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grey mirrors on which outward things made no impression.

"Two other features did not strike me as anything out of the
ordinary, but the whole face had an air of ability,
cleverness, briskness, and health. The Emperor is about
middle height, with the body very erect, the walk firm, and
is very energetic in his gestures. I did not notice the
shortness of the left arm, but that may have been because
his left hand was leaning on his sword-hilt. Captain H - -
told me he could not put on his overcoat without assistance,
and that the hand is so weak he can do very little with it.
There was nothing of a Hohenzollern hanging under-lip."

The following judgment was formed a year or two ago by an American
diplomatist: "I have often met him," the diplomatist said,

"and only speak of the impression he made on me. I would
describe him as intelligent rather than intellectual. He
appreciates men of learning and of philosophic mind, and
while not learned and philosophic himself, enjoys seeing the
learned and philosophic at work, and gladly recognizes their
merit when their labours are thorough and well done. His
mind is marvellously quick, but it does not dwell on
anything for long at a time. It takes in everything
presented to it in, so to speak, a hop, skip, and jump.

"In company he is never at rest, and surprises one by his
lively play of features and the entirely natural and
unaffected expression of his thoughts. He is sitting at a
lecture, perhaps, when a notion occurs to him, and forthwith
indicates it by a humorous grimace or wink to some one
sitting far away from him. He is always saying unexpected
things. On the whole, he is a right good fellow, and I can
imagine that, though he can come down hard on one with a
heavy hand and stern look, he does not do so by the instinct
of a despot, but acting under a sense of duty."

Another diplomatist has remarked the Emperor's habit in conversation
of tapping the person he is talking to on the shoulder and of
scrutinizing him all over - "ears, nose, clothes, until it makes one
feel quite uncomfortable."

The next sketch of him is as he may be seen any day during the
yachting week in June at Kiel: -

"The Emperor is in the smoking-room of the Yacht Club,
dressed in a blue lounge suit with a white peaked cap. He is
sitting carelessly on the side of a table, dangling his legs
and discussing with fellow-members and foreign yachtsmen the
experience of the day, now speaking English, now French, now
German. He seems quite in his element as sportsman, and puts
every one at ease round him. His expression is animated and
his voice hearty, if a little strident to foreign ears. His
right hand and arm are in ceaseless movement, emphasizing
and enforcing everything he says. He asks many questions and
often invites opinion, and when it differs from his own, as
sometimes happens, he takes it quite good-humouredly."

To-day the Emperor is outwardly much the same as he has just been
described. He is perhaps slightly more inclined to stoutness. His
features, though they speak of cleverness and manliness, are forgotten
as one looks into the keen and quickly moving grey eyes with their
peculiar dash of yellow. He is well set up, as is proper for a soldier
ever actively engaged in military duties, and his stride continues
firm and elastic. He is still constantly in the saddle. His hair,
still abundant, is yet beginning to show the first touches of the
coming frost of age, and the reddish brown moustache, once famous for
its haughtily upturned ends, has taken, either naturally or by the aid
of Herr Haby, the Court barber, who attends him daily, a nearly level

In public, whether mounted or on foot, he preserves the somewhat stern
air he evidently thinks appropriate to his high station, but more
frequently than formerly the features relax into a pleasant smile. The
colour of the face is healthy, tending to rosiness, and the general
impression given is that of a clever man, conscious, yet not
overconscious, of his dignity. The shortness of the left arm, a defect
from birth, is hardly noticeable.

The extirpation of a polypus from the Emperor's throat in 1903, which
must have been one of the severest trials of his life when the history
of his father's mortal illness is remembered, might lead one to
suppose that his vocal organs would always suffer from the effects of
the operation. It has fortunately turned out otherwise. His voice was
originally strong by nature, and remains so. It never seems tired,
even when, as it often does, it pleases him to read aloud for his own
pleasure or that of a circle of friends. It frequently occurs that he
will pick up a book, one of his ancient favourites, Horace or Homer
perhaps, Mr. Stewart Houston Chamberlain's "Foundations of the
Nineteenth Century" - a work he greatly admires - or a modern
publication he has read of in the papers, and read aloud from it for
an hour or an hour and a half at a time. Nor is his reading aloud
confined to classical or German books. He is equally disposed to
choose works in English or French or Italian, and when he reads these
he is fond of doing so with a particularly clear and distinct
enunciation, partly as practice for himself, and partly that his
hearers may understand with certainty. This is not all, for there
invariably follows a discussion upon what has been read, and in it the
Emperor takes a constant and often emphatic part. It has been remarked
that at the close of the longest sitting of this character his voice
is as strong and sonorous as at the beginning.

He is still the early riser and hard worker he has always been; still
devotes the greater part of his time to the duties that fall to him as
War Lord; still races about the Empire by train or motor-car,
reviewing troops, laying foundation-stones, unveiling statues,
dedicating churches, attending manoeuvres, encouraging yachting at
Kiel by his presence during the yachting week, or hurrying off to meet
the monarch of a foreign country. He still enjoys his annual trip
along the shores of Norway or breaks away from the cares of State to
pass a few weeks at his Corfu castle, dazzling in its marble whiteness
and overlooking the Acroceraunian mountains, or to hunt or shoot at
the country seat of some influential or wealthy subject. In fine, he
is still engaged with all the energy of his nature, if in a somewhat
less flamboyant fashion than during his earlier years, in his, as he
believes, divinely appointed work of guiding Prussia's destiny and
building up the German Empire.

It is because he is an Empire-builder that his numerous journeys
abroad and restlessness of movement at home have earned for him the
nickname of the "travelling Kaiser." The Germans themselves do not
understand his conduct in this respect. If one urges that Hohenzollern
kings, and none of them more than the Great Elector and Frederick the
Great, were incessant travellers, they will reply that their kings had
to be so at a time when the Empire was not yet established, when
rebellious nobles had to be subdued, and when the spirit of
provincialism and particularism had to be counteracted. Hence, they
say, former Hohenzollerns had to exercise personal control in all
parts of their dominions, see that their military dispositions were
carried out, and study social and economic conditions on the spot; but
nowadays, when the Empire is firmly established, when the
administration is working like a clock and the post and telegraph are
at command, the Emperor should stay at home and direct everything from
his capital.

The Emperor himself evidently takes a different view. He does not
consider the forty-year-old Empire as completed and consolidated, but
regards it much as the Great Elector or Frederick the Great regarded
Prussia when that kingdom was in the making. He believes in
propagating the imperial idea by his personal presence in all parts of
the Empire, and at the same time observing the progress that is being
made there. He is, finally, a believer in getting into personal touch,
as far as is possible, with foreign monarchs, foreign statesmen, and
foreign peoples, for he doubtless sees that with every decade the
interests of nations are becoming more closely identified.

In connexion with the subject of the Emperor's travelling, mention may
be made of the fact that many years ago he thought it necessary to
explain himself publicly in reference to the idea, prevalent among his
people at the time, that he was travelling too much. "On my travels,"
he said,

"I design not only to make myself acquainted with foreign
countries and institutions, and to foster friendly relations
with neighbouring rulers, but these journeys, which have
been often misinterpreted, have high value in enabling me to
observe home affairs from a distance and submit them to a
quiet examination."

He expresses something in the same order of thought in a speech
telling of his reflections on the high sea concerning his
responsibilities as ruler:

"When one is alone on the high sea, with only God's starry
heaven above him, and holds communion with himself, one will
not fail to appreciate the value of such a journey. I could
wish many of my countrymen to live through hours like these,
in which one can take reckoning of what he has designed and
what achieved. Then one would be cured of over
self-estimation - and that we all need."

When the Emperor is about to start on a journey, confidential
telegrams are sent to the railway authorities concerned, and
immediately a thorough inspection of the line the Emperor is about to
travel over is ordered. Tunnels, bridges, points, railway crossings,
are all subjected to examination, and spare engines kept in immediate
readiness in case of a breakdown occurring to the imperial train. The
police of the various towns through which the monarch is to pass are
also communicated with and their help requisitioned in taking
precautions for his safety. Like any private person, the Emperor pays
his own fares, which are reckoned at the rate of an average of fifteen
shillings to one pound sterling a mile. A recent journey to
Switzerland cost him in fares £200. Of late years he has saved money
in this respect by the more frequent use of the royal motor-cars. The
royal train is put together by selecting those required from fifteen
carriages which are always ready for an imperial journey. If the
journey is short, a saloon carriage and refreshment car are deemed
sufficient; in case of a long journey the train consists of a buffer
carriage in addition, with two saloon cars for the suite and two
wagons for the luggage. The train is always accompanied by a high
official of the railway, who, with mechanics and spare guard, is in
direct telephonic communication with the engine-driver and guard. The
carriages are coloured alike, ivory-white above the window-line and
lacquered blue below.

All the carriages, with the exception of the saloon dining-car, are of
the corridor type. A table runs down the centre of the dining-car; the
Emperor takes his seat in the centre, while the rest of the suite and
guests take their places at random, save that the elder travellers are
supposed to seat themselves about the Emperor. If the Emperor has
guests with him they naturally have seats beside or in the near
neighbourhood of their host. Breakfast is taken about half-past eight,
lunch at one, and dinner at seven or eight. The Emperor is always
talkative at table, and often draws into conversation the remoter
members of the company, occasionally calling to them by their nickname
or a pet name. He sits for an hour or two after dinner, with a glass
of beer and a huge box of cigars before him, discussing the incidents
of the journey or recalling his experiences at various periods of his

The Emperor's disposition of the year remains much what it was at the
beginning of the reign. The chief changes in it are the omission of a
yachting visit to Cowes, which he made annually from 1889 to 1895,
and, since 1908, the habit of making an annual summer stay at his
Corfu castle, "Achilleion," instead of touring in the Mediterranean
and visiting Italian cities. January is spent in Berlin in connexion
with the New Year festivities, ambassadorial and other Court
receptions, drawing-rooms, and balls, and the celebration of his
birthday on the 27th. The Berlin season extends into the middle of
February, so that part of that month also is spent in Berlin. During
the latter half of February and in March the Emperor is usually at
Potsdam, occasionally motoring to Berlin to give audience or for some
special occasion. April and part of May are passed in Corfu. Towards
the end of May the Emperor returns to Germany and goes to Wiesbaden
for the opera and Festspiele in the royal theatre; but he must be in
Berlin before May has closed, for the spring parade of the Berlin and
Potsdam garrisons on the vast Tempelhofer Field. His return on
horseback from this parade is always the occasion of popular
enthusiasm in Berlin's principal streets. In early June the Emperor
stays at Potsdam or perhaps pays a visit to some wealthy noble, and at
the end of the month the yachting week calls him to Kiel. Once that is
over he proceeds on his annual tour along the coast of Norway.
September sees him back in Germany for the autumn manoeuvres. October
and November are devoted to shooting at Rominten or some other
imperial hunting lodge, or with some large landowner or industrial
magnate. The whole of December is usually spent at Potsdam, save for
an annual visit to his friend Prince Fürstenberg at Donaueschingen.
Naturally he is in Potsdam for Christmas, when all the imperial family
assemble to celebrate the festival in good old German style.

In music, as we know, he retains the classical tastes he has always
cultivated and sometimes dictatorially recommended. Good music, he has
said, is like a piece of lace, not like a display of fireworks. He
still has most musical enjoyment in listening to Bach and Handel. The
former he has spoken of as one of the most "modern" of composers, and
will point out that his works contain melodious passages that might be
the musical thought of Franz Lehar or Leo Fall. He has no great liking
for the music of Richard Strauss, and his admiration of Wagner, if
certain themes, that must, one feels, have been drawn from the music
of the spheres, be excepted, is respectful rather than rapturous. Of
Wagner's works the "Meistersingers" is "my favourite."

A faculty that in the Emperor has developed with the years is that of
applying a sense of humour, not originally small, to the events of
everyday life. He is always ready to joke with his soldiers and
sailors, with artists, professors, ministers - in short, with men of
every class and occupation. Several stories in illustration of his
humour are current, but a homely example or two may here suffice. He
is sitting in semi-darkness in the parquet at the Royal Opera House.
"Le Prophète" is in rehearsal, and it is the last act, in which there
is a powder cask, ready to blow everything to atoms, standing outside
the cathedral. Fraulein Frieda Hempel, as the heroine, appears with a
lighted torch and is about to take her seat on the cask. Suddenly the
imperial voice is heard from the semi-gloom: "Fraulein Hempel, it is
evident you haven't had a military training or you wouldn't take a
light so near a barrel of gunpowder." And the _prima donna_ has to
take her place on the other side of the stage. Or he is presenting
Professor Siegfried Ochs, the famous manager of the Philharmonic
Concerts, with the Order of the Red Eagle, third class, and with a
friendly smile gracefully excuses himself for conferring an "Order of
the third class on a musician of the first class," by pleading
official rule. A third popular anecdote tells of a lady seated beside
him at the dinner-table. Salad is being offered to her, but she thinks
she is bound to give all her attention to the Emperor and takes no
notice of it. Thereupon the Emperor: "Gnadige Frau, an Emperor can
wait, but the salad cannot." Possibly the Emperor had in mind Louis
XIII, who complained that he never ate a plate of warm soup in his
life, it had to pass through so many hands to reach him.

The German takes his theatre as he takes life, seriously. To cough
during a performance attracts embarrassing attention, a sneeze almost
amounts to misdemeanour. To the German the theatre is a part of the
machinery of culture, and accordingly he is not so easily bored as the
Anglo-Saxon playgoer, who demands that drama shall contain that great
essential of all good drama, action. To the Anglo-Saxon, the more
plentiful and rapid the action is, the better. The German, differing
from most Anglo-Saxons, likes historical scenes, great processions,
costume festivals, the representation of mediæval events in which his
monarchs and generals played conspicuous parts. The Emperor has the
same disposition and taste.

Yet both national taste and disposition, like other of the nation's
characteristics, are slowly altering with the growth of the modern
spirit, and Germans now begin to require something of a more modern
kind, a more social order, something that comes home more to their
business and bosoms. Greater variety in subject is asked for, more
laughter and tears, more representations of scenes and life dealing
with everyday doings and the fate of the people as distinguished from
the doings and fate of their rulers and the upper classes. The Emperor
has not followed his people in the new direction. He regards the stage
as a vehicle of patriotism, an instrument of education, a guider of
artistic taste, an inculcator of old-time morality. Its aim, he
appears to think, is not to help to produce, primarily, the good man
and good citizen, but the good man and good monarchist,
and - perhaps - not so much primarily the good monarchist as the liege
subject of the Hohenzollern dynasty. Having secured this, he looks for
the elevation of the public taste along his own lines. He assumes that
the public taste can be elevated from without, from above, when it can
only be elevated proportionately with its progress in general
education and its purification from within. Consequently he is for the
"classical," as in the other arts. But apart from its aims and uses,
the theatre has always appealed to him. His fondness for it is a
Hohenzollern characteristic, which has shown itself, with more or less
emphasis, in monarch after monarch of the line. Nor is it surprising
that monarchs should take pleasure in the stage, since the theatre is
one of the places which brings them and their subjects together in the
enjoyment of common emotions, and shows them, if only at second hand,
the domestic lives of millions, from personal acquaintance with which
their royal birth and surroundings exclude them.

The Emperor treats all artists, male and female, in the same friendly
and unaffected manner. There is never the least soupçon of
condescension in the one case or flirtation in the other, but in both
a lively and often unexpectedly well-informed interest in the play or
other artistic performance of the occasion, and in the actors' or
actresses' personal records. The nationality of the artist has
apparently nothing to do with this interest. The Emperor invites
French, Italian, English, American or Scandinavian artists to the
royal box after a performance as often as he invites the artists of
his own country, and, once launched on a conversation, nothing gives
him more pleasure than to expound his views on music, painting, or the
drama, as the case may be. "Tempo - rhythm - colour," he has been heard
to insist on to a conductor whom in the heat of his conviction he had
gradually edged into a corner and before whom he stood with
gesticulating arms - "All the rest is _Schwindel_." At an entertainment
given by Ambassador Jules Cambon at the French Embassy after the
Morocco difficulty had been finally adjusted, he became so interested
while talking to a group of French actors that high dignatories of the
Empire, including Princes, the Imperial Chancellor and Ministers,
standing in another part of the _salon_, grew impatient and had to
detach one of their number to call the Emperor's attention to their
presence. Since then, it is whispered, it has become the special
function of an adjutant, when the occasion demands it, diplomatically
and gently to withdraw the imperial _causeur_ from too absorbing

Several anecdotes are current having reference to the Emperor as
sportsman. One of them, for example, mentions a loving-cup of
Frederick William III's time, kept at the hunting lodge of Letzlingen,
which is filled with champagne and must be emptied at a draught by
anyone visiting the lodge for the first time. This is great fun for
the Emperor, who a year or two ago made a number of Berlin guests,
including Chancellor von Bethmann-Hollweg, the Austrian Ambassador,
Szoghenyi-Marich, the Secretary for the Navy, Admiral von Tirpitz, and
the Crown Prince of Greece stand before him and drain the cup. As the
story goes, "the attempts of the guests to drink out of the heavy cup,
which is fixed into a set of antlers in such a way as to make it
difficult to drink without spilling the wine, caused great amusement."

The principles of sport generally, it may be here interpolated, are
not quite the same in Germany as in England, though no country has
imitated England in regard to sport so closely and successfully as
Germany. Up to a comparatively few years ago the Germans had neither
inclination nor means for it, and though always enthusiastic hunters,
hunting - not the English fox-hunting, but hunting the boar and the
bear, the wolf and the deer - was almost the sole form of manly sport
practised. _Turnen_, the most popular sort of German indoor
gymnastics, only began in 1861, a couple of years after the birth of
the Emperor. There are now nearly a dozen cricket clubs alone in
Berlin, football clubs all over the Empire, tennis clubs in every
town, rowing clubs at all the seaports and along the large rivers,
nearly all following English rules and in numerous cases using English
sporting terms. At the same time sport is not the religion it is in
England - indeed, to keep up the metaphor, hardly a living creed.

The German attitude towards sport is not altogether the same as the
English attitude. In England the object of the game is that the best
man shall win, that he shall not be in any way unfairly or unequally
handicapped _vis-à-vis_ his opponent, and the honour, not the
intrinsic value of the prize, is the main consideration. These
principles are not yet fully understood or adopted in Germany,
possibly owing to the early military training of the German youth
making the carrying off the prize anyhow and by any means the main
object. It is _Realpolitik_ in sport, and a _Realpolitik_ which is not
wholly unknown in England; but while the spirit of _Realpolitik_ is
still perceivable in German sport, it is equally perceivable that the
standard English way of viewing sporting competition is becoming more
and more approached in Germany.

The Emperor is an enthusiastic patron of sport of all healthy outdoor
kinds, not as sympathizing with the English youth's disposition to
regard play as work and work as play, to give to his business any time
he can spare from his sport, but because he estimates at its full
value its place in the national health-budget. His personal likings
are for bear-shooting, deer-stalking, and yachting, but he also wields
the lawn-tennis racket and the rapier with fair skill. The names of
several of his hunting lodges - -Rominten, Springe, Hubertusstock, and
so on - are familiar to many people in all countries. Rominten preserve
is in East Prussia, and embraces about four square miles, with
little lakes and some rising ground. September is the Emperor's
favourite month for visiting it. Here one year he shot a famous
eight-and-twenty-ender antelope, which had come across from Russian
territory. Before the present reign the deer, or pig, or other wild
animal used to be beaten up to the royal sportsman of the day, but
that practice has long ceased, and the Emperor has to tramp many a
mile, and at times crawl on all fours for hundreds of yards, to get a

We have seen that the Emperor's position as King and Emperor renders

Online LibraryStanley ShawWilliam of Germany → online text (page 28 of 31)