American
who remains long in Germany feels this change in
sentiment strongly and when the Kaiser passes he
raises his hat with all the others, not merely be-
cause this is royalty, but because it is character
and strength of purpose.

As might be expected, the Kaiser is most popular
in his capital. One hearing a commotion on Unter
den Linden, with a flash of white plumes in the dis-
tance, and the swift clatter of hoofs, may well crowd
up to see. A pair of splendid horses, traveling like
the wind, two richly uniformed men on the box, and
the Kaiser, the Kaiserin, and another lady in the
open carriage behind. You observe that the Kaiser
sits with his back to the horses, giving the place of
honor to his wife, for William has set the highest
ideals in courtesy to women — the Anglo-Saxon
ideals, which often form a strong contrast to the
rougher Teutonic customs. He wears a glistening
silver helmet, which he touches with military precision
as the people on the streets shout and litt their hats.



42 Seen in Germany

No cavalcade of guards accompanies the carriage, and
there is apparently no effort to guard the lives of its
occupants, except in so far as they are protected by the
terrific speed at which the horses are always driven.
It is one of William's pleasures to show himselt and
his family frequently to his people and the royal
carriage may be seen at all hours in the streets of
Berlin. The Kaiser's departure from the palace is
always signalled by the fall of a flag, which serves as
a notification to the people to prepare for his ap-
pearance among them. Nearly every afternoon he
rides out, usually in uniform, with some of his staff
officers, galloping down the Linden and into the
Thiergarten, where he often spends an hour in
exercise.

The Kaiser appears to better advantage on horse-
back than when standing, being tall of body. He
has a great variety of uniforms and one may see him
many times and never see him clothed twice alike.
This diversity of dress is one manifestation of his
well-known love of display and pageantry. He
loves the outward manifestation of royalty, the sym-
bols of power, and he uses them without stint. Not
long ago an American professor attended a reception
in the royal palace given by the Kaiser to an associa-
tion of scientists, at which William appeared in the
gorgeous robes of royalty preceded by liveried cham-


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Online LibraryRay Stannard BakerSeen in Germany → online text (page 2 of 15)