Thomas Barclay.

The sands of fate; dramatised study of an imperial conscience, a phantasy online

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Russia. You can tell Burian that on your way
back. [VoN BiJLOW looks incredulous.

You look incredulous, Biilow, but I think Russia
must want peace. Well, it is a race now. If Burian
gets peace with Russia before Italy mobilises, we

II.] Missing Links 169

win. If Italy mobilises before he gets that peace —
by God, Biilow, I fear we shall lose. — Now, you
know my intentions. The fate of Germany is in
your hands. They are capable hands, Biilow. With
God's help you will win. Bear in mind I want peace
as soon as possible. Impress on Sonnino the gravity
of his decision. It may mean war for years. It
may mean the bombarding of Venice, the de-
struction of Italy's cathedrals and palaces. It may
mean Belgium over again in Italy.

Von Bulow

Political Italy, Sir, is opportunist. Cavour's op-
portunism made her and opportunist she remains.


Well, use the arguments you can, but for the sake

of Germany, for the sake of your Kaiser, I pray

God's help you may succeed. Good-bye, Biilow.

[Exit VoN BiJLOw and the Chancellor.

The Kaiser sinks into an armchair^ and

buries his head in his hands.



The Kaiser's private study at Imperial Schloss at

Old Man and Maid tidying. Old Man in half-
livery, taking up calendar.

Old Man

See the date?


Yes — 6th May.

[Tearing off the sheets of the calendar.

Old Man
What's today?



Old Man

Nice Sunday's work! {Pause.) Did n't you see
the fly-sheet, last night?


What is a fly-sheet?

Old Man

Lokal-Jnzeiger scattered them free all along
Unter den Linden from their motor-van. Italy mo-
bilised. War to be declared to-day.

{Tearing off the sheets of the calendar and
leaving it at 2^d May.

III.] Missing Links 171


I say the more fools they. Why do they want
war, when they can keep out of it ? There will be no
more wars when women get the vote.

Old Man {amazed)
Why, you are not a suffragette?

But I am.

Old Man

It's as good as your place to be a suffragette


Maybe. I was n't, but I am now. I 'm anything
you like that's against war. I have three brothers
in the Army — that is, I had. One's killed {sits
dozvn and puts her handkerchief to her eyes) — but
what's the use of crying? One's invalided and the
other's in the trenches, God knows where. I'm
a Socialist too, if you want to know, old man, a red-
hot Socialist.

Old Man

But it's as good as your place.


Shut up! {Halfs Maul!) I have ceased to care
whether I have a place or not. Karl 's not been
heard of for three months.

{Choking and dusting violently.

172 The Sands of Fate [m.

Old Man
Poor girl! Were you engaged?

I was going to be.

Old Man
Oh, he'll turn up. Most of 'em turn up.

No such luck! This awful war!

Old Man

Don't say anything against the war, my girl.
It's as good as your place.

[The Maid looks at him inquiringly.
(Nods to her, whispering.) If it goes on much
longer, there will be trouble.

[Noise outside the door.

Look out ! {Achtung !)

Old Man {on steps, winding up clock)
Look out o' window and see the time.


Enter Von Etting with despatch-box.
[Exeunt Maid and the Old Man with steps.

III.] Missing Links i73

Von Etting {opening despatch-box and yawning —
unfolding and reading a large sheet in large
handwriting — muttering slowly)

Same old crew! Ballin, Professor, Helfferlch,
Gwlnner. [Yawning again.

Enter the Crown Prince — handshaking.
Crown Prince
I say this is beastly bad news about Italy.

Von Etting
I Ve ceased to think anything matters.

Crown Prince
When do you expect His Majesty?

Von Etting

We arrived late last night at Potsdam. I came
on by the early express; so I have only had forty
winks in the train.

Crown Prince
What does His Majesty say?

Von Etting

Hopes, hopes still, probably, Italy's only bluff-

Crown Prince

It's awful, this optimism — a national calamity.
I can do nothing. We have to face the fact that
we're beaten, Etting, and His Majesty can't see it.

174 The Sands of Fate [m.

Von Etting

I 'm afraid I don't see it either. I think it is we
the bHndlings who engineered the war who are
beaten. My eyes are opened.

Crown Prince

We who engineered the war! Why, Etting, the
war had been engineered for ten years back.

Von Etting
Well, we pressed the button.

Crown Prince

What's the use of discussing who's to blame
now.f' I think the peacemakers are chiefly to blame.
It was they who gave us a false sense of security,
the brutes ! [Von Etting, smiling.

Etting, you bore me. You 're so changed. [Pause.

What's that fiend Wilson up to?

Von Etting
The Lusitania!

Crown Prince

It will be madness to cave in. Tirpitz says if we
do, he'll have to resign. Now we've defied 'em we
must stand firm. We shall have to fix up the reply
to-day. . . . Anyhow, Etting, His Majesty lets me
have a say in things now.

Von Etting

Tirpitz says his orders could n't be counter-

III.] Missing Links 175

Crown Prince

Could n't be countermanded? He admits the
orders then.

VoN Etting

That's just It. The machine — the terrible ma-
chine, Highness ! When an order goes out it is exe-
cuted to the letter, to the minute, and nothing can
stop it. This war has taught me to loathe the ma-
chine. Prince Biilow gave me "Frankenstein" to

Crown Prince
What's "Frankenstein".?

Von Etting

It's good to go to sleep on. I'll give you the
Prince's copy. "Frankenstein" is a description of
the German machine of to-day written a century
ago by Shelley's wife.

Crown Prince
Who's Shelley.?

Von Etting

Shelley, Highness, was an English poet and a
friend of Byron.

Crown Prince

Afraid my education's been neglected. I remem-
ber reading that Johnnie's "Don Juan" on the
sly. When the war 's over, Etting, I 'm going to

1/6 The Sands of Fate [m.

"improve each shining hour." That's an EngHsh
quotation. Is it Shakespeare?

[Von Etting smiling.
Damn it, Etting, you have n't the misfortune
to be born a Royal Prince. You have no idea what
a handicap it is in Hfe. I very nearly chucked it
and wish I had n't yielded to persuasion. {Both
yawning.) No ambition — no . . .

[Von Etting has begun to breathe heavily.

Poor chap, dead tired. [Rises and quietly exit.

[Pause. Noise of conversation outside door.

Crown Prince {outside)

This is the only room ready as yet. Herr von
Etting is taking a rest there.

(VoN Etting) jumping to his feet
Come in.

Enter the Professor and Ballin — handshaking.

Excuse me. I must see about several things.
We're all maids-of-all-work just now. [Exit.

[Ballin sits dozvn.


That wretched Lusitania affair has done us in-
finite harm.

Yes, more harm than a defeat.

More harm than a defeat? If that were all!

III.] Missing Links 177


Yes, It has completely dished us In America.
Not that It was Illegal. There are plenty of argu-
ments to justify the sinking of a ship laden with
ammunition for the enemy. But It was just the
one thing to avoid doing, especially after having
threatened it.

Professor {surprised)
Why, especially.^


Because the threat had no effect and showed
American public opinion gave us credit for more
humanity in deed than in word. We pitched that
good repute overboard and to destroy ammunition
that would n't have sufficed to level a few yards of
wire entanglements we sacrificed in cold blood hun-
dreds of innocent lives.

We are too brutally frank, Ballin.

Ballin {violently)

Call it frank If you like. If It Is frank to do devilry
merely because you have threatened It, frankness
be damned ! Besides, it has started a new national

Professor {walking up and down the room)

National hatred Is stronger than governments.
It takes policy and attempts at conciliation ages

178 The Sands of Fate [m.

to overcome. The hatred of the French for the Eng-
lish who devastated Anjou and Touraine Hved on
for centuries and it is only now that the Entente is
effacing the memory of the ruins of villages and
towns which the English sacked and destroyed in
their dynastic wars. The Germans of the Rhine-
land and the Palatinate never forgave the French,
who left their country in ruins. The French Em-
pire eventually paid for it at Leipzig and Waterloo.
The Spaniards and the Portuguese still at the pres-
ent day hate the French for the Peninsular war.
Have the Poles or Magyars ever forgiven the Rus-
sians.^ or the Irish the English?


I don't dispute what you say. But the Boers
seem to have forgiven the English in spite of the
twenty thousand women and children of the con-
centration camps.


The English knew It or rather felt It and lost so
little time in granting them free government that
the same generation that suffered absorbed the
antidote. That was what saved South Africa for
the British Empire.


They are a marvellous people, Professor, In spite
of their stupidity! But I must not say that or I
shall be lynched as a Pro-Englander for telling the

in-] Missing Links 179


You would be In good company anyhow and not
between two larrons.


Pas bete^ cher professeur, bien que dur:

Pardon, I forgot.


It's all right. No sensible conversation is pos-
sible if one has to be on the lookout for people's
prejudices. Well, you were speaking of national
hatreds. What about the Belgians ?


Yes, we shall have to do something great as an
antidote among the existing generation. Other-
wise, we shall have all the fierceness of the Polish
hatred on our western as on our eastern and south-
eastern flank, for Bohemia is another case of bun-
gling procrastination.

But what can we do.f*


Yes, what ! (Smiling.) I hope His Majesty won't
undertake the rebuilding himself.


You know I have never been able to see His
Majesty's architectural blunders. I'm such a fool

i8o The Sands of Fate [m.

In matters of art that I honestly confess I do not
disHke even the Sieges-Allee. I suppose it's my in-
herited Jewish respect for the kicks with which
those swashbucklers exacted toll from us. [Pause.


Belgium's not the only problem. We shall have
to face an equally, if not more, difficult problem at
home. Public opinion is extraordinarily docile. It
swallows any patriotic balderdash just now, but
there is a radical minority on the watch for its

It's going strong In the north.


Yes, and In all movements of public opinion the
swing of action and reaction makes it safe to count
on the spreading of the view of a strong and em-
phatic minority who take diametrically the op-
posite view from that of the majority. The prob-
ability Is that the ultimate view of public opinion
will come to be nearer the at present most unpopu-
lar view.


Which view In your opinion Is the view at pres-
ent most unpopular .f*


I suppose It would be Liebknecht's. It was the
same In England after the Boer War. Few English

HI.] Missing Links i8i

' ' ' 1

writers have time to think before they write. If
they take time to think, the pubhc forgets or
' won't read them. Well, some of these superficial
popular writers have supposed that the majority of
the English elected the Khaki Parliament because
they were against relieving the Unioni&t Govern-
ment of responsibility. If I have read English his-
tory aright, that is not at all the way British pub-
lic opinion works, and German public opinion is
likely to follow in its footsteps.

Do you mean follow its example?


No, I distinguish between following an example
and stepping the same way on similar ground.


Yes, I see; {laughing) "as on stones across a


Well said, Ballin. That's just what I mean.
Emphasis tends to arouse counter-emphasis, and
the popular imagination is so sluggish that It takes
its cue from any plausible emphatic prompter.
Now, Liebknecht is a plausible fellow and he has
the prestige of the man who grimly faces the Devil.

The Devil!

i82 The Sands of Fate [m.


Yes, to face a vast and threatening multitude
undaunted is facing the Devil. You are not likely
to get nearer hell in this life or hereafter.


That's what we have to fear, you think. Have n't
you a "penchant" towards these heretics, Profes-


No, Ballin, none. I think efficient middle-class
government fulfils the highest aims of govern-
ment, but I loathe all exaggeration and between
exaggerations I prefer Liebknecht to brute force.


But he is alone — the one man who dares to ex-
press his view.


Pardon me — you don't know that. What you
do know Is, that he alone has had the courage to
stand firm. While thousands upon thousands may
have felt as he does — may have revolted against
inhuman, uncharitable, narrow-minded oppression
— none of them has had the fearless indifference
to threats and public condemnation of this one
frail man. His disciples have slipped away in the
dark, and only a few women . . . There Is nothing,
however, so dangerous to the world's progress as
the political visionary. There is logic, however

III.] Missing Links 183

obscure, in the sequence of events, and the same
law of causes and effects appHes throughout all the
things of this world, where everything is symbolical
of everything else. But I say causes and effects
because you cannot in the affairs of mankind isolate
any or either. If you pick up red-hot embers, you
know what will be the immediate consequence. If
you lie across the rails when an express train is due,
you know the risk. Visionaries always think the
law of causes and effects so simple that it can be
managed or be suspended like an act of Parliament.
To decline the trouble of looking closely into lateral
facts, and in order not to see all round to have one's
eyes rivetted on particular points, is the sign of the
visionary. Most of our so-called statesmen are vis-
ionaries without knowing it. This war is the work
of visionaries who either were too lazy to think
about it or too incapable of foreseeing and avoid-
ing it or estimating its possible consequences. They
are practically all of them what the French call

Yet the greatest statesmen have all had but one
object in view and one way of accomplishing it.
Look at Bismarck. He had one object — to create
a German Empire — and one method of doing it —
to raise a gigantic and powerful army and get there
by force. He staked all and won all. Luck!

Yes, luck. Occasional successes are the curse of
blindlings in power. Like gamblers they think they

1 84 The Sands of Fate [ni.

must win. They think Fate can be dodged by
trickery. Bismarck really deserved to fail. Moltke
and his generals only won because their opponents
were still more cocksure.


And Napoleon?


Napoleon was a great civilian, and, knowing at
first very little about war as a whole, beat the
wiseacres who thought it was a game with a code
of rules which would be observed by the players.
Napoleon would n't go out when his wickets were
down, as the English would say. But he was beaten
at Waterloo by a general far inferior to him, be-
cause he was too cocksure of winning and under-
estimated the dogged pertinacity of his enemy. We
are having Napoleon's luck in the present war, and
we are exposed to the same failure in the end. Ger-
many has been intoxicated by her success and she
will have her Waterloo in due course.


Good God ! you don't think we shall be defeated !
. . . History never repeats itself.


History does repeat itself, but never in identical
terms. Just think that all the piles of European
music are variations of an octave. Yet the scale
of human motives is . . .

in.] Missing Links 185

Goethe reduced them to thirty-six, did n't he?


So be It. The proportion Is quite large, enough.
Her Waterloo will not be a decisive battle, but a
decisive war.


It does n't look like it. We have proceeded from
conquest to conquest since its beginning.


Conquests will be our undoing. They extend our
lines and use up our men in the maintenance of
occupation armies. If Italy joins the enemy, how-
ever, we shall have an advantage. Austria-Hun-
gary will be able to utilise against Italy Slav troops
she no longer dares, after their wholesale surrenders,
to use against Russia.


That's true. I wonder if our diplomacy has
thought of this.

Our diplomacy! Those well-bred officials . . .

Well, Billow. He's a diplomatist!

1 86 The Sands of Fate [ni.


Yes, Biilow, but that is because he knows Eu-
rope as a private person. Diplomatists should have
special go-as-you-like missions from time to time to
enable them to visit countries and know their peo-
ple, like private persons. A diplomatist is a man
who goes about with a danger warning on his well-
brushed top hat. He is like the husband in the
play, the last man to see the decoration sprouting
from his own temples. The ignorance of statesmen
about the social conditions of neighbouring coun-
tries is still more astonishing. It is now practically
certain that the Russian Government did not
mobilise against Germany, but against the strikes
which were convulsing the country while that mis-
chievous idiot Hartwig was encouraging the Ser-
bians to defy and excite Austria-Hungary. We
saved Russia from revolution by declaring war on


And perhaps saved ourselves!


You have said it. This war chimed with the
needs of most governments. But it will have served
the purpose of none — none, my dear Ballin, none.
{A pause.) Its most likely consequence will be a
social and anti-governmental upheaval throughout
Europe. That's why it will be very difficult for
governments to make peace, and the longer the war
lasts the greater will be the difficulty. Revolution


.] Missing Links 187

is terribly contagious. Besides, war brings out the
worst features of class government, the contrast
between those who are giving their Hves and those
who are feathering their nests. You don't suppose
the men at the front don't see it! On the contrary
— quite the contrary. That's the coming danger,
the really great danger, my friend. Bethmann has
the official blindness for unorthodox facts and is
jogging along on his regulation nag, making his
daily rounds as if peace was as easy a proposition
as war. Any idiot can destroy. It will take more
brains than Bethmann and Hindenburg between
them possess by a long way to plan out the founda-
tions of the palace of peace. Besides, the repatria-
tion of millions of citizens — the return to their
homes of men who, after having risked their lives,
... no, my dear fellow — no — changes, enormous
social changes are impending. Social values all
round will have to be readjusted and it's the classes
will pay.

It's been a sad mistake.


It is always a mistake to turn the subsoil of so-
cial faith or tamper with the foundations of political
institutions at all. Religion and political tradition
are equally matters of faith. People have lost faith
in their rulers.


And if they did n't deserve It?

1 88 The Sands of Fate [m.

They never have : that 's why faith was necessary.

Yes, you are ... ah! [Door thrown open.

Enter the Kaiser hurriedly.


Glad to see you. {Irritably.) Where the devil's

VoN Etting {hurrying in from side door)
Not far off, Sir. I was asleep.

Asleep! What did you do all night?

VoN Etting

Spent five hours at the station at Potsdam wait-
ing for the early express.


My poor Etting! You might have been put up
at Potsdam. I 'm dead tired myself.

[Sitting at desk, touching button and taking up
the receiver.
Is that you, Bethmann.^' I have just arrived.
What news of Italy.'' What.f* Declared war against
Austria-Hungary only. Come. Yes, come. Yes,
come at once. {Rises like one in a dream. Sinks
into an armchair. Sits staring at vacancy. Sile?it
pause.) Against Austria-Hungary only!

[The Kaiser rises in silence and walks out.


.] Missing Links 189


It's a terrible blow to His Majesty. He has never
taken the Italians seriously — thought them al-
ways spoilt children who would bluster and bully
till he took down the whip.


We are up against awful odds, Professor. I see
no issue — nothing but humiliation. It's been a
colossal mistake, from first to last.


We are all pigmies, Ballin. And while the ma-
chine has grown in size and complication, the hu-
man soul has remained stationary, where it has not
degenerated. We are like that human photograph
which was in vogue a few years ago — a photograph
of superposed photographs of men — in which a
blurred image was supposed to represent a type. We
are just that blurred type. Artificial selection by
standards of examination has produced regiments
of the same soulless beings, all possessing the same
knowledge, all taught to have the same tastes and
ambitions and to take the same view of life and
things. The individual soul has been merged in a
blurred soul as the individual physique is merged
in the blurred photograph.


Yes, there are no great men in politics. We are
governed by men of merely average minds.

190 The Sands of Fate [m.

But there are no great minds on any subject.


Pardon me — in Industry.

[The Professor surprised.

Yes, Professor. Just because there is no stand-
ardising of the mind in industry it has gone for-


Perhaps — and the appreciation of science by
industrials has encouraged scientific research.

Enter the Chancellor.


His Majesty is taking a rest. Schultze condemns
him to isolation till to-morrow.

He must feel the Italian defection terribly.


No, His Majesty takes it quite cheerfully.
They've declared war only against Austria-Hun-
gary, you see. {Reflecting.) The despatch from
Billow has been deciphered. It is all right as re-
gards Germany.


How can they be at war with Austria-Hungary
and at peace with us.'*

I"-] Missing Links 191


Machiavellian conjuring, my dear Ballin. The
"heads-I-win-tails-you-lose" trick. Biilow will
choose the coin, you may be sure. There's such a
thing as being too clever.


All the same it means an enemy the more.
{Pause.) Ballin, Professor, do you realise that
Germany's bleeding to death . . .

[All three standing in contemplation; then the
Chancellor exit.


What a tangle! Good God, what a tangle!

[Light their cigars, exeunt



{BERLIN, ig—)



The Kaiser.

The Kaiserin.

Dr. Kaempf, President of the Reichstag.

Dr. Liebknecht, Member of the Reichstag.

Herr Ballin, General Manager of the Hamburg-
Amerika Steamship Company.

The Professor.

Herr von Etting, Private Secretary to the Kaiser.

Prince von Bulow, who has been appointed Im-
perial Chancellor after several attempts to get
along without him.

Nurse Nelson, widow of an American German,
who has resumed her Anglo-Saxon name.

Court Chamberlain.

Geheimrath von Schultze, Royal Physician.

Members of the Reichstag, Officers, Police,
and Numerous Lay Figures.




Hospital in Berlin, very much like an Anglo-Saxon
military hospital — rows of beds; men with legs
raised on their beds smoking cigarettes; flowers;
nurses, smart and lively, moving noiselessly about and
attending to patients in different ways.

Nurse Nelson, American, speaking with an
English wounded prisoner.

Nurse Nelson
Well, now It's out, do you feel better?

English Prisoner

Feels the same still, but that'll pass off. You
always feel a wound for a time, you know.

Nurse Nelson

I ought to know. I went through two Balkan
wars. My — it was a time!

English Prisoner {maliciously)
Do you mean a good time."*

196 The Sands of Fate [i.

Nurse Nelson

Depends. Worse wounds than any I have seen
here. The bad surgery accounted for a good deal,
of course. It was a good time because we were so
close to human suffering, and for a nurse, the more
useful she feels herself, the better she likes it. Now
you know what a good time for a nurse means, you

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