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was conferred upon him by the Grace of God alone, not by
Parliament, by meetings of the people, or by popular
decisions; and that he considered himself the chosen
instrument of Heaven and as such performed his duties as
regent and as ruler."

Speaking of himself on the occasion he said:

"Considering myself as an Instrument of the Lord, without
being misled by the views and opinions of the day, I go my
way, which is devoted solely and alone to the prosperity and
peaceful development of our Fatherland."

The Emperor, by the way, on this occasion made what sounds like an
indirect reference to the Suffragette craze. "What shall our women,"
he asked, after mentioning the pattern Queen of Prussia, Queen Louise,

"learn from the Queen? They must learn that the principal
task of the German woman does not lie in attending public
meetings and belonging to societies, in the attainment of
supposed rights in which women can emulate men, but in the
quiet work of the home and in the family."

The Emperor's reference to his divine appointment did not pass without
a good deal of popular criticism in Germany, but nearly all Germans
were at one with the Emperor in his view of the proper sphere for
womanly activities.

The Emperor's domestic life for the last two or three years, including
the early months of the present year, have passed without special
cause of interest or excitement, if we except the visit he and the
Empress made to London in May, 1911, to be present at the unveiling of
Queen Victoria's statue, and the announcement he was able to make a
few months ago that his only daughter, Princess Victoria Louise, had
become engaged to Prince Ernest August, Duke of Cumberland, the still
persisting claimant to the Kingdom of Hannover, absorbed by Prussia in
1866. The visit to London lasted only five days and produced no
incident particularly worthy of record. The engagement of Princess
Victoria Louise, while generally believed to be a love-match,
possesses also political significance for Germany, not indeed as
putting an end to the claim of the Duke of Cumberland, but as
practically effecting a reconciliation between the Hohenzollerns and
Guelphs. The young Duke of Brunswick had already implicitly renounced
his claim to Hannover by entering the German army and taking the oath
of allegiance to the Emperor as War Lord, so that, when his father
dies, the Guelph claim to Hannover will die with him.

It is difficult to determine whether the Government's abandonment of
its design to amend the Prussian franchise system in 1910, its
submissive attitude towards the Pope's Borromeo Encyclical in 1911,
the rapid rise in food prices which marked both years, or finally, the
Emperor's failure to secure a slice of Morocco for Germany had most
antagonizing effect on German popular feeling; but whatever the cause,
the general elections of January, 1912, proved a tremendous Socialist
victory, which must have been, and still remains, gall and wormwood to
the Emperor. Notwithstanding official efforts, over one-third of the
votes polled at the first ballots went for Social Democratic
candidates. The number of seats thus obtained was 64, and this number,
after the second ballots, rose to 110, thus making the Socialist party
numerically the strongest in the Reichstag. Up to the present,
however, Herr Bebel and his cohorts appear to be happy in possessing
power rather than in using it.

Before completing the Emperor's domestic chronicle of more recent
years, a few lines may be devoted to the role in which he has last
appeared before the public - that of farmer. On February 12, 1913, he
attended a meeting of the German Agricultural Council in Berlin, and
with only a few statistical notes to help him narrated in lively and
amusing fashion his experiences as owner of a farm, the management of
which he has been personally supervising since 1898. The farm is part
of the Cadinen Estate, bequeathed to him by an admirer and universally
known for the majolica ware made out of the clay found on the
property. The Emperor was able to show that he had achieved remarkable
success with his farm, and particularly with a fine species of bull,
_Bos indicus major_, he maintained on it. A year or two before, at a
similar meeting, when speaking of the same breed of bull, he caused
much hilarity among the military portion of his audience by jokingly
remarking that it had "nothing to do with the General Staff." On the
present occasion he also caused laughter by recounting how he had
"fired," to use an American expression exactly equivalent to the
German word employed by the Emperor, a tenant who "wasn't any use."
The Emperor, however, would, as it turned out, have done better by not
mentioning the incident, for the Supreme Court at Leipzig a few days
subsequently quashed the Emperor's order of ejectment on the tenant
and condemned him to pay all the costs in the case. The role of
farmer, it may be added, is one which, had he been born a country
gentleman like Bismarck, the Emperor would have filled with complete
success. But in what role would he not have done well?

Foreign politics everywhere for the last three or four years have been
full of incident, outcry, and bloodshed. The state of things, indeed,
prevailing in the world for some time past is extraordinary. A
visitant from another planet would imagine that normal peace and
abnormal war had changed places, and that civilized mankind now regard
peace as an interlude of war, not war as an interlude of peace. He
would be wrong, of course, but the race in armament, which threatens
to leave the nations taking part in it financially breathless and
exhausted, might easily lead him astray. On some of the situations
with which these politics are concerned we may briefly touch.

For the last three or four years the dominant note in the music of
what is called the European Concert, taking Europe for the moment to
include Great Britain, has been the state of Anglo-German relations.
There have been times, as has been seen, when public feeling in both
England and Germany was strongly antagonized, but all through the
period there has been evident a desire on the part of both Governments
to adopt a mutually conciliatory attitude, and if the war in the
Balkans does not lead to a general international conflagration, which
at present appears improbable, the two countries may arrive at a
permanent understanding. There was, and not so very long ago, a
similar state of tension, prolonged for many years, between England
and France. That tension not only ceased, but was converted into
political friendship by the Anglo-French Agreement of 1904. Parallel
with this tension between England and France was the tension between
England and Russia, owing to the latter's advance towards England's
Indian possessions. The latter state of things ended with the
Anglo-Russian Agreement of 1907, and it should engender satisfaction
and hope, therefore, to those who now apprehend a war between England
and Germany to note that neither of the tensions referred to, though
both were long and bitter, developed into war.

The tension between England and Germany of late years has been
tightened rather than relaxed by ministerial speeches as well as by
newspaper polemics in both countries. One of the most disturbing of
the former was the speech delivered by Mr. Lloyd George at the Mansion
House on July 21, 1911. Doubtless with the approval of the Prime
Minister, Mr. Asquith, Mr. Lloyd George said:

"I believe it is essential, in the highest interest not
merely of this country, but of the world, that Britain
should at all hazards maintain her place and her prestige
amongst the Great Powers of the world. Her potent influence
has many a time been in the past, and may yet be in the
future, invaluable to the cause of human liberty. It has
more than once in the past redeemed continental nations,
which are sometimes too apt to forget that service, from
overwhelming disasters and even from national extinction. I
would make great sacrifices to preserve peace. I conceive
that nothing would justify a disturbance of international
goodwill except questions of the gravest national moment.
But if a situation were to be forced upon us in which peace
could only be preserved by the surrender of the great and
beneficent position Britain has won by centuries of heroism
and achievement, by allowing Britain to be treated, where
her interests are vitally affected, as if she were of no
account in the cabinet of nations, then I say emphatically
that peace at that price would be a humiliation intolerable
for a great country like ours to endure."

These rhetorical platitudes were uttered at the time of the
"conversations" between the French and German Foreign Offices about
the compensation claimed by Germany for giving France, once for all, a
free hand in Morocco. Germany was apparently making demands of an
exorbitant character, and what Mr. Lloyd George really meant was that
if Germany persisted in these demands England would fight on the side
of France in order to resist them. As a genuinely democratic speaker,
however, he followed the rule of many publicists, who are paid for
their articles by the column and say to themselves, "Why use two words
when five will do?"

Another unfortunate remark that may be noted in this connexion was
that made by Mr. Winston Churchill in referring to the German navy as
"to some extent a luxury." The remark, though true (also to a certain
extent), was unfortunate, for it irritated public opinion in Germany,
where it was regarded as a species of impertinent interference.

As evidence of the desire on the part of the Emperor and his
Government for a friendly arrangement with England may be quoted the
statement made in December, 1910, by the German Chancellor, Herr von
Bethmann-Hollweg, _to_ the following effect: -

"We also meet England in the desire to avoid rivalry in
regard to armaments, and non-binding _pourparlers_, which
have from time to time taken place, have been conducted on
both sides in a friendly spirit. We have always advanced the
opinion that a frank and sincere interchange of views,
followed by an understanding with regard to the economic and
political interests of the two countries, offers the surest
means of allaying all mistrust on the subject of the
relations of the Powers to each other on sea and land."

The Chancellor went on to explain that this mistrust had manifested
itself "not in the case of the Governments, but of public opinion."

With regard, in particular, to a naval understanding between England
and Germany, Chancellor von Bülow, in a Budget speech in March, 1909,
declared that up to that time no proposals regarding the dimensions of
the fleets or the amount of naval expenditure which could serve as a
basis for an understanding had been made on the side of England,
though non-binding conversations had taken place on the subject
between authoritative English and German personalities. In March last
year (1912) such proposals may be said to have been made in the form
of a suggestion by Sir Edward Grey during the Budget debate that the
ratio of 16 to 10 (i.e., 50 per cent. more and 10 per cent. over)
should express the naval strength of the two countries. The suggestion
was "welcomed" by Admiral von Tirpitz on behalf of Germany in
February, 1913. And there the matter rests.

A perhaps inevitable result of the tension between England and Germany
during the period under consideration has been the amount of mutual
espionage discovered to be going on in both countries. An incident
that attracted wide attention was the arrest in 1910 of Captains
Brandon and Trench, the former of whom was arrested at Borkum and the
latter at Emden. They were tried before the Supreme Court at Leipzig,
and were both sentenced to incarceration in a fortress for four years.
Many other arrests, prosecutions, and sentences have taken place both
in England and Germany since then, with the consequence that English
travellers in Germany and German travellers in England, particularly
where the travellers are men of military bearing and are in seaside
regions, are now liable, under very small provocation, to a suspicion
of being spies. An English lady recently made the acquaintance of a
German in England. He was a very nice man, she said, and went on to
relate how they were talking one day about Ireland. She happened to
mention Tipperary. "Oh, I know Tipperary," the German officer said;
"it is in my department." "It was a revelation to me," the lady
concluded when repeating the conversation to her friends. As a matter
of fact, the Intelligence Departments of the army in both Germany and
England are well acquainted with the roads, hills, streams, forts,
harbours, and similar details of topography in almost all countries of
the world besides their own.

In regard to 1911 should be recorded the journey of the Crown Prince
and Crown Princess to England to represent the Emperor at the
coronation of King George in June; the outbreak in September of the
Turco-Italian War, which placed the Emperor in a dilemma, of which one
fork was his duty to Italy as an ally in the Triplice and the other
his platonic friendship with the Commander of the Faithful; and,
lastly, the suspicion of the Emperor's designs that arose in connexion
with the fortification of Flushing at a cost to Holland of some
£3,000,000. The Emperor was supposed to have insisted on the
fortification in order to prevent the use of the Netherlands by Great
Britain as a naval base against Germany. Like many another scare in
connexion with foreign policy, the supposition may be regarded only as
a product of intelligent journalistic "combination."

Finally, among subsidiary occurrences, should be mentioned the meeting
of the Emperor and the Czar in July, 1912, at Port Baltic in Finnish
waters, accompanied by their Foreign Ministers, with the official
announcement of the stereotyped "harmonious relations" between the two
monarchs that followed; and the premature prolongation, with the
object of showing solidarity regarding the Balkan situation, of the
Triple Alliance, which, entered into, as mentioned earlier, in the
year 1882, had already been renewed in 1891, 1896, and 1902. The next
renewal should be in 1925, unless in the meantime an international
agreement to which all Great Powers are signatories should render it
superfluous.

The war in the Balkans need only be referred to in these pages in so
far as it concerns Germany. The position of Germany in regard to it,
so far, appears simple; she will actively support Austria's larger
interests in order to keep faith with her chief ally of the Triplice,
and so long as Austria and Russia can agree regarding developments in
the Balkan situation, there is no danger of war among the Great
Powers. People smiled at the declaration of the Powers some little
time ago that the _status quo_ in the Balkans should be maintained;
but it should be remembered that the whole phrase is _status quo ante
bellum_, and that, once war has broken out, the _status_, the position
of affairs, is in a condition of solution, and that no new _status_
can arise until the war is over and its consequences determined by
treaties. The result of the present war, let it be hoped, will be to
confine Turkey to the Orient, where she belongs, and that the Balkan
States, possibly after a period of internecine feud, will take their
share in modern European progress and civilization.

The amount of declaration, asseveration, recrimination (chiefly
journalistic), rectification, intimidation, protestation,
pacification, and many other wordy processes that have been employed
in almost all countries with the avowed object of maintaining peace
during the last four years is in striking contrast to the small
progress actually made in regard to a final settlement of either of
the two great international points at issue - the limitation of
armaments and compulsory arbitration.

Enough perhaps has been said in preceding pages to show the attitude
of the Emperor, and consequently the attitude of his Government,
towards them. A history of the long agitation in connexion with them
is beyond the scope of this work. The agitation itself, however, may
be viewed as a step, though not a very long one, on the way to the
desired solution, and it is a matter for congratulation that the two
subjects have been, and are still being, so freely and copiously and,
on the whole, so sympathetically and hopefully ventilated. The great
difficulty, apparently, is to find what diplomatists call the proper
"formula" - the law-that-must-be-obeyed. Unfortunately, the finding of
the formula cannot be regarded as the end of the matter; there still
remains the finding of what jurists call the "sanction," that is to
say, the power to enforce the formula when found and to punish any
nation which fails to act in accordance with it. Nothing but an
Areopagus of the nations can furnish such a sanction, but with the
present arrangements for balancing power in Europe, to say nothing of
the ineradicable pugnacity, greed, and ambition of human nature, such
an Areopagus seems very like an impossibility. Time, however, may
bring it about. If it should, and the Golden Age begin to dawn, an
epoch of new activities and new horizons, quite possibly more novel
and interesting than any which has ever preceded it, will open for
mankind.




XVI.



THE EMPEROR TO-DAY

What strikes one most, perhaps, on looking back over the Emperor's
life and time, are two surprising inconsistencies, one relating to the
Emperor himself, the other to that part of his time with which he has
been most closely identified.

The first arises from the fact that a man so many-sided, so impulsive,
so progressive, so modern - one might almost say so American - should
have altered so little either in character or policy during quarter of
a century. This is due to what we have called his mediæval nature. He
is to-day the same Hohenzollern he was the day he mounted the throne,
observing exactly the same attitude to the world abroad and to his
folk at home, tenacious of exactly the same principles, enunciating
exactly the same views in politics, religion, morals, and art - in
everything which concerns the foundations of social life. He still
believes himself, as his speeches and conduct show, the selected
instrument of Heaven, and acts towards his people and addresses them
accordingly. He still opposes all efforts at political change, as
witness his attitude towards electoral reform, towards the
Germanization of Prussian Poland, towards the Socialists, towards
Liberalism in all its manifestations. He is still, as he was at the
outset of his reign, the patron of classical art, classical drama, and
classical music. He is still the War Lord with the spirit of a bishop
and a bishop with the spirit of the War Lord. He is still the model
husband and father he always has been. Most men change one way or
another as time goes on. With the Emperor time for five-and-twenty
years appears to have stood still.

The inconsistency relating to his time arises from the contrast
between the real and the seeming character of the reign. For,
strikingly and anomalously enough, while the Emperor has been steadily
pursuing an economic policy, a policy of peace, his entire reign, as
one turns over the pages of its history, seems to resound, during
almost every hour, with martial shoutings, confused noises, the
clatter of harness, the clash of swords, and the tramp of armies. From
moment to moment it recalls those scenes from Shakespearean drama in
which indeed no dead are actually seen upon the stage, but at
intervals the air is filled with battle cries, "with excursions and
alarms," with warriors brandishing their weapons, calling for horses,
hacking at imaginary foes, and defying the world in arms.

And yet in reality it has been a period of domestic peace throughout.
Though there has been incessant talk of war, and at times war may have
been near, it never came, unless the South West African and Boxer
expeditions be so called. Commerce and trade have gone on increasing
by leaps and bounds. The population has grown at the rate of nearly
three-quarters of a million a year. Emperor William the First's social
policy has been closely followed. The navy has been built, the army
strengthened, the Empire's finances reorganized; in whatever direction
one looks one finds a record of solid and substantial and peaceful
progress and prosperity. A great deal of it is owing, admittedly, to
the Germans themselves, but no small share of it is due to the
"impulsive" Emperor's consistency of character and conduct.

Probably the inconsistencies are only apparent. Germany and her
Emperor have grown, not developed, if by development is meant a
radical alteration in structure or mentality, and if regard is had to
the real Germany and the real Emperor, not to the Germany of the
tourist, and not to the Emperor of contemporary criticism. It has been
seen that the Emperor's nature and policy have not altered. The
Constitution of Germany has not altered, nor her Press, nor her
political parties, nor her social system, nor, indeed, any of the
vital institutions of her national life. With one possible
exception - the navy. The navy is a new organic feature, and, like all
organisms, is exerting deep and far-reaching influences. Germany, of
course, is in a process of development, a state of transition. But
nations are at all times in a state of transition, more or less
obvious; and it will require yet a good many years to show what new
forms and fruits the development now going on in Germany is to bring.
The Emperor, it is safe to say, will remain the same, mediæval in
nature, modern in character, to the end of his life.

The main thing, however, to be noted both about Germany and the German
Emperor is what they stand for in the movement of world-ideas at the
present time. Germans cause foreigners to smile when they prophesy
that their culture, their civilization, will become the culture and
the civilization of the world. The sameness of ideas that prevailed in
mediæval times about life and religion - about this life and the life
to come - was succeeded, and first in Germany, by an enormous diversity
of ideas about life and religion, beginning with the Rationalism (or
"enlightenment," as the Germans call it) which set in after the
Reformation and the Renaissance; and this diversity again
promises - let us at least hope - to go back, in one of the great
circles that make one think human thought, too, moves in accordance
with planetary laws, to a sameness of views among the nations in
regard to the real interests of society, which are peace, religious
harmony through toleration, commercial harmony through international
intercourse, and the mutual goodwill of governments and peoples. For
all this order of ideas the Emperor, notwithstanding his mailed fist
and shining armour, stands, and in this spirit both he and the German
mind are working.

More than half a century has passed over the Emperor's head; let us
look a little more closely at him as the man and the monarch he is
to-day. Time appears to have dealt gently with him; the heart, one
hears it said, never grows bald, and in all but years the Emperor is
probably as young and untiring as ever.

His personal appearance has altered little in the last decade. An
observer, who had an opportunity of seeing him at close quarters in
1902, describes him, as he then appeared, as follows: -

"I was standing within arm's length of him at Cuxhaven,
where we were waiting the landing of Prince Henry, his
brother, on his return from America. The _Deutschland_ had
to be warped alongside the quay, and the Emperor, in the
uniform of a Prussian general of infantry, meanwhile mixed
with the suite and chatted, now to one, now to another, with
his usual bonhomie. I was speaking to the American attaché,
Captain H - - , when the Emperor came up, and naturally I
stood a little to one side.

"The thing that most struck me was the Emperor's large grey
eyes. As they looked sharply into those of Captain H - - or
glanced in my direction, they seemed to show absolutely no
feeling, no sentiment of any kind. Not that they gave the
notion of hardness or falsity. They were simply like two



Online LibraryStanley ShawWilliam of Germany → online text (page 27 of 31)