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David Jayne Hill, American Minister at Berne, a former President of
Rochester University, the author of a standard work on the History of
Diplomacy, and as renowned for the amiability of his character as for
his academic attainments. A further reason for choosing him was that
he had been attached to the service of the Emperor's brother, Prince
Henry, during the latter's visit to the United States some years
before. Dr. Hill spoke German excellently, was able and distinguished,
and, if not a man of great means, was sufficiently well-to-do to
represent his country becomingly at the Court of Berlin. His selection
was in due course communicated for _agrément_ to the German Foreign
Office, and by it, also in due course, transmitted to the Emperor. The
Emperor without more ado signed the _agrément_ and the arrival of Dr.
Hill in Berlin was daily expected.

Just at this time, however, Mr. Tower gave a farewell dinner to the
Emperor, and invited to it specially from Rome the American Ambassador
to Italy, Mr. Griscom. Mr. Griscom was accompanied by his clever and
attractive wife. The dinner-party assembled, and Mr. Griscom and his
wife were placed in the immediate neighbourhood of the Emperor. Before
dinner was over it was evident that the Griscoms had made a most
favourable impression on the imperial guest. Accordingly, so the story
goes, when towards the end of dinner the Emperor, in his impulsive
way, exclaimed, "Now, why didn't America send me the Griscoms instead
of the Hills?" or words to that effect, the company was not completely
taken by surprise. When, however, the Emperor went on to suggest to
his host to telegraph to President Roosevelt to make the change, it
became evident that an international incident of exceptional delicacy
had been created. Mr. Tower, who would perhaps have acted with better
judgment had he declined to adopt the Emperor's suggestion, cabled to
President Roosevelt, and at the same Mr. Griscom wrote to him
privately. Before Mr. Griscom's letter arrived, perhaps before Mr.
Roosevelt was in possession of Mr. Tower's telegram, the words of the
Emperor had become known in Berlin, were cabled to the American Press,
and much indignation at the Emperor's conduct was aroused in all parts
of America. The two Governments, as well as Dr. Hill, were placed in a
position of great embarrassment. In view of the state of public
opinion in America, and in view also of the American Government's
engagement _vis à vis_ Dr. Hill, the Washington authorities could not
withdraw a nominee who had been already signalled to it from Germany
as _persona grata_. The only way possible out of the difficulty was to
employ the machinery of the official _démenti_, and this was
accordingly done. It was denied by the Foreign Office that the Emperor
had expressed dissatisfaction with Dr. Hill's appointment, and the
incident closed with the carrying out of the original arrangements and
the arrival of Dr. Hill in Berlin. Subsequent events proved that had
the Emperor known Dr. Hill personally he would never have thought of
expressing dissatisfaction at the prospect of seeing him as Ambassador
at his Court, for Dr. Hill, during the two years of his stay, fully
vindicated the wisdom of the Washington Government's choice, and
before he left his post had earned the Emperor's complete respect, if
not his cordial friendship.




XV.



AFTER THE STORM



1909-1913

Next year, 1909, was the year of the famous finance reform measure
which, though finally carried through, led to the resignation of
Chancellor von Bülow. It had been obvious for some years that a
reorganization of the imperial system of finance with a view to
meeting the growing expenses of the Empire, and in especial those of
the army and navy, was necessary if imperial bankruptcy was to be
avoided. The practice of taking what were known as matricular
contributions from the separate States to make up for deficits in the
imperial budgets, and of burdening posterity by State loans, had one
day to cease. At the beginning of the reign the National Debt was 884
million marks (£44,200,000), and in 1908 over 4,000 million marks
(£200,000,000). A year before this Prince Bülow had made his first
proposals for reform, including new taxes on beer, wine, tobacco, and
succession duties on property.

All parties in Parliament, except of course the Social Democrats,
admitted that fresh imposts were inevitable, but, very naturally, no
party was willing to bear them. The Conservatives would not hear of an
inheritance tax and the Liberals would not hear of duties on popular
consumption. The result was to make the Centrum masters of the
political field and place the Conservative-Liberal "bloc" at its
mercy. After long discussion, the Government proposals were put to the
vote on June 24th, and as the Centrum threw in its lot with the
Conservatives, the proposals were rejected by 195 votes to 187. Prince
Bülow thereupon went to Kiel and tendered his resignation to the
Emperor, but at the latter's urgent request consented to remain in
office until financial reform in one shape or another had been
effected. This result was attained a month later, after much
compromising and discussion. The Chancellor renewed his request for
retirement, and the Emperor agreed. On the same day, July 14th, that
the resignation took effect, it was officially announced that Herr von
Bethmann-Hollweg, who had hitherto been Minister of the Interior, was
appointed to succeed Prince von Bülow as Imperial Chancellor.

An impression prevails widely in Germany that Prince Bülow's
retirement was due to the loss of the Emperor's favour owing to the
Prince's attitude towards the monarch during the "November storm."
Prince Bülow, very properly, has always refused to say anything about
his relations with his royal master, but a lengthy statement he made
to a newspaper correspondent referring his resignation to the conduct
of the Conservatives, and a letter from the Emperor gratefully
thanking the Prince in the warmest terms for his "long and intimate
co-operation," and conferring upon him at the same time the highest
Order in the Empire, that of the Black Eagle, should be sufficient
evidence to disprove the supposition. It is more probable that the
Prince was weary of the cares of office and of the strife of party.
Moreover, he had, in the state of his health, a strong private reason
for retirement. Four years before, on April 5, 1906, he had fallen
unconscious from his seat on the ministerial bench during the
proceedings in the Reichstag, and although he was back again in
Parliament, perfectly recovered, in the following November, the attack
was an experience which warned him against too great a prolongation of
such heavy work and responsibility as the Chancellorship entails.

The retirement of Prince Bülow meant the disappearance of the most
notable figure in German political life since the beginning of the
century. In ability, wit, and those graces of a refined and richly
cultivated mind which have so often distinguished great English
statesmen, he was a head and shoulders above any of his
fellow-countrymen; while the mere fact that he was able to maintain
his position for almost twelve years (he had been, as Foreign
Secretary for over two years, the Emperor's most trusted counsellor
and the real executive in foreign policy) is a convincing proof of his
tact and diplomatic talent, as well as of his statesmanship.

His successor, the present Chancellor, Herr von Bethmann-Hollweg, is a
man of another and very different type. He incorporates the spirit of
Prussian patriotism of the most orthodox kind in its worthiest and
best manifestations, but as yet he has given no proofs of possessing
the breadth of view, the oratorical talent, or the urbanity which
distinguished his predecessor. Prince von Bülow's career as a German
diplomatist in foreign capitals made him an acute and highly polished
man of the world. The present Chancellor has spent all his life within
the comparatively narrow confines of Prussian administrative service.
It is, of course, too soon to pass final judgment on him as German
Prime Minister.

The visit of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra to Berlin in
February, 1909, disposed finally of the idea, which had prevailed in
Germany as well as abroad for two or three years, that England was
pursuing a policy aiming to bring about the "isolation" of Germany in
world-politics. The visit was an official one, paid, of course,
chiefly to the Emperor; but its most remarkable feature politics
apart, was the friendly relations which King Edward established with
the Berlin City Fathers at a reception in the Town Hall. It was not
that he said anything out of the way to the assembled burghers; but
his simple manner, genial remarks, and perhaps especially the
sympathetic way in which he handled the loving-cup offered by his
hosts, made an instantaneous and strong impression.

The controversy that raged round the so-called "Flora Bust"
contributed not a little to the gaiety of nations towards the close of
this year. The bust, an undraped wax figure, reproducing the features
of Leonardo da Vinci's famous "La Joconde," was bought by Dr. Wilhelm
Bode, Director of the Kaiser Friedrich Museum in Berlin, for £8,000
from a London dealer as an authentic work of the celebrated Italian
painter, dating from about the year 1500. It was brought with a great
flourish of trumpets to Berlin, and a chorus of self-congratulation
was raised in Germany on the successful carrying off of such a prize
from England. The harmony, however, was rudely disturbed by the
publication of a letter from Mr. F.C. Cooksey, art critic of the
_Times_, stating that the bust was not by da Vinci at all, but was in
reality the work of Mr. R.C. Lucas, an artist of some note forty or
fifty years ago, and that it had for long occupied a pedestal in
Lucas's suburban garden.

The Emperor, whose curiosity as well as patriotism was aroused, spent
half an hour on November 11th discussing the bust with Dr. Bode and
examining an album containing photographs of the works of Lucas. At
the close of his inspection the Emperor expressed great delight at the
acquisition, as to the genuineness of which he declared he "had not
the slightest doubt," and said he did not regard the price paid as
extremely high. Unfortunately for the Emperor's conviction, a letter
now appeared in the _Times_ from Mr. A.C. Lucas, a son of R.C. Lucas,
who said he recollected the making of the bust, and suggested that
there might be found in its interior a piece of cloth, probably a part
of an old waistcoat of his father's, which had been used as a sort of
filling. In the presence of such a statement there was only one thing
left to be done: to examine the interior of the bust. First of all it
was subjected to the Roentgen rays, the result being to show that the
interior was not homogeneous. A few days after, there was a great
gathering of experts at the Museum, a hole was cut in the wax at the
back of the bust, a bent wire was introduced, and the search for the
famous piece of waistcoat began. It was a dramatic moment as Professor
Latghen with his wire explored the interior of the bust, and the
tension reached its highest point when the Professor, drawing from the
bust what was evidently a piece of cloth, exclaimed, "_Hier ist die
Veste!_" On being further withdrawn the substance proved to be about
two square inches of a grey, canvas-like material, feeling soft and
velvety to the touch. It was a disagreeable discovery for the Germans,
but it was got over by the suggestion that the original bust had been
entrusted to Lucas for repair, and that in this way the waistcoat had
got into it. The "poor English newspapers," Dr. Bode said, referring
to the sarcastic comments on the discovery from the other side of the
Channel, "had had, without any acquaintance with our bust or with the
work of its alleged forger, to give this particular form of expression
to their ill-humour at the sale." As a matter of fact, the bust,
whoever made it, is a lovely work of art, as every one who has seen it
readily admits.

The Emperor's friendship with Mr. Theodore Roosevelt, which was now to
be confirmed by personal acquaintance, throws a side light on his own
character, and testifies to his desire to keep in touch with the
rulers of other countries - another illustration, by the way, of his
consistency, since he laid down the policy of cultivating friendly
relations with foreign rulers at the very commencement of his reign.
Probably many letters in the large characteristic handwriting of both
men have passed between them, and there probably always existed a
desire on the part of the wielder of the mailed fist to make the
personal acquaintance of the advocate of the big stick. The meeting
occurred in May, 1910, after Mr. Roosevelt had shot wild beasts in
Africa, visited Egypt, London, Vienna, Rome, and other continental
cities, with a cohort of newspaper correspondents, and caused by his
speeches political, if fortunately harmless, disturbance almost
everywhere he went. When in Berlin he was to have lodged at the
Emperor's palace; but the Emperor's hospitable intent was frustrated
by the death of King Edward VII, which prevented all entertainment in
the home of his German nephew.

The Roosevelt party, consisting of the ex-President, Mrs. Roosevelt,
and Miss Ethel Roosevelt, arrived in Berlin on May 11th from
Stockholm, and at noon the same day were taken by royal train to
Potsdam. At the New Palace the party were heartily greeted by the
Emperor, whom they found standing on the steps waiting to receive
them. After shaking hands the Emperor led his guests into a small
reception-room, where they were introduced to the Empress, the Crown
Prince and Crown Princess, and other members of the imperial family.
The Emperor then took them to the Shell Room, so called from its being
inlaid with shells and rare stones, and here were found some of the
Emperor's high officials, including Admiral von Müller, chief of the
Marine Cabinet, and one of the most able and amiable of the Emperor's
entourage, who had met Mr. Roosevelt when on his trip to America with
Prince Henry several years before. Luncheon followed at six small
tables in the Jasper Gallery, the Emperor taking his seat between Mrs.
Roosevelt and the Crown Princess, while the Empress had Mr. Roosevelt
on her left and her eldest son, the Crown Prince, on her right.
Princess Victoria Louise, the Emperor's only daughter, occupied a seat
on Mr. Roosevelt's left. After lunch was over the guests went back to
the Shell Room, and here the Emperor, taking Mr. Roosevelt apart,
began a conversation so long and animated that the shades of evening
began to fall before it ended. The Roosevelts did not return to Berlin
by train, but were first driven by the Emperor to inspect Sans Souci,
and were afterwards whirled back to Berlin in the yellow imperial
motors.

Only two other incidents of the visit need be mentioned. One of them
was a lecture on "The World Movement," delivered by Mr. Roosevelt in
very husky tones (for he was suffering badly from hoarseness) at
Berlin University, in the presence of the Emperor and Empress. The
other was a parade of 12,000 troops, arranged by the Emperor at
Doeberitz, the great military exercise camp near Potsdam, which Mr.
Roosevelt, clad in a khaki coat and breeches, and wearing brown
leather gaiters and black slouch hat, observed from horseback beside
the Emperor. As the troops went by at the close of the review the
Emperor and Mr. Roosevelt saluted in military fashion simultaneously.

Immediately after the visit of the Roosevelts, the Emperor was called
to England to attend the funeral of King Edward VII. The imperial
yacht _Hohenzollern_, with the Emperor on board, arrived in England on
May 19th. Next day the Emperor travelled to Victoria terminus, where
he was received and warmly embraced by King George. They proceeded to
Buckingham Palace, where the Emperor's first call was made on the
widowed Queen Alexandra. On the 21st took place the funeral of King
Edward, the procession to Westminster Abbey, where the service was
held, being headed by King George with the Emperor on his right and
the Duke of Connaught on his left. Both the Emperor and the Duke were
dressed in Field-Marshal's uniform and carried the bâtons of their
rank. The countenance of the Emperor is described by a chronicler of
the time (and the _Times_) as wearing "an expression grave even to
severity."

The procession moved slowly on to the famous Abbey, the Emperor riding
a grey horse, saluting at intervals as he rode along. On arrival at
the Abbey an incident occurred. As soon as Queen Alexandra's carriage
arrived and drew up, the Emperor, according to the accounts of
eyewitnesses, ran to the door of the carriage with so much alacrity
that he had reached it before the royal servants, and when it appeared
that her Majesty was not to alight from that side of the carriage, the
Emperor motioned the lacqueys round to the other door, and was there
before them to assist her Majesty. This he did, after himself opening
the door. The Emperor remained in England only a very few days after
the funeral, seeing old friends, among them Lord Kitchener.

As of interest to both Englishmen and Germans may be mentioned the
tour through India undertaken by the Crown Prince in November. Steele
once happily said of a Lady Hastings that "to love her was a liberal
education"; to make a tour through India, it might similarly be said,
is an education in the extent and character of British imperial power
and administration. The Crown Prince naturally devoted a goodly share
of his time to the delights of sport, including tiger-shooting and
pig-sticking, but he must also have learned much of England's fine
imperial spirit from his intercourse with an official hierarchy as
honest and conscientious as that of his own country. The Crown Prince,
on his return home, published a volume of hunting reminiscences which
does no small credit to him as an author.

The Emperor's "shining armour" political remark dates from this
period. He was on a visit to his Triplice ally, Kaiser Franz Josef, in
September, 1910, and made a speech at the Vienna Town Hall on the 21st
which contained a reference to the loyal conduct he claimed Germany
had observed when the action of Austria-Hungary in annexing Bosnia and
Herzegovina, despite the wording of the Treaty of Berlin, had raised
an outcry in other countries, and in particular strained Austrian
relations with Russia. After thanking his audience for the personal
reception given him, he continued:

"On the other hand, it seems to me I read in your resolution
the agreement of the city of Vienna with the action of an
ally in taking his stand in shining armour at a grave moment
by the side of your most gracious sovereign."

The outcry caused in the world by Austria's high-handed annexation,
and especially in Russia, theoretically always Austria's most probable
enemy, owing to conflicting interests in the Balkans, subsided, we
know, as suddenly as it was raised. The reason, it is currently
believed, and the form in which the rays of the shining armour acted,
was an intimation from the Emperor to the Czar that, if necessary,
Germany was prepared to fight for Austria.

Peoples are said to have the institutions, and husbands the wives,
they deserve; but if German cities, and especially Berlin, have the
police they deserve, the fact speaks very uncomplimentarily for their
inhabitants. Foreigners in Germany, coming from countries where
manners are more natural and obliging, frequently use the adjectives
"brutal" and "stupid" when speaking of the Prussian constable. The
proceedings of the Berlin police during the Moabit riots in the
capital in September this year are often quoted as an example of their
brutality, while, as to stupidity, it is enough to say that a stranger
in Berlin, discussing its mounted police, naïvely remarked that what
most struck him about them was the look of intelligence on the faces
of the horses. Judgments of this kind are too sweeping. It should be
remembered that Germany is surrounded by countries of which the
riff-raff is at all times seeking refuge in it or passing through it,
that polyglot swindlers of every kind, the most refined as well as the
most commonplace, abound, and that Anarchists are not yet an extinct
species. For the Prussian police, moreover, there is a Social Democrat
behind every bush.

Possibly to this condition of things, and to the suspicion that Social
Democratic organizers were about, was due the gallant charge made by
half a dozen policemen, with drawn swords in their hands and revolvers
at their belts, on four inoffensive English and American journalists
during the Moabit riots. Towards midnight of September 29th the
journalists were seated in an open taximeter cab, in a brilliantly
lighted square, which some little time before had been swept of
rioters - rioters from the Berlin police point of view being any one,
man, woman, or child, who is, with guilty or innocent intent, it makes
no difference, in or near a theatre of disturbance. Suddenly half a
dozen burly policemen, led on by a police spy, as he afterwards turned
out to be, charged the cab and laid about them with their swords. They
probably only intended to use the flat of their weapons, but one of
them succeeded in slashing deeply the hand of Reuter's representative,
who was of the party. The other journalists escaped with contusions
and bruises, thanks chiefly to the sides of the cab impeding the
sword-play of the attackers.

The journalists naturally complained to their Ambassadors, who took up
their cause with commendable readiness. Without immediate effect,
however; the authorities, though themselves very strong on the point
of duty, wondered much at journalists being in a place where duty
alone could have brought them, and refused any sort of apology or
other satisfaction. The Government, however, eventually expressed its
"regret," and a year or two after, possibly in the spirit of
conciliation and compensation, agreed to give foreign journalists in
Berlin the _passe-partout_, or _coupe-fil_, as it is known in France,
which is one of the privileges most valued by the journalist, native
and foreign, in Paris.

Among the international agreements of the year was a commercial one
between Germany and America. Commercial relations between the two
countries have never been quite satisfactory to either, and if there
is no tariff war, occasions of tariff tension, with consequent
disturbance of trade, constantly arise. Germany's European commercial
treaties have secured her a sufficiency of raw material for her
industry. Her chief object now is not so much perhaps to facilitate
imports of material from other countries as to find markets, in
America as elsewhere, for her industry's finished products.
Consequently she strongly dislikes the high tariff barriers of the
United States, inaugurated by the Dingley tariff of 1897, and has in
addition certain grievances against that country regarding customs
administration in respect of appraisement, invoices, and the like. Her
commercial connexion with America dates from the treaty of "friendship
and commerce" made by Frederick the Great, and having the
most-favoured-nation treatment as its basis; a regular treaty of the
same kind between Prussia and America was entered into in 1828; and
since then commercial relations have been regulated provisionally by a
series of short-term agreements which, however, America claims, do not
confer on Germany unrestricted right to most-favoured-nation
treatment. By the agreement now in force, concluded this year (1910),
America and Germany grant each other the benefit of their minimum
duties.

Since the "November storm" the Emperor had made no reference to the
doctrine of Divine Right, nor given any indication of a desire to
exercise the "personal regiment" which is the natural corollary to it.
It has been seen that the doctrine, viewed from the English
standpoint, is a species of mental malady to which Hohenzollern
monarchs are hereditarily subject. It recurs intermittently and
particularly whenever a Hohenzollern monarch speaks in Koenigsberg,
the Scone of Prussia, where Prussian Kings are crowned. When at
Koenigsberg this year the Emperor suffered from a return of the royal
_idée fixe_. "Here my grandfather," he said,

"placed, by his own right, the crown of the Kings of Prussia
on his head, once again laying stress upon the fact that it



Online LibraryStanley ShawWilliam of Germany → online text (page 26 of 31)