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monarch than the War Lord foreign writers delight in painting him, is
evidently determined to rely only on his soldiers for every
eventuality at home as well as abroad.

Perhaps the best German authorities on Bismarck's falling-out with the
young Emperor are the statements regarding it to be found in the
memoranda supplied at the time by Prince Bismarck himself to Dr.
Moritz Busch; the Memoirs of Prince Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst,
subsequently Imperial Chancellor; and the monograph on Bismarck by Dr.
Hans Blum, one of the Chancellor's confidants. The memoranda supplied
to Busch make regrettably few references to the subject, beyond giving
the terms of the official resignation and some scanty addenda thereto;
but enough is said generally by Busch concerning Bismarck's
conversations to show that the Chancellor was deeply mortified by his
dismissal. Bismarck indeed expressly denies this in a conversational
statement quoted by an able Bismarckian writer of our own time, Dr.
Paul Liman; but in view of subsequent events and statements the denial
can hardly be taken as sincere. The passage referred to is as
follows: -

"I bear no grudge against my young master, who is fiery and
lively. He wishes to make all men happy, and that is very
natural at his age. I, for my part, believe perhaps less in
this possibility, and have told him so too. It is very
natural that a mentor like myself does not please him, and
that he therefore rejects my advice. An old carthorse and a
young courser go ill in harness together. Only politics are
not so easy as a chemical combination: they deal with human
beings. I wish certainly that his experiments may succeed,
and am not in the least angry with him. I stand towards him
like a father whom a son has grieved; the father may suffer
thereby, but all the same he says to himself, 'He is a fine
young fellow.' When I was young I followed my King
everywhere: now that I am old I can no longer accompany my
master when he travels so far. Accordingly it is unavoidable
that counsellors who remained closer to him should win his
confidence at my expense. He is very easily influenced when
one puts before him ideas which he supposes will happily
affect the condition of the people, and he can hardly wait
to put them into operation. The Kaiser will achieve
reputation at once: I have my own to watch over, to defend.
I have sacrificed myself for renown and will not place it in

Prince Hohenlohe's Memoirs are much more valuable in respect of
positive information, and especially in supplying an account of the
incident taken from the lips of the Emperor himself. The Prince was
without his great predecessor's ability, but was much more amiable and
sincere. He was, moreover, a friend of both the parties concerned, and
he impartially jotted down events at the time they occurred. Lastly,
if he was a courtier at heart, he was that not wholly unknown thing,
an honest one. Dr. Hans Blum is obviously a partisan of the great
Chancellor's, but he may also be referred to for a fairly connected
account of the fall and the events that succeeded it up to the time of
Bismarck's death on July 30, 1898.

Apart from the differences in the ages and temperaments of the Emperor
and the Chancellor, there were differences in their views as to
certain measures of policy. There was a difference of opinion as to
German policy regarding Russia. Friendship with that country had been
the policy of both Emperor William I and Bismarck, and the latter had
effected a reinsurance treaty with Russia, stipulating for Russian
neutrality in case of a war between Germany and France,
notwithstanding the subsistence of the Triple Alliance between
Germany, Austria, and Italy. The reinsurance treaty, which had been
made for a period of three years, was now about to expire, and while
Bismarck desired its renewal, the Emperor, in a spirit of loyalty to
Austria, was against the renewal, and the treaty was not renewed. This
was the "new course" as it regarded Russia. The difference with regard
to the anti-Socialist Laws has been referred to in our chapter on the

The Royal Order of September, 1852, which has been mentioned as
leading immediately to the resignation, regulated intercourse between
the Prussian Ministers and the Crown, its chief provision being that
only the Minister President, and not individual Ministers, should have
audience of the Emperor regarding matters of home and foreign policy.
The Emperor desired the abrogation of the Order, for he wished to
consult with the Ministers individually. The text of Bismarck's
official resignation, after describing the origin of the Order,

"If each individual Minister can receive commands from his
Sovereign without previous arrangement with his colleagues,
a coherent policy, for which some one is to be responsible,
is an impossibility. It would be impossible for any of the
Ministers, and especially for the Minister President, to
bear the constitutional responsibility for the Cabinet as a
whole. Such a provision as that contained in the Order of
1852 could be dispensed with under the absolute monarchy and
could also be dispensed with to-day if we returned to
absolutism without ministerial responsibility. But according
to the constitutional arrangements now legally in force the
control of the Cabinet by a President under the Order of
1852 is indispensable."

The Emperor replied to Prince Bismarck's resignation in a
communication which the reader, according to his disposition, will
regard as an effusion of the heart, immensely creditable to its
composer, a model of an official reply as demanded by circumstances, a
striking example of the art of throwing dust in the public eye, or an
equally striking contribution to the literature of excusable
hypocrisy. It was as follows: -

"MY DEAR PRINCE, - With deep emotion I learn from your
request of the 18th instant that you have decided to retire
from the offices which you have filled for long years with
incomparable success. I had hoped not to have been compelled
to entertain the thought of separation during our lives.
While, however, in full consciousness of the important
consequences of your retirement, I am forced to accustom
myself to the thought. I do so, it is true, with a heavy
heart, but in the strong confidence that the grant of your
request will contribute as much as possible to the
protection and preservation for as long as possible of a
life and strength of unreplaceable value to the Fatherland.

"The grounds you offer for your resignation convince me that
any further attempt to induce you to reconsider your
determination would have no prospect of success. I
acquiesce, therefore, in your wish by hereby graciously
releasing you from your offices as Imperial Chancellor,
President of my State Ministry, and Minister of Foreign
Affairs, and trust that your counsels and energy, your
loyalty and devotion, will not be wanting to me and the
country in the future also.

"I have considered it as one of the most valued privileges
in my life that at the commencement of my reign I had you at
my side as my first counsellor. What you have done and
achieved for Prussia and Germany, what you have done for my
House, my ancestors, and me, will remain to me and the
German people in grateful and imperishable memory. But also
in foreign countries your wise and energetic peace policy,
which I, too, in the future also, as a result of sincere
conviction, decide to take as the guiding line of my
conduct, will be always gloriously recognized. It is not in
my power to requite your services as they deserve. I must
rest satisfied with assuring you of my own and the country's
ineffaceable thanks. As a sign of this thanks I confer on
you the rank of a Duke of Lauenburg. I will also send you a
life-sized picture of myself.

"God bless you, my dear Prince, and grant you still many
years of an old age undisturbed and blessed with the
consciousness of duty faithfully done.

"In this disposition I remain to you and yours in the future
also your sincere, obliged, and grateful Emperor and King,


The Emperor has never, so far as is publicly known, issued, or caused
to be issued, an official account of the episode and its _péripéties_,
but the story he poured, evidently out of a full heart, into the ears
of Prince Hohenlohe, then Statthalter of Alsace-Lorraine, during a
midnight drive from the railway station at Hagenau to the hunting
lodge at Sufflenheim, is an historical document of practically
official authenticity. It appears as follows in the Prince's
Memoirs: -

"STRASBURG, 26 _April_, 1890.

"On the evening of the 23rd, nine o'clock, I drove with
Thaden and Moritz to Hagenau, there to await the arrival of
the Emperor. We spent the evening with circle-officer Klemm.
I went to bed at eleven o'clock in the guest-room, and slept
until half-past twelve. Moritz and Thaden drove to the
station with a view to changing their clothes in the train.
At one o'clock I was again at the station, when the Emperor
punctually arrived. I presented the gentlemen to him, and
turned over General Hahnke to Baron Charpentier and
Lieutenant Cramer, for them to conduct him to the hunting
ground. Our journey lasted about an hour, during which the
Emperor related without a pause the whole story of his
quarrel with Bismarck. According to this the coolness had
already begun in December. The Emperor then demanded that
something should be done about the Working Class Question.
The Chancellor was against doing anything. The Emperor held
the view that if the Government did not take the initiative,
the Reichstag, _i.e_. the Socialists, Centre and
Progressives, would take the matter in hand, and then the
Government would lag behind. The Chancellor wanted to lay
the anti-Socialist Bill with the expulsion paragraph again
before the Reichstag, dissolving the chamber if it did not
accept the Bill, and then, if it came to disturbances, to
take energetic measures. The Emperor objected, saying that
if his grandfather, after a long and glorious reign, were
forced to repress disturbances no one would think ill of
him. It was different in his case, who had as yet
accomplished nothing. People would reproach him with
beginning his reign by shooting down his subjects. He was
ready to act, but he wished to do it with a good conscience
after endeavouring to redress the well-founded grievances of
the workmen, or at least after doing everything to meet
their justifiable claims.

"The Emperor therefore demanded at a ministerial conference
the submission of ministerial edicts which should contain
what subsequently they in fact did contain. Bismarck would
not hear of it. The Emperor then laid the question before
the Council of State, and eventually obtained the edicts in
spite of Bismarck's opposition. Bismarck, however, secretly
continued his opposition, and tried to persuade Switzerland
to persevere with its idea of an International Labour
Conference. The attempt was rendered nugatory by the loyal
attitude of the Swiss Minister in Berlin, Roth. At the very
same time Bismarck was trying to influence the diplomatists
against the conference.

"The relations between the Emperor and Bismarck, already
shaken by these dissensions, were still further embittered
by the question of the Cabinet Order of 1852. Bismarck had
often advised the Emperor to summon the Ministers to him.
This the Emperor did, and as the intercourse became more
frequent Bismarck took it ill, was jealous, and dragged out
the Order of 1852 so as to keep Ministers from the Emperor.
The Emperor resisted and acquired the abrogation of the
Cabinet Order. Bismarck at first agreed, but gave no further
sign in the matter. The Emperor now demanded either that the
recission of the Order should be laid before him, or that
Bismarck should resign - a demand which the Emperor
communicated to Bismarck through General von Hahnke. The
Chancellor delayed, but at length gave in the resignation on
March 18th. It should be added that already, at the
beginning of February, Bismarck had told the Emperor that he
would retire. Afterwards, however, he declared that he had
thought the position over and would remain - a thing not
agreeable to the Emperor, though he made no remonstrance
until the affair of the Cabinet Order came in addition. The
visit of Windthorst to the Chancellor also gave rise to
unpleasantness, though it was not the deciding factor. In
any case the last three weeks were filled with disagreeable
conversations between the Emperor and the Chancellor. It
was, as the Emperor expressed it, a 'devil of a time,' and
the question was, as the Emperor himself said, whether the
dynasty Bismarck or the dynasty Hohenzollern should reign.
The Emperor spoke very angrily, too, about the article in
the _Hamburg News_. In foreign policy Bismarck, according to
the Emperor, went his own way, and kept back from the
Emperor much of what he did. 'Yes,' he said, 'Bismarck had
it conveyed to St. Petersburg that I wanted to adopt an
anti-Russian policy. But for that,' the Emperor added, 'he
had no proofs.'

"This conversation," concludes Prince Hohenlohe, "between
the Emperor and myself was told partly on the way to the
lodge and partly on the way back. Between came the shooting;
but there was no sport, as the Emperor took his stand in the
dark under a tree on which was a cock that did not 'call.'"

The following further extracts from the Hohenlohe Memoirs are given
rather with the object of showing the state of the political and
social atmosphere in which the quarrel took place than as throwing any
fresh light on its course. In June of the preceding year (1889) occurs
an entry which registers the first signs of the coming storm. Prince
Hohenlohe is telling of a visit he made in June to the Grand Duke of
Baden, whom he found irritated by Bismarck's proposal, made in
connection with the arrest of a Prussian police officer by the Swiss,
to close the frontier against the canton Aargau. The Grand Duke, the
Prince relates, quoted Herbert Bismarck as saying he "could not
understand his father any longer and that people were beginning to
believe he was not right in his head."

The next entry in the Journal is dated Strasburg, August 24th. It
concerns another meeting with the Grand Duke, who now told him that
Bismarck had changed his views and that these oscillations had puzzled
the Emperor and at the same time heightened his self-consciousness;
moreover, that the Emperor noticed that things were being kept back
from him and was becoming suspicious. There had already been a
collision between the Emperor and the Chancellor and the latter might
have to go. What then? Probably the Emperor thought of conducting
foreign policy himself - but that, added the Grand Duke, would be very

The feeling at Court regarding Bismarck's fall is shown by a passage
in the Memoirs about this time. It runs:

"At 1.30 p.m. dinner (at the palace) at which I sat between
Stosch and Kameke. The former told me much about his own
quarrel with Bismarck, and was as gay as a snow-king that he
can now speak freely and that the great man is no longer to
be feared. This comfortable sentiment is obvious here on all

The anecdote still current in Berlin, that Bismarck actually threw an
inkstand at the Emperor's head is reduced to its proper proportions by
the following entry:

"The Grand Duke of Baden, with whom I was yesterday, knows a
good deal about the recent crisis. He says the cause of the
breach between the Emperor and Chancellor was a question of
power, and that all other differences of opinion about
social legislation and other things were only secondary. The
chief ground was the Cabinet Order of 1852, which Bismarck
pressed on the attention of the Ministers without the
Emperor's knowledge, and so hindered them from going to make
their reports to the Emperor. The Emperor wanted the Order
rescinded, while Bismarck was against it. Nor had the
conversation with Windthorst led to the breach. A talk
between the Emperor and Bismarck about this conversation is
said to have been so tempestuous that the Emperor
subsequently said when describing it, 'He (Bismarck) all but
threw the inkstand at me.'" To Hohenlohe Bismarck said, as
Hohenlohe remarked that the resignation had surprised him,
"Me also," and that three weeks before he did not think
things would end as they had. Bismarck added: "However, it
was to be expected, for the Emperor is now quite determined
to rule alone."

Finally the Prince's Journal has the following:

"Two things struck me in these last three days: one that no
one has any time and every one is in a greater hurry than
before; and secondly, that individualities have expanded.
Every individual is conscious of himself, while before,
under the predominating influence of Prince Bismarck,
individualities shrank and were kept down. Now they are all
swollen like sponges placed in water. That has its
advantages, but also its dangers. The single-minded will is

The period between the great Chancellor's fall and his death nine
years later was marked by so many incidents as to make it almost as
_mouvementé_ as the period of the fall itself. He retired to
Friedrichsruh, all the more immediately as the new Chancellor, General
von Caprivi, showed such indecent haste in taking possession of the
official residence that a portion of Bismarck's furniture was broken
and rendered useless. That Bismarck retired with the angry feelings of
a Coriolanus in his heart, or, as Anglo-Saxon slang would have it, of
a "bear with a sore head," became evident only a few weeks later. He
was visited by the inevitable interviewer, and chose the _Hamburg
News_ as the medium of communicating to the world his opinion of the
new _régime_ and the men who were conducting it; and made use of that
paper with such instant vigour and acerbity that little more than two
months from his retirement elapsed before the new Chancellor thought
it advisable to issue instructions to Germany's diplomatic
representatives warning them carefully to distinguish between the
"present sentiments and views of the Duke of Lauenburg and those of
the erstwhile Prince Bismarck," and to pay no serious attention to the
former. Bismarck replied in the _Hamburg News_ that he would not allow
his mouth to be closed, and set about proving that he meant what he
said. Nothing the men of the "new course" could do met with his
approval. The first thing he fell foul of was the Anglo-German
agreement of July 1, 1890, which gave Germany Heligoland in exchange
for Zanzibar, deploring the badness of the bargain for Germany, and
evidently not foreseeing the importance that island's position,
commanding the approaches to the mouths of the Elbe and the Weser, was
afterwards to possess. Besides the friendliness with England, the
detachment of Germany from Russia in favour of Austria, also a feature
of the "new course," did not please him as tending to drive Russia
into the arms of France.

His prescience, however, in this respect was demonstrated when a year
later the Czar saluted a French squadron in the harbour of Cronstadt
to the strains of the "Marseillaise" and signed a secret agreement
that was alluded to four years later by the French Premier, M. Ribot,
in the French Chamber of Deputies, who spoke of Russia as "our ally,"
and was publicly announced in 1897, on the occasion of President Felix
Faure's visit to St. Petersburg, by the Czar's now famous employment
of the words "_deux nations amies et alliées_."

The ex-Chancellor was as little satisfied with the new tariff treaties
entered into by General Caprivi with Austria, Italy, Belgium, and
other countries, which the Emperor, wiser, as events have shown, than
his former Minister, characterized on their passage by Parliament as
the country's "salvation" (_eine rettende Tat_). The ex-Chancellor's
caustic but mistaken criticism was punished by the calculated neglect
of the Berlin authorities to invite him to the ceremonies attending
the celebration of the ninetieth birthday of his old comrade, General
von Moltke, in October, 1890, and that of his funeral in the following
April: still more publicly punished in connexion with the marriage of
his son Herbert.

The wedding of the latter to Countess Marguerite Hoyos was to take
place in Vienna on June 21, 1892, and on the 18th Prince Bismarck
started with his family to attend it. The journey was a species of
triumphal progress to Vienna, but it was to end in disappointment and
chagrin. As the result of representations from Germany, made doubtless
with the Emperor's assent, if not at his suggestion, Bismarck was met
on his arrival with the news that the German Ambassador, Prince Reuss,
and the Embassy staff had orders to absent themselves from the
wedding, that the widow of the Crown Prince Rudolph, who had accepted
a card of invitation to it, had suddenly left Vienna, and that the
Emperor Franz Joseph would not receive him. The German action was
explained by the publication two months later of the edict,
stigmatized by Bismarck as an "Urias Letter," in which Caprivi warned
foreign Governments against attaching any importance to the utterances
of the Duke of Lauenburg. The Bismarckian and anti-Bismarckian storm
came up afresh in Germany. Bismarck was reproached by the Government
as "injuring monarchical feeling," and by his enemies as a traitor to
his country; while the angry statesman published a statement
expressing the opinion that

"the control of private social intercourse abroad, and the
influencing of dinner invitations, were not tasks for which
high officers of State were selected nor public money for
the payment of diplomatic representatives voted":

doubting, at the same time, "if the foreign archives of any other
country than Germany could show a parallel to the incident."

The storm, notwithstanding, had a good effect, for it brought out in
bold relief the immense regard and respect the overwhelming majority
of his countrymen entertained for the chief architect of their Empire;
and when Bismarck fell ill at Kissingen in 1893 the Emperor,
subordinating his political animosities to the chivalrous instincts of
his nature, telegraphed his sorrow to the patient and offered to lend
him one of the royal castles for the purpose of his convalescence.
Bismarck declined, but not ungratefully, and the way to a
reconciliation was opened. Next year, 1894, Bismarck suffered from
influenza, and when this time the Emperor sent an adjutant to
Friedrichsruh to express his regret, invited him to attend the
festivities on the forthcoming royal birthday, and sent along with the
invitation a flask of Steinberger Cabinet from the imperial cellar in
characteristic German proof of the sincerity of his feelings, the
country was delighted. Bismarck accepted the invitation and doubtless
drank the Steinberger; and the visit to Berlin followed in due time.

The reconciliation was completed amid sympathetic popular rejoicing.
The Emperor sent his brother, Prince Henry, to bring the ex-Chancellor
from the railway station to the palace, where the Emperor himself,
surrounded by a brilliant staff, stood to welcome the guest. Bismarck
spent the day at the palace with the Royal Family and was taken back
to the railway station in the evening by the Emperor. A few days later
the Emperor returned the visit at Friedrichsruh.

The quiet of the ex-Chancellor's last years was once unpleasantly
affected by the Reichstag in 1895, at the instance of his
parliamentary enemies, rejecting, to its everlasting discredit, a

Online LibraryStanley ShawWilliam of Germany → online text (page 11 of 31)