The candidacy of a German prince for the Spanish throne, with which the allied governments had nothing to do—neither when it was pressed nor when it was withdrawn—and which interested the North German Federation only in so far as the government of a friendly nation seemed to expect of it the assurance of a peaceful and orderly government for its much harassed land—this candidacy offered to the emperor of France the pretense of seeing in it a cause for war, contrary to the long established custom of diplomacy. When the pretense no longer existed, he kept to his views in utter disregard of the rights which our people have to the blessings of peace—views which find their analogy in the history of former rulers of France.
When in earlier centuries Germany suffered in silence such attacks on her rights and her honor, she did so because she was divided and did not know her strength. Today when the bonds of the spiritual and political union, which began with the War of Liberation, are knitting the German races more closely together as time advances, and when our armor no longer offers an opening to the enemy, Germany carries in her bosom the will and the strength to defend herself against renewed French violence.
It is not presumption which dictates these words. The allied governments and I myself—we are fully conscious of the fact that victory and defeat rest with the Lord of battles. We have measured with clear vision the responsibility which attaches, before God and men, to him who drives two peace-loving peoples in the heart of Europe to war. The German and the French people, enjoying in equal measure the blessings of Christian morals and o growing prosperity, are meant for a more wholesome contest than the bloody contest of war.
[Illustration: PRINCE BISMARCK FRANZ VON LENBACH]
The rulers of France, however, have known how to exploit by calculated deception, the just, although excitable, pride of the great French nation in furtherance of their own interests and for the gratification of their own passions.
The more conscious the allied governments are of having done everything permitted by their honor and their dignity to preserve for Europe the blessings of peace, and the more apparent it is to everybody that the sword has been forced upon us, the greater is the confidence with which we rely on the unanimous decision of the German governments of the South as well as of the North, and appeal to the patriotism and self-sacrifice of the German people, calling them to the defense of their honor and their independence.
We shall fight, as our fathers did, against the violence of foreign conquerors, and for our freedom and our right. And in this fight, in which we have no other aim than that of securing for Europe lasting peace, God will be with us as He was with our fathers.