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millions of to-day, and the state of its sanitation may be imagined
from the fact that open drains ran down the streets.

The Emperor's father, Frederick III, second German Emperor, was
affectionately known to his people as "unser Fritz," because of his
liberal sympathies and of his high and kindly character. To most
Englishmen he is perhaps better known as the husband of the Princess,
afterwards Empress, Adelaide Victoria, eldest daughter of Queen
Victoria, and mother of the Emperor. Frederick III had no great share
in the political events which were the birth-pangs of modern Germany,
unless his not particularly distinguished leadership in the war of
1866 and that with France be so considered. The greater part of his
life was passed as Crown Prince, and a Crown Prince in Germany leads a
life more or less removed from political responsibilities. He
succeeded his father, William I, on the latter's death, March 9, 1888,
reigned for ninety-nine days, and died, on June 15th following, from
cancer of the throat, after an illness borne with exemplary fortitude.

To what extent the character of his parents affected the character of
the Emperor it is impossible to determine. The Emperor seldom refers
to his parents in his speeches, and reserves most of his panegyric for
his grandfather and his grandfather's mother, Queen Louise; but the
comparative neglect is probably due to no want of filial admiration
and respect, while the frequent references to his grandfather in
particular are explained by the great share the latter took in the
formation of the Empire and by his unbounded popularity. The Crown
Prince was an affectionate but not an easy-going father, with a
passion for the arts and sciences; his mother also was a
disciplinarian, and, equally with her husband, passionately fond of
art; and it is therefore not improbable that these traits descended to
the Emperor. As to whether the alleged "liberality" of the Crown
Prince descended to him depends on the sense given to the word
"liberal." If it is taken to mean an ardent desire for the good and
happiness of the people, it did; if it is taken to mean any
inclination to give the people authority to govern themselves and
direct their own destinies, it did not.

The mother of the Emperor, the Empress Frederick, had much of Queen
Victoria's good sense and still more of her strong will. A thoroughly
English princess, she had, in German eyes, one serious defect: she
failed to see, or at least to acknowledge, the superiority of most
things German to most things English. She had an English nurse, Emma
Hobbs, to assist at the birth of the future Emperor. She made English
the language of the family life, and never lost her English tastes and
sympathies; consequently she was called, always with an accent of
reproach, "the Engländerin," and in German writings is represented as
having wished to anglicize not only her husband, her children, and her
Court, but also her adopted country and its people. A chaplain of the
English Church in Berlin, the Rev. J.H. Fry, who met her many times,
describes her as follows: -

"She was not the wife for a German Emperor, she so English
and insisted so strongly on her English ways. The result was
that she was very unpopular in Germany, and the Germans said
many wicked things of her. She hated Berlin, and if her son,
the present Emperor, had not required that she should come
to the capital every winter, she would have lived altogether
at Cronberg in the villa an Italian friend bequeathed to

"She was extremely musical, had extensively cultivated her
talents in this respect, and was an accomplished linguist.
Like her mother, Queen Victoria, she was unusually
strong-minded, and was always believed to rule over her
amiable and gentle husband. Her interest in the English
community was great, another reason for the dislike with
which the Germans regarded her. To her the community owes
the pretty little English church in the Mon Bijou Platz
(Berlin), which she used to attend regularly, and where a
funeral service, at which the Emperor was present, was held
in memory of her.

"German feeling was further embittered against her by the
Morell Mackenzie incident, and to this day controversy rages
round the famous English surgeon's name. The controversy is
as to whether or not Morell Mackenzie honestly believed what
he said when he diagnosed the Emperor's illness as
non-cancerous in opposition to the opinion of distinguished
German doctors like Professor Bergmann. Under German law no
one can mount the throne of Prussia who is afflicted with a
mortal sickness. For long it had been suspected that the
Emperor's throat was fatally affected, and, therefore, when
King William was dying, it became of dynastic and national
importance to establish the fact one way or other. Queen
Victoria was ardently desirous of seeing her daughter an
Empress, and sent Sir Morrell Mackenzie to Germany to
examine the royal patient. On the verdict being given that
the disease was not cancer, the Crown Prince mounted the
throne, and Queen Victoria's ambition for her daughter was

"The Empress also put the aristocracy against her by
introducing several relaxations into Court etiquette which
had up to her time been stiff and formal. Her relations with
Bismarck, as is well known, were for many years strained,
and on one occasion she made the remark that the tears he
had caused her to shed 'would fill tumblers.' On the whole
she was an excellent wife and mother. She was no doubt in
some degree responsible for the admiration of England as a
country and of the English as a people which is a marked
feature of the Emperor's character."

This account is fairly correct in its estimation of the Empress
Frederick's character and abilities, but it repeats a popular error in
saying that German law lays down that no one can mount the Prussian
throne if he is afflicted with a mortal sickness. There is no "German
law" on the subject, and the law intended to be referred to is the
so-called "house-law," which, as in the case of other German noble
families, regulates the domestic concerns of the House of
Hohenzollern. Bismarck disposes of the assertion that a Hohenzollern
prince mortally stricken is not capable of succession as a "fable,"
and adds that the Constitution, too, contains no stipulation of the
sort. The influence of his mother on the Emperor's character did not
extend beyond his childhood, while probably the only natural
dispositions he inherited from her were his strength of will and his
appreciation of classical art and music. Many of her political ideas
were diametrically opposed to those of her son. Her love of art made
her pro-French, and her visit to Paris, it will be remembered, not
being made _incognito_, led to international unpleasantness,
originating in the foolish Chauvinism of some leading French painters
whose ateliers she desired to inspect. She believed in a homogeneous
German Empire without any federation of kingdoms and states, advocated
a Constitution for Russia, and was satisfied that the common sense of
a people outweighed its ignorance and stupidity.

The Emperor has four sisters and a brother. The sisters are Charlotte,
born in 1860, and married to the Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Meiningen;
Victoria, born in 1866, and married to Prince Adolphus of
Schaumberg-Lippe; Sophie, born in 1870, and married to King
Constantine, of Greece; and Margarete, born in 1872, and married to
Prince Friederich Karl of Hessen.

The Emperor's only brother, Prince Henry of Prussia, was born in 1862,
and is married to Princess Irene of Hessen. He is probably the most
popular Hohenzollern to-day. He adopted the navy as a profession and
devotes himself to its duties, taking no part in politics. Like the
Emperor himself and the Emperor's heir, the Crown Prince, he is a
great promoter of sport, and while a fair golfer (with a handicap of
14) and tennis player, gives much of his leisure to the encouragement
of the automobile and other industries. Every Hohenzollern is supposed
to learn a handicraft. The Emperor did not, owing to his shortened
left arm. Prince Henry learned book-binding under a leading Berlin
bookbinder, Herr Collin. The Crown Prince is a turner. Prince Henry
seems perfectly satisfied with his position in the Empire as
Inspector-General of the Fleet, stands to attention when talking to
the Emperor in public, and on formal occasions addresses him as
"Majesty" like every one else. Only in private conversation does he
allow himself the use of the familiar _Du_. The Emperor has a strong
affection for him, and always calls him "Heinrich."

Many stories are current in Germany relating to the early part of the
Emperor's boyhood. Some are true, others partially so, while others
again are wholly apochryphal. All, however, are more or less
characteristic of the boy and his surroundings, and for this reason a
selection of them may be given. Apropos of his birth, the following
story is told. An artillery officer went to receive orders for the
salute to be discharged when the birth occurred. They were given him
by the then Prince Regent, afterwards Emperor William I. The officer
showed signs of perplexity. "Well, is there anything else?" inquired
the Regent. "Yes, Royal Highness; I have instructions for the birth of
a prince and for that of a princess (which would be 30 guns); but what
if it should be twins?" The Regent laughed. "In that case," he said,
"follow the Prussian rule - _suum cuique_."

When the child was born the news ran like wildfire through Berlin, and
all the high civil and military officials drove off in any vehicle
they could find to offer their congratulations. The Regent, who was at
the Foreign Office, jumped into a common cab. Immediately after him
appeared tough old Field-Marshal Wrangel, the hero of the Danish wars.
He wrote his name in the callers' book, and on issuing from the palace
shouted to the assembled crowd, "Children, it's all right: a fine
stout recruit." On the evening of the birth a telegram came from Queen
Victoria, "Is it a fine boy?" and the answer went back, "Yes, a very
fine boy."

Another story describes how the child was brought to submit cheerfully
to the ordeal of the tub. He was "water-shy," like the vast majority
of Germans at that time, and the nurses had to complain to his father,
Crown Prince Frederick, of his resistance. The Crown Prince thereupon
directed the sentry at the palace gate not to salute the boy when he
was taken out for his customary airing. The boy remarked the neglect
and complained to his father, who explained that "sentries were not
allowed to present arms to an unwashed prince." The stratagem
succeeded, and thereafter the lad submitted to the bathing with a good

Like all boys, the lad was fond of the water, though now in another
sense. At the age of two, nursery chroniclers relate, he had a toy
boat, the _Fortuna_, in which he sat and see-sawed - and learned not to
be sea-sick! At three he was put into sailor's costume, with the
bell-shaped trousers so dear to the hearts of English mothers fifty
years ago.

At the age of four he had a memorable experience, though it is hardly
likely that now, after the lapse of half a century, he remembers much
about it. This was his first visit to England in 1863, when he was
taken by his parents to be present at the marriage of his uncle, King
Edward VII, then Prince of Wales. The boy, in pretty Highland costume,
was an object of general attention, and occupies a prominent place in
the well-known picture of the wedding scene by the artist Frith. The
ensuing fifteen years saw him often on English soil with his father
and mother, staying usually at Osborne Castle, in the Isle of Wight.
Here, it may be assumed, he first came in close contact with the
ocean, watched the English warships passing up and down, and imbibed
some of that delight in the sea which is not the least part of the
heritage of Englishmen. The visits had a decided effect on him, for at
ten we find him with a row-boat on the Havel and learning to swim, and
on one occasion rowing a distance of twenty-five miles between 6 a.m.
and 3 p.m. About this time he used to take part with his parents in
excursions on the _Royal Louise_, a miniature frigate presented by
George IV to Frederick William III.

Still another story concerns the boy and his father. The former came
one day in much excitement to his tutor and said his father had just
blamed him unjustly. He told the tutor what had really happened and
asked him, if, under the circumstances, he was to blame. The tutor was
in perplexity, for if he said the father had acted unjustly, as in
fact he thought he had, he might lessen the son's filial respect.
However, he gave his candid opinion. "My Prince," he said, "the
greatest men of all times have occasionally made mistakes, for to err
is human. I must admit I think your father was in the wrong."
"Really!" cried the lad, who looked pained. "I thought you would tell
me I was in the wrong, and as I know how right you always are I was
ready to go to papa and beg his pardon. What shall I do now?" "Leave
it to me," the tutor said, and afterwards told the Crown Prince what
had passed. The Crown Prince sent for his son, who came and stood with
downcast eyes some paces off. The Crown Prince only uttered the two
words, "My son," but in a tone of great affection. As he folded the
Prince in his arms he reached his hand to the tutor, saying, "I thank
you. Be always as true to me and to my son as you have been in this

The last anecdote belongs also to the young Prince's private tutor
days. At one time a certain Dr. D. was teaching him. Every morning at
eleven work was dropped for a quarter of an hour to enable the pair,
teacher and pupil, to take what is called in German "second
breakfast." The Prince always had a piece of white bread and butter,
with an apple, a pear, or other fruit, while the teacher was as
regularly provided with something warm - chop, a cutlet, a slice of
fish, salmon, perch, trout, or whatever was in season, accompanied by
salad and potatoes. The smell of the meat never failed to appeal to
the olfactory nerves of the Prince, and he often looked, longingly
enough, at the luxuries served to his tutor. The latter noticed it and
felt sorry for him; but there was nothing to be done: the royal orders
were strict and could not be disobeyed. One day, however, the lesson,
one of repetition, had gone so well that in a moment of gratitude the
tutor decided to reward his pupil at all hazards. The lunch appeared,
steaming "perch-in-butter" for the tutor, and a plate of bread and
butter and some grapes for the pupil. The Prince cast a glance at the
savoury dish and was then about to attack his frugal fare when the
tutor suddenly said, "Prince, I'm very fond of grapes. Can't we for
once exchange? You eat my perch and I - " The Prince joyfully agreed,
plates were exchanged, and both were heartily enjoying the meal when
the Crown Prince walked in. Both pupil and tutor blushed a little, but
the Crown Prince said nothing and seemed pleased to hear how well the
lesson had gone that day. At noon, however, as the tutor was leaving
the palace, a servant stopped him and said, "His Royal Highness the
Crown Prince would like to speak with the Herr Doktor."

"Herr Doktor," said the Crown Prince, "tell me how it was that the
Prince to-day was eating the warm breakfast and you the cold."

The tutor tried to make as little of the affair as possible. It was a
joke, he said, he had allowed himself, he had been so well pleased
with his pupil that morning.

"Well, I will pass it over this time," said the Crown Prince,

"but I must ask you to let the Prince get accustomed to bear
the preference shown to his tutor and allow him to be
satisfied with the simple food suitable for his age. What
will he eat twenty years hence, if he now gets roast meat?
Bread and fruit make a wholesome and perfectly satisfactory
meal for a lad of his years."

During second breakfast next day, the Prince took care not to look up
from his plate of fruit, but when he had finished, murmured as though
by way of grace, "After all, a fine bunch of grapes is a splendid
lunch, and I really think I prefer it, Herr Doktor, to your
nice-smelling perch-in-butter."

The time had now come when the young Prince was to leave the paternal
castle and submit to the discipline of school. The parents, one may be
sure, held many a conference on the subject. The boy was beginning to
have a character of his own, and his parents doubtless often had in
mind Goethe's lines: -

"Denn wir können die Kinder nach unserem Willen nicht formen,
So wie Gott sie uns gab, so muss man sie lieben und haben,
Sie erzielen aufs best und jeglichen lassen gewähren."

("We cannot have children according to our will:
as God gave them so must we love and keep them:
bring them up as best we can and leave each to its own

It had always been Hohenzollern practice to educate the Heir to the
Throne privately until he was of an age to go to the university, but
the royal parents now decided to make an important departure from it
by sending their boy to an ordinary public school in some carefully
chosen place. The choice fell on Cassel, a quiet and beautiful spot
not far from Wilhelmshohe, near Homburg, where there is a Hohenzollern
castle, and which was the scene of Napoleon's temporary detention
after the capitulation of Sedan. Here at the Gymnasium, or _lycée_,
founded by Frederick the Great, the boy was to go through the regular
school course, sit on the same bench with the sons of ordinary
burghers, and in all respects conform to the Gymnasium's regulations.
The decision to have the lad taught for a time in this democratic
fashion was probably due to the influence of his English mother, who
may have had in mind the advantages of an English public school. The
experiment proved in every way successful, though it was at the time
adversely criticized by some ultra-patriotic writers in the press. To
the boy himself it must have been an interesting and agreeable
novelty. Hitherto he had been brought up in the company of his
brothers and sisters in Berlin or Potsdam, with an occasional
"week-end" at the royal farm of Bornstedt near the latter, the only
occasions when he was absent from home being sundry visits to the
Grand Ducal Court at Karlsruhe, where the Grand Duchess was an aunt on
his father's side, and to the Court at Darmstadt, where the Grand
Duchess was an aunt on the side of his mother.

An important ceremony, however, had to be performed before his
departure for school - his confirmation. It took place at Potsdam on
September 1, 1874, amid a brilliant crowd of relatives and friends,
and included the following formal declaration by the young Prince:

"I will, in childlike faith, be devoted to God all the days
of my life, put my trust in Him and at all times thank Him
for His grace. I believe in Jesus Christ, the Saviour and
Redeemer. Him who first loved me I will love in return, and
will show this love by love to my parents, my dear
grandparents, my sisters and brothers and relatives, but
also to all men. I know that hard tasks await me in life,
but they will brace me up, not overcome me. I will pray to
God for strength and develop my bodily powers."

The boy and his brother Henry stayed in Cassel for three years, in the
winter occupying a villa near the Gymnasium with Dr. Hinzpeter, and in
summer living in the castle of Wilhelmshohe hard by. Besides attending
the usual school classes, they were instructed by private tutors in
dancing, fencing, and music. Both pupils are represented as having
been conscientious, and as moving among their schoolmates without
affectation or any special consciousness of their birth or rank. Many
years afterwards the Emperor, when revisiting Cassel, thus referred to
his schooldays there:

"I do not regret for an instant a time which then seemed so
hard to me, and I can truly say that work and the working
life have become to me a second nature. For this I owe
thanks to Cassel soil;"

and later in the same speech:

"I am pleased to be on the ground where, directed by expert
hands, I learned that work exists not only for its own sake,
but that man in work shall find his entire joy."

This is the right spirit; but if he had said "greatest joy" and "can
find," he would have said something more completely true.

The life at Cassel was simple, and the day strictly divided. The
future Emperor rose at six, winter and summer, and after a breakfast
of coffee and rolls refreshed his memory of the home repetition-work
learned the previous evening. He then went to the Gymnasium, and when
his lessons there were over, took a walk with his tutor before lunch.
Home tasks followed, and on certain days private instruction was
received in English, French, and drawing. His English and French
became all but faultless, and he learned to draw in rough-and-ready,
if not professionally expert fashion. Wednesdays and Saturdays, which
were half-holidays, were spent roving in the country, especially in
the forest, with two or three companions of his own age. In winter
there was skating on the ponds. The Sunday dinner was a formal affair,
at which royal relatives, who doubtless came to see how the princes
were getting on, and high officials from Berlin, were usually present.
After dinner the princes took young friends up to their private rooms
and played charades, in which on occasion they amused themselves with
the ever-delightful sport of taking off and satirizing their
instructors. At this time the future Emperor's favourite subjects were
history and literature, and he was fond of displaying his rhetorical
talent before the class. The classical authors of his choice were
Homer, Sophocles, and Horace. Homer particularly attracted him; it is
easy to imagine the conviction with which, as a Hohenzollern, he would
deliver the declaration of King Agamemnon to Achilles: -

"And hence, to all the host it shall be known
That kings are subject to the gods alone."

The young Prince left Cassel in January, 1877, after passing the exit
(_abiturient_) examination, a rather severe test, twelfth in a class
of seventeen. The result of the examination was officially described
as "satisfactory," the term used for those who were second in degree
of merit. On leaving he was awarded a gold medal for good conduct, one
of three annually presented by a patron of the Gymnasium.

A foreign resident in Germany, who saw the young Prince at this time,
tells of an incident which refers to the lad's appearance, and shows
that even at that early date anti-English feeling existed among the
people. It was at the military manoeuvres at Stettin:

"Then the old Emperor came by. Tremendous cheers. Then
Bismarck and Moltke. Great acclaim. Then passed in a
carriage a thin, weakly-looking youth, and people in the
crowd said, 'Look at that boy who is to be our future
Emperor - his good German blood has been ruined by his
English training.'"

Before closing the Emperor's record as a schoolboy it will be of
interest to learn the opinion of him formed by his French tutor at
Cassel, Monsieur Ayme, who has published a small volume on the
education of his pupil, and who, though evidently not too well
satisfied with his remuneration of £7 10s. a month, or with being
required to pay his own fare back from Germany to France, writes
favourably of the young princes. "The life of these young people
(Prince William and Prince Henry) was," he says,

"the most studious and peaceful imaginable. Up at six in the
morning, they prepared their tasks until it was time to go
to school. Lunch was at noon and tea at five. They went to
bed at nine or half-past. All their hours of leisure were
divided between lessons in French, English, music,
pistol-shooting, equitation, and walking. Now and then they
were allowed to play with boys of their own age, and on fête
days and their parents' birth-anniversaries they had the
privilege of choosing a play and seeing it performed at the
theatre. As pocket-money Prince William received 20s. a

Online LibraryStanley ShawWilliam of Germany → online text (page 2 of 31)