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drama in Germany generally. The revivals of "Aida" and "Les Huguenots"
under the Emperor's own supervision are accepted as faultless examples
of historical accuracy in every detail and of good taste and harmony
in setting.

In a well-informed article in the _Contemporary Review_ Mr. G.
Valentine Williams writes:

"Once the rehearsals of a play in which the Emperor is
interested are under way he loses no time in going to the
theatre to see whether the instructions he has appended to
the stage directions in the MS. are being properly carried
out. Some morning, when the vast stage of the opera is
humming with activity, the well-known primrose-coloured
automobile will drive up to the entrance and the Emperor,
accompanied only by a single adjutant, will emerge. In three
minutes William II will be seated at a big, business-like
table placed in the stalls, before him a pile of paper and
an array of pencils. When he is in the house there is no
doubt whatever in anyone's mind as to who is conducting the
rehearsal. His intendant stands at his side in the darkened
auditorium and conveys his Majesty's instructions to the
stage, for the Emperor never interrupts the actors himself.
He makes a sign to the intendant, scribbles a note on a
sheet of paper, while the intendant, who is a pattern of
unruffled serenity, just raises his hand and the performance
abruptly ceases. There is a confabulation, the Emperor, with
the wealth of gesture for which he is known, explaining his
views as to the positions of the principals, the dresses,
the uniforms, using anything, pencil, penholder, or even his
sword to illustrate his meaning. Again and again up to a
dozen times the actors will be put through their paces until
the imperial Regisseur is entirely satisfied that the right
dramatic effect has been obtained.

"All who have witnessed the imperial stage-manager at work
agree that he has a remarkable _flair_ for the dramatic.
Very often one of his suggestions about the entrances or
exits, a piece of 'business' or a pose, will be found on
trial to enhance the effect of the scene. A story is told of
the Emperor's insistence on accuracy and the minute
attention he pays to detail at rehearsal. After his visit to
Ofen-Pest some years ago for the Jubilee celebration, which
had included a number of Hungarian national dances, the
Emperor stopped a rehearsal of the ballet at the Berlin
opera while a Czardas was in progress and pointed out to the
balletteuses certain minor details which were not correct.

"In his attitude to the Court actors and actresses he
displays the charm of manner which bewitches all with whom
he comes in contact. He calls them 'meine Schauspieler,'
which makes one think of 'His Majesty's Servants' of
Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. This practice sometimes has
amusing results. Once when the Theatre Royal comedian, Dr.
Max Pohl, was suddenly taken ill the Emperor said to an
acquaintance, 'Fancy, my Pohl had a seizure yesterday;' and
the acquaintance, thinking he was referring to a pet dog
replied, commiseratingly: 'Ah, poor brute!' After rehearsal
the Emperor often goes on to the stage and talks with the
actors about their parts.

"A Hohenzollern must not be shown on the stage without the
express permission of the Emperor, and in general, if
politics are mixed up in an objectionable way with the
action of the drama, the play will be forbidden. Above all
the Emperor will not tolerate indecency, nor the mere
suggestion of it, in the plays given at the royal theatres.
An anecdote about Herr Josef Lauff's Court drama 'Frederick
of the Iron Tooth,' dealing with an ancestor, an Elector of
Brandenburg, and on which Leoncavallo, at the Emperor's
request, wrote the opera 'Der Roland von Berlin,' shows the
Emperor's strictness in this respect. Frederick of the Iron
Tooth is a burgher of Berlin who leads a revolt against the
Elector. In order to heighten Frederick's hate, Lauff wove
in a love theme into the drama. The wife of Ryke,
burgomaster of Berlin, figured as Frederick's mistress and
egged on her lover against the Elector, because the latter
had hanged her brothers, the Quitzows, notorious outlaws of
the Mark Brandenburg. The Emperor cut out the whole episode
when the play was submitted to him in manuscript. The
marginal note in his big, bold handwriting ran: '_Eine
Courtisane kommt in einem Hohenzollerstück nicht vor_' (A
courtesan has no place in a Hohenzollern drama)."

The Emperor's constant change of uniform is often said to be a sign of
his liking for the theatrical, and writers have compared him on this
account with lightning-change artists like the great Fregoli. Rather
his respect for and reliance on the army, a sense of fitness with the
occasion to be celebrated, a feeling of personal courtesy to the
person to be received, are the motives for such changes. The Paris
_Temps_ published the following incident apropos of the Emperor's
visit to England in November, 1902. When, on arriving at Port
Victoria, the royal yacht _Hohenzollern_ came in view, the members of
the English Court sent to welcome the Emperor saw him through their
glasses walking up and down the captain's bridge wearing a long
cavalry cloak over a German military uniform. When they stepped on
board they found him in the undress uniform of an English admiral.
They lunched with him, and in the afternoon, when he left for London,
he was wearing the uniform of an English colonel of dragoons. Arrived
in London, he left for Sandringham, and must have changed his dress
_en route_, for he left the train in a frock-coat and tall hat.

Perhaps the most notable theatrical event of the reign hitherto was
the production at the Royal Opera in 1908 of the historic pantomime
"Sardanapalus." The Emperor's idea, as he said himself, was to "make
the Museums speak," to which a Berlin critic replied, "You can't
dramatize a museum." The ballet, for it was that as well as a
pantomime, engrossed the Emperor's time and attention for several
weeks. He spent hours with the great authority on Assyriology,
Professor Friedrich Delitzsch, going over reliefs and plans taken from
the Kaiser Friedrich Museum or borrowed from museums in Paris, London,
and Vienna, decided on the costumes and designed the war-chariots to
be used in the ballet. The notion was to rehabilitate the reputation
of Asurbanipal, the second-last King of Assyria, whom the Greeks
called "Sardanapalus," who reigned in Nineveh six hundred years before
Christ, over Ethiopia, Babylon and Egypt, and whom Lord Byron,
accepting the Greek story, represented as the most effeminate and
debauched monarch the world had ever known.

Professor Delitzsch, with a wealth of recondite learning, showed, on
the contrary, that Sardanapalus was a wise and liberal-minded monarch,
who, rather than fall into the hands of the Medes, built himself a
pyre in a chamber of his palace and perished on it with his wives, his
children, and his treasure. The whole four acts, with the various
ballets, gave a perfectly faithful representation of the period as
described by Diodorus and Herodotus, and as plastically shown on the
reliefs discovered at Nineveh by Sir Henry Layard and subsequently by
German excavators. Over £10,000 was spent upon the production, and the
public were worked up to a great pitch of curiosity concerning it. But
it was a complete failure as far as the public were concerned.
"Heavens!" exclaimed one critic, "what a bore!" This, however, was not
the fault of the Emperor, but was due to want of interest on the part
of a public whose enthusiasm for the events and characters of times so
remote could only be kindled by a genius, and a dramatic one. The
Emperor is no such genius, nor had he one at command.




XI.



THE NEW CENTURY (_continued_)



1902-1904

King George V has hardly been sufficiently long on the English throne
for a contemporary to judge of the personal relations that exist
between his Majesty and the Emperor as chief representatives of their
respective nations. The King of England was, until June, 1913,
hindered by various circumstances from paying a visit to the Court of
Berlin, and rumours were current that relations between the two rulers
were not as friendly as they might and should be. There is now every
indication that though the relations of people to people and
Government to Government vary in degrees of coolness or warmth, the
two monarchs are on perfectly good terms of cousinship and amity.

A visit paid by King George, when Prince of Wales, to the Emperor in
Potsdam at the opening of 1902 testified to the goodwill that then
subsisted between them. It was the evening before the Emperor's
birthday, when the Emperor, at a dinner given by the officers of King
Edward's German regiment, the 1st Dragoon Guards, addressed the
English Heir Apparent in words of hearty welcome. The address was not
a long one, but in it the Emperor characteristically seized on the
motto of the Prince of Wales, "_Ich dien_" (I serve), to make it the
text of a laudatory reference to his young guest's conduct and career.
In its course the Emperor touched on the Prince's tour of forty
thousand miles round the world, and the effect his "winning
personality" had had in bringing together loyal British subjects
everywhere, and helping to consolidate the _Imperium Britannicum_, "on
the territories of which," as the Emperor said, doubtless with an
imperial pang of envy, "the sun never sets." The Prince, in his reply,
tendered his birthday congratulations, and expressed his "respect" for
the Emperor, the appropriate word to use, considering the ages and
royal ranks of the Emperor and his younger first cousin.

With 1902 may be said to have begun the Emperor's courtship (as it is
often called in Germany) of America. His advances to the Dollar
Princess since then have been unremitting and on the whole cordially,
if somewhat coyly, received.

The growth of intercourse of all kinds between Germany and the United
States is indeed one of the features of the reign. There are several
reasons why it is natural that friendly relationship should exist. It
has been said on good authority that thirty millions of American
citizens have German blood in their veins. Frederick the Great was the
first European monarch to recognize the independence of America.
German men of learning go to school in America, and American men of
learning go to school in Germany. A large proportion of the professors
in American universities have studied at German universities. The two
countries are thousands of miles apart, and are therefore less exposed
to causes of international jealousy and quarrel between contiguous
nations. On the other hand, the new place America has taken in the Old
World, dating, it may be said roughly, from the time of her war with
Spain (1898); the increase of her influence in the world, mainly
through the efforts of brave, benevolent, and able statesmen; the
expansion of her trade and commerce; the increase of the European
tourist traffic; - these factors also to some extent account for the
growth of friendly intercourse between the peoples.

Nor should the bond between the two countries created by intermarriage
be overlooked. If the well-dowered republican maid is often ambitious
of union with a scion of the old European nobility, the usually needy
German aristocrat is at least equally desirous of mating with an
American heiress notwithstanding the vast differences in
race-character, political sentiment, manners, and views of life - and
especially of the status and privileges of woman - that must
fundamentally separate the parties. Great unhappiness is frequently
the result of such marriages, perhaps it may be said of a large
proportion of international marriages, but cases of great mutual
happiness are also numerous, and help to bring the countries into
sympathy and understanding. Prince Bülow, when Chancellor, reminded
the Reichstag, which was discussing an objection raised to the late
Freiherr Speck von Sternburg, when German Ambassador to America, that
he had married an American lady, that though Bismarck had laid down
the rule that German diplomatists ought not to marry foreigners, he
was quite ready to make exceptions in special cases, and that America
was one of them. The Emperor is well known to have no objection to his
diplomatic representative at Washington being married to an American,
but rather to prefer it, provided, of course, that the lady has plenty
of money.

A difficulty between Germany and Venezuela arose in 1902 owing to the
ill-treatment suffered by German merchants in Venezuela in the course
of the civil war in that country from 1898 to 1900.

The merchants complained that loans had been exacted from them by
President Castro and his Government, and that munitions of war and
cattle had been taken for the use of the army and left unpaid for. The
amount of the claim was 1,700,000 Bolivars (francs), a sum that
included the damage suffered by the merchants' creditors in Germany.
Similar complaints were made by English and Italian merchants. After
several efforts on the part of Germany to obtain redress had failed,
negotiations were broken off, the diplomatic representative of Germany
was recalled, and finally the combined fleets of England, Germany, and
Italy established a blockade of the Venezuelan coast. The difficulty
was eventually referred to the Hague Court of Arbitration, which
allowed the claims and directed payment of them on the security of the
revenues of the customs ports of La Guayra and Puerto Cabella.

For a time the action of the Powers caused discussion of the Monroe
doctrine on both sides of the Atlantic. On this side it was pointed
out that American susceptibilities had been respected by the conduct
of the Powers in not landing troops, while on the other side there
were not wanting voices to exclaim that the naval demonstration went
too near being a breach of the hallowed creed - "hands off" the Western
Hemisphere. The Monroe doctrine, it may be recalled, was contained in
a message of President James Monroe, issued on February 2, 1823. It
was drawn up by John Quincey Adams, and declared that the United
States "regarded not only every effort of the Holy Alliance to extend
its system to the Western Hemisphere as dangerous to the peace and
freedom of the United States, but also every interference with the
object of subverting any independent American Government in the light
of unfriendliness towards America"; and it went on to declare that
"the Continents of America should no more be regarded as fields for
European colonization."

The day, of course, may come when the American claim to the control,
if not physical possession, of half the earth will be questioned by
the Powers of Europe; but at present, as far as Germany is concerned,
and notwithstanding the absurd idea that Germany plans the seizure one
day of Brazil, the doctrine is of merely academic interest. For a few
days four years later it became the subject of lively discussion in
Germany and America owing to the first American Roosevelt professor,
Professor Burgess, referring to it in his inaugural lecture before the
Emperor and Empress as an "antiquated theory." As soon, however, as it
became apparent that Professor Burgess was giving utterance to a
purely personal opinion, and was not in any sense the bearer of a
message on the subject from the President, the discussion dropped.

Another American episode of the year was the visit of Prince Henry,
the Emperor's brother, to the United States. Prince Henry left for
America in February. The visit was in reality made in pursuance of the
Emperor's world-policy of economic expansion, but there were not a few
politicians in England and America to assert that it was part of a
deep scheme of the Emperor's to counteract too warm a development of
Anglo-American friendship. However that may be, the visit was a
striking one, even though it gave no great pleasure to Germans, who
could not see any particular reason for it, nor any prospect of it
yielding Germany immediate tangible return for trouble and expense.
Prince Henry, it is said, though the most genial and democratic of
Hohenzollerns, was a little taken back at the American freedom of
manners, the wringing of hands, the slapping on the back, and other
republican demonstrations of friendship; but he cannot have shown
anything of such a feeling, for he was fêted on all sides, and soon
developed into a popular hero.

One of the incidents of the visit, previously arranged, was the
christening of the Emperor's new American-built yacht, _Meteor III_,
by Miss Alice Roosevelt, the President's daughter. On February 25th
the Emperor received a cablegram from Prince Henry: "Fine boat,
baptized by the hand of Miss Alice Roosevelt, just launched amid
brilliant assembly. Hearty congratulations;" and at the same time one
from the President's daughter: "To his Majesty the Kaiser,
Berlin - _Meteor_ successfully launched. I congratulate you, thank you
for the kindness shown me, and send you my best wishes. Alice
Roosevelt."

During the visit the Emperor cabled to President Roosevelt his thanks
and that of his people for the hospitable reception of his brother by
all classes, adding:

"My outstretched hand was grasped by you with a strong,
manly, and friendly grip. May Heaven bless the relations of
the two nations with peace and goodwill! My best compliments
and wishes to Alice Roosevelt."

Reference to this cordial electric correspondence may close with
mention of a telegram sent in reply to a message from Mr. Melville
Stone, of the American Associated Press:

"Accept my thanks for your message. I estimate the great and
sympathetic reception (it was a banquet) given to my dear
brother by the newspaper proprietors of the United States
very highly."

Prince Henry returned to Germany on March 17th, a Doctor of Law of
Harvard University.

There have been moments when people in America were influenced by
other sentiments than those of entirely respectful admiration for the
Emperor. It was with mixed feelings that the American public heard the
news of his telegraphed offer to President Roosevelt in May, 1902,
when, as the telegram said, the Emperor was "under the deep impression
made by the brilliant and cordial reception" given to his brother,
Prince Henry, to present to the American nation a statue of - Frederick
the Great, and coupled with the offer a proposal that the statue
should be erected - of all places - in Washington! No one doubted the
Emperor's sincere desire to pay the highest compliment he could think
of to a people to whom he felt grateful for the honour done to Germany
in the person of his brother, but nearly every one smiled at the
simplicity, or, as some called it, the want of political tact shown by
offering the statue of a ruler whose name, to the vast majority of
Americans, is synonymous with absolute autocracy, to a republic which
prides itself on its civic ways and love of personal freedom. The gift
was accepted by the American Government in the spirit in which it was
offered, the spirit of goodwill. And why not? To the Emperor his great
ancestor's effigy is no symbol of autocracy, but the contrary, for to
the Emperor and his subjects Frederick the Great is as much the Father
of Prussia, the man who saved it and made it, as Washington was the
Father of America. Besides, the spirit in which a gift is offered, not
its value or appropriateness, is the thing to be considered.

Irritation in England was still strong against Germany on account of
the latter's easily understood race-sympathy with the Boers during the
war just over, but the fact did not prevent the Emperor from accepting
King Edward's invitation to spend a few days at Sandringham with him
in November this year on the occasion of his birthday. The Emperor
took the Empress and two of his sons with him. The hostile temper of
the time, both in England and Germany, was alluded to in a sermon
preached in Sandringham Church by the then Bishop of London. It was
notable for its insistence on the necessity of friendlier relations
between England, Germany, and America, the three great branches of the
Teutonic race. After the service the Emperor is reported to have
exclaimed to the Bishop: "What you said was excellent, and is
precisely what I try to make my people understand."

As a proof that this was no merely complimentary utterance, but the
expression of a thought which is constantly in the Emperor's mind, an
incident which happened at Kiel regatta in the month of June
previously may be recalled. The American squadron, under the late
Admiral Cotton, was paying an official visit to the Emperor during the
Kiel "week" as a return honour for the visit of the Emperor's brother,
Prince Henry of Prussia, to the United States the year before. There
was a constant round of festivities, and among them a lunch to the
Emperor on board the Admiral's flagship, the _Kearsarge_. Lunch over,
the Emperor was standing in a group talking with his customary
vivacity, but, as customary also, with his eyes taking in his
surroundings like a well-trained journalist. Suddenly he noticed a set
of flags, those of America, Germany, and England, twined together and
mingling their colours in friendly harmony. He walked over, gathered
the combined flags in his hand, and turning to the Admiral exclaimed
in idiomatic American: "See here, Admiral; that is exactly as it
should be, and is what I am trying for all the time."

While in England the Emperor, in company with Lord Roberts and Sir
Evelyn Wood, inspected his English regiment, the 1st Royal Dragoons. A
curious and amusing feature of the visit was a lecture before the
Royal Family at Sandringham by a German engineer, for whom the Emperor
acted as interpreter, on a novel adaptation of spirit for culinary,
lighting, and laundry purposes. The Emperor's practical illustration
of the use of the new heating system, as applied to the ordinary
household flatiron, is said to have caused great merriment among his
audience.

Germany's home atmosphere about this time was for a moment troubled by
an exhibition of the Emperor's "personal regiment" in the form of a
telegram to the Prince Regent of Bavaria, known in Germany as the
"Swinemunde Despatch." The Bavarian Diet, in a fit of economy, had
refused its annual grant of £5,000 for art purposes. The Emperor was
violently angry, wired to the Prince Regent his indignation with the
Diet and offered to pay the £5,000 out of his own pocket. It was not a
very tactful offer, to be sure, though well intended; and as his
telegram was not an act of State, "covered" by the Chancellor's
signature, while the Bavarians in particular felt hurt at what they
considered outside interference, Germans generally blamed it as a new
demonstration of autocratic rule.

One or two other art incidents of the period may be noted. A domestic
one was the gift to the Emperor by the Empress of a model of her hand
in Carrara marble, life-sized, by the German sculptor, Rheinhold
Begas. The Emperor, it is well known, has no special liking for the
companionship of ladies, but he confesses to an admiration for pretty
feminine hands. Another incident was the Emperor's order to the
painter, Professor Rochling, to paint a picture representing the
famous episode in the China campaign, when Admiral Seymour gave the
order "Germans to the Front." It is to the present day a popular
German engraving. The year was also remarkable for a visit to Berlin
of Coquelin _aîné_, the great French actor. The Emperor saw him in
"Cyrano de Bergerac," was, like all the rest of the play-going world,
delighted with both play and player, and held a long and lively
conversation with the artist. Lastly may be mentioned a telegram of
the Emperor's to the once-famed tragic actress, Adelaide Ristori, in
Rome, congratulating her on her eightieth birthday and expressing his
regret that he had never met her. A basket of flowers simultaneously
arrived from the German Embassy.

We are now in 1903. During the preceding years the Emperor's thoughts,
as has been seen, were occupied with art as a means of educating his
folk, purifying their sentiments, and, above all, making them faithful



Online LibraryStanley ShawWilliam of Germany → online text (page 19 of 31)