The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 10 eBook

The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 10

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Table of Contents

Table of Contents
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Start of eBook1
Prince Otto Von Bismarck1
Ferdinand Lassalle1
(Postmark, Berlin, November 9, ’48.)36
(Postmark, Berlin, August 8, ’49.)39
Berlin, Friday. (Postmark, August 17, ’49.)40
Berlin, Monday. (Postmark, August 28, ’49.)41
Berlin, September 11, ’49. (Postmarked September 10.)42
Thursday, August 28th222

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Prince Otto Von Bismarck

  Bismarck as a National Type.  By Kuno Francke.

  The Love Letters of Bismarck.  Translated under the supervision of
  Charlton T. Lewis.

  Correspondence of William I. and Bismarck.  Translated by J.A.  Ford.

  From “Thoughts and Recollections.”  Translated under the supervision of
  A.J.  Butler.

  Bismarck as an Orator.  By Edmund von Mach.

  Speeches of Prince Bismarck.  Translated by Edmund von Mach: 

    Professorial Politics

    Speech from the Throne

    Alsace-Lorraine a Glacis Against France

    We Shall Never Go to Canossa!

    Bismarck as the “Honest Broker”

    Salus Publica—­Bismarck’s Only Lode-Star

    Practical Christianity

    We Germans Fear God, and Nought Else in the World

    Mount the Guards at the Warthe and the Vistula!

    Long Live the Emperor and the Empire!

Count Helmuth Von Moltke

  The Life of Moltke.  By Karl Detlev Jessen.

  Letters and Historical Writings of Moltke: 

    The Political and Military Conditions of the Ottoman Empire in 1836. 
    Translated by Edmund von Mach.

    A Trip to Brussa.  Translated by Edmund von Mach.

    A Journey to Mossul.  Translated by Edmund von Mach.

    A Bullfight in Spain.  Translated by Edmund von Mach.

    Description of Moscow.  Translated by Grace Bigelow.

    The Peace Movement.  Translated by Edmund von Mach.

    Fighting on the Frontier.  Translated by Clara Bell and Henry W.

    Battle of Gravelotte—­St. Privat.  Translated by Clara Bell and Henry
    W. Fischer.

    Consolatory Thoughts on the Earthly Life and a Future Existence. 
    Translated by Mary Herms.

Ferdinand Lassalle

  The Life and Work of Ferdinand Lassalle.  By Arthur N. Holcombe.

  The Workingmen’s Programme.  Translated by E.H.  Babbitt.

  Science and the Workingmen.  Translated by Thorstein B. Veblen.

  Open Letter to the Central Committee.  Translated by E.H.  Babbitt.


  Bismarck Meeting Napoleon after the Battle of Sedan

  Prince Bismarck.  By Franz von Lenbach

  Prince Bismarck.  By Franz von Lenbach

  Princess Bismarck

  Coronation of King William I at Koenigsberg.  By Adolph von Menzel

  Emperor William I. By Franz von Lenbach

  King William’s Departure for the Front at the Beginning of the
  Franco-German War.  By Adolph von Menzel

  Prince Bismarck.  By Franz von Lenbach

  The Berlin Congress.  By Anton von Werner

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  Prince Bismarck.  By Franz von Lenbach

  The Bismarck Monument at Hamburg.  By Lederer

  William I on his Deathbed.  By Anton von Werner

  Moltke.  By Anton von Werner

  Count Moltke

  Moltke at Sedan.  By Anton von Werner

  King William at the Mausoleum of his Parents on the Day of the French
  Declaration of War.  By Anton von Werner

  The Capitulation of Sedan.  By Anton von Werner

  Ferdinand Lassalle

  The Iron Foundry.  By Adolph von Menzel

  Flax Barn in Laren.  By Max Liebermann

* * * * *


By Kuno Francke, Ph.D., LL.D., Litt.D.  Professor of the History of German Culture, Harvard University.

No man since Luther has been a more complete embodiment of German nationality than Otto von Bismarck.  None has been closer to the German heart.  None has stood more conspicuously for racial aspirations, passions, ideals.

It is the purpose of the present sketch to bring out a few of these affinities between Bismarck and the German people.


Perhaps the most obviously Teutonic trait in Bismarck’s character is its martial quality.  It would be preposterous, surely, to claim warlike distinction as a prerogative of the German race.  Russians, Frenchmen, Englishmen, Americans, undoubtedly, make as good fighters as Germans.  But it is not an exaggeration to say that there is no country in the world where the army is as enlightened or as popular an institution as it is in Germany.

The German army is not composed of hirelings of professional fighters whose business it is to pick quarrels, no matter with whom.  It is, in the strictest sense of the word, the people in arms.  Among its officers there is a large percentage of the intellectual elite of the country; its rank and file embrace every occupation and every class of society, from the scion of royal blood down to the son of the seamstress.  Although it is based upon the unconditional acceptance of the monarchical creed, nothing is farther removed from it than the spirit of servility.  On the contrary, one of the very first teachings which are inculcated upon the German recruit is that, in wearing the “king’s coat,” he is performing a public duty, and that by performing this duty he is honoring himself.  Nor can it be said that it is the aim of German military drill to reduce the soldier to a mere machine, at will to be set in motion or be brought to a standstill by his superior.  The aim of this drill is rather to give each soldier increased self-control, mentally no less than bodily; to develop his self-respect; to enlarge his sense of responsibility, as well as to teach him the absolute necessity of the subordination

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of the individual to the needs of the whole.  The German army, then, is by no means a lifeless tool that might be used by an unscrupulous and adventurous despot to gratify his own whims or to wreak his private vengeance.  The German army is, in principle at least, a national school of manly virtues, of discipline, of comradeship, of self-sacrifice, of promptness of action, of tenacity of purpose.  Although, probably, the most powerful armament which the world has ever seen, it makes for peace rather than for war.  Although called upon to defend the standard of the most imperious dynasty of western Europe, it contains more of the spirit of true democracy than many a city government on this side of the Atlantic.

All this has to be borne in mind if we wish to judge correctly of Bismarck’s military propensities.  He has never concealed the fact that he felt himself, above all, a soldier.  One of his earliest public utterances was a defense of the Prussian army against the sympathizers with the revolution of 1848.  His first great political achievement was the carrying through, in the early sixties, of King William’s army reform in the face of the most stubborn and virulent opposition of a parliamentary majority.  Never, in the years following the formation of the Empire, did his speech in the German Parliament rise to a higher pathos than when he was asserting the military supremacy of the Emperor, or calling upon the parties to forget their dissensions in maintaining the defensive strength of the nation, or showering contempt upon liberal deputies who seemed to think that questions of national existence could be solved by effusions of academic oratory.  Over and over, during the last decade of his official career, did he declare that the only thing which kept him from throwing aside the worry and vexation of governmental duties and retiring to the much coveted leisure of home and hearth, was the oath of vassal loyalty constraining him to stand at his post until his imperial master released him of his own accord.  And at the very height of his political triumphs he wrote to his sovereign:  “I have always regretted that my talents did not allow me to testify my attachment to the royal house and my enthusiasm for the greatness and glory of the Fatherland in the front rank of a regiment rather than behind a writing-desk.  And even now, after having been raised by your Majesty to the highest honors of a statesman, I cannot altogether repress a feeling of regret at not having been similarly able to carve out a career for myself as a soldier.  Perhaps I should have made a poor general, but if I had been free to follow the bent of my own inclination I would rather have won battles for your Majesty than diplomatic campaigns.”

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It seems clear that both the defects and the greatness of Bismarck’s character are intimately associated with these military leanings of his.  He certainly was overbearing; he could tolerate no opposition; he was revengeful and unforgiving; he took pleasure in the appeal to violence; he easily resorted to measures of repression; he requited insults with counter-insults; he had something of that blind furor Teutonicus which was the terror of the Italian republics in the Middle Ages.  These are defects of temper which will probably prevent his name from ever shining with that serene lustre of international veneration that has surrounded the memory of a Joseph ii. or a Washington with a kind of impersonal immaculateness.  But his countrymen, at least, have every reason to condone these defects; for they are concomitant results of the military bent of German character, and they are offset by such transcendent military virtues that we would almost welcome them as bringing this colossal figure within the reach of our own frailties and shortcomings.

Three of the military qualities that made Bismarck great seem to me to stand out with particular distinctness:  his readiness to take the most tremendous responsibilities, if he could justify his action by the worth of the cause for which he made himself responsible; his moderation after success was assured; his unflinching submission to the dictates of monarchical discipline.

Moritz Busch has recorded an occurrence, belonging to the autumn of 1877, which most impressively brings before us the tragic grandeur and the portentous issues of Bismarck’s career.  It was twilight at Varzin, and the Chancellor, as was his wont after dinner, was sitting by the stove in the large back drawing-room.  After having sat silent for a while, gazing straight before him, and feeding the fire now and anon with fir-cones, he suddenly began to complain that his political activity had brought him but little satisfaction and few friends.  Nobody loved him for what he had done.  He had never made anybody happy thereby, he said, not himself, nor his family, nor any one else.  Some of those present would not admit this, and suggested “that he had made a great nation happy.”  “But,” he retorted, “how many have I made unhappy!  But for me three great wars would not have been fought; eighty thousand men would not have perished; parents, brothers, sisters, and wives would not have been bereaved and plunged into mourning....  That matter, however, I have settled with God.”  “Settled with God!”—­an amazing statement, a statement which would seem the height of blasphemy if it were not an expression of noblest manliness, if it did not reveal the soul of a warrior dauntlessly fighting for a great cause, risking for it the existence of a whole country as well as his own happiness, peace, and salvation, and being ready to submit the consequences, whatever they might be, to the tribunal of eternity.  To say that a man who is willing to take such responsibilities as these makes himself thereby an offender against morality appears to me tantamount to condemning the Alps as obstructions to traffic.  A people, at any rate, that glories in the achievements of a Luther has no right to cast a slur upon the motives of a Bismarck.

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Whatever one may think of the worth of the cause for which Bismarck battled all his life—­the unity and greatness of Germany—­it is impossible not to admire the policy of moderation and self-restraint pursued by him after every one of his most decisive victories.  And here again we note in him the peculiarly German military temper.  German war-songs do not glorify foreign conquest and brilliant adventure; they glorify dogged resistance and bitter fight for house and home, for kith and kin.  The German army, composed as it is of millions of peaceful citizens, is essentially a weapon of defense.  And it can truly be said that Bismarck, with all his natural aggressiveness and ferocity, was in the main a defender, not a conqueror.  He defended Prussia against the intolerable arrogance and un-German policy of Austria; he defended Germany against French interference in the work of national consolidation; he defended the principle of State sovereignty against the encroachments of the Papacy; he defended the monarchy against the republicanism of the Liberals and Socialists; and the supreme aim of his foreign policy after the establishment of the German Empire was to guard the peace of Europe.

The third predominant trait of Bismarck’s character that stamps him as a soldier—­his unquestioning obedience to monarchical discipline—­is so closely bound up with the peculiarly German conceptions of the functions and the Purpose of the State, that it will be better to approach this Part of his nature from the political instead of the military side.


In no other of the leading countries of the world has the laissez faire doctrine had as little influence in political matters as in Germany.  Luther, the fearless champion of religious individualism, was, in questions of government, the most pronounced advocate of paternalism.  Kant, the cool dissector of the human intellect, was at the same time the most rigid upholder of corporate morality.  It was Fichte, the ecstatic proclaimer of the glory of the individual will, who wrote this dithyramb on the necessity of the constant surrender of private interests to the common welfare:  “Nothing can live by itself or for itself; everything lives in the whole; and the whole continually sacrifices itself to itself in order to live anew.  This is the law of life.  Whatever has come to the consciousness of existence must fall a victim to the progress of all existence.  Only there is a difference whether you are dragged to the shambles like a beast with bandaged eyes, or whether, in full and joyous presentiment of the life which will spring forth from your sacrifice, you offer yourself freely on the altar of eternity.”

Not even Plato and Aristotle went so far in the deification of the State as Hegel.  And if Hegel declared that the real office of the State is not to further individual interests, to protect private property, but to be an embodiment of the organic unity of public life; if he saw the highest task and the real freedom of the individual in making himself a part of this organic unity of public life, he voiced a sentiment which was fully shared by the leading classes of the Prussia of his time, and which has since become a part of the political creed of the Socialist masses all over Germany.

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Here we have the moral background of Bismarck’s internal policy.  His monarchism rested not only on his personal allegiance to the hereditary dynasty, although no medieval knight could have been more steadfast in his loyalty to his liege lord than Bismarck was in his unswerving devotion to the Hohenzollern house.  His monarchism rested above all on the conviction that, under the present conditions of German political life, no other form of government would insure equally well the fulfilment of the moral obligations of the State.

[Illustration:  Prince Bismarck From the Painting by Franz von Lenbach courtesy of Mr. Hugo RESINGER new York]

He was by no means blind to the value of parliamentary institutions.  More than once has he described the English Constitution as the necessary outcome and the fit expression of the vital forces of English society.  More than once has he eulogized the sterling political qualities of English landlordism, its respect for the law, its common sense, its noble devotion to national interests.  More than once has he deplored the absence in Germany of “the class which in England is the main support of the State—­the class of wealthy and therefore conservative gentlemen, independent of material interests, whose whole education is directed with a view to their becoming statesmen, and whose only aim in life is to take part in public affairs”; and the absence of “a Parliament, like the English, containing two sharply defined parties whereof one forms a sure and unswerving majority which subjects itself with iron discipline to its ministerial leaders.”  We may regret that Bismarck himself did not do more to develop parliamentary discipline; that, indeed, he did everything in his power to arrest the healthy growth of German party life.  But it is at least perfectly clear that his reasons for refusing to allow the German parties a controlling influence in shaping the policy of the government were not the result of mere despotic caprice, but were founded upon thoroughly German traditions, and upon a thoroughly sober, though one-sided, view of the present state of German public affairs.

To him party government appeared as much of an impossibility as it had appeared to Hegel.  The attempt to establish it would, in his opinion, have led to nothing less than chaos.  The German parties, as he viewed them, represented, not the State, not the nation, but an infinite variety of private and class interests—­the interests of landholders, traders, manufacturers, laborers, politicians, priests, and so on; each particular set of interests desiring the particular consideration of the public treasury, and refusing the same amount of consideration to every other.  It seemed highly desirable to him, as it did to Hegel, that all these interests should be heard; that they should be represented in a Parliament based upon as wide and liberal a suffrage as possible.  But to intrust any one of these interests with the functions of government would, in his opinion, have been treason to the State; it would have been class tyranny of the worst kind.

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The logical outcome of all this was his conviction of the absolute necessity, for Germany, of a strong non-partisan government:  a government which should hold all the conflicting class interests in check and force them into continual compromises with one another; a government which should be unrestricted by any class prejudices, pledges, or theories, and have no other guiding star than the welfare of the whole nation.  And the only basis for such a government he found in the Prussian monarchy, with its glorious tradition of military discipline, of benevolent paternalism, and of self-sacrificing devotion to national greatness; with its patriotic gentry, its incorruptible courts, its religious freedom, its enlightened educational system, its efficient and highly trained civil service.  To bow before such a monarchy, to serve such a State, was indeed something different from submitting to the chance vote of a parliamentary majority; in this bondage even a Bismarck could find his highest freedom.

For nearly forty years he bore this bondage; for twenty-eight he stood in the place nearest to the monarch himself; and not even his enemies dared to assert that his political conduct was guided by other motives than the consideration of public welfare.  Indeed, if there is any phrase for which he, the apparent cynic, the sworn despiser of phrases, seems to have had a certain weakness, it is the word salus publica.  To it he sacrificed his days and his nights; for it he more than once risked his life; for it he incurred more hatred and slander than perhaps any man of his time; for it he alienated his best friends; for it he turned not once or twice, but one might almost say habitually, against his own cherished prejudices and convictions.  The career of few men shows so many apparent inconsistencies and contrasts.  One of his earliest speeches in the Prussian Landtag was a fervent protest against the introduction of civil marriage; yet the civil marriage clause in the German constitution is his work.  He was by birth and tradition a believer in the divine right of kings; yet the King of Hanover could tell something of the manner in which Bismarck dealt with the divine right of kings if it stood in the way of German unity.  He took pride in belonging to the most feudal aristocracy of western Europe, the Prussian Junkerdom; yet he did more to uproot feudal privileges than any other German statesman since 1848.  He gloried in defying public opinion, and was wont to say that he felt doubtful about himself whenever he met with popular applause; yet he is the founder of the German Parliament, and he founded it on direct and universal suffrage.  He was the sworn enemy of the Socialist party—­he attempted to destroy it, root and branch; yet through the nationalization of railways and the obligatory insurance of workmen he infused more Socialism into German legislation than any other statesman before him.

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Truly, a man who could thus sacrifice his own wishes and instincts to the common good; who could so completely sink his own personality in the cause of the nation; who with such matchless courage defended this cause against attacks from whatever quarter—­against court intrigue no less than against demagogues—­such a man had a right to stand above parties; and he spoke the truth when, some years before leaving office, in a moment of gloom and disappointment he wrote under his portrait, Patrice inserviendo consumor.


There is a strange, but after all perfectly natural, antithesis in German national character.  The same people that instinctively believes in political paternalism, that willingly submits to restrictions of personal liberty in matters of State such as no Englishman would ever tolerate, is more jealous of its independence than perhaps any other nation in matters pertaining to the intellectual, social, and religious life of the individual.  It seems as if the very pressure from without had helped to strengthen and enrich the life within.

Not only all the great men of German thought, from Luther down to the Grimms and the Humboldts, have been conspicuous for their freedom from artificial conventions and for the originality and homeliness of their human intercourse; but even the average German official—­wedded as he may be to his rank or his title, anxious as he may be to preserve an outward decorum in exact keeping with the precise shade of his public status—­is often the most delightfully unconventional, good-natured, unsophisticated, and even erratic being in the world, as soon as he has left the cares of his office behind him.  Germany is the classic land of queer people.  It is the land of Quintus Fixlein, Onkel Braesig, Leberecht Huehnchen, and the host of Fliegende Blatter worthies; it is the land of the beer-garden and the Kaffeekranzchen, of the Christmas-tree and the Whitsuntide merry-making; it is the land of country inns and of student pranks.  What more need be said to bring before one’s mind the wealth of hearty joyfulness, jolly good-fellowship, boisterous frolic, sturdy humor, simple directness, and genuinely democratic feeling that characterizes social life in Germany.

And still less reason is there for dwelling on the intellectual and religious independence of German character.  Absence of constraint in scientific inquiry and religious conduct is indeed the very palladium of German freedom.  Nowhere is higher education so entirely removed from class distinction as in the country where the imperial princes are sent to the same school with the sons of tradesmen and artisans.  Nowhere is there so little religious formalism, coupled with such deep religious feeling, as in the country where sermons are preached to empty benches, while Tannhauser and Lohengrin, Wallenstein and Faust, are listened to with the hush of awe and bated breath by thousands upon thousands.

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In all these respects—­socially, intellectually, religiously—­Bismarck was the very incarnation of German character.  Although an aristocrat by birth and bearing, and although, especially during the years of early manhood, passionately given over to the aristocratic habits of dueling, hunting, swaggering and carousing, he was essentially a man of the people.  Nothing was so utterly foreign to him as any form of libertinism; even his eccentricities were of the hardy, homespun sort.  He was absolutely free from social vanity; he detested court festivities; he set no store by orders or decorations; the only two among the innumerable ones conferred upon him which he is said to have highly valued were the Prussian order of the Iron Cross, bestowed for personal bravery on the battlefield, and the medal for “rescuing from danger” which he earned in 1842 for having saved his groom from drowning by plunging into the water after him.

All his instincts were bound up with the soil from which he had sprung.  He passionately loved the North German plain, with its gloomy moorlands, its purple heather, its endless wheatfields, its kingly forests, its gentle lakes, and its superb sweep of sky and clouds.  Writing to his friends when abroad—­he traveled very little abroad—­he was in the habit of describing foreign scenery by comparing it to familiar views and places on his own estates.  During sleepless nights in the Chancellery at Berlin there would often rise before him a sudden vision of Varzin, his Pomeranian country-seat, “perfectly distinct in the minutest particulars, like a great picture with all its colors fresh—­the green trees, the sunshine on the stems, the blue sky above.  I saw every individual tree.”  Never was he more happy than when alone with nature.  “Saturday,” he writes to his wife from Frankfort, “I drove to Ruedesheim.  There I took a boat, rowed out on the Rhine, and swam in the moonlight, with nothing but nose and eyes out of water, as far as the Maeuseturm near Bingen, where the bad bishop came to his end.  It gives one a peculiar dreamy sensation to float thus on a quiet warm night in the water, gently carried down by the current, looking above on the heavens studded with moon and stars, and on each side the banks and wooded hilltops and the battlements of the old castles bathed in the moonlight, whilst nothing falls on one’s ear but the gentle splashing of one’s movements.  I should like to swim like this every evening.”  And what poet has more deeply felt than he that vague musical longing which seizes one when far away from human sounds, by the brook-side or the hill-slope?  “I feel as if I were looking out on the mellowing foliage of a fine September day,” he writes again to his wife, “health and spirits good, but with a soft touch of melancholy, a little homesickness, a longing for deep woods and lakes, for a desert, for yourself and the children, and all this mixed up with a sunset and Beethoven.”

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His domestic affections were by no means limited to those united to him by ties of blood; he cherished strong patriarchal feelings for every member of his household, past or present.  He possessed in a high degree the German tenderness for little things.  He never forgot a service rendered to him, however small.  In the midst of the most engrossing public activity he kept himself informed about the minutest details of the management of his estates, so that his wife could once laughingly say that a turnip from his own fields interested him vastly more than all the problems of international politics.

His humor, also, was entirely of the German stamp.  It was boisterous, rollicking, aggressive, unsparing—­of himself as little as of others—­cynic, immoderate, but never without a touch of good-nature.  His satire was often crushing, never venomous.  His wit was racy and exuberant never equivocal.  Whether he describes his vis-a-vis at a hotel table, his Excellency So-and-So, as “one of those figures which appear to one when he has the nightmare—­a fat frog without legs, who opens his mouth as wide as his shoulders, like a carpet-bag, for each bit, so that I am obliged to hold tight on by the table from giddiness”; whether he characterizes his colleagues at the Frankfort Bundestag as “mere caricatures of periwig diplomatists, who at once put on their official visage if I merely beg of them a light to my cigar, and who study their words and looks with Regensburg care when they ask for the key of the lavatory”; whether he sums up his impression of the excited, emotional manner in which Jules Favre pleaded with him for the peace terms in the words, “He evidently took me for a public meeting”; whether he declined to look at the statue erected to him at Cologne, because he “didn’t care to see himself fossilized”; whether he spoke of the unprecedented popular ovations given to him at his final departure from Berlin as a “first-class funeral”—­there are always the same childlike directness, the same naive impulsiveness, the same bantering earnestness, the same sublime contempt for sham and hypocrisy.

And what man has been more truthful in intellectual and religious matters?  He, the man of iron will, of ferocious temper, was at the same time the coolest reasoner, the most unbiased thinker.  He willingly submitted to the judgment of experts, he cheerfully acknowledged intellectual talent in others, he took a pride in having remained a learner all his life, but he hated arrogant amateurishness.  He was not a church-goer; he declined to be drawn into the circle of religious schemers and reactionary fanatics; he would occasionally speak in contemptuous terms of “the creed of court chaplains”; but, writing to his wife of that historic meeting with Napoleon in the lonely cottage near the battlefield of Sedan, he said:  “A powerful contrast with our last meeting in the Tuileries in ’67.  Our conversation was a difficult thing, if I wanted to

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avoid touching on topics which could not but affect painfully the man whom God’s mighty hand had cast down.”  And more than once has he given vent to reflections like these:  “For him who does not believe—­as I do from the bottom of my heart—­that death is a transition from one existence to another, and that we are justified in holding out to the worst of criminals in his dying hour the comforting assurance, mors janua vitae—­I say that for him who does not share that conviction the joys of this life must possess so high a value that I could almost envy him the sensations they must procure him.”  Or these:  “Twenty years hence, or at most thirty, we shall be past the troubles of this life, whilst our children will have reached our present standpoint, and will discover with astonishment that their existence, but now so brightly begun, has turned the corner and is going down hill.  Were that to be the end of it all, life would not be worth the trouble of dressing and undressing every day.”


We have considered a few traits of Bismarck’s mental and moral make-up which seem to be closely allied with German national character and traditions.  But, after all, the personality of a man like Bismarck is not exhausted by the qualities which he has in common with his people, however sublimated these qualities may be in him.  His innermost life belongs to himself alone, or is shared, at most, by the few men of the world’s history who, like him, tower in splendid solitude above the waste of the ages.  In the Middle High German Alexanderlied there is an episode which most impressively brings out the impelling motive of such titanic lives.  On one of his expeditions Alexander penetrates into the land of Scythian barbarians.  These child-like people are so contented with their simple, primitive existence that they beseech Alexander to give them immortality.  He answers that this is not in his power.  Surprised, they ask why, then, if he is only a mortal, he is making such a stir in the world.  Thereupon he answers:  “The Supreme Power has ordained us to carry out what is in us.  The sea is given over to the whirlwind to plough it up.  As long as life lasts and I am master of my senses, I must bring forth what is in me.  What would life be if all men in the world were like you?” These words might have been spoken by Bismarck.  Every word, every act of his public career, gives us the impression of a man irresistibly driven on by some overwhelming, mysterious power.  He was not an ambitious schemer, like Beaconsfield or Napoleon; he was not a moral enthusiast like Gladstone or Cavour.  If he had consulted his private tastes and inclinations, he would never have wielded the destinies of an empire.  Indeed, he often rebelled against his task; again and again he tried to shake it off; and the only thing which again and again brought him back to it was the feeling, “I must; I cannot do otherwise.”  If ever there was a man in whom Fate revealed its moral sovereignty, that man was Bismarck.

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Whither has he gone now?  Has he joined his compeers?  Is he conversing in ethereal regions with Alexander, Caesar, Frederick?  Is he sweeping over land and sea in the whirlwind and the thunder-cloud?  Or may we hope that he is still working out the task which, in spite of all the imperiousness of his nature, was the essence of his earthly life—­the task of making the Germans a nation of true freemen?


[Footnote 1:  From Glimpses of Modern German Culture.  Permission Dodd, Mead & Company, New York.]

* * * * *


Hotel de Prusse, Stettin, (Not dated:  Written about the end of December, 1846.)


Most Honored Sir.—­I begin this communication by indicating its content in the first sentence—­it is a request for the highest thing you can dispose of in this world, the hand of your daughter.  I do not conceal from myself the fact that I appear presumptuous when I, whom you have come to know only recently and through a few meetings, claim the strongest proof of confidence which you can give to any man.  I know, however, that even irrespective of all obstacles in space and time which can increase your difficulty in forming an opinion of me, through my own efforts I can never be in a position to give you such guaranties for the future that they would, from your point of view, justify intrusting me with an object so precious, unless you supplement by trust in God that which trust in human beings cannot supply.  All that I can do is to give you information about myself with absolute candor, so far as I have come to understand myself.  It will be easy for you to get reports from others in regard to my public conduct; I content myself, therefore, with an account of what underlay that—­my inner life, and especially my relations to Christianity.  To do that I must take a start far back.

In earliest childhood I was estranged from my parents’ house, and at no time became entirely at home there again; and my education from the beginning was conducted on the assumption that everything is subordinate to the cultivation of the intelligence and the early acquisition of positive sciences.

After a course of religious teaching, irregularly attended and not comprehended, I had at the time of my confirmation by Schleiermacher, on my sixteenth birthday no belief other than a bare deism, which was not long free from pantheistic elements.  It was at about this time that I, not through indifference, but after mature consideration, ceased to pray every evening, as I had been in the habit of doing since childhood; because prayer seemed inconsistent with my view of God’s nature; saying to myself:  either God himself, being omnipresent, is the cause

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of everything—­even of every thought and volition of mine—­and so in a sense offers prayers to himself through me, or, if my will is independent of God’s will, it implies arrogance and a doubt as to the inflexibility as well as the perfection of the divine determination to believe that it can be influenced by human appeals.  When not quite seventeen years old I went to Goettingen University.  During the next eight years I seldom saw the home of my parents; my father indulgently refrained from interference; my mother censured me from far away when I neglected my studies and professional work, probably in the conviction that she must leave the rest to guidance from above:  with this exception I was literally cut off from the counsel and instruction of others.  In this period, when studies which ambition at times led me to prosecute zealously—­or emptiness and satiety, the inevitable companions of my way of living—­brought me nearer to the real meaning of life and eternity, it was in old-world philosophies, uncomprehended writings of Hegel, and particularly in Spinoza’s seeming mathematical clearness, that I sought for peace of mind in that which the human understanding cannot comprehend.  But it was loneliness that first led me to reflect on these things persistently, when I went to Kniephof, after my mother’s death, five or six years ago.  Though at first my views did not materially change at Kniephof, yet conscience began to be more audible in the solitude, and to represent that many a thing was wrong which I had before regarded as permissible.  Yet my struggle for insight was still confined to the circle of the understanding, and led me, while reading such writings as those of Strauss, Feuerbach, and Bruno Bauer, only deeper into the blind alley of doubt.

I was firmly convinced that God has denied to man the possibility of true knowledge; that it is presumption to claim to understand the will and plans of the Lord of the World; that the individual must await in submission the judgment that his Creator will pass upon him in death, and that the will of God becomes known to us on earth solely through conscience, which He has given us as a special organ for feeling our way through the gloom of the world.  That I found no peace in these views I need not say.  Many an hour have I spent in disconsolate depression, thinking that my existence and that of others is purposeless and unprofitable—­perchance only a casual product of creation, coming and going like dust from rolling wheels.

About four years ago I came into close companionship, for the first time since my school-days, with Moritz Blankenburg, and found in him, what I had never had till then in my life, a friend; but the warm zeal of his love strove in vain to give me by persuasion and discussion what I lacked—­faith.  But through Moritz I made acquaintance with the Triglaf family and the social circle around it, and found in it people who made me ashamed that, with the scanty

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light of my understanding, I had undertaken to investigate things which such superior intellects accepted as true and holy with childlike trust.  I saw that the members of this circle were, in their outward life, almost perfect models of what I wished to be.  That confidence and peace dwelt in them did not surprise me, for I had never doubted that these were companions of belief; but belief cannot be had for the asking, and I thought I must wait submissively to see whether it would come to me.  I soon felt at home in that circle, and was conscious of a satisfaction that I had not before experienced—­a family life that included me, almost a home.

I was meanwhile brought into contact with certain events in which I was not an active participant, and which, as other people’s secrets, I cannot communicate to you, but which stirred me deeply.  Their practical result was that the consciousness of the shallowness and worthlessness of my aim in life became more vivid than ever.  Through the advice of others, and through my own impulse, I was brought to the point of reading the Scriptures more consecutively and with resolute restraint, sometimes, of my own judgment.  That which stirred within me came to life when the news of the fatal illness of our late friend in Cardemin tore the first ardent prayer from my heart, without subtle questionings as to its reasonableness.  God did not grant my prayer on that occasion; neither did He utterly reject it, for I have never again lost the capacity to bring my requests to Him, and I feel within me, if not peace, at least confidence and courage such as I never knew before.

I do not know what value you will attach to this emotion, which my heart has felt for only two months; I only hope that it may not be lost, whatever your decision in regard to me may be—­a hope of which I could give you no better assurance than by undeviating frankness and loyalty in that which I have now disclosed to you, and to no one else hitherto, with the conviction that God favors the sincere.

I refrain from any assurance of my feelings and purposes with reference to your daughter, for the step I am taking speaks of them louder and more eloquently than words can.  So, too, no promises for the future would be of service to you, since you know the untrustworthiness of the human heart better than I, and the only security I offer for the welfare of your daughter lies in my prayer for God’s blessing.  As a matter of history I would only observe that, after I had seen fraeulein Johanna repeatedly in Cardemin, after the trip we made together this summer, I have only been in doubt as to whether the attainment of my desires would be reconcilable with the happiness and peace of your daughter, and whether my self-confidence was not greater than my ability when I believed that she could find in me what she would have a right to look for in her husband.  Very recently, however, together with my reliance on God’s grace, the resolution

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which I now carry out has also become fixed in me, and I kept silent when I saw you in Zimmerhausen only because I had more to say than I could express in conversation.  In view of the importance of the matter and the great sacrifice which it will involve for you and your wife in separation from your daughter, I can scarcely hope that you will give a favorable decision at once, and only beg that you will not refuse me an opportunity for explanation upon any considerations which might dispose you to reject my suit, before you utter a positive refusal.

There is doubtless a great deal that I have not said, or not said fully enough, in this letter, and I am, of course, ready to give you exact and faithful information as to everything you may desire to know; I think I have told what is most important.

I beg you to convey to your wife my respectful compliments, and to accept kindly the assurance of my love and esteem.


Schoenhausen, February 1, ’47.

I had only waited for daylight to write you, my dear heart, and with the light came your little green spirit-lamp to make my lukewarm water seethe—­though this time it found it ready to boil over.  Your pity for my restless nights at present is premature, but I shall give you credit for it.  The Elbe still lies turbid and growling in her ice-bonds:  the spring’s summons to burst them is not yet loud enough for her.  I say to the weather:  “If you would only be cold or warm!  But you stay continually at freezing-point, and at this rate the matter may long drag on.”  For the present my activity is limited to sending out, far and wide, from the warm seat at the writing-table, diverse conjurations, whose magic starts quantities of fascines, boards, wheelbarrows, etc., from inland towards the Elbe, perchance to serve as a prosaic dam in restraint of the poetical foaming of the flood.  After I had spent the morning in this useful rather than agreeable correspondence, my resolve was to chat away comfortably through the evening with you, beloved one, as though we were sitting on the sofa in the red drawing-room; and with sympathetic attention to my desire the mail kept for my enjoyment precisely at this gossiping hour your letter, which I should have received by good rights day before yesterday.  You know, if you were able to decipher my inexcusably scrawled note [3] from Schlawe, how I struck a half-drunken crowd of hussar officers there, who disturbed me in my writing.  In the train I had, with my usual bad luck, a lady vis-a-vis, and beside me two very stout, heavily fur-clad passengers, the nearer of whom was a direct descendant of Abraham into the bargain, and put me in a bitter humor against all his race by a disagreeable movement of his left elbow.

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I found my brother in his dressing-gown, and he employed the five minutes of our interview very completely, according to his habit, in emptying a woolsack full of vexatious news about Kniephof before me:  disorderly inspectors, a lot of damaged sheep, distillers drunk every day, thoroughbred colts (the prettiest, of course) come to grief, and rotten potatoes, fell in a rolling torrent from his obligingly opened mouth upon my somewhat travel-worn self.  On my brother’s account I must affect and utter some exclamations of terror and complaint, for my indifferent manner on receiving news of misfortune vexes him, and as long as I do not express surprise he has ever new and still worse news in stock.  This time he attained his object, at least in my inner man, and when I took my seat next to the Jewish elbow in green fur I was in a right bad humor; especially the colt distressed me—­an animal as pretty as a picture and three years old.

Not before getting out of doors did I become conscious of the ingratitude of my heart, and the thought of the unmerited happiness that had become mine a fortnight earlier again won the mastery in me.  In Stettin I found drinking, gambling friends.  William Ramin took occasion to say, apropos of a remark about reading the Bible, “Tut!  In Reinfeld I’d speak like that, too, if I were in your place, but to believe you can impose on your oldest acquaintances is amusing.”  I found my sister very well and full of joy about you and me.  She wrote to you, I think, before she received your letter.  Arnim is full of anxiety lest I become “pious.”  He kept looking at me all the time earnestly and thoughtfully, with sympathetic concern, as one looks at a dear friend whom one would like to save and yet almost gives up for lost.  I have seldom seen him so tender.  Very clever people have a curious manner of viewing the world.  In the evening (I hope you did not write so late) I drank your health in the foaming grape-juice of Sillery, in company with half a dozen Silesian counts, Schaffgotsch and others, at the Hotel de Rome, and convinced myself Friday morning that the ice on the Elbe was still strong enough to bear my horse’s weight, and that, so far as the freshet was concerned, I might today be still at your blue or black side[4] if other current official engagements had not also claimed my presence.  Snow has fallen very industriously all day long, and the country is white once more, without severe cold.  When I arrived it was all free from snow on this side of Brandenburg; the air was warm and the people were ploughing; it was as though I had traveled out of winter into opening spring, and yet within me the short springtime had changed to winter, for the nearer I came to Schoenhausen the more oppressive I found the thought of entering upon the old loneliness once more, for who knows how long.  Pictures of a wasted past arose in me as though they would banish me from you.  I was on the verge of tears, as when, after a school vacation, I caught sight of Berlin’s towers from the train.

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The comparison of my situation with that in which I was on the 10th, when I traveled the same line in the opposite direction; the conviction that my solitude was, strictly speaking, voluntary, and that I could at any time, albeit through a resolve smacking of insubordination and a forty hours’ journey, put an end to it, made me see once more that my heart is ungrateful, dismayed, and resentful; for soon I said to myself, in the comfortable fashion of the accepted lover, that even here I am no longer lonely, and I was happy in the consciousness of being loved by you, my angel, and, in return for the gift of your love, of belonging to you, not merely in vassalage, but with my inmost heart.  On reaching the village I felt more distinctly than ever before what a beautiful thing it is to have a home—­a home with which one is identified by birth, memory, and love.  The sun shone bright on the stately houses of the villagers, and their portly inmates in long coats and the gayly dressed women in short skirts gave me a much more friendly greeting than usual; on every face there seemed to be a wish for my happiness, which I invariably converted into thanks to you.  Gray-haired Bellin’s[5] fat face wore a broad smile, and the trusty old soul shed tears as he patted me paternally on the back and expressed his satisfaction; his wife, of course, wept most violently; even Odin was more demonstrative than usual, and his paw on my coat-collar proved incontestably that it was muddy weather.  Half an hour later Miss Breeze was galloping with me on the Elbe, manifestly proud to carry your affianced, for never before did she so scornfully smite the earth with her hoof.  Fortunately you cannot judge, my heart, in what a mood of dreary dulness I used to reenter my house after a journey; what depression overmastered me when the door of my room yawned at me and the mute furniture in the silent apartments confronted me, bored like myself.  The emptiness of my existence was never clearer to me than in such moments, until I seized a book—­though none of them was sad enough for me—­or mechanically engaged in any routine work.

My preference was to come home at night, so that I could go to sleep immediately.[6] Ach, Gott!—­and now?  What a different view I take of everything—­not merely that which concerns you as well, and because it concerns you, or will concern you also (although I have been bothering myself for two days with the question where your writing-desk will stand), but my whole view of life is a new one, and I am cheerful and interested even in my work on the dike and police matters.  This change, this new life, I owe, next to God, to you, ma tres chere, mon adoree Jeanneton—­to you who do not heat me occasionally, like an alcohol flame, but work in my heart like warming fire.  Some one is knocking.

Visit from the co-director, who complains of the people who will not pay their school taxes.  The man asks me whether my fiancee is tall.

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“Oh yes; rather.”

“Well, an acquaintance of mine saw you last summer with several ladies in the Harz Mountains, and you preferred to converse with the tallest, that must have been your fiancee.”

The tallest woman in your party was, I fancy, Frau von Mittelstaedt. * * * The Harz!  The Harz!

After a thorough consultation with Frau Bellin, I have decided to make no special changes here for the present, but to wait until we can hear the wishes of the lady of the house in the matter, so that we may have nothing to be sorry for.  In six months I hope we shall know what we have to do.

It is impossible as yet to say anything definite about our next meeting.  Just now it is raining; if that continues the Elbe may be played out in a week or two, and then. * * * Still no news whatever about the Landtag.  Most cordial greetings and assurances of my love to your parents, and the former—­the latter, too, if you like—­to all your cousins, women friends, etc.  What have you done with Aennchen?[7] My forgetting the Versin letters disturbs me; I did not mean to make such a bad job of it.  Have they been found Farewell, my treasure, my heart, consolation of my eyes.

Your faithful BISMARCK.

Another picture, a description of a storm in the Alps, which catches my eye as I turn over the pages of the book, and pleases me much: 

  “The sky is changed, and such a change!  O night,
  And storm, and darkness, ye are wondrous strong,
  Yet lovely in your strength, as is the light
  Of a dark eye in woman!  Far along
  From peak to peak, the rattling crags among,
  Leaps the live thunder; not from one lone cloud,
  But every mountain now has found a tongue,
  And Jura answers through her misty shroud—­
  Back to the joyous Alps, who call to her aloud.

  And this is in the night:—­most glorious night! 
  Thou wert not sent for slumber! let me be
  A sharer in thy fierce and fair delight—­
  A portion of the tempest and of thee! 
  How the lit lake shines, a phosphoric sea,
  And the big rain comes dancing to the earth! 
  And now again ’tis black, and now the glee
  Of the loud hills shakes with its mountain-mirth,
  As if they did rejoice o’er a young earthquake’s birth.”

On such a night the suggestion comes uncommonly near to me that I wish to be a sharer in the delight, a portion of tempest, of night;[8] mounted on a runaway horse, to dash down the cliffs into the falls of the Rhine, or something similar.  A pleasure of that kind, unfortunately, one can enjoy but once in this life.  There is something intoxicating in nocturnal storms.  Your nights, dearest, I hope you regard, however, as sent for slumber, not for writing.[9] I see with regret that I write English still more illegibly than German.  Once more, farewell, my heart.  Tomorrow noon I am invited to be the guest of Frau Brauchitsch, presumably so that I may be duly and thoroughly questioned about you and yours.  I’ll tell them as much as I please. Je t’embrasse mille fois.

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Your own


Schoenhausen, February 7, ’47.

My Heart,—­Just returned through a wild, drifting snow-storm from an appointment (which unfortunately was occasioned by the burning out of a poor family).  I have warmed myself at your dear letter; in the twilight, even, I recognized your “Right honorable.”  All my limbs are twitching with eagerness to be off to Berlin again today, and to characterize the dikes and floods in terms of the unutterable Poberow[10] dialect.  The inexorable thermometer stands at 2 below freezing-point, accompanied with howling wind and large flakes, as though it would soon rain.  What is duty!  Compare Falstaff’s expressions touching honor.  At any rate, I shall write you straightway, even if I ruin myself in postage, and no sensible thoughts find their way through the debris of the fire that still has possession of my imagination.  After reading your last remark I have just lit my cigar and stirred the ink.  First, like a business-man, to answer your letter.  I begin with a request smacking of the official desk—­namely, that when you write you will, if you please, expressly state what letters you have received from me, giving their dates; otherwise one is uncertain as to the regular forwarding of them, as I am in doubt whether you have received my first letter, which I wrote the day of my arrival here, while on a business trip, in Jerichow, if I mistake not, on very bad paper, Friday, the 29th of January.  I am very thankful that you do not write in the evening, my love, even if I am myself to suffer thereby.  Every future glance into your gray-blue-black eye with its large pupil will compensate me for possibly delayed or shortened letters.

If I could only dream of you when you do of me!  But recently I do not dream at all—­shockingly healthy and prosaic; or does my soul fly to Reinfeld in the night and associate with yours?  In that case it can certainly not dream here; but it ought to tell about its journey in the morning, whereas the wayward thing is as silent about its nocturnal employments as though it, too, slept like a badger.

Your reminder of the bore, Fritz, with the letter-pouch transports me to Reinfeld and makes me long still more eagerly for the time when I can once again hug my black Jeannette for my good-morning at the desk.  About the letter with the strange address, evidently in a woman’s hand, I should like to tell you a romantic story, but I must destroy every illusion with the explanation that it comes from a man who used to be a friend of mine, who, if I do not mistake, once in Kniephof took a copy of an Italian address that I received.  Again a curtain behind which one fancies there is all the poetry in the world, and finds the flattest prose. (I once saw in Aix-la-Chapelle, while strolling about the stage, the Princess of Eboli, after I had just spent my sympathy upon her as she lay overwhelmed and fainting at the queen’s feet in one of the scenes, eating bread and butter and cracking bad jokes behind the scenes.) That cousin Woedtke is fond of me, and that the Versin sausage and letter affair is all right, I am glad to learn.

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I need not assure you that I have the most heartfelt sympathy for the sufferings of your good mother; I hope rest and summer will affect her health favorably, and that she will recover after a while, with the joy of seeing her children happy.  When she is here she shall not have any steps to go up to reach you, and shall live directly next to you.

Why do you wear mournful black in dress and heart, my angel?  Cultivate the green of hope that today made right joyous revelry in me at sight of its external image, when the gardener placed the first messengers of spring, hyacinths and crocus, on my window-ledge. Et dis-moi donc, pourquoi es-tu paresseuse?  Pourquoi ne fais-tu pas de musique? I fancied you playing c-dur when the hollow, melting wind howls through the dry twigs of the lindens, and d-moll when the snow-flakes chase in fantastic whirls around the corners of the old tower, and, after their desperation is spent, cover the graves with their winding-sheet.  Oh, were I but Keudell, I’d play now all day long, and the tones would bear me over the Oder, Rega, Persante, Wipper—­I know not whither. A propos de paresse, I am going to permit myself to make one more request of you, but with a preface.  When I ask you for anything I add (do not take it for blasphemy or mockery) thy will be done—­your will, I mean; and I do not love you less, nor am I vexed with you for a second if you do not fulfil my request.  I love you as you are, and as you choose to be.  After I have, by way of preface, said so much with inmost, unadorned truth, without hypocrisy or flattery, I beg you to pay some attention to French—­not much, but somewhat—­by reading French things that interest you, and, what is not clear to you, make it clear with the dictionary.  If it bores you, stop it; but, lest it bore you, try it with books that interest you, whatever they may be—­romances or anything else.  I do not know your mother’s views on such reading, but in my opinion there is nothing that you cannot read to yourself.  I do not ask this for my own sake, for we will understand each other in our mother tongue, but in your intercourse with the world you will not seldom find occasions when it will be disagreeable or even mortifying if you are unfamiliar with French.  I do not know, indeed, to what degree this is true of you, but reading is in any case a way to keep what you have and to acquire more.  If it pleases you, we shall find a way for you to become more fluent in talking, than, as you say, you are now.  If you do not like it, rely with entire confidence on the preface to my request.

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I wrote to poor Moritz yesterday, and, after reading your description of his sadness, my letter lies like a stone on my conscience, for, like a heartless egotist, I mocked his pain by describing my happiness, and in five pages did not refer to his mourning by even a syllable, speaking of myself again and again, and using him as father-confessor.  He is an awkward comforter who does not himself feel pain sympathetically, or not vividly enough.  My first grief was the passionate, selfish one at the loss I had sustained; for Marie,[11] so far as she is concerned, I do not feel it, because I know that she is well provided for, but that my sympathy with the suffering of my warmest friend, to whom I owe eternal thanks, is not strong enough to produce a word of comfort, of strong consolation from overflowing feeling, that burdens me sorely.  Weep not, my angel; let your sympathy be strong and full of confidence in God; give him real consolation with encouragement, not with tears, and, if you can, doubly, for yourself and for your thankless friend whose heart is just now filled with you and has room for nothing else.  Are you a withered leaf, a faded garment?  I will see whether my love can foster the verdure once more, can brighten up the colors.  You must put forth fresh leaves, and the old ones I shall lay between the pages of the book of my heart so that we may find them when we read there, as tokens of fond recollection.  You have fanned to life again the coal that under ashes and debris still glowed in me; it shall envelop you in life-giving flames.

Le souper est servi, the evening is gone, and I have done nothing but chat with you and smoke:  is that not becoming employment for the dike-captain?  Why not?

A mysterious letter from ——­ lies before me.  He writes in a tone new for him; admits that he perceives that he did many a wrong to his first wife; did not always rightly guide and bear with her weakness; was no prop to the “child,” and believes himself absolved by this severe castigation. Qu’est-ce qu’il me chante?  Has the letter undergone transformation in the Christian climate of Reinfeld, or did it leave the hand of this once shallow buffoon in its present form?  He asserts, moreover, that he lives in a never dreamed of happiness with his present wife, whose acquaintance he made a week before the engagement, and whom he married six weeks after the same event:  a happiness which his first marriage has taught him rightly to prize.  Do you know the story of the French tiler who falls from the roof, and, in passing the second story, cries out, “Ca va bien, pourvu que ca dure?” Think, only, if we had been betrothed on the 12th of October ’44, and, on November 23d, had married:  What anxiety for mamma!

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The English poems of mortal misery trouble me no more now; that was of old, when I looked out into nothing—­cold and stiff, snow-drifts in my heart.  Now a black cat plays with it in the sunshine, as though with a rolling skein, and I like to see its rolling.  I will give you, at the end of this letter, a few more verses belonging to that period, of which fragmentary copies are still preserved, as I see, in my portfolio.  You may allow me to read them still; they harm me no more. Thine eyes have still (and will always have) a charm for me.[12] Please write me in your next letter about the uncertain marriage-plans.  I believe, by Jove![12] that the matter is becoming serious.  Until the day is fixed, it still seems to me as though we had been dreaming; or have I really passed a fortnight in Reinfeld, and held you in these arms of mine?  Has Finette been found again?  Do you remember our conversation when we went out with her in leash—­when you, little rogue, said you would have “given me the mitten” had not God taken pity on me and permitted me at least a peep through the keyhole of His door of mercy!  That came into my mind when I was reading I Cor. vii. 13 and 14 yesterday.


A commentator says of the passage that, in all relations of life, Christ regards the kingdom of God as the more powerful, victorious, finally overcoming all opposition, and the kingdom of darkness as powerless, falling in ruins ever more and more.  Yet, how do most of you have so little confidence in your faith, and wrap it carefully in the cotton of isolation, lest it take cold from any draught of the world; while others are vexed with you, and proclaim that you are people who esteem yourselves too holy to come into contact with publicans, etc.  If every one should think so who believes he has found truth—­and many serious, upright, humble seekers do believe they find it elsewhere, or in another form—­what a Pennsylvania solitary-confinement prison would God’s beautiful earth become, divided up into thousands and thousands of exclusive coteries by insuperable partitions!  Compare, also, Rom. xiv. 22 and xv. 2; also, particularly, I Cor. iv. 5; viii. 2; ix. 20; also xii. 4 and the following; further, xiii. 2; all in the First Ep. to the Cor., which seems to me to apply to the subject.  We talked, during that walk, or another one, a great deal about “the sanctity of doing good works.”  I will not inundate you with Scripture passages in this connection, but only tell you how splendid I find the Epistle of James. (Matt. xxv. 34 and following; Rom. ii. 6; II Cor. v. 10; Rom. ii. 13; I Epistle of John iii. 7, and countless others.) It is, indeed, unprofitable to base arguments upon separate passages of Scripture apart from their connection; but there are many who are honestly striving, and who attach more importance to passages like James ii. 14 than to Mark xvi. 16, and for the latter passage offer expositions, holding

Page 23

them to be correct, which do not literally agree with yours.  To what interpretation does the word “faith” not lend itself, both when taken alone and in connection with that which the Scriptures command us “to believe,” in every single instance where they employ the word!  Against my will, I fall into spiritual discussion and controversies.  Among Catholics the Bible is read not at all, or with great precaution, by the laity; it is expounded only by the priests, who have concerned themselves all their lives with the study of the original sources.  In the end, all depends upon the interpretation.  Concert in Buetow amuses me:  the idea of Buetow is, to my mind, the opposite of all music.

I have been quite garrulous, have I not?  Now I must disturb some document-dust, and sharpen my pen afresh to the police-official style, for the president of the provincial court and the government.  Could I but enclose myself herewith, or go along in a salmon-basket as mail-matter!  Till we meet again, dearest black one.[13] I love you, c’est tout dire.


(I am forgetting the English verses): 

  “Sad dreams, as when the spirit of our youth
  Returns in sleep, sparkling with all the truth
  And innocence, once ours, and leads us back
  In mournful mockery over the shining track
  Of our young life, and points out every ray
  Of hope and peace we’ve lost upon the way!”

By Moore, I think; perhaps Byron.

  “Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow
  Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
  To the last syllable of recorded time;
  And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
  The way to dusty death.  Out, out, brief candle! 
  Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
  That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
  And then is heard no more:  it is a tale
  Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
  Signifying nothing.”

Cordial remembrances to your parents and the Reddentin folk.

Schoenhausen, February 23, ’47.

My Angel!—­I shall not send this letter on its way tomorrow, it’s true, but I do want to make use of the few unoccupied minutes left me to satisfy the need I am conscious of every hour, to communicate with you, and forthwith to compose a “Sunday letter” to you once more.  Today I have been “on the move” all day long.  “The Moorish king rode up and down,” unfortunately not “through Granada’s royal town,” but between Havelberg and Jerichow, on foot, in a carriage, and on horseback, and got mighty cold doing so—­because, after the warm weather of the last few days, I had not made the slightest preparation to encounter five degrees below freezing, with a cutting north wind, and was too much in haste or too lazy to mount the stairs again when I noticed the fresh air.  During the night it had been quite endurable and superb moonlight.  A beautiful spectacle it was, too, when the great fields of ice first set

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themselves massively in motion, with explosions like cannon-shots, shattering themselves against one another; they rear, shoving over and under each other; they pile up house-high, and sometimes build dams obliquely across the Elbe, in front of which the pent stream rises until it breaks through them with rage.  Now are they all broken to pieces in the battle—­the giants—­and the water very thickly covered with ice-cakes, the largest of which measure several square rods, which it bears out to the free sea like shattered chains, with grumbling, clashing noises.  This will go on so for about three days more, until the ice that comes from Bohemia, which passed the bridge at Dresden several days ago, has gone by. (The danger is that the ice-cakes by jamming together may make a dam, and the stream rise in front of this—­often ten to fifteen feet in a few hours.) Then comes the freshet from the mountains which floods the bed of the Elbe, often a mile in width, and is dangerous in itself, owing to its volume.  How long that is to last we cannot tell beforehand.  The prevailing cold weather, combined with the contrary sea wind, will certainly retard it.  It may easily last so long that it will not be worth while to go to Reinfeld before the 20th.  If only eight days should be left me, would you have me undertake it, nevertheless?—­or will you wait to have me without interruption after the 20th, or perhaps 18th?  It is true that fiance and dike-captain are almost incompatible; but were I not the latter, I have not the slightest idea who would be.  The revenues of the office are small, and the duties sometimes laborious; the gentlemen of the neighborhood, however, are deeply concerned, and yet without public spirit.  And even if one should be discovered who would undertake it for the sake of the title, which is, strange to say, much desired in these parts, yet there is no one here (may God forgive me the offence) who would not be either unfit for the business or faint-hearted.  A fine opinion, you will think, I have of myself, that I only am none of this; but I assert with all of my native modesty that I have all these faults in less degree than the others in this part of the country—­which is, in fact, not saying much.

I have not yet been able to write to Moritz, and yet I must send something to which he can reply, inasmuch as my former letter has not as yet brought a sign of life.  Or have you crowded me out of his heart, and do you fill it alone?  The little pale-faced child is not in danger, I hope.  That is a possibility in view of which I am terrified whenever I think of it—­that as a crowning misfortune of our most afflicted friend, this thread of connection with Marie might be severed.  But she will soon be a year and a half old, you know; she has passed the most dangerous period for children.  Will you mope and talk of warm hands and cold love if I pay a visit to Moritz on my next journey, instead of flying to Reinfeld without a pause as is required of a loving youth?

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That you are getting pale, my heart, distresses me.  Do you feel well otherwise, physically, and of good courage?  Give me a bulletin of your condition, your appetite, your sleep.  I am surprised also that Hedwig Dewitz has written to you—­such a heterogeneous nature, that can have so little in common with you.  She was educated with my sister for several years in Kniephof, although she was four or five years the elder of the two.  Either she loves you—­which I should find quite easy to explain—­or has other prosaic intentions.  I fancy that she, as is quite natural, does not feel at home in her father’s house; she has, therefore, always made her home with others for long periods and with satisfaction.

In your letter which lies before me I come upon “self-control” again.  That is a fine acquisition for one who may profit by it, but surely to be distinguished from compulsion.  It is praiseworthy and amiable to wean one’s self from tasteless or provoking outbursts of feeling, or to give to them a more ingratiating form; but I call it self-constraint—­which makes one sick at heart—­when one stifles his own feelings in himself.  In social intercourse one may practise it, but not we two between ourselves.  If there be tares in the field of our heart, we will mutually exert ourselves so to dispose of them that their seed cannot spring up; but, if it does, we will openly pull it up, but not cover it artificially with straw and hide it—­that harms the wheat and does not injure the tares.  Your thought was, I take it, to pull them up unaided, without paining me by the sight of them; but let us be in this also one heart and one flesh, even if your little thistles sometimes prick my fingers.  Do not turn your back on them nor conceal them from me.  You will not always take pleasure in my big thorns, either—­so big that I cannot hide them; and we must pull at them both together, even though our hands bleed.  Moreover, thorns sometimes bear very lovely flowers, and if yours bear roses we may perhaps let them alone sometimes.  “The best is foe to the good”—­in general, a very true saying; so do not have too many misgivings about all your tares, which I have not yet discovered, and leave at least a sample of them for me.  With this exhortation, so full of unction, I will go to sleep, although it has just struck ten, for last night there was little of it; the unaccustomed physical exercise has used me up a bit, and tomorrow I am to be in the saddle again before daylight.  Very, very tired am I, like a child.

Schoenhausen, March 14, 1847.

Jeanne la Mechante!—­What is the meaning of this?  A whole week has passed since I heard a syllable from you, and today I seized the confused mass of letters with genuine impatience—­seven official communications, a bill, two invitations, one of which is for a theatre and ball at Greifenberg, but not a trace of Zuckers (the Reinfeld post-office) and “Hochwohlgeboren.” [14] I could not

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believe my eyes, and had to look through the letters twice; then I set my hat quite on my right ear and took a two hours’ walk on the highway in the rain, without a cigar, assailed by the most conflicting sentiments—­“a prey to violent emotions,” as we are accustomed to say in romances.  I have got used to receiving my two letters from you regularly every week, and when once we have acquired the habit of a thing we look upon that as our well-won right, an injury to which enrages us.  If I only knew against whom I should direct my wrath—­against Boege, against the post-office, or against you, la chatte la plus noire, inside and out.  And why don’t you write?  Are you so exhausted with the effort you made in sending two letters at a time on Friday of last week?  Ten days have gone by since then—­time enough to rest yourself.  Or do you want to let me writhe, while you feast your eyes on my anxiety, tigress! after speaking to me in your last letters about scarlet and nervous fevers, and after I had laid such stress on my maxim of never believing in anything bad before it forces itself upon me as incontestable?  We adhere firmly to our maxims only so long as they are not put to the test; when that happens we throw them away, as the peasant did his slippers, and run off on the legs that nature gave us.  If you have the disposition to try the virtue of my maxims, then I shall never again give utterance to any of them, lest I be caught lying; for the fact is that I do really feel somewhat anxious.  With fevers in Reddis, to let ten days pass without writing is very horrible of you, if you are well.  Or can it be that you did not receive on Thursday, as usual, my letter that I mailed on Tuesday in Magdeburg, and, in your indignation at this, resolved not to write to me for another week?  If that is the state of affairs, I can’t yet make up my mind whether to scold or laugh at you.  The worst of it now is that, unless some lucky chance brings a letter from you directly to Stolp, I shall not have any before Thursday, for, as I remember it, there is no mail leaving you Saturday and Sunday, and I should have received Friday’s today.  If you have not sworn off writing altogether and wish to reply to this letter, address me at Naugard. * * *

Had another visitor, and he stayed to supper and well into the night—­my neighbor, the town-counsellor Gaertner.  People think they must call on each other Sunday evening, and can have nothing else to do.  Now that all is quiet in the night, I am really quite disturbed about you and your silence, and my imagination, or, if not that, then the being whom you do not like to have me name, shows me with scornful zeal pictures of everything that could happen.  Johanna, if you were to fall sick now, it would be terrible beyond description.  At the thought of it, I fully realize how deeply I love you, and how deeply the bond that unites us has grown into me.  I understand what you call loving much.  When I think of the possibility of separation—­and possible it is still—­I should never have been so lonely in all my dreary, lonely life.

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What would Moritz’s situation be, compared with that?—­for he has a child, a father, a sister, dear and intimate friends in the neighborhood.  I have no one within forty miles with whom I should be tempted to talk more than that which politeness demands; only a sister—­but a happily married one with children is really one no longer, at least for a brother who is single.  For the first time I am looking the possibility straight in the eyes that you might be taken away from me, that I might be condemned to inhabit these empty rooms without a prospect of your sharing them with me, with not a soul in all the surrounding region who would not be as indifferent to me as though I had never seen him.  I should, indeed, not be so devoid to comfort in myself as of old, but I should also have lost something that I used not to know—­a loving and beloved heart, and at the same time be separated from all that which used to make life easy in Pomerania through habit and friendship.  A very egotistical line of thought and way of looking at things this discloses, you will say.  Certainly, but Pain and Fear are egotists, and, in cases like that referred to, I never think the deceased, but only the survivors, are to be pitied.  But who speaks of dying?  All this because you have not written for a week; and then I have the assurance to lecture you for gloomy forebodings, etc.!  If you had only not spoken of the deadly fevers in your last letter.  In the evening I am always excited, in the loneliness, when I am not tired.  Tomorrow, in bright daylight, in the railway carriage, I shall perhaps grasp your possible situation with greater confidence.

Be rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing instant in prayer.  All the angels will guard you, my beloved heart, so that we shall soon meet again with joy.  Farewell, and salute your parents.  I wrote your father this morning.  Your faithful BISMARCK.

Berlin, Friday, May 15, ’47.

Dear Heart,—­Your father gave me your letter this morning at the session, and in consequence I hardly know what subject was discussed, or, at least, lacked energy to form a clear, conscious conception of it.  My thoughts were in Reinfeld and my heart full to overflowing of care.  I am submissive in all that may happen, but I cannot say that I should be submissive with gladness.  The chords of my soul become relaxed and toneless when I think of all possibilities.  I am not, indeed, of that self-afflicting sort that carefully and artfully destroys its own hope and constructs fear, and I do not believe that it is God’s will to separate us now—­for every reason I cannot believe it; but I know that you are suffering, and I am not with you, and yet if I were there, I could perhaps contribute something to your tranquillity, to your serenity, were it only that I should ride with you—­for you have no one else for that.  It is so contrary to all my views of gallantry, not to speak of my sentiments

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for you, that any power whatever should keep me here when I know that you are suffering and I could help and relieve you; and I am still at war with myself to determine what my duty is before God and man.  If I am not sooner there, then it is fairly certain that I shall arrive in Reinfeld with your father at Whitsuntide, probably a week from tomorrow.  The cause of your illness may lie deeper, or perhaps it is only that the odious Spanish flies have affected you too powerfully.  Who is this second doctor you have called in?  The frequent changing of doctors, and, on one’s own authority, using between-times all sorts of household remedies, or remedies prescribed for others, I consider very bad and wrong.  Choose one of the local doctors in whom you have the most confidence, but keep to him, too; do what he prescribes and nothing else, nothing arbitrary; and, if you have not confidence in any of the local men, we will both try to carry through the plan of bringing you here, so that you may have thorough treatment under the direction of Breiers, or some one else.  The conduct of your parents in regard to medical assistance, the obstinate refusal of your father, and, allied to that, your mother’s arbitrary changing and fixed prejudices, in matters which neither of them understand, seem to me, between ourselves, indefensible.  He to whom God has intrusted a child, and an only child at that, must employ for her preservation all the means that God has made available, and not become careless of them through fatalism or self-sufficiency.  If writing tires you, ask your mother to send us news.  Moreover, it would seem to me very desirable if one of your friends could be prevailed upon to go to you until you are better.  Whether a doctor can help you or not—­forgive me, but you cannot judge of that by your feelings.  God’s help is certainly decisive, but it is just He who has given us medicine and physician that, through them, His aid may reach us; and to decline it in this form is to tempt Him, as though the sailor at sea should deprive himself of a helmsman, with the idea that God alone can and will give aid.  If He does not help us through the means He has placed within our reach, then there is nothing left to do but to bow in silence under His hand.  If you should be able to come to Zimmerhausen after Whitsuntide, please write to that effect beforehand if possible.  If your illness should become more serious, I shall certainly leave the Landtag, and even if you are confined to your bed I shall be with you.  At such a moment I shall not let myself be restrained by such questions of etiquette—­that is my fixed resolve.  You may be sure of this, that I have long been helping you pray that the Lord may free you from useless despondency and bestow upon you a heart cheerful and submissive to God—­and upon me, also; and I have the firm confidence that He will grant our requests and guide us both in the paths that lead to Him.  Even though yours may often go to the left around the mountain, and mine to the right, yet they will meet beyond.

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The salt water has already gone from here.  If you are too weak for riding, then take a drive every day.  When you are writing to me, and begin to feel badly in the least, stop immediately; give me only a short bulletin of your health, even if it is but three lines, for, thank Heaven, words can be dispensed with between us—­they cannot add or take away anything, since our hearts look into each other, eye to eye, to the very bottom, and though here and there, behind a fold, some new thing is discovered, a strange thing it is not.  Dear heart, what stuff you talk (excuse my rudeness) when you say I must not come if I would rather stop in Zimmerhausen or Angermuende at Whitsuntide!  How can I take pleasure anywhere while I know that you are suffering, and moreover, am uncertain in what degree?  With us two it is a question, not of amusing and entertaining, but only of loving and being together, spiritually, and, if possible, corporeally; and if you should lie speechless for four weeks—­sleep, or something else—­I would be nowhere else, provided nothing but my wish were to decide.  If I could only “come to your door,” I would still rather be there than with my dear sister; and the sadder and sicker you are, so much the more.  But the door will not separate me from you, however ill you may be.  That is a situation in which the slave mutinies against his mistress. * * *

Your faithful B.

Berlin, Tuesday Morning, May 18, ’47.

Dearest,—­The last letters from Reinfeld permit me to hope that your illness is not so threatening at the moment as I feared from the first news, although I am continually beset by all possible fears about you, and thus am in a condition of rather complicated restlessness. * * * My letter in which I told you of my election you have understood somewhat, and your dear mother altogether, from a point of view differing from that which was intended.  I only wanted to make my position exactly clear to you, and the apologies which to you seemed perhaps forced, as I infer from your mother’s letter, you may regard as an entirely natural outflow of politeness.  That I did not stand in need of justification with you I very well know; but also that it must affect us both painfully to see our fine plans cancelled.  It was my ardent wish to be a member of the Landtag; but that the Landtag and you are fifty miles apart distressed me in spite of the fulfilment of my wish.  You women are, and always will be, unaccountable, and it is better to deal with you by word of mouth than by writing. * * * I have ventured once or twice on the speaker’s platform with a few words, and yesterday raised an unheard-of storm of displeasure, in that, by a remark which was not explained clearly enough touching the character of the popular uprising of 1813, I wounded the mistaken vanity of many of my own party, and naturally had all the halloo of the opposition against me.  The resentment was great, perhaps for the very reason

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that I told the truth in applying to 1813 the sentence that any one (the Prussian people) who has been thrashed by another (the French) until he defends himself can make no claim of service towards a third person (our King) for so doing.  I was reproached with my youth and all sorts of other things.  Now I must go over before today’s session to see whether, in printing my words, they have not turned them into nonsense. * * *

Yours forever, B.

Berlin, Friday, May 21, ’47.

Tres chere Jeanneton,—­When you receive this letter you will know that I am not to visit you in the holidays.  I shall not offer “apologies,” but reasons why it is not to be.  I should miss certainly four, and probably five, meetings of the estates, and, according to the announcement we have received, the most important proceedings are to be expected at the coming meetings.  There it may depend upon one vote, and it would be a bad thing if that were the vote of an absentee; moreover, I have succeeded in acquiring some influence with a great number, or, at least, with some delegates of the so-called court party and the other ultra-conservatives from several provinces, which I employ in restraining them so far as possible from bolting and awkward shying, which I can do in the most unsuspected fashion when once I have plainly expressed my inclination.  Then, too, I have some money affairs to arrange, for which I must make use of one of the holidays.  The Landtag will either be brought to a close on the 7th of June—­and in that case I should stay here until that date—­or it will continue in session until all the matters have been arranged, in which event I should stay till after the decision of the important political questions which are now imminent and shall be less conscientious about all the insignificant petitions that follow after, and await their discussion in Reinfeld.  It will, besides, be pleasanter for you and the mother not to have us both—­the father and me—­there at one time, but relieving each other, so that you may be lonely for a shorter time. * * * Your father will tell you how I stirred up the hornet’s-nest of the volunteers here lately, and the angry hornets came buzzing to attack me; on the other hand, I had as compensation that many of the older and more intelligent people drew near to me—­people I did not know at all—­and assured me that I had said nothing but the truth, and that was the very thing that had so incensed the people.  But I must take the field now; it is ten o’clock.  Please ask your father to write immediately about your health.  I should so much like to hear the opinion of another person besides your mother.  I am all right—­only much excited.  Farewell, and God guard you.

Yours altogether and forever, B.

Berlin, May 26, ’47.

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Dearest,—­ * * * If I were only through with the Landtag and the delivery of Kniephof, could embrace you in health, and retire with you to a hunting-lodge in the heart of green forest and the mountains, where I should see no human face but yours!  That is my hourly dream; the rattling wheel-work of political life is more obnoxious to my ears every day.—­Whether it is your absence, sickness, or my laziness, I want to be alone with you in contemplative enthusiasm for nature.  It may be the spirit of contradiction, which always makes me long for what I have not.  And yet, I have you, you know, though not quite at hand; and still I long for you.  I proposed to your father that I should go with him; we would immediately have our banns published and be married, and both come here.  An apartment for married people is empty in this house, and here you could have had sensible physicians and every mortal help.  It seemed to him too unbecoming.  To you, too?  It seems to me still the most sensible thing of all, if you are only strong enough for the trip.  If the Landtag should continue longer than to the 6th of June—­which I still hope it will not—­let us look at the plan more carefully. * * *

Your faithful B.

Schoenhausen, Friday, May 28, ’47.

My Poor Sick Kitten,—­ * * * In regard to your illness, your father’s letter has calmed my anxiety somewhat as to the danger, but yours was so gloomy and depressed that it affected me decidedly.  My dear heart, such sadness as finds expression there is almost more than submission to God’s will:  the latter cannot, in my opinion, be the cause of your giving up the hope, I might say the wish, that you may be better, physically, and experience God’s blessing here on earth as long as may be in accordance with His dispensation.  You do not really mean it, either—­do you, now?—­when, in a fit of melancholy, you say that nothing whatever interests you genuinely, and you neither grieve nor rejoice.  That smacks of Byron, rather than of Christianity.  You have been sick so often in your life, and have recovered—­have experienced glad and sad hours afterwards; and the old God still lives who helped you then.  Your letter stirred in me more actively than ever the longing to be at your side, to fondle you and talk with you. * * *

I do not agree with you in your opinion about July, and I would urge you strongly, too, on this point to side with me against your parents.  When a wife, you are as likely to be sick as when a fiancee—­and will be often enough, later; so why not at the beginning, likewise?  I shall be with you as often as I am free from pressing engagements, so whether we are together here or in Reinfeld makes no difference in the matter.  We do not mean to marry for bright days only:  your ill-health seems to me an utterly frivolous impediment.  The provisional situation we are now in is the worst possible for me.  I scarcely know any longer whether I am living in Schoenhausen,

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in Reinfeld, in Berlin, or on the train.  If you fall sick, I shall be a sluggard in Reinfeld all the autumn, or however long our marriage would be postponed, and cannot even associate with you quite unconstrainedly before the ceremony.  This matter of a betrothed couple seventy miles apart is not defensible; and, especially when I know you are ailing, I shall take the journey to see you, of course, as often as my public and private affairs permit.  It seems to me quite necessary to have the ceremony at the time already appointed; otherwise I should be much distressed, and I see no reason for it.  Don’t sell Brunette just now; you will ride her again soon.  I must be in Berlin at noon for a consultation about plans for tomorrow.  Farewell.  God strengthen you for joy and hope.

Your most faithful B.

Tomorrow I’ll send you a hat.[15]

Berlin, Sunday, May 30, ’47.

Tres Chere Jeanneton,—­Your letter of day before yesterday, which I have just received, has given me profound pleasure and poured into me a refreshing and more joyous essence:  your happier love of life is shared by me immediately.  I shall begin by reassuring you about your gloomy forebodings of Thursday evening.  At the very time when you were afflicted by them I was rejoicing in the happiness I had long missed, of living once more in a comfortable Schoenhaus bed, after I had suffered for weeks from the furnished-apartments couch in Berlin.  I slept very soundly, although with bad dreams—­nightmares—­which I ascribed to a late and heavy dinner, inasmuch as the peaceful occupations of the previous day—­consisting in viewing many promising crops and well-fed sheep, together with catching up with all sorts of police arrangements relating to dike, fire, and roads—­could not have occasioned them.  You see how little you can depend upon the maternal inheritance of forebodings.  Also in regard to the injurious effects of the Landtag excitement upon my health, I can completely reassure you.  I have discovered what I needed—­physical exercise—­to offset mental excitement and irregular diet.  Yesterday I spent in Potsdam, to be present at the water carnival—­a lively picture.  The great blue basins of the Havel, with the splendid surroundings of castles, bridges, churches, enlivened with several hundred gayly decorated boats, whose occupants, elegantly dressed gentlemen and ladies, bombard one another lavishly with bouquets when they can reach each other in passing or drawing up alongside.  The royal pair, the whole court, Potsdam’s fashionable people, and half of Berlin whirled in the skein of boats merrily, pell-mell; royalists and liberals all threw dry or wet flowers at the neighbor within reach.  Three steamboats at anchor, with musical choruses, constituted the centre of the ever-changing groups.  I had the opportunity to salute, hurriedly and with surprise, and throw flowers at, many acquaintances whom I had not seen for a long time.  My friend Schaffgotsch

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is passionately fond of walking, and he was responsible for our returning to the railway station on foot—­a distance of almost three miles—­at such a pace as I had not kept up in a long while.  After that I slept splendidly until nine, and am in a state of physical equilibrium today such as I have not enjoyed for some time.  As the rather dusty promenades in the Thiergarten do not give me enough of a shaking-up in the time that I have available for that purpose, Mousquetaire will arrive here tomorrow, so that he, with his lively gallop, may play the counterpart to the tune that politics is dancing in my head.  My plan about Berlin and the wedding immediately, etc., was certainly somewhat adventurous when you look at it in cold blood, but I hope there will be no change from July.  If I am to be tormented, as you say, with an “unendurable, dispirited, nervous being,” it is all the same in the end whether this torment will be imposed upon me by my fiancee or—­forgive the expression—­by my wife.  In either case I shall try to bear the misfortune with philosophical steadfastness; for it is to be hoped that it will not be so bad that I must dig deeper and seek Christian consolation for it.

Your very faithful B.

Berlin, July 4, ’47.

Juaninina,—­Happily, I have left Schoenhausen behind me, and do not expect to enter it again without you, mon ange. Only some business matters detain me here, which I cannot attend to today because it is Sunday; but I confidently anticipate starting for Angermuende tomorrow at four, and accordingly, unless the very improbable event occurs that I am detained outrageously in Kniephof, shall arrive in Schlawe on Thursday. * * * Farewell, my heart.  This is probably the last post-marked paper that you will receive from your Braeutigam[16] (I hate the expression).  Our banns were cried today for the first time in Schoenhausen.  Does that not seem strange to you But I had learned your given names so badly that I could mention only Johanna Eleonore:  the other six you must teach me better.  Farewell, my heart.  Many salutations to the parents.

Your very faithful B.

My Dear,—­I believe I can now reassure you most completely as to the safety of the members of the Landtag.  The Landtag was opened today, minus King and minus cheers, with quite calm discussion.  In a few words I uttered my protest against the thanks and exultation that were voted to the King, without hostilities becoming overt.  Ten thousand men of the city militia were posted for our protection, but not even a slight disturbance occurred at the palace.  I could be with you tomorrow, as there is no session, if I had ordered a carriage to meet me at Genthin this evening.  But as the whole affair apparently will come to an end this week, perhaps as early as Thursday, I was too stingy to hire a carriage.  Brauchitsch was taken violently ill again last evening. * * * Give cordial remembrances to your mother, and be of good courage.  I am much calmer than I was:  with Vincke one heart and one soul.

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Your faithful B.

April 2, ’48, Sunday Evening.

I fear, my dear heart, the letter I wrote you last evening reached the post-office so late, through an oversight, that you will not receive it today, and not before tomorrow with this; and it pains me to think that you were disappointed in your hope when the mail was delivered, and now (9 o’clock in the evening) are perhaps troubled with disquietude of all sorts about me.  I have spent a tiresome day, tramping the pavement, smoking and intriguing.  Do not judge of the few words I spoke yesterday from the report in the Berlin Times.  I shall manage to bring you a copy of the speech, which has no significance except as showing that I did not wish to be included in the category of certain venal bureaucrats who turned their coat with contemptible shamelessness to suit the wind.  The impression it made was piteous, while even my most zealous opponents shook my hand with greater warmth after my declaration.  I have just come from a great citizens’ meeting, of perhaps a thousand people, in the Milenz Hall, where the Polish question was debated very decorously, very good speeches were made, and on the whole the sentiment seemed to turn against the Poles, especially after a disconsolate Jew had arrived, straight from Samter, who told terrible stories about the lawless excesses of the Poles against the Germans; he himself had been soundly beaten. * * *

Just for my sake do not alarm yourself if each mail does not bring you a letter from me.  There is not the slightest probability that a hair of our heads will be touched, and my friends of all kinds overrun me, to share their political wisdom with me, so that I began a letter of one-quarter sheet to Malle this morning at 9, and could not finish before 3.  I am living in comfort and economy with Werdeck, only rather far away, in consequence of which I already feel the pavement through my soles.  Cordial remembrances to the mother and the Bellins.  I am writing on the table d’hote table of the Hotel des Princes, and a small salad has just been brought for my supper.

Your very faithful B. April 3, ’48.

Schoenhausen, August 21, ’48. 8.30 P.M.


Dear Father,—­You have just become, with God’s gracious help, the grandfather of a healthy, well-formed girl that Johanna has presented me with after hard but short pains.  At the moment mother and child are doing as well as one could wish.  Johanna lies still and tired, yet cheerful and composed, behind the curtain; the little creature, in the meantime, under coverlets on the sofa, and squalls off and on.  I am quite glad that the first is a daughter, but if it had been a cat I should have thanked God on my knees the moment Johanna was rid of it:  it is really a desperately hard business.  I came from Berlin last night, and this morning we had no premonition of what was to come.  At ten in the

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morning Johanna was seized with severe pains after eating a grape, and the accompanying symptoms led me to put her at once to bed, and to send in haste to Tangermuende, whence, in spite of the Elbe, Dr. Fricke arrived soon after 12.  At 8 my daughter was audible, with sonorous voice.  This afternoon I sent Hildebrand off to fetch nurse Boldt from Berlin in a great hurry.  I hope you will not postpone your journey now; but earnestly beg dear mother not to make the trip in an exhausting manner.  I know, of course, that she has little regard for her own health, but just for Johanna’s sake you must take care of yourself, dear mother, so that she may not be anxious on your account.  Fricke pleases us very much—­experienced and careful.  I do not admit visits:  Bellin’s wife, the doctor, and I attend to everything.  Fricke estimates the little one at about nine pounds in weight.  Up to the present time, then, everything has gone according to rule, and for that praise and thanks be to the Lord.  If you could bring Aennchen with you that would make Johanna very happy.

22. Morning.—­It is all going very well, only the cradle is still lacking, and the little miss must camp meanwhile on a forage-crib.  May God have you and us in his keeping, dear parents.

Until we meet again, presently.  B.

Have the kindness to attend to the announcements, save in Berlin and Reddentin, in your neighborhood:  Seehof, Satz, and so forth.  Johanna sends cordial greetings.  She laments her daughter’s large nose.  I think it no larger than it has a right to be.

Berlin, Saturday, 11 p. m.  September 23, ’48.


My Pet!—­Today at last I have news of your condition, and am very grateful to mother for the letter. * * * I am beginning to be really homesick for you, my heart, and mother’s letter today threw me into a mood utterly sad and crippling:  a husband’s heart, and a father’s—­at any rate, mine in the present circumstances—­does not fit in with the whirl of politics and intrigue.  On Monday, probably, the die will be cast here.  Either the ministry will be shown to be weak, like its predecessors, and sink out—­and against this I shall still struggle—­or it will do its duty, and then I do not for a moment doubt that blood will flow on Monday evening or on Tuesday.  I should not have believed that the democrats would be confident enough to take up the gage of battle, but all their behavior indicates that they are bent on it.  Poles, Frankfort men, loafers, volunteers—­all sorts of riffraff are again at hand.  They count on the defection of the troops, apparently misled by the talk of individual discontented gabblers among the soldiers; but I think they will make a great mistake.  I personally have no occasion to await the thing here, and so to tempt God by asking him to protect me in perils that I have no call to seek.  Accordingly, I shall betake my person to a place of safety not later

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than tomorrow.  If nothing important occurs on Monday, on Tuesday I shall reach you; but, if the trouble begins, I should still like to stay near the King.  But there you may (in an aside I say “unfortunately”) assume with confidence that there will be no danger.  You received no letter from me today, because I sent a report about the society to Gaertner, and you will learn from him that I am all right.  You will receive this tomorrow, and I shall write again on Monday.  Send horses for me on Tuesday.  God bless and guard you, my sweetheart.

Your faithful B.

(Postmark, Berlin, November 9, ’48.)

My Dearest,—­Although I am confident that I shall be with you in person a few hours after this letter, I want to inform you immediately that everything is quiet till now.  I go to Potsdam at nine, but must post the letter here now, as otherwise it will not reach you today.  Our friends have been steadfast till now, but I cannot take courage yet to believe in anything energetic.  I still fear, fear, and the weather is unfavorable, too.  Above all, you must not be afraid of anything, if I should stay away today by any chance.  The K. may send for me, or some one else in Potsdam earnestly wish that I should stay there to advise upon further measures, the trains may be delayed because the carriages are required for soldiers, and other things of the sort.  Then, courage and patience, my heart, in any event.  The God who makes worlds go round can also cover me with his wings.  And in P. there is no danger anyhow.  So expect me in the evening; if I happen not to come, I shall be all right nevertheless.  Cordial remembrances to our cross little mother.

Your most faithful B.

Potsdam, November 10, ’48.

My Angel,—­Please, please do not scold me for not coming today either; I must try to put through some more matters in relation to the immediate future.  At two this afternoon all Wrangel’s troops will reach Berlin, disarm the flying corps, maybe, take the disaffected deputies from the Concertsaal, and make the city again a royal Prussian one.  It is doubtful whether they will come to blows in the process.  Contrary to our expectations, everything remained quiet yesterday; the democrats seem to be much discouraged. * * *

Your v.B.

Potsdam, November 14, ’48.

My Dear Pet,—­Long sleep can certainly become a vice.  Senfft has just waked me at nine o’clock, and I cannot yet get the sand out of my eyes.  It is quiet here.  Yesterday it was said to be the intention to serenade the Queen (on her birthday) with mock music; one company posted there sufficed to make the audacious people withdraw in silence.  Berlin is in a state of siege, but as yet not a shot fired.  The disarming of the city militia goes on forcibly and very gradually.  The meeting in the Schuetzenhaus was dispersed by soldiers yesterday; six men who were unwilling to go were thrown

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out.  Martial law will be proclaimed over there today.  My friend Schramm has been arrested.  That Rob.  Blum, Froebel, Messenhauser, have been shot in Vienna, you already know from the newspapers.  Good-by, you angel; I must close.  Many remembrances to all.  The peasants of the neighborhood have declared to the King that if he has need of them he should just call them:  that they would come with weapons and supplies to aid his troops, from the Zauch-Belzig-Teltow, the Havelland, and other districts.  Mention that in Schoenhausen, please, so that it may go the rounds.

Your v.B.

Potsdam, Thursday Morning, November 16, ’48.

Dear Nanne!—­I did not get your very dear, nice letter of Tuesday morning until yesterday afternoon, but none the less did I right fervently rejoice and take comfort in it, because you are well, at least in your way, and are fond of me.  There is no news from here except that Potsdam and Berlin are as quiet as under the former King, and the surrender of arms in B. continues without interruption, with searching of houses, etc.  It is possible that there may be scenes of violence incidentally—­the troops secretly long for them—­but on the whole the “passive resistance” of the democrats seems to me only a seasonable expression for what is usually called fear.  Yesterday I dined with the King.  The Queen was amiable in the English fashion.  The enclosed twig of erica I picked from her sewing-table, and send it to keep you from being jealous. * * *

If a letter from the Stettin bank has arrived, send it to me immediately, please, marked, “To be delivered promptly.”  If I do not receive it before day after tomorrow, I shall return home, but must then go to Stettin at the beginning of next week.  So let horses be sent for me on Saturday afternoon; this evening I unfortunately cannot go to Genthin, because I expect Manteuffel here. * * *

The democrats are working all their schemes in order to represent the opinion of the “people” as hostile to the King; hundreds of feigned signatures.  Please ask the town-councillor whether there are not some sensible people in Magdeburg, who care more for their neck, with quiet and good order, than for this outcry of street politicians, and who will send the King a counter-address from Magdeburg.  I must close.  Give my best regards to mamma, and kiss the little one for me on the left eye.  Day after tomorrow, then, if I do not get the Stettin letter sooner.  Good-by, my sweet angel.  Yours forever, v.B.  Schoenhausen, July 18, ’49.

My Pet,—­ * * * I wanted to write you in the evening, but the air was so heavenly that I sat for two hours or so on the bench in front of the garden-house, smoked and looked at the bats flying, just as with you two years ago, my darling, before we started on our trip.  The trees stood so still and high near me, the air fragrant with linden blossoms; in the garden a quail whistled and partridges allured,

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and over beyond Arneburg lay the last pink border of the sunset.  I was truly filled with gratitude to God, and there arose before my soul the quiet happiness of a family life filled with love, a peaceful haven, into which a gust of wind perchance forces its way from the storms of the world-ocean and ruffles the surface, but its warm depths remain clear and still so long as the cross of the Lord is reflected in them.  Though the reflected image be often faint and distorted, God knows his sign still.  Do you give thanks to Him, too, my angel; think of the many blessings He has conferred upon us, and the many dangers against which He has protected us, and, with firm reliance on His strong hand, confront the evil spirits with that when they try to affright your sick fancy with all sorts of images of fear. * * *

Your most faithful

Brandenburg, July 23, ’49.

My Beloved Nanne!—­I have just received your short letter of Friday, which reassures me somewhat, as I infer from it that our little one has not the croup, but the whooping-cough, which is, indeed, bad, but not so dangerous as the other.  You, poor dear, must have worried yourself sick.  It is very fortunate that you have such good assistance from our people and the preacher, yet are you all somewhat lacking in confidence, and increase each other’s anxiety instead of comforting one another.  Barschall has just told me that all of his children have had this croupy cough—­that it was endemic in Posen in his time; his own and other children were attacked by it repeatedly in the course of a few days; that every family had an emetic of a certain kind on hand in the house, and by that means overcame the enemy easily every time, and without permanent consequences for the child.  Be comforted, then, and trust in the Lord God; He does, indeed, show us the rod that He has ready for us, but I have the firm belief that He will put it back behind the mirror.  As a child I, too, suffered from whooping-cough to the extent of inflammation of the lungs, and yet entirely outgrew it.  I have the greatest longing to be with you, my angel, and think day and night about you and your distress, and about the little creature, during all the wild turmoil of the elections. * * *

Here in Brandenburg the party of the centre is decidedly stronger than ours; in the country districts I hope it is the other way, yet the fact cannot be overlooked.  It is incredible what cock-and-bull stories the democrats tell the peasants about me; in fact, one from the Schoenhausen district, three miles from us, confided to me yesterday that, when my name is mentioned among them, a regular shudder goes through them from head to foot, as though they should get a couple of “old-Prussian broadsword strokes” laid across their shoulders.  As an opponent said recently, at a meeting, “Do you mean to elect Bismarck Schoenhausen, the man ’who, in the countryman’s evening prayer, stands hard by the devil’?” (From Grillparzer’s

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Ahnfrau.) And yet I am the most soft-hearted person in the world towards the common people.  On the whole, my election here in these circumstances seems very doubtful to me; and as I do not believe I shall be elected in the other place either, when I am not there personally, we may live together quietly the rest of the summer, if it be God’s will, and I will pet you into recovery from your fright about the child, my darling.  Have no anxiety whatever about my personal safety; one hears nothing of the cholera here except in a letter from Reinfeld.  The first rule to observe, if it should come nearer to you, is to speak of it as little as possible; by speaking, one always augments the fear of others, and fear of it is the easiest bridge on which it can enter the human body. * * *

God guard you and your child, and all our house.

Your most faithful


It is better not to leave the doors all open constantly, for the child often gets shock from the draught, when one is opened, before you can prevent it.

(Postmark, Berlin, August 8, ’49.)

My Love,—­I sent you a letter this morning, and have just received yours, in reply to which I will add a few more words touching the wet-nurse.  If any one besides you and father and mother already knows about the matter, in the house or outside, then tell her the truth unhesitatingly, for in that case it will not stay hidden.  If the matter is still known to yourselves alone, let it continue so, but then keep watch on the mail-bag, lest she learn of it unexpectedly.  The wet-nurse’s sister here is unwilling to have it told to her.  I shall look her up today and speak with her.  But if you do not wish to keep it secret any longer, when once the child is rid of her cough, you should at any rate look about you for a wet-nurse or woman who, in case of necessity, can take Friederike’s place immediately, if the effect is such that the child cannot stay with her.  I shall get the sister to give me a letter to her, in which the story will be told exactly and soothingly; this I shall send to you, so that you may make use of it in case of need; that, I think, is the best way she can learn of it.  To tell her first that her child is sick, and so forth, I do not consider a good plan, for anxiety has a worse effect than the truth.  God will graciously bring us out of this trouble.  He holds us with a short rein lest we should become self-confident, but He will not let us fall.  Good-by, my best-of-all; pray and keep your head up.

Your very faithful


Berlin, August 11, ’49.

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Mon Ange,—­I went to see the wet-nurse’s kinsfolk, and there learned that the fiance had written to her last Wednesday and revealed all to her; so the matter will go as God directs.  If you chanced to intercept the letter, and on receipt of this have not yet delivered it, please delay it until my next arrives.  I could not find the fiance himself, and directed him to come to me this evening, and shall write you what I learn from him.  If Friederike knows everything already, my wishes will reach you too late; otherwise I should like, if in accordance with medical opinion, not to have the wet-nurse sent away altogether, but only relieved from service for a few hours or days; if, however, there are scruples on that point, it can’t be done, of course.  From my many doubts, you will see that I cannot decide the matter very well at this distance.  Act quite in accordance with the advice of your mother and the other experienced friends.  I give my views, merely, not commands. * * * Be content with these lines for today; be courageous and submissive to God’s will, my darling; all will surely go well.  Cordial remembrances to the parents.

Your most faithful


Berlin, Friday. (Postmark, August 17, ’49.)

Dearest Nanne,—­ * * * Your last letter, in which you inform me of the happy solution of the wet-nurse difficulty, took a real load off my heart; I thanked God for His mercy, and could almost have got drunk from pure gayety.  May His protection extend henceforward, too, over you and the little darling.  I am living with Hans here at the corner of Taubenstrasse, three rooms and one alcove, quite elegant, but narrow little holes; Hans’ bed full of bugs, but mine not as yet—­I seem not to be to their taste.  We pay twenty-five rix-dollars a month, together.  If there were one additional small room, and not two flights of stairs, I could live with you here, and Hans could get another apartment below in this house.  But, as it is, it would be too cramped for us.  I have talked with the fiance of the wet-nurse, a modest-looking person.  He spoke of her with love, and declared in reply to my question that he certainly is willing to marry her.  What he wrote about the “white pestilence” is nonsense; no such sickness exists, least of all in Berlin.  The cholera is fast disappearing.  I have not heard a word more about it since I came here; one sees it only in newspaper reports.  Isn’t our mammy jealous because, according to the paper, I have been in company with “strikingly handsome” Englishwomen?  Lady Jersey was really something uncommon, such as is usually seen only in keepsakes.  I would have paid a rix-dollar admission if she had been exhibited for money.  She is now in Vienna.  For the rest, I have not had a letter from you this long time; my last news comes from Bernhard, who left you a week ago today.  God has upheld you meantime, I trust,

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my angel.  It is possible that a letter from you is here.  The delivery is always rather irregular:  sometimes the letter-carrier brings them, sometimes they are delivered at the Chamber postal station.  I will go immediately and inquire if anything is there; then I will take a bath, and return at least ten calls that have been paid me.  It is a misery that now the people always receive one—­one loses a terrible amount of time at it....  Hans is still inclined to treat me tyrannically, but I resist, and have been so far successful that I sleep as long as I please, whereat the coffee grows cold, however, as he is obstinately bent on not breakfasting alone.  So, too, he will not go to bed if I do not go at the same time, but sleeps, just like my little Nanne, on the sofa....  Now, good-by my much-beloved heart.  I am very anxious on your account, and often am quite tearful about it.  Best regards to the parents.

Your most faithful v.B.

Berlin, Monday. (Postmark, August 28, ’49.)

My Darling,—­I sit here in my corner room, two flights up, and survey the sky, full of nothing but little sunset-tinted lambs, as it appears, along the Taubenstrasse and over the tree-tops of Prinz Carl’s garden, while along Friedrichstrasse it is all golden and cloudless; the air damp and mild, too.  I thought of you and of Venice, and this only I wanted to write to you.  News has come today that Venice has surrendered at discretion; so we can go there again, and again see the tall white grenadiers. * * * I dined with Manteuffel today, yesterday with Prince Albert, of course, day before yesterday with Arnim, and then I took a ride with him of fourteen miles at a gallop—­which suited me well, save for some muscular pains.  In the Chamber we keep on doing nothing whatever; in the Upper House the German question, happily, has been brought forward again in very good speeches by Gerlach, Bethmann, and Stahl, and yet today the Camphausen proposition was adopted with all the votes against nineteen.  With us, too, it is beginning to excite men’s tempers.  The proposition is bad in its tendency, but its result insignificant even if it goes through with us, as is to be expected. Tant de bruit pour une omelette.  The real decision will not be reached in our Chambers, but in diplomacy and on the battlefield, and all that we prate and resolve about it has no more value than the moonshine observations of a sentimental youth who builds air-castles and thinks that some unexpected event will make him a great man. Je m’en moque!—­and the farce often bores me nearly to death, because I see no sensible object in this straw-threshing.  Mother’s little letter gave me great pleasure, because, in the first place, I see that you are well, and then because she has her old joke with me, which is much pleasanter at a distance, as it does not lead to strife; and yet how I should like to quarrel with mammy once more!  I am genuinely homesick to be quietly with you all in Schoenhausen.  Have you received the ribbon for Aennchen?

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Tuesday.—­Hans is just breakfasting, and eating up, from sheer stinginess, a quarter pound of butter that he bought three days ago, because it begins to get old.  Now he screams that my tea is there, too.  I close for today, as I have something to do afterwards.  My love to FatherMotherAnnaAdelheidMarie and all the rest.  God’s blessing be with you and keep you well and merry.

Your most faithful v.B.

Berlin, September 11, ’49. (Postmarked September 10.)

I wrote yesterday, my Nannie, but as it costs me nothing, not even for paper, for this is the Chamber’s, I do want to improve a wearisome moment, during which I must listen to the reading of a confused report on normal prices, to send you another little greeting; but again without the ribbon, for I am going to buy that later on.  This morning I attended the cavalry manoeuvres, on a very pleasant horse of Fritz’s; rode sharply, swallowed much dust, but, nevertheless, had a good time; it is really pretty, these brilliant, rapidly moving masses interspersed with the clanking of iron and the bugle signals.  The Queen, my old flame, greeted me so cordially.  Having driven past without noticing me, she rose and turned backward over the bar of the carriage, to nod to me thrice; that lady appreciates a Prussian heart.  Tomorrow I shall take a look at the grand parade, in which the infantry also participates.  I believe I have written you that the King and Leopold Gerlach visited the Emperor of Austria at Teplitz, where there was also a Russian plenipotentiary.  The proletariats of the Chamber are now gradually coming to see that on that occasion something may have been concocted which will cast mildew on their German hot-house flowers, and the fact that his Majesty has conversed with the ruler of all the Croatians frightens them somewhat. Qui vivra verra.  These Frankfort cabbage-heads are incorrigible; they and their phrases are like the old liars who in the end honestly believe their own stories; and the impression produced on our Chamber by such ridiculous things as they say, without any regard for the matter in hand, or for common-sense, will be sure at last to convince people generally that peasants and provincials are not fit to make laws and conduct European politics.  Now I must listen.  Farewell, my much-beloved heart.  Love to my daughter and your parents.

Your most faithful v.B.

Berlin, Friday.

(Postmarked September 21, ’49.)

I am well, my darling Nan, but I am cold, for in the morning the rooms are already so chilly that I long very much for the Schoenhausen fireplaces, and matters in the Chamber are so tedious that I often have serious thoughts of resigning my commission.  In the ministry there is again a shameful measure preparing; they now want to submit a real property tax bill, according to which those estates which are not manors are to be indemnified, while manors must suffer, as the number

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of nobles is not dangerous.  Only if encumbered for more than two-thirds of their value, they are to be assisted by loans.  What good will a loan do a bankrupt, who has it to repay!  It is a mixture of cowardice and shameless injustice such as I could not have expected.  Yesterday we had soft, warm autumn weather, and I took a long walk in the Thiergarten, by the same solitary paths which we used to traverse together; I sat, too, on our bench near the swan-pond; the young swans which were then still in their eggs on the little island were now swimming vivaciously about, fat, gray, and blase, among the dirty ducks, and the old ones sleepily laid their heads on their backs.  The handsome large maple standing near the bridge has already leaves of a dark-red color; I wished to send you one of them, but in my pocket it has become so hard that it crumbles away; the gold-fish pond is almost dried up; the lindens, the black alders, and other delicate things bestrew the paths with their yellow, rustling foliage, and the round chestnut-burrs exhibit a medley of all shades of sombre and attractive fall coloring.  The promenade, with its morning fogs among the trees, reminded me vividly of Kniephof, the woodcock-hunt, the line of springes, and how everything was so green and fresh when I used to walk there with you, my darling. * * * On the 1st of October I shall probably have to attend the celebration of the nine-hundredth anniversary of the founding of the cathedral there, to which the King is coming.  For the 2d and the following days I have been invited to go on a royal hunt to the Falkenstein.  I should be very glad to shoot a deer in those woods which we and Mary saw illuminated by the moon on that evening; but even if matters in the Chamber should not prevent, I am at a loss how to reconcile that with our journey, and I feel as though I should steal my days from you by going. * * * I am now going out to buy a waist, to call on Rauch, and then again to the Thiergarten.  All love to father and mother, and may God preserve you in the future as hitherto, my dearest.

Your most faithful v.B.

Berlin, Friday.

(Postmarked September 28, ’49.)

My Dear,—­I have taken the apartment in the Behrenstrasse; that on the Thiergarten is too uncomfortable for you in going in and out in wet winter weather. * * * It is better that I should procure and arrange everything for you in advance; then you need only alight here and sink into my open arms and on a ready sofa; that would be so pretty; only come soon, my beloved angel; today the weather is already bitter cold, and write me exactly when I can come for you to Z. Do not be offended, either, at my note of yesterday, and do not think that you have offended me, but please come quickly.  I am not going to the Harz.  Much love.  In great haste.

Your most faithful v.B.

  Over the blue mountain,
  Over the white sea-foam,
  Come, thou beloved one,
  Come to thy lonely home.

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—­Old Song.

Schoenhausen, October 2, ’49.

My Beloved Nan,—­I am sitting in our quiet old Schoenhausen, where I am quite comfortable, after the Berlin hubbub, and I should like to stay here a week, if the old Chamber allowed.  This morning Odin awakened me, and then retreated as usual between the beds; then the Bellins groaned very much about the bad qualities of the tenant, with whom they lead a cat-and-dog life, and I discussed with her, pro and con, all that is to be sent to Berlin.  The garden is still quite green for the fall season, but the paths are overgrown with grass, and our little island is so dwarfed and wet that I could not get on to it; it rains without let-up.  The little alderman, of course, sat with me all the afternoon, otherwise I should have written you sooner and more at length.  I want to leave again tomorrow morning, and I have still several business letters to write.  Yesterday, with the King, I celebrated the nine-hundredth anniversary of the Brandenburg Cathedral, after it had been thoroughly exorcised and the bad national spirits driven out.  The entire royal family was there, except the Princess of Babelsberg, who is at Weimar; also Brandenburg, Manteuffel, Wrangel, Voss, and many high dignitaries, among them myself, quite courageously at the front in church, next to the princesses.  At dinner his Majesty said many pretty things about his electoral and capital city of Brandenburg, and was also very friendly to me.  I introduced to the Queen a number of village mayors, who had been of particular service in my election; they were so much moved by it that afterwards they embraced me with tears in their eyes.  Finally, the King became very angry at Patow, who had made his appearance as President-in-chief, and to whom he had not spoken till then.  “Sir,” said he, in a very loud and angry voice, “if you belong to the Right, then vote with the Right; if you belong to the Left, vote, in the——­ name with the Left; but I require of my servants that they stand by me, do you understand?” Breathless silence, and P——­ looked like a duck in a thunder-storm. * * * It is right good that I did not take the apartment on the Thiergarten; aside from the wet feet which my angel would get in dirty and damp weather, the house has been broken into seven times during the couple of years of its existence, a fact of which sympathizing souls would surely have informed you; and, if on some long winter evening I were not at home, you and the two girls and baby would have shuddered mightily over it.  The little old clock is just clearing its throat to strike seven; I must to my work.  Farewell, dearest; and, above all things, come-mmmm quickly—­in a hurry, swiftly, instantly—­to your dear little husbandkin.  Most hearty greetings to our parents.

Your most faithful v.B.

Erfurt, April 19, ’50.

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My Beloved Nan,—­It is bad to live in such a small town, with three hundred acquaintances.  One is never sure of his life a single moment, for calls.  An hour ago I got rid of the last bores; then, during supper, I walked up and down in my room, and annihilated almost the whole fat sausage, which is very delicious, drank a stone mug of beer from the Erfurt “Felsenkeller,” and now, while writing, I am eating the second little box of Marchpane, which was, perhaps, intended for Hans, who has not got any of the sausage even; in its place I will leave him the little ham.  During the last few days we have been valiantly quarrelling in Parliament; but neither at the beginning nor later could I obtain the floor for my principal speech; but I relieved myself of some gall in minor skirmishes. * * * I am sick and tired of life here; attending the sitting early in the morning, thence directly to a screaming and chattering table d’hote, then for coffee to the Steiger, a most charming little mountain, a mile from the city, where one can walk about through the pleasantest hours of the day with a pretty view of Erfurt and the Thuringian woods; under magnificent oaks, among the little light-green leaves of prickles and horn-beam; from there to the abominable party caucus, which has never yet made me any the wiser, so that one does not get home all day.  If I do not attend the caucus meetings, they all rail at me, for each one grudges the others any escape from the tedium. * * * Good-by, my heart.  May God’s hand be over you, and the children, and protect you from sickness and worry, but particularly you, the apple of my eye, whom Roeder envies me daily in the promenade, when the sunset makes him sentimental, and he wishes he had such a “good, dear, devout wife.”  For the rest, my allowance suffices for my needs here, and I shall still bring treasures home.  Good-night, my darling.  Many thanks for your faithful letter, and write me again at once; I am always anxious for news.  Hans has just come in, and sends you sleepy greetings, after sitting on the lounge for hardly ten seconds.  Once more, good-night, my Nan.

Your most faithful v.B.

Erfurt, April 23, ’50.

My Darling,—­ * * * We shall probably be released a week from today, and then we have before us a quiet Schoenhausen summer, as the cry of war is also dying.  It is really going to be summer again, and on a very long walk, from which I am returning home dead tired, I took much pleasure in the small green leaves of the hazel and white beech, and heard the cuckoo, who told me that we shall live together for eleven years more; let us hope longer still.  My hunt was extraordinary; charming wild pine-woods on the ride out, sky-high, as in the Erzgebirge; then, on the other side, steep valleys, like the Selke, only the hills were much higher, with beeches and oaks.  The night before starting I had slept but four hours; then went to bed at nine o’clock in Schleusingen

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on the south side of the Thuringian wood; arose at midnight; that evening I had eaten freely of the trout and had drunk weak beer with them; at one o’clock we rode to a forge in the mountains, where ghostlike people poked the fire; then we climbed, without stopping, until three o ’clock, in pouring rain, I wearing a heavy overcoat; so steep that I had to help myself with my hands; so dark in the fir thickets that I could touch the huntsman ahead of me with my hand, but could not see him.  Then, too, we were told there is a precipice on the right, and the torrent sent up its roar from the purple depths below; or that there is a pool on the left, and the path was slippery.  I had to halt three times; repeatedly I almost fainted from weakness, lay down on the dripping heath, and let the rain pour on me.  But I was firmly resolved to see the grouse; and I did see several, but could not shoot them, for reasons which one must be a huntsman to understand.  My companion shot one, and, if I had been well, I might have shot two; I was too exhausted.  After three it cleared and became wonderfully fine, the horn-owl gave place to the thrush, and at sunrise the bird-chorus became deafening; the wood-pigeons singing bass, withal.  At five I was down again, and, as it began to pour once more, I abandoned further attempts, returned hither, ate very heartily, after a twenty-four hours’ fast, and drank two glasses of champagne, then slept for fourteen hours, until yesterday at one o’clock, noon, and now I am feeling much better than before the excursion, and am glad of the good constitution which God has given me, to get through it all. * * * I send you lots of love, my heart, and will piously celebrate fast-day tomorrow at the Wermel church.  God preserve you.  Love to mother and Melissa.  Excuse my haste.  I had really left myself an hour of leisure, but that little old Mass has his fourteenth child, just born.  The only son of our poor Eglofstein, of Arklitten, twenty-three-year-old lieutenant of cuirassiers, has shot himself in hypochondria; I pity the father extremely, a devout, honorable man.

Your most faithful


Schoenhausen, Sunday Evening.

(Postmarked Jerichow, September 30, ’50.)

My Beloved Nan,—­ * * * I regained possession of my things in Berlin at some cost, after twenty-four hours had elapsed; when I left, the unfortunate Jew had not yet claimed his.  Partly on my account and partly on Hans’, we had to stay in Berlin two days, but this time the bill was more reasonable. * * * May the devil take politics!  Here I found everything as we left it, only the leaves show the rosiness of autumn; flowers are almost more plentiful than in summer; Kahle has a particular fondness for them, and on the terrace fabulous pumpkins are suspended by their vines from the trees.  The pretty plums are gone; only a few blue ones still remain; of the vine, only the common green variety is ripe; next week I shall send you some grapes.  I have devoured

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so many figs today that I was obliged to drink rum, but they were the last.  I am sorry you cannot see the Indian corn; it stands closely packed, three feet higher than I can reach with my hand; the colts’ pasture looks from a distance like a fifteen-year-old pine preserve.  I am sitting here at your desk, a crackling fire behind me, and Odin, rolled into a knot, by my side. * * * Mamsell received me in pink, with a black dancing-jacket; the children in the village ridicule her swaggering about her noble and rich relations.  She has cooked well again today, but, as to the feeding of the cattle, Bellin laments bitterly that she understands nothing about it, and pays no attention to it, and she is also said to be uncleanly; the Bellin woman does not eat a mouthful prepared by her.  Her father is a common cottager and laborer; I can easily understand that she is out of place there, with her grand airs and pink dresses.  Up to this time the garden, outside of Kahle’s keep, has cost one hundred and three rix-dollars this year, and between now and Christmas forty to fifty will probably be added for digging and harvesting, besides the fuel.  The contents of the greenhouse I shall try to have care of in the neighborhood; that is really the most difficult point, and still one cannot continue keeping the place for the sake of the few oranges.  I am giving out that you will spend the winter in Berlin, that in the summer-time we intend going to a watering-place again, and that, therefore, we are giving up housekeeping for a year. * * * Hearty love to our parents.  I shall celebrate father’s birthday with you, like a Conservative, in the old style.  May the merciful God, for His Son’s sake, preserve you and the children.  Farewell, my dear Nan.

Your v.B.

Since leaving Reinfeld I no longer have heartburn; perhaps it is in my heart, and my heart has remained with Nan.

Schoenhausen, October 1, ’50.

My Angel,—­I am so anxious that I can hardly endure being here; I have the most decided inclination to inform the government at once of my resignation, let the dike go, and proceed to Reinfeld.  I expected to have a letter from you today, but nothing except stupid police matters.  Do write very, very often, even if it takes one hundred rix-dollars postage.  I am always afraid that you are sick, and today I am in such a mood that I should like to foot it to Pomerania.  I long for the children, for mammy and dad, and, most of all, for you, my darling, so that I have no peace at all.  Without you here, what is Schoenhausen to me?  The dreary bedroom, the empty cradles with the little beds in them, all the absolute silence, like an autumn fog, interrupted only by the ticking of the clock and the periodic falling of the chestnuts—­it is as though you all were dead.  I always imagine your next letter will bring bad news, and if I knew it was in Genthin by this time I would send Hildebrand there in the night.  Berlin is endurable when one is alone; there one is

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busy, and can chatter all day; but here it is enough to drive one mad; I must formerly have been an entirely different mortal, to bear it as I did. * * * The girl received the notice to leave very lightly and good-naturedly, as quite a matter of course; Kahle, on the other hand, was beside himself, and almost cried; said he could not find a place at Christmas-time, and would go to the dogs, as he expressed it.  I consoled him by promising to pay his wages for another quarter if he failed to find a place by New Year’s.  The girl is quite useless except in cooking, of which more orally.  I cannot enumerate all the little trifles, and certainly Kahle does not belong to the better half of gardeners. * * * I feel so vividly as if I were with you while writing this that I am becoming quite gay, until I again recollect the three hundred and fifty miles, including one hundred and seventy-five without a railroad.  Pomerania is terribly long, after all.  Have you my Kuelz letter, too?  Bernhard has probably kept it in his pocket.  Do not prepay your letters, or they will be stolen.  Innumerable books have arrived from the binder; he claims one section of Scott’s Pirate is missing; I know nothing about it.  The tailor says that he has been able to make only five pair of drawers from the stuff; presumably he is wearing the sixth himself.  Farewell, my sweetheart.  Write as often as you can, and give love and kisses to every one from me, large and small.  May God’s mercy be with you.

Your most faithful v.B.

Schoenhausen, October 10, ’50.

My Darling,—­In a sullen rage I swoop down upon my inkstand after just lighting the Town Councillor downstairs with the kindliest countenance in the world.  He sat here for two and a half hours by the clock, moaning and groaning, without the least regard for my wry face; I was just about to read the paper when he came.  From ten to two I crawled about the Elbe’s banks, in a boat and on foot, with many stupid people, attending to breakwaters, protective banks, and all sorts of nonsense.  This is, in general, a day of vexations; this morning I dreamed so charmingly that I stood with you on the seashore; it was just like the new strand, only the mud was rocks, the beeches were thick-foliaged laurel, the sea was as green as the Lake of Traun, and opposite us lay Genoa, which we shall probably never see, and it was delightfully warm; then I was awakened by Hildebrand, accompanied by a summoner, who brought me an order to serve as a juror at Magdeburg from October 20th to November 16th, under penalty of from one hundred to two hundred rix-dollars for each day of absence.  I am going there by the first train tomorrow, and hope to extricate myself; for God so to punish my deep and restless longing for what is dearest to me in this world, so that we shall not have the fleeting pleasure of a couple of weeks together, would, indeed, be incredibly severe.  I am all excitement; that is our share in the newly achieved liberty—­that

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I am to be forced to spend my few days of freedom sitting in judgment over thievish tramps of Jews, like a prisoner in a fortress.  I hope Gerlach can free me; otherwise I shall never speak to him again.  Tomorrow I shall at once drop you a line from Magdeburg, to tell you how I succeed. * * * The people have abandoned the dike-captain conspiracy against me; the Town Councillor says he will not press it at all.  He chattered to me for hours about his land-tax commission, in which his anxiety drove him to rage against his own flesh, and also, unfortunately, against ours.  Our chief misfortune is the cowardly servility towards those above and the chasing after popularity below, which characterize our provincial councillor; consequently public business, the chase, land-tax, etc., are all deleteriously affected.  It is due principally to the fact that he is grossly ignorant and bungling in affairs, and is, therefore, for better, for worse, in the hands of his democratic circuit secretary, to whom he never dares to show his teeth; and, despite all that, the fellow wears trousers, has been a soldier, and is a nobleman.  La-Croix is district-attorney at Madgeburg, withal, and he, too, must help me to sneak out of it.  It is still impossible for me to acquiesce in the notion that we are to be separated all winter, and I am sick at heart whenever I think of it; only now do I truly feel how very, very much you and the babies are part of myself, and how you fill my being.  That probably explains why it is that I appear cold to all except you, even to mother; if God should impose on me the terrible affliction of losing you, I feel, so far as my feelings can at this moment grasp and realize such a wilderness of desolation, that I would then cling so to your parents that mother would have to complain of being persecuted with love.  But away with all imaginary misery; there is enough in reality.  Let us now earnestly thank the Lord that we are all together, even though separated by three hundred and fifty miles, and let us experience the sweetness of knowing that we love each other very much, and can tell each other so.  To me it is always like ingratitude to God that we choose to live apart so long, and are not together while He makes it possible for us; but He will show us His will; all may turn out differently; the Chambers may be dissolved, possibly very quickly, as the majority is probably opposed to the Ministry.  Manteuffel was resolved upon it in that event, and it seems that Radowitz, since he is Minister, has approached him, and, in general, wants to change his politics again.  Best love to all.  Farewell.  God keep you.

Your most faithful v.B.

Berlin, April 28, ’51.

My Dear Sweetheart,—­Mother’s premonition that I would remain long away has, unfortunately, proved correct this time. * * * The King was the first to propose my nomination, and that at once, as a real delegate to the Diet; his plan has, of course, encountered much opposition, and has finally been so modified that Rochow will, it is true, remain Minister at Petersburg, whither he is to return in two months, but meanwhile, provisionally, he is commissioned to Frankfort, and I am to accompany him, with the assurance that, on his leaving for Petersburg, I shall be his successor.  But this last is between ourselves.

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Now I want to go, first of all, to Frankfort, and take a look at the situation, and hear how I shall stand pecuniarily pending my definite appointment, of which I know nothing at all as yet.  Then I shall see whether I can leave again shortly after the start, and whether I am to count on staying any longer; for, although I have, indeed, accepted, still I am not yet sufficiently familiar with the ground to be able to say definitely whether I shall stay there or shortly get out again.  As soon as that is decided, we shall probably, after all, have to consider for you, too, the prospect of exchanging your quiet Reinfeld existence for the noise of the Diet’s diplomacy.  You folks have often complained that nothing was made of me by those above me; now this is, beyond my expectations and wishes, a sudden appointment to what is at this moment the most important post in our diplomatic service; I have not sought it; I must assume that the Lord wished it, and I cannot withdraw, although I foresee that it will be an unfruitful and a thorny office, in which, with the best intentions, I shall forfeit the good opinion of many people.  But it would be cowardly to decline.  I cannot give you today further particulars as to our plans, how we shall meet, what will be done about your going to the seashore; only I shall try to make leisure, if possible, to see you before.  I feel almost like crying when I think of this sudden upsetting of our innocent plans, as well as of the uncertainty when I shall see you again, my beloved heart, and the babies; and I earnestly pray God to arrange it all without detriment to our earthly welfare and without harm to my soul.  God be with you, my dear, and bring us together again soon.  With heartfelt love.

Your most faithful v.B.

Frankfort, May 14, ’51.

My Little Dear,—­* * * It seems to be getting constantly more certain that I shall take Rochow’s position in the summer.  In that event, if the rating remains as it was, I shall have a salary of twenty-one thousand rix-dollars, but I shall have to keep a large train and household establishment and you, my poor child, must sit stiff and sedate in the drawing-room, be called Excellency, and be clever and wise with Excellencies. * * * The city is not so bad as you suppose; there are a great many charming villas before the gates, similar to those in the Thiergarten, only more sunny.  As Councillor of Legation, it will be difficult for us to live there, owing to distance and expense; but as Ambassador, quite as charming as is possible in a foreign land.  By letters of introduction I have quickly become acquainted with the charming world hereabouts.  Yesterday I dined with the English Ambassador, Lord Cowley, nephew of the Duke of Wellington; very kind, agreeable people; she is an elegant woman of about forty, very worldly, but benevolent and easy to get acquainted with; I have immediately put myself on a friendly footing with her, so that when you step into the cold

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bath of diplomatic society she may be a powerful support for you.  Previously I called on a Frau von Stallupin (pronounce Stolipine), a young woman without children, kindly, like all Russian women, but terribly rich, and settled in a little castle-like villa, so that one hardly dares to take a step or to sit down; a Scharteuck interior is a rude barn compared with it.  Day before yesterday evening I called on Frau von Vrintz, a sister of Meyendorf’s wife; the diplomatic folks assemble every evening in her drawing-room.  Countess Thun was there, a very handsome young woman, in the style of Malvinia; also the Marquis de Tallenay, French Ambassador, a polite fifty-year-old; Count Szechenyi, a gay young Magyar, full of pranks, and divers other foreign personages.  They gamble there every evening, the lady of the house, too, and not for very low stakes; I was scolded for declaring it boresome, and told them it would be my role to laugh at those who lost.  Society probably does not appeal to you very strongly, my beloved heart, and it seems to me as though I were harming you by bringing you into it, but how shall I avoid that?  I have one favor to ask of you, but keep it to yourself, and do not let mother suspect that I have written you one word about it, otherwise she will worry needlessly over it:  occupy yourself with French as much as you can in the meantime, but let it be thought that you yourself have discovered that it is useful.  Read French, but, if you love me, do not do so by artificial light, or if your eyes pain you; in that case you had better ask mother to read to you, for it is almost harder to understand than to speak.  If you know of any agreeable piece of baggage you can get in a hurry to chatter French to you, then engage one; I will gladly pay the bill.  You will enter here an atmosphere of French spirit and talk, anyway; so you cannot avoid familiarizing yourself with it as far as possible.  If you know of no person whom you like and who is available, let it go; and, at any rate, I beg you sincerely not to consider this advice as a hardship, or otherwise than if I asked you to buy yourself a green or a blue dress; it is not a matter of life and death; you are my wife, and not the diplomats’, and they can just as well learn German as you can learn French.  Only if you have leisure, or wish to read anyway, take a French novel; but if you have no desire to do so, consider this as not written, for I married you in order to love you in God and according to the need of my heart, and in order to have in the midst of the strange world a place for my heart, which all the world’s bleak winds cannot chill, and where I may find the warmth of the home-fire, to which I eagerly betake myself when it is stormy and cold without; but not to have a society woman for others, and I shall cherish and nurse your little fireplace, put wood on it and blow, and protect it against all that is evil and strange, for, next to God’s mercy, there is nothing which is dearer and more necessary to me

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than your love, and the homelike hearth which stands between us everywhere, even in a strange land, when we are together.  Do not be too much depressed and sad over the change of our life; my heart is not attached, or, at least, not strongly attached, to earthly honor; I shall easily dispense with it if it should ever endanger our peace with God or our contentment. * * * Farewell, my dearly beloved heart.  Kiss the children for me, and give your parents my love.

Your most faithful v.B.

Frankfort, May 16, ’51.

Dear Mother,—­* * * So far as I am at present acquainted with the highest circles of society, there is only one house which seems to me to promise company for Johanna—­that of the English Ambassador.  As this letter will probably be opened by the Austrian (Frankfort) post-office authorities, I shall refrain from explaining on this occasion the reasons therefor.  Even those letters which, like my last ones, I took occasion to send by a courier, are not secure from indiscretions at Berlin; those to me as well as those from me; but those which go by the regular mail are always opened, except when there is no time for it, as the gentleman who will read this could probably testify.  But all that, for better, for worse, forms part of the petty ills of my new position.

In my thoughts I must always ask you and our dad to forgive me for depriving you of the pleasure and the happiness of your old days, inasmuch as I transplant to such a distance the bright child-life, with all its dear cares, and take Johanna away a second time from her father’s house; but I see no other way out of it, which would not be unnatural, or even wrong, and the strong arm which separated us when we hoped to be united can also unite us when we least expect it.  You shall at least have the conviction, so far as human purpose can give it, that I shall wander, together with Johanna, with the strong staff of the Word of God, trough this dead and wicked activity of the world, whose nakedness will become more apparent to us in our new position than before, and that to the end of our joint pilgrimage my hand shall strive, in faithful love, to smooth Johanna’s paths, and to be a warm covering to her against the breath of the great world.

Your faithful son, v.B.

Frankfort, May 18, ’51.

My Darling,—­Frankfort is terribly tiresome; I am so spoiled by so much affection and so much business that I am only just beginning to suspect how ungrateful I always was to some people in Berlin, to say nothing of you and yours; but even the cooler measure of fellowship and party affiliation which came to me in Berlin may be called an intimate relationship compared with intercourse here, which is, in fact, nothing more than mutual mistrust and espionage, if there only were anything to spy out or to conceal!  The people toil and fret over nothing but mere trifles, and these diplomats, with their consequential hair-splitting, already seem to

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me more ridiculous than the Member of the Second Chamber in the consciousness of his dignity.  If foreign events do not take place, and those we over-smart Diet people can neither direct nor prognosticate, I know quite definitely now what we shall have accomplished in one, two, or five years, and am willing to effect it in twenty-four hours if the others will but be truthful and sensible for a single day.  I have never doubted that they all use water for cooking; but such an insipid, silly water-broth, in which not a single bubble of mutton-suet is visible, surprises me.  Send me Filoehr, the village-mayor, Stephen Lotke, and Herr von Dombrowsky, of the turnpike-house, as soon as they are washed and combed, and I shall cut a dash with them in diplomatic circles.  I am making headlong progress in the art of saying nothing by using, many words; I write reports of many pages, which read nice and smooth as editorials; and if Manteuffel, after he has read them, can tell what they contain, he can do more than I. Each of us makes believe that he thinks the other is full of ideas and plans, if he would but speak out, and yet we none of us know a jot better than the man in the moon does what is to become of Germany.  No mortal, not even the most malevolently skeptical Democrat, will believe what a vast amount of charlatanism and consequential pomposity there is in this diplomacy.  But now I have done enough scolding, and want to tell you that I am well, and that I was very glad and gave thanks to the Lord that, according to your last letter, all was well with you, and that I love you very much, and look at every pretty villa, thinking that perhaps our babies will be running about in it in summer.  Do see that you get the girls to come along, or if they absolutely refuse, bring others from there with whom we are already somewhat acquainted.  I don’t care to have a Frankfort snip in the room, or with the children; or we must take a Hessian girl, with short petticoats and ridiculous head-gear; they are half-way rural and honest.  For the present I shall rent a furnished room for myself in the city; the inn here is too expensive.  Lodgings, 5 guilders per day; two cups of tea, without anything else, 36 kreutzers (35 are 10 silbergroschen), and, served as the style is here, it is insulting.  Day before yesterday I was at Mayence; it is a charming region, indeed.  The rye is already standing in full ears, although the weather is infamously cold every night and morning.  The excursions by rail are the best things here.  To Heidelberg, Baden-Baden, Odenwald, Hamburg, Soden, Wiesbaden, Bingen, Ruedesheim, Niederwald, is a leisurely day’s journey; one can stay there for five or six hours and be here again in the evening; hitherto I have not yet availed myself of it, but shall do so, so that I may escort you when you are here.  Rochow left for Warsaw at nine o’clock last night; he will arrive there day after tomorrow at noon, and will most likely be here again a week from today. 

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About politics and individuals cannot write you much, because most letters are opened, When once they are familiar with your address on my letters and with your handwriting on yours, they will probably get over it, because they have no time to read family letters.  Do not be afraid of the local aristocracy; as to money, Rothschild is the most aristocratic, but deprive them all of their money and salaries, and it would be seen how little each one is aristocratic in himself; money doesn’t do it, and otherwise—­may the Lord keep me in humility, but here the temptation is strong to be content with one’s self.

Countess Pueckler, sister of the Countess Stolberg, resides at Weistritz, near Schweidnitz.  Now, farewell; I must go out.  God’s blessing be with you.  Give F. and M. much love.  Your most faithful v.  B.

Frankfort, May 27, ’51.

My Darling,—­* * * On Friday there was a ball at Lady Cowley’s, which lasted until five in the morning; they all dance here as if possessed; the oldest delegates of fifty, with white hair, danced to the end of the cotillion, in the sweat of their brows.  At midnight “God Save the Queen” was solemnly played, because her birthday was dawning, and it was all a transparency of English coats-of-arms and colors from top to bottom, and very many odd, stiff ladies, who “lisp English when they lie,” as I read once upon a time the translation of that passage in Faust; that is to say, they all have a passion for talking bad French, and I am altogether forgetting my English, as I have discovered to my dismay. * * * Oftentimes I feel terribly homesick, and that is to me an agreeable sadness, for otherwise I seem to myself so aged, so dryly resigned and documentary, as if I were only pasted on a piece of card-board. * * * Give your dear parents my heartfelt love, and kiss Annie’s pretty hand for me, because she stays with you so sweetly-Now, I shall not write another word until I have a letter from you in hand.  Yesterday I attended the Lutheran church here; a not very gifted, but devout, minister; the audience consisted, apart from myself, of just twenty two women, and my appearance was visibly an event.  God bless and keep you and the children.

Your most faithful v.B.

[Illustration:  PRINCESS BISMARCK]

Frankfort, Ascension Day—­Evening.

(Postmarked Berlin, June 1, ’51.)

My Heart,—­How good it is of you all that, directly after I had mailed my complaint of lack of news, there arrives such a shower of letters.  A thousand thanks to your dear parents, and I shall answer dad tomorrow, when I am less hurried than today, for on this dear holiday, after a big dinner, I must still write some long despatches.  I was at the French church today, where at least there was more congregation and devotion, and the minister was passable, too, but I cannot talk French with my dear, faithful Lord and Saviour; it seems to me ungrateful.  For the rest, they sang pretty hymns, these insipid Calvinists, almost in the sweet Catholic tune which you always play. * * *

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Your most faithful v.B.

Your letter had been opened again.

Frankfort, June 4, ’51.

My Darling,—­Were you not going to write to me any more?  I was resolved even yesterday not to put pen to paper until I should have a letter from you, but, anyway, I will be good, and tell you that I am well and love you, even if you let your little inkstand dry up.  I long exceedingly for you and the children, and for quiet, comfortable domesticity at Schoenhausen or Reinfeld.  As soon as I have finished my hitherto rather unimportant occupations, my empty lodgings, and the whole dreary world behind, face me, and I know not where to set my foot, for there is nothing which particularly attracts me.  Day before yesterday I ate at Biberich, with the Duke of Nassau, the first fresh herrings and the first strawberries and raspberries of the season.  It is certainly a delightful piece of earth along the Rhine, and I looked pensively from the castle windows over to the red cathedral of Mayence, which, almost four years ago, we both went to see very early in the morning, in times for which we were not then sufficiently grateful to God; I remembered how, on board the steamer, the blue hills before us, we passed by the Duke’s handsome castle, without dreaming how and why I should stand there at the window this year, an old wig of a Minister before me, who unravelled his views on national polities, while I was thinking, with an occasional absent-minded “Quite so,” of our trip of ’47, and sought with my eyes the spot on the Mayence bridge whence you, in your little Geneva coat, embarked on the steamer; and then I thought of Geneva. * * * Countess Thun unfortunately left on Sunday for Tetschen, to spend three months with her father-in-law.  She is a kindly lady, womanly and devout (Catholic, very), attributes which do not grace the women here in general; her husband gambles and flirts, I believe, more so than is agreeable to her.  I hardly believe that you will like her, but she is one of the better specimens of women of the great world, even though that just proves to me that a woman of that world would not have been suitable for me; I like her to associate with, but not to marry.  Perhaps, by comparing her with the others of her sort, you will learn to appreciate her.  The gentlemen are unendurable.  The moment I accost one he assumes a diplomatic countenance, and thinks of what he can answer without saying too much, and what he can write home concerning my utterances.  Those who are not so I find still less congenial; they talk equivocally to the ladies, and the latter encourage them shamefully.  It makes a less morbid impression on me if a woman falls thoroughly for once, but preserves a sense of shame at heart, than if she takes pleasure in such chatter; and I value the Countess Thun, because, despite the general fashion prevailing here, she knows how to keep decidedly clear of all that sort of thing. * * * Your most faithful v.B.

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Frankfort, June 26, ’51.

My Darling,—­Today I have been suffering all day long from homesickness.  I received your letter of Sunday early, and then I sat in the window and smelled the summer fragrance of roses and all sorts of shrubs in the little garden, and while so doing I heard one of your dear Beethoven pieces, played by an unknown hand on the piano, wafted over from some window opposite, distantly and in snatches, and to me it sounded prettier than any concert.  I kept wondering why I must, after all, be so far away, for a long time, from you and the children, while so many people who do not love each other at all see one another from morning till night.  It is now seven months since I received at Reinfeld the order to join the regiment; since then we have twice paid each other a hasty visit, and it will be eight or nine months before we shall be again united.  It must, indeed, be the Lord’s will, for I have not sought it, and when I am sorrowful it is a consolation to me that I did not speak a syllable in order to come here, and that ambition for outward pomp was not what led me to this separation.  We are not in this world to be happy and to enjoy, but to do our duty; and the less my condition is a self-made one, the more do I realize that I am to perform the duties of the office in which I am placed.  And I certainly do not wish to be ungrateful, for I am, nevertheless, happy in the knowledge of possessing so much that is dear, even if far away from here, and in the hope of a happy reunion.  On the arrival of every letter from Reinfeld my first feeling is one of hearty gratitude for the unmerited happiness that I still have you in this world, and with every death of wife or child which I see in the newspaper the consciousness of what I have to lose comes forcibly home to me, and of what the merciful God has granted and thus far preserved to me.  Would that gratitude therefor might so dispose my obstinate and worldly heart to receive the mercy of the Lord that it shall not be necessary for Him to chastise me in what I love, for I have greater fear of that than of any other evil. * * * In a few weeks it must be decided whether I shall be made Envoy here or stay at Reinfeld.  The Austrians at Berlin are agitating against my appointment, because my black-and-white is not sufficiently yellow for them; but I hardly believe they will succeed, and you, my poor dear, will probably have to jump into the cold water of diplomacy; and the boy, unlucky wight that he is, will have a South-German accent added to his Berlin nativity. * * * As far as can now be foreseen, I shall not be able to get away from this galley for two or three weeks, for, including Silesia, that amount of time would probably be necessary for it.  But much water will flow down the Main before then, and I am not worrying before the time comes.  How I should like to turn suddenly around the bushy corner of the lawn and surprise all of you in the hall!  I see you so plainly, attending

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to the children, covering up Midget, with sensible speeches, and father sitting at his desk smoking, the mayor beside him, and mammy bolt-upright on her sofa, by wretched light, one hand lying on the arm-rest, or holding Musee Francais close before her eyes.  God grant that at this moment everything at Reinfeld is going as smoothly as this.  I have at last received a letter from Hans, one that is very charming, and, contrary to his custom, mysterious, in view of the post-office spies.  You may imagine how Senfft writes to me under these circumstances.  I received an unsigned letter from him the other day, out of which the most quick-witted letter-bandit would have been at a loss to decipher what he was driving at.  If you occasionally come across some unintelligible notices at the tail end of the Observer, they will thus seem to you more puzzling still, and to the blockhead who breaks open this letter they will remain unintelligible, even if I tell you that they are a part of my correspondence.  Only give me frequent tidings, my beloved heart, even if short ones, so that I may have the assurance that you are alive and well.  A have picked the enclosed leaves for you in the garden of old Amschel Rothschild, whom I like, because he is simply a haggling Jew, and does not pretend to be anything else, and, at the same time, a strictly orthodox Jew, who touches nothing at his dinners, and eats only “undefiled” food.  “Johann dage vid you some bread for de deers,” he said his servant as he came out to show me his garden, in which there were some tame fallow deer.  “Baron, dat blant costs me two thousand guilders, honor bride, two thousand guilders gash; I vill let you have it for one thousand or, if you vant it for nuddings, he shall bring id to your house.  God knows I abbrejiate you highly, Baron; you are a nize man, a brave man.”  With that he is a little, thin gray imp of a man, the patriarch of his tribe, but a poor man in his palace, childless, a widower, cheated by his servants, and ill-treated by aristocratically Frenchified and Anglicized nephews and nieces who will inherit his treasures without gratitude and without love.  Good-night, my angel.  The clock is striking twelve; I want to go to bed and read chap. ii. of the Second Epistle of St. Peter.  I am now doing that in a systematic way, and, when I have finished St. Peter, at your recommendation I shall read the He-brews, which I do not know at all as yet.  May God’s protection and blessing be with you all.

Your most faithful v.B.

Frankfort, July 3, 1851.

My Pet,—­Day before yesterday I very thankfully received your letter and the tidings that you are all well.  But do not forget when you write to me that the letters are opened not by me alone, but by all sorts of postal spies, and don’t berate particular persons so much in them, for all that is immediately reported and debited to my account; besides, you do people injustice.  Concerning my

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appointment or non-appointment I know nothing as yet, except what was told me when I left; everything else is possibilities and surmises.  The only crookedness about the matter us far has been the government’s silence towards me, for it would have been only fair to let me know by this, and officially at that, whether during next month I to live here or in Pomerania with wife and child.  Be careful in your remarks to every one there, without exception, not to Massow alone; particularly in your criticisms of individuals, for you have no idea what one experiences in this respect after once becoming an object of surveillance; be prepared to see warmed up with sauce, here or at Sans Souci, what you may perhaps whisper to Charlotte[17] or Annie in the boscages or the bathing-house.  Forgive me for being so admonitory, but after your last letter I have to take the diplomatic pruning-knife in hand a bit.  Do not write me anything that the police may not read and communicate to King, ministers, or Rochow.  If the Austrians and many other folks can succeed in sowing distrust in our camp, they will thereby attain one of the principal objects of their letter-pilfering.  Day before yesterday I took dinner at Wiesbaden, with Dewitz, and, with a mixture of sadness and knowing wisdom, I inspected the scenes of past foolishness.  Would that it might please God to fill with His clear and strong wine this vessel, in which at that time the champagne of twenty-two-year-old youth sparkled uselessly away, leaving stale dregs behind.  Where and how may Isabella Loraine and Miss Russel be living now?  How many of those with whom I then flirted, tippled, and played dice are now dead and buried!  How many transformations has my view of the world undergone in the fourteen years which have since elapsed, while I always considered the existing one as alone correct! and how much is now small to me which then appeared great, how much now deserving of respect which I then ridiculed!  How many a green bud within us may still come to mature blossom and wither worthlessly away before another period of fourteen years is over, in 1865, if we are then still alive!  I cannot realize how a person who is thoughtful and, nevertheless, knows nothing or wishes to know nothing of God, can endure giving a despised and tedious life, a life which is fleeting as a stream, as a sleep, even as a blade of grass that soon withers; we spend our years as in a babble of talk.

I do not know how I endured it in the past; if I should live now as I did then, without God, without you, without children, I should, in fact, be at a loss to know why I should not cast off this life like a soiled shirt; and yet most of my acquaintances are thus, and they live.  If in the case of some one individual I ask myself what reason he can have, in his own mind, for continuing to live, to toil, to fret, to intrigue, and to spy—­verily I do not know.  Do not conclude from this scribbling that I happen to be in a particularly black mood;

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on the contrary, I feel as when, on a beautiful September day, one contemplates the yellowing foliage; healthy and gay, but a little sadness, a little homesickness, a longing for woods, lake, meadow, you and the children, all mingled with the sunset and a Beethoven symphony.  Instead of that I must now call upon tiresome serene Highnesses and read endless figures about German sloops of war and cannon-yawls which are rotting at Bremerhaven and devouring cash. * * * Farewell, my beloved heart.  Much love to our parents, and God keep you all.

Your most faithful v.B.

Frankfort, July 8, 1851.

My Darling,—­Yesterday and today I wished very much to write to you, but owing to a hurly burly of business I have not been able to do so till now, late in the evening, after returning from a walk during which, in the charming summer-night’s air, with moonlight and the rustling of poplar-leaves, I have brushed off the dust of the day’s documents.  On Saturday, in the afternoon, I went with Rochow and Lynar to Ruedesheim, hired a boat there, rowed out on the Rhine, and swam in the moonlight, nothing but nose and eyes over the tepid water, as far as the Mouse Tower near Bingen, where the wicked bishop met his death.  There is something strangely dreamlike in thus lying in the water on a quiet, warm night, carried gently along by the tide, seeing only the sky with moon and stars, and, alongside, the wooded hill-tops and the castle battlements in the moonlight, hearing nothing but the gentle purling of one’s own motion.  I should like to swim thus every evening.  Then I drank some very nice wine, and sat for a long time smoking, with Lynar, on the balcony, the Rhine beneath us.  My little Testament and the starry firmament caused our conversation to turn on Christian topics, and I hammered for a long time at the Rousseau-like chastity of his soul, with no other effect than to cause him to remain silent.  He was ill-treated while a child by nurses and private tutors, without having really learned to know his parents, and by reason of a similar bringing-up he has retained from his youthful days opinions similar to my own, but has always been more satisfied with them than I ever was.  Next morning we went by steamer to Coblentz, breakfasted there for an hour, and returned by the same route to Frankfort, where we arrived in the evening.  I really undertook the expedition with the object of visiting old Metternich at Johannisberg; he had invited me, but the Rhine pleased me so much that I preferred to take a pleasure ride to Coblentz, and postponed the call.  You and I saw him that time on our trip directly after the Alps, and in bad weather; on this summer morning, and after the dusty tedium of Frankfort, he again rose high in my esteem.  I promise myself much relish from spending a few days with you at Ruedesheim, the place is so quiet and country-like, good people and low-priced, and then we shall hire a little rowboat, ride leisurely down, climb the Niederwald,

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and this and that castle, and return by the steamer.  One can leave here early in the morning, remain for eight hours at Ruedesheim, Bingen, Rheinstein, etc., and be here again at night.  My appointment at this place does not appear to be certain, and Hans is going to Coblentz as Lord-Lieutenant; will live there in a stately palace, with the finest view in all Prussia.  By leaving here early, one reaches Coblentz by half past ten, and is back in the evening; that is easier than from Reinfeld to Reddentin, and a prettier road.  You see we are not forsaken here; but who would have thought, when we went to the wedding in Kiekow, that both of us should be removed from our innocent Pomeranian solitude and hurled to the summits of life, speaking in worldly fashion, to political outposts on the Rhine?  The ways of the Lord are passing strange.  May He likewise take our souls out of their darkness and lift them to the bright summits of His grace. That position would be more secure.  But He has certainly taken us visibly into His hand, and will not let me fall, even though I sometimes make myself a heavy weight.  The interview with Lynar the other day has truly enabled me to cast a grateful (but not pharisaical) glance over the distance which lies between me and my previous unbelief; may it increase continually, until it has attained the proper measure. * * * I am already beginning to look about here for a house, preferably outside of the city, with a garden; there my darling will have to play a very stiff, self-contained part, see much tedious society, give dinners and balls, and assume terribly aristocratic airs.  What do you say to having dancing at your house until far into the night?  Probably it cannot be avoided, my beloved heart—­that is part of the “service.”  I can see mother’s blue eyes grow big with wonder at the thought.  I am going to bed, to read Corinthians i., 3, and pray God to preserve you all to me, and grant you a quiet night and health and peace.  Dearest love to your parents.

Your most faithful


Frankfort, April 4, ’52.

Dear Mother,—­I wished to write you today at length, but I do not know how far I shall progress in it after having given myself up for so long to enjoyment of Sunday leisure, by taking a long, loitering walk in the woods, that hardly an hour remains before the closing of the mail.  I found such pretty, solitary paths, quite narrow, between the greening hazel and thorn-bushes, where only the thrush and the glede-kite were heard, and quite far off the bell of the church to which I was playing truant, that I could not find my way home again.  Johanna is somewhat exhausted, in connection with her condition, or I should have had her in the woods, too, and perhaps we should still be there. * * * She has presented me with an exquisite anchor watch, of which I was much in need, because I always wore her small one.  In the Vincke matter I cannot, with you, sufficiently

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praise God’s mercy that no misfortune has occurred from any side.  I believe that for me it was inwardly very salutary to have felt myself so near unto death, and prepared myself for it; I know that you do not share my conception of such matters, but I have never felt so firm in believing trust, and so resigned to God’s will, as I did in the moment when the matter was in progress.  We can discuss it orally some time; now I only want to tell you how it happened.  I had repeatedly been disgusted by V.’s rudeness to the government and ourselves, and was prepared resolutely to oppose him at the next opportunity that offered.  He accused me of want of diplomatic discretion, and said that hitherto the “burning cigar” was my only known achievement.  He alluded to an occurrence at the Palace of the Diet, of which I had previously told him confidentially, at his particular request, as of something quite unimportant, but comical.  I then retorted from the platform that his remark overstepped not only the bounds of diplomatic but also of ordinary discretion, which one had a right to demand from every man of education.  Next day he challenged me, through Herr von Sauken-Julienfelde, for four pistol-shots; I accepted it after Oscar Arnim’s proposal, that we should fight with swords, had been declined by Sauken.  Vincke wished to defer the matter for forty-eight hours, which I granted.  On the 25th, at 8 A.M., we rode to Tegel; to a charming spot in the woods by the seashore; it was beautiful weather, and the birds sang so gayly in the sunshine that, as soon as we entered the wood, all sad thoughts left me; only the thought of Johanna I had to drive from me by force, so as not to be affected by it.  With me as witnesses were Arnim and Eberhard Stolberg, and my brother as very dejected spectator.  With V. were Sauken, and Major Vincke of the First Chamber, as well as a Bodelschwingh (nephew of the Minister and of Vincke), as impartial witness.  The latter declared before the matter began that the challenge seemed to him to be, under the circumstances, too stringent, and proposed that it should be modified to one shot apiece.  Sauken, in V.’s name, was agreeable to this, and had word brought to me that the whole thing should be called off if I declared I was sorry for my remark.  As I could not truthfully do this, we took our positions, fired at Bodelschwingh’s command, and both missed.  God forgive the grave sin that I did not at once recognize His mercy, but I cannot deny it:  when I looked through the smoke and saw my adversary standing erect, a feeling of disappointment prevented me from participating in the general rejoicing, which caused Bodelschwingh to shed tears; the modification of the challenge annoyed me, and I would gladly have continued the combat.  But, as I was not the insulted party, I could say nothing; it was over, and all shook hands.  We rode home and I ate with my sister alone.  All the world was dissatisfied with the outcome, but the Lord must know what He still intends to make of V.

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In cool blood, I am certainly very grateful that it happened so.  What probably contributed much to it was the fact that a couple of very good pistols, which were originally intended to be used, were so loaded that for the moment they were quite useless, and we had to take those intended for the seconds, with which it was difficult to hit.  An official disturbance has interrupted me, and now I must close—­time is up.  Only I still want to say that I had consulted beforehand, about the duel, with old Stolberg, General Gerlach, Minister Uhden and Hans; they were all of opinion that it must be; Buechsel, too, saw no alternative, although he admonished me to desist.  I spent an hour in prayer, with him and Stolberg, the evening before.  I never doubted that I should have to appear, but I did doubt whether I should shoot at V. I did it without anger, and missed.  Now farewell, my dearly beloved mother.  Give love to father and every one from

Your faithful son, v.B.

Vienna, June 14, ’52.

My Beloved Heart,—­At this hour I ought to sit down and write a long report to his Majesty concerning a lengthy and fruitless negotiation which I had today with Count Buol, and concerning an audience with the Archduchess Empress-Dowager.  But I have just taken a promenade on the high ramparts all round the inner city, and from them seen a charming sunset behind the Leopoldsberg, and now I am much more inclined to think of you than of business.  I stood for a long time on the red Thor Tower, which commands a view of the Jaegerzeil and of our old-time domicile, the Lamb, with the cafe before it; at the Archduchess’ I was in a room which opens on the homelike little garden into which we once secretly and thoughtlessly found our way; yesterday I heard Lucia—­Italian, very good; all this so stirs my longing for you that I am quite sad and incapable.  For it is terrible to be thus alone in the world, when one is no longer accustomed to it; I am in quite a Lynaric mood.  Nothing but calls, and coming to know strangers, with whom I am always having the same talk.  Every one knows that I have not yet been here very long, but whether I was ever here before; that is the great question which I have answered two hundred times in these days, and happy that that topic still remains.  For folk bent on pleasure this may be a very pretty place, for it offers whatever is capable of affording outward diversion to people.  But I am longing for Frankfort as if it were Kniephof, and do not wish to come here by any means.  F. must lie just where the sun went down, over the Mannhartsberg yonder; and, while it was sinking here, it still continued shining with you for over half an hour.  It is terribly far.  How different it was with you here my heart, and with Salzburg and Meran in prospect; I have grown terribly old since then. * * * It is very cruel that we must spend such a long period of our brief life apart; that time is lost, then, and cannot

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be brought back.  God alone knows why He allows others to remain together who are quite at their ease when apart; like an aged friend of mine, who travelled with me as far as Dresden had to sit in the same compartment with his wife all the time, and could not smoke; and we must always correspond at a great distance.  We shall make up for it all, and love each other a great deal more when we are again together; if only we keep well!  Then I shall not murmur.  Today I had the great pleasure of receiving, via Berlin, your letter of last Thursday; that is the second one since I left Frankfort; surely none is lost?  I was very happy and thankful that all of you are well. * * * As soon as I find myself once more on the old, tiresome Thuringian railroad I shall be out of myself, and still more so when I catch a glimpse of our light from Bockenheim; I must travel about nine hundred miles thither, not including two hundred and fifty miles from Pesth back to this place.  How gladly I shall undertake them, once I am seated in the train!  I shall probably abandon my trip by way of Munich; from this place to M. is a post-trip of fifty hours; by water still longer; and I shall have to render a verbal report in Berlin, anyway.  About politics I can, fortunately, write nothing; for, even if the English courier who takes this to Berlin is a safeguard against our post-office, the Taxis scoundrels will, nevertheless, get hold of it.

Be sure to write me detailed information as to your personal condition.  Greet mother, our relations, if they are still there, Leontine, the children, Stolberg, Wentzel, and all the rest.  Farewell my angel.  God preserve you.

Your most faithful v.B.

Ofen, June 23, ’52.

My Darling,—­I have just left the steamer, and do not know how better to utilize the moment at my disposal until Hildebrand follows with my things than by sending you a love-token from this far-easterly but pretty spot.  The Emperor has graciously assigned me quarters in his palace, and I am sitting here in a large vaulted chamber at the open window, into which the evening bells of Pesth are pealing.  The view outward is charming.  The castle stands high; immediately below me the Danube, spanned by the suspension-bridge; behind it Pesth, which would remind you of Dantzig, and farther away the endless plain extending far beyond Pesth, disappearing in the bluish-red dusk of evening.  To the left of Pesth I look up the Danube, far, very far, away; to my left, i.e., on the right-hand shore, it is fringed first by the city of Ofen, behind it hills like the Berici near Venetia blue and bluer, then bluish-red in the evening sky, which glows behind.  In the midst of both cities is the large sheet of water as at Linz, intersected by the suspension-bridge and a wooded island.  It is really splendid; only you, my angel, are lacking for me to enjoy this prospect with you; then it would be quite nice. 

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Then, too, the road hither, at least from Gran to Pesth, would have pleased you.  Imagine Odenwald and Taunus moved close together, the waters of the Danube filling the interval; and occasionally, particularly near Wisserad, a little Duerrenstein-Agstein.  The shady side of the trip was the sunny side; it burned as if they wanted tokay to grow on the steamer, and the crowd of travelers was large; but, just imagine, not one Englishman; it must be that they have not yet discovered Hungary.  For the rest, there were queer fellows enough, dirty and washed, of all Oriental and Occidental nations. * * * By this time I am becoming impatient as to Hildebrand’s whereabouts; I am lying in the window, half musing in the moonlight, half waiting for him as for a mistress, for I long for a clean shirt. * * * If you were here for only a moment, and could contemplate now the dull, silvery Danube, the dark hills on a pale-red background, and the lights which are shining up from Pesth below, Vienna would lose much in your estimation compared to Buda-Pescht, as the Hungarian calls it.  You see I am not only a lover, but also an enthusiast, for nature.  Now I shall soothe my excited blood with a cup of tea, after Hildebrand has actually put in an appearance, and shall then go to bed and dream of you, my love.  Last night I had only four hours of sleep, and the court here is terribly matutinal; the young gentleman himself rises as early as five o ’clock, so that I should be a bad courtier if I were to sleep much longer.  Therefore I bid you good-night from afar, with a side-glance at a gigantic teapot and an enticing plate of cold jellied cuts, tongue, as I see, among the rest.  Where did I get that song that occurs to me continually today—­“Over the blue mountain, over the white sea-foam, come, thou beloved one, come to thy lonely home”?  I don’t know who must have sung that to me, some time in auld lang syne.  May God’s angels keep you today as hitherto.

Your most faithful v.B.

The 24th.

After having slept very well, although on a wedge-shaped pillow, I bid you good-morning, my heart.  The whole panorama before me is bathed in such a bright, burning sun that I cannot look out at all without being blinded.  Until I begin my calls I am sitting here breakfasting and smoking all alone in a very spacious apartment—­four rooms, all thickly vaulted, two something like our dining-room in size, thick walls as at Schoenhausen, gigantic nut-wood closets, blue silk furnishings, a profusion of large spots on the floor, an ell in size, which a more excited fancy than mine might take for blood, but which I decidedly declare to be ink; an unconscionably awkward scribe must have lodged here, or another Luther repeatedly hurled big inkstands at his opponents. * * * Exceedingly strange figures, brown, with broad hats and wide trousers, are floating about on long wooden rafts in the Danube below.  I regret I am not an artist; I should like to let you see these wild faces, mustached, long-haired with excited black eyes, and the ragged, picturesque drapery which hangs about them, as they appeared to me all day yesterday. * * * Farewell, my heart.  God bless you and our present and future children.

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Your most faithful v.B.


I have not yet found an opportunity to send this.  Again the lights are shining up from Pesth, lightning appears on the horizon in the direction of the Theiss, and there is starlight above us.  I have been in uniform most of the day, handed my credentials to the young ruler of this country at a solemn audience, and received a very pleasing impression of him—­twenty-year-old vivacity, coupled with studied composure.  He can be very winning, I have seen that; whether he always will, I do not know, and he need not, for that matter.  At any rate, he is for this country exactly what it needs, and more than that for the peace of its neighbors, if God does not give him a peace-loving heart.  After dinner all the court went on an excursion into the mountains, to a romantic spot called the Pretty Shepherdess, who has long been dead, King Matthias Corvinus having loved her many hundred years ago.  Thence the view is over woody hills, like those on the Neckar banks to Ofen, its castle, and the plain.  A popular festival had brought thousands up to it, and the Emperor, who mingled with them, was surrounded with noisy cheers; Czardas danced, waltzed, sang, played, climbed into the trees, and crowded the court-yard.  On a grassy slope was a supper-table of about twenty persons, sitting along one side only, leaving the other free for a view of wood, hill, city, and country, high beeches over us, with Hungarians climbing among the branches; behind us a densely crowded and crowding mass of people near by, and, beyond, alternate horn-music and singing, wild gipsy melodies.  Illumination, moonlight, and evening glow, interspersed with torches through the wood; the whole might have been served, unaltered, as a great scenic effect in a romantic opera.  Beside me sat the whitebearded Archbishop of Gran, primate of Hungary, in a black silk talar, with a red cape; on the other side a very amiable and elegant general of cavalry, Prince Liechtenstein.  You see, the painting was rich in contrasts.  Then we rode home by moonlight, escorted by torches; and while I smoke my evening cigar I am writing to my darling, and leaving the documents until tomorrow. * * * I have listened today to the story of how this castle was stormed by the insurgents three years ago, when the brave General Hentzi and the entire garrison were cut down after a wonderfully heroic defence.  The black spots on my floor are in part burns, and where I am now writing to you the shells then danced about, and the combat finally raged on top of smoking debris.  It was only put in order again a few weeks ago, against the Emperor’s arrival.  Now it is very quiet and cozy up here; I hear only the ticking of a clock and distant rolling of wheels from below.  For the second time from this place I bid you good-night in the distance.  May angels watch over you—­a grenadier with a bear-skin cap does that for me here; I see his bayonet two arm-lengths away from me, projecting six inches above the windowsill, and reflecting my light.  He is standing on the terrace over the Danube, and is, perhaps, thinking of his Nan, too.

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Tomsjoenaes, August 16, ’57.

My Dearest,—­I make use again of the Sunday quiet to give you a sign of life, though I do not know what day there will be a chance to send it out of this wilderness to the mail.  I rode about seventy miles without break, through the desolate forest, in order to reach here, and before me lie more than a hundred miles more before one gets to provinces of arable land.  Not a city, not a village, far and wide; only single settlers in wide huts, with a little barley and potatoes, who find rods of land to till, here and there between dead trees, pieces of rock, and bushes.  Picture to yourself about five hundred square miles of such desolate country as that around Viartlum, high heather, alternating with short grass and bog, and with birches, junipers pines, beeches, oaks, alders, here impenetrably thick, there thin and barren of foliage, the whole strewn with innumerable stones of all sizes up to that of a house, smelling of wild rosemary and rosin, at intervals wonderfully shaped lakes surrounded by woods and hills of the heath, then you have the land of Smaa, where I am just now.  Really, the land of my dreams, inaccessible to despatches, colleagues, and Reitzenstein, but unfortunately, to you as well.  I should like ever so much to have a hunting-castle on one of these quiet lakes and inhabit it for some months with all the dear ones whom I think of now as assembled in Reinfeld.  In winter, to be sure, it would not be endurable here, especially in the mud that all the rain would make.  Yesterday we turned out at about five, hunted, in burning heat, up-hill and down, through bush and fen, until eleven, and found absolutely nothing; walking in bogs and impenetrable juniper thickets, on large stones and timbers, is very fatiguing.  Then we slept in a hay-shed until two o’clock, drank lots of milk, and hunted again until sunset, bringing down twenty-five grouse and two mountain-hens.  I shot four of the former; Engel, to his great delight, one of the latter.  Then we dined in the hunting-lodge, a remarkable wooden building on a peninsula in the lake.  My sleeping-room and its three chairs, two tables, and bedstead are of no other color than that of the natural pine-boards, like the whole house, whose walls are made of these.  A sofa does not exist; bed very hard; but after such hardships as ours one does not need to be rocked to sleep.  From my window I see a blooming hill rise from the heath, on it birches rocking in the wind, and between them I see, in the lake mirror, pine-woods on the other side.  Near the house a camp has been put up for hunters, drivers, servants, and peasants, then the barricade of wagons, a little city of dogs, eighteen or twenty huts on both sides of a lane which they form; from each a throng looks out tired from yesterday’s hunt. * * *

Petersburg, April 4, ’59.

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My Dear Heart,—­Now that the rush of today noon is past, I sit down in the evening to write you a few more lines in peace.  When I closed my letter today I did it with the intention of writing to you next a birthday letter, and thought I had plenty of time for it; it is only the 23d of March here.  I have thought it over, and find that a letter must go out today exactly to reach Frankfort on the 11th; it is hard to get used to the seven days’ interval which the post needs.  So I hurry my congratulations.  May God grant you His rich blessing in soul and body, for all your love and truth, and give you resignation and contentment in regard to the various new conditions of life, contrary to your inclinations, which you will meet here.  We cannot get rid of the sixtieth degree of latitude, and we have not chosen our own lot.  Many live happily here, although the ice is still solid as rock, and more snow fell in the night, and there are no garden and no Taunus here.

I could get along very well indeed here if I only knew the same of you, and, above all, if I had you with me.  All official matters—­and in them rests really the calling which in this world has fallen to my lot, and which you, through your significant “Yes” in the Kolziglow church, are bound to help bear in joy and sorrow—­all official matters are, in comparison with Frankfort, changed from thorns to roses; whether they will ever blossom is, indeed, uncertain.  The aggravations of the Diet and the palace venom look from here like childishness.  If we do not wantonly make ourselves disagreeable, we are welcome here.  Whenever the carriages are called here, and “Prusku passlanika" ("Prussian carriage”) is cried out among those waiting, then all the Russians look about with pleasant smiles, as though they had just popped down a ninety-degree glass of schnapps.  There is some social affair every evening, and the people are different from those in Frankfort.  Your aversion to court life will weaken.  You cannot fail to like the Czar; you have seen him already—­have you not!  He is extremely gracious to me, as well as the Czarina—­the young Czarina, I mean.  And it is easy to get along with the mother, in spite of her imposing presence.  I dined with her today with the Meiendorfs and Loen,[18] and it was just like that dinner at our house with Prince Carl and the Princess Anna, when we enjoyed ourselves so much.  In short, only take courage, and things will come out all right.  So far I have only agreeable impressions; the only thing that provokes me is that smoking is not allowed on the street.  One can have no idea in what disfavor the Austrians are over here; a mangy dog will not take a piece of meat from them.  I am sorry for poor Szechenyi; I do not dislike him.  They will either drive things to a war from here, or let it come, and then they will stick the bayonet into the Austrians’ backs; however peacefully people talk, and however I try to soften things down, as my duty demands, the

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hatred is unlimited, and goes beyond all my expectations.  Since coming here I begin to believe in war.  There seems to be no room in Russian politics for any other thought than how to strike at Austria.  Even the quiet, mild Czar falls into rage and fire whenever he talks about it, as does the Czarina, although a Darmstadt Princess; and it is touching when the Dowager Czarina talks of her husband’s broken heart, and of Francis Joseph, whom he loved as a son, really without anger, but as if speaking of one who is exposed to God’s vengeance.  Now I have still much to write for the carrier tomorrow, and this you will not receive, I suppose, until two days after your dear birthday, just when I am celebrating mine by the calendar here.  Farewell, my dear, and give each child a sweet orange from me.  Love to all.

Your most faithful v.B.

Petersburg, June 4, ’59.

My Dear Heart,—­At last, day before yesterday, came the long-yearned-for news from you, with the reassuring post-mark, Stolp.  I could not go to sleep at all in the evening, because of anxious pictures of my imagination, whose scenes were all the stopping-places between Berlin and Reinfeld. * * * Yesterday I dined at the Czarina’s, in Zarske, where I found the Grand Princess Marie, who could tell me at least that she had seen you in Berlin, and that you were all right.  On the way back the Czar met me at the station, and took me into his coupe—­very conspicuous here for a civilian with such an old hat as I generally wear.  In the evening I was, of course, on the islands, on a lively dark-brown horse, and drank tea there with a nice, old, white-haired Countess Stroganoff.  The lilac, I must tell you, has flowered here as beautifully as in Frankfort, and the laburnum, too; and the nightingales warble so happily that it is hard to find a spot on the islands where one does not hear them.  In the city, during these days, we had such unremitting heat as we almost never have at home.  The captain of the Eagle told me that the temperature in southern Pomerania was actually refreshing in comparison; with such short nights, too, the morning brings no real coolness, and I could ride or drive about for hours in the mysterious gloaming which hovers at midnight over the surface of the water, if the increasing brightness did not give warning that another day is waiting with its work and care, and that sleep demands its rights beforehand.  Since I have had the drosky, in which there is too little room for an interpreter, I am making, to the smirking delight of Dmitri, the coachman, progress in Russian, since there is nothing left for me to do but to speak it tant bien que mal.  I am sorry that you have not been able to watch with me the sudden awakening of spring here; as if it had suddenly occurred to her that she had overslept her time, she is putting on, in twenty-four hours, her entire green dress, from head to foot. * * * This whole preparation for war is somewhat premature, and

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is causing us unnecessary expense.  I hope we shall come to our senses finally before setting all Europe on fire, for the sake of obliging some little princes, and, at our own cost, helping Austria in glory out of her embarrassment.  We cannot allow Austria either to be annihilated or, through brilliant victory, to be strengthened in her feeling of self-confidence and to make us the footstool of her greatness.  But there is plenty of time for either case before we take the plunge, and many a piece of Lombard water can be dyed red, for things will not go forward so easily as hitherto when the Austrians have once placed themselves in their line of forts, as they should have done at the first. * * *

It is a misfortune that I always write to you in a steaming hurry; now the foxy face of the chancery servant, who is in the police pay, besides, is before me again already, and is hurrying me up, and everything I wanted to say is shrivelling before the fellow, who is useful, however.  I was just thinking of much more that I wanted to write, and now I do not know anything except that I should like to beat him. * * * In the greatest love,

Your most faithful v.B.

Moscow, June 6, ’59.

A sign of life, at least, I want to send you from here, my dear, while I am waiting for the samovar, and a young Russian in a red shirt is struggling, with vain attempts, to light a fire; he blows and sighs, but it will not burn.  After complaining so much before about the scorching heat I waked up today between Twer and here, and thought I was dreaming when I saw the land and its fresh green covered far and wide with snow.  Nothing surprises me any more so when I could no longer be in doubt about the fact I turned quietly on my other side to continue sleeping and rolling on, although the play of the green-and-white colors in the morning red was not without charm.  I do not know whether the snow still lies about Twer; here it is all melted, and a cool, gray rain is drizzling down on the sheet of roofs.  Russia certainly has a perfect right to claim green as her color.  Of the four hundred and fifty miles hither I slept away one hundred and eighty, but of the other two hundred and seventy every hand’s-breadth was green, of all shades.  Cities and villages, especially houses, with the exception of the stations, I did not notice; bushy forests, chiefly birches, cover swamps and hills, fine growth of grass under them, long meadows between.  So it goes for fifty, one hundred, one hundred and fifty miles.  I don’t remember to have noticed any fields, or any heather or sand; lonely grazing cows or horses waken in one now and then the conjecture that there are people, too, in the neighborhood.  Moscow looks from above like a corn-field, the soldiers green, the furniture green, and I have no doubt that the eggs lying before me were laid by green hens.  You will want to know how I happen to be here; I have asked myself the same question, and presently received the answer that variety

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is the spice of life.  The truth of this profound observation is especially obvious when one has been living for ten weeks in a sunny hotel-room, looking out upon stone pavements.  Besides, one’s senses become somewhat blunted to the joys of moving, if repeated often in a short time, so I determined to forego these same pleasures, handed over all papers to Klueber, gave Engel my keys, explained that I should take up my lodgings in the Stenbock house in a week, and rode to the Moscow station.  That was yesterday, twelve noon, and today early, at eight, I alighted here at the Hotel de France. * * * It lies in the nature of this people to harness slowly and drive fast.  I ordered my carriage two hours ago, and to all inquiries which I have been making about every ten minutes during the last hour and a half they say (Russian), “Ssitschass,” ("immediately"), with unshaken and amiable calm, but there the matter ends.  You know my exemplary patience in waiting, but everything has its limits; hunting comes later, and horses and carriages are broken in the bad roads, so that one finally takes to walking.  While writing I have drunk three glasses of tea and made way with a number of eggs; the attempts at heating up have also been so entirely successful that I feel the need of getting some fresh air.  I should shave myself for very impatience if I had a mirror, in default of which, however, I shall send a greeting to my dear Tata, with yesterday’s stubble beard.  It is very virtuous really that my first thought is always of you whenever I have a moment free, and you should make an example of that fact.  Very rambling is this city, and especially foreign-looking, with its churches and green roofs and countless cupolas, quite different from Amsterdam, but the two are the most original cities that I know.  Not a single German conductor has any idea of the luggage that can be slipped into one of these coupes; not a Russian without two real, covered head-cushions, children in baskets, and masses of provisions of every sort, although they eat five big meals at the stations on the way, breakfast at two, dinner five, tea seven, supper ten; it’s only four, to be sure, but enough for the short time.  I was complimented by an invitation into a sleeping-coupe, where I was worse off than in my easy-chair; it is a wonder to me that so much fuss is made over one night.

Moscow, June 8th.

This city is really, for a city, the most beautiful and original that there is; the environs are pleasant, not pretty, not unsightly; but the view from above out of the Kremlin, over this circle of houses with green roofs, gardens, churches, towers of the most extraordinary shape and color, most of them green or red or light blue, generally crowned on top by a colossal golden bulb, usually five or more on one church, and surely one thousand towers!  Anything more strangely beautiful than all this, lighted by slanting sunset rays, cannot be seen.

[Illustration:  CORONATION OF KING WILLIAM I AT KOeNIGSBERG.  From the Painting by Adolph von Menzel.]

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The weather is clear again, and I should stay here some days longer if rumors of a big battle in Italy were not going about, which may result in lots of diplomatic work, so that I must get back to my post.  The house in which I am writing is wonderful enough, really; one of the few that have outlived 1812—­old, thick walls, as in Schoenhausen, Oriental architecture, Moorish, large rooms, almost entirely occupied by the chancery officers, who administer, or maladminister, Jussupow’s estates.  He, his wife, and I have the one livable wing in the midst of them.  Lots of love.

Your most faithful v.B.

Petersburg, July 2, ’59.

My Dear Heart,—­I received your letter of the 25th yesterday, and you will probably get tomorrow the one that I sent to Stettin on Wednesday with the Dowager Czarina.  My homesick heart follows its course with yearning thoughts; it was such charming clear weather and fresh winds when we escorted her Highness on board in Peterhof that I should have liked to leap on the ship, in uniform and without baggage, and go along with her.  Since then the heat has grown worse, about the temperature of a freely watered palm-house, and my lack of summer materials is making itself decidedly felt.  I go about in the rooms in my shirt alone, as the dear blue dressing-gown is too narrow, even now at six o’clock in the morning.  A courier wakened me half an hour ago, with his war and peace, and I cannot sleep any more now, although I did not get to bed until towards two.  Our politics are drifting more and more into the Austrian wake, and as soon as we have fired a shot on the Rhine then it’s all over with the war between Italy and Austria, and, instead of that, a war between France and Prussia will take the stage, in which Austria, after we have taken the burden from her shoulders, will stand by us or will not stand by us, just as her own interests dictate.  She will certainly not suffer us to play a gloriously victorious role.  It is quite remarkable that in such crises Catholic ministers always hold the reins of our destiny—­Radowitz once before, now Hohenzollern, who just now has the predominant influence, and is in favor of war.  I look very darkly into the future; our troops are not better than the Austrian, because they only serve half as long; and the German troops, on whose support we reckon, are for the most part quite wretched, and, if things go ill with us, their leaders will fall away from us like dry leaves in the wind.  But God, who can hold up and throw down Prussia, and the world, knows why these things must be, and we will not embitter ourselves against the land in which we were born, and against the authorities for whose enlightenment we pray.  After thirty years, perhaps much sooner, it will be a small matter to us how things stand with Prussia and Austria, if only the mercy of God and the deserving of Christ remain to our souls.  I opened the Scriptures last evening, at random, so as to rid my anxious heart of politics, and my eye

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lighted immediately on the 5th verse of the 110th Psalm.  As God wills—­it is all, to be sure, only a question of time, nations and people, folly and wisdom, war and peace; they come and go like waves of water, and the sea remains.  What are our states and their power and honor before God, except as ant-hills and bee-hives which the hoof of an ox tramples down, or fate, in the form of a honey-farmer, overtakes? * * * Farewell, my sweetheart, and learn to experience life’s folly in sadness; there is nothing in this world but hypocrisy and jugglery, and whether fever or grape-shot shall bear away this mass of flesh, fall it must, sooner or later, and then such a resemblance will appear between a Prussian and an Austrian, if they are of the same size, like Schrech and Rechberg, for example, that it will be difficult to distinguish between them; the stupid and the clever, too, properly reduced to the skeleton state, look a good deal like each other.  Patriotism for a particular country is destroyed by this reflection, but we should have to despair in any case, even now, were it linked with our salvation.  Farewell once more, with love to parents and children.  How impatient I am to see them!  As soon as Vriendschap—­so our vessel is called—­is in sight, I shall telegraph.  With love, as always,

Your most faithful VON B.

Paris, May 31, ’62.

My Dear Heart,—­Only a few lines in the press of business to tell you I am well, but very lonely, with a view out over the green, in this dull, rainy weather, while the bumble-bees hum and the sparrows twitter.  Grand audience tomorrow.  It’s vexatious that I have to buy linen, towels, table-cloths, and sheets. * * * Farewell.  Hearty love, and write!  Your most faithful v.B.

Paris, June 1, ’62.

My Dear Heart,—­The Emperor received me today, and I handed over my credentials; he received me kindly, is looking well, has grown somewhat stouter, but by no means fat and aged, as he generally is in caricatures.  The Empress is still one of the most beautiful women I know, in spite of Petersburg; she has, if anything, grown more beautiful in the past five years.  The whole affair was official, ceremonial; I was taken back in court-carriage with master of ceremonies, etc.  Next time I shall probably have a private audience.  I long for business, for I don’t know what to do with myself.  Today I dined alone, the young gentlemen were out; the entire evening rain; and at home alone.  To whom should I go?  In the midst of big Paris I am lonelier than you are at Reinfeld, and sit here like a rat in a deserted house.  The only pleasure I have had was sending the cook away because of overcharges.  You know my indulgence in this matter, but Rembours was a child in comparison.  I am dining for the present in a cafe.  How long that will last, God knows.  I shall probably receive a summons, by telegram, to Berlin, in eight or ten days, and then good-by to this song-and-dance.  If my opponents

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only knew what a boon their victory would be to me, and how heartily I desire it!  Then Rechberg would, perhaps, out of malice, do his best to have me called to Berlin.  You can’t have any more aversion to Wilhelmstrasse than myself, and if I am not persuaded that it must be, then I will not go.  I consider it cowardice and disloyalty to leave the King in the lurch, under pretence of illness.  If it is not to be, then God will permit those who search to find another princillon who will offer himself as cover for the pot.  If it is to be, then “s’Bogom" ("with God"), as our Russian drivers used to say, when they took up the reins. * * *

Your v.B.

Bordeaux, July 27, ’62.

My Dear Heart,—­You cannot refuse to testify that I am a good correspondent; I wrote this morning from Chenonceaux to your birthday-child, and now this evening, from the city of red wine, to you.  But these lines will arrive a day later than those, as the mail does not leave until tomorrow afternoon.  I left Paris only day before yesterday noon, but it seems to me a week.  I have seen very beautiful castles—­Chambord, of which the enclosure (torn out of a book) gives only an imperfect idea, corresponds, in its desolation, to the fate of its owner (I hope you know it belongs to the Duke of Bordeaux).  In the wide halls and magnificent rooms, where so many kings kept their court, with their mistresses and their hunting, the Duke’s only furniture consists now of the children’s toys.  My guide took me for a French Legitimist, and squeezed out a tear as she showed me the little cannon.  I paid for the tear-drop, tariff-wise, with an extra franc, although it is not my vocation to subsidize Carlism.  The castle court-yards lay in the sun as quiet as deserted churches; there is a distant view round about from the towers, but on all sides silent woods and heather to the farthest horizon; not a city, not a village, not a farm-house, either near the castle or in the region round it.  The enclosed sprigs, specimens of heather, will no longer show you how purple this plant I love so much blooms here, the only flower in the royal garden, and swallows the only living creatures in the castle; it is too solitary for sparrows.  The situation of the old castle of Amboise is glorious; from the top you can look up and down the Loire for about thirty miles.  Coming from there to this place one passes gradually into the south; wheat disappears, giving way to maize; between, twining vines and chestnut woods, castles and country-seats, with many towers, chimneys, and gables, all white, with high-pointed slate roofs.  It was boiling hot, and I was very glad to have a half-coupe to myself.  In the evening glorious lightning in the whole eastern sky, and now an agreeable coolness, which I should find sultry at home.  The sun set at 7.35; in Petersburg one can see now, without a light, at eleven o’clock.  As yet there is no letter for me here; perhaps I shall find one in Bayonne.  I shall stay here probably two days, to see where our wines grow.  Now, good-night, my angel.  Dearest love.  Your most faithful v.B.

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San Sebastian, August 1, ’62.

My Dear Heart,—­I could not have believed last year that I should celebrate Bill’s birthday this time in Spain.  I shall not fail to drink his health in dark red wine, and pray God earnestly to take and keep all of you under His protection; it is now half past three, and I imagine you have just got up from table and are sitting in the front hall at your coffee, if the sun permits.  The sun is probably not so scalding there as it is here, but it doesn’t do me any harm, and I am feeling splendidly well.  The route from Bayonne here is glorious; on the left the Pyrenees, something like the Dent du Midi and Moleson, which, however, are here called “Pie” and “Port,” in shifting Alpine panorama, on the right the shores of the sea, like those at Genoa.  The change in entering Spain is surprising; at Behobie, the last place in France, one could easily believe one’s self still on the Loire; in Fuentarabia a steep street twelve feet wide, every window with balcony and curtain, every balcony with black eyes and mantillas, beauty and dirt; at the market-place drums and fifes, and some hundreds of women, old and young, dancing a fandango, while the men in their drapery looked on, smoking.  Thus far the country is exceptionally beautiful—­green valleys and wooded slopes, with fantastic lines of fortifications above them, row after row; inlets of the sea, with very narrow entrances, which cut deep into the land, like Salzburg lakes in mountain basins.  I look down on such a one from my window, separated from the sea by an island of rocks, set in a steep frame of mountains with woods and houses, below to the left city and harbor.  My old friend Galen, who is taking the baths here, with wife and son, received me most warmly; I bathed with him at ten, and after breakfast we walked, or, rather, crawled, through the heat up to the citadel, and sat for a long time on a bench there, the sea a hundred feet below us, near us a heavy fortress-battery, with a singing sentry.  This hill or rock would be an island did not a low tongue of land connect it with the mainland.  This tongue of land separates two inlets from each other, so you get towards the north a distant view of the sea from the citadel, towards the east and west a view of both inlets, like two Swiss lakes, and towards the south of the tongue of land, with the town on it, and behind it, landward, mountains as high as the heavens.  I wish I could paint you a picture of it, and if we both were fifteen years younger then we would take a trip here together.  Tomorrow, or day after, I go back to Bayonne. * * * I am very much sunburned, and should have liked best to float on the ocean for an hour today; the water bears me up like a piece of wood.  It is still just cool enough to be pleasant.  By the time one gets to the dressing-room one is almost dry, and I put on my hat, only, and take a walk in my peignoir.  The ladies bathe fifty paces away—­custom of the country. * * * I do not like the Spaniards so well

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as I like their country; they are not polite, talk too loud, and the conditions are in many ways behind those in Russia.  Custom-houses and passport annoyances without end, an incredible number of turnpike tolls, four francs for one hour’s drive, or else I should stay here still longer, instead of bathing in Biarritz, where a bathing-suit is necessary.  Love to our dear parents and children.  Farewell, my angel.

Your v.B.

Biarritz, August 4, ’62.

* * * I am sitting in a corner room of the Hotel de l’Europe, with a charming lookout over the blue sea, which drives its white foam between wonderful cliffs and against the light-house.  I have a bad conscience, seeing so many beautiful things without you.  If one could only bring you hither through the air, I would go right back again to San Sebastian.  Imagine the Siebengebirge with the Drachenfels placed by the sea; next to it Ehrenbreitstein, and between the two an arm of the sea, somewhat wider than the Rhine, forcing its way into the land, and forming a round bay behind the mountains.  In this you bathe in water transparently clear, and so heavy and salty that you can lie easily right on top of it and can look through the wide gate of rocks to the sea, or landward, where the mountain chains tower up one after another ever higher and ever bluer.  The women of the middle and lower classes are strikingly pretty, sometimes beautiful; the men surly and impolite, and the comforts of life to which we are accustomed in civilized lands are entirely lacking.  In this respect I find Russia pleasanter to travel in than Spain.  What actually drove me out of the country was the swinishness in certain indispensable arrangements, and then the cheating in the hotels, and the tolls.  The heat there is no worse than here, and doesn’t bother me; on the contrary, I am very well, thank Heaven.  Day before yesterday there was a storm whose like I have never seen.  I had to make three attempts before I succeeded in climbing the flight of four steps at the head of the pier.  Pieces of stone and of trees flew through the air; so I unfortunately gave up my place in a sailing-vessel for Bayonne, as I didn’t believe it possible that all would be quiet and cheerful again in four hours’ time; so I missed a charming sail along the coast, stayed one day longer in San Sebastian, and left yesterday by the diligence, rather uncomfortably packed in between attractive little Spanish women, to whom I could not speak a single word.  Still, they understood Italian enough for me to make clear to them my satisfaction with their exterior.  Gr.  Gallen and wife were very kind to me.  As I was looking for a fan, they presented me with theirs for you; it is simple, but painted in style characteristic of the country.  You would like the wife very much; he, too, is a good fellow, but she amounts to more intellectually.  I got Bernhard’s long-expected letter today.  He looks very black over politics, is expecting another child, and is building barns and stables.  I long for news from you and the children. * * * Dearest love to all.

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Your most faithful v.B.

Biarritz, August 10, ’62.

My Beloved Heart,—­ * * * I am living about as at Stolpemuende, only without champagne; I drank some with Orloff today, for the first time since I left Paris.  In the afternoon I wander about among the cliffs, heaths, and fields, see orchards with aloe, figs, almonds, and borders of tamarinds, then I do some target-shooting, take my bath, sit on the rocks smoking, gazing at the sea, and thinking of you all.  Politics I have entirely forgotten; don’t read any papers.  The 15th has some claims upon me; for propriety’s sake I ought to go to Paris, too, since I am in France, so as to congratulate the Emperor, hear his speech, and attend the dinner.  But I shall hardly bring myself to the point of traveling over five hundred miles and interrupting the air-and-water cure, which is doing me so much good that I actually hate the thought of the dusty, close air of the royal residence.  The Emperor is too reasonable a gentleman to take my absence amiss, and from Berlin I have an honest leave of absence. * * * Farewell, my angel, with dearest love.

Your most faithful v.B.

Hohenmauth, Monday, September 7, ’66.

Do you remember, sweetheart, how we passed through here nineteen years ago, on the way from Prague to Vienna?  No mirror showed the future then, nor in 1852, when I went over this railway with good Lynar.  How strangely romantic are God’s ways!  We are doing well, in spite of Napoleon; if we are not unmeasured in our claims and do not imagine we have conquered the world, we shall achieve a peace that is worth the trouble.  But we are as easily intoxicated as disheartened, and it is my thankless part to pour water into the foaming wine, and to insist that we do not live alone in Europe, but with three other powers which hate and envy us.  The Austrians hold position in Moravia, and we are bold enough to announce our headquarters for tomorrow at the point where they are now.  Prisoners still keep passing in, and cannon, one hundred and eighty from the 3d to today.  If they bring up their southern army, we shall, with God’s gracious help, defeat it too; confidence is universal.  Our people are ready to embrace one another, every man so deadly in earnest, calm, obedient, orderly, with empty stomach, soaked clothes, wet camp, little sleep, shoe-soles dropping off, kindly to all, no sacking or burning, paying what they can and eating mouldy bread.  There must surely be a solid basis of fear of God in the common soldier of our army, or all this could not be.  News of our friends is hard to get; we lie miles apart from one another, none knowing where the other is, and nobody to send—­that is, men might be had, but no horses.  For four days I have had search made for Philip,[19] who was slightly wounded by a lance-thrust in the head, as Gerhard[20] wrote me, but I can’t find out where he is, and we have now come thirty-seven miles farther.  The King exposed himself greatly on the 3d and it

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was well I was present, for all the warnings of others had no effect, and no one would have dared to talk so sharply to him as I allowed myself to do on the last occasion, which gave support to my words, when a knot of ten cuirassiers and fifteen horses of the Sixth Cuirassier Regiment rushed confusedly by us, all in blood, and the shells whizzed around most disagreeably close to the King.  He cannot yet forgive me for having blocked for him the pleasure of being hit.  “At the spot where I was forced by order of the supreme authority to run away,” were his words only yesterday, pointing his finger angrily at me.  But I like it better so than if he were excessively cautious.  He was full of enthusiasm over his troops, and justly so rapt that he seemed to take no notice of the din and fighting close to him, calm and composed as at the Kreuzberg, and constantly meeting battalions that he must thank with “Good-evening, grenadiers,” till we were actually by this trifling brought under fire again.  But he has had to hear so much of this that he will stop it for the future, and you may feel quite easy; indeed, I hardly believe there will be another real battle.

When you have of anybody no word whatever, you may assume with confidence that he is alive and well; for if acquaintances are wounded it is always known at latest in twenty-four hours.  We have not come across Herwarth and Steinmetz at all, nor has the King.  Schreck, too, I have not seen, but I know they are well.  Gerhard keeps quietly at the head of his squadron, with his arm in a sling.  Farewell—­I must to business.

Your faithfullest v.B.

 Zwittau, Moravia, July 11, ’66.

Dear Heart,—­I have no inkstand, all of them being in use; but for the rest I get on well, after a good sleep on camp bed with air mattress; roused at eight by a letter from you.  I went to bed at eleven.  At Koeniggraetz I rode the big sandy thirteen hours in the saddle without feeding him He bore it very well, did not shy at shots nor at corpses, cropped standing grain and plum-leaves with zest at the most trying moments, and kept up an easy gait to the last, when I was more tired than the horse.  My first bivouac for the night was on the street pavement of Horic, with no straw, but helped by a carriage cushion.  It was full of wounded; the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg found me and shared his chamber with me, Reuss, and two adjutants, and the rain made this very welcome to me.  About the King and the shells I have written you already.  All the generals had a superstition that they, as soldiers, must not speak to the King of danger, and always sent me off to him, though I am a major, too.  They did not venture to speak to his reckless Majesty in the serious tone which at last was effectual.  Now at last he is grateful to me for it, and his sharp words, “How you drove me off the first time,” etc., are an acknowledgment that I was right.  Nobody knew the region, the King had no guide, but rode right on at random, till I obtruded myself to show the way. * * * Farewell, my heart.  I must go to the King.

Page 78

Your most faithful v.B.

Vendresse, September 3, 1870.


My Dear Heart,—­Day before yesterday I left my quarters here before dawn, but came back today, and have meanwhile been through the great battle of Sedan on the 1st, in which we took some thirty thousand prisoners, and shut the remainder of the French army, which we had chased ever since Bar-le-Duc, into the fortress, where they had to surrender, with the Emperor, as prisoners of war.  At five yesterday morning, after I had discussed the terms of capitulation with Moltke and the French generals till one o’clock, General Reille, whom I know, called me up to say that Napoleon wished to speak with me.  Without washing or breakfast, I rode towards Sedan, found the Emperor in an open carriage with three adjutants, and three more at hand in the saddle, on the main road before Sedan.  I dismounted, saluted him as politely as in the Tuileries, and asked his commands.  He desired to see the King.  I told him, as was true, that his Majesty’s quarters were fourteen miles away, at the place where I am writing now.  Upon his question, whither he should betake himself, I offered him, since I was unfamiliar with the region, my quarters in Donchery, a village on the Maas close to Sedan; he accepted them, and drove, escorted by his six Frenchmen, by me; and by Carl, who meanwhile had ridden after me, through the lovely morning, towards our lines.  He was distressed before reaching the place because of the possible crowds, and asked me if he might not stop at a lonely workman’s house on the road.  I had it examined by Carl, who reported that it was wretched and dirty. “N’importe,” said Napoleon, and I mounted with him a narrow, rickety stairway.  In a room ten feet square, with a fig-wood table and two rush-bottomed chairs, we sat an hour, the others staying below.  A mighty contrast to our last interview, in ’67, at the Tuileries.  Our conversation was difficult, if I would avoid touching on things which must be painful to those whom God’s mighty hand had overthrown.  Through Carl, I had officers brought from the city, and Moltke requested to come.  We then sent out one of the first to reconnoitre, and discovered, a couple of miles off, at Fresnoi’s, a little chateau with a park.  Thither I conducted him, with an escort of the Cuirassier body-guards, which was meanwhile brought up, and there we concluded the capitulation with Wimpfen, the French general-in-chief.  By its terms, from forty to sixty thousand French—­I do not yet know the number more exactly—­became our prisoners, with everything they have.  The two receding days cost France one hundred thousand men and an emperor.  He started early this morning, with all his court, horses, and wagons, for Wilhelmshoehe, at Cassel.

It is an event in universal history, a triumph for which we will thank God the Lord in humility, and which is decisive of the war, even though we must continue to prosecute it against headless France.

Page 79

I must close.  With heartfelt joy I have learned today, from your letter and Marie’s, of Herbert’s reaching you.  I met Bill yesterday, as I telegraphed you, and took him to my arms from his horse before the King’s face, while he stood with his limbs rigid.  He is entirely well and in high spirits.  Hans and Fritz Carl and both the Billows I saw with the Second Dragoon guards, well and cheerful.

Farewell, my heart.  Kiss the children.

Your v.B.

Gastein, August 30, ’71.

Happy the man to whom God has given a virtuous wife, who writes him every day.  I am delighted that you are well, and that you have come to be three, to whom I hope to add myself as fourth on the 7th or 8th. * * * You see I have enough mental leisure here to devote myself to the unaccustomed work of making plans; but all on the presupposition that the excited Gauls do not worry my little friend Thiers to death, for then I should have to stay with his Majesty and watch which way the hare runs.  I do not think that likely, but with such a stupid nation as they are anything is possible.  Hearty love to both fat children.

Your most faithful v.B.


[Footnote 2:  From The Love Letters of Bismarck.  Permission Harper & Brothers, New York.]

[Footnote 3:  This note has been lost.]

[Footnote 4:  In subsequent letters he speaks of her “blue gray-black eyes.”]

[Footnote 5:  Inspector at Schoenhausen.]

[Footnote 6:  Compare the enclosure, in which I used often to find the expression of my inmost thought.  Now, never any more. (Enclosed was a copy of Byron’s poem, “To Inez.")]

[Footnote 7:  Frauelein von Blumenthal, afterwards Frau von Boehn.]

[Footnote 8:  English in the original.]

[Footnote 9:  English in the original.]

[Footnote 10:  Von Puttkamer Poberow.]

[Footnote 11:  Frau von Blanckenburg]

[Footnote 12:  English in the original.]

[Footnote 13:  English in the original.]

[Footnote 14:  “Right honorable,” a common form of address on letters.  B. refers more than once to her distinctive way of writing this title.]

[Footnote 15:  English in the original.]

[Footnote 16:  Fiance.]

[Footnote 17:  Frau von Zanthier, born von Puttkamer.]

[Footnote 18:  Military charge.]

[Footnote 19:  Von Bismarck, the oldest nephew.]

[Footnote 20:  Von Thadden, commanding a squadron in the First Dragoon Guards.]

* * * * *




Berlin, December 8, ’63.


Page 80

I have the honor most respectfully to submit a Police report, the printed compilation of the documents relating to the London treaty as commanded, and the telegrams received up to the present.  In my most humble opinion it seems expedient to maintain our attitude toward Irminger[22] also outwardly in conformity with that of Austria.  It is awkward that Sydow is charged with the report of the committee in the Bundestag, for we shall thus always have to make our declaration first, and before Austria; if your Majesty does not command otherwise I will leave him without instructions on this point, and await tomorrow’s committee issues, as the next measure, the letter to Copenhagen, will not be thereby delayed.

The final sentence of the Vienna telegram, that Christian IX. rules also in Copenhagen only by virtue of the London treaty, is not quite right; he rules there because the legitimate heir, Prince Friedrich of Hesse, has resigned in his favor.  This legal title, which is in itself sufficient, has only been confirmed by the London treaty, and then extended to the Duchies.


Marginal note by the King: 

Prince Friedrich resigned merely in order that the London treaty in favor of Christian IX. might be effectuated.


* * * * *


Berlin, February 12, ’67.

When looking back to the decisive turning point reached by the destinies of Prussia through the glorious fights of the past year, the most distant generations will never forget that the elevation of the Fatherland to new power, and to imperishable honors, that the opening up of an epoch of a rich and, with God’s help, a blessing-bringing development are essentially due to your penetration, your energy, and the skilful manner in which you conducted the affairs entrusted to you.

I have decided to show a renewed appreciation of these your most distinguished merits, by the bestowal of a gift of four hundred thousand Thalers.[23] The Minister for Finance has been directed to place this sum at your disposal.

It would be in accordance with my wishes if you devoted this gift, the bestowal of which is to manifest my and the Fatherland’s thanks, to the purchase of landed property, and entailed the same, so that with the glory of your name it also may remain permanently in your family.

Your grateful and faithfully devoted King,


* * * * *


Donchery, September 2, ’70.

Page 81

After I came here yesterday evening, by your Royal Majesty’s command, to take part in the negotiations on the capitulation, these were interrupted until 1 o’clock in the night, by time for consideration, which General Wimpffen solicited, being granted, after General von Moltke had definitely stated that no other terms will be granted than the laying down of arms, and that the bombardment would recommence at 9 o’clock in the morning if the capitulation were not concluded by that time.  At about 6 o’clock this morning General Reille was announced, who informed me that the Emperor wished to see me, and was already on his way here from Sedan.  The General returned at once to report to his Majesty that I was following, and shortly afterwards I met the Emperor near Fresnois, about half way between this place and Sedan.  His Majesty was driving in an open carriage with three officers of high rank, and was escorted by three others on horseback.  Of these officers I knew personally Generals Castelnau, Reille, Moskowa, who seemed to be wounded in the foot, and Vaubert.  As soon as I reached the carriage I dismounted, walked to the Emperor’s side at the carriage door, and asked for his Majesty’s orders.  The Emperor at first expressed the wish to see your Imperial Majesty, evidently in the belief that your Majesty was also at Donchery.  When I replied that at present your Majesty’s headquarters were at Vendresse, thirteen miles away, the Emperor enquired whether your Majesty had decided where he should go, and what my opinion on the subject was.  I replied that, as it was quite dark when I arrived here, I knew nothing of the district, and offered to place at his disposal at once the house in which I was staying at Donchery.  The Emperor accepted this offer, and drove off at a walking pace in the direction of Donchery; about a hundred yards from the Maas bridge, which leads into the town, he stopped in front of a lonely, workman’s cottage, and asked me if he could not stay there.  I had the house examined by Councillor of Legation Count Bismarck-Bohlen, who in the meantime had followed me; when it was reported that the interior arrangements were very poor and inadequate, but that there were no wounded men in the house, the Emperor alighted and invited me to accompany him inside.  Here, in a very small room containing a table and two chairs, I had about an hour’s conversation with the Emperor.  His Majesty emphasized especially the wish to obtain more favorable conditions of capitulation for the army.  I declined from the outset to treat this question with his Majesty, as this was a purely military question, to be settled between General von Moltke and General von Wimpffen.  On the other hand, I asked if his Majesty were inclined to peace negotiations.  The Emperor replied that, as a prisoner, he was not now in a position to do so, and to my further enquiry by whom, in his opinion, the executive power was at present represented in France, his Majesty referred me to the Government in Paris. 

Page 82

When this point, which was indistinct in the Emperor’s letter to your Majesty yesterday, was cleared up, I recognized, and did not conceal the fact from the Emperor, that the situation today, as yesterday, was still a purely military one, and emphasized the necessity arising from it for us to obtain by the capitulation of Sedan above all things a material pledge for the security of the military results we had attained.  I had already weighed from all sides with General von Moltke yesterday evening, the question whether it would be possible, without detriment to the German interests, to offer to the military feelings of honor of an army which had fought well more favorable terms than those already laid down.  After due and careful consideration we both came to the conclusion that this could not be done.  When, therefore, General von Moltke, who in the meantime had arrived from the town, went to your Majesty to submit the Emperor’s wishes, he did not do so, as your Majesty is well aware, with the intention of advocating them.

The Emperor then went out into the open air, and invited me to sit beside him just outside the door of the cottage.  His Majesty asked whether it would not be practicable to allow the French army to cross into Belgium, to be disarmed and detained there.  I had discussed also this eventuality with General v.  Moltke on the previous evening and adduced the motive already given for not entering into the question of this course of procedure.  With respect to the political situation, I myself took no initiative, and the Emperor went no further than to deplore the ill-fortune of the war, stating that he himself had not wished the war, but was driven into it by the pressure of public opinion in France.  I did not regard it as my office to point out at that moment that what the Emperor characterized as public opinion was only the artificial product of certain ambitious coteries of the French press, with a very narrow political horizon.  I merely replied that nobody in Germany wished for the war, especially not your Majesty, and that no German Government would have considered the Spanish question of so much interest as to be worth a war.  I continued that your Majesty’s attitude toward the Spanish succession question was finally determined by the misgiving whether it was right, for personal and dynastic considerations, to mar the endeavor of the Spanish nation to reestablish, by this selection of a King, their internal organization on a permanent basis; that your Majesty, in view of the good relations existing for so many years between the Princes of the Hohenzollern House and the Emperor, had never entertained any doubt but that the Hereditary Prince would succeed in arriving at a satisfactory understanding with his Majesty the Emperor respecting the acceptance of the Spanish election, that, however, your Majesty had regarded this, not as a German or a Prussian, but as a Spanish affair.

Page 83

In the meantime, between 9 and 10 o’clock, enquiries in the town, and especially reconnaissances on the part of the officers of the general staff, had revealed the fact that the castle of Bellevue, near Fresnois, was suited for the accommodation of the Emperor, and was not yet occupied by the wounded.  I reported this to his Majesty by designating Fresnois as the place I should propose to your Majesty for the meeting, and therefore referred it to the Emperor whether his Majesty would proceed there at once, as a longer stay in the little workman’s cottage would be uncomfortable, and the Emperor would perhaps need some rest.  His Majesty readily assented, and I accompanied the Emperor, who was preceded by an escort of honor from your Majesty’s Own Cuirassier Regiment, to the Castle of Bellevue, where in the meantime the rest of the Emperor’s suite and his carriages, whose coming had, it appears, been considered doubtful, had arrived from Sedan.  General Wimpffen had also arrived, and with him, in anticipation of the return of General von Moltke, the discussion of the capitulation negotiations, which were broken off yesterday, was resumed by General v.  Podbielski in the presence of Lieut.  Col. von Verdy and the chief of General v.  Wimpffen’s staff, these two officers acting as secretaries.  I took part only in the commencement of the same by setting forth the political and judicial situation in accordance with the information furnished me by the Emperor himself, as it was thereupon reported to me by Major Count von Nostitz, by direction of General von Moltke, that your Majesty wished to see the Emperor only after the capitulation of the army had been concluded—­on the receipt of which announcement the hope cherished by the opposite party of securing other terms than those decided on was given up.  I then rode off in the direction of Chehery with the intention of reporting the situation to your Majesty, met General v.  Moltke on the way, bringing the text of the capitulation approved by your Majesty, and this, when we arrived with it at Fresnois, was accepted and signed without opposition.  The demeanor of General v.  Wimpffen, as also that of the other French generals, during the previous night was very dignified, and this brave officer could not forbear expressing to me how deeply he was pained that he should have been called upon, forty-eight hours after his arrival from Africa, and half a day after he had assumed command, to set his name to a capitulation so fatal to the French arms, that, however, lack of provisions and ammunition, and the absolute impossibility of any further defence imposed upon him, as a general the duty of suppressing his personal feelings, as further bloodshed could in no way alter the situation.  The permission for the officers to be released on parole was received with great thankfulness, as an expression of your Majesty’s intention not to hurt the feelings of an army, which had fought bravely, beyond the point demanded by the necessity of our political interests.  General v.  Wimpffen also subsequently gave expression to this feeling in a letter in which he thanks General v.  Moltke for the consideration he showed in conducting the negotiations.

Page 84


* * * * *


Berlin, March 21, ’71.

With today’s opening of the first German Reichstag after the reestablishment of a German Empire, the first public activity of the same begins.  Prussia’s history and destiny have for a long time pointed to an event which is now accomplished by its being summoned to the head of the newly founded Empire.  Prussia owes this less to her extent of territory and her power, though both have equally increased, than to her intellectual development and the organization of her army.  The brilliant position now occupied by my country has been attained through an unexpectedly rapid sequence of great events during the past six years.  The work to which I called you ten years ago falls within this time.  How you have justified the confidence with which I then summoned you lies open to the world.  It is to your counsel, your circumspection, your unwearying activity that Prussia and Germany owe the world-historical occurrence which is embodied in my capital today.

Although the reward for such deeds is felt within you, I am nevertheless urged and bound to express to you publicly and permanently the thanks of the Fatherland and mine.  I elevate you, therefore, to the rank of a Prussian Prince (Fuerst), which is to be inherited always by the eldest male member of your family.

May you see in this distinction the undying gratitude of Your Emperor and King


* * * * *


Coblenz, July 26, ’72.

You will celebrate, on the 28th, a delightful family festival[24] which the Almighty in His mercy has accorded you.  I, therefore, may and can not remain behind with my sympathy on this occasion, so will you, and the Princess, your wife, accept my most cordial and warmest congratulations on this great occasion.  That both of you always gave the first place, among the blessings showered on you by Providence, to domestic happiness is something for which your prayers of thanksgiving should ascend to heaven.  Our and my prayers of thanksgiving, however, go further, as they include thanks to God for having placed you at my side at a decisive moment, and thus opened up a career for my Government far exceeding thought and comprehension.  You also will send up your feelings of thankfulness that God graciously permitted you to accomplish such great things.  Both in and after all your labors you always found comfort and peace in your home, and that gives you strength in your difficult vocation.  To preserve and strengthen you for this is my constant solicitude, and I am glad to learn from your letter through Count Lehndorff and also from the latter himself that you will now think more of yourself than of the documents.

Page 85

In remembrance of your silver wedding a vase will be handed you which represents a grateful Borussia and which, fragile though the material of which it is composed may be, shall one day express even in every fragment what Prussia owes to you in its elevation to the height on which it now stands.

Your truly devoted grateful King


* * * * *


Varzin, August I, ’72.

Your Majesty greatly gladdened my wife and me by graciously evincing sympathy in our family festival, and will, we trust, be graciously pleased to accept our respectful thanks.

Your Majesty justly emphasizes happiness in the home as being among the chief blessings for which I have to thank God, but part of the happiness in my house, for my wife as well as for myself, comes from the consciousness of your Majesty’s satisfaction, and the exceedingly gracious and kindly words of appreciation which your Majesty’s letter contains are more beneficial to afflicted nerves than is all medical assistance.  In looking back over my life I have such inexhaustible cause to thank God for His unmerited mercy, that I often fear everything will not go so well with me until the end.  I recognize it as an especially happy dispensation that God has called me on earth to the service of a master whom I serve joyfully and with love, as the innate fidelity of the subject never has to fear, under your Majesty’s leadership, coming into conflict with a warm feeling for the honor and the welfare of the Fatherland.  May God further give me strength to carry out the will so to serve your Majesty that I obtain the sovereign satisfaction, of which such a gracious testimony lies before me today in the form of the autograph letter of the 26th.  The vase, which arrived in good time, is a truly monumental expression of Royal favor, and at the same time so substantial that I may hope not the “fragments” but the whole will be evidence to my descendants of the gracious sympathy evinced by your majesty on the occasion of our silver wedding.

The officers of the fifty-fourth regiment showed a kindly spirit of comradeship by sending their band from Colberg.  Otherwise, as is usually the case in the country, we were confined to our family circle; only Motley, the former American Ambassador in London, a friend of my early youth, happened to be here on a visit.  Besides her Majesty the Queen, his Majesty the King of Bavaria, and their Royal Highnesses Prince Carl and Friedrich Carl, and his Imperial Highness the Crown Prince, honored me with telegraphic congratulations.

In health I am becoming slowly better; I have, it is true, done no work whatever; but I hope to be able to report myself on duty in time for the Imperial visits.


* * * * *


Page 86

Berlin, December 18, ’81.

I must tell you of an extraordinary dream I had last night, which was as clear as I now relate it.

The Reichstag met for the first time after the present recess.  On Count Eulenburg’s entrance the discussion abruptly ceased; after a long interval the President called on the last speaker to continue the debate.  Silence!  The President thereupon declared the sitting adjourned.  This was the signal for great tumult and clamor.  No order, it was urged, should be bestowed on any member during the session of the Reichstag; the Monarch may not be mentioned during the session.  The House adjourns till tomorrow.  Eulenburg’s appearance in the Chamber is again greeted with hisses and commotion—­and then I awoke in such a state of nervous excitement that it was long before I recovered, and I could not sleep from half-past four to half-past six.  All this happened in the House in my presence, as clearly as I have written it down.

I will not hope that the dream will be realized, but it is certainly peculiar.  I dreamt it after six hours of quiet sleep, so it could not have been directly produced by our conversation.

Enfin, I could not but tell you of this curious occurrence.



* * * * *


Berlin, December 18, ’81.

I thank your Majesty most respectfully for the gracious letter.  I quite believe that the dream owed its origin, not exactly to my report, but to the general impression obtained during the last few days from Puttkamer’s[25] oral report, the newspaper articles, and my report.  The pictures we have in our minds when awake do not reappear in the mirror of our dreams until our mental faculties have been well rested by sleep.  Your Majesty’s communication encourages me to relate a dream I had in the troublous days of the spring of 1863.  I dreamt, and I told my dream at once to my wife and to others the next morning, that I was riding along a narrow Alpine path, to the right an abyss, and to the left rocks; the path became narrower and narrower, until at last my horse refused to take another step, and there was no room either to turn or to dismount.  I then struck the smooth rocky wall with my riding whip in my left hand, and invoked God; the whip became interminably long, and the wall of rock collapsed like a scene in the theatre, opening up a wide pathway, with a view over hills and forests such as one sees in Bohemia.  I also caught sight of Prussian troops, with their banners, and, still in my dreams, wondered how I could best report this Quickly to your Majesty.  This dream was realized, and I awoke from it glad and strengthened.


Page 87

The bad dream from which your Majesty awoke nervous and agitated can be realized only in so far that we shall still have many stormy and noisy parliamentary debates, which must unfortunately undermine the prestige of the Parliaments and seriously interfere with State business.  Your Majesty’s presence at these debates is an impossibility; and I regard such scenes as we have lately witnessed in the Reichstag regrettable enough as a standard of our morals and our political education, perhaps also our political qualifications, but not as a misfortune in themselves:  l’exces du mal en devient le remede.

Will your Majesty pardon, with your accustomed graciousness, these holiday reflections, which were suggested by your Majesty’s letter; for from yesterday till January 9th we have holidays and rest.  BISMARCK.

* * * * *


Berlin, September 23, ’87.

You celebrate on September 23, my dear Prince, the day on which, twenty-five years ago, I called you into my Ministry of State, and shortly afterwards gave the Premiership into your hands.  The distinguished services you had previously rendered to the Fatherland in the most varied and important positions justified me in conferring on you this highest post.  The history of the last quarter of a century proves that I did not err in my choice!

A shining example of true patriotism, of untiring activity often to the utter disregard of your health, you have been indefatigable in keeping a close watch on what were frequently overwhelming difficulties in peace and war, and have used them to lead Prussia in honor and glory to a Position in the world’s history which had never been dreamed of!  Such achievements have been performed that the twenty-fifth anniversary of September 23 must be celebrated with thanks to God for placing you at my side in order to execute His will on earth!

And I now once more impress these thanks on you, as I have so frequently expressed and manifested them hitherto!

From a heart filled with thankfulness I congratulate you on the celebration of such a day, and hope from my heart that your strength may long be preserved unimpaired, to be a blessing to the Crown and to the Fatherland!  Your eternally grateful King and friend


P.S.—­In memory of the past twenty-five years I am sending you a view of the building in which we have discussed and taken such weighty resolutions which it is to be hoped will redound to the honor and welfare of Prussia and of Germany.

* * * * *


Friedrichsruh, September 26, ’87.

Page 88

I thank your Majesty in deep respect for the gracious letter of the 23d inst., and for the gracious present of the picture of the palace in which for so many years I have had the honor to make my reports to your Majesty, and to take your Majesty’s orders.  The day received especial consecration for me through the greeting in your Majesty’s name with which their royal Highnesses Prince William and Prince Henry honored me.  Even without this fresh proof of favor, the feeling with which I greeted the twenty-fifth anniversary of my appointment as a Minister was one of most cordial and respectful gratitude to your Majesty.  Every sovereign appoints ministers, but it is a rare occurrence in modern times for a monarch to retain a Prime Minister and to uphold him for twenty-five years, in troublous times when everything does not succeed, against all animosity and intrigues.  During this period I have seen many a former friend become an opponent, but your Majesty’s favor and confidence have remained unwaveringly with me.  The thought of this is a rich reward to me for all my work, and a consolation in illness and solitude.  I love my Fatherland, the German as well as the Prussian, but I should not have served it with gladness if it had not been granted to me to serve to the satisfaction of my King.  The high position which I owe to your Majesty’s favor is based on, and has as its indestructible core, your Majesty’s Brandenburg liegeman and Prussian officer, and therefore I am rendered happy by your Majesty’s satisfaction, without which every popularity would be valueless to me. * * * Besides many telegrams and addresses from home and abroad, I received very gracious greetings and congratulations on the twenty-third from their Majesties of Saxony and Wurtemburg, from his Royal Highness the Regent of Bavaria, the Grand-Dukes of Weimar, Baden, and Mecklenburg, and other rulers, and from his Majesty the King of Italy and Minister Crispi.  The two latter touched politics, and were difficult to answer; as the text of their letters may perhaps interest your Majesty, I have instructed the Foreign Office to forward them.

I pray God that He may still longer grant me the pleasure of serving your Majesty to your Majesty’s satisfaction.



[Footnote 21:  Permission:  Frederick A. Stokes Company, New York.]

[Footnote 22:  Admiral Irminger was charged with the task of notifying in Berlin and Vienna Christian IX.’s accession to the throne; he was granted no audience in Berlin, and left that city on the 5th for Vienna as, in Bismarck’s opinion, the Emperor would more easily receive him than the King of Prussia could.]

[Footnote 23:  About L60,000.]

[Footnote 24:  Silver wedding.]

[Footnote 25:  Minister for the Interior, and Vice President of the Ministry of State.]

* * * * *

Page 89



Late Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge



Left school at Easter, 1832, a normal product of our state system of education; a Pantheist, and, if not a Republican, at least with the persuasion that the Republic was the most rational form of government; reflecting too upon the causes which could decide millions of men permanently to obey one man, when all the while I was hearing from grown up people much bitter or contemptuous criticism of their rulers.  Moreover, I had brought away with me “German-National” impressions from Plamann’s preparatory school, conducted on Jahn’s drill-system, in which I lived from my sixth to my twelfth year.  These impressions remained in the stage of theoretical reflections, and were not strong enough to extirpate my innate Prussian monarchical sentiments.  My historical sympathies remained on the side of authority.  To my childish ideas of justice Harmodius and Aristogeiton, as well as Brutus, were criminals, and Tell a rebel and murderer.  Every German prince who resisted the Emperor before the Thirty Years’ war roused my ire; but from the Great Elector onwards I was partisan enough to take an anti-imperial view, and to find it natural that things should have been in readiness for the Seven Years’ war.  Yet the German-National feeling remained so strong in me that, at the beginning of my university life, I at once entered into relations with the Burschenschaft, or group of students which made the promotion of a national sentiment its aim.  But, after personal intimacy with its members, I disliked their refusal to “give satisfaction,” as well as their want of breeding in externals and of acquaintance with the forms and manners of good society; and a still closer acquaintance bred an aversion to the extravagance of their political views, based upon a lack of either culture or knowledge of the conditions of life which historical causes had brought into existence, and which I, with my seventeen years, had had more opportunities of observing than most of these students, for the most part older than myself.  Their ideas gave me the impression of an association between Utopian theories and defective breeding.  Nevertheless, I retained my own private National sentiments, and my belief that in the near future events would lead to German unity; in fact, I made a bet with my American friend Coffin that this aim would be attained in twenty years.

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In my first half-year at Goettingen occurred the Hambach festival[27] (May 27, 1832), the “festal ode” of which still remains in my memory; in my third the Frankfort outbreak[28](April 3, 1833).  These manifestations revolted me.  Mob interference with political authority conflicted with my Prussian schooling, and I returned to Berlin with less liberal opinions than when I quitted it; but this reaction was again somewhat mitigated when I was brought into immediate connection with the workings of the political machine.  Upon foreign politics, with which the public at that time occupied itself but little, my views, as regards the War of Liberation, were taken from the standpoint of a Prussian officer.  On looking at the map, the Possession of Strasburg by France exasperated me, and a visit to Heidelberg, Spires, and the Palatinate made me feel revengeful and militant.  In the period before 1848 succeed in laying a coat of European varnish over the specifically Prussian bureaucrat.  How these observations acted in practice is clearly shown when we go through the list of our diplomatists of those days:  one is astonished to find so few native Prussians among them.  The fact of being the son of a foreign ambassador accredited to Berlin was of itself ground for preference.  The diplomatists who had grown up in small courts and had been taken into the Prussian service had not infrequently the advantage over natives of greater assurance in Court circles and a greater absence of shyness.  An especial example of this tendency was Herr von Schleinitz.  In the list we find also members of noble houses in whom descent supplied the place of talent.  I scarcely remember from the period when I was appointed to Frankfort anyone of Prussian descent being appointed chief of an important mission, except myself, Baron Carl von Werther, Canitz, and Count Max Hatzfeldt (who had a French wife).  Foreign names were at a premium:  Brassier, Perponcher, Savigny, Oriola.  It was presumed that they had greater fluency in French, and they were more out of the common.  Another feature was the disinclination to accept personal responsibility when not covered by unmistakable instructions, just as was the case in the military service in 1806 in the old school of the Frederickian period.  Even in those days we were breeding stuff for officers, even as high as the rank of regimental commander, to a pitch of perfection attained by no other state; but beyond that rank the native Prussian blood was no longer fertile in talents, as in the time of Frederick the Great.  Our most successful commanders, Bluecher, Gneisenau, Moltke, Goeben, were not original Prussian products, any more than Stein, Hardenberg, Motz, and Grolmann in the Civil Service.  It is as though our statesmen, like the trees in nurseries, needed transplanting in order that their roots might find full development.

Ancillon advised me first of all to pass my examination as Regierungs-Assessor, and then, by the circuitous route of employment in the Zollverein to seek admittance into the German diplomacy of Prussia; he did not, it would seem, anticipate in a scion of the native squirearchy a vocation for European diplomacy.  I took his hint to heart, and resolved first of all to go up for my examination as Regierungs-Assessor.

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The persons and institutions of our judicial system with which I was in the first instance concerned gave my youthful conceptions more material for criticism than for respect.  The practical education of the Auscultator began with keeping the minutes of the Criminal Courts, and to this post I was promoted out of my proper turn by the Rath, Herr von Brauchitsch, under whom I worked, because in those days I wrote a more than usually quick and legible hand.  On the examinations, as criminal proceedings in the inquisitorial method of that day were called, the one that has made the most lasting impression upon me related to a widely ramifying association in Berlin for the purpose of unnatural vice.  The club arrangements of the accomplices, the agenda books, the levelling effect through all classes of a common pursuit of the forbidden—­all this, even in 1835, pointed to a demoralization in no whit less than that evidenced by the proceedings against the Heinzes, husband and wife, in October, 1891.  The ramifications of this society extended even into the highest circles.  It was ascribed to the influence of Prince Wittgenstein that the reports of the case were demanded from the Ministry of Justice, and were never returned—­at least, during the time I served on the tribunal.

After I had been keeping the records for four months, I was transferred to the City Court, before which civil causes are tried, and was suddenly promoted from the mechanical occupation of writing from dictation to an independent post, which, having regard to my inexperience and my sentiments, made my position difficult.  The first stage in which the legal novice was called to a more independent sphere of activity was in connection with divorce proceedings.  Obviously regarded as the least important, they were entrusted to the most incapable Rath, Praetorius by name, and under him were left to the tender mercies of unfledged Auscultators, who had to make upon this corpus vile their first experiments in the part of judges—­of course, under the nominal responsibility of Herr Praetorius, who nevertheless took no part in their proceedings.  By way of indicating this gentleman’s character, it was told to us young people that when, in the course of a sitting, he was roused from a light slumber to give his vote, he used to say, “I vote with my colleague Tempelhof”—­whereupon it was sometimes necessary to point out to him that Herr Tempelhof was not present.

On one occasion I represented to him my embarrassment at having, though only a few months more than twenty years old, to undertake the attempt at a reconciliation between an agitated couple:  a matter crowned, according to my view, with a certain ecclesiastical and moral “nimbus,” with which in my state of mind I did not feel able to cope.  I found Praetorius in the irritable mood of an old man awakened at an untimely moment, who had besides all the aversion of an old bureaucrat to a young man of birth. 

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He said, with a contemptuous smile, “It is very annoying, Herr Referendarius, when a man can do nothing for himself; I will show you how to do it.”  I returned with him into the judge’s room.  The case was one in which the husband wanted a divorce and the wife not.  The husband accused her of adultery; the wife, tearful and declamatory, asserted her innocence; and, despite all manner of ill-treatment from the man, wanted to remain with him.  Praetorius, with his peculiar clicking lisp, thus addressed the woman:  “But, my good woman, don’t be so stupid.  What good will it do you?  When you get home, your husband will give you a jacketing until you can stand no more.  Come now, simply say ‘yes,’ and then you will be quit of the sot.”  To which the wife, crying hysterically, replied:  “I am an honest woman!  I will not have that indignity put upon me!  I don’t want to be divorced!” After manifold retorts and rejoinders in this tone, Praetorius turned to me with the words:  “As she will not listen to reason, write as follows, Herr Referendarius,” and dictated to me some words which, owing to the deep impression they made upon me, I remember to this day.  “Inasmuch as the attempt at reconciliation has been made, and arguments drawn from the sphere of religion and morality have proved fruitless, further proceedings were taken as follows.”  My chief then rose and said, “Now, you see how it is done, and in future leave me in peace about such things.”  I accompanied him to the door, and went on with the case.  The Divorce Court stage of my career lasted, so far as I can remember, from four to six weeks; a reconciliation case never came before me again.  There was a certain necessity for the ordinance respecting proceedings in divorce cases, to which Frederick William IV. was obliged to confine himself after his attempts to introduce a law for the substantial alteration of the Marriage Law had foundered upon the opposition of the Council of State.  With regard to this matter it may be mentioned that, as a result of this ordinance, the Attorney-General was first introduced into those provinces in which the old Prussian common law prevailed as defensor matrimonii, and to prevent collusion between the parties.

More inviting was the subsequent stage of petty cases, where the untrained young jurist at least acquired practice in listening to pleadings and examining witnesses, but where more use was made of him as a drudge than was met by the resulting benefit to his instruction.  The locality and the procedure partook somewhat of the restless bustle of a railway manager’s work.  The space in which the leading Rath and the three or four Auscultators sat with their backs to the public was surrounded by a wooden screen, and round about the four-cornered recess formed thereby surged an ever-changing and more or less noisy mob of parties to the suits.

My impression of institutions and persons was not essentially modified when I had been transferred to the Administration.  In order to abbreviate the detour to diplomacy, I applied to a Rhenish government, that of Aachen, where the course could be gone through in two years, whereas in the “old” provinces at least three years were required.[29]

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I can well imagine that in making the appointments to the Rhenish Governing Board in 1816 the same procedure was adopted as at the organization of Elsass-Lothringen in 1871.  The authorities who had to contribute a portion of their staff would not be likely to respond to the call of state requirements by putting their best foot foremost to accomplish the difficult task of assimilating a newly acquired population, but would have chosen those members of their offices whose departure was desired by their superiors or wished by themselves; in the board were to be found former secretaries of prefectures and other relics of the French administration.  The personnel did not all correspond to the ideal which floated unwarrantably enough before my eyes at twenty-one, and still less was this the case with the details of the current business.  I recollect that, what with the many differences of opinion between officials and governed, or with internal differences of opinion among each of these two categories, whose polemics for many years considerably swelled the bulk of the records, my habitual impression was, “Well, yes, that is one way of doing it”; and that questions, the decision of which one way or the other was not worth the paper wasted upon them, created a mass of business which a single prefect could have disposed of with the fourth part of the energy bestowed upon them.  Nevertheless, except for the subordinate officials, the day’s work was slight; as regards heads of departments especially, a mere sinecure.

I quitted Aachen with a very poor opinion of our bureaucracy, in detail and collectively, with the exception of the gifted President, Count Arnim-Boitzenburg.  My opinion of the detail became more favorable owing to my next subsequent experience in the government at Potsdam, to which I got transferred in the year 1837; because there, unlike the arrangement in other provinces, the indirect taxes were at the disposal of the government, and it was just these that were important to me if I wanted to make customs-policy the basis of my future.

The members of the board made a better impression upon me than those at Aachen; but yet, taking them as a whole, it was an impression of pigtail and periwig, in which category my youthful presumption also placed the paternal dignified President-in-Chief, von Bassewitz; while the President of the Aachen Government, Count Arnim, wore the generic wig of the state service, it is true, but no intellectual pigtail.  When therefore I quitted the service of the State for a country life, I imported into the relations which as a landed proprietor I had with the officials an opinion, which I now see to have been too mean, of the value of our bureaucracy, and perhaps too great an inclination to criticize them.  I remember that as substitute provincial president I had to give my verdict on a plan for abolishing the election of those officials; I expressed myself to the effect that the bureaucracy, as it ascended from the provincial president, sank in the general esteem; it had preserved it only in the person of the provincial president, who wore a Janus head, one face turned towards the bureaucracy, the other towards the country.

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The tendency to interference in the most various relations of life was, under the paternal government of those days, perhaps greater than now; but the instruments of such interference were less numerous, and, as regards culture and breeding, stood much higher than do some of those of today.  The officials of the right worshipful royal Prussian government were honest, well-read and well-bred officials; but their benevolent activity did not always meet with recognition, because from want of local experience they went to pieces on matters of detail, in regard to which the views of the learned citizen at the green table were not always superior to the healthy common-sense criticism of the peasant intelligence.  The members of the Governing Boards had in those days multa, not multum, to do; and the lack of higher duties resulted in their not finding a sufficient quantity of important business, and led them in their zeal for duty to go beyond the needs of the governed, into a tendency to over-regulation—­in a word, into what the Swiss calls Befehlerle.[30] To glance at a comparison with present conditions, it had been hoped that the state authorities would have been relieved of business and of officials by the introduction of the local self-government of today; but, on the contrary, the number of the officials and their load of business have been very considerably increased by correspondence, and friction with the machinery of self-government, from the provincial councillor down to the rural parish administration.  Sooner or later the flaw must be reached, and we shall be crushed by the burden of clerkdom, especially in the subordinate bureaucracy.

Moreover, bureaucratic pressure upon private life is intensified by the mode in which self-government works in practice and encroaches more sharply than before on the rural parishes.  Formerly the provincial president, who stood in as close relations with the people as with the State, formed the lowest step in the State bureaucracy.  Below him were local authorities, who were no doubt subject to control, but not in the same measure as nowadays to the disciplinary powers of the district, or the ministerial, bureaucracy.  The rural population enjoys today, by virtue of the measure of self-government conceded to it, an autonomy, not perhaps similar to that which the towns had long ago; but it has received, in the shape of the official commissioner, a chief who is kept in disciplinary check by superior instructions proceeding from the provincial resident, under the threat of penalties, and compelled to burden his fellow-citizens in his district with lists, notifications, and inquisitions as the political hierarchy thinks good.  The governed contribuens plebs no longer possess, in the court of the provincial president, that guarantee against blundering encroachment which, at an earlier period was to be found in the circumstance that people resident in the district who became provincial presidents

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as a rule resolved to remain so in their own districts all their life long, and sympathized with the joys and sorrows of the district.  Today the post of provincial president is the lowest step in the ladder of the higher administration, sought after by young “assessors” who have a justifiable ambition to make a career.  To obtain it they have more need of ministerial favor than of the goodwill of the local population, and they attempt to win this favor by conspicuous zeal, and by “taking it out of” the official commissioners of the so-called local administration, or by carrying out valueless bureaucratic experiments.  Therein lies for the most part the inducement to overburden their subordinates in the local self-government system.  Thus self-government means the aggravation of bureaucracy, increase in the number of officials, and of their powers and interference in private life.

It is only human nature to be more keenly sensitive to the thorns than to the roses of every institution, and that the thorns should irritate one against the existing state of things.  The old government officials, when they came into direct contact with the governed population, showed themselves to be pedantic, and estranged from the practical working of life by their occupation at the green table; but they left behind them the impression of toiling honesty and conscientiously for justice.  The same thing cannot be assumed in all their degrees of the wheels in the machine of the self-government of today in those country districts where the parties stand in acute opposition to each other; goodwill towards political friends, frame of mind as regards opponents, readily become a hindrance to the impartial maintenance of institutions.  According to my experiences in earlier and more recent times, I should, for the rest, not like to allow impartiality, when comparing judicial and administrative decisions, to the former alone, not at least in every instance.  On the contrary, I have preserved an impression that judges of small local courts succumb more easily to strong party influences than do administrative officials; nor need we invent any psychological reason for the fact that, given equal culture, the latter should a priori be considered less just and conscientious in their official decisions than the former.  But I certainly do assume that official decisions do not gain in honesty and moderation by being arrived at collectively; for apart from the fact that, in the case of voting by majority, arithmetic and chance take the place of logical reasoning, that feeling of personal responsibility, in which lies the essential guarantee for the conscientiousness of the decision, is lost directly it comes about by means of anonymous majorities.

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The course of business in the two boards of Potsdam and Aachen was not very encouraging for my ambition.  I found the business assigned to me petty and tedious, and my labors in the department of suits arising from the grist tax and from the compulsory contribution to the building of the embankment at Rotzis, near Wusterhausen, have left behind in me no sentimental regrets for my sphere of work in those days.  Renouncing the ambition for an official career, I readily complied with the wishes of my parents by taking up the humdrum management of our Pomeranian estates.  I had made up my mind to live and die in the country, after attaining successes in agriculture—­perhaps in war also, if war should come.  So far as my country life left me any ambition at all, it was that of a lieutenant in the Landwehr.

The impressions that I had received in my childhood were little adapted to make a squire of me.  In Plamann’s educational establishment, conducted on the systems of Pestalozzi and Jahn, the “von” before my name was a disadvantage, so far as my childish comfort was concerned, in my intercourse with my fellow-pupils and my teachers.  Even at the high school at the Grey Friars I had to suffer, as regards individual teachers, from that hatred of nobility which had clung to the greater part of the educated bourgeoisie as a reminiscence of the days before 1806.  But even the aggressive tendency which occasionally appeared in bourgeois circles never gave me any inducement to advance in the opposite direction.  My father was free from aristocratic prejudices, and his inward sense of equality had been modified, if at all, by his youthful impressions as an officer, but in no way by any over-estimate of inherited rank.  My mother was the daughter of Mencken, Privy Councillor to Frederick the Great, Frederick William II., and Frederick William III., who sprang from a family of Leipzig professors, and was accounted in those days a Liberal.  The later generations of the Menckens—­those immediately preceding me—­had found their way to Prussia in the Foreign Office and about the Court.  Baron von Stein has quoted my grandfather Mencken as an honest, strongly Liberal official.  Under these circumstances, the views which I imbibed with my mother’s milk were Liberal rather than reactionary; and, if my mother had lived to see my ministerial activity, she would scarcely have been in accord with its direction, even though she would have experienced great joy in the external results of my official career.  She had grown up in bureaucratic and court circles; Frederick William IV. spoke of her as “Mienchen,” in memory of childish games.  I can therefore declare it an unjust estimate of my views in my younger years, when “the prejudices of my rank” are thrown in my teeth and it is maintained that a recollection of the privileges of the nobility has been the starting-point of my domestic policy.

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Moreover, the unlimited authority of the old Prussian monarchy was not, and is not, the final word of my convictions.  As to that, to be sure, this authority of the monarch constitutionally existed in the first United Diet, but accompanied by the wish and anticipation that the unlimited power of the King, without being overturned, might fix the measure of its own limitation.  Absolutism primarily demands impartiality, honesty, devotion to duty, energy, and inward humility in the ruler.  These may be present, and yet male and female favorites (in the best case the lawful wife), the monarch’s own vanity and susceptibility to flattery, will nevertheless diminish the fruits of his good intentions, inasmuch as the monarch is not omniscient and cannot have an equal understanding of all branches of his office.  As early as 1847 I was in favor of an effort to secure the possibility of public criticism of the government in parliament and in the press, in order to shelter the monarch from the danger of having blinkers put on him by women, courtiers, sycophants, and visionaries, hindering him from taking a broad view of his duties as monarch, or from avoiding and correcting his mistakes.  This conviction of mine became all the more deeply impressed upon me in proportion as I became better acquainted with Court circles, and had to defend the interest of the State from their influences and also from the opposition of a departmental patriotism.  The interests of the State alone have guided me, and it has been a calumny when publicists, even well-meaning, have accused me of having ever advocated an aristocratic system.  I have never regarded birth as a substitute for want of ability; whenever I have come forward on behalf of landed property, it has not been in the interests of proprietors of my own class, but because I see in the decline of agriculture one of the greatest dangers to our permanence as a State.  The ideal that has always floated before me has been a monarchy which should be so far controlled by an independent national representation—­according to my notion, representing classes or callings—­that monarch or parliament would not be able to alter the existing statutory position before the law separately but only communi consensus with publicity, and public criticism, by press and Diet, of all political proceedings.

Whoever has the conviction that uncontrolled Absolutism, as it was first brought upon the stage by Louis XIV., was the most fitting form of government for German subjects, must lose it after making a special study in the history of Courts, and such critical observations as I was enabled to institute at the court of Frederick William IV. (whom personally I loved and revered) in Manteuffel’s days.  The King was a religious absolutist with a divine vocation, and the ministers after Brandenburg were content as a rule if they were covered by the royal signature even when they could not have personally answered for the contents of what was signed.  I remember that on one occasion a high Court official of absolutist opinions, on hearing of the news of the royalist rising at Neuchatel, observed, with some confusion, in the presence of myself and several of his colleagues:  “That is a royalism of which nowadays one has to go very far from Court to get experience.”  Yet, as a rule, sarcasm was not a habit of this old gentleman.

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Observations which I made in the country as to the venality and chicanery of the “district sergeants” and other subordinate officials, and petty conflicts which I had with the government in Stettin as deputy of the “Circle” and deputy for the provincial president, increased my aversion to the rule of the bureaucracy.  I may mention one of these conflicts.  While I was representing the President, then on leave, I received an order from the government to compel the patron of Kuelz, that was myself, to undertake certain burdens.  I put the order aside, meaning to give it to the president on his return, was repeatedly worried about it, and fined a thaler, to be forwarded through the post.  I now drew up a statement, in which I figured as having appeared, first of all as representative of the Landrath, and secondly as patron of Kuelz.  The party cited made the prescribed representations to himself in his capacity as No. 1, and then proceeded in his capacity of No. 2 to set forth the ground on which he had to decline the application; after which the statement was approved and subscribed by him in his double capacity.  The government understood a joke, and ordered the fine to be refunded.  In other cases, things resulted in less pleasant heckling.  I had a critical disposition, and was consequently liberal, in the sense in which the word was then used among landed proprietors to imply discontent with the bureaucracy, the majority of whom on their side were men more liberal than myself, though in another sense.

I again slipped off the rails of my parliamentary liberal tendencies, with regard to which I found little understanding or sympathy in Pomerania, but which in Schoenhausen met with the acquiescence of men in my own district, like Count Wartensleben of Karow, Schierstaedt-Dahlen, and others (the same men of whom some were among the party of Church patrons in the New Era subsequently condemned).  This was the result of the style, to me unsympathetic, in which the opposition was conducted in the first United Diet, to which I was summoned, only for the last six weeks of the session, as substitute for Deputy von Brauchitsch, who was laid up with illness.  The speeches of the East Prussians, Saucken-Tarputschen and Alfred Auerswald, the sentimentality of Beckerath, the Gallo-Rhenish liberalism of Heydt and Mevissen, and the boisterous violence of Vincke’s speeches, disgusted me; and even at this date when I read the proceedings they give me the impression of imported phrases made to pattern.  I felt that the King was on the right track, and could claim to be allowed time, and not be hurried in his development.

I came into conflict with the Opposition the first time I made a longer speech than usual, on May 17, 1847, when I combatted the legend that the Prussians had gone to war in 1813 to get a constitution, and gave free expression to my natural indignation at the idea that foreign domination was in itself no adequate reason for fighting.[31] It appeared to me undignified that the nation, as a set-off to its having freed itself, should hand in to the King an account payable in the paragraphs of a constitution.  My performance produced a storm.  I remained in the tribune turning over the leaves of a newspaper which lay there, and then, when the commotion had subsided, I finished my speech.

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At the Court festivities, which took place during the session of the United Diet, I was avoided in a marked manner both by the King and the Princess of Prussia, though for different reasons:  by the latter because I was neither Liberal nor popular; by the former for a reason which only became clear to me later.  When, on the reception of the deputies, he avoided speaking to me—­when, in the Court circle, after speaking to every one in turn, he broke off immediately he came to me, turned his back, or strolled away across the room—­I considered myself justified in supposing that my attitude as a Royalist Hotspur had exceeded the limits which the King had fixed for himself.  Only some months later, when I reached Venice on my honeymoon, did I discover that this explanation was incorrect.  The King, who had recognized me in the theatre, commanded me on the following day to an audience and to dinner; and so unexpected was this to me that my light travelling luggage and the incapacity of the local tailor did not admit of my appearing in correct costume.  My reception was so kindly, and the conversation, even on political subjects, of such a nature as to enable me to infer that my attitude in the Diet met with his encouraging approval.  The King commanded me to call upon him in the course of the winter, and I did so.  Both on this occasion at smaller dinners at the palace I became persuaded that I stood high in the favor of both the King and the Queen, and that the former, in avoiding speaking to me in public, at the time of the session of the Diet, did not mean to criticize my political conduct, but at the time did not want to let others see his approval of me.

* * * * *



In the summer of 1855 Count Hatzfeldt, our ambassador in Paris, invited me to visit the Industrial Exhibition;[32] he still shared the belief then existent in diplomatic circles that I was very soon to be Manteuffel’s successor at the Foreign Office.  Although the King had entertained such an idea on and off, it was already then known in the innermost Court circles that a change had taken place.  Count William Redern, whom I met in Paris, told me that the ambassadors continued to believe I was destined to be made a minister and that he himself had also believed this; but that the King had changed his mind—­of further details he was ignorant.  Doubtless since Ruegen.

August 15, Napoleon’s day, was celebrated among other ways by a procession of Russian prisoners through the streets.  On the 19th the Queen of England made her entry, and on August 25 a State ball was given in her honor at Versailles at which I was presented to her and to Prince Albert.

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The Prince, handsome and cool in his black uniform, conversed with me courteously, but in his manner there was a kind of malevolent curiosity from which I concluded that my anti-occidental influence upon the King was not unknown to him.  In accordance with the mode of thought peculiar to him, he sought for the motives of my conduct not where they really lay, that is, in the anxiety to keep my country independent of foreign influences—­influences which found a fertile soil in our narrow-minded reverence for England and fear of France—­and in the desire to hold ourselves aloof from a war which we should not have carried on in our own interests but in dependence upon Austrian and English policy.

In the eyes of the Prince—­though I of course did not gather this from the momentary impression made during my presentation, but from ulterior acquaintance with facts and documents—­I was a reactionary party man who took up sides for Russia in order to further an Absolutist and “Junker” policy.  It was not to be wondered at that this view of the Prince’s and of the then partisans of the Duke of Coburg had descended to the Prince’s daughter, who shortly after became our Crown Princess.

Even soon after her arrival in Germany, in February, 1858, I became convinced, through members of the royal house and from my own observations, that the Princess was prejudiced against me personally.  The fact itself did not surprise me so much as the form in which her prejudice against me had been expressed in the narrow family circle—­“she did not trust me.”  I was prepared for antipathy on account of my alleged anti-English feelings and by reason of my refusal to obey English influences; but from a conversation which I had with the Princess after the war of 1866 while sitting next to her at table I was obliged to conclude that she had subsequently allowed herself to be influenced in her judgment of my character by further-reaching calumnies.  I was ambitious, she said, in a half-jesting tone, to be a king or at least president of a republic.  I replied in the same semi-jocular tone that I was personally spoilt for a republican; that I had grown up in the royalist traditions of the family and had need of a monarchical institution for my earthly well-being:  I thanked God, however, I was not destined to live like a king, constantly on show, but to be until death the king’s faithful subject.  I added that no guarantee could, however, be given that this conviction of mine would be universally inherited, and this not because royalists would give out, but because perhaps kings might. Pour faire un civet, il faut un lievre, et pour faire une monarchie il faut un roi.  I could not answer for it that for want of such the next generation might not be republican.  I further remarked that in thus expressing myself I was not free from anxiety at the idea of a change in the occupancy of the throne without a transference of the monarchical traditions to the successor.  But the Princess avoided every serious turn and kept up the jocular tone as amiable and entertaining as ever; she rather gave me the impression that she wished to tease a political opponent.

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During the first years of my ministry I frequently remarked in the course of similar conversation that the Princess took pleasure in provoking my patriotic susceptibility by playful criticism of persons and matters.

At that ball at Versailles Queen Victoria spoke to me in German.  She gave me the impression of beholding in me a noteworthy but unsympathetic personality, but still her tone of voice was without that touch of ironical superiority that I thought I detected in Prince Albert’s.  She continued to be amiable and courteous like one unwilling to treat an eccentric fellow in an unfriendly way.

In comparison with Berlin it seemed a curious arrangement to me that at supper the company ate in three classes, with gradations in the menu, and that such guests as were to sup at all were assured of this by having a ticket bearing a number handed to them as they entered.  The tickets of the first class also bore the name of the lady presiding at the table to which they referred.  These tables were arranged to accommodate fifteen or twenty.  On entering I received one of these tickets for Countess Walewska’s table and later on in the ball-room two more from two other lady patronesses of diplomacy and of the Court.  No exact plan for placing the guests had therefore been made out.  I chose the table of Countess Walewska, to whose department I belonged as a foreign diplomatist.  On the way to the room in question I came across a Prussian officer in the uniform of an infantry regiment of the guard, accompanied by a French lady; he was engaged in an animated dispute with one of the imperial household stewards who would not allow either of them to pass, not being provided with tickets.  After the officer, in answer to my inquiries, had explained the matter and indicated the lady as a duchess bearing an Italian title of the First Empire, I told the court official that I had the gentleman’s ticket, and gave him one of mine.  Now, however, the official would not allow the lady to pass and I therefore gave the officer my second ticket for his duchess.  The official then said significantly to me:  “Mais vous ne passerez pas sans carte.”  On my showing him the third, he made a face of astonishment and allowed all three of us to pass.  I recommended my two proteges not to sit down at the tables indicated on the tickets, but to try and find seats elsewhere; nor did any complaints concerning my distribution of tickets ever come to my ears.  The want of organization was so great that our table was not fully occupied, a fact due to the absence of any understanding among the dames patronesses.  Old Prince Pueckler had either received no ticket or had been unable to find his table; after he had turned to me, whom he knew by sight, he was invited by Countess Walewska to take one of the seats that had remained empty.  The supper, in spite of the triple division, was neither materially nor as regards its preparation upon a level with what is done in Berlin at similar crowded festivities; the waiting only was efficient and prompt.

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What struck me most was the difference in the regulations for the free circulation of the throng.  In this respect the palace of Versailles offers much greater facilities than that of Berlin on account of the larger number and, if we except the White Hall, the greater spaciousness of the apartments.  Here those who had supped in class 1 were ordered to make their exit by the same way as the hungry ones of class 2 entered, their impetuous charge betraying certainly less acquaintance with the customs of Court society.  Personal collisions occurred among the belaced and beribboned gentlemen and superelegant ladies, giving rise to scuffles and abusive language, such as would be impossible in our palace.  I retired with the satisfactory impression that in spite of all the splendor of the imperial Court the Court service, the breeding and manners of Court society were on a higher level with us, as well as in St. Petersburg and Vienna, than in Paris, and that the times were past when one could go to France and to the Court of Paris to receive a schooling in courtesy and good manners.  Even the etiquette of small German Courts, antiquated as it was, especially in comparison with St. Petersburg, was more dignified than the practice of the imperial Court.  It is true that I had already received this impression in Louis Philippe’s time, during whose reign it became quite the fashion in France to distinguish oneself in the direction of excessively free and easy manners, and of abstention from courtesy, especially towards ladies.  Although it had become better in this respect during the Second Empire, the tone in official and Court society and the demeanor of the Court itself still remained below the standard of the three great eastern Courts.  Only in the Legitimist circles aloof from the official world were things different both in the time of Louis Philippe and in that of Louis Napoleon; there the tone was faultless, courteous, and hospitable, with occasional exceptions of the younger gentlemen spoilt by their contact with Paris, who borrowed their habits not from the family but from the club.

The Emperor, whom I saw for the first time during this visit to Paris, gave me to understand in several interviews, but at that time only in general phrases, his desire and intentions respecting a Franco-Prussian alliance.  His words were to the effect that these two neighboring States, which by reason of their culture and their institutions stood at the head of civilization, were naturally thrown upon each other’s assistance.  Any inclination to express before me such grievance as might arise from our refusal to join the Western Powers was kept out of the foreground.  I had the feeling that the pressure which England and Austria exercised in Berlin and Frankfort to compel us to render assistance in the western camp was much stronger, one might say more passionate and rude, than the desires and promises expressed to me in an amicable form, with which the Emperor supported his plea for our understanding with France in particular.  He was much more indulgent than England and Austria respecting our sins against occidental policy.  He never spoke German to me, either then or later.

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That my visit to Paris had caused displeasure at the court at home, and had intensified, especially in the case of Queen Elizabeth, the ill-feelings already entertained towards me, I was able to perceive at the end of September of the same year.  While the King was proceeding down the Rhine to Cologne to attend the cathedral building festival, I reported myself at Coblentz and was, with my wife, invited by his Majesty to perform the journey to Cologne on the steamer; my wife, however, was ignored by the Queen on board and at Remagen.[33] The Prince of Prussia, who had observed this, gave my wife his arm and led her to table.  At the conclusion of the meal I begged for permission to return to Frankfort, which was granted me.

It was not until the following winter, during which the King had again approached me, that he asked me once at dinner, straight across the table, my opinion concerning Louis Napoleon; his tone was ironical.  I replied:  “It is my impression that the Emperor Napoleon is a discreet and amiable man, but that he is not so clever as the world esteems him.  The world places to his account everything that happens, and if it rains in eastern Asia at an unseasonable moment chooses to attribute it to some malevolent machination of the Emperor.  Here especially we have become accustomed to regard him as a kind of genie du mal who is forever only meditating how to do mischief in the world.[34] I believe he is happy when he is able to enjoy anything good at his ease; his understanding is overrated at the expense of his heart; he is at bottom good-natured and has an unusual measure of gratitude for every service rendered him.”

The King laughed at this in a manner that vexed me and led me to ask whether I might be permitted to guess his Majesty’s present thoughts.  The King consented, and I said:  “General von Canitz used to lecture to the young officers in the military school on the campaigns of Napoleon.  An assiduous listener asked him how Napoleon could have omitted to make this or that movement.  Canitz replied:  ’Well, you see just what this Napoleon was—­a real goodhearted fellow, but so stupid!’ which naturally excited great mirth among the military scholars.  I fear that your Majesty is thinking of me much as General von Canitz thought of his pupils.”

The King laughed and said:  “You may be right; but I am not sufficiently acquainted with the present Napoleon to be able to impugn your impression that his heart is better than his head.”  That the Queen was dissatisfied with my view I was enabled to gather from the external trifles by which impressions are made known at court.

The displeasure felt at my intercourse with Napoleon sprang from the idea of “Legitimacy,” or, more strictly speaking, from the word itself, which was stamped with its modern sense by Talleyrand, and used in 1814 and 1815 with great success and to the advantage of the Bourbons as a deluding spell.

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* * * * *



On July 2, 1870, the Spanish ministry decided in favor of the accession to that throne of Leopold, Hereditary Prince of Hohenzollern.  This gave the first stimulus in the field of international law to the subsequent military question, but still only in the form of a specifically Spanish matter.  It was hard to find in the law of nations a pretext for France to interfere with the freedom of Spain to choose a King; after people in Paris had made up their minds to war with Prussia, this was sought for artificially in the name Hohenzollern, which in itself had nothing more menacing to France than any other German name.  On the contrary, it might have been assumed, in Spain as well as in Germany, that Prince Hohenzollern, on account of his personal and family connections in Paris, would be a persona grata beyond many another German Prince.  I remember that on the night after the battle of Sedan I was riding along the road to Donchery in thick darkness, with a number of our officers, following the King in his journey round Sedan.  In reply to a question from some one in the company I talked about the preliminaries to the war, and mentioned at the same time that I had thought Prince Leopold would be no unwelcome neighbor in Spain to the Emperor Napoleon, and would travel to Madrid via Paris, in order to get into touch with the imperial French policy, forming as it did a part of the conditions under which he would have had to govern Spain.  I said:  “We should have been much more justified in dreading a close understanding between the Spanish and French crowns than in hoping for the restoration of a Spanish-German anti-French constellation after the analogy of Charles V.; a king of Spain can only carry out Spanish policy, and the Prince by assuming the crown of the country would become a Spaniard.”  To my surprise there came from the darkness behind me a vigorous rejoinder from the Prince of Hohenzollern, of whose presence I had not the least idea; he protested strongly against the possibility of presuming any French sympathies in him.  This protest in the midst of the battlefield of Sedan was natural for a German officer and a Hohenzollern Prince, and I could only answer that the Prince, as King of Spain, could have allowed himself to be guided by Spanish interests only, and prominent among these, in view of strengthening his new kingdom, would have been a soothing treatment of his powerful neighbor on the Pyrenees.  I made my apology to the Prince for the expression I had uttered while unaware of his presence.

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This episode, introduced before its time, affords evidence as to the conception I had formed of the whole question.  I regarded it as a Spanish and not as a German one, even though I was delighted at seeing the German name of Hohenzollern active in representing monarchy in Spain, and did not fail to calculate all the possible consequences from the point of view of our interests—­a duty which is incumbent on a foreign minister when anything of similar importance occurs in another State.  My immediate thought was more of the economic than of the political relations in which a Spanish King of German extraction could be serviceable.  For Spain I anticipated from the personal character of the Prince, and from his family relations, tranquillizing and consolidating results, which I had no reason to grudge the Spaniards.  Spain is among the few countries which, by their geographical position and political necessities, have no reason to pursue an anti-German policy; besides which, she is well adapted, by the economic relations of supply and demand, for an extensive trade with Germany.  An element friendly to us in the Spanish government would have been an advantage which in the course of German policy there appeared no reason to reject a limine, unless the apprehension that France might be dissatisfied was to be allowed to rank as one.  If Spain had developed again more vigorously than hitherto has been the case, the fact that Spanish diplomacy was friendly toward us might have been useful to us in time of peace; but it did not seem to me probable that the King of Spain, on the outbreak of the war between Germany and France, which was evidently coming sooner or later, would, with the best will in the world, be in a position to prove his sympathy with Germany by an attack on France or a demonstration against her; and the conduct of Spain after the outbreak of the war which we had drawn upon us by the complaisance of German princes showed the accuracy of my doubt.


The chivalrous Cid would have called France to account for interference in Spain’s free choice of a king, and not have left the vindication of Spanish independence to foreigners.  The nation, formerly so powerful by land and sea, cannot at the present day hold the cognate population of Cuba in check; and how could one expect her to attack a Power like France from affection towards us?  No Spanish government, and least of all an alien king, would possess power enough in the country to send even a regiment to the Pyrenees out of affection toward Germany.  Politically I was tolerably indifferent to the entire question.  Prince Anthony was more inclined than myself to carry it peacefully to the desired goal.  The memoirs of his Majesty the King of Roumania are not accurately informed as regards details of the ministerial cooeperation in the question.  The

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ministerial council in the palace which he mentions did not take place.  Prince Anthony was living as the King’s guest in the palace, and had invited him and some of the ministers to dinner.  I scarcely think that the Spanish question was discussed at table.  If the Duke of Gramont[35] labors to adduce proof that I did not stand aloof from and averse to the Spanish proposal, I find no reason to contradict him.  I can no longer recall the text of my letter to Marshal Prim, which the Duke has heard mentioned; if I drew it up myself, about which I am equally uncertain, I should hardly have called the Hohenzollern candidature “une excellente chose”:  the expression is not natural to me.  That I regarded it as “opportune,” not “a un moment donne,” but in principle and in time of peace is correct.  I had not the slightest doubt in the matter that the grandson of the Murats, a favorite at the French Court, would secure the goodwill of France towards his country.

The intervention of France at its beginning concerned Spanish and not Prussian affairs; the garbling of the matter in the Napoleonic policy, by virtue of which the question was to become a Prussian one, was internationally unjustifiable and exasperating, and proved to me that the moment had arrived when France sought a quarrel against us and was ready to seize any pretext that seemed available.  I regarded the French intervention in the first instance as an injury, and consequently as an insult to Spain, and expected that the Spanish sense of honor would resist this encroachment.  Later on, when the turn of affairs showed that, by her encroachment on Spanish independence, France intended to threaten us with war, I waited for some days expecting that the Spanish declaration of war against France would follow that of the French against us.  I was not prepared to see a self-assertive nation like Spain stand quiet behind the Pyrenees with ordered arms, while the Germans were engaged in a deadly struggle against France on behalf of Spain’s independence and freedom to choose her king.  The Spanish sense of honor which proved so sensitive in the Carlist question simply left us in the lurch in 1870.  Probably in both cases the sympathies and international ties of the Republican parties were decisive.

The first demands of France respecting the candidature for the Spanish throne, and they were unjustifiable, had been presented on July 4, and answered by our Foreign Office evasively, though in accordance with truth, that the ministry knew nothing about the matter.  This was correct so far, that the question of Prince Leopold’s acceptance of his election had been treated by his Majesty simply as a family matter, which in no way concerned either Prussia or the North German Confederation, and which affected solely the personal relations between the Commander-in-Chief and a German officer, and those between the head of the family and, not the royal family of Prussia, but the entire family of Hohenzollern, or all the bearers of that name.

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In France, however, a casus belli was being sought against Prussia which should be as free as possible from German national coloring; and it was thought one had been discovered in the dynastic sphere by the accession to the Spanish throne of a candidate bearing the name of Hohenzollern.  In this the overrating of the military superiority of France and the underrating of the national feeling in Germany was clearly the chief reason why the tenability of this pretext was not examined either with honesty or judgment.  The German national outburst which followed the French declaration, and resembled a stream bursting its sluices, was a surprise to French politicians.  They lived, calculated, and acted on recollections of the Confederation of the Rhine, supported by the attitude of certain West German ministers; also by Ultramontane influences, in the hope that the conquests of France, “gesta Dei per Francos,” would make it easier in Germany to draw further consequences from the Vatican council, with the support of an alliance with Catholic Austria.  The Ultramontane tendencies of French policy were favorable to it in Germany and disadvantageous in Italy; the alliance with the latter being finally wrecked by the refusal of France to evacuate Rome.  In the belief that the French army was superior the pretext for war was lugged out, as one may say, by the hair; and, instead of making Spain responsible for its reputed anti-French election of a king, they attacked the German Prince who had not refused to relieve the need of the Spaniards, in the way they themselves wished, by the appointment of a useful king, and one who would presumably be regarded as persona grata in Paris; and the King of Prussia, whom nothing beyond his family name and his position as a German fellow-countryman had brought into connection with this Spanish affair.  In the very fact that the French cabinet ventured to call Prussian policy to account respecting the acceptance of the election, and to do so in a form which, in the interpretation put upon it by the French papers, became a public threat, lay a piece of international impudence which, in my opinion, rendered it impossible for us to draw back one single inch.  The insulting character of the French demand was enhanced, not only by the threatening challenges of the French press, but also by the discussions in parliament and the attitude taken by the ministry of Gramont and Ollivier upon these manifestations.  The utterance of Gramont in the session of the “Corps Legislatif” of July 6: 

“We do not believe that respect for the rights of a neighboring people binds us to suffer a foreign Power to set one of its Princes on the throne of Charles V. * * * This event will not come to pass, of that we are quite certain. * * * Should it prove otherwise we shall know how to fulfil our duty without shrinking and without weakness”—­this utterance was itself an official international threat, with the hand on the sword hilt.  The phrase, La Prusse cane (Prussia climbs down), served in the press to illustrate the range of the parliamentary proceedings of July 6 and 7; which, in my feeling, rendered all compliance incompatible with our sense of national honor.

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On July 12 I decided to hurry off from Varzin to Ems to discuss with his Majesty about summoning the Reichstag for the purpose of the mobilization.  As I passed through Wussow my friend Mulert, the old clergyman, stood before the parsonage door and warmly greeted me; my answer from the open carriage was a thrust in carte and tierce in the air, and he clearly understood that I believed I was going to war.  As I entered the courtyard of my house at Berlin, and before leaving the carriage, I received telegrams from which it appeared that the King was continuing to treat with Benedetti, even after the French threats and outrages in parliament and in the press, and not referring him with calm reserve to his ministers.  During dinner, at which Moltke and Roon were present, the announcement arrived from the embassy in Paris that the Prince of Hohenzollern had renounced his candidature in order to prevent the war with which France threatened us.  My first idea was to retire from the service, because, after all the insolent challenges which had gone before, I perceived in this extorted submission a humiliation of Germany for which I did not desire to be responsible.  This impression of a wound to our sense of national honor by the compulsory withdrawal so dominated me that I had already decided to announce my retirement at Ems.  I considered this humiliation before France and her swaggering demonstrations as worse than that of Olmuetz, for which the previous history on both sides, and our want of preparation for war at the time, will always be a valid excuse.  I took it for granted that France would lay the Prince’s renunciation to her account as a satisfactory success, with the feeling that a threat of war, even though it had taken the form of international insult and mockery, and though the pretext for war against Prussia had been dragged in by the head and shoulders, was enough to compel her to draw back, even in a just cause; and that even the North German Confederation did not feel strong enough to protect the national honor and independence against French arrogance.  I was very much depressed, for I saw no means of repairing the corroding injury I dreaded to our national position from a timorous policy, unless by picking quarrels clumsily and seeking them artificially.  I saw by that time that war was a necessity, which we could no longer avoid with honor.  I telegraphed to my people at Varzin not to pack up or start, for I should be back again in a few days.  I now believed in peace; but, as I would not represent the attitude by which this peace had been purchased, I gave up the journey to Ems and asked Count Eulenburg to go thither and represent my opinion to his Majesty.  In the same sense I conversed with the Minister of War, von Roon:  we had got our slap in the face from France, and had been reduced, by our complaisance, to look like seekers of a quarrel if we entered upon war, the only way in which we could wipe away the stain.  My position was now untenable, solely

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because, during his course at the baths, the King, under pressure of threats, had given audience to the French ambassador for four consecutive days, and had exposed his royal person to insolent treatment from this foreign agent without ministerial assistance.  Through this inclination to take state business upon himself in person and alone, the King had been forced into a position which I could not defend; in my judgment his Majesty while at Ems ought to have refused every business communication from the French negotiator, who was not on the same footing with him, and to have referred him to the department in Berlin.  The department would then have had to obtain his Majesty’s decision by a representation at Ems, or, if dilatory treatment were considered useful, by a report in writing.  But his Majesty, however careful in his usual respect for departmental relations, was too fond not indeed of deciding important questions personally, but, at all events, of discussing them, to make a proper use of the shelter with which the Sovereign is purposely surrounded against importunities and inconvenient questionings and demands.  That the King, considering the consciousness of his supreme dignity which he possessed in so high a degree, did not withdraw at the very beginning from Benedetti’s importunity was to be attributed for the most part to the influence exercised upon him by the Queen, who was at Coblenz close by.  He was seventy-three years old, a lover of peace, and disinclined to risk the laurels of 1866 in a fresh struggle; but when he was free from the feminine influence, the sense of honor of the heir of Frederick the Great and of a Prussian officer always remained paramount.  Against the opposition of his consort, due to her natural feminine timidity and lack of national feeling, the King’s power of resistance was weakened by his knightly regard for the lady and his kingly consideration for a Queen, and especially for his own Queen.  I have been told that Queen Augusta implored her husband with tears, before his departure from Ems to Berlin, to bear in mind Jena and Tilsit and avert war.  I consider the statement authentic, even to the tears.

Having decided to resign, in spite of the remonstrances which Roon made against it, I invited him and Moltke to dine with me alone on the 13th, and communicated to them at table my views and projects for doing so.  Both were greatly depressed, and reproached me indirectly with selfishly availing myself of my greater facility for withdrawing from service.  I maintained the position that I could not offer up my sense of honor to politics, that both of them, being professional soldiers and consequently without freedom of choice, need not take the same point of view as a responsible Foreign Minister.  During our conversation I was informed that a telegram from Ems, in cipher, if I recollect rightly, of about 200 “groups,” was being deciphered.  When the copy was handed to me it showed that Abeken had drawn up and signed

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the telegram at his Majesty’s command, and I read it out to my guests,[36] whose dejection was so great that they turned away from food and drink.  On a repeated examination of the document I lingered upon the authorization of his Majesty, which included a command, immediately to communicate Benedetti’s fresh demand and its rejection both to our ambassadors and to the press.  I put a few questions to Moltke as to the extent of his confidence in the state of our preparations, especially as to the time they would still require in order to meet this sudden risk of war.  He answered that if there was to be war he expected no advantage to us by deferring its outbreak; and even if we should not be strong enough at first to protect all the territories on the left bank of the Rhine against French invasion, our preparations would nevertheless soon overtake those of the French, while at a later period this advantage would be diminished; he regarded a rapid outbreak as, on the whole, more favorable to us than delay.

In view of the attitude of France, our national sense of honor compelled us, in my opinion, to go to war; and if we did not act according to the demands of this feeling, we should lose, when on the way to its completion, the entire impetus towards our national development won in 1866 while the German national feeling south of the Main, aroused by our military successes in 1866, and shown by the readiness of the southern states to enter the alliances, would have to grow cold again.  The German feeling, which in the southern states lived long with the individual and dynastic state feeling, had, up to 1866, silenced its political conscience to a certain degree with the fiction of a collective Germany under the leadership of Austria, partly from South German preference for the old imperial State, partly in the belief of her military superiority to Prussia.  After events had shown the incorrectness of that calculation, the very helplessness in which the South German states had been left by Austria at the conclusion of peace was a motive for the political Damascus that lay between Varnbueler’s “Vae victis” and the willing conclusion of the offensive and defensive alliance with Prussia.  It was confidence in the Germanic power developed by means of Prussia, and the attraction which is inherent in a brave and resolute policy if it is successful, and then proceeds within reasonable and honorable limits.  This nimbus had been won by Prussia; it would have been lost irrevocably, or at all events for a long time, if in a question of national honor the opinion gained ground among the people that the French insult, La Prusse cane, had a foundation in fact.

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In the same psychological train of thought in which during the Danish war in 1864 I desired, for political reasons, that precedence should be given not to the old Prussian, but to the Westphalian battalions, who so far had had no opportunity of proving their courage under Prussian leadership, and regretted that Prince Frederick Charles had acted contrary to my wish, did I feel convinced that the gulf, which diverse dynastic and family influences and different habits of life had in the course of history created between the south and north of the Fatherland, could not be more effectually bridged over than by a joint national war against the neighbor who had been aggressive for many centuries.  I remembered that even in the short period from 1813 to 1815, from Leipzig and Hanau to Belle-Alliance, the joint victorious struggle against France had rendered it possible to put an end to the opposition between a yielding Rhine-Confederation policy and the German national impetus of the days between the Vienna congress and the Mainz commission of inquiry, days marked by the names of Stein, Goerres, Jahn, Wartburg, up to the crime of Sand.  The blood shed in common from the day when the Saxons came over at Leipzig down to their participation at Belle-Alliance under English command had fostered a consciousness before which the recollections of the Rhine-Confederation were blotted out.  The historical development in this direction was interrupted by the anxiety aroused by the over-haste of the national craving for the stability of state institutions.

This retrospect strengthened me in my conviction, and the political considerations in respect to the South German states proved applicable likewise, mutatis mutandis, to our relations with the populations of Hanover, Hesse, and Schleswig-Holstein.  That this view was correct is shown by the satisfaction with which, at the present day, after a lapse of twenty years, not only the Holsteiners, but likewise the people of the Hanse towns, remember the heroic deeds of their sons in 1870.  All these considerations, conscious and unconscious, strengthened my opinion that war could be avoided only at the cost of the honor of Prussia and of the national confidence in it.  Under this conviction I made use of the royal authorization communicated to me through Abeken, to publish the contents of the telegram; and in the presence of my two guests I reduced the telegram by striking out words, but without adding or altering, to the following form:  “After the news of the renunciation of the hereditary Prince of Hohenzollern had been officially communicated to the imperial government of France by the royal government of Spain, the French ambassador at Ems further demanded of his Majesty the King that he would authorize him to telegraph to Paris that his Majesty the King bound himself for all future time never again to give his consent if the Hohenzollerns should renew their candidature.  His Majesty the King thereupon decided not to receive

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the French ambassador again, and sent to tell him through the aide-de-camp on duty that his Majesty had nothing further to communicate to the ambassador.”  The difference in the effect of the abbreviated text of the Ems telegram as compared with that produced by the original was not the result of stronger words but of the form, which made this announcement appear decisive, while Abeken’s version would only have been regarded as a fragment of a negotiation still pending, and to be continued at Berlin.

After I had read out the concentrated edition to my two guests, Moltke remarked:  “Now it has a different ring; it sounded before like a parley; now it is like a flourish in answer to a challenge.”  I went on to explain:  “If in execution of his Majesty’s order I at once communicate this text, which contains no alteration in or addition to the telegram, not only to the newspapers, but also by telegraph to all our embassies, it will be known in Paris before midnight, and not only on account of its contents, but also on account of the manner of its distribution, will have the effect of a red rag upon the Gallic bull.  Fight we must if we do not want to act the part of the vanquished without a battle.  Success, however, essentially depends upon the impression which the origination of the war makes upon us and others; it is important that we should be the party attacked, and this Gallic overweening and touchiness will make us if we announce in the face of Europe, so far as we can without the speaking-tube of the Reichstag, that we fearlessly meet the public threats of France.”

This explanation brought about in the two generals a revulsion to a more joyous mood, the liveliness of which surprised me.  They had suddenly recovered their pleasure in eating and drinking and spoke in a more cheerful vein.  Roon said:  “Our God of old lives still and will not let us perish in disgrace.”  Moltke so far relinquished his passive equanimity that, glancing up joyously towards the ceiling and abandoning his usual punctiliousness of speech, he smote his hand upon his breast and said:  “If I may but live to lead our armies in such a war, then the devil may come directly afterwards and fetch away the ‘old carcass.’” He was less robust at that time than afterwards, and doubted whether he would survive the hardships of the campaign.

How keenly he wanted to put in practice his military and strategic tastes and ability I observed not only on this occasion, but also in the days before the outbreak of the Bohemian war.  In both cases I found my military colleague in the King’s service changed from his usual dry and silent habit; he became cheerful, lively, even merry.  In the June night of 1866, when I had invited him for the purpose of ascertaining whether the march of the army could not be begun twenty-four hours sooner, he answered in the affirmative and was pleasantly excited by the hastening of the struggle.  As he left my wife’s drawing-room

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with elastic step, he turned round at the door and asked me in a serious tone:  “Do you know that the Saxons have blown up[37] the bridge at Dresden?” Upon my expression of amazement and regret he replied:  “Yes, with water, for the dust.”  An inclination to innocent jokes very seldom, in official relations like ours, broke through his reserve.  In both cases his love of combat and delight in battles were a great support to me in carrying out the policy I regarded as necessary, in opposition to the intelligible and justifiable aversion in a most influential quarter.  It proved inconvenient to me in 1867, in the Luxemburg question, and in 1875 and afterwards on the question whether it was desirable, as regards a war which we should probably have to face sooner or later, to bring it on antici-pando before the adversary could improve his preparations.  I have always opposed the theory which says “Yes”; not only at the Luxemburg period, but likewise subsequently for twenty years, in the conviction that even victorious wars cannot be justified unless they are forced upon one, and that one cannot see the cards of Providence far enough ahead to anticipate historical development according to one’s own calculation.  It is natural that in the staff of the army not only younger officers, but likewise experienced strategists, should feel the need of turning to account the efficiency of the troops led by them, and their own capacity to lead, and of making them prominent in history.  It would be a matter of regret if this effect of the military spirit did not exist in the army; the task of keeping its results within such limits as the nations’ need of peace can justly claim is the duty of the political, not the military, heads of the State.  That at the time of the Luxemburg question, during the crisis of 1875, invented by Gortchakoff and France, and even down to the most recent times, the staff and its leaders have allowed themselves to be led astray and to endanger peace, lies in the very spirit of the institution, which I would not forego.  It only becomes dangerous under a monarch whose policy lacks sense of proportion and power to resist one-sided and constitutionally unjustifiable influences.


[Footnote 26:  From Bismarck:  The Man and the Statesman. Permission Harper & Brothers, New York.]

[Footnote 27:  a gathering of, it is said, 30,000 at the Castle of Hambach in the Palatinate; where speeches were made in favor of Germany, unity, and the Republic.]

[Footnote 28:  An attempt made by a handful of students and peasants to blow up the Federal Diet in revenge for some Press regulations passed by it.  They stormed the guard house, but were suppressed.]

[Footnote 29:  See the “Proceedings during my stay at Aachen” in Bismarck-Jahrbuch III., and the “Samples of Examination for the Referendariat” in Bismarck-Jahrbuch II.]

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[Footnote 30:  Say “red tape.”]

[Footnote 31:  Polstiche Reden (Cotta’s edition), i. 9.]

[Footnote 32:  See Bismarck-Jahrbuch, iii. 86.]

[Footnote 33:  Cf.  Bismarck’s letter to Gerlach of October 7, 1855.]

[Footnote 34:  Cf.  Bismarck’s utterance in the Imperial Diet on January 8, 1885. Politische Reden, x. 373.]

[Footnote 35:  Gramont, La France et la Prusse avant la guerre.  Paris, 1872, p. 21.]

[Footnote 36:  The telegram handed in at Ems on July 13, 1870, at 3.50 p. m. and received in Berlin at 6.9, ran as deciphered: 

“His Majesty writes to me:  “Count Benedetti spoke to me on the promenade, in order to demand from me, finally in a very importunate manner, that I should authorize him to telegraph at once that I bound myself for all future time never again to give my consent if the Hohenzollerns should renew their candidature.  I refused at last somewhat sternly, as it is neither right nor possible to undertake engagements of this kind a tout jamais.  Naturally I told him that I had as yet received no news, and as he was earlier informed about Paris and Madrid than myself, he could clearly see that my government once more had no hand in the matter.”  His Majesty has since received a letter from the Prince.  His Majesty, having told Count Benedetti that he was awaiting news from the Prince, has decided, with reference to the above demand, upon the representation of Count Eulenburg and myself, not to receive Count Benedetti again, but only to let him be informed through an aide-de-camp:  That his Majesty had now received from the Prince confirmation of the news which Benedetti had already received from Paris, and had nothing further to say to the ambassador.  His Majesty leaves it to your Excellency whether Benedetti’s fresh demand and its rejection should not be at once communicated both to our ambassadors and to the press.”]

[Footnote 37:  Play on the word gesprengt.]

* * * * *



Bismarck was not an orator in the ordinary sense of the word, nor did he wish to be one.  On the contrary, he looked with mistrust on silver-tongued orators.  “You know,” he said in the Diet on February 3, 1866, “I am not an orator....  I cannot appeal to your emotions with a clever play of words intended to obscure the subject-matter.  My speech is simple and clear.”  And a few years later he said:  “Eloquence has spoiled many things in the world’s parliaments.  Too much time is wasted, because everybody who thinks he knows anything wishes to speak, even if he has nothing new to say.  More breath is wasted on the air than thought is bestowed on the questions under discussion.  Everything has been settled in party caucuses, and in the House the representatives talk for no other purpose than to show the people how clever they are, or to please the newspapers, which are expected to be lavish with their praise in return.  If things go on like this, the time will come when eloquence will be considered a common nuisance, and a man will be punished if he has spoken too long.”

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Bismarck’s most famous words against mere eloquence were uttered in the Reichstag on April 29, 1881:  “You must be something of a poet if you wish to be a good orator, and you must possess the gift of improvisation.  When I was younger there were public entertainments in which music alternated with oratorical improvisations.  The improvisator was given a theme of which he knew nothing, and on which he discoursed, often brilliantly.  It even happened that he was altogether convincing until we remembered where we were.  I am merely saying this to show that we should not entrust the direction of big affairs to the mere masters of eloquence any more than to the improvisators.  Least of all should these people be placed in charge of bureaus, or be given a minister’s portfolio.  I only wish to prove that eloquence is a gift which exerts today an influence out of proportion to its worth.  It is overestimated.  A good orator must be something of a poet, which means that he cannot be a stickler for truth and mathematical accuracy.  He must be inspiring, quick, and excitable, able himself to kindle the enthusiasm of others.  But a good orator I fear will rarely play a good game of whist or of chess, and will be even less satisfactory as a statesman.  The emotional element and not cool reason must predominate in his make-up.  Physiologically, I believe, the same man cannot be a good orator and a calm judge.  I am reminded of the list of qualities enumerated by Mephisto in Goethe’s Faust:  ‘The lion’s strength, the deer’s celerity.’  Such things are never found united in one human body.  And thus we often find eloquence overtopping and dangerously controlling reason, to the complete satisfaction of thoughtless multitudes.  But a man of discretion, cool and accurate in his deliberations, to whom we are glad to entrust the direction of big and weighty matters, can scarcely ever be a perfect orator.”

In this last sentence Bismarck apparently wished to draw a line of distinction between himself and some of his parliamentary opponents whom he admired as fluent orators, but whose leadership he deemed to be unsafe.  If he considered himself a poor public speaker he was greatly mistaken.  His contemporaries held different views, and several of them fortunately were so deeply impressed by his power that they analyzed the means with which he won his great parliamentary victories.  His bitter political opponent, Ludwig Bamberger, for instance, said: 

“Bismarck controls his audience by the noticeable force and the exhaustiveness of his mental labor.  He has improved with practice, and the description of him given in 1866 is no longer quite fair—­’No charm of voice, no sonorous phrases, nothing to captivate an audience.  His voice while clear and distinct, is dry and unsympathetic.  He speaks monotonously, with many pauses, at times he almost stutters, as if an obstinate tongue refused to obey orders, and as if he had to wrestle for the adequate expression

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of his thoughts.  He rocks to and fro, somewhat restlessly, and in no relation to what he is saying.  But the longer he speaks the more he overcomes all difficulties, he succeeds in adapting his words, without the least waste, to his thoughts, and generally reaches a powerfully effective end.’  It is still true that his words advance at first slowly, then with a rush, and again haltingly.  But for all those who do not consider the even and melodious flow of an address to be its greatest perfection Bismarck’s way of speaking is not without some charm.  It enables the hearer to follow the mental exertions of the speaker, and thus rivets attention better than many a smooth and sonorous diction which glides along nicely because it has no inner difficulties to overcome.  Often Bismarck succeeds in taking hold of his subject with trenchant wit, and in illustrating it with arguments which he boldly takes from every day life....  We must confess that his speeches, if art-less, are yet full of imagery.  His cool and clear mind does not despise the charm of warm color, just as his robust constitution is not void of nervous irritability.  His ingenuous appearance, with which he is apt to surprise an audience, should not win our ready confidence, for all who have had to do with him know that his astonishingly intimate remarks are calculated to mislead by their excessive frankness, or their excessive lack of it.  If he dissembles, he often misses his mark by exaggeration, and one can truly say that he has deceived his opponents more frequently by speaking the truth than by making false pretenses.  Behind his blustering behavior you can often spy the merry wag.  To his opponents he can be provoking, malicious, even spiteful, but he is never false!  He does not belong to that class of public men who believe that the world can be governed with sentimental phrases, or that evil conditions are alleviated when the discussion is interspersed with pompous generalities.  On the contrary, he loves to turn his phrases so that everything will appear in a strong and glaring light.”

Another observer, quoted by Hans Kraemer in his “Speeches of Prince Bismarck,” sums up his impressions as follows: 

“Bismarck has before him a narrow strip of paper on which, in preparation, he has jotted down a few words with his inspired quill-pen.  Occasionally he looks at his notes, while he is speaking, rocking himself very slowly to and fro, and twisting his thumbs.  He often hesitates, almost stutters, and sometimes even makes a slip of the tongue.  He seems to be wrestling with his thoughts, while his words seem to ascend against their wish, for he makes a very brief pause after every two or three words....  He speaks without gestures, pathos or intonation, and without emphasizing any of his words.  Is this the man who as early as 1847 was the leader of the nobility in the old Diet and their quickest man at repartee; who, in 1849 and 1850 as a member of the Second House

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and the United Parliament of Erfurt, whipped the liberal majority to a frenzy of fury with his bitter and poignant speeches; who as the President of the Ministry since 1862 has faced, almost alone, the solid phalanx of the Liberals, replying to their ebullitions of pride and confidence in their own strain, and answering on the spot and with brilliant presence of mind their sarcastic and malicious attacks, yes even challenging them with witty impromptus, and hurting his opponents to the core?  Yes, he is the same man, and occasionally he can be as witty and bitter as he used to be.  But since his great victories he has shown the more serious demeanor of a statesman.  He is calmly objective and conciliatory, as befits his greatness, which is today universally recognized.  The longer he speaks the more the peculiar attractions of his way of speaking become manifest.  His expression is original and fresh, pithy and robust, honest and straightforward.”

Bismarck did not write out his speeches, and the published accounts of what he said are copied from the official stenographic reports.  Logically Bismarck never left a sentence incomplete, but grammatically he often did so when the wealth of ideas qualifying his main thought had grown to greater proportions than he had anticipated.  His diction was at all times precise, which led to a multiplicity of qualifications—­adjectives, appositions, adverbs, parentheses, and the like.  Desirous of convincing his hearers, he often felt the need of repeating the same thought in various ways until he at last hammered it in, as it were, with one big blow—­with one phrase easily remembered and readily quoted.  It is these phrases which have given the names to many of his speeches, namely:  “The Honest Broker,” “Practical Christianity,” or “We shall never go to Canossa.”

He himself readily quoted from the sayings and writings of other great men; and was in this respect wholly admirable both for the catholicity of his taste and the singular appropriateness of his citations.  He was apparently as familiar with the great authors of antiquity as with the modern German, French and English writers.  Nor was he afraid of using a foreign tongue when no German phrase occurred to him to match the exact meaning of his thought.

The reader will realize, even more than the hearer, that it was not the form of Bismarck’s speeches which swept his audiences off their feet, and often changed a hostile Reichstag or Diet into an assembly of men eager to do his bidding, but that it was his firm grasp on the realities of life and his supreme command of everything which makes for true statesmanship.  His policies were not based on snap judgments, they were the result of serious thought.  All this showed in his speeches, and made him one of the most powerfully effective speakers of all times.

* * * * *


* * * * *

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December 21, 1863


[In the Prussian Diet the representative, Johann Ludwig Tellkampf, professor of economics and political science in the University of Breslau, had attacked the policy of Bismarck in regard to Schleswig-Holstein.  Bismarck replied as follows:]

The conception which the previous speaker has of the politics of Europe reminds me of a man from the plains who is on his first journey to the mountains.  When he sees a huge elevation loom up before him, nothing seems easier than to climb it.  He does not even think that he will need a guide, for the mountain is in plain sight, and the road to it apparently without obstacles.  But when he starts, he soon comes upon ravines and crevasses which not even the best of speeches will help him to cross.  The gentleman comforted us concerning similar obstacles in the path of politics by saying things like these:  “It is well known that Russia can do nothing at present; it does not appear that Austria will take a contrary step; England knows very well that her interests are counselling peace; and finally, France will not act against her national principles.”  If we should believe these assurances, and think more highly of the estimate which the gentleman has made of the politics of Europe than of our own official judgment, and should thereby drive Prussia to an isolated and humiliating position, could we then excuse ourselves by saying, “We could see the danger coming, but we trusted the speaker, thinking he knew probably more than we?” If this is impossible how can we attach to the remarks of the speaker the weight which he wishes us to attach to them!

For all official positions, those of the judges for instance and even those of the subalterns in the army, we require examinations and a practical knowledge—­difficult examinations.  But high politics—­oh, any one can practise them who feels himself called upon to do so.  Nothing is easier than to make endless assertions in this field of conjectures and to cast caution to the winds.  You know that one must write a whole book to controvert one erroneous thought, and he who voiced the error remains unconvinced.  It is a dangerous and far-spread mistake which assumes that a naive intuition will reveal to the political dilettante what remains hidden from the wisdom of the expert.

[Professor Tellkampf replied, in great excitement:  “My whole life as a professor of political science has been devoted to the study of politics, and I should like to ask the president of the ministry, whether he knew more of political science, when he began his political career as a dike-master, than a professor of this science knows?” To which Bismarck replied:]

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I do not at all deny the familiarity of the previous speaker with political theories.  But he has wandered from the field of theory into that of practice.  He has announced with complete assurance to me and to this assembly what each European cabinet will probably do in this concrete case.  These are the very things which, I believe, I must know better than he.  This belief I have expressed.  The previous speaker has referred to his activity in theoretical politics as a professor through many years.  If the gentleman had served even one year in practical politics, possibly as a bureau chief in the ministry of foreign affairs, he would not have said what he said today from the speaker’s desk.  And his advice, after this one year of practical training, would be of greater value to me than if he had been active, even more years than he says, as a professor on the lecture platform.

* * * * *


Written by Bismarck and delivered by William I., July 19, 1870


[Disturbed by the increasing bonds of union between the northern and the southern German states, in which France saw a lessening of her own prestige across the Rhine, the ministers of Napoleon III. had decided on war against Prussia.  They found a pretext in the candidacy of a Hohenzollern prince for the throne of Spain.  Contrary to diplomatic usage, they requested the King of Prussia to force the withdrawal of the prince, and even when the father of the prince announced the withdrawal of his son, they were not satisfied, but instructed Benedetti, the French ambassador, to secure from the King of Prussia a humiliating promise for the future.  The King indignantly refused, and Bismarck published the occurrence in the famous “Despatch of Ems,” July 13, 1870.  Thereupon the French cabinet declared war, on July 15, 1870.  The formal notice was served on Bismarck, July 19, and on the same day the King of Prussia opened a special session of the Reichstag with the following address, which had been prepared by Bismarck.]


When I welcomed you here at your last assembly, it was with joy and gratitude because God had crowned my efforts with success.  I could announce to you that every disturbance of peace had been avoided, in response to the wishes of the people and the demands of civilization.

If now the allied governments have been compelled by treats of war and its danger to summon you to a special session, you will feel not less convinced than we that it was the wish of the North German Federation to develop the forces of the German people as a support of universal peace, and not as a possible source of danger to it.  If we call upon these forces today for the protection of our independence, we are doing nothing but what honor and duty demand.

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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.


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.


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May 2,1871


[After the war France had been obliged to return to Germany the two provinces, Alsace and Lorraine, which she had attached to herself in the times of Germany’s weakness.  It might have been better to unite these provinces with one of the German states, but it was feared that so valuable an increase in territory of one of the twenty-five states that had just been federated in the empire, might lead to renewed dissension.  The suggestion, therefore, was made to administer the two provinces, for the present, as common property, and to leave the final arrangements to the future.  A bill concerning the immediate disposition of Alsace and Lorraine was submitted to the Reichstag on May 2, 1871; when Prince Bismarck opened the discussion with the following speech.]

In introducing the pending bill I shall have to say only a few words, for the debate will offer me the opportunity of elucidating the various details.  The underlying principles are, I believe, not subject to a difference of opinion; I mean the question whether Alsace and Lorraine should be incorporated in the German empire.  The form in which this should be done, and especially what steps should first be taken, will be the subject of your deliberations.  You will, moreover, find the allied governments ready to weigh carefully all suggestions different from our own which may be made in this connection.

I believe that there will be no difference of opinion concerning the principle itself, because there was none a year ago, nor has any appeared during this year of the war.  If we imagine ourselves back one year—­or more accurately ten months—­we can say to ourselves that all Germany was agreed in her love of peace.  There was not a German who did not wish to be at peace with France, as long as this was honorably possible.  Those morbid exceptions which possibly desired war in the hope of seeing their own country defeated—­they are not worthy of their name, I do not count them among the Germans!

I insist, the Germans were unanimous in their desire for peace.  But when war was forced upon them, and they were compelled to take to arms, then the Germans were fully as unanimous in their determination to look for assurances against the likelihood of another similar war, provided God were to give them the victory in this one which they were resolved to wage manfully.  If, however, another such war should occur in the future, they intended to see to it now, that our defence then would be easier.  Everyone remembered that there probably had not been a generation of our fathers, for three hundred years, which had not been forced to draw the sword against France, and everybody knew the reason why Germany had previously missed the opportunity of securing for herself a better protection against an attack from the west, even at those times when she had happened to be among the conquerors of France.  It was because the victories had been won in company with allies whose interests were not ours.  Everybody therefore was determined that if we should conquer this time, independently and solely by our own might and right, we should strive to make the future more secure for our children.

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In the course of centuries the wars against France had resulted almost always to our disadvantage, because Germany had been divided.  This had created a geographical and strategic frontier which was full of temptations for France and of menace for Germany.  I cannot describe our condition before the last war, and especially that of South Germany, more strikingly than with the words of a thoughtful South German sovereign.  When Germany was urged to take the part of the western powers in the oriental war, although her governments were not convinced that this was in their interest, this sovereign—­there is no reason why I should not name him, it was the late King William of Wuertemberg—­said to me:  “I share your view, that we have no call to mix in this war, and that no German interests are at stake of sufficient worth to spill a drop of German blood for them.  But what will happen if we should quarrel with the western powers on this account?  You may count on my vote in the Bundestag until war is at hand.  Then conditions will be altered.  I am as ready as the next man to fulfil my obligations.  But take care lest you judge people differently from what they are.  Give us Strassburg, and we shall be with you at all hazards.  As long as Strassburg is a sally-port for an ever armed force, I must fear that my country will be inundated by foreign troops before the North German Alliance can come to my assistance.  Personally I shall not hesitate a moment to eat the hard bread of exile in your camp, but my people, weighed down by contributions, will write to me urging a change of policy upon me.  I do not know what I shall do, nor whether all will remain sufficiently firm.  The crux of the situation is Strassburg, for as long as it is not German, it will prevent South Germany from giving herself unreservedly to German unity and to a national German policy.  As long as Strassburg is a sally-port for an ever ready army of from 100,000 to 150,000 men, Germany will find herself unable to appear on the upper Rhine with an equally large army on time—­the French will always be here first.”

I believe this instance taken from an actual occurrence says everything.  I need not add one word.

The wedge which Alsace pushed into Germany near Weissenburg separated South Germany from North Germany more effectively than the political line of the Main.  It needed a high degree of determination, national enthusiasm, and devotion for our South German allies not to hesitate one moment but to identify the danger of North Germany with their own and to advance boldly in our company, in spite of that other danger in their own immediate proximity to which a clever conduct of the war on the part of France would have exposed them.  That France in her superior position had been ready to yield to the temptation, which this advanced outpost of Strassburg offered her against Germany, whenever her internal affairs made an excursion into foreign lands desirable, we had seen for many decades. 

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It is well known that the French ambassador entered my office as late as August 6, 1866, with the briefly worded ultimatum:  “Either cede to France the city of Mayence, or expect an immediate declaration of war.”  I was, of course, not one moment in doubt about my reply.  I said to him:  “Well, then, it is war.”  He proceeded with this reply to Paris.  There they changed their mind after a few days, and I was given to understand that this instruction had been wrung from Emperor Napoleon during an attack of illness.  The further attempts on Luxembourg and the consequent issues are known to you.  I will not revert to them, nor do I believe that it is necessary to prove that France did not always show a sufficiently strong character to resist the temptations which the possession of Alsace brought with it.

The question was, how to secure a guarantee against this.  It had to be of a territorial nature, because the guarantees of foreign powers were not of much use to us, such guarantees having at times been subject to supplementary and attenuating declarations.  One might have thought that all Europe would have felt the need of preventing the ever recurring wars of two great and civilized peoples in the heart of Europe, and that it would have been natural to assume that the simplest way to do this was to strengthen the defences of that one of the two participants who doubtless was the more pacific.  I cannot, however, say that at first this idea appeared convincing everywhere.  Other expedients were looked for, and the suggestion was often made that we should be satisfied with an indemnity and the razing of the French fortresses in Alsace and Lorraine.  This I always opposed, because I considered it an impracticable means of maintaining peace.  The establishment of an easement on foreign territory is very oppressive and disagreeable to the sense of sovereignty and independence of those who are affected by it.  The cession of a fortress is felt scarcely more bitterly than the injunction by foreigners not to build on the territory which is under one’s own sovereignty.  French passions have probably been excited more frequently and more successfully by a reference to the razing of that unimportant place of Hueningen than by the loss of any conquered territory which France had to suffer in 1815.  I placed, therefore, no confidence in this means, especially since the geographical configuration of this advanced outpost—­as I took the liberty of calling it—­would have put the starting place for the French troops just as near to Stuttgart and Munich as it had always been.  It was important to put it farther back.

Metz, moreover, is a place of such a topographical configuration, that very little art is needed to transform it into a strong fortress.  If anyone should destroy these additions to nature—­which would be a very expensive undertaking—­they could be quickly restored.  Consequently I looked also upon this suggestion as insufficient.

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There might have been one other means—­and one which the inhabitants of Alsace and Lorraine favored—­of founding there a neutral territory similar to Belgium and Switzerland.  There would then have been a chain of neutral states from the North Sea to the Swiss Alps, which would have made it impossible for us to attack France by land, because we are accustomed to respect treaties and neutrality, and because we should have been separated from France by this strip of land between us.  France would have received a protecting armor against us, but nothing would have prevented her from occasionally sending her fleet with troops to our coast—­a plan she had under consideration during the last war, although she did not execute it—­or from landing her armies with her allies, and entering Germany from there.  France would have received a protecting armor against us, but we should have been without protection by sea, as long as our navy did not equal the French.  This was one objection, although one of only secondary importance.  The chief reason was that neutrality can only be maintained when the inhabitants are determined to preserve an independent and neutral position, and to defend it by force of arms, if need be.  That is what both Belgium and Switzerland have done.  As far as we were concerned in the last war no action on their part would have been necessary, but it is a fact that both these countries maintained their neutrality.  Both are determined to remain neutral commonwealths.  This supposition would not have been true, in the immediate future, for the neutrality newly to be established in Alsace and Lorraine.  On the contrary, it is to be expected that the strong French elements, which are going to survive in the country for a long while, and whose interests, sympathies, and memories are connected with France, would have induced the people to unite with France in the case of another Franco-German war, no matter who their sovereign might be.  The neutrality of Alsace-Lorraine, therefore, would have been merely a sham, harmful to us and helpful to France.  Nothing was left, therefore, but to bring both these countries with their strong fortresses completely under German control.  It was our purpose to establish them as a powerful glacis in Germany’s defence against France, and to move the starting point of a possible French attack several days’ marches farther back, if France, having regained her strength or won allies, should again throw down the gauntlet to us.

The chief obstacle to the realization of this idea, which was to satisfy the incontestable demands of our safety, was found in the opposition of the inhabitants themselves, who did not wish to be separated from France.  It is not my duty here to inquire into the causes which made it possible for a thoroughly German community to become so deeply attached to a country speaking a different tongue and possessing a government which was not always kind and considerate.  To a great extent this may have been due to the fact

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that all those qualities which distinguish the Germans from the French are found to such a high degree in Alsace-Lorraine, that the inhabitants of this country formed—­I may say it without fear of seeming presumption—­an aristocracy in France as regards proficiency and exactness.  They were better qualified for service, and more reliable in office.  The substitutes in the army, the gendarmes, and the civil officers were from Alsace-Lorraine in numbers entirely out of proportion to the population of these provinces.  There were one and one half million Germans who knew how to make use of these virtues among a people who have other virtues but who are lacking in these particular ones.  Thanks to their excellence they enjoyed a favored position, which made them unmindful of many legal iniquities.  It is, moreover, characteristic of the Germans that every tribe lays claim to some kind of superiority, especially over its immediate neighbors.  As long as the people of Alsace and Lorraine were French, Paris with its splendor and the grandeur of a united France stood behind them; they could meet their fellow Germans with the consciousness that Paris was theirs, and thus find a reason for their sense of exclusive superiority.  I do not wish to discuss further the reasons why everyone attaches himself more readily to a big political system which gives scope to his abilities, than to a divided, albeit related, nation, such as existed formerly on this side of the Rhine, in so far as the Alsatians were concerned.  The fact is that such disinclination existed, and that it is our duty to overcome it by patience.  We have, it seems to me, many means at our disposal.  We Germans are accustomed to govern more benevolently, sometimes more awkwardly—­but in the long tun really more benevolently and humanely, than the French statesmen.  This is a merit of the German character which will soon appeal to the Alsatian heart and become manifest.  We are, moreover, able to grant the inhabitants a far greater degree of communal and individual freedom than the French institutions and traditions ever permitted.

If we watch the present movement in Paris (the Commune), we shall find, what is true of every movement possessing the least endurance, that it contains at bottom a grain of sense in spite of all the unreasonable motives which attach to it, influencing its individual partisans.  Without this no movement can attain even that degree of force which the Commune exercises at present.  This grain of sense—­I do not know how many people believe in it, but surely the most intelligent and best who at present are fighting against their countrymen do believe in it—­is, to put it briefly, the German municipal government.  If the Commune possessed this, then the better element of its supporters—­I do not say all—­would be satisfied.  We must differentiate according to the facts.  The militia of the usurpers consists largely of people who have nothing to lose.  There are in a city of two million inhabitants many so-called

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repris de justice,” or as we should say “people under police supervision,” who are spending in Paris the interval between two terms in prison.  They are congregating in the city in considerable numbers and are ready to serve disorder and pillage wherever it may be.  It is these people who gave to the movement, before we had scrutinized its theoretical aims, the occasionally prominent character which seemed to threaten civilization, and which, in the interest of humanity, I now hope has been overcome.  It is, of course, quite possible that it may recur.

In addition to this flotsam, which is found in large masses in every big city, the militia which I mentioned consists of many adherents of an international European republic.  I have been told the figures with which the foreign nations are there represented, but I remember only that almost eight thousand Englishmen are said to be in Paris for the sake of seeing the realization of their plans.  I assume that these so-called Englishmen are largely Irish Fenians.  And then there are many Belgians, Poles, adherents of Garibaldi, and Italians.  They are people who really do not care much for the “Commune” and French liberty.  They expect something else, and they were, of course, not meant, when I said that there is a grain of sense in every movement.

The needs and wishes of the large French communities are thoroughly justified, considering not only their own political past, which grants them a very moderate amount of freedom, but also the tradition of the French statesmen who are offering to the cities their very best possible compromise with municipal freedom.  The inhabitants of Alsace and Lorraine have felt these needs most forcefully owing to their German character, which is stronger than the French character in its demands for individual and municipal independence.  Personally I am convinced that we can grant the people of Alsace and Lorraine, at the very start, a freer scope in self government without endangering the empire as a whole.  Gradually this will be broadened until it approaches the ideal, when every individual and every community possesses as much freedom as is at all compatible with the order of the State as a whole.  I consider it the duty of reasonable statesmanship to try to reach this goal or to come as near to it as possible.  And this is much easier, with our present German institutions, than it will ever be in France with the French character and the French centralized system of government.  I believe, therefore, that, with German patience and benevolence, we shall succeed in winning the men of Alsace and Lorraine—­perhaps in a briefer space of time than people today expect.

But there will always be some residuary elements, rooted with every personal memory in France and too old to be transplanted, or necessarily connected with France by material interests.  For them there will be no compensation for the broken French bonds, or at least none for some time to come.  We must, therefore, not permit ourselves to believe that the goal is in sight, and that Alsace will soon be as intensely German in feeling as Thuringia.  On the other hand, we need not give up the hope of living to see the realization of our plans provided we fulfill the time generally allotted to man.

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The problem of how to approach this task, gentlemen, will now primarily concern you.  What should be the form of our immediate procedure? for it should surely not bind us irrevocably for all the future.  I would ask you not to deliberate as if you were to create something that will hold good for eternity.  Do not endeavor to form a definite idea of the future as you may think it should be after the lapse of several decades.  No man’s foresight, I hold, can reach as far as that.  The conditions are abnormal; they had to be so—­our entire task was so—­not only as regards the mode of taking possession of Alsace, but also as regards the present owners.  An alliance of sovereign princes and free cities making a conquest which it is compelled to keep for its own protection, and which is, therefore, held in joint possession, is very rare in history.  It is in fact, I believe, unique, if we disregard a few ventures by some Swiss cantons, which after all did not intend to assimilate the countries which they had jointly conquered, but rather to manage them as common provinces in the interest of the conquerors.  Considering, therefore, the abnormal conditions and our abnormal task, we are most especially called upon to guard against overestimating the perspicacity in human affairs of even the most far sighted politicians.  I for one do not feel capable of foretelling with certainty what the conditions in Alsace-Lorraine will be three years hence.  To do this one would need an eye capable of piercing the future.  Everything depends on factors whose development, conduct, and good will are beyond our power of regulation.  What we are proposing to you is merely an attempt to find the right beginning of a road, the end of which we shall know only when we have been taught the necessary lessons by actual experience with the conditions of the future.  Let me ask you, therefore, to follow at first the same empirical road which the governments have followed, and to take conditions as they are, and not as we may wish they should be.  If one has nothing better to put in the place of something that one does not entirely like, one had better, I believe, let matters take their own course, and rest satisfied at first with conditions as they are.  As a matter of fact the allied governments have jointly taken these countries, while their common possession and common administration, although constituting an established premise, may be modified in future by our own necessities and the needs of the people of Alsace and Lorraine.  As regards the definite form which the proposition may take some day, I sincerely urge you to follow the lead of the governments and to defer your judgment.  If you are bolder than we are in prejudging what will happen, we shall gladly meet your wishes, since we must work together.  The caution with which I have announced to you the convictions of the allied governments, and with which these governments have formed their convictions, is an indication to you of our willingness to be set right, if you should offer us a better plan, especially if experience—­even a short experience—­should have proved it to be a better plan.

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When I announce to you our willingness to work hand in hand with you, you are, I am sure, equally ready to join us in exercising German patience and German love toward all, and especially toward our new countrymen, and in endeavoring to discover, and finally to reach, the right goal.


May 14, 1872


[Early in 1872 the German government tried to bring about a peaceful understanding with the ultramontane (i. e., Catholic) party by courteous advances made to the pope.  The cardinal prince Hohenlohe-Schillings-fuerst was designated as ambassador to His Holiness the Pope who was asked whether the prince would be acceptable.  The pope replied in the negative, and thereby deeply hurt the emperor.  When the expenses of this post in the budget were under discussion in the Reichstag, Mr. von Bennigsen expressed the hope that they would be struck from the budget in future, to which Bismarck replied as follows:]

I can readily understand how the idea may arise that the expenses for this embassy have become unnecessary, because there is no longer a question here of protecting German subjects in those parts.  I am, nevertheless, glad that no motion has been made to abolish this position, for it would have been unwelcome to the government.

The duties of an embassy are in part, it is true, the protection of its countrymen, but in part also the mediation of the political relations which the government of the empire happens to maintain with the court where the ambassador is accredited.  There is no foreign sovereign authorized by the present state of our legislation to exercise as extensive rights within the German empire as the pope.  While these rights are almost those of a sovereign, they are not guarded by any constitutional responsibility.  Considerable importance, therefore, attaches to the kind of diplomatic relations which the German empire is able to maintain with the head of the Roman Church, who exerts such a remarkably strong and, for a foreign sovereign, unusual influence among us.  Considering the prevailing tendencies of the Catholic Church at the present time, I scarcely believe that any ambassador of the German empire would succeed in inducing His Holiness the Pope, by the most skilful diplomacy and by persuasion, to modify the position which he has taken, on principle, in all secular affairs.  There can, of course, be no question here of forceful actions, such as may occur between two secular powers.  In view of the recently promulgated doctrines of the Catholic Church, I deem it impossible for any secular power to reach a concordat without effacing itself to a degree and in a way which, to the German empire at least, is unacceptable.  You need not be afraid, we shall never go to Canossa, either actually or in spirit.

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Nevertheless, I cannot deny that the position of the empire as regards its religious peace is somewhat shaken.  It is not my duty here to investigate motives, or to ask which one of the two parties is at fault, but to defend an item of the budget.  The united governments of the German empire are searching eagerly and, in justice to their Catholic and their Evangelical subjects, diligently for means which will secure a more agreeable state of affairs than the present, and which will do so as peacefully as possible, and without unnecessarily disturbing the religious relations of the empire.  I doubt whether this can be done except by legislation—­I mean general and national legislation, for which the governments will have to ask for the assistance of the Reichstag.

But you will agree with me that this legislation should proceed with great moderation and delicacy, and with due regard for every one’s freedom of conscience.  The governments must be careful to avoid anything which will render their task more difficult, such as errors of information or ignorance of the proper forms, and must strive to readjust their internal peace with tender regard for religious sensibilities, even those which are not shared by all.  In this connection it is, of course, necessary that the Holy See should be at all times well informed of the intentions of the German governments, certainly more so than has been the case heretofore.  One of the chief causes of the present disturbance in religious matters is, I believe, the misinformation which has reached His Holiness the Pope concerning the conditions in Germany and the intentions of the German governments, and which has been due either to excitement or to the wrong color given it by evil motives.

I had hoped that the choice of an ambassador, who possessed the full confidence of both parties, would be welcome in Rome, of a man who loves truth and deserves confidence, and whose character and bearing are conciliatory; in short, of a man like the well known prince of the Church whom His Majesty the Emperor had appointed to this post.  I had hoped that this choice would be regarded as a pledge of our peaceful attitude and willingness to make advances, and would serve as a bridge to a mutual understanding.  I had hoped that it would give the assurance that we should never ask anything of His Holiness the Pope but what a prince of the Church, allied to him by the most intimate ties, could present and convey to him, and that the forms would always be in keeping with those which characterize the intercourse of one prince of the Church with another.  This would have avoided all unnecessary friction in a case which is difficult enough.

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Many fears were expressed both by the Protestants and the liberals concerning this appointment, based, I believe, on an erroneous interpretation of the position of an envoy or an ambassador.  An ambassador really is a vessel which reaches its full value only when it is filled with the instructions of its master.  In such delicate matters as these, however, it is desirable that the vessel should be agreeable and acceptable, and that it should be incapable of containing poisons or potions without immediately revealing them, as people used to say of ancient crystals.  Unfortunately, and for reasons which have not yet been given, these intentions of the Imperial Government could not be carried out because they met with a curt refusal on the part of the Holy See.  I can truly say that such a case does not often happen.  When a sovereign has made his choice of an ambassador, it is customary for him to inquire, from courtesy, whether the ambassador will be persona grata with the sovereign to whom he will be accredited, but the receipt of a negative reply is most unusual, for it necessitates the repeal of an appointment already made.  What the emperor can do toward the appointment he does before asking the question.  In other words he has made the appointment before he asks the question.  The negative reply, therefore, is a demand that a step once taken shall be repealed, a declaration which says:  “You have made a wrong choice!”

I have been foreign minister for about ten years, and have been engaged in questions of higher diplomacy for twenty-one years, and I am not mistaken, I believe, when I say that this is the first and only case in my experience where such a question has been answered in the negative.  I have known more than once of doubts expressed concerning ambassadors who had served for some time, and of courts confidentially conveying their wish that a change be made in the person accredited to them.  In every case, however, the court had had the experience of diplomatic relations with the particular person through several years, and was convinced that he was not qualified to safeguard the good relations which it wished to maintain with us.  It explained, therefore, in a most confidential and delicate way, generally by means of an autograph letter from one sovereign to the other, why it had taken this step.  Such requests are rarely, if ever, made unconditionally.  In recent times, as you know, a few cases have occurred, one of which at least was a very flagrant one, when the recall of an ambassador was demanded; but as I have said, I do not remember another instance where an ambassador was refused when he was to be newly appointed.  My regrets at this refusal are exceedingly keen, but I am not justified in translating these regrets into a feeling of vexation, for in justice to our Catholic fellow-citizens the Government should not relax its exertions in trying to find ways and means of regulating the dividing line between the spiritual and the secular

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powers.  Such a division is absolutely necessary in the interest of our internal peace, and it should be brought about in the most delicate manner, and in a way which will give least offence to either confession.  I shall, therefore, not be discouraged by what has happened, but shall continue to use my influence with his Majesty the Emperor to the end that a representative of the empire may be found for Rome who enjoys the confidence of both powers, if not in equal measure, at least in measure sufficient for his duties.  I cannot, of course, deny that our task has been rendered decidedly more difficult by what has happened.

* * * * *


February 19, 1878


[The complete victory which Russia had won in the Turkish war had greatly disturbed the European powers, and in Germany much apprehension was felt for the safety of Austria.  England, too, was much concerned, for she had been displeased at Bismarck’s refusal to intervene in the war.  German public opinion was aroused, and the representative von Bennigsen joined with four colleagues in the following interpellation, which they made in the Reichstag on February 8:  “Is the Chancellor willing to inform the Reichstag of the political situation in the Orient, and of the position which the German empire has taken or intends to take in regard to it?” The interpellation was put on the calendar of February 19, and while Bismarck regarded it as ill timed he was ready to reply, lest his silence be misunderstood.]

I first ask the indulgence of the Reichstag if I should not be able to stand while I say everything I have to say.  I am not so well as I look.

With regard to the question, I cannot deny that I was in doubt, when I first saw the interpellation, not whether I would answer it—­for its form gives me the right to answer it with a “No”—­but whether I should not have to say “No.”  Do not assume, gentlemen, as one generally does in such cases, that the reason was because I had to suppress a good deal which would compromise our policy or restrict it in an undesirable manner.  On the contrary, I have hardly enough to say in addition to what is already generally known to induce me, of my own initiative, to make a statement to the representatives of the empire.

The discussions in the English parliament have almost exhaustively answered one part of the question “What is the political situation in the Orient at the present time?” If, in spite of the paucity of the information with which I am addressing you, I do not say “No” it is because I fear the inference that I have much to suppress, and because such an inference is always disquieting, especially when it is coupled with the desire to make capital out of my silence.  I am the more pleased to address you with complete frankness, because the interpellation and the way it was introduced have given me the impression that if the German policy wishes to correspond to the majority opinion of the Reichstag—­in so far as I may consider the recent comments an expression of this opinion—­it has only to continue along the path which it has thus far followed.

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Regarding the present situation, I suspect that you already know everything I can say about it.  You know from the press and the English parliamentary debates that at present one can say in the Orient, “The arms are idle, and the storms of war are hushed”—­God grant, for a long while!  The armistice which has been concluded grants the Russian army an unbroken position from the Danube to the sea of Marmora, with a base which it lacked formerly.  I mean the fortresses near the Danube.  This fact, which is nowhere denied, seems to me to be the most important of the whole armistice.  There is excluded from the Russian occupation, if I begin in the north, a quadrangular piece, with Varna and Shumla, extending along the shore of the Black Sea to Battshila in the north, and not quite to the Bay of Burgas in the south, thence inland to about Rasgrad—­a pretty exact quadrangle.  Constantinople and the peninsula of Gallipoli are also excluded, the very two points on whose independence of Russia several interested powers are laying much stress.

Certain peace preliminaries preceded the armistice, which at the risk of telling you things you already know I shall nevertheless review because they will answer the question whether German interests are at stake in any one of them.  There is, in the first place, the establishment of Bulgaria “within the limits determined by the majority of the Bulgarian population, and not smaller than indicated by the conference of Constantinople.”

The difference between these two designations is not of sufficient importance, I believe, to constitute a reasonable danger to the peace of Europe.  The ethnographical information which we possess is, it is true, not authentic nor without gaps, and the best we know has been supplied by Germans in the maps by Kiepert.  According to this the national frontier—­the frontier of the Bulgarian nationality—­runs down in the west just beyond Salonica, along a line where the races are rather unmixed, and in the east with an increased admixture of Turkish elements in the direction of the Black Sea.  The frontier of the conference, on the other hand, so far as it is possible to trace it, runs—­beginning at the sea—­considerably farther north than the national frontier, and two separate Bulgarian provinces are contemplated.  In the west it reaches somewhat farther than the national frontier into the districts which have an admixture of Albanian races.  The constitution of Bulgaria according to the preliminaries would be similar to that of Servia before the evacuation of Belgrade and other strongholds; for this first paragraph of the preliminaries closes with these words, “The Ottoman army will not remain there,” and, in parenthesis, “barring a few places subject to mutual agreement.”

It will, therefore, devolve upon the powers who signed the Paris treaty of 1856 to discuss and define those sentences which were left open and indefinite there, and to come to an agreement with Russia, if this is possible, as I hope it may be.

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Then there follow “The Independence of Montenegro * * * also of Roumania and Servia;” and directions concerning Bosnia and Herzegovina, whose reforms “should be analogous.”

None of these things, I am convinced, touches the interests of Germany to such an extent that we should be justified in jeopardizing for its sake our relations with our neighbors—­our friends.  We may accept one or the other definition without loss in our spheres of interest.

Then there follows, under paragraph five, a stipulation concerning the indemnity of war, which leaves the question open, whether “it should be pecuniary or territorial.”  This is a matter which concerns the belligerents in so far as it may be pecuniary, and the signers of the Paris treaty of peace in so far as it may be territorial, and will have to be settled by their consent.

Then there follows the provision concerning the Dardanelles.  This, I believe, has given cause for much more anxiety in the world than is justified by the actual possibilities of any probable outcome.  “His Majesty the Sultan declares his willingness to come to an agreement with His Majesty the Emperor of Russia with a view of safeguarding the rights and interests of Russia in the straits of the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles.”

The question of the Dardanelles is freighted with importance when it means placing the control there—­the key of the Bosphorus—­in other hands than heretofore, and deciding whether Russia shall be able to close and to open the Dardanelles at will.  All other stipulations can have reference only to times of peace, for in the more important times of war the question will always hinge on whether the possessor of the key to the Dardanelles is in alliance with or dependent on those living outside or inside the Dardanelles, on Russia or on the opponents of Russia.  In case of war, I believe no stipulation which may be made will have the importance which people fear, provided the Dardanelles are in times of peace in the possession of people who are fully independent of Russia.  It may be of interest for the people on the shores of the Mediterranean to know whether the Russian Black Sea fleet shall be permitted in times of peace to sail through the Dardanelles and to show itself on their shores.  If, however, it shows itself there, I should infer Peace, like good weather from the barometer; when it withdraws and carefully secludes itself, then it is time to suspect that clouds are gathering.  The question, therefore, whether men-of-war shall be permitted to pass the Dardanelles in times of peace, although by no means unimportant, is to my way of thinking not sufficiently important to inflame Europe.

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The question whether the possession of the Dardanelles shall be shifted to other owners is entirely different.  It constitutes, however, a conjectural eventuality which the present situation does not contemplate, I believe, and on which I shall, therefore, express no opinion.  My only concern at present is to give an approximate definition, as best I can, of those weighty interests which may lead to another war after the Russian-Turkish war has been actually concluded.  For this reason I deem it important to affirm that the stipulations of peace concerning the Dardanelles mean less for the men-of-war than for the merchant marine.  The preeminent German interest in the Orient demands that the waterways, the straits as well as the Danube from the Black Sea upward, shall continue as free and open to us as they have been until now.  I rather infer that we shall surely obtain this, for as a matter of fact it has never even been questioned.  An official communication on this point which I have received from St. Petersburg simply refers to the existing stipulations of the treaty of Paris.  Nothing is jeopardized; our position can be no worse and no better than it has been.

The interest which we have in a better government of a Christian nation and in the safeguards against those acts of violence which have occurred at times, under Turkish rule, is taken care of by the agreements mentioned above.  And this is the second interest which Germany has in this whole affair.  It is less direct, but is dictated by humanity.

The rest of the preliminary stipulations consists—­I will not say of phrases, for it is an official paper—­but it has no bearing on our present discussion.

With these explanations I have answered to the best of my ability the first part of the interpellation concerning the present state of affairs in the Orient, and I fear, gentlemen, that I have said nothing new to any one of you.

The other parts of the question refer to the position which Germany has taken or intends to take in view of the now existing conditions and innovations.

As to the position which we have already taken I cannot now give you any information, for officially we have been in possession of the papers to which I have referred only a very short while, I may say literally only since this very morning.  What we knew beforehand was in general agreement with these papers, but not of a nature to make official steps possible.  It consisted of private communications for which we were indebted to the courtesy of other governments.

Official steps, therefore, have not yet been taken, and would be premature in view of the conference, which I hope is at hand.  All this information will then be available and we shall be in a position to exchange opinions concerning these matters.  Any alterations, therefore, of the stipulations of 1856 will have to be sanctioned.  If they should not be, the result would not necessarily be another

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war, but a condition of affairs which all the powers of Europe, I think, have good cause to avoid.  I am almost tempted to call it making a morass of matters.  Let us assume that no agreement about what has to be done can be reached in the conference, and that the powers who have a chief interest in opposing the Russian stipulations should say:  “At the present moment it does not suit us to go to war about these questions, but we are not in accord with your agreements, and we reserve our decision”—­would not that establish a condition of affairs which cannot be agreeable even to Russia?  The Russian policy rightly says, “We are not desirous of exposing ourselves to the necessity of a Turkish campaign every ten or twenty years, for it is exhausting, strenuous, and expensive.”  But the Russian policy, on the other hand, cannot wish to substitute for this Turkish danger an English-Austrian entanglement recurring every ten or twenty years.  It is, therefore, my opinion that Russia is equally interested with the other powers in reaching an agreement now, and in not deferring it to some future and perhaps less convenient time.

That Russia could possibly wish to force the other powers by war to sanction the changes which she deems necessary I consider to be beyond the realm of probability.  If she could not obtain the sanction of the other signers of the clauses of 1856, she would, I suppose, be satisfied with the thought “Beati possidentes” (happy are the possessors).  Then the question would arise whether those who are dissatisfied with the Russian agreements and have real and material interests at stake, would be ready to wage war in order to force Russia to diminish her demands or to give up some of them.  If they should be successful in forcing Russia to give up more than she could bear, they would do so at the risk of leaving in Russia, when the troops come home, a feeling similar to that in Prussia after the treaties of 1815, a lingering feeling that matters really are not settled, and that another attempt will have to be made.

If this could be achieved by a war, one would have to regard, as the aim of this war, the expulsion of Russia from the Bulgarian strongholds which she is at present occupying, and from her position which no doubt is threatening Constantinople—­although she has given no indication of a wish to occupy this city.  Those who would have accomplished this by a victorious war, would then have to shoulder the responsibility of deciding what should be done with these countries of European Turkey.  That they should be willing simply to reinstate the Turkish rule in its entirety after everything said and determined in the conference, is, I believe, very improbable.  They would, therefore, be obliged to make some kind of a disposition, which could not differ very much in principle from what is being proposed now.  It might differ in geographical extent and in the degree of independence, but I do not believe that

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Austria-Hungary, for instance, the nearest neighbor, would be ready to accept the entire heritage of the present Russian conquest, and be responsible for the future of these Slavic countries, either by incorporating them in the state of Hungary or establishing them as dependencies.  I do not believe that this is an end which Austria can much desire in view of her own Slavic subjects.  She cannot wish to be the editor of the future in the Balkan peninsula, as she would have to be if she won a victory.

I mention all these eventualities, in which I place no faith, for the sake of proving how slight the reasonable probability of a European war appears to be.  It is not reasonably probable that the greater or lesser extent of a tributary State—­unless conditions were altogether unbearable—­should induce two neighboring and friendly powers to start a destructive European war in cold blood!  The blood will be cooler, I assure you, when we have at last come together in a conference.

It was to meet these eventualities that the idea of a conference was first proposed by the government of Austria-Hungary.  We were from the start ready to accept it, and we were almost the first to do so.  Concerning the selection of a place where the conference should be held, difficulties arose which I consider out of proportion to the significance of the whole matter.  But even in this direction we have raised no objections and declared ourselves satisfied with the places which have been mentioned.  They were Vienna, Brussels, Baden-Baden, Wiesbaden, Wildbad, a place in Switzerland—­I should, however, say Wildbad was mentioned by no one but itself.  Stuttgart was also mentioned.  Any of these places would have been agreeable to us.  It now seems—­if I am correctly informed, and the decision must be made in a few days—­that the choice will fall on Baden-Baden.  Our interest, which is shared by those powers with whom we have corresponded, is the despatch of the conference irrespective of the choice of a place, which is for us of little consequence.  As regards places in Germany I have expressed no opinion beyond this, that on German soil the presidency would have to be German.  This view has nowhere been opposed.  After the general acceptance of this principle it will depend on the men sent to attend this conference whether for reasons of expediency it must be adhered to.  Personally I believe the conference is assured, and I expect that it will take place in the first half of next March.  It would be desirable that the conference should take place sooner—­and the uncertainty concerning it be ended.  But before the powers join in a conference, they naturally desire an exchange of opinion the one with the other; and the connections with the seat of war are really very slow.  The delay of the communications which reached us was, and still is, explained by the delay with which news comes from the seat of war.  The suspicion which has for some time been felt in

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the press that this delay was intentional becomes unfounded when one realizes that the advance of the Russian army following January 30 was in consequence of the stipulations of the armistice, and did not constitute an advantage taken of an opportune moment.  The boundaries within which the Russian army is stationed today are the lines of demarcation expressly mentioned in the armistice.  I do not believe in any intentional delay from anywhere; on the contrary, I have confidence in the good intentions everywhere to send representatives to the conference speedily.  We certainly shall do our part to the best of our ability.

I now come to the most difficult part—­excuse me if I continue for the present seated—­I come to the most difficult part of the task set me, an explanation, so far as this is possible, of the position which Germany is to take in the conference.  In this connection you will not expect from me anything but general indications of our policy.  Its programme Mr. von Bennigsen has developed before you clearly and comprehensively, almost more so than nay strength at the present moment permits me to do.

When from many quarters the demand has been made upon us—­to be sure from no government, but only from voices in the press and other well meaning advisers—­that e should define our policy from the start and force it on the other governments in some form, I must say that this seems to me to be newspaper diplomacy rather than the diplomacy of a statesman.

Let me explain to you at once the difficulty and impossibility of such a course.  If we did express a definite programme, which we should be obliged to follow when we had announced it officially and openly not only before you, but also before the whole of Europe, should we not then place a premium on the contentiousness of all those who considered our programme to be not favorable to themselves!

We should also render the part of mediation in the conference, which I deem very important, almost impossible for ourselves, because everybody with the menu of the German policy in his hand could say to us:  “German mediation can go just so far; it can do this, and this it cannot do.”  It is quite possible that the free hand which Germany has preserved, and the uncertainty of Germany’s decisions have not been without influence on the preservation of peace thus far.  If you play the German card, laying it on the table, everybody knows how to adapt himself to it or how to avoid it.  Such a course is impracticable if you wish to preserve peace.  The adjustment of peace does not, I believe, consist in our playing the arbiter, saying:  “It must be thus, and the weight of the German empire stands behind it.”  Peace is brought about, I think, more modestly.  Without straining the simile which I am quoting from our everyday life, it partakes more of the behavior of the honest broker, who really wishes to bring about a bargain.

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As long as we follow this policy we are in the position to save a power which has secret wishes from the embarrassment of meeting with a refusal or an unpleasant reply from its—­let me say, congressional opponent.  If we are equally friendly with both, we can first sound one and then say to the other:  “Do not do that, try to arrange matters in this way.”  These are helps in business which should be highly esteemed.  I have an experience of many years in such matters, and it has been brought home to me often, that when two are alone the thread drops more frequently and is not picked up because of false shame.  The moment when it could be picked up passes, people separate in silence, and are annoyed.  If, however, a third person is present, he can pick up the thread without much ado, and bring the two together again when they have parted.  This is the function of which I am thinking and which corresponds to the amicable relations in which we are living with our friendly neighbors along our extensive borders.  It is moreover in keeping with the union among the three imperial courts which has existed for five years, and the intimacy which we enjoy with England, another one of the powers chiefly concerned in this matter.  As regards England we are in the fortunate position of not having any conflicting interests, except perhaps some trade rivalries or passing annoyances.  These latter cannot be avoided, but there is absolutely nothing which could drive two industrious and peace-loving nations to war.  I happily believe, therefore, that we may be the mediator between England and Russia, just as I know we are between Austria and Russia, if they should not be able to agree of their own accord.

The three-emperor-pact, if one wishes to call it such, while it is generally called a treaty, is not based on any written obligations, and no one of the three emperors can be voted down by the other two.  It is based on the personal sympathy among the three rulers, on the personal confidence which they have in one another, and on the personal relations which for many years have existed among the leading ministers of all three empires.

We have always avoided forming a majority of two against one when there was a difference of opinion between Austria and Russia, and we have never definitely taken the part of one of them, even if our own desires drew us more strongly in that direction.  We have refrained from this for fear that the tie might not be sufficiently strong after all.  It surely cannot be so strong that it could induce one of these great powers to disregard its own incontestably national interests for the sake of being obliging.  That is a sacrifice which no great power makes pour les beaux yeux of another.  Such a sacrifice it makes only when arguments are replaced by hints of strength.  Then it may happen that the great power will say:  “I hate to make this concession, but I hate even worse to go to war with so strong a power as Germany.  Still I will remember this and make a note of it.”  That is about the way in which such things are received.  And this leads me to the necessity of vigorously opposing all exaggerated demands made on Germany’s mediation.  Let me declare that they are out of the question so long as I have the honor of being the adviser of His Majesty.

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I know that in saying this I am disappointing a great many expectations raised in connection with today’s disclosures, but I am not of the opinion that we should go the road of Napoleon and try to be, if not the arbiter, at least the schoolmaster of Europe.

I have here a clipping given me today from the Allgemeine Zeitung, which contains a noteworthy article entitled “The Policy of Germany in the Decisive Hour.”  This article demands as necessary the admission of a third power to the alliance of England and Austria.  That means, we shall take part with England and Austria and deprive Russia of the credit of voluntarily making the concessions which she may be willing to grant in the interest of European peace.  I do not doubt that Russia will sacrifice for the sake of peace in Europe whatever her sense of nationality and her own interests and those of eighty million Russians permit.  It is really superfluous to say this.  And now please assume that we took the advice of the gentlemen who think that we should play the part of an arbiter—­I have here another article from a Berlin paper, called “Germany’s Part as Arbiter”—­and that we declared to Russia in some polite and amicable way:  “We have been friends, it is true, for hundreds of years, Russia has ever been true-blue to us when we were in difficulties, but now things are different.  In the interest of Europe, as the policemen of Europe, as a kind of a justice of the peace, we must do as we are requested, we can no longer resist the demands of Europe ...,” what would be the result?

There are considerable numbers of Russians who do not love Germany, and who fortunately are not at the helm now, but who would not be unhappy if they were called there.  What would they say to their compatriots, they and perhaps other statesmen who at present are not yet avowedly hostile to us?  They would say:  “With what sacrifices of blood and men and money have we not won the position which for centuries has been the ideal of Russian ambition!  We could have maintained it against those opponents who may have a real interest in combating it.  It was not Austria, with whom we have lived on moderately intimate terms for some time, it was not England, who possesses openly acknowledged counter-interests to ours—­no, it was our intimate friend Germany who drew, behind our back, not her sword but a dagger, although we might have expected from her services in return for services rendered, and although she has no interests in the Orient.”

Those approximately would be the phrases, and this the theme which we should hear in Russia.  This picture which I have drawn in exaggerated lines—­but the Russian orators also exaggerate—­corresponds with the truth.  We, however, shall never assume the responsibility of sacrificing the certain friendship of a great nation, tested through generations, to the momentary temptation of playing the judge in Europe.

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To jeopardize the friendship which fortunately binds us to most European states and at the present moment to all,—­for the parties to whom it is an eyesore are not in power,—­to jeopardize, I say, this friendship with one friend in order to oblige another, when we as Germans have no direct interests, and to buy the peace of others at the cost of our own, or, to speak with college boys, to substitute at a duel—­such things one may do when one risks only one’s own life, but I cannot do them when I have to counsel His Majesty the Emperor as regards the policy of a great State of forty million people in the heart of Europe.  From this tribune I therefore take the liberty of saying a very definite “No” to all such imputations and suggestions.  I shall under no condition do anything of the kind; and no government, none of those primarily interested, has made any such demands.  Germany, as the last speaker remarked, has grown to new responsibilities as it has grown stronger.  But even if we are able to throw a large armed force into the scales of European policies, I do not consider anybody justified in advising the emperor and the princes (who would have to discuss the matter in the Bundesrat if we wished to wage an offensive war) to make an appeal to the proven readiness of the nation to offer blood and money for a war.  The only war which I am ready to counsel to the emperor is one to protect our independence abroad and our union at home, or to defend those of our interests which are so clear that we are supported, if we insist on them, not only by the unanimous vote of the Bundesrat, which is necessary, but also by the undivided enthusiasm of the whole German nation.


February 24, 1881


[On February 24, 1881, the budget of the empire for the ensuing year was under discussion.  The representative, Mr. Richter, made use of this opportunity to attack the home-politics of the chancellor in their entirety.  He felt great concern about the growing power of the chancellor, and called upon his liberal colleagues to stem the tide, and to curb the power of the chancellor.  “Only if this is done will the great gifts which distinguish the chancellor continue to be fruitful for Germany.  If this is not possible, and if we go on as we have been going, the chancellor will ruin himself, and he will ruin the country.”  Prince Bismarck replied:]

The remarks of the previous speaker have hardly touched on the subject under discussion, the budget, since I have been here.  Consequently I am excused, I suppose, from adding anything to what the secretary of the treasury has said.  The previous speaker has mainly concerned himself with a critique of my personality.  The number of times the word “chancellor” appears in his speech in proportion to the total number of words sufficiently justifies my assertion. 

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Well, I do not know what is the use of this critique, if not to instruct me and to educate me.  But I am in my sixty-sixth year and in the twentieth of my tenure of office—­there will not be much in me to improve.  You will have to use me up as I am or push me aside.  I, on my part, have never made the attempt to educate the Honorable Mr. Richter—­I do not think I am called upon to do it; nor have I endeavored to force him from his sphere of activity—­I should not have the means of doing this, nor do I wish it.  But I believe he in his turn will lack the means of forcing me from my position.  Whether he will be able to compress me and circumscribe me, as toward the end of his speech he said was desirable, I do not know.  I am, however, truly grateful to him for the concern he expressed about my health.  Unfortunately, if I wish to do my duty, I cannot take such care of myself as Mr. Richter deems desirable—­I shall have to risk my health.

When he said that every evil troubling us, even the rate of interest and I know not what else, was based on the uncertainty of our conditions, and when he quoted the word of a colleague of a “hopeless confusion”—­well, gentlemen, then I must repeat what I have said elsewhere and in the hearing of the Honorable Mr. Richter:  Make a comparison and look about you in other countries!  If our conditions with their ordered activities and their assured future at home and abroad constitute a “hopeless confusion,” how shall we characterize the conditions of many another country?  I can see in no European country a condition of safety and an assured outlook into the future similar to that prevailing in the German empire.  I have already said on the former occasion that my position as minister of foreign affairs made it impossible for me to be specific.  But everyone who will follow my remarks with a map in his hand, and a knowledge of history during the past twenty years, will have to say that I am right.  I do not know what is the use of these exaggerations of a “hopeless confusion” and “a lack of assurance and uncertainty of the future.”  Nobody in the country believes it; and isn’t that the chief thing?  The people in the country know perfectly well how they are off, and all who do not fare as they wish are pleased to blame the government for it.  When a candidate comes up for election, and says to them:  “The government—­or to quote the previous speaker—­the chancellor is to blame for all this,” he may find many credulous people, but in the majority he will find people who will say:  “The chancellor surely has his faults and drawbacks”—­but most people will not be convinced that I am to blame for everything.  I am faring in this respect like Emperor Napoleon twelve years and more ago, who was accused, not in his own country but in Europe, as the cause of all evils, from Tartary to Spain, and he was not nearly so bad a creature as he was said to be—­may I not also claim the benefit of this doubt with Mr. Richter?  I, too, am not

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so bad as I am painted.  His attack upon me, moreover, if he will stop to reflect, is largely directed not against me personally, or against that part of my activities in which I possess freedom of action, no—­it is directed primarily against the constitution of the German empire.  The constitution of the German empire knows no other responsible officer but the chancellor.  I might assert that my constitutional responsibility does not go nearly so far as the one actually placed upon me; and I might take things a little easier and say:  “I have nothing to do with the home policies of the empire, for I am only the emperor’s executive officer.”  But I will not do this.  From the beginning I have assumed the responsibility, and also the obligation, of defending the decisions of the Bundesrat, provided I can reconcile them with my responsibility, even if I find myself there in the minority.  This responsibility I will take as public opinion understands it.  Nobody, however, can be held responsible for acts and resolves not his own.  No responsibility can be foisted on anybody—­nor did the imperial constitution intend to do this—­for acts which do not depend on his own free will, and into which he can be forced.  The responsible person, therefore, must enjoy complete independence and freedom within the sphere of his responsibility.  If he does not, all responsibility ceases; and I do not know on whose shoulders it will rest—­so far as the empire is concerned it has disappeared completely.

As long, therefore, as Mr. Richter does not change the constitution, you yourselves must insist on having a chancellor who is absolutely free and independent in his decisions, for no man can hold him responsible for those things which he is unable to decide for himself, freely and independently.  Mr. Richter has expressed the wish of limiting in several directions this constitutional independence of the chancellor.  In the first place, in one direction where it is already limited and where he wishes to have it disappear entirely.  This concerns his responsibility for those acts in our political life which the constitution assigns to the emperor in connection with the decisions of the Bundesrat and the Reichstag.  There can be no doubt that these acts include also those which have to be performed, as the constitution says, in the name of the emperor; the submission, for instance, to the Reichstag of a resolve of the Bundesrat.  Mr. Richter has correctly quoted an incident, mentioned in the North German Gazette, concerning the resolves on some collected cases of accidents, which I considered it incompatible with my responsibility to submit to you in the name of the emperor.  I, therefore, did not do it.  One may well ask:  What has the constitutional law to say on this point?  Was I justified in not acting?  Was the emperor justified in not acting!  Or was His Majesty the Emperor bound by the constitution to submit to you the resolve of the Bundesrat?

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At the time when the constitution was being drawn I once discussed this point with an astute jurist, who had long been and still is with us in an important position—­Mr. Pape.  He said to me:  “The emperor has no veto.”  I replied, “Constitutionally he has not, but suppose a measure is expected of him which he thinks he should not take, and against which his then chancellor warns him, saying:  I cannot advocate it, and I shall not countersign it.  Well, in this case is the emperor obliged to look for another chancellor, and to dismiss him who opposes the measure?  Is he obliged to accept anyone as chancellor, suggested perhaps by the other party?  Will he look for a second or third chancellor, both of whom may say:  We cannot assume the responsibility for this bill by submitting it to the Reichstag?” Hereupon Mr. Pape replied:  “You are right, the emperor possesses an indirect but actual veto.”

I do not even go so far, for none of these cases are pressed to their logical conclusion.  Let us, however, take a concrete case, which will make these matters perfectly clear.  Suppose the majority of the Bundesrat had passed a bill with the approval of Prussia, but Prussia had made the mistake of not calling upon the Prussian minister designated to instruct the Prussian delegation in the Bundesrat; or even—­Prussia had consented and the minister had been present, and had been in the minority also in the Prussian cabinet, and the emperor had directed him to submit the resolves of the Bundesrat to the Reichstag, to which the chancellor had replied:  “I do not believe that I can answer for this, or that my responsibility permits me to do it.”  Then there results the possibility of the emperor’s saying:  “If that is so, I must look for another chancellor.”  This did not happen; another thing happened, namely—­the resolve was not submitted.  The ensuing situation is this, that the persons entitled to complain—­if there are any—­constitute the majority of the governments who passed this resolve in the Bundesrat.

This points the proper way, and I believe in weighty questions it would be taken to the end.  In the present case if one were to make a test of what is really right, the majority of the Bundesrat would have to represent to His Majesty as follows:  “We have passed a resolve, and our constitutional right demands that the emperor submit it to the Reichstag.  We demand that this be done.”  The emperor might reply:  “I will not investigate the law of the case to see whether I am obliged to act.  I will assume that I am, and I do not refuse to act, but for the present I have no chancellor willing to countersign the order.”  In such a case can the chancellor be ordered to sign, because he shall and must do so?  Can he be threatened with imprisonment as is done with recalcitrant witnesses?  What would then become of his responsibility!  If the chancellor continues to refuse, the majority of the Bundesrat may say to the emperor:  “You

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must dismiss this chancellor and get another.  We insist that our resolve be laid before the Reichstag.  If this is not done, the constitution will be broken.”  Well, gentlemen, why not wait and see whether this will happen, and whether those entitled to complain will take this course, and if they do, whether His Majesty the Emperor will not be ready to say after all:  “All right, I shall try to find a chancellor who is willing to submit the resolve.”

I shall, of course, not enter here upon a discussion of the reasons which determined me in this concrete case.  They were reasons not found in shut-in offices, but in God’s open country, and they induced me to deem the enactment of this law undesirable.  I did not possess the certainty that a majority of this house would have seen the impossibility of carrying out the law, but I did not wish to expose the country to the danger—­it was a danger according to my way of thinking—­of getting this law.  The only moment when I could guard against this danger was when the law was to be submitted in the name of the emperor.  The constitutional remedy against such a use of an opportunity is a change of chancellors.  I can see no other remedy.

Mentioning the Reichstag brings me to my cooeperation with it.  Mr. Richter’s ideal is, it seems to me, a bashful, cautious chancellor who throws out careful feelers whether he may offend here, if he does this, or offend there—­one who does not wait for a final vote of the Reichstag, but rushes home excitedly, as I have often seen my colleagues do, exclaiming:  “Oh God, the law is lost, this man and that man are opposed to it”—­and three weeks later the law has Passed in spite of them.  I cannot enter upon such a policy of conjecture and proof by inference of what may be determined in the Reichstag when the tendency of those who talk the loudest, but who are not always the most influential, happens to be against a bill; and if Mr. Richter should succeed in procuring such a timid chancellor anxiously listening for every hint, my advice to you, gentlemen, is to tolerate him in this position as briefly as possible.  For if a leading minister—­and such he is in the empire—­has no opinion his own, and must hear from others what he should believe and do, then you do not need him at all.  What Mr. Richter proposes is the government of the State by the Reichstag, the government of the State by itself, as it has been called in France, by its own chosen representatives.  A chancellor, a minister who does not dare to submit a bill of the ultimate success of which he is not absolutely sure is no minister.  He might as well move among you with the white sign (of a page) inquiring whether you will permit him to submit this or that.  For such a part I am not made!

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To what extent I am ready to submit to the Bundesrat I have already tried to explain, and I have closed with these words “sub judice lis est” (the case is still in court).  I need not say now whether my constitutional conviction would make me yield to the majority of the Bundesrat, if they should demand it.  This question has not yet arisen; the majority has not demanded it.  Whether I shall maintain my opposition, if the demand is pressed, to this question I reply:  non liquet (it is a moot-point); we shall see what happens.  Such things are eventually decided by the old law which the Romans were astonished to find with the Germans, and of which they said, “They call it usage.”  Such a usage has not yet developed in connection with the interpretation of our constitution.

Finally, Mr. Richter has found in me too much independence in a third direction.  He has been pleased to believe—­if I understood him correctly—­that the law concerning ministerial deputies would give me the welcome opportunity of withdrawing to a more ornamental position, to use his own expression, and to leave the duties and activities to those who are deputed to represent me, establishing thus also in the imperial government the famous arcanum of decisions by majorities.  But here, too, I must say that Mr. Richter will have to change the constitution before I shall be able to subordinate myself to the highest officials of the empire.  How can I appear before you saying:  “Well, gentlemen, I am very doubtful whether I can advocate this measure, but the secretary in whose bureau it was worked out thinks so, and following Mr. Richter’s advice I have yielded to his authority.  If you do not adopt this measure you will gratify me, but not the secretary?” This, too, would be an altogether impossible position, although Mr. Richter is expecting it of me.

The chiefs of the bureaus are not responsible for me, except in so far as the law of deputies substitutes them for me but I am responsible for their actions.  I have to guarantee that they are statesmen in general accord with the policy of the empire which I am willing to advocate.  If I miss this accord in one of them, not once but continually and on principle, then it is my duty to tell him:  “We cannot remain in office, both of us.”  This, too, is a task which I have never shirked when it has presented itself.  It is simply my duty.  I have never had need of such artful machinations and pyrotechnics as people claimed I instituted very wilfully last week.  You need not think that ministers stick to their posts like many other high officials, whom not even the broadest hints can convince that their time has come.  I have not yet found a minister in these days who had not to be persuaded every now and then to continue a little longer in office, and not to be discouraged by his hard and exhausting labor, due to the simultaneous friction with three parliamentary bodies—­a House of Representatives, a House of Lords, and a Reichstag—­where one relieves another, or two, without waiting to be relieved, are in session at the same time.  And when the fight is over and the representatives have returned home well satisfied, then a bureau chief comes to the minister on the day after, saying:  “It is time now to get the recommendations for the next session into shape.”

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The whole business, moreover, while very honorable, is scarcely pleasurable.  Is any one obliged to submit to such public, sharp and impolite criticisms as a German minister?  Is it true of anyone but him that the behavior customary among people of culture does not prevail when he addressed?  Without the least scruple one says things to him publicly which one would be ashamed to say to him privately, if one were to meet him in a drawing-room, for instance.  I should not say this here if the Reichstag did not hold an exceptional position in Germany in these matters as well as in everything else.  Here I have never had to hear, so far as I remember, as sharp remarks as in other assemblies.  At any rate I have a conciliatory memory.  But on the whole you will agree with me that the tone of our public debates is less elevated than that of our social gatherings, especially when our ministers are addressed, but at times even among fellow members, although of this I am no competent critic.  I do not even criticize the behavior toward the ministers, for I am hardened by an experience of many years and can stand it.  I am merely describing the reasons why no minister clings to his post, and why you do me an injustice if you believe that it takes an artful effort to make a minister yield his place.  Not many of them have been accustomed to see a totally ignorant correspondent tear an experienced minister to pieces in the press as if he were a stupid schoolboy.  We see this in every newspaper every day, but we can stand it.  We do not complain.  But can anyone say that the members of the government—­the bureau chiefs frequently fare even worse—­meet in the parliamentary debates with that urbaneness of demeanor which characterizes our best society?  I do not say “no,” leaving it to you to answer this question.  I only say that the business of being a minister is very arduous and cheerless, subject to vexations and decidedly exhausting.  This brings it about that the ministers are habitually in a mood which makes them readily give up their places as soon as they have found another excuse than the simple:  I have had enough, I do not care for more, I am tired of it.

The changes of ministers, however, have not been so many nor so quick with us as they are in other countries, and this I may mention to Mr. Richter as a proof of my amiability as a colleague.  Count, if you will, the number of ministers who have crossed the public stage since I entered office in 1862, and sum up the resignations due to other than parliamentary reasons, and you will find a result exceedingly favorable to the accommodating spirit of the German minister when it is compared with that of any other country.  I consider, therefore, the insinuating references to my quarrelsome disposition and fickleness distinctly wide of the mark.

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In this connection I shall take the liberty of referring with one more word to the reproaches, often occurring in the press and also in the Reichstag, that I had frequently and abruptly changed my views.  Well, I am not one of those who at any time of their life have believed, or believe today, that they can learn no more.  If a man says to me:  “Twenty years ago you held the same opinion as I; I still hold it, but you have changed your views,” I reply:  “You see, I was as clever twenty years ago as you are today.  Today I know more, I have learned things in these twenty years.”  But, gentlemen, I will not even rely on the justice of the remark that the man who does not learn also fails to progress and cannot keep abreast of his time.  People are falling behind when they remain rooted in the position they occupied years ago.  However, I do not at all intend to excuse myself with such observations, for I have always had one compass only, one lode-star by which I have steered:  Salus Publica, the welfare of the State.  Possibly I have often acted rashly and hastily since I first began my career, but whenever I had time to think I have always acted according to the question, “What is useful, advantageous, and right for my fatherland, and—­as long as this was only Prussia—­for my dynasty, and today—­for the German nation?” I have never been a theorist.  The systems which bin and separate parties are for me of secondary importance.  The nation comes first, its position in the world and its independence, and above all our organization along lines inch will make it possible for us to draw the free breath of a great nation.

Everything else, a liberal, reactionary, or conservative constitution—­gentlemen, I freely confess, all this I consider in second place.  It is the luxury of furnishing the house, when the house is firmly established.  In the interest of the country I can parley now with one person, now with another in purely party questions.  Theories I barter away cheaply.  First let us build a structure secure on the outside and firmly knit on the inside, and protected by the ties of a national union.  After that, when you ask my advice about furnishing the house with more or less liberal constitutional fittings, you may perhaps hear me say, “Ah well, I have no preconceived ideas.  Make your suggestions, and, when the sovereign whom I serve agrees, you will find no objections on principle on my part.”  It can be done thus, and again thus.  There are many roads leading to Rome.  There are times when one should govern liberally, and times when one should govern autocratically.  Everything changes.  Nothing is eternal in these matters.  But of the structure of the German empire and the union of the German nation I demand that they be free and unassailable, with not only a passing field fortification on one side.  I have given to its creation and growth my entire strength from the very beginning.  And if you point to a single moment when I have not steered by this direction of the compass-needle, you may perhaps prove that I have erred, but you cannot prove that I have for one moment lost sight of the national goal.

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* * * * *


April 2, 1881


[Prince Bismarck was trying to fight the revolutionary parties, not only with such restrictive laws as had been passed against the Socialists, but also with constructive measures like the one which had been submitted to the Reichstag on March 8, 1881.  It proposed the insurance of the workingman against accidents, and the founding of a governmental insurance company.  The bill was severely criticized, notably by Eugen Richter, who did not miss the opportunity of attacking also the chancellor personally.  Prince Bismarck’s reply made a deep impression in the country at large.  The bill itself, however, was so badly amended in the Reichstag, that Bismarck urged the Bundesrat to reject it, which it did.  Several changes, thereupon, were made in the bill, and, after having been delayed in committee, it was again brought up for discussion in 1884, when another exhaustive speech by the chancellor, on March 15, brought about its acceptance.]

Before turning to the subject in hand, I wish to reply to some remarks of the previous speaker, lest I forget them—­they are of so little weight.  He finished by saying that my prestige was waning.  If he were right, I should feel like saying “Thank God,” for prestige is a very burdensome affair.  One suffers under its weight, and quickly gets tired of it.  I do not care a farthing for it.  When I was very much younger, about as old as the previous speaker is now, and when I was possibly still more ambitious than he, I lived for years without prestige, and was actually disliked, if not hated, by the majority of my fellow-citizens.  At that time I felt better and more contented, and was healthier than during the years when I was most popular.

Such things do not mean much to me.  I am doing my duty, let come what may.

As proof of his assertion the previous speaker claimed that the workingmen are refusing the help which the Imperial Government is trying to offer them.  This he cannot possibly know.  He has no idea of what the great mass of the workingmen are thinking.  Probably he has some accurate information of what the eloquent place-hunters are thinking of the bill, people who are at the head of the labor movements, and the professional publicists, who need a following of workingmen—­dissatisfied workingmen.  But as to the workingman in general, we had better wait and see what he is thinking.  I do not know whether the full meaning of this question has even yet sufficiently penetrated into his circles to make it a subject of discussion, except in the learned clubs of laborers, and among the leading place-hunters and speakers.  In the next election we shall be able to tell whether the workingmen have formed their opinion of the bill by then, not to speak of now.

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The legislation on which we are entering with this bill has to do with a question which will probably stay on your calendar for a long while.  The previous speaker has correctly said that “it opens up a very deep perspective,” and it is not at all impossible that it may also make the moderate Socialists judge more kindly of the government.  We have been talking of a social question for fifty years; and, since the passage of the law against the Socialists, I have been constantly reminded, officially, from high quarters, and by the people, that we gave a promise at that time.  Something positive should be done to remove the causes for Socialism, in so far as they are legitimate. I have received such reminders daily.  Nor do I believe that this social question, which has been before us for fifty years now, will be definitely settled even by our children and children’s children.  No political question ever reaches so complete a mathematical solution that the books can be balanced.  Such questions arise, abide a while and finally give way to other historical problems.  This is the way of organic developments.

I deem it my duty to take up this question quietly and without party vehemence, because I do not know who else could do this successfully if not the Imperial Government.  It is a pity that party questions should be mixed up in it.  The previous speaker has referred to a supposedly active exchange of telegrams between “certain parties” and “an high official,” which in this case, I must believe, means me.  I am mentioning this, in passing, because he said the same thing a few days ago in another speech.  Gentlemen, this is a very simple matter.  I receive thousands of telegrams; and, being a polite man, I should probably reply also to a telegram from Mr. Richter, if he were to honor me with a friendly despatch.  When I am cordially addressed in a message, I have to reply in cordial terms.  I cannot possibly have the police ascertain to what party the senders belong.  Nor am I so diffident in my views that I should wish to catechize the senders as to their political affiliations.  If anybody takes pleasure in making me appear to be a member of anti-semitic societies, let him do so.  I have kept away from all undesirable movements, as my position demands, and I could wish that also you gentlemen would refrain more than heretofore from inciting the classes against each other, and from oratorical phrases which fan class-hatred.  This refers especially to those gentlemen who have bestowed their kind attention upon the Government and upon me personally.  When we heard the representative, Mr. Lasker, say the other day that the policy of the government was aristocratic, this term was bound to render the whole aristocracy and what belongs to it suspected of selfishness in the eyes of the poor men, at whose expense the aristocracy seemingly exists.  When such expressions fall on anti-semitic ground, how is it possible to avoid reprisals?  The anti-semites

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will coin their own word with which to designate—­as they think appropriately—­the policies opposed to ours.  The resulting epithet I do not care to mention; every one will think of it himself.  When afterwards a newspaper like the Tribune, which is said to be owned by Mr. Bamberger, makes itself the mouthpiece of Mr. Lasker’s expression, claiming it to be correct, and hailing the invention of this word as a discovery worthy of Columbus, and when the Tribune finally asserts that “care for the poor” and “aristocracy” cannot exist in the same train of thought, can you not imagine what will happen when all this is turned around, and altered by an anti-semite?  Are you in doubt what he will substitute for “aristocracy,” and do you not know that he will repeat every twist and turn of speech with which Mr. Bamberger’s sheet imputes selfish injustice to the aristocracy?

The representative Mr. Richter has called attention to the responsibility of the State for everything it does in the field on which it is entering today.  Well, gentlemen, I feel that the State may become responsible also for the things it does not do.  I do not believe that the “laissez faire, laissez aller, theory,” and the unadulterated political theories of Manchester, such as “let each one do what he chooses, and fare as he will,” or “who is not strong enough to stand, let him be crushed,” or “he who has will receive more, and he who has not from him let us take,” can be practised in any State, least of all in a monarchical State, governed by the father of his country.  On the contrary, I believe that those who shudder at the State exerting its influence for the protection of the weaker brethren, themselves intend to capitalize their strength—­be it financial, rhetorical, or what not—­that they may gain a following, or oppress the rest, or smooth their own way to party control.  They become angry, of course, as soon as their plans are spoiled by the rising influence of the State.

The representative Mr. Richter says this legislation does not go far enough.  If he will have patience, we may perhaps be able to satisfy him a little later—­one should not be hasty or try to do everything at once!  Such laws are not made arbitrarily out of theories and as the result of asking “what kind of law would it be wise to make now?” They are the gradual outgrowth of earlier events.  The reason why we come to you today only with an accident-insurance law is because this branch of the care of the poor and the weak was especially vigorous even before I seriously concerned myself with such matters.  Bequests, suggestions, and notes for such a bill were on file when I assumed office.  According to the records this bill was needed more than any other.  When I began to study it, I must confess that it did not seem to me to go far enough in theory, and that I was tempted to change the words which occur, I believe in the first paragraph, “every workingman who”

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and “shall be reimbursed in such and such a way,” to read, “every German.”  There is something ideal in this change.  If one thinks of it more seriously, however, and especially if one plans to include also the independent workmen, who meet with an accident at no one’s behest but their own, the question of insurance is even more difficult.  No two hours’ speech of any representative can give us so much concern as this problem has given us:  “How far is it possible to extend this law without creating at the very start an unfavorable condition, or reaching out too far and thus overreaching ourselves?” As a farmer I was tempted to ask, whether it would be possible to extend the insurance, for instance, also to the farmhands, who constitute the majority of the workingmen in our eastern provinces.  I shall not give up hope that this may be possible, but there are difficulties, which for the time being have prevented us from doing this; and concerning these I wish to say a few words.

The farming industry, in so far as it has to do with machinery and elemental forces, is, of course, not excluded from the law.  But the remaining great majority of the country population also comes in frequent contact with machines, although these are set in motion not by elemental forces, but by horses or fellow-laborers.  Such occupations are often dangerous and unwholesome, but it is exceedingly difficult to gather statistics and percentages, and to define the necessary amount of contributions to an insurance fund.  The representative Mr. Richter knows, apparently from experience, the proper percentage in every branch of human occupation, for he has quoted his figures with much assurance.  I should be grateful to him if he would mention also the source of his valuable information.  We have done the best we could.  The preliminary drafts of the bill were based on carefully selected facts—­notice please, selected facts, and not arbitrary statistics based on conjecture.  If we had discovered those figures, which the quicker eye of the honorable Mr. Richter seems to have detected at a glance, and if we had believed them to be accurate, we should have gone further in this bill.

When I say that I do not give up hope that the farming industry may yet be included, I am thinking of an organization which cannot be created at one session of the Reichstag.  Like the child which must be small if it is to be born at all, and which gradually assumes its proper proportions by growth, so also this organization will have to develop gradually.  Eventually the various branches of industry which have insured their laborers should be formed into incorporated associations, and each association should raise among its own members the premiums needed for the proper insurance of its laborers.  It should at the same time exercise supervision over its members to the extent that the dues should be as low as possible.  Or, to put it differently, the personal interest of the contributing members should see to it that adequate means for the prevention of accidents are adopted.  If this can be accomplished by a gradual advance based on experience, we may also hope to find, by experience, the proper percentage as regards that branch of farming which does not employ elemental forces.

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Our lack of experience in these matters has also induced us to be very careful about the assessment of the necessary contributions.  I certainly should not have the courage to press this bill if the expenses which it entails were to be borne exclusively by the various industries.  If the assistance which the State would render—­either by provincial or county associations, or directly—­were to be entirely omitted, I should not dare to answer to our industries for the consequences of this law.  Perhaps this can be done, and after a few years of experience we may be able to judge whether it is possible.  The State contribution, therefore, may be limited at first to three years, or to whatever period you wish.  But without any actual experience, without any practical test of what we are to expect, I do not dare to burden our industries with all the expenses of this government-institution, and to add to their taxes.  I do not dare to place upon them the whole burden of caring for the injured factory or mill hands.  The county associations used to do this, and in the future it will be done more fully and in a more dignified way by the insurers and the State.

No entirely new charges are here contemplated; the charges are merely transferred from the county associations to the State.  I do not deny that the tax of him who pays and the advantages which accrue to the laborer will be increased.  The increase, however, does not equal the full third which the State is to bear, but only the difference between what at present the county associations are obliged to do for the injured workingmen, and what these men will receive in future.  You see, it is purely a question of improving the lot of the laboring man.  This difference, therefore, is the only new charge on the State, with which you have to reckon.  And you will have to ask yourselves:  “Is the advantage gained worth this difference,—­when we aim to procure for the laborer who has been injured a better and more adequate support, and relieve him of the necessity of having to fight for his right in court, and when he will receive without delay the moderate stipend which the State decrees?” I feel like answering the question with a strong affirmative.

Our present poor laws keep the injured laboring man from starvation.  According to law, at least, nobody need starve.  Whether in reality this never happens I do not know.  But this is not enough in order to let the men look contentedly into the future and to their own old age.  The present bill intends to keep the sense of human dignity alive which even the poorest German should enjoy, if I have my way.  He should feel that he is no mere eleemosynary, but that he possesses a fund which is his very own.  No one shall have the right to dispose of it, or to take it from him, however poor he may be.  This fund will open for him many a door, which otherwise will remain closed to him and it will secure for him better treatment in the house where he has been received, because when he leaves he can take away with him whatever contributions he has been making to the household expenses.

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If you have ever personally investigated the conditions of the poor in our large cities, or of the village paupers in the country, you have been able to observe the wretched treatment which the poor occasionally receive even in the best managed communities, especially if they are physically weak or crippled.  This happens in the houses of their stepmothers, or relatives of any kind, yes also in those of their nearest of kin.  Knowing this, are you not obliged to confess that every healthy laboring man, who sees such things, must say to himself:  “Is it not terrible that a man is thus degraded in the house which he used to inhabit as master and that his neighbor’s dog is not worse off than he?” Such things do happen.  What protection is there for a poor cripple, who is pushed into a corner, and is not given enough to eat?  There is none.  But if he has as little as 100 or 200 marks of his own, the people will think twice before they oppress him.  We have been in a position to observe this in the case of the military invalids.  Although only five or six dollars are paid every month, this actual cash amounts to something in the household where the poor are boarded, and the thrifty housewife is careful not to offend or to lose the boarder who pays cash.

I, therefore, assure you that we felt the need of insisting by this law on a treatment of the poor which should be worthy of humanity.  Next year I shall be able fully to satisfy Mr. Richter in regard to the amount and the extent of attention which the State will give to a better and more adequate care of all the unemployed.  This will come as a natural consequence, whether or no the present bill is passed.  Today this bill is a test, as it were.  We are sounding to see how deep the waters are, financially, into which we are asking the State and the country to enter.  You cannot guard yourselves against such problems by delivering elegant and sonorous speeches, in which you recommend the improvement of our laws of liability, without in the least indicating how this can be done.  In this way you cannot settle these questions, for you are acting like the ostrich, who hides his head lest he see his danger.  The Government has seen its duty and is facing, calmly and without fear, the dangers which we heard described here a few days ago most eloquently and of which we were given convincing proofs.

We should, however, also remove, as much as possible, the causes which are used to excite the people, and which alone render them susceptible to criminal doctrines.  It is immaterial to me whether or no you will call this Socialism.  If you call it Socialism, you must have the remarkable wish of placing the Imperial Government, in so far as this bill of the allied governments is concerned, in the range of the very critique which Mr. von Puttkamer passed here on the endeavors of the Socialists.  It would then almost seem that with this bill only a very small distance separated us from the murderous band of Hasselmann, the incendiary

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writings of Most, and the revolutionary conspiracies of the Congress of Wyden; and that even this distance would soon disappear.  Well, gentlemen, this is, of course, the very opposite of true.  Those who fight with such oratorical and meaningless niceties are counting on the many meanings of the word “socialism.”  As a result of the kind of programs which the Socialists have issued, this term is, in our public opinion today, almost synonymous with “criminal.”  If the government endeavors to treat the injured workingmen better in the future, and especially more becomingly, and not to offer to their as yet vigorous brethren the spectacle, as it were, of an old man on the dump heap slowly starving to death, this cannot be called socialistic in the sense in which that murderous band was painted to us the other day.  People are playing a cheap game with the shadow on the wall when they call our endeavors socialistic.

If the representative Mr. Bamberger, who took no offense at the word “Christian,” wishes to give a name to our endeavors which I could cheerfully accept, let it be:  “Practical Christianity,” but sans phrase, for we shall not pay the people with words and speeches, but with actual improvements.  Yet, death alone is had for the asking.  If you refuse to reach into your pocketbook, or that of the State, you will not accomplish anything.  If you should place the whole burden on the industries, I do not know whether they could bear it.  Some might be able to do it, but not all.  Those who could do it are the industries where the wages are but a small fraction of the total cost of production.  Among such I mention the chemical factories, and the mills which with twenty mill hands can do an annual business of several million marks.  The great mass of laborers, however, does not work in such establishments, which I am tempted to call aristocratic—­without wishing to excite any class-hatred.  They are in industries where the wages amount to 80 or 90 per cent, of the cost of production.  Whether the latter can bear the additional burden I do not know.

It is, moreover, perfectly immaterial whether the assessment is made on the employer or on the employee.  In either case the industry will have to bear it, for the contribution of the laborer will eventually, and of necessity, be added to the expenses of the industry.  There is a general complaint that the average wages of the laborers make the saving of a surplus impossible.  If you wish, therefore, to add a burden to the laborers whose present wages are no more than sufficient, the employers will have to increase the wages, or the laborers will leave them for other occupations.

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The previous speaker called the bill defective, because the principle of relieving the laborer from all contributions had not been consistently followed; and he spoke as if this principle had not been at all followed.  Laborers, receiving more than 750 marks in three hundred working days, are, it is true, not affected by it; and this is due to the origin of the bill.  The first draft read that one-third of the contributions should be made by those county associations which would have to support the injured man in conformity with the poor-laws of the State.  We did not wish merely to make a gift to these associations, which at present are responsible for 80 per cent. of all injured working-men, that is for those who do not come under the law of liability.  We, therefore, accepted as just the proposition that these associations should pay one-third toward the insurance of those men who formerly would have become their charges.  Laborers, however, whose pay is large enough to keep them from becoming public charges, when they meet with an accident, hold an exceptional position.  I am, nevertheless, perfectly willing to drop this exception in the bill, as I have said repeatedly.  But since the Reichstag in its entirety has thus far placed itself on record as opposed to any contribution from the State, I should not gain thereby any votes for the bill.  I wish to declare, however, that this limit of 750 marks is of no consequence compared with the theory on which the bill is based.  It arose from a sense of justice toward the county associations, which were not to be burdened with higher taxes than would equal their savings under this bill.  Later it was discovered from many actual examples that the insurance according to the existing county associations was impossible, because the State, which really is responsible for the care of the poor, had distributed it in an arbitrary and unjust way on the various county associations.  Small and weak country communities are often overburdened with the care of poor people, while large and wealthy communities may have practically no charges, since the geographical position alone has determined the membership in the various county associations.  The result, therefore, of levying the necessary contributions on these associations would have been a very uneven distribution of the assessments.  Being convinced of this, I suggested the substitution of “provincial association” for “county association”; and thus the bill read for several weeks, until we yielded to the wishes of the allied states and of the Economic Council, and left to each state the question whether it wished to take the place of these various associations or preferred to call upon them in any way it chose.  These are the steps by which we reached the 750 mark exemption, and the unconditional share which is to be paid by the State.  This share is nothing but a hint to the legislature how to distribute the care of the poor to the various county—­and other associations.  Whatever is done, you will agree with me that we need a revision of our poor-laws.  Just how this will eventually be accomplished is immaterial to me.

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I am not astonished that the most divergent views are held on this new subject, which touches our lives very intimately, and which no experience has as yet illuminated.  Because of this divergence of opinion I am also aware that we may be unable to pass an acceptable law at this session.  My own interest in this entire work would be very much lessened if I were to notice that the principle of a State contribution were to be definitely rejected, and that the legislative assembly of the country were to vote against State-contributions.  This would transfer the whole matter to the sphere of open commerce, if I may say so, and in that case it might be better to leave the insurance to private enterprise rather than to establish a State-institution without any compulsion.  I should certainly not have the courage to exercise compulsion, if the State did not at the same time make a contribution.

If compulsion is exercised, it is necessary for the law to establish a department of insurance.  This is cheaper and safer than any company.  You cannot expose the savings of the poor to possible insolvency, nor can you allow any part of the contributions to be used for the payment of dividends or interest on stocks and bonds.  The representative Mr. Bamberger based his opposition to the bill—­you remember his strong words—­largely on his sorrow at the impending ruin of the insurance companies.  He said they would be crushed and annihilated, and he added, that they were soliciting the gratitude of their fellow-citizens.  I always thought they were soliciting the money of their fellow-citizens.  If in addition they can get their gratitude, they are turning a very clever trick.  That they should be willing, like good souls, to sacrifice themselves in the interest of the workingmen, and establish their institutions of insurance without issuing any shares, I have never believed, and it would be difficult to convince me of it.  According to my feeling of right and wrong, we cannot force anybody to join private insurance companies which may become bankrupt even under good management, owing to fluctuations in the market, or to panics, and which have to arrange their premiums so that dividends are realized for those who are investing their capital, or at least interest on the invested money and the hope of dividends.  To this I cannot lend my assistance.  If the State is going to exercise compulsion, it must, I believe, undertake the insurance itself.  It may be the empire for all, or the individual State—­but, without this, no compulsion!

Nor have I the courage, as I have already said, to exercise any compulsion if I cannot offer something in return.  This contribution of a third is, as I said before, much smaller than it looks, because the associations will be greatly relieved of the old burdens which the State had imposed on them.  If this is communism, as the last speaker called it, and not socialism, I do not care one iota.  I shall call it again and again “practical Christianity legally demonstrated.”  If, however, it is communism, then communism has been extensively practised in the districts for a long while, and actually under State compulsion.

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The previous speaker said that by our method the lower classes would be oppressed with indirect taxes in order to collect the funds for the care of the poor.  But I ask you, gentlemen, what is being done in the large cities, in Berlin for instance, which the speaker thinks is splendidly governed by the liberal ring?  Here the poor man is taken care of with the proceeds of the tax on rents, which is exacted of his slightly less poor brother; and to-morrow he may have this brother as his companion in misery, when a warrant is executed against the latter for the non-payment of this tax.  That is more cruel than if the payment were made from the tax on tobacco or on alcohol.

The previous speaker said that I had spoken against the tax on alcohol.  I really do not remember this, and I should be grateful if he would prove this by quoting one word.  I have always mentioned tobacco and alcohol as commodities on which larger taxes should be levied, but I have expressed a doubt whether it is right to tax the alcohol in factories while it is being made.  Many States, as for instance France, do not levy any tax on alcohol, or assess it at a different time.  The representative, therefore, has made a mistake—­no doubt unintentionally.  When, however, this mistake will be printed, without refutation, in many papers, which are under his influence, it will, I am sure, make no mean impression.

I will not dilate on the defects of the law of liability, which will be discussed by experienced men, who have had more to do with it than I. These defects, however, added their weight to the promise we made when the law against the Socialists was promulgated—­you undoubtedly remember it and I have been reminded of it often enough—­and were my chief reasons for submitting to you the present bill.  Our present law of liability has shown surprisingly bad results.  I have convinced myself, by actual occurrences, that the suits arising under this law often terminate unexpectedly and unfairly, if they are successful.  And if they are unsuccessful, they are frequently equally unfair.  I have been assured by many creditable people that this law does not improve the relations between the employer and the employees.  On the contrary, the bitter feeling between them is increased, wherever there are many such suits, especially where there are shyster-lawyers who like to sow discord with an eye to the elections.  This is in strong contrast to the good intentions of the law.  The workingmen, however, consider themselves injured by it, because not even a decree of the court will convince them that they are wrong, especially if they have lawyers who tell them they are right, and that they should appeal their cases to four or five higher courts, if there were as many.

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These observations made me wish to introduce a system which would work smoothly, and in which there would be no question of suits-at-law, or investigations into anyone’s culpability.  The latter is quite immaterial for him who has been injured.  He remains unfortunate, crippled, and unable to earn a living, if this has been his lot, or, if he has been killed, his family is left without its bread-winner, whether the accident was due to criminal neglect, carelessness, or unavoidable circumstances.  These are not questions of corrective or distributive justice, but of protection.  Without a proper law a great part of our population is helpless before the hardships of life, or the consequences of an accident.  Without any capital of their own these people have no redress against the cruelties which are the lot of the pauper who has become a public charge.

I will not reply at length to the reproach that this is communism, but I should like to ask you not to discuss everything from the point of view of party-strategy, or faction-strategy, or from the feeling “away with Bismarck.”  We have to do here with matters where not one of us can see his way clearly, and where we must search for the right road with sticks and sounding-rods.  I should like to see another man in my place as speedily as possible, if he would continue my work.  I should gladly say to him, “Son, take up your father’s spear,” even if he were not my own son.  This undesirable way of discussing matters showed itself the other day, when the gentlemen fought for “the poor man,” as if they had to do with the body of Patroclus.  Mr. Lasker took hold of him at one end, and I tried to snatch him away from Mr. Lasker as best I could.  But where do imputed motives, and class-hatred, and the excitement of misery and suffering lead us?  Such behavior comes too near being socialism in the sense in which Mr. von Puttkamer exposed it the other day.

Alms constitute the first step of Christian charity, such as must exist in France, for instance, to a great extent.  There are no poor-laws in France, and every poor man has the right to starve to death if charitable people do not prevent him from doing so.  Charity is the first duty, and the second is, the assistance given by districts and according to law.  A State, however, which is composed very largely of Christians—­even if you are horrified at hearing it called a Christian State,—­should let itself be permeated with the principles which it confesses, and especially with those which have to do with the help of our neighbors, and the sympathy one feels for the lot which threatens the old and the sick.

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The extensive discussions, which I have partly heard, and partly read in the Parliamentary extracts of yesterday, compel me to make some further observations.  The representative Mr. Richter has said that the whole bill amounted to a subsidy of the big industries.  Well, here again, you have an instance of class-hatred, which would receive new fuel if his words were true.  I do not know why you assume that the Government cherishes a blind and special love for the big industries.  The big manufacturers are, it is true, children of fortune, and this creates no good will toward them among the rest of the people.  But to weaken or to confine their existence would be a very foolish experiment.  If we dropped our big industries, making it impossible for them to compete with those of other countries, and if we placed burdens on them which they have not yet been proved able to bear, we might meet with the approval of all who are vexed at seeing anybody richer than other people, most especially than themselves.  But, if we ruin the big industries, what shall we do with the laborers?  In such a case we should be facing the problem, to which the representative Mr. Richter referred with much concern, of the organization of labor.  If a business, employing twenty thousand laborers and more, goes to pieces, and if the big industries go to pieces, because they have been denounced to public opinion and to the legislature as dangerous and liable to heavier taxes, we could not let twenty thousand, and hundreds of thousands of laborers starve to death.  In such a case we should have to organize a genuine State-socialism, and find work for these laborers, similar to what we have been doing during every panic.

If the objections of the representative Mr. Richter, who claimed that we must guard ourselves against State-socialism as against some disease, were well taken, how does it happen that we are providing work whenever a calamity has afflicted one or another of the provinces?  Such work would not be provided, if the workingmen could find other remunerative occupations.  In such cases we build railways of doubtful productivity, and make improvements, which under ordinary circumstances are left to the individual citizens to make.  If this is communism, I am by no means opposed to it.  But the use of such catch-words does not advance the solution of any problem.

I have already commented on Mr. Bamberger’s defence of the private insurance companies.  I am, however, convinced that we are not called upon to espouse their cause of all others when we are confronted by tremendous economic needs.  He has also referred to the “four weeks” which have to elapse before the insurance takes effect.  This was done in the hope that the unions and societies would wish to do something themselves.  We are always told that the laborers deem insurance to be contrary to their honor, unless they contribute something toward it.  For this reason we have left the first four weeks uninsured.  I am not certain on this point, but if another solution seems better, I believe that the law should cover also this hiatus.  There is no fundamental objection to this.

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One single fact will throw much light on the considerable burdens of which the county communities will be relieved when the care of their poor will pass, according to this bill, to the community of the State.  I have been unable to ascertain the number of persons to whom assistance is given in the empire or in the kingdom of Prussia, and even less to discover the amount of money spent for this purpose.  In the country, and elsewhere, private charity and public help are so intermingled that it is impossible to separate them, or to keep accurate accounts.  The one hundred and seventy cities, however, which have more than ten thousand inhabitants expend on the average four marks per capita for the care of their poor.  This item varies between 0.63 mark and 12.84 marks—­a great variation as you see.  The most remarkable results are found where the majority of laborers are banded together in unions or similar associations.  It would be natural to think that places like Oberneunkirchen and Duttweiler with large factory populations would have a very large budget for the poor; and that Berlin, which is only in part an industrial centre, would be an average locality, for our purposes, if its finances were well managed.  As a matter of fact it pays far more than the average for the care of its poor without doing this exceptionally well.  Anyone who is interested in private charities, and cares to visit the poor of Berlin, will be convinced of their pitiful condition.

Nevertheless, the Berlin budget for the poor amounts to 5,000,000 marks—­these are the latest figures—­and for the care of the sick poor to 1,900,000 marks.  Why these two items should be separated I do not know.  Together, therefore, they amount to about 7,000,000 marks, or 7 marks per capita, while the average of the large cities is 4 marks.  If such a poor-tax of 7 marks per capita were extended to the whole empire, it would yield 300,000,000 marks; and if the direct taxes of Berlin, amounting to 23 marks per capita, were levied on the empire, we should receive more than one milliard marks in direct taxes, including those on rents and incomes.  Fortunately not all the people of the empire are living under a liberal ring, and least of all the inhabitants of cities where the majority of the workingmen have joined unions or similar associations.  We have discovered the remarkable fact that Oberneunkirchen with its large factory population pays only 0.58 mark, and Duttweiler 0.72 mark per capita for the care of their poor.

These are instances which throw light on the relief of the communities if a system similar to that of the unions would be introduced.  I do not at all intend to make so expensive a proposition to you, and I have already said that we shall have to work on this legislation for at least a generation.  But look at the glaring examples of Duttweiler and Oberneunkirchen.  Without their unions their budgets for the poor would perhaps not rise to the Berlin figure, but they would

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easily amount to 5 marks per capita.  Actually, however, they are less than 1 mark, and almost as low as 1/2 mark.  What a tremendous burden will be taken from the charity departments of a city of ten thousand inhabitants by a law like the one under discussion!  Why, then, should they not be asked to make some kind of a contribution to the insurance fund?  But the contributions should not be made by the districts, but by larger units, and, since the State is the largest, I insist that the contributions should be made by the State.  If you do not yield in this point to the allied governments, I shall look placidly, and without being offended, toward further discussions and another session of the Reichstag.  This I consider to be the all-important part of the law, and without it the bill would no longer appear to me to be as valuable as I have thought it was, and would seem to lack the chief characteristic which induced me to become its sponsor.

The previous speaker and the Honorable Mr. Bamberger have looked askance at the Economic Council.  This, gentlemen, was perfectly natural, for competition in eloquence is as much disliked as in business; and there are in this Council not only men of exceptionally great practical knowledge, but also some very good speakers.  When the Council has been more firmly established these men will perhaps deliver as long and expert speeches as those representatives are doing who pass themselves off as the expert spokesmen of labor.  I really do not consider it to be polite, or politically advantageous, to refer to the councillors who have come here, at the call of their king, to voice their honest opinions with as much contempt as the representatives whom I have mentioned have done.  Most woods return the echo of what we call into them; and why should the representative Mr. Richter unnecessarily make for himself even more enemies than he has?  He is like me, in that the number of his opponents is growing, and is no longer small.  His ear, however, is not so keen as mine to detect the existence of an opponent, and I am satisfied to wait and see which one of us in the long run will appear to have been right.  Possibly, this may not be decided in our lifetime.  That also will be agreeable to me.

The representative Mr. Bamberger has expressed his astonishment, in discussing matters with the Council, that the delegates of the sea-coast cities had been granted the right to decide about questions relating to gunpowder and playing-cards.  Well, gentlemen, the delegates from the inland districts are far more numerous than those from the seacoast, and we have not made this division arbitrarily.  Since we look upon the free-trade theory as an epidemic, which is afflicting us like the Colorado Beetle, or similar evils, you cannot possibly expect that we should ask the free traders to represent the whole country in matters where we happen to have the choice.  Generally speaking, the free traders represent the interests

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of maritime commerce, of merchants, and of a very few other people.  Opposed to them is the much greater weight of all the inland districts.  The more, therefore, the Economic Council will be perfected, the more the propriety and reasonableness of the present arrangement will be appreciated.  The Council has, to my great delight, excellent chances of extending its usefulness over the whole empire.  These remarks will scarcely win me, I believe, the good graces of Messrs. Richter and Bamberger.  If they did, it would be for me an argumentum e contrario.  I am always of the opinion that the very opposite of their views is serviceable for the State and the interests of the fatherland, as I understand them.

I have already replied to the reproach of home-socialism.  One of the previous speakers, however, goes so far as to identify me with foreigners, because I am glad to assume the responsibility for this law and its intellectual origin.  These foreigners are, no doubt, excellent men, but they have nothing to do with our affairs.  They are men like Nadaud, Clemenceau, Spuller, Lockroy, and others.  I believe this was intended to be a complicated reproach of both socialism and communism.  You see, it is always the same tune.  Then he mentioned the “intrepidity,” which I translate for myself to mean the “frivolous levity,” of the government in suggesting such matters.  The considerate politeness of the speaker induced him to call it “intrepidity.”  Gentlemen, our intrepidity springs from our good conscience.  We are convinced that what we are proposing is the result of dutiful and careful consideration, and is not in the least tinged with party-politics.  In this we are superior to our opponents, who will never be able to free themselves from the soil of party-warfare which clings to their boots.

The previous speaker compared us also with the Romans.  You see he made his historical excursions not only into France, but also into the past.  The difference between Mr. Bamberger’s and our point of view—­which Mr. Lasker may call aristocratic, if he chooses—­appears in his very choice of words.  Mr. Bamberger spoke of theatres which we were erecting for the “sweet rabble.”  Whether there is anything sweet in the rabble for Mr. Bamberger I do not know.  But we are filled with satisfaction at the thought that we may be able to do something in the legislature for the less fortunate classes—­whom he designates as rabble—­and to wrest them, if you will grant the money, from the evil influences of place-hunters whose eloquence is too much for their intelligence.

The expression “rabble” did not fall from our lips, and if the representative spoke of the “rabble” first, and afterwards of “those who cut off coupons,” I deny having used also this word.  “To cut off coupons” is linguistically not familiar to me.  I believe I said “those who cut coupons.”  The meaning, of course, remains the same.  But let me remark that I consider

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this class of people to be highly estimable, and from a minister’s point of view exceedingly desirable, because they combine wealth with that degree of diffidence which keeps them from all tainted or dangerous enterprises.  The man who pays a large tax and loves peace is from the ministerial point of view the most agreeable of citizens.  He must, of course, not try to escape the burdens which his easily collected income should bear in comparison with others.  And you will see that he really does not do it.  He is an honest man, and when we shall at last have outgrown the finance-ministerial mistrust of olden times—­which my present colleagues no longer share—­we shall see that not everybody is willing to lie for his own financial benefit, and that even the man who cuts coupons will declare his wealth honestly, and pay his taxes accordingly.  The Honorable Mr. Bamberger also asked:  “Where will you find the necessary money?” This law really implies few new expenses, as I have already said, because all the government asks is to be permitted to substitute the State for the communities, which at present are taking care of the poor, and to make a very modest allowance to those who cannot earn their living.  This allowance should be entirely at the disposal of the recipient and be inalienable from him.  It will thus secure for him independence even when he is an invalid.  The increase over the present cost of caring for the poor is slight.  I do not know whether it should be estimated at half of one-third—­one sixth—­or even at less.

I am, therefore, of the opinion that a State which is at war with the infernal elements recently described to you here in detail, and which possesses among its citizens an overwhelming majority of sincere adherents of the Christian religion, should do for the poor, the weak, and the old much more than this bill demands—­as much as I hope to be able to ask of you next year.  And such a State, especially when it wishes to demonstrate its practical Christianity, should not refuse our demands, for its own sake and for the sake of the poor!

* * * * *


February 6, 1888


[In view of the constantly increasing armaments in France, the government had secured from the Reichstag of 1887 an increase also of the German army.  Danger, however, was threatening from Russia as well as from France, and it became necessary to arrange matters in a way which would place the full strength of the German people at the disposal of the government.  A bill to this effect was introduced in the Reichstag on December 9, 1887, and another bill, which was to procure the money for this increase in armaments, was introduced on January 31, 1888.  Both bills were on the calendar of February 6.  Prince Bismarck opened the discussion with the following speech, the effect of which was electric, and resulted in the Reichstag passing both bills by a unanimous vote.]

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In addressing you today I do not intend to recommend to you the acceptance of the bill which your president has just mentioned.  I have no fear concerning its acceptance, nor do I believe that I can do anything to increase the majority with which it will be passed, although this is, of course, of great importance both at home and abroad.  The representatives of the various parties have, no doubt, decided how they will vote, and I am confident that the German Reichstag will grant us again an increase in our armed force and thus reestablish the standard which we gradually gave up between 1867 and 1882, and will do so, not on account of the position in which we happen to find ourselves, nor of any fears which may be swaying the stock exchange and public opinion, but because of an anticipatory estimate of the general conditions of Europe.  In addressing you, therefore, I shall have to say more about these conditions than about the bill.

I do not like to do this, for in these matters one unskilful word can do great harm, and many words can do small good beyond making people understand the situation at home and abroad, which they will do in due time anyhow.  I do not like to speak, but if I should keep silence the nervous excitement of public opinion at home and abroad will be increased rather than decreased, I fear, in view of the expectations which have been based on today’s debate.  People would believe the situation to be so difficult and critical that a minister of foreign affairs did not even dare to touch upon it.  For these reasons I am addressing you, but I must say that I am doing it reluctantly.

I might be satisfied with a reference to what I said here just about a year ago, for matters are but slightly changed.  A newspaper clipping has been handed to me containing a summary in the Liberal News, an organ which has closer relations, I believe, with my political friend, the Honorable Mr. Richter, than with myself.  This clipping might offer me a starting point from which to develop the situation as a whole, but I can refer to it, and the chief points made there, only with the general declaration that the situation has been improved rather than otherwise, if it has been changed at all.

A year ago we were largely concerned with the possible cause of war emanating from France.  Since then a peace-loving president has dropped the reins of government, and another peace-loving president has succeeded him.  It is a favorable sign that the French government did not dip into Pandora’s box in calling to office another chief magistrate, and that we may be assured of the continuance under President Carnot of the peaceful policy which President Grevy was known to represent.  Changes in the French cabinet are even more reassuring than the change in the presidency, where a great many different reasons had to be considered.  The ministers who might have been ready to subordinate the peace of their own country and of Europe to their personal plans have resigned, and others have taken their places of whom we need not fear this.  I believe, therefore that I may state that our outlook toward France is more peaceful and less explosive today than it was a year ago and I am glad to do this, because I wish to quiet, not to excite, public opinion.

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The fears which have sprung up during the last twelve months have had to do more with Russia than with France, or I may say with the exchange of mutual excitement, threats, insults, and challenges in the French and Russian papers during the past summer.

Nevertheless, I believe that our relations with Russia have not changed from what they were last year.  The Liberal News has stated, in especially heavy type, that I said a year ago:  “Our friendship with Russia has suffered no interruption during our wars, and is today beyond a doubt.  We expect of Russia neither an attack nor a hostile policy.”  The reason why this was printed in heavy type may have been either to give me an easy starting point, or because the writer hoped that I had changed my mind since I said these things, and was at present convinced that I had erred in my confidence in the Russian policy a year ago.  This is not the case.  The only events which could have occasioned a change of opinion are the attitude of the Russian press and the allocation of the Russian troops.

As regards the press, I cannot assign any importance to it per se.  People say that it is of greater consequence in Russia than in France.  I believe the very opposite to be true.  In France the press is a power influencing the decisions of the government.  In Russia it is not, nor can it be.  In both cases, however, the press is, so far as I am concerned, mere printer’s ink on paper, against which we do not wage war.  It cannot contain a challenge for us.  Back of each article in the press there stands after all only the single man who guided the pen which launched this particular article into the world.  Even in a Russian sheet—­suppose it to be an independent Russian sheet, one which maintains relations with the French secret funds, it is of no consequence.  The pen which there indites an anti-German article is backed by no one but him who is guiding it, the solitary man who is concocting the sad stuff in his office, and the protector which every Russian sheet is accustomed to have.  He is some kind of a higher official, run wild in party politics, who happens to bestow his protection on this particular paper.  Both weigh like feathers in the scale against the authority of His Majesty the Emperor of Russia.

In Russia the press has not the same influence on public opinion as in France.  At best its declarations are the barometer by which to gauge how much can be printed according to the Russian press-laws, but they do not obligate the Russian government or His Majesty the Emperor of Russia in any way.  In contrast with the voices of the Russian press I have the immediate testimony of Emperor Alexander himself, when a few months ago I had again the honor of being received by him in audience after the lapse of several years.  I was then able to convince myself afresh that the emperor of Russia harbors no hostile feelings against us and does not intend to attack us, or to wage any

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aggressive wars at all.  What the Russian press says, I do not believe, what Emperor Alexander says, I believe; I have absolute confidence in it.  When both are in the scales, the testimony of the Russian press, with its hatred of Germany, rises light as a feather, and the personal testimony of Emperor Alexander has the only effective weight, so far as I am concerned.  I repeat, therefore, the press does not induce me to consider our relations with Russia to be worse today than they were a year ago.

I now come to the other point, the allocation of the troops.  It used to take place on a big scale, but only since 1879, when the Turkish war was concluded, has it assumed the proportions which today seem threatening.  It may easily appear as if this accumulation of Russian troops near the German and Austrian frontiers—­where their support is more difficult and more expensive than farther inland—­could only be dictated by the intention of surprising and attacking one of the neighbors unprepared, sans dire gare! (I cannot for the moment think of the German expression.) Well, I do not believe this.  In the first place, it would be contrary to the character of the sovereign and his own words, and secondly its object could not easily be understood.  Russia cannot intend to conquer any Prussian provinces, nor, I believe, any Austrian provinces.  Russia has, I believe, as many Polish subjects as it cares to have, and has no desire to increase their numbers.  To annex anything but Polish districts from Austria would be even more difficult.  No reason exists, no pretense which could induce a European monarch suddenly to assail his neighbors.  I even go so far in my confidence as to be convinced that a Russian war would not ensue if we should become involved in a French war because of some explosive happenings in France, which no one can foresee and which surely are not intended by the present French government.  A French war, on the other hand, would be an absolute certainty if we should be involved in a Russian war, for no French government would be so strong that it could prevent it, even if it was inclined to do so.  But as regards Russia I still declare that I am not looking for an attack; and I take back nothing from what I said last year.

You will ask:  “If that is so, what is the use of this expensive allocation of the Russian troops?” That is one of the questions for which one hardly can expect an answer from a ministry of foreign affairs, itself vitally interested.  If we should begin to ask for explanations, we might receive forced replies, and our surrejoinders would also have to be forced.  That is a dangerous path which I do not like to tread.  Allocations of troops are things for which one does not take the other country to task, asking for categorical explanations, but against which one takes counter precautions with equal reserve and circumspection.  I cannot, therefore, give an authentic declaration concerning the motives of this Russian allocation,

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but, having been familiar through a generation with foreign politics and the policy of Russia, I can form my own ideas concerning them.  These ideas lead me to assume that the Russian cabinet is convinced, probably with good reason, that the weight of the Russian voice in the diplomatic Areopagos of Europe will be the weightier in the next European crisis, the stronger Russia is on the European frontier and the farther west the Russian armies stand.  Russia is the more quickly at hand, either as an ally or as a foe, the nearer her main army, or at least a large army, is to her western frontier.

This policy has directed the Russian allocation of troops for a long while.  You will remember that the army assembled in the Polish kingdom during the Crimean War was so large that this war might have ended differently if the army had started on time.  If you think farther back, you will see that the events of 1830 found Russia unprepared and not ready to take a hand, because she had an insufficient number of troops in the western part of her empire.  I need not, therefore, draw the conclusion from the accumulation of Russian troops in the western provinces (sapadnii Gubernii, as the Russians say), that our neighbors mean to attack us.  I assume they are waiting, possibly for another Oriental crisis, intending then to be in the position of pressing home the Russian wishes by means of an army situated not exactly in Kasan, but farther west.

When may such an Oriental crisis take place, you ask.  Forsooth, we have no certainty.  During this century we have had, I think, four crises, if I do not include the smaller ones and those which did not culminate.  One was in 1809 and ended with the treaty which gave Russia the Pruth-frontier, and another in 1828.  Then there was the Crimean War of 1854, and the war of 1877.  They have happened, therefore, at intervals of about twenty years and over.  Why, then, should the next crisis take place sooner than after a similar interval, or at about 1899, twenty years after the last one?  I for one should like to reckon with the possibility of its being postponed and not occurring immediately.

Then there are other European events which are wont to take place at even intervals, the Polish uprisings, for instance.  Formerly we had to expect one every eighteen or twenty years.  Possibly this is one reason why Russia wishes to be so strong in Poland that she may prevent them.  Then there are the changes of government in France which also used to happen every eighteen or twenty years; and no one can deny that a change of government in France may bring about such a crisis that every interested nation may wish to be able to intervene with her full might—­I mean only diplomatically, but with a diplomacy which is backed by an efficient army close at hand.

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I assume on the strength of my purely technical-diplomatic judgment, which is based on my experience, that these are the intentions of Russia and that she has no wish to comply with the somewhat uncouth threats and boastings of the newspapers.  And, if this is so, then there is surely no reason why we should look more gloomily into the future now than we have done at any time during the past forty years.  The Oriental crisis is undoubtedly the most likely to occur, and in this our interests are only secondary.  When it happens, we are in a position to watch whether the powers, who are primarily interested in the Mediterranean and the Levante, will make their decisions and come to terms, if they choose, or go to war with Russia about them.  We are not immediately called upon to do either.  Every great power which is trying to influence or to restrain the policies of other countries in matters which are beyond the sphere of its interests is playing politics beyond the bounds which God has assigned to it.  Its policy is one of force and not of vital interests.  It is working for prestige.  We shall not do this.  If Oriental crises happen, we shall wait before taking our position until the powers who have greater interests at stake than we have declared themselves.  There is, therefore, no reason, gentlemen, why you should look upon our present situation with unusual gravity, assuming this to be the cause of our asking for the mighty increase of our armaments which the military bill contemplates.  I should like to separate the question of reestablishing the Landwehr of the second grade, in short the big military bill and the financial bill, from the question of our present situation.  It has to do, not with a temporary and transient arrangement, but with the permanent invigoration of the German empire.

That no temporary arrangement is contemplated will be perfectly clear, I believe, when I ask you to survey with me the dangers of war which we have met in the past forty years without having become nervously excited at any one time.

In the year 1848, when many dikes and flood gates were broken, which until then had directed the peaceful flow of countless waters, we had to dispose of two questions freighted with the danger of war.  They concerned Poland and Schleswig-Holstein.  The first shouts after the Martial days were:  war with Russia for the rehabilitation of Poland!  Soon thereafter the danger was perilously near of being involved in a great European war on account of Schleswig-Holstein.  I need not emphasize how the agreement of Olmuetz, in 1850, prevented a great conflagration—­a war on a gigantic scale.  Then there followed two years of greater quiet out of general ill feeling, at the time when I first was ambassador in Frankfort.  In 1853 the earliest symptoms of the Crimean War made themselves felt.  This war lasted from 1853 to 1856, and during this whole time we were near the edge of the cliff, I will not say the abyss, whence it

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was intended to draw us into the war.  I remember that I was obliged at that time, from 1853 to 1855 to alternate like a pendulum, so to speak, between Frankfort and Berlin because the late king, thanks to the confidence he had in me, used me as the real advocate of his independent policy whenever the insistence of the western powers that we too should declare war on Russia grew too strong, and the opposition of his cabinet too flabby for his liking.  Then the play was staged—­I do not know how often—­when I was called back here and ordered to write for His Majesty a more pro-Russian dispatch, and Mr. von Manteuffel resigned, and I requested to be instructed by His Majesty to follow Mr. von Manteuffel, after the dispatch was gone, into the country or anywhere else, and to induce him to resume his office.  Yet each time Prussia, as it was then constituted, was hovering on the brink of a great war.  It was exposed to the hostility of the whole of Europe, except Russia, if it refused to join in the policies of the west European powers, and, if it did, it was forced to break with Russia, possibly for a very long while, because the defection of Prussia would probably have been felt very painfully in Russia.

During the Crimean War, therefore, we were in constant danger of war.  The war lasted till 1856, when it was at last concluded by the treaty of Paris, and we found, in the Congress of Paris a sort of Canossa prepared for us, for which I should not have assumed the responsibility, and against which I vainly counseled at the time.  We were not at all obliged to play the part of a greater power than we were, and to sign the treaties made there.  But we were dancing attendance with the view of being permitted to sign the treaty.  This will not again happen to us.

That was in 1856, and as early as in 1857 the problem of Neuchatel was again threatening us with war.  This did not become generally known.  In the spring of that year I was sent to Paris by the late king to negotiate with Emperor Napoleon concerning the passage of Prussian troops in an attack upon Switzerland.  Everyone who hears this from me will know what this would have meant in case of an understanding, and that it could have become a far-reaching danger of war, and might have involved us with France as well as with other powers.  Emperor Napoleon was not unwilling to agree.  My negotiations in Paris, however, were terminated because his majesty the king in the meanwhile had come to an amicable understanding in the matter with Austria and Switzerland.  But the danger of war, we must agree, was present also during that year.

While I was on this mission in Paris, the Italian War hung in the air.  It broke out a little more than a year later and came very near drawing us into a big general war of Europe.  We went so far as to mobilize, and we should undoubtedly have taken the field, if the peace of Villafranca had not been concluded, somewhat prematurely for Austria, but just in time for ourselves, for we should have been obliged to wage this war under unfavorable circumstances.  We should have turned this war, which was an Italian affair, into a Franco-Prussian war, and its cessation, outcome, and treaty of peace would no longer have depended on us, but on the friends and enemies who stood behind us.

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Thus we came into the sixties without the clouds of war having cleared from the horizon for even one single year.

Already in 1863 another war threatened hardly less ominously, of which the people at large knew little, and which will only be appreciated when the secret archives of the cabinets will be made public.  You may remember the Polish uprising of 1863, and I shall never forget the morning calls which I used to receive at that time from Sir Andrew Buchanan, the English ambassador, and Talleyrand, the French representative, who tried to frighten me out of my wits by attacking the Prussian policy for its inexcusable adherence to Russia, and who used rather a threatening language with me.  At noon of the same days I then used to have the pleasure of listening in the Prussian diet to somewhat the same arguments and attacks which the foreign ambassadors had made upon me in the morning.  I suffered it quietly, but Emperor Alexander lost his patience, and wished to draw his sword against the plotting of the western powers.  You will remember that the French forces were then engaged with American projects and in Mexico, which prevented France from taking a vigorous stand.  The Emperor of Russia was no longer willing to stand the Polish intrigues of the other powers, and was ready to face events in our company and to go to war.  You will remember that Prussia was struggling at that time with difficult interior problems, and that in Germany the leaven had begun to work in the minds of the people, and the council of the princes in Frankfort was under contemplation.  It may be readily granted, therefore, that the temptation for my gracious master was very strong to cut, and thus to heal, his difficult position at home by agreeing to a military undertaking on a colossal scale.

At that time war of Prussia and Russia together against those who were protecting the Polish insurrection against us would undoubtedly have taken place if his majesty had not recoiled from the thought of solving home difficulties, Prussian as well as German, with foreign help.  We declined in silence, and without revealing to the other German powers who had hostile projects against us the reasons which had determined our course.  The subsequent death of the King of Denmark changed the trend of thought of everybody interested.  But all that was needed to bring about the great coalition war in 1863 was a “Yes” instead of a “No” from His Majesty the King in Gastein.  Anybody but a German minister would perhaps have counseled affirmatively, from reasons of utility and opportunism in order to solve thereby our home difficulties.  You see neither our own people nor foreigners really have a proper appreciation of the amount of national loyalty and high principles which guides both the sovereign and his ministers in the government of German states.

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The year 1864—­we just spoke of 1863—­brought a new pressing danger of war.  From the moment when our troops crossed the Eider, I was ready every week to see the European Council of Elders interfere in this Danish affair, and you will agree with me that this was highly probable.  But in those days we could observe that it is not so very easy for Europe to attack Austria and Prussia when they are united; and remember that the German federation which supported these two states at that time had not nearly the same military importance which the identical countries possess today.  The difficulty of an attack on Austria and Prussia showed itself even then, but the danger of a war remained the same.

In 1865 it faced about, and the preparations for the war of 1866 were beginning.  I only remember a meeting of the Prussian cabinet which took place in Regensburg in 1865 with a view to procuring the necessary money, but which was rendered futile by the agreement of Gastein.  In 1866, however, the war broke out in full force, as you know.  A circumspect use of events alone enabled us to ward off the existing danger of turning this duel between Prussia and Austria into a fierce European war of coalition, when our very existence, our life and all we had, would have been at stake.

This was in 1866, and in 1867 the Luxembourg problem arose, when only a somewhat firmer reply was needed to bring about the great French war in that year,—­and we might have given it, if we had been so strong that we could have counted on sure success.  From then on, during 1868, 1869, and up to 1870 we were living in constant apprehension of war, and of the agreements which in the time of Mr. von Beust were being made in Salzburg and other places between France, Italy, and Austria, and which, we feared, were directed against us.  The apprehension of war was so great at that time that I received calls—­I was the President of the cabinet—­from merchants and manufacturers, who said:  “The uncertainty is unbearable.  Why don’t you strike the first blow?  War is preferable to this continued damper on all business!” We waited quietly until we were struck, and I believe we did well to arrange matters so that we were the nation which was assailed and were not ourselves the assailants.

Now, since the great war of 1870 was waged, has there been a year, I ask you, without the danger of war?  In the first years of the seventies—­the very moment we came home, the question arose:  “When will be the next war?  When will revenge be given?  Within five years at the latest, no doubt?” We were told:  “The question whether we shall have to fight and with what success surely rests with Russia now-a-days.  Russia alone holds the hilt.”  It was a representative of the Catholic party who thus remonstrated with me in the Reichstag.  I may possibly revert to this subject later.  In the meanwhile I wish to complete the picture of the forty years by saying that in 1876 the clouds of war again began to gather in the south.  In 1877 the Balkan War was waged, which would have led to a conflagration of the whole of Europe, if this had not been prevented by the Congress gathered in Berlin.  After the Congress an entirely new eastern picture presented itself to us, for Russia was offended by our attitude in the Congress.  I may revert to this later, if my strength permits.

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Then there followed a period when we felt the results of the intimate relations of the three emperors, which for some time permitted us to face the future with greater placidity.  But at the first symptoms of any instability in the relations of the three emperors or of the termination of the agreements which they had made with one another, public opinion was possessed by the same nervous and, I believe, exaggerated excitement with which we have had to contend these last years, and which I consider especially uncalled for today.

From my belief that this excitement is uncalled for I am far from drawing the conclusion that we do not need an increase in our armaments.  The very opposite is my view, and this may explain the tableau of forty years which I have just exhibited before you, possibly not for your enjoyment, and I ask your pardon. [Illustration:  THE BISMARCK MONUMENT AT HAMBURG LEDERER]

But if I had omitted even one of those years, which you yourselves have lived through with trembling, you would not have received the impression that the state of apprehension of great wars is permanent with us.  Great complications and all kinds of coalitions, which no one can foresee, are constantly possible and we must be prepared for them.  We must be so strong, irrespective of momentary conditions, that we can face any coalition with the assurance of a great nation which is strong enough under circumstances to take her fate into her own hands.  We must be able to face our fate placidly with that self reliance and confidence in God which are ours when we are strong and our cause is just.  And the Government will see to it that the German cause will be just always.

We must, to put it briefly, be as strong in these times as we possibly can be, and we can be stronger than any other nation of equal numbers in the world.  I shall revert to this later—­but it would be criminal if we were not to make use of our opportunity.  If we do not need our full armed strength, we need not summon it.  The only problem is the not very weighty one of money—­not very weighty I say in passing, because I have no wish to enter upon a discussion of the financial and military figures, and of the fact that France has spent three milliards for the improvement of her armaments these last years, while we have spent scarcely one and one half milliards, including what we are asking of you at this time.  But I leave the elucidation of this to the minister of war and the representatives of the treasury department.

When I say that it is our duty to endeavor to be ready at all times and for all emergencies, I imply that we must make greater exertions than other people for the same purpose, because of our geographical position.  We are situated in the heart of Europe, and have at least three fronts open to an attack.  France has only her eastern, and Russia only her western frontier where they may be attacked.  We are also more exposed to the dangers of a coalition than any

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other nation, as is proved by the whole development of history, by our geographical position, and the lesser degree of cohesiveness, which until now has characterized the German nation in comparison with others.  God has placed us where we are prevented, thanks to our neighbors from growing lazy and dull.  He has placed by our side the most warlike and restless of all nations, the French, and He has permitted warlike inclinations to grow strong in Russia, where formerly they existed to a lesser degree.  Thus we are given the spur, so to speak, from both sides, and are compelled to exertions which we should perhaps not be making otherwise.  The pikes in the European carp-pond are keeping us from being carps by making us feel their teeth on both sides.  They also are forcing us to an exertion which without them we might not make, and to a union among us Germans, which is abhorrent to us at heart.  By nature we are rather tending away, the one from the other.  But the Franco-Russian press within which we are squeezed compels us to hold together, and by pressure our cohesive force is greatly increased.  This will bring us to that state of being inseparable which all other nations possess, while we do not yet enjoy it.  But we must respond to the intentions of Providence by making ourselves so strong that the pikes can do nothing but encourage us.

Formerly in the years of the Holy Alliance—­I am just thinking of an American song which I learned of my late friend Motley:  “In good old colonial times, when we lived under a King”—­well those were the good old patriarchal times when we had many posts to guide us, and many dikes to protect us from the wild floods of Europe.  There were the German Union, and the real support and consummation of the German Union, the Holy Alliance.  We had support in Russia and in Austria, and, above all, the guaranty of our diffidence that we should never express an opinion before the others had spoken.

All this we have lost; we must help ourselves.  The Holy Alliance was wrecked in the Crimean War—­not through our fault.  The German Union has been destroyed by us, because the existence which we were granted within it was unbearable in the long run for ourselves and the German people as well.  After the dissolution of the German Union and the war of 1866, Prussia, as it was then, or North Germany, would have become isolated, if we had been obliged to count with the fact that nobody would be willing to pardon our new successes—­the great successes which we had won.  No great power looks with favor on the successes of its neighbors.

Our relations with Russia, however, were not disturbed by the experience of 1866.  In that year the memory of Count Buol’s policy and of the policy of Austria during the Crimean War was too fresh in Russia to permit the rise of the thought that Russia could assist the Austrian monarchy against the Prussian attack, or could renew the campaign, which Emperor Nicholas had fought for Austria in 1849—­ask your pardon, if I sit down for a moment.  I cannot stand so long.

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Our most natural support, therefore, still remained with Russia, due very properly to the policy of Emperor Alexander I. in this century—­not to speak of the last century at all.  In 1813 he might well have turned back at the Polish frontier, and have made peace, and later he might have dropped Prussia.  We certainly owed our reestablishment on the old basis at that time to the benevolence of Emperor Alexander I.—­or, if you wish to be sceptical, you may say to the Russian policy, which was such as Prussia needed.  Gratitude for this dominated the reign of Frederick William III.  The credit, however, which Russia had in the Prussian accounts was used up by the friendship, I may even say servility, of Prussia during the entire reign of Emperor Nicholas, and was, I own, wiped out at Olmuetz.  There Emperor Nicholas did not take the part of Prussia, nor did he keep us from evil experiences or certain humiliations, for Emperor Nicholas really preferred Austria to Prussia.  The idea that we owed Russia any thanks during his reign is a historical myth.

We did, nevertheless, not break our traditional relations with Russia while he lived; and in the Crimean War we remained true, as I said before, to our Russian duty, in spite of many threats and great dangers.  His Majesty, the late King, had no desire to play a decisive part in the war by a great levy of troops, as I believe we could have done.  We had made certain treaties requiring us to put in the field 100,000 men after the lapse of a stated time; and I proposed to His Majesty to levy not 100,000 but 200,000 men, and mounted at that, whom we could use as well toward the right as toward the left, in which case, I said, Your Majesty will be the arbiter of the Crimean War.  But the late King did not cherish warlike enterprises, and the people ought to be grateful to him.  I was younger then, and less experienced than I am today.  At any rate we harbored no resentment for Olmuetz during the Crimean War.  We came out of this war as the friends of Russia, and I was enabled to enjoy the fruit of this friendship, when as ambassador I was most kindly received in St. Petersburg, both at court and in society at large.  Even our espousing the cause of Austria in the Italian War, while not to the liking of the Russian cabinet, showed no harmful effects.  Our war of 1866 was regarded in Russia with a certain amount of satisfaction, for the Russians were glad to see Austria suffer.  In our French war of 1870 we were fortunate enough to be able to serve the Russian interests in the Black Sea at the same time that we were successful in defending and guarding our own.  The contracting parties probably would not have removed their restrictions from the Black Sea, if the victorious German troops had not been standing near Paris.  If we had been beaten, the London agreement in the interest of Russia would not have been made so easily, I believe.  Thus also the war of 1870 carried in its train no disagreement

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between us and Russia.  I mention these matters in order to explain to you the origin of our treaty with Austria, which was published a few days ago, and to defend the policy of His Majesty against the reproach of having enlarged the possibilities of war for the German empire, by adding to them the chances which may befall Austria without any fault of her own.  I am, therefore, going to describe to you how it happened that our traditional relations with Russia, which I had always and very gladly fostered, became so altered that we were induced to conclude the treaty published day before yesterday.

The first years after the French war passed in the best of friendship.  In 1875 there suddenly appeared the inclination of my Russian colleague, Prince Gortschakoff, to work for popularity with France rather than with us, and to make the world believe, by means of certain artificially created events and an interpolated telegram, that we had harbored the idea, however remote, of invading France, and that his intercession alone had saved France from this danger.  This occasioned the first estrangement between us, and led to a serious discussion between me and my former friend and later colleague.  All this time and subsequently we were still clinging to the task of maintaining peace among the three emperors, and of continuing the relationship begun by the visits of the emperors of Russia and Austria here in Berlin in 1872, and the subsequent return visits.  We were succeeding in this, when in 1876, before the Turkish War, pressure was brought to bear upon us to choose between Russia and Austria.  This we refused to do.  I do not deem it advantageous to discuss the details.  They will be known some time.  The result of our refusal was that Russia turned to Vienna directly, and entered into an agreement with Austria—­I believe it was in January, 1877—­concerning the possibilities of an Oriental crisis, granting her, if The crisis should take place, the occupation of Bosnia, etc.  Then the war took place, and we were very glad that the storm raged further south than it had threatened at first.  The war was definitely concluded here in Berlin by the Congress, after the preliminaries had been settled by the peace of San Stefano.  The peace of San Stefano, I am convinced, was not more risky for the anti-Russian powers nor much more favorable for Russia than the subsequent congressional treaty.  The stipulations of San Stefano were realized, one may say, of their own accord later on, when the little state of East Rumelia, with only 800,000 souls I believe, joined Bulgaria and thereby reestablished on its own responsibility the old San Stefano frontier, although not quite exactly.  The damage, therefore, which the Congress inflicted on the agreements of San Stefano was not very considerable.  Whether these agreements were masterpieces of diplomacy I leave undecided.  We had then very little desire to mix in Oriental affairs, just as we have today.

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I was seriously ill in Friedrichsruh when I was officially notified of the Russian wish to call a Congress of the great powers in Berlin for the definite settlement of the war.  I was at first not favorably inclined, because I was physically incapacitated, and because I did not wish to involve ourselves in these matters to the extent which the presidency of a Congress necessitates.  My final compliance was partly due to the German sense of duty, which does anything in the interest of peace, and partly to the grateful memory of the favors of Alexander I., which I have always remembered, and which induced me to grant also this request.  I declared my willingness, provided we could secure the acceptance of England and Austria.  Russia undertook to secure the consent of England, and I agreed to recommend the plan in Vienna.  We were successful, and the Congress took place.

During the Congress, I may well say, I played my part—­without hurting the interests of my country or of our friends—­just as if I had been the fourth Russian plenipotentiary—­I may almost say the third, for I can hardly accept Prince Gortschakoff as a representative of the then Russian policy, which was more truly represented by Count Schuwaloff.

During the whole course of the congressional deliberations I heard of no Russian wish which I did not recommend and push through.  Thanks to the confidence which Lord Beaconsfield—­unfortunately dead now—­reposed in me, I called at his sickbed in the middle of the night during the most difficult and critical moments of the Congress, when disruption seemed near, and obtained his consent.  In short my behavior in the Congress was such that I said to myself when it was over:  “If the highest Russian decoration set in diamonds had not been bestowed upon me long ago, I should surely receive it now.”  I had the feeling of having done something for a foreign power which is rarely vouchsafed to a foreign minister to do.

What, then, were my surprise and natural disappointment, when gradually a sort of newspaper campaign began in St. Petersburg, attacking the German policy, and casting suspicion on my personal intentions.  These attacks increased in the following year to the strong request, in 1879, for pressure to be exerted by us on Austria in matters where we could not attack the Austrian rights as such.  I could not consent, for, if we should have been estranged from Austria, we should necessarily have fallen into a dependence on Russia, unless we were satisfied with standing entirely alone in Europe.  Would such a dependence have been bearable?  Formerly I had believed it might be, when I had said to myself:  “We have no conflicting interests at all.  There is no reason why Russia should ever cancel our friendship.”  At least I had never contradicted my Russian colleagues when they expounded such theories to me.  The Russian behavior concerning the Congress disappointed me and told me that we were not protected from being drawn into a conflict with Russia against our wishes, even if we placed our policy (for a time) completely at her disposal.  The disagreement concerning instructions which we had given or had not given to our representatives in the south grew, until threats resulted, threats of war from the most authoritative quarter.

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This is the origin of our Austrian Treaty.  By these threats we were compelled to choose between our two former friends, a decision which I had avoided through several decades.  At that time I negotiated in Gastein and in Vienna the treaty which was published day before yesterday and which is in force between us today.

The publication has been partly misunderstood in the newspapers, as I read yesterday and the day before.  People have wanted to see in it an ultimatum, a warning, and a threat.  A threat could not possibly be contained in it, since the text of the treaty has been known to Russia for a long while, and not only since November of last year.  We considered it due to the sincerity of so loyal a monarch as the Emperor of Russia not to leave a doubt concerning the actual state of affairs.

Personally I see no chance for us not to have concluded this treaty.  If we had not done it, we should have to do it now.  It possesses the finest quality of an international treaty, in that it is the expression of the lasting interests of both parties, Austria as well as ourselves.  No great power can for any length of time cling to the wording of a treaty against the interests of its own people; it will at last be forced to declare openly:  “Times have changed; we can no longer do this;” and will have to defend its action as best it can before its own people and the other contracting party.  But no power will approve a course which leads its own people to destruction, for the sake of the letter of a treaty signed under different conditions.  Nothing of this kind, however, is contained in these treaties.  The treaty concluded with Austria, as well as other similar ones existing between us and other powers, notably some agreements into which we have entered with Italy, are the expression of common interests in mutual aspirations and dangers.  Italy, like ourselves, has been obliged to fight against Austria for her right to establish her national union.  At present both of us are living in peace with Austria, sharing with her the wish to ward off the dangers which are threatening all alike.  Together we wish to preserve the peace, which is as dear to the one as to the other, and to protect our home—­developments to which all of us are determined to devote ourselves.  It is these aims and the mutual confidence that the treaties will be kept, and that no one will grow more dependent by them than their own interests permit, which make these treaties firm, durable and permanent!

The extent to which our treaty with Austria is the expression of our mutual interests was shown at Nikolsburg, and in 1870.  Already during the negotiations of Nikolsburg we were of the opinion that we could not do for any length of time without Austria in Europe—­a strong and vigorous Austria.  In 1870, when the war between ourselves and France broke out, many sensitive Austrians whom we had hurt were naturally tempted to make use of this opportunity and to take revenge

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for 1866.  The thoughtful and far seeing diplomats, however, of the Austrian cabinet had to ask themselves:  “What will be the result?  What will be our position, if today we assist the French, and help them to beat Prussia, or even Germany?” What would have been the result if France with the help of Austria had been victorious over us?  If Austria had followed such a policy, she could have had no other aim than to resume her former position in Germany:  for this was really the only thing she had given up in 1866.  There had been no other important conditions, and the pecuniary ones had been insignificant.  Well then, what would have been the position of Austria as the presiding power in the German Union, if she had to confess that in alliance with France she had taken from Germany the left bank of the Rhine, that she had reduced the south German states to a renewed dependence on France in the shape of a Rhenish Federation, and had condemned Prussia to an irrevocable dependence on Russia, subject in future to Russian policies?  Such a position was unacceptable to all Austrian statesmen not completely blinded by wrath and vengeance.  The same is also true with us in Germany.  Imagine Austria struck from the map of Europe.  Then we and Italy would be isolated on the continent, hemmed in between Russia and France, the two strongest military powers next to Germany, either continually one against two—­and this would be most probable—­or alternately dependent on one or the other.  But this will not be the case.  It is impossible to imagine Austria away, for a State like Austria does not disappear.  It is estranged if it is jilted, as was proposed in the Villafranca negotiations, and will be inclined to offer the hand to him who, on his part, has been the opponent of an unreliable friend.

In short, if we wish to avoid being isolated, which is especially dangerous for Germany in our assailable position, we must have a reliable friend.  Thanks to the similarities of our interests, and this treaty before you, we have two such friends.  It is not love which makes them reliable, for nations may make war one upon the other because they hate, but it has never yet happened that one nation has sacrificed itself for the other for mere love.  Nor do they always fight when they hate each other, for, if this were the case, France would have to be fighting incessantly, not only with us, but also with England and Italy.  She hates all her neighbors.  I also believe that the Russian hatred of us, which has been artificially fanned, will not last.  We are united with our allies in love of peace, not only by inclination and friendship, but also by the most cogent interests of a European equilibrium and of our own future.

For these reasons I believe you will approve the Emperor’s policy that has concluded the published treaty, although it increases the possibility of war.

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There can be no doubt that the passage of the pending bill will add much weight to the alliance which we have joined, and that the member which is represented by the German empire will be immeasurably strengthened.  The bill gives us an increase of trained troops, a possible increase of troops, which we need not summon, if we do not need them.  We can leave the men at home.  But, having them in reserve, we shall also have the arms for them, and this is the all-important thing.  I remember the old blunderbuses furnished in 1813 for our Landwehr by England, with which I was drilled in the chasseurs.  They were no weapons for war—­such we cannot furnish at a moment’s notice.  But, when once we have the proper weapons, this new bill means an increase of the guarantees of peace, and as strong an increase of the league of peace as if a fourth great power had joined it with 700,000 men, which as you know used to be the maximum figure of a national army.  This tremendous increase will also have a quieting effect, I believe, on our own people, and will somewhat alleviate the nervousness of our public opinion and of our bankers and editors.  I hope you will be relieved when you realize that after this increase, and from the very moment this bill is signed and published, the men will be ready.  A scanty supply of arms for them might even now be at hand, but we must secure better ones, for if we form an army of triarians, of the best human material which we have among our people, men over thirty years of age and fathers of families, then we must have for them also the best arms that can be secured.  We should not send them into battle with arms which we do not deem good enough for our regular troops.  These staunch men, fathers of families, and gigantic figures, as we remember them from the time when they held the bridge of Versailles, should carry on their shoulders the best of guns, and have the most complete armor and necessary clothing to ward off the hardships of the weather and other ills.  In such matters we must not be saving.

After listening to the survey of forty years which I have just given it is natural that our fellow-citizens should realize the ever-present danger of a coalition against us and the possibility of a double attack, in which I, to be sure, do not believe.  The thought, however, that in such a case we can have one million good soldiers for our defense on either frontier will be most reassuring to them.  In addition, we can keep at home reserves of half a million and more, or even a million, sending them to the front as they may be needed.  I have been told:  “The result will be that the others will also increase their strength.”  This they cannot do, for they long ago reached their highest figure.  We decreased our figures in 1867, because we believed that we could take things easy, with the North German Alliance at our disposal, and could release from service all men over thirty-two years of age.  Our neighbors

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subsequently adopted a longer period of service, many one as long as twenty years.  The minister of war will be able to explain this to you more in detail, if he will address you.  In figures the others are as strong as we, but in quality they cannot equal us.  Courage is the same with all civilized nations, the Russian or the Frenchman fights as bravely as the German; but our people, our 700,000 men, are experienced, rompus au metier, trained soldiers who have not forgotten anything.

In addition, no nation in the world can equal us in our material of officers and subalterns to direct such a huge army.  This means the remarkable degree to which popular education has spread in Germany, and which appears in no other country.  The degree of education which is needed to qualify an officer and a subaltern to command according to what the soldiers expect of them, is found with us far more extensively than elsewhere.  We have more of the material out of which officers, and more out of which subalterns are made, than any other country, and we have a body of officers which no country in the world can equal.

This, and the excellence of our subalterns, who are the pupils of our officers, constitute our superiority.  The other nations cannot equal us in the amount of education which qualifies an officer to fulfil the severe requirements of his station, and of good comradeship to bear all the necessary privations, and at the same time to satisfy the exceedingly difficult social demands which must be met, if the feeling of good fellowship between officers and men, which thank God exists in our army to a high and often stirring degree, is to be established without detracting from the authority of the officers.  The relations existing, especially in war time, between our officers and men are inimitable,—­with few evil exceptions which only prove the rule, for on the whole we may say:  No German officer forsakes his men under fire; he saves them at the risk of his life, and they do the same; no German soldier forsakes his officer—­we have experienced this.

If other nations are obliged to furnish with officers and subalterns equally large troops as we are intending to create by this bill, they may be forced by circumstances to appoint officers who will not succeed in guiding a company through a narrow gate, and even less in meeting the heavy obligations of the officer who is to retain the esteem and love of his men.  The amount of education which is needed for this, and the amount of camaraderie and sense of honor which we find among our officers, can be elicited from no other body of officers anywhere in the world, either by rules or injunctions.  In this we are superior to everybody, and that is why they cannot imitate us.  I am, therefore, not at all afraid of it.

Then there is another advantage if this bill is passed.  The very strength at which we are aiming necessarily renders us pacific.  This sounds like a paradox, but it is not.

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With the powerful engine into which we are transforming the German army one does not make an attack.  If I were to come before you today, on the assumption that conditions were different from what I believe they are, and said, “We are considerably menaced by France and Russia; it is to be expected that we shall be attacked, and as a diplomat, believing my military information in these matters to be correct, I am convinced that it is better for us to have our defense consist of a bold attack, and to strike the first blow now;” and if I added:  “We can more easily wage an aggressive war, and I, therefore, am asking the Reichstag for an appropriation of a milliard, or half a milliard, marks to engage in a war against our two neighbors,”—­then I do not know, gentlemen, whether you would have enough confidence in me to grant my request, but I hope you would not have it.

But, if you had, it would not satisfy me.  If we Germans wish to wage a war with the full effect of our national strength, it must be a war which satisfies all who take part in it, all who sacrifice anything for it, in short the whole nation.  It must be a national war, a war carried on with the enthusiasm of 1870, when we were foully attacked.  I still remember the ear splitting, joyful shouts in the station at Koeln.  It was the same all the way from Berlin to Koeln, in Berlin itself.  The waves of popular approval bore us into the war, whether or no we wished it.  That is the way it must be, if a popular force like ours is to show what it can do.  It will, however, be very difficult to prove to the provinces and the imperial states and their inhabitants that the war is unavoidable, and has to be.  People will ask:  “Are you so sure?  Who can tell?” In short, when we make an attack, the whole weight of all imponderables, which weigh far heavier than material weights, will be on the side of our opponents whom we have attacked.  France will be bristling with arms way down to the Pyrenees.  The same will take place everywhere.  A war into which we are not borne by the will of the people will be waged, to be sure, if it has been declared by the constituted authorities who deemed it necessary; it will even be waged pluckily, and possibly victoriously, after we have once smelled fire and tasted blood, but it will lack from the beginning the nerve and enthusiasm of a war in which we are attacked.  In such a one the whole of Germany from Memel to the Alpine Lakes will flare up like a powder mine; it will be bristling with guns, and no enemy will dare to engage this furor teutonicus which develops when we are attacked.


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We cannot afford to lose this factor of preeminence even if many military men—­not only ours but others as well—­believe that today we are superior to our future opponents.  Our own officers believe this to a man, naturally.  Every soldier believes this.  He would almost cease to be a useful soldier if he did not wish for war, and did not believe that we would be victorious in it.  If our opponents by any chance are thinking that we are pacific because we are afraid of how the war may end, they are mightily mistaken.  We believe as firmly in our victory in a just cause as any foreign lieutenant in his garrison, after his third glass of champagne, can believe in his, and we probably do so with greater certainty.  It is not fear, therefore, which makes us pacific, but the consciousness of our strength.  We are strong enough to protect ourselves, even if we should be attacked at a less favorable moment, and we are in a position to let divine providence determine whether a war in the meanwhile may not become unnecessary after all.

I am, therefore, not in favor of any kind of an aggressive war, and if war could result only from our attack—­somebody must kindle a fire, we shall not kindle it.  Neither the consciousness of our strength, which I have described, nor our confidence in our treaties, will prevent us from continuing our former endeavors to preserve peace.  In this we do not permit ourselves to be influenced by annoyances or dislikes.  The threats and insults, and the challenges, which have been made have, no doubt, excited also with us a feeling of irritation, which does not easily happen with Germans, for they are less prone to national hatred than any other nation.  We are, however, trying to calm our countrymen, and we shall work for peace with our neighbors, especially with Russia, in the future as well as in the past.  When I say especially with Russia, I express the opinion that France is offering us no assurances of success in our endeavors.  I will, however, not say that these endeavors are of no use.  We shall never pick a quarrel, nor ever attack France; and in the many little incidents which the liking of our neighbors for spying and bribing has occasioned we have always brought about a very courteous and amicable settlement.  I should consider it criminal if we were to enflame a great national war for such bagatelles.  These are instances when one should say:  “The cleverer of the two will yield.”

I am referring, therefore, especially to Russia, and here I have the same confidence of success which I expressed a year ago, and which this liberal sheet printed in such large type, without any “running after,” or as a German paper very vulgarly called it, “Kow-towing” to Russia.  That time has passed.  We no longer sue for love, either in France or in Russia!  The Russian press and the Russian public opinion have shown the door to an old powerful and reliable friend, which we were.  We do not force ourselves on anybody.  We have tried to reestablish the old intimate relations, but we are running after nobody.  This does not prevent us, however, from observing the treaty-rights which Russia has with us; on the contrary, it is an incentive to us to do so.

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These treaty rights comprise some which not all our friends recognize as such.  I mean the rights concerning Bulgaria which we won for Russia in the Congress of Berlin, and which were not contested until 1885.  There is no question for me, who was instrumental in preparing the congressional decisions, and who joined in signing them, that all of us were of the opinion at that time that Russia should have a predominating influence in Bulgaria, after the latter had renounced East Roumelia, and she herself had given the modest satisfaction of reducing by 800,000 souls the extent of the territory under her influence until it included only about three million people.

Following this interpretation of the Congress, Russia until 1885 appointed the prince, a close relative of the imperial house, of whom at that time nobody believed, or could believe, that he would wish to be anything but a faithful adherent of the Russian policy.  Russia nominated the minister of war and a great many officers; in short it was governing in Bulgaria.  There was no doubt of this.  The Bulgarians, or some of them, or the prince—­I do not know which—­were not satisfied with it.  A coup d’etat took place—­a defection from Russia.  Thus an actual condition has ensued which we are not called upon to remedy by a recourse to arms, but which cannot in theory alter the rights which Russia took home from the Congress of Berlin.  Whether there will be difficulties, if Russia should wish to procure her rights by force, I do not know.  We shall neither support nor counsel violent means, nor do I believe that they are being contemplated—­I am quite sure they are not.  If, however, Russia should try her luck along diplomatic lines, possibly by suggesting the intercession of the Sultan, the suzerain of Bulgaria, I deem it the duty of a loyal German policy to cling to the decisions of the Congress of Berlin, and to interpret them as all of us, without an exception, interpreted them at that time.  The public feeling of the Bulgarians can alter nothing in this, so far as I am concerned.  Bulgaria, the tiny little country between the Danube and the Balkans is not an object of sufficient size, I assure you, to attach to it any importance, or to push Europe for its sake into a war, from Moscow to the Pyrenees, from the North Sea to Palermo, when no one can foresee its end.  After the war we would conceivably not even know for what we had been fighting.

I may, therefore, declare that the hostility against us shown in the Russian public opinion, and especially in the Russian press, will not deter us from supporting, at Russia’s request, any diplomatic steps she may take to regain her influence in Bulgaria.  I intentionally say, at her request.  Formerly we have, at times, endeavored to fulfil her wishes when they had been only confidentially suggested, but we have seen that some Russian papers immediately tried to prove that these very steps of the German diplomacy had been the most inimical to Russia. 

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They actually attacked us for having fulfilled the wishes of Russia even before they had been expressed.  We did this also in the Congress of Berlin; but it will not happen again.  If Russia will officially request us to support with the Sultan, as suzerain of Bulgaria, the steps which she may take in her desire to reestablish in Bulgaria conditions according to the decisions of the Congress, I shall not hesitate to advise His Majesty the Emperor to do so.  Our sense of loyalty to our neighbor demands this, for we should cherish neighborly relations with him, let the present feelings be what they may.  Together we should protect the monarchical institutions which are common to both of us, and set our faces, in the interest of order, against all the opponents of it in Europe.  Russia’s monarch, moreover, fully understands that these are the duties of the allied monarchs.  If the Emperor of Russia should find that the interests of his great empire of one hundred million people demand war, he will wage it, I do not doubt.  But I do not believe that these interests can possibly demand a war against us, nor do I believe that these interests demand war at the present time at all.

To sum up:  I do not believe in an immediate interruption of peace, and I ask you to discuss this bill independently of such a thought or apprehension, looking upon it as a means of making the great strength which God has placed in the German nation fully available.  If we do not need all the troops, it is not necessary to summon them.  We are trying to avoid the contingency when we shall need them.

This attempt is as yet made rather difficult for us by the threatening newspaper articles in the foreign press, and I should like to admonish these foreign editors to discontinue such threats.  They do not lead anywhere.  The threats which we see made—­not by the governments, but by the press—­are really incredibly stupid, when we stop to reflect that the people making them imagine they could frighten the proud and powerful German empire by certain intimidating figures made by printer’s ink and shallow words.  People should not do this.  It would then be easier for us to be more obliging to our two neighbors.  Every country after all is sooner or later responsible for the windows which its press has smashed.  The bill will be rendered some day, and will consist of the ill-feeling of the other country.  We are easily influenced—­perhaps too easily—­by love and kindness, but quite surely never by threats!  We Germans fear God, and naught else in the world!  It is this fear of God which makes us love and cherish peace.  If in spite of this anybody breaks the peace, he will discover that the ardent patriotism of 1813, which called to the standards the entire population of Prussia—­weak, small, and drained to the marrow as it then was—­has today become the common property of the whole German nation.  Attack the German nation anywhere, and you will find it armed to a man, and every man with the firm belief in his heart:  God will be with us.

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September 16, 1894


[On September 16, 1894, when Bismarck was no longer chancellor, 2,200 Germans from the province of Posen appeared in Varzin to thank him for his devoted work in the service of the national idea, and to gather courage from him in their fight against the Polish propaganda which had gained strength under the new regime at court.  The aged farm-manager, Mr. Kennemann, was the leader and spokesman of the visitors.]

Gentleman!  First I must ask your indulgence, since for two days I have been upset by an unpolitical enemy called lumbago, an old acquaintance of mine for sixty years.  I hope to get the better of him soon, and then to be able to stand again fully erect.  At present, I must confess, I am hampered by him.

I begin by replying to the words of the previous speaker with thanks for the honor done me, addressing myself first of all to him, but then also to you.  The previous speaker is as old as I. We were both born in 1815, and different walks of life have brought us together again here in Varzin after almost eighty years.  The meeting gives me great pleasure, although I have not run my course as safe and sound as Mr. Kennemann.  When I claim to be an invalid of hard work, he may perhaps claim the same.  But his work was possibly healthier than mine, this being the difference between the farmer and the diplomat.  The mode of life of the latter is less healthy and more nerve-racking.  To begin with, then, I am grateful to you, gentlemen, and I should be even more grateful, if we were all to put on our hats.  I have lost in the course of years nature’s own protection, but I cannot well cover my head if you do not do the same.

I thank you that you have spared no exertion to show your national sentiments in this way.  The exertion was considerable, a night in the train, a second night on the way back, insufficient meals, and inconveniently crowded cars.  The fact that you have stood all this and were not deterred by it attests the strength of your national feeling, which impelled you to bear witness to it here.  That you did it here greatly honors me, and I recognize in it your appreciation of my part in the work of establishing the conditions which we are enjoying in Germany today, after years of disunion.  These conditions may be imperfect, but “the best is the enemy of the good.”  At the time when we shaped these conditions we never asked:  “What may we wish?” but “What must we have!” This moderation in our demands for union was one of the most important preliminaries of success.  By following this path we have reached the results which have strengthened the pledge that your home will remain united with the German empire and the kingdom of Prussia.  The proportion, in the meanwhile, of Germans in the foundation of our structure to the less reliable—­I will not

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say loose—­Polish element has become decidedly more favorable for the Germans.  Our national figures are forty-eight million Germans and two million Poles; and in such a community the wishes of the two million cannot be decisive for the forty-eight million, as must be apparent, especially in an age when political decisions are dependent on a majority vote as a last resort.  The forces which guarantee the union of these territories are strong enough both in the parliament and in the army to assure it, and no one can doubt that the proper authorities are ready to use these forces at the right time.  No one mistakes the meaning, when the announcement is made from the highest quarters:  “Ere we shall yield again Alsace, our army will have to be annihilated” (and words to this effect have been spoken).  The same thing is true, to an even stronger degree, of our eastern frontier.  We can spare neither, Posen even less than Alsace, and we shall fight, as the Emperor has said, to the last man, before we renounce Alsace, this protection of our Southern states.  Yet Munich and Stuttgart are not more endangered by a hostile position in Strassburg and Alsace than Berlin would be endangered by a hostile position near the Oder.  It may, therefore, be readily assumed that we shall remain firm in our determination and sacrifice, if it should become necessary, our last man and the last coin in our pockets for the defense of the German eastern frontier as it has existed for eighty years.  And this determination will suffice to render the union between your province and the empire as positively assured as things can be in this world.

We confined our demands to what was necessary for our existence and what enabled the big European nation which we are to draw a free breath.  We did not include territories where German used to be spoken, when this had been largely due to a propaganda of the German courts.  More German used to be spoken in the East, North-east, and elsewhere than today.  Remember our ally, Austria, and how familiar German was there in the days of Joseph II. and of the Empress Maria Theresa, when German was a greater force in parts of Hungary than it is or can be today.  But, for everything we gave up in the shape of a linguistic and outward union, we have found rich compensation in the intensity of a closer union.  If the older gentlemen will think back to the time before Emperor William I., they will realize that the lack of love among the various German tribes was much greater at that time than it is today.  We have made notable progress in this direction, and, when we compare the unequivocal expressions of opinion from Bavaria and Saxony today with the familiar sentiments of earlier times, we must say that Germany, which for the past one hundred years had lagged behind the other people of Europe in national development, has rapidly caught up with them.  Forty years ago we were far behind all other nations in national feeling and love of one another.  Today we are no longer behind them.

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Our fellow-countrymen from the Rhine, from the Alpine lake and the Saxon Elbe are attached to one another in affectionate sympathy, not only when they meet abroad, but also at home.  A united people has been created in a remarkably short time.  This proves that the medical cure which we employed, although it was of blood and iron, lanced only a sore, which had come to a head long ago, and that it gave us speedy comfort and good health.  God grant that the cure will be lasting and subject to no change.  How far reaching it is has been proved by the testimonials which I have received since I gave up my office.  They have come from all people,—­from Baden, Bavaria, Saxony, Suabia, Hessen, and from all the districts of Prussia outside the provinces of Frederick the Great.  These entirely voluntary manifestations, which were arranged by no one, and which not infrequently came to me at rather inconvenient and inopportune times, have impressed me with the existence of national harmony.  Every one of them has given pleasure to my patriotic heart, and has borne witness to a common feeling existing in all German races—­this much I wished to say concerning the stability of the political and national union of your province today.

We often sing “Firm is the stand of the faithful guards on the Rhine,” but they are standing equally firm at the Warthe and the Vistula.  We cannot spare an acre of land in either direction, for the sake of principle if for nothing else.  The previous speaker referred to the attempts which had been made, as a result of the movement of 1848, to shake loose the union in which we were then living in Prussia and Germany, and to disregard our boundary lines.  These attempts of satisfying the wishes of our Polish neighbors ended with the action of the Prussian general von Colomb, who closed the gates of Posen to the Polish troops which, in response to promises made in Berlin, had been raised under the Prussian General von Willisen.  We were obliged to conquer with Prussian troops, and in a bloody war, the army of the insurgents who fought bravely and honorably.  I wish to add that even that war was not fought with the Polish people as such, but with the Polish nobility and their following.  I remember speaking to some Polish soldiers of the 19th regiment, I believe, in Erfurt at that time, that is in 1850, who called the opponents only “Komorniks"—­the Polish word for “contract-laborers.”  We should, then, not deceive ourselves into believing that even today the number of those who are opposed to the two races in Posen and in West Prussia living together peacefully is as large as statistics may claim.

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This brings me to the second point touched upon by the previous speaker, the two races living together peacefully.  I believe that many of you have in your employ laborers and servants who speak Polish, and that you are of the opinion that no danger comes from this lower social stratum of the population.  Living together with them is possible, and no disturbance of the peace starts with them.  They do not promote any movements hostile to us.  I do not even mention the fact that they are possibly of another race than the nobility, whose immigration into the Slavic districts is lost in the obscure past.  The statistical numbers, therefore, of those opposed to a peaceful communion of both races must be lessened by the large number of laborers and farmers.  The lower classes are, in the bulk, satisfied with the Prussian government, which may not be perfect always, but which treats them with greater justice than they were accustomed to in the times of the Polish republic of nobles.  They are satisfied with this.  It was not part of my programme that the commission on colonization should pay special attention to small holdings of German-speaking settlers.  The Polish peasants are not dangerous, nor does it make any difference whether the laborers are Polish or German.  The chief thing was to create crown-lands among the big estates, and to rent them to men whom the State could permanently influence.  The desire for quick sales and colonization emanated from other competent quarters than myself.  It was impossible for me to supervise these measures after I had instigated them.

The difficulties which I met in the forty years of my Polish diplomacy did not start with the masses of Polish laborers and peasants, but were, I believe, occasioned largely, if not exclusively, by the Polish nobility with the assistance of the Polish clergy.  Perhaps this latter term is too narrow, for I know of instances when German priests assisted in the Polish propaganda for the sake of peace.  This is a peculiarity of our race—­and I do not exactly wish to condemn it—­that we often place our religion above our nationality.  The very opposite is true of our opponents, the Poles and the French people, who regard their nationality more highly than their religion.  We are suffering from this habit.  We possess, however, a certain material counter-weight, provided the State government unreservedly supports the German element.  The religious element has great weight in the family circle and among women, especially the Polish women, whom I have always greatly admired.  The minister has a freer access to them than the local governor or the judge.  There will, however, always be a powerful weight in the scales, when the Prussian government exercises its influence with firm determination and so clearly that doubts for the future are impossible. Vestigia terrent! we may say, when with 1848, no—­not 1848, I mean 1831-32—­the attention paid to the Polish nation became almost more pronounced in Germany

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than that given to the German element.  Since then we have surely been able to register progress in our politics.  Now I must ask your indulgence for a moment on account of my lumbago. (Voices:  Sit down, Your Highness.) Sitting down does not help me.  I know this visitor from years of experience.  I was speaking of the possibility of having the two races living peacefully side by side.  This is not impossible, for in Switzerland we see three different nationalities—­the German, Italian, and French Swiss—­deliberate quietly and without bitterness on matters of joint interest.  In Belgium we see the Germanic Flemish form a united State with the Gallic Walloons, and we perceive that it is possible under circumstances to live peacefully together even with the Poles, when we remember East Prussia, where the Polish Masures, the Lithuanians, and the Germans work together harmoniously.  Because nobody has incited the people there, no national ill feeling has appeared among them.  It is true, to be sure, that the Catholic priest, with his peculiar interests, is unknown there.  But look at your neighbors in Upper Silesia.  Have the two races not lived there in peaceful communion for centuries, although the religious differences exist there also?  What is it, then, that Silesia has not, and that has made it possible for us to live there, through centuries, in religious harmony?  I am sorry to have to say it, it is the Polish nobility and the clergy of the Polish propaganda.  The Polish nobles are, no doubt, very influential—­more so with the Poles than the Germans—­but the statistical figures are much larger than the actual number of our aggressive Polish opponents with whom we have to count.

The nobles are thinking of the time when they were all-powerful, and they cannot give up the memory of conditions when they ruled the king as well as the peasants.  The Polish nobles, however, are surely too highly educated to believe that the conditions of the old Polish republic of nobles could ever return, and I should be astonished if the Polish peasants knew the history of Poland so badly that they did not recoil from the possibility of a return to the old state of affairs.  The peasants must say to themselves that a “wet year,” as the farmers put it, would be their lot if the nobles regained their power.  Among the national-Polish representatives that are elected, you generally meet only noblemen.  At least I cannot remember having seen a Polish farmer as a representative in the Reichstag or in the diet.  Compare this with the election results in German districts.  I do not even know whether there are Polish burghers in our sense of the word.  The middle classes in the Polish cities are poorly developed.  Consequently, when we reduce our opponents to their proper size, we grow more courageous in our own determination; and I should be very glad if I could encourage those who on their part are adding to the encouragement of the Polish nobles.  I feel, gentlemen, that I am of one mind with you, who have traveled the hard road hither.  I have no influence with other elements, but we shall not give up hope in spite of all vicissitudes.

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The address of the previous speaker also referred to vicissitudes and changes.  These changes have characterized our entire Polish policy, from 1815 till today.  They took place whenever high Polish families gained influence at court.  You all know the Radziwill family and its influence at the court of Frederick William IV.  If we could make a mental test of the popular feeling of 1831 and of today, we should find that the conviction has greatly increased that we have German fellow-countrymen in the Grand duchy of Posen.  The former and, I am tempted to say, childish cult of the Poles as I knew it in my childhood is no longer possible.  Then we were taught Polish songs in our music lessons together with the Marseillaise, to be sure.  The Polish nobleman, therefore, than whom God never created anything more reactionary, was here thrown into one pot with the French revolution, and liberalism was coupled with the cause of the Poles, because we were lacking in political perspicacity.  Such feelings were ingrained in our citizens at that time.  I am thinking especially of the citizens of Berlin.  If today you ask the opinion of your forty-eight million fellow-countrymen, and compare their views and those of the bulk of the German army with the bugbear which had found lodging in German hearts at the time of Platen’s Polish songs, you surely cannot despair of further development.  We may, you must agree, register progress, although it is slow and there are lapses.  It is like climbing a sandy hill or walking in the lava of Mount Vesuvius.  One often glides back, but on the whole one is advancing.  Your position will grow the stronger the more vigorously developed our sense of nationality will become.  I ask of you, do not despair if there are clouds in the sky, especially in this rainy year which has saddened the farmers.  They will disappear, and the union of the Warthe and the Vistula with Germany is irrefragable.

For centuries we have existed without Alsace-Lorraine, but no one yet has dared to think of what our existence would be if today a new kingdom of Poland were founded.  Formerly it was a passive power.  Today it would be an active enemy supported by the rest of Europe.  As long as it would not have gained possession of Danzig, Thorn, and West Prussia, and I know not what else the excitable Polish mind might crave, it would always be the ally of our enemies.  It indicates, therefore, insufficient political skill or political ignorance if we rely in any way on the Polish nobles for the safety of our eastern frontier, or if we think that we can win them to fight anywhere for German possessions, sword in hand.  This is an Utopian idea.  The only thing which we and you, gentlemen, can do under present conditions, and which we can learn from the Poles, is to cling to one another.  The Poles, too, have parties, and used to show this even more unfortunately than we, but all their parties disappear as soon as a national question is broached.  I wish the same would come

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to be true of us, and that in national questions we would belong primarily, not to a party, but to the nation.  Let us be of as divergent opinions as we choose, but when in our eastern provinces the question arises:  “German or Polish,” then let the party feuds be laid aside until, as the Berliners say, “After nine o’clock.”  Now is the time to fight and to stand together.  This is just as it is in military matters—­and I am glad to see among you many who have experience in such things.  Before joining an attack in war we do not ask:  Shall we follow our progressive or our reactionary neighbor?  We advance when the drum beats the signal, and so we should in national affairs forget all party differences, and form a solid phalanx hurling all our spears, reactionary, progressive, and despotic alike, against the enemy.

If we agree on this—­and the dangers of the future are compelling us to do so—­we shall win our women and children for the same strict sense of nationality.  And if our women are with us, and our youths, we are saved for all time.  This is one of our present tasks, to give a national education to our children.  I am confident that the German women possess all the necessary qualifications for this task.  I shall ask you, therefore, to join me in a toast:  The German Women in the Grandduchy of Posen!  And may the German idea take an ever firmer hold in your country!


April 1,1895


[The eightieth birthday of Prince Bismarck was celebrated as a national holiday everywhere in Germany.  Not less than 5,250 youths from the universities and academies visited Friedrichsruh on April 1 to bear witness, before the “old man” of Germany, to their love for the emperor and the empire.  After receiving a delegation from the faculties of all the universities, Bismarck addressed the students as follows:]

Gentlemen!  I have just heard from the lips of your teachers, the leaders of higher education, an appreciation of my past, which means much to me.  From your greeting, I infer a promise for the future, and this means even more for a man of my years than his love of approbation.  You will be able, at least many of you, to live according to the sentiments which your presence here today reveals, and to do so to the middle of the next century, while I have long been condemned to inactivity and belong to the days that are past.  I find consolation in this observation, for the German is not so constituted that he could entirely dismiss in his old age what in his youth inspired him.  Forty and sixty years hence you will not hold exactly the same views as today, but the seed planted in your young hearts by the reign of Emperor William I. will bear fruit, and, even when you grow old, your attitude will ever be German-national because it is so today—­whatever form our institutions may have taken in the meanwhile.  We do not wilfully dismiss from our hearts the love of national sentiments; we do not lose them when we emigrate.  I know instances of hundreds of thousands of Germans from America, South Africa, and Australia who are today bound to the fatherland with the same enthusiasm which carried many of them to the war.

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We had to win our national independence in difficult wars.  The preparation, the prologue, was the Holstein war.  We had to fight with Austria for a settlement; no court of law could have given us a decree of separation; we had to fight.  That we were facing a French war after our victory at Sadowa could not remain in doubt for anyone who knew the conditions of Europe.  It was, however, desirable not to wage this war too soon nor before we had garnered to some extent the fruits of our North-German union.  After the war had been waged everybody here was saying that within five years we should have to wage the next war.  This was to be feared, it is true, but I have ever since considered it to be my duty to prevent it.  We Germans had no longer any reason for war.  We had what we needed.  To fight for more, from a lust of conquest and for the annexation of countries which were not necessary for us, always appeared to me like an atrocity; I am tempted to say like a Bonapartistic and foreign atrocity, alien to the Germanic sense of justice.

Consequently since we rebuilt and enlarged our house according to our needs, I have always been a man of peace, nor have I shrunk from small sacrifices.  The strong man can afford to yield at times.  Neither the Caroline Islands nor Samoa were worth a war, however much stress I have always laid on our colonial development.  We did not stand in need of glory won in battles, nor of prestige.  This indeed is the superiority of the German character over all others, that it is satisfied when it can acknowledge its own worth, and has no need of recognition, authority, or privilege.  It is self-sufficient.  This is the course I have steered, and in politics it is much easier to say what one should avoid than to say what one should do.  Certain principles of honesty and courage forbid one to do certain things, just as the access to certain fields is interdicted in the army maneuvers.  But the decision as to what has to be done is a very different matter, and no one can be sure of it beforehand, for politics are a task which can be compared only to the navigation of unknown waters.  One does not know what the weather will be or how the currents will flow, nor what storms will be raging.  There is in politics this additional factor of uncertainty that one is largely dependent on the decisions of others on whom one has counted and who have failed.  One never can act with complete independence.  And, when our friends whose assistance we need, although we cannot guarantee it, change their minds, our whole plan has failed.  Positive enterprises are, therefore, very difficult in politics, and when they succeed you should be grateful to God who has given His blessing, and not find fault with details which one or the other may regret, but accept the situation as God has made it.  For man cannot create or direct the stream of time.  He can sail on it and steer his craft with more or less skill, be stranded and shipwrecked, or make a favorable port.

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Since we now have made a favorable port, as I conclude from the predominant although not unanimous opinion of my countrymen, whose approval is all we have worked for, let us be satisfied, and let us keep and cherish what we have won in an Emperor and an empire as it is, and not as some individuals may wish it should be, with other institutions, and a little bit more of this or that religious or social detail that they may have at heart.  Let us be careful to keep what we have, lest we lose it because we do not know how to appreciate it.  Germany once was a powerful empire under the Carolingians, the Saxons, and the Hohenstaufens, and when she lost her place, five, yes six hundred years passed before she regained the use of her legs—­if I may say so.  Political and geological developments are equally slow.  Layers are deposited one on the other, forming new banks and new mountains.  But I should like to ask especially the young gentlemen:  Do not yield too much to the German love of criticism!  Accept what God has given us, and what we have toiled to garner, while the rest of Europe—­I cannot say attacked us, but ominously stood at attention.  It was not easy.  If we had been cited before the European Council of Elders before our French affairs were settled, we should not have fared nearly so well; and it was my task to avoid this if I possibly could.  It is natural that not everything which everybody wished could be obtained under these conditions, and I mention this only to claim the indulgence of those who are perfectly justified in expecting more, and possibly in striving for more.  But, above everything, do not be premature, and do not act in haste.  Let us cling for the present to what we have.

The men who made the biggest sacrifices that the empire might be born were undoubtedly the German princes, not excluding the King of Prussia.  My old master hesitated long before he voluntarily yielded his independence to the empire.  Let us then be thankful to the reigning houses who made sacrifices for the empire which after the full thousand years of German history must have been hard for them to make; and let us be thankful to science, and those who cultivate her, for having kept alive on their hearths the fire of German unity to the time when new fuel was added and it flamed up and provided us with satisfying light and warmth.

I would then—­and you will say I am an old, conservative man—­compress what I have to say into these words:  Let us keep above everything the things we have, before we look for new things, nor be afraid of those people who begrudge them to us.  In Germany struggles have existed always, and the party schisms of today are naught but the echoes of the old German struggle between the noble families and the trade unions in the cities, and between those who had and those who had not in the peasant wars, in the religious wars, and in the thirty years’ war.  None of these far reaching fissures, which I am tempted to call geological, can disappear at

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once.  And should we not be indulgent with our opponents, if we ourselves do not desist from fighting?  Life is a struggle everywhere in nature, and without inner struggles we end by being like the Chinese, and become petrified.  No struggle, no life!  Only, in every fight where the national question arises, there must be a rallying point.  For us this is the empire, not as it may seem to be desirable, but as it is, the empire and the Emperor, who represents it.  That is why I ask you to join me in wishing well to the Emperor and the empire.  I hope that in 1950 all of you who are still living will again respond with contented hearts to the toast




Professor of German Literature, Bryn Mawr College

To relate, in detail, the story of the life of General-Fieldmarshal Graf Helmuth von Moltke—­or, as we shall briefly call him, Moltke—­means to give an account of that memorable phase of modern history, perhaps, so far as Europe is concerned, the most important of the nineteenth century.  This was the ascendency of Prussia, of her king and of her people, culminating in the unification and the consolidation of most of the German states into one great empire, with all its realization of military and political power, of social, economic, and, in a wide sense, of cultural eminence and efficiency.  The barest outlines, however, must suffice for the present purpose.

Moltke was born at the threshold of the century the history of which he so prominently helped to shape, on October 26, 1800, at Parchim in the duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin.  On his father’s side he descended from a family of the North German gentry which had come to various degrees of prominence in some German as well as Scandinavian states.  No doubt he inherited the military instinct from this race of warriors, statesmen, and landholders; a race the characteristic traits of which indicated the line along which he was bound to develop, the field in which he was to manifest his greatest achievements.  But there is just as little doubt that all the elements of character which exalted his military gifts and instincts into an almost antique nobility, simplicity, and grandeur—­his dignity, purity, dutifulness, his profound religious devotion, and sense of humor—­came to him from his mother, who was descended from an ancient patrician family of the little republican commonwealth, the once famous Hansatown of Luebeck.  How far the Huguenot strain may have influenced him, through his paternal grandmother, is hard to tell, since we know but little of Charlotte d’Olivet.

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After the family had moved to Holstein, where his father failed to make a success of an agricultural undertaking for which he seems to have lacked fitness, young Moltke entered the Royal Danish Military Academy as a cadet, and there passed his lieutenant’s examination with distinction; but he sought and found a commission under the Prussian eagle.  He entered the eighth grenadiers at Frankfort-on-the-Oder.  A year later, in 1823, he was sent to what is now called the War Academy in Berlin.  Only by the closest economy and by some outside work, partly literary, as we shall see, he managed to get along with his exceedingly small officer’s pay.  He distinguished himself however so much that he became, successively, a teacher at the Division School and an active military geological surveyor, and finally was taken into the General Staff of the Army.  Becoming a first lieutenant in 1832, a captain in 1835, ahead of many of his comrades, he served exclusively in strategical positions.  During the four years, 1835-39, he, with some comrades, was in the Turkish dominions for the purpose of organizing and drilling the Turkish Army.  He witnessed, as an active participant, the Turkish defeat by the insurgent Egyptians at Nisib on the Euphrates, which was brought about by the indolent obstinacy of the Turkish commander-in-chief.  Like Xenophon, Moltke retreated toward and reached the Black Sea.  At Constantinople he obtained honorable dismissal from the Sultan.  After his return to Prussia he became chief of the General Staff of the Fourth Army Corps.  In 1841 he married Mary Burt, a young relative who was partly of English extraction.  The union developed into an unusually happy married life, in spite of, or partly because of, their great difference in age.


His wife, by whom he had no issue, lived to see the beginning of his great achievements and fame, but died in 1868, before his proudest triumph.  Various commands led him to Italy, Spain, England, and Russia as adjutant of Prussian princes.  In 1858 he was appointed chief of the General Staff of the Prussian Army—­the institution which he shaped into that great strategical instrument through which were made possible, from a military point of view, the glorious successes of the three wars—­1864, 1866, 1870-71—­and which has become the model of all similar organizations the world over.

Side by side with the overtowering political achievement of Bismarck and the more congenial life work of Roon, the minister of war, Moltke’s service to his country and his king stands unchallenged in historical significance.  He has indelibly inscribed his name on the tablets of history as one of the world’s greatest strategists.  But he did not lay down his work until extreme old age; in 1888, as he so simply put it in his request for relief from duty, he resigned his office, because he “could no more mount a horse.”  He, however, still remained president of the Commission of National Defense and his last speech in the German Reichstag, of which he had been a continuous member since its establishment, he delivered on May 14, 1890.  He died on April 24, 1891.  The nation felt that one of its great heroes had passed away.

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In two congratulatory documents on the occasion of Moltke’s ninetieth birthday, Theodor Mommsen, the historian, has summed up the results of the great soldier’s life-work—­in the address presented by the Royal Prussian Academy of Sciences in Berlin, and in the honorary tablet of the German cities.  These inscriptions may be found in Mommsen’s Reden und Aufsaetze.  Shortly after Moltke’s death, in a commemorative address at the same Academy, the historian and Hellenist Ernst Curtius reviewed Moltke’s relations to historical science and his achievements in military science and in history.  The Academy had appointed the Fieldmarshal an honorary member in 1860 for his great achievements in the military, geographical, and historical sciences.  Professor Curtius in the address draws the outlines of Moltke’s character as a student, and explains how he is indebted to the teachings of Karl Ritter, the founder of scientific geography, how he clearly develops under the influence of Niebuhr, Alexander von Humboldt, Leopold von Buch, and Erman, the physicist.  He points out how Moltke, as historian and as an expert cartographer, introduces scientific spirit and work into his great creation, the German General Staff.  As a strategist, however, it remains to be said that he follows in the footsteps, puts into practice and develops the methods of General von Clausewitz, the first mind who put war on an empirical and scientific basis.  Moltke was intimately acquainted with Gibbon through a nearly completed rendering into German of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, a translation which, unfortunately, never was printed and seems to be lost even in manuscript.  As his favorite books and writers Moltke mentions, among others, Littrow’s Astronomy, Liebig’s Agricultural Chemistry, Clausewitz’s On War, Ranke, Treitschke, Carlyle.  It appears, then, that his scientific equipment was of the most solid sort, enabling him to make the most valuable contributions to knowledge.

It is impossible to imagine to oneself Moltke breaking into tears, either of wrath or of despair, in great crises of his life, such as we know to have been the case with Bismarck.  There is a contrast between these two men in their very makeup.  There is tragedy in Bismarck’s soul, in its volcanic eruptiveness and its conflicts.  He is nervously high-strung in the extreme, the very embodiment, in Karl Lamprecht’s terminology, of the type of “Reizsamkeit.”  He likes to listen to Beethoven’s music and his sense of nature reveals him to be impressionable, sensitive.  His gamut of emotions and feelings, and their expression, is extraordinary.  Moltke, on the other hand, appears to be always in harmony with himself, he is far less impulsive than his great contemporary and friend.  His feeling, always awake for nature, has no element of morbid and pathetic sentiment; in the earlier stages of its manifestation we see it slightly tinged by Romanticism.  But

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he is at peace with nature, his great comforting mother.  There is no sudden and surprising break in his mental or spiritual development.  The ideal of the strategist, as antiquity saw it, appears to be consummated in his person.  William James, himself an ardent pacificist, well observed that in the modern soldier there is a matter-of-factness far removed from the bluff and make-believe of modern life in general.  He might have chosen Moltke as the best type of this sort of warrior.  But there was much more than this scientific and dutiful soldier; there was at bottom of Moltke’s nature a fine sense of proportion, an artistic vein, and, not the least element, a Christian philosophy of life just as far removed from mere perfunctory indifferentism as from cocksure dogmatic bigotry and self-sufficiency.  We have striking evidence of this in the Trostgedanken, the Consolatory Thoughts on the Earthly Life and a Future Existence, which he laid down as the last literary utterance of his full and eventful career.  But this is not all; for most astonishing of all in the richness of this well-rounded harmony of over ninety years of life is a lively source of humor, due more to endowment and inheritance from his mother than to her influence, as his letters to her bear witness.  When war is declared in 1870 he remarks that a new vitality has entered his carcass, and, on the very eve of his demise, when in the morning he had attended a session of the Upper House of the Prussian Diet, loyal to his work and task to the very last moment, he closed the last and winning game of whist he played with the quotation of that grim bit of humor characteristic of Frederick the Great and his soldiery:  “Wat seggt hei nu to sine ollen Suepers?”

In Moltke, if in any one, the character of the man reveals the character and style of his writing.  Mommsen, in his address mentioned above, characterizes him as “the man who knew how to describe, as well as how to win, battles, the master of style in his rare speeches, the clever and sympathetic investigator of and writer on manifold ethnic life, the scientific explorer of the regions on the rivers Tigris and Euphrates.”  It is obvious, though, that this mastery of style, this superb union of form and content, was not attained miraculously and from the start.  Still, his first production, published in 1827, a tale (Novelle) in the style of Tieck and his followers, shows distinctive talent, and a tendency toward brevity as well as adequacy of expression, not to mention a sustained sense of harmony and proportion.  The young lieutenant also published, anonymously, some poetry, and showed a clever hand in translating from foreign poets.  It is a pity that most of these attempts are buried in inaccessible periodicals and have never been republished.  But he left the field of poetry and fiction, so far as we know, forever with his next work, the first published under his name and in pamphlet form, a work

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which, though of genuine political interest and love, was at the same time intended to increase his income to the level of a living wage:  Holland and Belgium in their mutual relations; from their separation under Philip II., till their re-union under William I.  He read more than five thousand pages of sources for the preparation of this small pamphlet.  It was published in 1831, and followed within a year by another one:  An account of the internal state of affairs and of the social condition of Poland.  Both writings, as in fact everything else from his pen since about 1830, had a more or less direct bearing on his military vocation; since war, according to Clausewitz, is nothing but the continuation of politics by other than diplomatic means.

But the height of his literary mastery is reached in 1841 by the publication of the Letters on the condition and events in Turkey from the years 1835 till 1839, the matured fruit of those eventful and adventurous but, at the same time, constructive years in the Orient.  They have been likened to Goethe’s Italian Journey.  The comparison is justified by striking resemblances.  Both works have resulted from diaries and letters actually kept, Moltke’s work, however, more faithfully retaining and professing its formal nature.  But the resemblance is much closer, arising, in the so-called inner form, from a similarity of attitude, the same wide extent of interests which may be briefly called “kulturgeschichtlich,” and, above all, the scientific concern in the country and its inhabitants, to which both brought the most solid and methodical qualifications.  It is true, the wealth of Italy, both of antiquity and of the Renaissance, in matters literary and artistic, so exuberantly mirrored in Goethe’s book of travel, is not to be found in Moltke’s work.  But this lack is counterbalanced by those portions dealing with historical events which Moltke actually experienced and even influenced; events, though then unsuccessful, as far as his intentions were concerned, yet important and significant for our own time, as the recent developments on the Balkan peninsula bear ample evidence.  Both, Goethe as well as Moltke, are clever and artistic in handling pencil and brush as well as their descriptive pen.

And now the style, in the narrower sense.  It is natural, limpid, free from all rhetorical flourishes and wordiness, placing the right word in the right place.  Xenophon, Caesar, Goethe, come to mind in reading Moltke’s descriptions, historical expositions, reflections.  Bookish terms and unvisual metaphors, which occur in the preceding pamphlets, though rarely enough, are entirely absent.  The tendency toward military brevity and precision is everywhere obvious.  The omission of the cumbersome auxiliary, wherever permissible, already characteristically employed in his tale, is conspicuous, as in all his writings and letters.  The words are arranged in rhythmical groups without falling into a monotonous

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sing song.  Participial constructions, tending toward brevity, are more in evidence than in ordinary German prose.  Sparingly, but with good reason and excellent handling, periodic structure is employed.  Still another point is significant, showing the writer to be of born artistic instinct.  In a letter to his brother Ludwig, who was to take from Moltke’s overburdened shoulders part of his laborious task of translating Gibbon, he cleverly remarks on the exuberant use of adjectives by the historian as being sometimes more obscuring than elucidating, and he simply advises the omitting of some.  It is a pity that the translation seems to be lost, and with it an insight into Moltke’s elaboration of his style, which a translation would reveal better than original composition.  In one respect these letters about Turkey were never equalled by Moltke.  Henceforth, he turned absolutely matter-of-fact, a military writer par excellence.  Even in his letters those nice bits of humor and incidental manifestations of a subtle and fine nature sense grow scarcer and scarcer.  There are two essays—­The Western Boundary, and Considerations in the Choice of Railway Routes—­both published in the Deutsche Vierteljahrsschrift, in 1841, and 1843 respectively, that demonstrate this tendency toward specialization.  The bulk of his writings from then on falls into that technical series reserved for, and interesting chiefly to, the military man.  Even his speeches in the Reichstag, few and far between, considering the extent of years over which they are spread, with all their excellent “Sachlichkeit,” their directness and clearness, concern matters and problems that affect, more or less directly, his comprehensive duties as chief intellect of the military organization of his country.  So, quite naturally, we see him very reluctantly yield to a gentle but persistent pressure to use his great literary talent for setting down some reminiscences from his life.  He declined to publish personal memoirs, however, saying:  “All that I have written about actual and real things (’Sachliches’) which is worth preserving is kept in the archives of the General Staff.  My personal reminiscences are better buried with me.”  He had turned objective in the highest possible degree, leaving behind all vanities and petty subjective points of view.  But after his retirement he wrote, in 1887, on the basis of the great work on that subject by the General Staff and partly managed by himself, that short History of the Franco-German War of 1870-71, which his nation cherishes as a precious inheritance.  It is “sachlich” throughout.  Starting with a brief reflection on the origin of modern wars he relates the events from the point of view of the directing chief of staff of the army, closing the whole by one impressive sentence:  “Strassburg and Metz, estranged from our country in times of weakness, had been regained, and the German Empire had come to a renewed existence.”  The work is a consummation,

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in literary form, of his motto “Erst waegen, dann wagen!” From the very threshold of his death we possess as the sum total of his philosophy of life those already mentioned Consolatory Thoughts on the Earthly Life and a Future Existence.  From the point of composition and style these are highly interesting because of the fact that, beside the final version, three extant parallel versions show the gradual working out of form and thought.

Something remains to be said about Moltke the correspondent.  The letters preserved or published fully justify his being ranked among the best letter writers in German literature.  Here, more than elsewhere, the subtle and finer characteristics of the man, the son, the brother, the friend, the gentle and always kindly responsive nature of a thoroughly human and Christian soul are revealed.  Above all, however, and side by side with Bismarck’s noble letters to his fiancee and wife, stand Moltke’s charming and devoted letters to Mary Burt von Moltke.  I shall not venture to describe their wealth of sentiment, of charm, of love, of interest in matters big and small.  One of the long series, however, stands conspicuous among them; it is addressed to his fiancee, dated Berlin, February 13, 1842.  Charming in its combination of a protective, paternal, and instructive attitude with that of the lover and prospective husband, it is unique also because of the advice given about the gentle art of writing letters, an art in which the great modern strategist excelled.


* * * * *



[Moltke spent four years, from 1836 to 1839, in Turkey, and, as was his habit, sent detailed accounts of his experiences to his family.  After his return to Prussia, he collected his material, revised it, omitted all intimate family references, and published it under the title Letters Concerning Conditions and Events in Turkey.  The book contained sixty-seven letters.  The following is the tenth letter, dated from Pera, April 7, 1836.]

For a long time it was the task of the armies of western Europe to set bounds to the Turkish sway.  Today the powers of Europe seem anxious to keep the Turkish state in existence.  Not so very long ago serious concern was felt lest Islam gain the upper hand in a great part of the West, as it had done in the Orient.  The adherents of the prophet had conquered countries where Christianity had been rooted for centuries.  The classic soil of the apostles, Corinth and Ephesus, Nicea (the city of synods and churches), also Antioch, Nicomedia, and Alexandria had yielded to their strength.  Even the cradle of Christianity and the grave of the Saviour, Palestine and Jerusalem, did homage to the Infidels, who held their possessions against the united armies of the western knights.

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It was left to the Infidels to put an end to the long existence of the Roman Empire, and to dedicate St. Sophia, where Christ and the saints had been worshipped for almost one thousand years, to Allah and his prophet.  At the very time when people were wrangling about religious dogmas in Constance, when the reconciliation between the Greek and the Catholic churches had failed, and the defection of forty million people from the rule of the Pope was threatening, the Moslems advanced victoriously to Steiermark and Salzburg.  The noblest prince of Europe at that time, the Roman King, fled from his capital before them; and St. Stephen in Vienna came near being turned into a mosque, like St. Sophia in Byzantium.

At that time the countries from the African desert to the Caspian Sea, and from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic, obeyed the orders of the Padisha.  Venice and the German Emperors were registered among the tributaries of the Porte.  From it three quarters of the coastlands of the Mediterranean took their orders.  The Nile, the Euphrates, and almost the Danube had become Turkish rivers, as the archipelago and the Black Sea were Turkish inland waters.  And after barely two hundred years this same mighty empire reveals to us a picture of dissolution which promises an early end.

In the two old capitals of the world, Rome and Constantinople, the same means have been employed to the same ends, the unity of the dogma to obtain unrestricted power.  The vicar of St. Peter and the heir of the calif have fallen thereby into identical impotency.

Since Greece has declared her independence, and the principalities of Moldavia, Wallachia, and Servia are offering only a formal recognition to the Porte, the Turks are as if banished from these, their own provinces.  Egypt is a hostile power rather than a subject country; Syria with her wealth, Adana (the province of Cilicia), and Crete, conquered at the cost of fifty-five attacks and the lives of seventy thousand Mussulmans, have been lost without one sword-thrust, the booty of a rebellious pasha.  The control in Tripolis, hardly recovered, is in danger of being lost again.  The other African states of the Mediterranean have today no real connection with the Porte; and France in her hesitation whether she should keep the most beautiful of them as her own is looking to the cabinet of St. James rather than to the Divan at Constantinople.  In Arabia finally, and in the holy cities themselves, the Sultan has had no actual authority for a long time.

Even in those countries which are left to the Porte the supreme power of the Sultan is often restricted.  The people on the banks of the Euphrates and the Tigris show little fidelity; the Agas on the Black Sea and in Bosnia obey the dictates of their personal interests rather than the orders of the Padisha; and the larger cities at a distance from Constantinople are enjoying oligarchical municipal institutions, which render them almost independent.

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The Ottoman monarchy, therefore, consists today of an aggregation of kingdoms, principalities, and republics which are kept together only by habit and the communion of the Koran.  And if a despot is a ruler whose words are law, then the Sultan in Constantinople is very far from being a despot.

The diplomacy of Europe has long engaged the Porte in wars which are not in its interest, or has forced it to make treaties of peace in which it has lost some of its provinces.  During all this time, however, the Ottoman Empire had to deal with an enemy at home who seemed more terrible than all the foreign armies and navies.  Selim III. was not the first Sultan to lose his throne and his life in his struggle against the Janizaries, and his successor preferred the dangers of a reformation to the necessity of trusting himself to this society.  Through streams of blood he reached his end.  The Turkish Sultan gloried in the destruction of the Turkish army, but he had to crave the help of an all-too-powerful vassal in order to suppress the insurrection on the Greek peninsula.  At this juncture three Christian powers forgot their ancient feuds.  France and England sacrificed their ships and men to destroy the Sultan’s fleet, and thus laid open to Russia the way to the heart of Turkey, and brought about what they had most wished to avoid.

The country had not yet recovered from these many wounds, when the Pasha of Egypt advanced through Syria, threatening destruction to the last descendant of Osman.  A newly levied army was sent against the insurgents, but the generals fresh from the harem led it to destruction.  The Porte applied to England and France, who were calling themselves its oldest and most natural allies, but received from them only promises.  At this juncture Sultan Mahommed invoked the help of Russia, and his enemy sent him ships, money, and an army.

Then the world saw the remarkable spectacle of fifteen thousand Russians encamped on the Asiatic hills overlooking Constantinople, ready to protect the Sultan in his seraglio against the Egyptians.  Among the Turks dissatisfaction was rampant.  The Ulemas saw their influence wane; the innovations had hurt countless interests, and the new taxes incommoded all classes.  Thousands of Janizaries, who were no longer permitted to call themselves such, and the relatives and friends of thousands of others who had been throttled, drowned, or shot down, were scattered through the country and the capital.  The Armenians could not forget the persecution which they had recently suffered, and the Greek Christians, who constituted half of the populace of the original Turkish empire, looked upon their rulers as their enemies, and upon the Russians as fellow-believers in the same religion.  Turkey at that time could not raise another army.

And just then France was laboring with her great event, England was carrying a load in her public debts, while Prussia and Austria had attached themselves more intimately than ever before to Russia, compelled to do so by the conditions of Western Europe.

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Foreign armies had brought the empire to the brink of destruction; a foreign army had saved it.  For this reason the Turks wished above everything else to possess an army of their own of seventy thousand regular troops.  The inadequacy of this force for the protection of the extensive possessions of the Porte is apparent after one glance at the map.  The very dimensions preclude the concentration of the troops, scattered through so many places, when one particular spot is in danger.  The soldiers in Bagdad are 1,600 miles distant from those at Ushkodra in Albania.

This shows the great importance of establishing in the Ottoman Empire a well arranged system of militia.  It presupposes, of course, that the interests of those who rule and those who are ruled are not at variance.

The present Turkish army is a new structure on an old and battered foundation.  At present the Porte would have to look for its safety to its treaties rather than to its army; and the battles which will decide the survival of this State may as well be fought in the Ardennes or in the Waldai Mountains as in the Balkans.

The Ottoman monarchy needs above everything else a well ordered administration, for under present conditions it will scarcely be able to support even this weak army of seventy thousand men.

The impoverished condition of the country shows only too clearly in the lessened income of the State.  In vain a number of indirect taxes have been introduced.  A kind of tax on meat and meal is levied in a very primitive way on the street corners of the capital.  The fishermen pay 20 per cent, of the catch in their nets.  Weights and measures must be stamped anew every year; and all products of industry, from silverware and shawls to shoes and shirts, are stamped with the imperial seal.  But the proceeds from these taxes are enriching only those who collect them.  The riches melt before the avaricious eye of the administration, and the ruler of the most beautiful lands in three continents is drawing water with the leaky pots of the daughters of Danaus.

For the payment of its necessities the government must rely on the confiscation of property, as it passes to new heirs or outright, on the sale of offices, and finally on presents and the miserable means of adulterating the currency.

In regard to the confiscation of money inherited by State officials, the present Sultan has declared that he will do without it.  This edict, however, instead of abolishing the practice, acknowledges the correctness of the principle.  Formerly the edicts of confiscation were accompanied by the death warrants of those who were to be robbed.  Today there are gentler means in use for relieving people of the surplus of their wealth.

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The sale of offices continues to be the chief source of income of the State.  The candidates borrow the money at a high rate of interest from some Armenian business house, while the government permits these “lease-holders” to recoup themselves by the exploitation of their provinces to whatever extent they wish.  Withal, they must fear either a higher bidder, who leaves them no time to get rich, or the State, if they happen to have grown rich.  The provinces know beforehand that the new pasha has come to rob them.  They, therefore, prepare themselves.  Interviews are held, and if no agreement is reached, war is waged, or if an agreement is broken a revolution takes place.  As soon as the pasha has settled with the Agas, he stands in fear of the Porte.  He, therefore, combines with other pashas for mutual protection, and the Sultan must negotiate with the future neighbors of a new pasha before he can appoint him.  In a very few pashaliks, to be sure, the beginning of a better order of things has been made, the administrative and military powers have been separated, and the taxpayers themselves have agreed to higher taxes, provided they are permitted to pay them directly into the State treasury.

Presents are as customary here as everywhere in the Orient.  Without a present the man of lower station is not permitted to approach his superior.  If you ask justice of a judge you must take him a gift.  Officials and officers in the army are given tips, but the man who receives most presents is the Sultan himself.  The expedient of adulterating the currency has been used to the point of exhaustion.  Twelve years ago the Spanish dollar was worth seven piasters; today it is bought for twenty-one.  The man who then possessed one hundred thousand dollars has discovered that today he has only thirty-three thousand.  This calamity has hit Turkey worse than it would have affected any other country, because very little money is here invested in land, and most fortunes consist of cash capital.  In the civilized countries of Europe a fortune is the result of having created something of real worth.  The man who wins his wealth in this way is increasing at the same time the wealth of his State.  His money merely represents the abundance of goods at his disposal.  In Turkey the coin itself is the thing of value, and wealth is nothing but the accidental accumulation of money within the possession of an individual.  The very high rate of interest, which is here legally 20 per cent, is far from indicating any great activity of capital.  It only indicates the great danger of letting money out of one’s immediate possession.  The criterion of wealth is the ease of its removal.  The Rajah will probably buy jewelry for one hundred thousand piasters in preference to investing his money in a factory, a mill, or a farm.  Nowhere is jewelry better liked than here, and the jewels which, in rich families, even children of tender years are wearing are a glaring proof of the poverty of the country.

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If it is one of the first duties of every government to create confidence, the Turkish administration leaves this task entirely unperformed.  Its treatment of the Greeks, its unjust and cruel persecution of the Armenians, those faithful and rich subjects of the Porte, and other violent measures, are so fresh in everyone’s memory that no one is willing to invest his money where it will pay interest only after many years.  In a country where industry is without the element on which it thrives, commerce also must largely consist of the exchange of foreign merchandise for raw home products.  The Turk actually gives ten occas of his raw silk for one occa of fabricated silk, the material for which is produced on his own soil.

Agriculture is even in a worse state.  One often hears the complaint that the cost of all the necessities of life has increased in Constantinople fourfold since the annihilation of the Janizaries, as if heaven had decreed this punishment on those who exterminated the “soldiers of Islam.”  The fact, while true, should probably be explained differently, for, since the events referred to, the great granaries of the capital, Moldavia, Wallachia, and Egypt, which formerly had to send half of their harvests to the Bosphorus, have been closed.  In the interior nobody will undertake the growing of grain on a large scale, because the government makes its purchases according to prices of its own choosing.  The forced purchases by the government are a greater evil for Turkey than her losses by fire and the plague combined.  They not only undermine prosperity, but they also cause its springs to dry up.  As a result the government must buy its grain in Odessa, while endless stretches of fertile land, under a most benignant sky and at only an hour’s distance from a city of eight hundred thousand people, lie untilled.

The outer members of this once powerful political body have died, and the heart alone has life.  A riot in the streets of the capital may be the funeral procession of the Ottoman Empire.  The future will show whether it is possible for a State to pause in the middle of its fall and to reorganize itself, or whether fate has decreed that the Mohammedan-Byzantine Empire shall die, like the Christian-Byzantine Empire, of its fiscal administration.  The peace of Europe, however, is apparently less menaced by the danger of a foreign conquest of Turkey than by the extreme weakness of this empire, and its threatened collapse within itself.



[This is the fourteenth of the Letters Concerning Conditions and Events in Turkey.  It is dated from Pera, June 16, 1836.]

Yesterday I returned from a short excursion to Asia, which I really should describe for you in poetry, because I ascended Mount Olympus.  But since I did not reach the summit, and did not climb farther than the foot, or more properly speaking the toe, of the giant you will get off with prose.

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I embarked on the eleventh, in the afternoon, in a small Turkish vessel, and a fresh north wind carried us in four hours to the rocky promontory of Posidonium (today Bosburun, the point of ice), a distance of eight miles.  Here the sea was running very high, and our reis, or helmsman, who was squatting on the high and delicately carved stern of the ship, was beginning to chant his Allah ekber—­God is merciful—­when the wind died down so completely toward dusk that we did not reach Mudania before eight o’clock next morning.

The horses were soon ready, and up to Brussa I passed through a country that was doubly charming after the lonesomeness of Roumelia, which had been all I had seen for six months.  Everything is under cultivation, planted less with corn than with vines and mulberry trees.  The latter, which serve as food for the silkworms, are trimmed low like bushes, with the crowns cut off, as we do with willows.  Their large bright green leaves cover the fields far and wide.  The olive trees grow here in groves of no mean size, but they have to be planted.  The whole richly cultivated country reminds one of Lombardy, especially of the hilly landscape near Verona The distant view is as magnificent as the foreground is lovely.  On one side you see the Sea of Marmora and the Princess Islands, and on the other the glorious Mount Olympus, whose snow-clad peak rises above a broad girdle of clouds.  The flowering vineyards filled the air with rich scent, assisted by caprifolium blossoms in luxuriant growth, and a yellow flower the name of which I do not know.

When we had crossed a ridge of low hills, we saw Brussa stretched out before us in a green plain at the foot of Mt.  Olympus.  It is indeed difficult to decide which one of the two capitals of the Ottoman rulers is more beautifully situated, the oldest or the newest, Brussa or Constantinople.  Here the sea and there the land bewitches you.  One landscape is executed in blue, the other in green.  Relieved against the steep and wooded slopes of Mt.  Olympus, you see more than one hundred white minarets and vaulted domes.

The mountain rises to the regions of almost perpetual snow, and supplies the inhabitants of Brussa with wood to warm themselves in winter and with ice for their sherbet in summer.  A river, called Lotos, winds its course through rich meadows and fields of mulberry trees, where giant nut trees with dark foliage and light green planes, white minarets and dark cypress trees rise to the sky.  Vines climb up the mighty trunks and attach themselves to the branches, whence they droop again to earth, while Caprifolium plants and thriving creepers superimpose themselves on the vines.  Nowhere have I seen such a wide and thoroughly green landscape, except from the tower of Luebbenau, overlooking the woods along the Spree.  But here you have in addition the richer vegetation and the glorious mountains which surround the plain.  The abundance of water is surprising; everywhere brooks are rushing along and springs are gushing from the rocks, ice cold and boiling hot, side by side.  In every part of the city, even in the mosques, water is bubbling from countless fountains.

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As is the case with all Turkish cities, the beautiful picture vanishes the moment you enter Brussa.  The smallest German town surpasses Constantinople, Adrianople, or Brussa in the charm of its buildings and still more in comfort.  Only the mosques and the Hanns, or caravansaries, the fountains and public baths are magnificent.  In the earlier times of the Ottoman monarchy no ruler was permitted to build a mosque before he had won a battle against the infidels.  The mosques in Brussa are smaller and less beautiful than those which were built later, but they possess the added interest of historical memories.  There you find such names as Orchan, Suliman, Murad, in short, all the heroes of the victorious period of Islam.

The mosque of Bajasid attracted me most because of its excellent architecture.  Bajasid is the man whom the Turks call Ilderim, or the Lightning.  The monument of the mighty conqueror, who himself was conquered and died in a cage according to the legend, stands alone in the shadow of mighty cypress trees.  The largest of the mosques used to be a Christian cathedral.  It is lighted from above, the middle vault having been left open.  The beautiful Asiatic starry sky itself has become its vault.  The opening is covered with a wire screen, and below it in a wide basin a fountain is playing.

I will not say that even the largest mosques, the Sultan Selim, for instance, in Adrianople, or Sulamanich in Constantinople, make the same impression or inspire the same reverence as St. Stephan’s in Vienna, or the cathedrals of Freiburg and Strassburg.  But every mosque, even the smallest, is beautiful.  There is nothing more picturesque than the semi-circular, lead-covered domes and the slender, white minarets rising above the mighty planes and cypresses.  When the Ottomans conquered the provinces of the Eastern Roman Empire they preserved the Greek Church architecture, but they added the minarets, which are of Arabian origin.

[Illustration:  COUNT MOLTKE]

The Hanns are the only stone dwelling-houses to be found.  They are built in the shape of rectangles with an open court.  Here, at least in the larger ones, you will find a mosque, a fountain, a small kiosk for noble travelers, and a few mulberry trees or plane trees.  All about the court there is a colonnade with pointed arches; and, beyond that, rows of cells, each one with its individual vault.  A mattress of straw is the only furniture for the traveler, who finds neither service nor food in these Hanns.

We dined in thoroughly Turkish fashion at the Kiebabtshi.  After our hands had been washed we sat down, not at but on the table, where my legs were terribly in the way.  Then the Kiebab, or small piece of mutton, broiled on the spit and rolled in dough, was served on a wooden platter.  It is very good and tasty.  It was followed by salted olives, which are wonderful, by the helva, i. e., the favorite sweet dish, and by a bowl of sherbet.  This consists of water poured over grapes and thoroughly iced.  The whole dinner for two hearty eaters cost one hundred and twenty paras, or five shillings.

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The comforts of the Turkish baths I have described to you in an earlier letter.  The baths of Brussa are distinguished, because they are not artificially but naturally heated, and so much so that you would not think it possible, at first, to enter the great basin of clear water without being parboiled before you could leave it again.  From the terrace of our bath we had a beautiful view, and it was so comfortable there that we hated to leave.

On the thirteenth we rode to Kemlik, at the end of the Bay of Mudania, where there is a dockyard.  This is the most beautiful spot I have seen.  The clear surface of the sea is lost here between the high and steep mountains, which leave just enough space for the little town and the olive woods.  Twilight is very brief in this country, and night had come when we reached the town gate, but what a night!  Although the moon happened to be new, objects were distinguishable at a considerable distance, while the evening star shines here so brightly that shadows are cast by its light.

At three o’clock in the morning we were again in the saddle, riding toward the East through a valley and between high mountains, along the same road which Walther von Habenichts once followed with his twelve thousand crusaders.  The hills were covered with olive trees and flowering bushes filled with nightingales.  At sunset we reached the extensive lake of Isnik.  The gigantic walls and towers on the opposite shore used to protect a powerful city, for which the crusaders often fought.  Today they surround the few miserable huts and rubbish heaps which centuries ago were Nicea.  It was here that an assembly of one hundred learned bishops expounded the mystery of the Trinity, and decided to burn all who held a different view.  What would these proud prelates have said if a man had prophesied to them that the time would come when their rich and mighty city would be a rubbish heap, and their cathedral the ruins of a Turkish mosque; when the empire of the Greek emperors would be destroyed, and their own exegesis, yes, even their entire religion, would have disappeared from these parts, and when for hundreds of miles and through hundreds of years the name of the camel-driver of Medina would be the only one in the mouths of the people.

The Moslems, who abhor all pictures, have covered with whitewash the paintings in the Greek churches.  In the Cathedral of Nicea, where the famous council was held, there glistens even today through the white coating of the wall, where the high altar used to be, the proud promise, I.H.S. (in hoc signo, i. e., under this sign, the cross, you will win).  But directly over it is written the first dogma of Islam, “There is no God but God.”  There is a lesson of tolerance in these faded inscriptions, and it seems as if Heaven itself wished to listen as well to the Credo as to the Allah il allah.  One of the chief pursuits of the honest Turks is what they call Kief etmek, literally “creating

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a mood.”  It consists of drinking coffee in a comfortable place and smoking.  Such a place par excellence I found in the village where we made a stop.  Imagine a plane which extends its colossal branches horizontally for almost one hundred feet, burying in its deep shadow the nearest houses.  The trunk of the tree is surrounded by a small terrace of stone, below which water is gushing from twenty-seven pipes in streams as thick as your arm, and rushing off as a lively brook.  Here, with their legs crossed, the Turks sit, practising—­silence.



[This is the forty-third letter of Moltke’s Letters from Turkey, and is dated from Dshesireh on the Tigris, May 1, 1838.]

I told you in my last letter that we should be going on an expedition against the Arabs.  This did not materialize.  Nevertheless, I had the opportunity of making the acquaintance of a very interesting part of the country.  On April 15, von Muehlbach, I, and two fully armed agas of the pasha, together with our servants and dragomans, embarked on a vessel built in a style well known even in the times of Cyrus, a raft supported by inflated sheep-skins.  The Turks look upon hunting as a sin, they despise venison and beef, but eat an enormous quantity of sheep and goats.  The skins of these animals are cut in front as little as possible and removed from the carcass with great care.  Then they are sewed up and the extremities tied up.  When the skin is inflated (which is done quickly and without touching the skin to the mouth) it is exceedingly buoyant and can hardly be made to sink.  From forty to sixty such bags are tied together in four or five rows under a light framework of branches.  There generally are eight skins in front and eighteen in the back.  The whole is covered with a litter of leaves over which rugs and carpets are spread.  Taking your seat on these you glide downstream with utmost comfort.  Because the current is swift, oars are not needed for progress, but only for steering the raft, keeping it in the middle of the course, and avoiding the dangerous rapids.  On account of these rapids we had to tie up every night until the moon was up, but in spite of this we covered the distance, which by land would have taken us eighty-eight hours, in three and one-half days.  The river, therefore, must flow with an average velocity of almost four miles per hour.  In places it is much swifter, and in others decidedly slower.

The Tigris leaves the mountains near Argana-Maaden, and flows past the walls of Diarbekir, where it is apt to cause slight inundations in summer time.  It then receives the Battman river flowing in a southerly direction from the high Karsann-Mountains and carrying more water into the Tigris than this river contained before.  Immediately after the union of these two rivers the Tigris enters another mountainous territory formed of sandstone.  The gentle curves of the broad and shallow river are transformed into the sharp criss-cross angles of a ravine.  The banks are abrupt, often vertical on both sides; and on top of some steep, rocky slopes your eye may discover groves of dark-green palms, and in their shadows the settlements of tribes of Kurds, who in this region are mostly cave-dwellers.

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The town of Hassn-Kejfa (Hossu-Keifa), situated on a high rock whence a narrow staircase descends to the river, offers a most unusual aspect.  The old city below has been destroyed, and only a few minarets still pointing to the sky indicate that mosques and houses once stood here.  The inhabitants were obliged to retreat to the top of the cliff, where they built a wall of defence on the only accessible side.  In the narrow ravine I discovered huge blocks which had rolled down from above.  People have hollowed them and are using them as dwelling places.  These “huts” today make up a small, very irregular town, which, however, possesses even a bazaar.  By far the most noteworthy remains are the ruins of a bridge which used to cross the Tigris.  There was one gigantic arch with a span of between eighty and one hundred feet.  I do not know whether the credit for such a daring structure should be given to the Armenian kings or the Greek emperors, or perhaps even to the califs.

It is impossible to travel more comfortably than we did.  Stretched out on downy pillows, and provided with victuals wine, tea, and a charcoal basin, we moved down the stream with the rapidity of an express coach and without the least exertion.  But the element which propelled us persecuted us in another form.  Rain poured from the sky incessantly after our departure from Diarbekir.  Our umbrellas no longer protected us, and our cloaks, garments and carpets were soaked.  On Easter day, just as we were leaving Dshesireh, the sun broke through the clouds, warming our stiffened limbs.  About two miles below the city the ruins of another bridge across the Tigris are still in existence, and one of its piers creates a fierce whirlpool whenever the water is high.  The exertions of the men at the oars were of no avail, and irresistibly our small ark was attracted by this charybdis.  With the speed of an arrow we were sucked down below the surface, and a big comber broke over our heads.  The water was icy cold, and when in the next moment our raft, which had not capsized, continued its way downstream as innocently as if nothing had happened we could not help laughing at one another, for we were a sad looking sight, everyone of us.  The charcoal basins had gone overboard, a boot swam alongside, while each one of us hastened to fish out some little object.  We made a landing on a small island, and since our bags were as thoroughly soaked as we were ourselves, we had to disrobe and spread our entire toilet in the sun to dry as well as possible.  At some distance a flock of pelicans were taking their rest on a sandbank and sunning their white plumage as if in derision of our plight.  Suddenly we saw that our raft had got loose and was floating off.  One of the agas immediately jumped after it and fortunately reached it.  If he had failed we should have been left on a desert island in nothing but nature’s own garb.

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When we were tolerably dry we continued our journey, but renewed downpours spoiled the moderate results of our previous efforts.  The night was so dark that we had to tie up, for fear of being drawn into other whirlpools.  In spite of the biting cold, and although we were wet to the skin, we did not dare to light a fire which might have attracted the Arabs.  We silently pulled our raft into the shelter of a willow tree and waited longingly for the sun to appear from behind the Persian frontier mountains and to give us warmth.

Not far from Dshesireh the Tigris enters another plain and leaves behind the high and magnificent Dshudid mountains on whose bright and snow-clad peaks Noah and his mixed company are said to have disembarked.  From here on the scenery is very monotonous; you rarely see a village, and most of those you see are uninhabited and in ruins.  It is apparent that you have entered the country of the Arabs.  There are no trees, and where a small bush has survived it is a siareth or sanctuary, and is covered with countless small rags.  The sick people here, you must know, believe they will recover when they sacrifice to the saint a small part of their garments.

On the top of an isolated mountain of considerable height we could see at a great distance the ruins of an old city.  When we approached it we actually passed along three sides of this mountain, on the north, east and south.  The city was, I suppose, the ancient Bezabde of which the records say that it was situated in the desert and surrounded on three sides by the Tigris.  Sapor laid siege to it after he had taken Amida and, when he had captured its three legions, gave it a Persian garrison.

Gliding past the ruins of the so-called old Mossul we discovered toward evening the minarets of Mossul.  This is the most easterly point which I have visited, and my Turkish companions had to face west when they offered their evening prayer, while in Constantinople the moslems are looking for the Kibla in the southeast.

Mossul is the important half-way station for the caravans from Bagdad to Aleppo.  Being situated in an oasis of the desert the city must at all times be on the lookout against the Arabs.  The walls which completely surround the city are weak but high, and offer sufficient protection against the irregular bands of mounted Bedouins.  The Bab-el-amadi gate, mentioned in the time of the crusaders, is still standing, although it has been walled up.  Most of the dwellings are built of sun-dried bricks and a kind of mortar which hardens within a few seconds.  Following an Oriental custom great weight is attached to beautiful and large entrance doors (Bab).  You can see arched portals of marble (which is quarried immediately outside the city gates) in front of houses and mudhuts the roofs of which scarcely reach to the points of the arches.  The roofs are flat, made of stamped earth (Dam), and are surrounded by low walls and parapets.  In most of the larger houses you can see traces of their having been hit by bullets, and the fortress-like aspect of these dwellings reminds you of the palaces of Florence, except that here everything is smaller, humbler and less perfect.

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The inhabitants of Mossul are a remarkable mixture of the original Chaldean populace and the Arabs, Kurds, Persians and Turks who successively have ruled over them.  The common speech is Arabic.

Indshe-Bairaktar, the governor, received us with great courtesy and had us quartered with the Armenian Patriarch.  The Nestorian and Jacobite Christians of Mossul have the most beautiful churches I have seen in Turkey, but they are living in discord and hatred.  One of these churches happened to belong, I do not know why, to two congregations, and since everything which the one did in these sacred halls was an abomination in the eyes of the other, the beautiful vault had been divided by a brick wall directly in the centre.

Our Jacobite Patriarch was greatly troubled about having to house heretics, but he much preferred us to Nestorians or Greeks.  Since no Christians, moreover, had ever been received with so much honor by the Pasha, and the most important Mussulmans came to pay us their respects, he treated us well, and even sold me a Bible in Arabic and Syrian (Chaldean).

In the northwesterly corner of the city the plateau falls off abruptly toward the river.  Here the water of the Tigris is raised by a contrivance, which makes use of a high kind of derrick, leathern hose, and a rope which is pulled by a horse.  The long nozzle of the hose empties into huge brick basins whence the water is distributed over fields and gardens.  But only the empty areas within the walls and the fields adjacent to the city are cultivated.  If only a fraction of all the water rushing past Mossul could be used for irrigation purposes this whole country would be one of the most fertile of the world.  This idea undoubtedly induced the people ages ago to build the powerful stone dikes which hem in the course of the river a few hours above the city.  Surely, it would not be difficult to irrigate all the fields from there, but the Arabs hovering about the city make the harvesting of the crops too uncertain.

There is a bazaar especially for the Arabs immediately outside the walls of Mossul, built there for the purpose of keeping these suspicious characters from entering the city proper.  Over the confusion of many small mud-huts some slender palm trees rise to majestic heights, the last ones of the desert.  These palms are like reeds grown to the proportions of trees.  They are typical of the south, and give confidence to the Arabs who seem to feel that they are way up north and yet still in the land of the myrrh and the incense.  Here the children of the desert congregate and, pushing their bamboo-spears into the sand—­point down, squat on the ground to admire the glory of a city—­even though it be a city which affects the European with the very opposite of glory, but which for hundreds of miles has no equal.

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Perhaps no people have preserved their character, customs, morals, and speech as unchanged through centuries as the Arabs, and have done so in spite of the most manifold changes in the world at large.  They were nomads, shepherds and hunters roving over little-known deserts, while Egypt and Assyria, Greece and Persia, Rome and Byzantium rose and fell.  And then, inspired by one idea, these same nomads suddenly rose in their turn and for a long time became the masters of the most beautiful valley of the old world, and were the bearers of the then civilization and science.  One hundred years after the death of the Prophet, his first followers, the Sarazenes, ruled from the Himalayas to the Pyrenees, and from the Indies to the Atlantic Ocean.  But Christianity and its higher spiritual and material perfection, yes even its intolerance, which its high morality should have made impossible, drove the Arabs back again from Europe.  The rude force of the Turks undermined their rule in the Orient, and for the second time the children of Ishmael saw themselves driven out into the desert.

Those Arabs who had reached a higher state of culture, and had settled down to the pursuit of agriculture, commerce, or industry, had to sink the lower before the oppression of a rule of iron.  The artificial dealings of a government trying to imitate European methods, and the assistance of the Franks, the introduction of the census and of taxes, of duties and monopolies, standing armies and conscriptions, the barter of offices and the leasing of custom houses, slavery and the vices of the east, together with the energy, indomitable will and marvelous luck of Mehmet Ali, all combined in one grand achievement—­I mean the monumental tyranny, never yet equalled, under which the fellahs today are groaning in Egypt and the Arabs in Syria, and under which a whole country has been transformed into a private domain, and a whole people into personal slaves.

By far the greater part of the Arabic nation, however, had remained true to its old customs, and no despotism could get hold of them.  The extent of the Asiatic and African deserts, their fiery sky and parched soil, and the poverty of the inhabitants have ever been the protection of the Arabs.  The rule of the Persians, the Romans, and the Greeks was never more than partial, and often existed only in name.  The Bedouin today, like his fathers of old, is still living the life of want, care, and independence, roving through the same steppes as they, and watering his herds from the same wells as they did in the time of Moses or of Mahomet.

The oldest descriptions of the Arabs fit the Bedouins of our day.  Unquenchable feuds are still dividing the several tribes, the possession of a pasturing place or of a well still determines the welfare of many families, and blood-feuds and hospitality still are the vices and virtues of this people of nature.  Wherever along their frontiers the Arabs come in contact with foreign nations war is the result.  The children of Abraham divided among themselves the rich and fertile countries, while Ishmael and his tribe were cast out into the desert.  Shut off from all the other people the Arabs consider foreigners and foes to be identical and, unable to procure for themselves the products of industry, they believe they are justified in appropriating them wherever they find them.

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The pashas of the frontier provinces repay these constant depredations with repressive measures on a big scale and are not concerned about the individuals who are made to suffer.  When they saunter forth with a few regiments of regular cavalry and a field gun they are sure to scatter even the biggest ashiret or encampment.  The Arab does not like to stand his ground against gun-fire and never resists an artillery-attack which he cannot of course return.  He does not fear so much for his own life, as for that of his horse, for a full blooded mare often makes up the whole wealth of three or four families.  Woe to the horse which with us is owned by three or four masters.  With the Arabs it has as many friends to take care of it.

When the Turks succeed in surprising an ashiret they take away the herds of sheep and goats, a few camels, and possibly some hostages whom they keep in miserable bondage.  In a small hut or stable of the serail of Orfa I found nine old men.  A heavy chain attached to rings around their necks fastened the one to the other, and twice daily they were driven to the watering trough just like cattle.  The Turks had demanded of their tribe the exorbitant ransom of 150,000 piasters, of which one third had actually been offered.  When I saw the old men, there was little chance of their ever being ransomed at all.  The pasha, however, promised me that he would set them free.  I do not know whether he kept his word.

Such examples do not deter the Arabs, and, as far as their horses are able to go, no settlement can endure.  The entire southern slope of the Taurus, the ancient Oszoene, is dotted with indications of their devastation.  Here wonderful brooks are flowing from the mountains, and a superabundant supply of water, a hot and ever bright sky, and a most fertile soil have combined in creating a paradise, if only men would not always destroy it.  Snow is unknown here, and olive-trees, vines, mulberry trees, palms and pomegranate trees spring up wherever you guide a stream of water, however small, while the yield of grain, rice, and cotton is phenomenal.  But of Karrat, now Harran, the seat of Abraham, only a mound of earth and a few crumbled walls remain.  Dara, the magnificent creation of Justinian, lies in ruins, and on the site of Nisibin, which had been completely destroyed, Hafiss-Pasha has built only recently some new cavalry barracks, under whose protection the city and the surrounding villages have taken a new lease of life.  Orfa and Mossul finally, the only large cities, appear like outposts of Mesopotamia.

In their robber-expeditions the Arabs have the hope of booty before them and behind them the assurance of a safe retreat.  They alone know the pasturing grounds and the hidden wells of the desert, they alone can live in these regions, and do so by the help of the camel.  This animal, which can carry a load of from five hundred to six hundred pounds, takes all their property, their wives, children, and old

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men, their tents, provisions and water from one place to another.  It can make six, eight, even ten days’ marches without drinking, and a fifth stomach keeps a final draft in reserve in case of greatest need.  Its hair is made into garments and cloth for the tents; its urine yields salt, its droppings are used for fuel and, in caves, are transformed into saltpeter from which the Arabs make their own gunpowder.  The milk of the camel serves as food not only for the children, but also for the colts, which grow thin but strong like our horses when they are in training.  Camel meat is tasty and wholesome, and even the skin and the bones of a camel are good for something.  The most wretched feed, dry grass, thistles and brambles, satisfies this patient, strong, helpless and most useful of all animals.  Next to the camels, which even the poorest Arab owns in almost incredible numbers, the horses represent the chief wealth of these children of the desert.  It is well known that these animals grow up in the tents together with the children of the family with whom they share food, deprivations and hardships, and that the birth of a colt of fine lineage marks a day of joy in the whole ashiret.

In Europe the Arabian horses are classified according to an erroneous and incomplete system.  I am thinking especially of their division into Kohilans and Nedshdis.  This latter name designates the numerous tribe of Arabs inhabiting the high plateau of the interior of Arabia, and breeding, it is true, excellent horses.  But just as little as every Arabian horse is full blooded, just as little every Nedshdi is a Kohilan.  This is the whole matter:  Kohilan was the favorite horse of Hasaret-Suleiman-Peigamber (His Highness Solomon the Prophet).  It is, moreover, true and no legend that the better horses receive at birth their family-tree, in which their parents, and often their grandfathers, are mentioned, and which they carry through life, generally in a triangular capsule, by a string around their neck.  In the course of centuries several of Kohilan’s descendants have so greatly distinguished themselves that they have become sires of note in their own name.  Among the most notable descendants of Kohilan I heard mentioned the colts of Meneghi, and next of Terafi, Djelevi, Sakali, and many more.  Mahomet himself rode a Kohilan of the family of Meneghi on his flight from Medina.  You understand, therefore, that not every Nedshdi has to be full-blooded, and that a Kohilan may be as well an Aenesi or Shamarly as a Nedshdi.

The Arabs of the race of Shamarr who camp in the country between the two rivers, and who can muster ten thousand mounted men, had recently been guilty of many robberies, and had refused to recognize the new sheikh whom the Porte had appointed over them.  Hafiss-Pasha, therefore, decided to give them a most thorough chastisement.  The pashas of Orfa and of Mardin were to march against them, and he wanted to have the pasha of Mossul, who

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is not under his jurisdiction, do the same.  If this had been done, the Arabs would have been forced back against the Euphrates, beyond which the Aenesi Arabs live who are hostile to them.  But Indshe-Bairaktar did not fancy an expedition which was expensive and promised little booty.  When finally definite orders came from the Bagdad-Valesi, the other pashas had already scared away the enemy, who had disappeared into unknown regions.

After a brief and interesting sojourn, therefore, we decided to return through the desert with a caravan which was on the point of starting.  Since the Arabs had been greatly incensed by the recent attacks, the expedition was increased by forty horsemen.  We joined it toward evening in its encampment, about two hours from Mossul, near the Tigris where everybody wished to have one more last good fill of water.  The Kyerwan-Bashi, or leader of the caravan, whom the pasha had notified of our arrival, at once made his appearance and had his tent made ready for us.  He also presented us with a goat for supper.

For five days we traversed the Tsull, or desert of northern Mesopotamia, without seeing any human habitations.  You must not think of this desert as a sea of sand, but as an interminable green plain with only occasional, very slight undulations.  The Arabs call it Bahr, the sea, and the caravans proceed in an absolutely straight line, taking their direction from artificial mounts which rise above the plain like prehistoric graves.  They indicate that once upon a time a village existed here, and that, therefore, a well or a spring must be nearby.  But the mounts often are six, ten or even twelve hours distant the one from the other.  The villages have disappeared, the wells have gone dry, and the rivulets are bitterly salt.  A few weeks later this green plain which now is nourished by copious daily dews will be a wild waste parched by the sun.  The luxuriant growth of grass which today reaches to our stirrups will be withered and every water-course run dry.  Then it will be necessary to follow the Tigris in a wide detour, and none but the ships of the desert, the camels, will be able to traverse this plain, and they only by night.

Our caravan consists of six hundred camels and four hundred mules.  The big bags carried by the former contain almost exclusively palm-nuts for the dye houses of Aleppo, and cotton.  The more valuable part of the freight, silk from Bagdad and shawls from Persia, pearls from Bassora, and good silver money which in Constantinople will be recoined into bad piasters, is small in proportion to the bulk carried.

The camels go in strings of from ten to twenty, one behind the other.  The owner rides ahead on a small donkey, and although his stirrups are short his feet almost touch the ground.  He is continually shoving his pointed slippers into the flanks of his poor beast and placidly smoking his pipe.  His servants are on foot.  Unless the donkey leads, the camels refuse to stir.  With long thoughtful strides they move along, reaching the while with their thin restless necks for thistles or thorns by the roadside.  The mules are walking at a brisk pace.  They are decorated with little bells and beautiful halters gaily set with shells.

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When the caravan has come to the place where the night is to be spent, the Kjerwan-Bashi canters ahead and designates the exact spot for the camp.  The beasts of burden are unloaded as they arrive, and the huge bags are placed together as a kind of fortification in the shape of a quadrangle, within which each one prepares himself a place of rest.  Our tent, which was the only one in the caravan, stood outside and was given a special guard of Bashi-Bazouks.  The camels and mules were turned loose in the high grass where they were expected to look also for all the water they needed.

As soon as it grows dark the camels, which have roved often at half an hour’s distance, are collected.  The leaders call to them, and since each one knows his master’s poah! poah! they obediently come home.  They are arranged in rows within the quadrangle.  The smallest boy can control these big, strong, yet harmless and helpless animals.  He calls:  Krr! krr! and the huge beasts patiently sink to their knees.  Then they fold their hind legs, and after a series of strange, undulating movements all are lying in regular rows, moving their long necks in every direction and looking about.  I have always noticed the resemblance of a camel’s neck with that of an ostrich, and the Turks call these birds deve-kush, the camel-birds.  A thin cord is then tied around one bent knee of each camel.  If it should rise it would have to stand on three legs, and would be unable to move.

On this evening we were visited by several friendly Arabs, short and thin, but strong and sinewy people.  Their complexion was yellowish-brown, their eyes were small and vivacious.  An assumed dignity barely disguised their native vivacity, and their guttural speech reminded us very strongly of the Jews.  Their dress consisted of a rough cotton shirt, a white woolen cloak and a red and yellow kerchief, half-silk, which each man had fastened about his head with a string, just as you see it on the Egyptian statues.


Hunting-in the Tshull is highly successful.  There are countless gazelles, pheasants and partridges hiding in the tall grass.  On the third day we were just on the point of following some bustards, which clumsily rise on their wings and after some time descend again to the ground, when a general alarm arose in the caravan.  “The Arabs are coming!” was shouted everywhere.  A throng had been noticed in the distance approaching very rapidly.  The head of our column stopped, but since our whole caravan was stretched out to the length of approximately four miles, there was little hope of protecting it with a guard of some sixty armed men.  The horsemen galloped ahead to an artificial mount, where the Arabs were pointed out to me.  There were indeed numerous black spots moving rapidly through the plain, but since I had a small telescope with me I could quickly convince my companions that what we saw before us was nothing but a huge herd of wild boars bearing down upon us.  Soon the beasts could be recognized with the naked eye.

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Tonight the Kjerwan-Bashi told me a characteristic story of an Arab which I had heard before in Orfa.

A Turkish general of cavalry, Dano-Pasha at Mardin, had been negotiating for some time with an Arab tribe concerning the purchase of a full-blooded mare of the Meneghi breed.  Finally a price of sixty bags or almost fifteen hundred dollars was agreed upon.  At the appointed hour the sheikh of the tribe arrives with his mare in the courtyard of the pasha.  The latter is still trying to bargain, when the sheikh proudly replies that he will not take one para less.  The Turk sulkily throws him the money saying that thirty thousand piasters are an unheard of price for a horse.  The Arab looks at him in silence, and ties the money very complacently in his cloak.  Then he descends to the courtyard to take leave of his mare.  He mutters some Arabic words in her ear, strokes her eyes and forehead, examines her hoofs, and walks all around her, carefully studying the attentive horse.  Suddenly he jumps on her bare back, and, in the same instant, off she shoots like a dart out of the courtyard.

In this country the horses generally stand ready with their palans or felt saddles on, day and night.  Every distinguished man has at least one or two horses in his stable ready to be mounted as soon as they have been bridled.  The Arabs, however, ride without bridles.  The halter serves to check the horse, and a gentle tap with the open hand on the neck makes it go to the right or the left.  Not more than a few seconds, therefore, elapsed before the agas of the pasha were mounted and in hot pursuit of the fugitive.

The unshod hoofs of the Arabian mare had never yet trodden cobble stones, and very carefully she picked her way while she hastened down the steep, uneven road leading from the castle.  The Turks, on the other hand, galloped over the steep descent with its loose pebbles just as we often gallop up a sandy slope.  Thin, circular shoes, forged cold, kept all harm from the feet of their horses, which were accustomed to such trips and made no false steps.

Where the village ends the agas have almost caught up with the sheikh, but now they are in the plain, the Arabian mare is in her element, off she darts, straight ahead, for here there are neither ditches nor fences, neither rivers nor mountains to delay her course.  Like a clever jockey who leads a race, the Arab wishes to ride as slowly and not as quickly as possible.  Constantly looking back at his pursuers, he keeps out of gunshot.  When they approach he pushes on; when they fall behind, he slows the pace of his horse; when they stop, he walks his mare.  Thus the chase continues till the fiery orb of the sun verges toward the horizon.  Then for the first time the Arab demands of his horse every ounce of her strength.  Crouching over her neck he drives his heels into her flanks, and with a loud “Jellah!” is gone.  The sod resounds under powerful hoof-beats, and soon only a cloud of dust indicates to his pursuers the course he has taken.

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Here where the sun descends to the horizon almost in a vertical line the twilight is exceedingly brief and soon dark night had swallowed up every trace of the fugitive.  The Turks, without provision for themselves or water for their horses, realized that they were some twelve or fifteen hours away from home and in an unknown locality.  What could they do but return and bring to their irate master the unwelcome news that both the horse and the rider with the money were gone?  Not until the third evening did they reach Mardin, half dead of exhaustion and with horses hardly able to put one foot ahead of the other.  Their only consolation was that here there was another instance of Arabian perfidy for them to revile.  The traitor’s horse, to be sure, they were obliged to praise, and they had to confess that such an animal could hardly be paid for too dearly.

Next day, just when the Imam is calling to morning prayer, the pasha hears hoofbeats under his window, and into the courtyard the sheikh is riding entirely unabashed.  “Sidi,” he calls up, “Sir, do you want your money or my horse?”

Somewhat less quickly than the Arab had ridden we reached on the fifth day the foot of the mountain and near a clear rivulet the large village of Tillaja (Tshilaga), doubtless the ancient Tilsaphata, where the starving army of Jovian on its retreat from Persia to Nisibin found its first provisions.  There I learned that on that very morning Mehmet-Pasha had started with an army on an expedition against the Kurds in the north.  I at once decided to join him and, leaving the caravan, arrived at his camp that same evening.  There I was told that Hafiss-Pasha had sent a guard of fifty horsemen to meet us, whom we had missed, because they had looked for us in the direction of Sindjar.



[From a letter written by Moltke to his brother Fritz and dated October 28, 1846.]

My most interesting experience was a bullfight.  At three in the afternoon my Frenchman and I betook ourselves to the circular arena where twelve thousand people were assembled to watch the Corrida de Toros.  There are about twenty stone steps on which the people take their places, just as in the ancient amphitheatres, and on top there are two tiers of boxes, of which the one in the centre is reserved for the queen.  The arena proper where the fight is to take place is perfectly empty, and is separated from the spectators by a barrier of beams and planks seven feet in height.  A small platform makes it possible for those who fight on foot to vault safely from the arena when they can avoid the bull in no other way.

After some delay the gates opened and the alguazil, some kind of a higher official clad in old-fashioned garb, rode in and announced that the game was about to begin.  He was everywhere greeted with hoots, ridicule and disrespectful whistling; I do not know why.  But he seemed to know what to expect, for he apparently did not mind his reception in the least.  The Romans in the circus made sport of their consuls and emperors, and the Spaniards at a bullfight are permitted an equal latitude of behavior.

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Then the chulos entered—­on foot, with gay hangings draped over their right arms.  They were followed by six picadores on horseback, dressed in leather jerkins and breeches, protected on the right side with bands of iron.  They wore Spanish hats and carried each a heavy spear on which there was an iron point only half an inch long.  Their saddles were of the high cowboy type, and they sat their horses well.  Under the accompaniment of deafening applause the matador (literally, the murderer) took his place at their head.  His name was Cuchiera, and he was a famous and celebrated hero of the arena.  Thus this phalanx advanced toward the royal box, where Queen Christine, wife of Munoz, Duke of Rianzares, was seated, and dropped to their knees to offer her the royal salute; whereupon twelve thousand people hissed.

At last the chief actor entered, a powerful black bull with sharp horns and fiercely glistening eyes.  He had been in a room with holes in the ceiling through which he had been poked with pointed sticks.  He was, therefore, tolerably ill-humored before he entered the arena.  As soon as the doors of his prison were opened he shot forward to the centre of the field, looked fiercely about him, greatly astonished, pawed the sand with his feet, and then hurled himself upon the nearest picador.  This man held his ground, and permitted the maddened bull to rush against his pointed spear.  The horse had his right eye bandaged lest he see the bull and bolt.  The attack, however, was so fierce, and the rider so firmly seated in his saddle, that both he and his horse were lifted up and thrown over backwards.  At the same moment the sharp horns of the bull were fastened in the horse’s belly.  A stream of blood, thick as your finger, spurted out directly from the horse’s heart.  The picador was lying under his charger, and was prevented by his costume from freeing himself.  His certain end was at hand if the chulos had not come to his assistance with their gay draperies.  The bull immediately let go his prey and hurled himself upon the men on foot, or rather upon their gaudy cloaks.  He chased one the entire length of the arena and, when his foe had escaped him by jumping the barrier, he made the stout fence tremble under his hammering horns.  At the disappearance of his enemy the bull stood stock still, as if dumfounded, until a second picador met his glance.  This horseman had the same experience as his predecessor, but before the chulos could bring help the bull buried his horns a second time in the belly of the convulsed horse and carried it high up in the air through half the length of the arena.  The third horse was ripped open in a trice.  The wretched animal actually caught his feet in his own entrails and dragged them from his body bit by bit.  In this condition he was beaten and given the spurs and was forced to await a second attack by the infuriated bull.

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Since the bull each time had received a terrific thrust on his left shoulder from the spear, he finally refused to charge another one of the picadores.  Their places, therefore, had to be taken by the banderilleros.  These gay-looking people are men on foot with arrows two feet long, each with a hooked point.  On the other end these arrows are decorated with little flags, brass foil, tinsel, and even bird cages whence gaily decked birds are permitted to escape.  With these arrows the banderilleros walk right up to the bull, and, when he is ready to charge, jump to one side and thrust their weapons deep into his neck, halfway between his ears and his horns.  Then the beast grows altogether mad and furious, and often chases a whole band of chulos in wild flight over the barrier, which calls for noisy shouts of ridicule from the crowd.  Once the bull straddled the fence, and there have been times when he has succeeded in scaling it.  One of the chulos was so bold as to put his gaudy cloak over his shoulders, so that the bull charged straight at him.  But as the beast lowered his head and threw himself forward with closed eyes, the man jumped over him and stood by his side.

When finally the rage of the bull is at its height, but his strength is waning, the matador faces him, all alone.  At once a hush falls over the spectators, who sit in rapt attention, for the matador’s work is by far the most dangerous.

He is a fine-looking man, in shoes and white stockings.  His silk coat and breeches are sky blue; his hair is tied in a net, in his left hand he carries a small scarlet cloak, and in his right a diamond-shaped blade of sharp Toledo steel, four feet in length.  It is necessary to drive this into the neck of the bull at a very definite point, for if it hits him elsewhere he can shake it off and break it into splinters.  In order to hit the right spot the man must let the bull pass him at a distance of only two or at best three inches.  Everything is based on the assumption that the bull will attack the red cloth rather than the man, and will continue his course in an absolutely straight line.  There are exceptions, and then the matador is lost.

Very deliberately the caballero walked up to his black antagonist and shook his red cloth at him.  Twice he let him pass under his arm.  At the third attempt he thrust his blade up to the hilt into the neck of the beast.  For another minute perhaps the bull rages, then he begins to bleed from his mouth, he totters and then collapses.  Immediately a kind of hangman’s assistant sneaks up from behind and plunges a dagger into the neck of the bull, who expires on the spot.

At this juncture five mules decorated with ribbons and tinkling bells came trotting into the arena; they were hitched up to the horses and then to the bull, and at a fast clip carried the corpses away.  Some sand was then sprinkled on the puddles of blood, and a new bull brought out.  In this way eight bulls were driven to death.  Twenty horses fell dead, while several more were led away mortally wounded.  A single bull killed eight horses.  No men were seriously hurt.

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The horses, it is true, are of such a quality that, if they are not killed today, they will be taken to the horse-butcher tomorrow.  Good horses would not only be too expensive, but they would also refuse to await the attack of the bull without shying or offering resistance, even if their right eyes were bandaged.  The more horses the bull has killed and the more dangerous to the men he has become, the louder is the applause.  One bull persistently refused to attack the picadores.  He ran up and down the arena, trembling with fear, while the crowd shrieked curses and imprecations.  At last they yelled:  Los perros! (the dogs!) When the dogs arrived in the arena they could hardly be restrained.  Madly they rushed upon the bull, who at once gored one of them and tossed him high in the air.  The others, however, fastened on him, one of them seizing his tongue so firmly that he was swung high up in the air and down again.  You could have torn him to pieces before he would have let go.  Finally four dogs had the bull in a position where he could not free himself, and the matador struck him down.

While this butchery was at its height, the young queen with the Infanta entered, accompanied by Don Francesco, her husband, and the Duke of Montpensier.  Aumale had arrived earlier.  The queen looked very happy and is by no means so ugly as the papers say.  She is blonde, rather stout, and not at all plain.  The Infanta is small, extremely dark and thin.  The queen was greeted by the matador just as her mother had been, but by the spectators with much enthusiasm.  When the eighth bull was killed, it began to grow dark, but all the people yelled “un otro toro,” and the ninth bull was hunted down almost in darkness—­which is very dangerous for the matador.

This, then, is the spectacle which the Spaniards love better than anything else, which is watched by the tenderest of women, and which brought a smile to the face of the Infanta, a recent bride.  So far as I am concerned, one bullfight was quite enough for me, and its description, I fancy, will be enough for you.



Thursday, August 28th

The City of Moscow takes it for granted that the Emperor has not yet arrived.  A few assert that he has been since yesterday at the Castle Petrofskoy, an hour’s ride from here, where he is holding court and reviewing a hundred thousand Guards; but that is his incognito; officially, he is not yet here.

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The Holy City is preparing for the reception that is to take place tomorrow.  They are hammering and pounding in all the streets and on all the squares.  Most of the houses here stand alone, in the centre of a garden or court.  Large tribunes for spectators have been erected in these spaces.  In several of these I counted three thousand numbered seats.  Before the houses themselves, moreover, small platforms with chairs have been erected, protected by linen awnings, decorated with tapestries, carpets and flowers.  There must be at least several hundred thousand seats, so that there can be no crowd.  Only those who cannot pay the few kopecks,[39] the Tschornoi Narod, or “the black brood of the people,” will form the movable mass, and the police will have to restrain them.

All palaces and churches have laths nailed on their architectonic lines, upon which the lamps for the festive illuminations are to be fastened.  The Giant Ivan, which will speak from the mouths of twenty-five large bells, bears upon its golden dome a crown formed of lamps, surmounted by the great glittering cross, which the French pulled down with immense toil and danger, and which the Russians victoriously reinstated.  As an atonement for the offense, they laid one thousand guns of the godless enemy at the feet of Ivan, where Count Morny can see them to this day.

Half of the population of the city are in the streets, looking about, and they are allowed to go everywhere, even in the Kremlin.

Every day six-and eight-horse teams, mostly dark gray and black, which are going to convey the state coaches of the Empress and the Grand-Duchesses, are going to and fro from the Kremlin to Petrofskoy.  Strangely enough, the outriders sit on the right front horses.  An equerry of the Guards walks by each horse and leads it by the bridle.  Yesterday their Excellencies carried a fearfully heavy canopy, supported by thick gold posts, through the salons and over the stairs of the palace.  The aides-de-camp walk by the side of it, and balance it by golden cords.

The state coaches, most wonderful products of former centuries, have been drawn out of their semi-obscurity in the Arsenal, where they have rested twenty-eight years.  The oldest are entirely without springs, are suspended by leather straps six feet long over a tongue twenty feet long and correspondingly thick, which is so bent that the coach almost reaches the ground.  Those of the Empresses are ornamented with diamonds and jewels.  It will hardly be possible to use the oldest.  There is, further, a kind of house on wheels, made of gold, velvet, and crystal, which Peter the Great received as a present from England, and compared to which a thirty-six pounder is but a child’s toy.  In short, everything is life and activity here, in expectation of the volleys of cannon which will announce tomorrow from the old gate towers of the Kremlin the solemn entrance of the Czar.

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Yesterday the Emperor wished to ride through the camp of the Guards, whom he has not seen since he ascended the throne, because, in consequence of the war, they had been removed to Lithuania and Poland, and are now encamped at an hour’s distance on a vast plain.  A solemn mass, at which the Empress was also present, preceded this.  We drove out in complete gala dress through thick clouds of dust.  The Emperor rode with his suite.  He looked very well on horseback.  At this moment it began to rain, and poured uninterruptedly.  Fortunately we found shelter under the open tent in which the altar was, and in which the mass was said, or, rather, sung.  All further inspection was countermanded, and we returned home.

In the evening I drove to Petrofskoy.  It lies in the midst of a wood, and has a very odd appearance.  The castle proper is a three-storied quadrangle with a green cupola.  The entrances are supported by the most singular bottle-shaped bulging columns, and the whole is surrounded by a turreted wall, with battlements and loopholes.  This red-and white-painted fortress, the light of which radiates from the high windows through the dark forest, recalls a fable of the Arabian Nights.  All monasteries and castles here are fortified.  They were the only points capable of holding out when the Golden Tribe rushed upon them with twenty or thirty thousand horses, and devastated all that flat country.  Long after their yoke was broken, the Khans of Tartary in the Crimea were formidable enemies.  The watchmen from the highest battlements of the Kremlin were continually observing the wide expanse toward the south; and when the dust-clouds rose thence, and the great bell (kolokol) of Ivan Welicki rang the alarm, every one fled behind the walls of the Czar’s palace or to the monasteries, upon whose walls the infuriated horsemen struck and dashed in vain.  The Christianity, science, and culture of the Russian nation sought shelter in the cloisters, and from them started afterward Russia’s deliverance from the domination of the Mongolians and Poles.

Today there was again mass in the open air, and five battalions received new flags, which in addition were blessed by the priests; then the Metropolitan Archbishop walked the length of the front and sprinkled the troops thoroughly with holy water; some of the men were practically soaked to the skin.  The Emperor and both Empresses not only kissed the cross, but the archbishop’s hand.  Then the Emperor passed the front of every battalion, and, with a true military attitude, spoke a few words to the men, which were received with endless applause.  He was an excellent rider, and rode a well-trained horse.  Then he inspected the front of the whole camp—­one and a half German miles.  There were seventy-four battalions, with eight hundred men apiece—­about sixty thousand men in all.  They stood unarmed and in caps, all of them old, bearded, and dark-faced.

I care nothing for the deafening hurrahs that lasted two hours; but these old, mustached men show how glad they are to see their Czar.

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The Emperor spoke to some of them.  They answered their Batuschka (little father) without embarrassment.  In Russia the family is the microcosm of the State.  All power rests with the father.  All theories of representative government in Russia are pure nonsense.  “How can human statutes circumscribe the divine right of a father?” asks the Russian.  So that the unlimited power in the hands of the Emperor is necessary and beneficial in a land where nothing is done that is not ordered from above.

Whoever should gaze, as I have done, on a warm, sunny day, upon the city of Moscow for the first time from the height of the Kremlin would certainly not think that he was in the same latitude in which the reindeer graze in Siberia, and the dogs drag the sleighs over the ice in Kamtchatka.  Moscow reminds one of the South, but of something strange never seen before.  One seems to be transported to Ispahan, Bagdad, or some other place—­to the scene of the story of the Sultaness Scheherezade.

Although Moscow does not count more than three hundred thousand inhabitants, it covers two square miles with its houses, gardens, churches, and monasteries.  In this flat region one can hardly see beyond the extreme suburbs, and houses and trees extend to the horizon.

No city in the world, with the exception of Rome, has so many churches as the holy Stolitza of Russia.  It is affirmed that Moscow boasts of forty times forty churches.  Each one has at least five, and several even sixteen, cupolas that are brilliantly painted, and covered with colored glazed bricks, or richly silvered and gilded, glittering in the blue atmosphere like the sun when it is half above the horizon.  Even the graceful towers, rising sometimes to considerable heights from the immense mass of houses and gardens, are similarly ornamented, and neither do the larger ones among the palaces lack the addition of a cupola.

The dwelling houses are almost always in gardens, and are distinctly outlined against the dark background of trees by their white walls and flat iron roofs painted light green or red.  The oldest part alone, close to the Kremlin—­the Kitai-Gorod, or the Chinese quarter—­forms a city according to our notions, where the houses touch each other, and are carefully enclosed by a beautiful turreted wall, here, of course, painted white.  All the rest seems to be a large collection of country houses, between which the Moskwa winds its way.

The Kremlin contains (besides the palaces of the Czars and the Patriarchs) the Arsenal and the treasures of the church.  Here are concentrated the highest civil and religious powers.  The cloisters, mostly at the extremities of the city, are fortresses in themselves.

It was in the Kitai-Gorod that the commercial guild established itself, needing for its wares, imported from China, Bucharia, Byzantium, and Novgorod, the protection of walls.  The rest, and by far the larger part of Moscow, was built by the nobility for themselves; and long after the first Emperor had raised a new capital upon the enemy’s ground it was looked upon with contempt by the grandees of the Empire, still faithfully clinging to the customs of their fathers.

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The venerable city of Moscow, with its ancient, sacred relics and historical reminiscences, still remains an object of veneration and love to every Russian; and, often coming from a distance of hundreds of miles, when getting a glimpse of the golden cross on the Church of Ivan Welicki, he falls on his knees in reverence and patriotic fervor.  St. Petersburg is his pride, but Moscow is nearer to his heart.  And, in truth, Moscow has no resemblance to St. Petersburg.  There is no Neva here, no sea, no steamers; nowhere a straight street, a large square, or a wooded island.  But Moscow has as little resemblance to any other city.  The cupolas, the flat roofs and the trees remind one of the East; but there the cupolas are more curved, covered with gray lead, and surmounted by delicate minarets; the houses show no windows toward the street; and the gardens are enclosed by high, dead, monotonous walls.  Moscow has a character of its own; and if one wishes to compare it with anything, it must be called Byzantine-Moresque.  Russia received her Christianity and first civilization from Byzantium.  Until of late years she remained completely shut off from the East, and what culture she once adopted became rapidly nationalized.  The heavy scourge of the Mongolian and Tartar domination, which burdened this country for nearly three centuries, prevented for a long time any further progress.  All culture was confined to the monasteries, and to these they afterward owed their deliverance.  The Khans of Tartary never required their submission to Islam; they satisfied themselves with the tribute.  In order to raise this, they had recourse to native authority.  They supported the power of the Grand Dukes and of the priesthood; and the despotism of the Golden Tribe, much as it circumscribed further improvement, strengthened the oppressed in their faith in their religion, fidelity to their rulers, and love to their mutual fatherland.

These are still the characteristics of the people; and when one reflects that the embryo of this nation, the Great Russians—­thirty-six million people of one root, one faith, and one language—­forms the greatest homogeneous mass of people in the world, no one will doubt that Russia has a great future before her.

It has been said that with an increase of population this boundless empire must fall to pieces.  But no part of it can exist without the other—­the woody North without the fertile South, the industrial centre without both, the interior without the coast, nor without the common joint stream, navigable for four hundred miles—­the Volga.  But, more than all this, the national spirit unites the most distant portions.

Moscow is now the national centre not only of the European Empire, but of the ancient and holy kingdom of the Czars, from which the historical reminiscences of the people spring, which, perhaps, is big with the destinies of the future empire in spite of a deviation of two centuries.

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The foreign civilization which was forced upon them has never penetrated the mass of the people.  The national peculiarity has remained complete in language, manners, and customs, in a highly remarkable municipal constitution, the freest and most independent existing anywhere; and, finally, in their architecture.  The last can, of course, only be applied to the churches.  In Russia nearly everything is new.  What is older than a hundred years is looked upon as an antiquity.  The Russian dwelling-house is of wood, and therefore never reaches that age, unless, like the one of Peter the Great, it be encased by a stone one.  Even the palaces of the Emperor are new, and only here in Moscow can be found a ruin of the old Dworez of the Czars.  There are churches in existence of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries (a great age for Russia), and the strictly conservative spirit of the priesthood has been instrumental in retaining the same style of architecture in the later buildings.

The St. Sophia, in Constantinople, is the model upon which all Russian churches are built.  It was imitated everywhere, but never equalled, not even by St. Mark’s in Venice.  There was lack both of material and skill to build an arch with a span of one hundred and twenty-six feet.  What could not be accomplished in width was attempted in height.  The domes became narrow and tall, like towers.  The rough stone, handled without art, rendered clumsy pillars and thick walls necessary, in which the windows, like embrasures, are cut narrow and deep.  The brightest light falls through the windows in the thinner wall which supports the cupolas.  Nearly all churches are higher than they are long and wide.  The clumsy tetragonal pillars contract the already narrow space.  One has nowhere a free view, and a mystic twilight reigns everywhere.  The most famous Russian churches can only accommodate as many hundreds as a Gothic cathedral can thousands.  It is true most of them were built by Italian masters; but the latter were obliged to conform to the rules and forms already in use.

Since the architectonic conditions were unfavorable to the creation of a magnificent whole, an attempt was made to ornament the individual parts with brilliancy and magnificence.  Not contented to gild the churches inside and out, the floors were paved with half-precious stones, and the pictures (of no artistic value) were covered with jewels, diamonds, and pearls.  Only the faces and hands are painted; the garments, crown, and all else are plated with silver, gold, and jewels.

Sculpture is entirely prohibited, as far as representing the human form is concerned; but they do not hesitate to represent God himself on canvas.  The gilt background is of itself disadvantageous for the carnation of the pictures, and added to this are the long-drawn outlines of the Byzantine and old German schools, without the genuine feeling of the latter.  Gigantic scarecrows gaze down from the cupolas, meant to represent the Virgin Mary, Christ, St. John, or God the Father.  A Russian buys no holy picture that is not quite black or faded out.  A lovely Madonna of Raphael, or a fine Sebastian of Correggio, does not seem to him expressive.  His creed needs the obscurity of his church—­the clouds of incense which at every mass veil the mysterious movements of the priests.

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The Byzantine element in the Russian architecture is then historically easy to explain.  The Moresque originated with the necessity of decorating the individual parts, and relates only to these.

The railings of the Ikonostase are interlaced with vines, garlands, and animal forms.  The flat walls, principally where they are not gilt, are decorated with leafwork, rosettes, and twining vines.  Where this could not be cut in stone it was painted, and the deficiency in drawing was supplied by a variety of the most glaring colors.  Of course, they remained far behind the tasteful, artistic arabesques of the Alhambra and the Alcazar.

The craziest thing in the way of architecture is the Church of Ivan Blajennoj, on the Red Square before the Kremlin.  It cannot be described.  This building stands on uneven ground, although the fine level Place is before it.  It crouches on the edge of the hill, and leaves one leg hanging down.  There is no trace of any symmetry.  It has no central point, and no one part is like another.  One cupola looks like an onion, another like a pineapple, an artichoke, a melon, or a Turkish turban.  It contains nine different churches, each having its own altar, Ikonostase, and sanctuary.  You enter several of these on the ground floor.  To reach others, you ascend a few steps.  Between these is a labyrinth of passages so narrow that two people can with difficulty pass each other.  Of course, all these churches are very narrow.  The one in the main tower can scarcely contain more than twenty or thirty persons, and yet its vaulted roof reaches into the tower at a height of over a hundred feet.  This church is painted with all the colors of the rainbow, inside and out, and plated with silver and gold.  The cupolas shine with red, green, and blue glazed bricks, and even the masonry has been colored by the artist.

This monstrosity emanated from the brain of Ivan Hrosnoj, “the Terrible John.”  When he saw the architect’s work complete he was delighted, loaded him with praise, embraced him, and then ordered his eyes to be put out, that no such second masterpiece should be attributed to him.

But, with all its singularity, this church does not produce a disagreeable impression.  It cannot be denied that it is at least original.

Everything, on the contrary, left from the old Dworez (palace) is really beautiful.  There is a strange four-story building narrowing toward the top.  There is a balcony formed by each receding story, from which there is a fine view.  The second story contains, besides the rich but small chapel, a banquet-hall, like the Kanter’s,[40] in Marienburg, only that there the entire vaulted roof is borne by a slender column, and here by a thick pillar.  The entrance is in one corner; the throne stands diagonally opposite in the other.  At present, the walls are covered with splendid tapestries, and the great throne draped with drap d’or, lined with real ermine.  This drapery cost forty thousand rubles.  The small but exquisite rooms in the third story are charming.  The fourth story is only one large room.  It was the Terima, or dwelling of the women—­the room in which Peter I. grew up.

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At the parole delivery all the regiments were represented, the cavalry mounted.  It was beautiful to see specimens of all these dazzling uniforms:  the Cuirassiers, with the Byzantine double eagle upon their helmets, something like our Garde du Corps, but with lances; the Uhlans, almost exactly like ours; the Hussars, in white dolmans with golden cords; the line Cossacks, with fur caps and red caftans; the Tschernamorskish Cossacks, in dark blue coats with red jackets over them; and the Ural ones with light blue—­all with lances, on little horses and high saddles.  The Tartars are nearly all heathen or Moslem.  The Circassians appeared in scaly coats of mail and helmets.  They showed off their equestrian accomplishments, fired from the horse with their long guns, shielded themselves from their pursuers by their kantschu,[41] concealed themselves by throwing their bodies on one side so that they touched the ground with their hands; others stood upright in the saddle—­all done at full gallop and amidst fearful noise.

A regiment of Drushins,[42] an Imperial militia levied on the Imperial apanage estates, pleased me well.  They wore a cap with the cross of St. Andrew, bare neck; the native caftan, only shorter and without a button; very wide trousers, the shirt over them (as with all common Russians), and the end of their trousers tucked into their high boots.  Such is the uniformed Mujik (peasant).  This dress is national, becoming and useful.  The men can wear their furs (which are here indispensable) underneath; and I will venture to say that the entire Russian infantry will adopt a similar costume. “Les proverbes sont l’esprit des peuples,” and the national dress is the result of the experience of centuries in regard to what is becoming and appropriate.

The Austrian uniform is white in Moravia and brown in the Banat, because the sheep there are of that color.  The Spaniard wears the tabarra, as he receives the material from the goat.  The Arabian is white from head to foot, because the heat of his climate requires it; and the Mujik does not wear his caftan from caprice, but because it suits him best.

The Emperor’s cortege is truly imposing—­about five hundred horses.

If I only had a better memory for persons and names!  I have made the acquaintance of a number of interesting men; that is, I have been presented to them:  Prince Gortschakoff, Lueders, Berg, and Osten-Sacken, who commanded in the last war; Orloff, Mentschikoff, Alderberg, Liewen, the Governor of Siberia, and the commandant of the Caucasus; then a lot of aides-de-camp, the foreign princes, and their suites.

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One can be truly thankful if one rides a strange horse without causing or experiencing some disaster.  A bad rider comes up from behind; a horse sets himself in your way; here a mare kicks up behind; there a stallion kicks up in front.  It is but a small affair to ride alone, but in the confusion of such a train, in a short trot on a lively beast, one must keep one’s eyes open.  Suddenly the Emperor stops, and there is a general halt; or he turns to one side, and then there is great confusion; he gallops forward, and all plunge after him, while the head of the column has again taken a short movement.  With all this the flags are flying, the trumpets are blowing, the drums are beating, and there are endless hurrahs.  But one must also see something.  I rode a little black horse that I would like to possess; he goes like an East Prussian, but is very spirited, and I constantly found myself in the front among the grand dukes.  But I shall get on well with him when we know each other better.  He needs a quiet rider with a firm seat, and a light hand on the reins.

This evening at sunset, I again ascended the Kremlin. "Diem perdidi" I should say of the day of my sojourn there in which I did not visit this wonderful structure.

I descended to the Moskwa, and, from under the fine quay, examined the massive white walls, the towers and the gate forts which surround the Czar’s palace, and a whole town of churches of the strangest structure.  Tonight the city gives a grand entertainment, from which I shall absent myself to write.  One receives so many impressions that it is impossible to digest them all and collect one’s thoughts.

I am trying to understand this architecture.  In Culm, in West Prussia, I saw last year in the marketplace such a curious City Hall that I could not reconcile it in my mind; now I understand that it is Moscovite architecture.  The Knights of the Sword of Liefland were in intimate connection with the German Knights in Prussia, and one of their architects may have repeated on the Vistula what he had seen on the Moskwa.

The fountains here remind one of the East; little, round covered houses on the principal squares, which are constantly surrounded by men and beasts supplying themselves with water.  At first they seem rude and awkward when compared with the fine style, the rich sculpture, the golden railings, and the perforated marble walls of the Tschesmas of Constantinople.  There are here, as in the mosques, swarms of doves that are so bold that they scarcely leave room for carriages and foot-passengers.  They are often chased out of the shops like a brood of chickens, and they go everywhere for food.  No one does them any harm, and the Russians think it a sin to eat them.  The Gostinoy Dwor (the merchants’ court) is especially a repetition of the Oriental Tschurchi.  One booth is next to the other, and the narrow passages that separate them are covered; therefore the same dim light and the same smell of leather and spices exist as at the Missir, or Egyptian market, in Constantinople.  The wares here, however, are mostly European, and cheaper at home, so that we are not much tempted to buy.

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If I had my choice, I would rather live in Moscow than in St. Petersburg.

Peter the Great found an island without any seacoast.  He could look upon the Black Sea or the Baltic as a communication with the civilized world; but one or the other must first be conquered.  The hot-headed King of Sweden pressed him to a Northern war, and, besides, the Southern Sea was inhabited by barbarians.  His original intention, it is said, was to build his new capital on the Pontus, and that he even had selected the spot.  The one coast, indeed, is not much farther from the centre of the empire than the other.

How would it have been had he built his St. Petersburg on the beautiful harbor of Sebastopol, close to the paradisiac heights of the Tschadyr Dagh, where the grape grows wild and everything flourishes in the open air that is forced through a greenhouse on the Neva; where no floods threaten destruction; where the navy is not frozen fast during seven months of the year; and where steam power makes an easier communication with the most beautiful countries of Europe than the Gulf of Finland does?

What a city would St. Petersburg have been, did her wide streets extend to Balaklava and did the Winter Palace face the deep blue mirror of the Black Sea; if the Isaac Church stood at the height of Malakoff; if Aluschta and Orianda were the Peterhof and Gatschina[43] of the Imperial family!



[Professor Bluntschli had sent the manual of the Institute of International Law to Count Moltke, and expressed the hope, in a letter dated November 19, 1880, that it would meet with his approval.  Count Moltke replied as follows:]

My dear Professor: 

You have been good enough to send me the manual published by the Institute of International Law, and you ask for my approval.  In the first place, I fully recognize your humane endeavors to lessen the sufferings which war brings in its train.

Eternal peace, however, is a dream, and not even a beautiful dream, for war is part of God’s scheme of the world.  In war the noblest virtues of man develop courage and renunciation, the sense of duty and abnegation, and all at the risk of his life.  Without war the world would be swallowed up in the morass of materialism.

With the principle stated in the preface, that the gradual advance of civilization should be reflected in the conduct of war, I fully agree; but I go further, and believe that civilization alone, and no codified laws of warfare, can have the desired result.

Every law necessitates an authority to watch over it and to direct its execution, but there is no power which can enforce obedience to international agreements.  Which third state will take up arms because one—­or both—­of two powers at war with each other have broken the loi de la guerre? The human judge is lacking.  In these matters we can hope for success only from the religious and moral education of the individuals, and the honor and sense of right of the leaders, who make their own laws and act according to them, at least to the extent to which the abnormal conditions of war permit it.

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Nobody, I think, can deny that the general softening of men’s manners has been followed by a more humane way of waging war.

Compare, if you will, the coarseness of the Thirty Years’ War with the battles of recent dates.

The introduction in our generation of universal service in the army has marked a long step in the direction of the desired aim, for it has brought also the educated classes into the army.  Some rough and violent elements have survived, it is true, but the army no longer consists of them exclusively.

The governments, moreover, have two means at hand to prevent the worst excesses.  A strong discipline, practiced and perfected in times of peace, and a commissariat equipped to provide for the troops in the field.

Without careful provision, discipline itself can be only moderately well enforced.  The soldier who suffers pain and hunger, fatigue and danger, cannot take merely en proportion avec les ressources du pays, but he must take whatever he needs.  You must not ask of him superhuman things.

The greatest blessing in war is its speedy termination, and to this end all means must be permitted which are not downright criminal.  I cannot at all give my approval to the Declaration de St. Petersbourg, that “the weakening of the hostile army” is the only justifiable procedure in war.  On the contrary, all resources of the hostile government must be attacked—­its finances, railways, provisions, and even its prestige.

The last war against France was waged in this way, and yet with greater moderation than any earlier war.  The campaign was decided after two months; and fierceness became characteristic of the fighting only when a revolutionary government continued the war through four more months, to the detriment of the country.

I am glad to acknowledge that your manual, with its clear and short sentences, does greater justice than former attempts to what is needed in war.  But even the acceptance of your regulations by the governments would not ensure their observance.  It has long been a universally accepted rule of warfare that no messenger of peace should be shot at.  But in the last campaign we frequently saw this done.

No paragraph learned by heart will convince the soldier that the unorganized natives who spontanement (that is, of their own free will) take up arms and threaten his life every moment of the day and night should be recognized as lawful opponents.

Certain requests of the manual, I fear, cannot be put in force.  The identification, for instance, of the dead after a big battle.  Others are subject to doubt, unless you insert "lorsque les circonstances le permettent, s’il se peut, si possible, s’il-y-a necessite," or the like.  This will give them that elasticity without which the bitter severity of actual warfare will break through all restrictions.

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In war, where everything must be treated individually, only those regulations will work well which are primarily addressed to the leaders.  This includes everything that your manual has to say concerning the wounded and the sick, the physicians and their medicines.  The general recognition of these principles, and also of those which have to do with the prisoners of war, would mark a notable step in advance and bring us nearer the end which the Institute of International Law is pursuing with such admirable perseverance.

Very respectfully,



[Footnote 38:  From Count Moltke’s Letters from Russia, permission Harper & Brothers, New York.]

[Footnote 39:  Kopecks are equal to about one cent each.]

[Footnote 40:  A part of the castle in Marienburg, Prussia, containing the hall where the knights of the German order, “Deutsche Ritter,” held their conclaves; also the hall itself, one of the showplaces of Eastern Prussia.—­TRANSLATOR.]

[Footnote 41:  A whip with short handle and long thong.—­TRANSLATOR.]

[Footnote 42:  Militia of the Emperor, but differently constituted from the American militia or Prussian Landwehr.—­TRANSLATOR.]

[Footnote 43:  One of the summer palaces of the Emperor.]




The days are gone by when, for dynastical ends, small armies of professional soldiers went to war to conquer a city, or a province, and then sought winter quarters or made peace.  The wars of the present day call whole nations to arms, there is scarcely a family that does not suffer by them.  The entire financial resources of the State are appropriated to the purpose, and the different seasons of the year have no bearing on the unceasing progress of hostilities.  As long as nations continue independent of each other there will be disagreements that can only be settled by force of arms; but, in the interest of humanity, it is to be hoped that wars will become less frequent, as they have become more terrible.

Generally speaking, it is no longer the ambition of monarchs which endangers peace; the passions of the people, its dissatisfaction with interior conditions and affairs, the strife of parties, and the intrigues of their leaders are the causes.  A declaration of war, so serious in its consequences, is more easily carried by a large assembly, of which none of the members bears the sole responsibility, than by a single man, however high his position; and a peace-loving sovereign is less rare than a parliament composed of wise men.  The great wars of the present day have been declared against the wish and will of the reigning powers.  Now-a-days the Bourse has assumed such

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influence that it has the power to call armies into the field merely to protect its interests.  Mexico and Egypt have been swamped with European armies simply to satisfy the demands of the haute finance.  Today the question, “Is a nation strong enough to make war?” is of less importance than that, “Is its Government powerful enough to prevent war?” Thus, united Germany has, up to now, used her strength only to maintain European peace; a weak Government at the head of our neighboring State must, on the other hand, be regarded in the light of a standing menace to peace.

The war of 1870-71 arose from just such relations.  A Napoleon on the throne of France was bound to establish his rights by political and military success.  Only for a time did the victories won by French arms in distant countries give general satisfaction; the triumphs of the Prussian armies excited jealousy, they were regarded as arrogant, as a challenge; and the French demanded revenge for Sadowa.  The liberal spirit of the epoch was opposed to the autocratic Government of the Emperor; he was forced to make concessions, his civil authority was weakened, and one fine day the nation was informed by its representatives that it desired war with Germany.


The wars carried on by France on the other side of the ocean, simply for financial ends, had consumed immense sums and had undermined the discipline of the army.  The French were by no means archiprets for a great war, but the Spanish succession to the throne, nevertheless, had to serve as a pretext to declare it.  The French Reserves were called to arms July 15th, and only four days later the French declaration of war was handed in at Berlin, as though this were an opportunity not to be lost.


One Division was ordered to the Spanish frontier as a corps of observation; only such troops as were absolutely necessary were left in Algiers and in Civita Vecchia; Paris and Lyons were sufficiently garrisoned.  The entire remainder of the army:  332 battalions, 220 squadrons, 924 cannon, in all about 300,000 men, formed the army of the Rhine.  This was divided into eight Corps, which, at any rate in the first instance, were to be directed by one central head, without any kind of intervention.  The Imperator himself was the only person to assume this difficult task; Marshal Bazaine was to command the army as it assembled, until the Emperor’s arrival.

It is very probable that the French were counting on the old dissensions of the German races.  True, they dared not look upon the South Germans as allies, but they hoped to reduce them to inactivity by an early victory, or even to win them over to their side.  Prussia was a powerful antagonist even when isolated, and her army more numerous than that of the French, but this advantage might be counterbalanced by rapidity of action.

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The French plan of campaign was indeed based on the delivery of unforeseen attacks.  The strong fleets of war and transport ships were to be utilized to land a considerable force in Northern Prussia, and there engage a part of the Prussian troops, while the main body of the army, it was supposed, would await the French attack behind the fortresses on the Rhine.  The French intended to cross the Rhine at once, at and below Strassburg, thus avoiding the great fortresses; and also, at the start, preventing the South-German army, which was destined to defend the Black Forest, from uniting with the North-Germans.  To execute this plan it would have been imperative to assemble the main forces of the French army in Alsace.  Railway accommodation, however, was so inadequate that in the first instance it was only possible to carry 100,000 men to Strassburg; 150,000 had to leave the railways near Metz, and remain there till they could be moved up.  Fifty thousand men were encamped at Chalons as reserves, 115 battalions were ready to march as soon as the National Guard had taken their places in the interior.  The various corps were distributed as follows: 

Imperial Guard, General Bourbaki—­Nancy.

Ist Corps, Marshal MacMahon—­Strassburg.

IId Corps, General Frossard—­St. Avold.

IIId Corps, Marshal Bazaine—­Metz.

IVth Corps, General Ladmirault—­Diedenhofen.

Vth Corps, General Failly—­Bitsch.

VIth Corps, Marshal Canrobert—­Chalons.

VIIth Corps, General Felix Douay—­Belfort.

Thus there were only two Corps in Alsace, and five on the Moselle; and, on the day of the declaration of war, one of these, the IId Corps, was pushed forward close to the German frontier, near St. Avold and Forbach.  This IId Corps, however, received instructions not to engage in any serious conflict.

The regiments had marched out of quarters incomplete as to numbers, and insufficiently equipped.  Meanwhile the reserves called out to fill their place had choked the railway traffic; they crowded the depots, and filled the railway stations.

The progress to their destination was delayed, for it was often unknown at the railway stations where the regiments to which the reserves were to be sent were at the time encamped.  When they at last joined they were without the most necessary articles of equipment.  The Corps and Divisions had no artillery or baggage, no ambulances, and only a very insufficient number of officers.  No magazines had been established beforehand, and the troops were to depend on the fortresses.  These were but ill-supplied, for in the assured expectation that the armies would be almost immediately sent on into the enemy’s country they had been neglected.

In the same way the Staff-officers had been provided with maps of Germany, but not of their own provinces.  The Ministry of War in Paris was inundated with claims, protestations, and expostulations, and finally it was left to the troops to help themselves as best they could. On se debrouillera was the hope of the authorities.

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When the Emperor arrived at Metz, a week after the declaration of war, the regiments were not yet complete, and it was not even exactly known where whole Divisions were at that time encamped.  The Emperor ordered the troops to advance, but his Marshals declared that the condition of the troops made this impossible for the time being.

It was gradually dawning upon them that, instead of attacking the enemy in his country, they would have to defend their own.  Rumor had it, that a strong army of the enemy had assembled between Mayence and Coblentz; instead of sending reinforcements from Metz to Strassburg, they were ordered to proceed from the Rhine to the Saar.  The determination to invade South Germany was already abandoned; the fleet had sailed round, but without any troops to land.

Germany had been surprised by the declaration of war, but she was not unprepared.  The possibility of such an event had been foreseen.

When Austria had separated her interests from those of the other German states, Prussia undertook the sole leadership, and paved the way to more intimate relations with the South-German states.  The idea of national unification had been revived, and found an echo in the patriotic sentiments of the entire people.

The means of mobilizing the North-German army had been reviewed year by year, in view of any changes in the military or political situation, by the Staff, in conjunction with the Ministry of War.  Every branch of the administration throughout the country had been kept informed of all it ought to know of these matters.  The Berlin authorities had likewise come to a confidential understanding with the army chiefs of the South-German states on all important points.  It had been conceded that Prussia was not to be reckoned on for the defence of any particular point, as the Black Forest, for instance; and it was decided that the best way of protecting South Germany would be by an incursion into Alsace across the central part of the Rhine; which could be backed up by the main force assembled at that point.

The fact that the Governments of Bavaria, Wuertemberg, Baden, and Hesse, denuding their own countries as it were, were ready to place their contingents under the command of King William proves their entire confidence in the Prussian generals.

As soon as this understanding was arrived at the other preparations could be made.  The orders for marching, and traveling by rail or boat, were worked out for each division of the army, together with the most minute directions as to their different starting points, the day and hour of departure, the duration of the journey, the refreshment stations, and place of destination.  At the meeting-point cantonments were assigned to each Corps and Division, stores and magazines were established; and thus, when war was declared, it needed only the Royal signature to set the entire apparatus in motion with undisturbed precision.  There was nothing to be changed in the directions originally given; it sufficed to carry out the plans prearranged and prepared.

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The mobilized forces were divided into three independent armies on a basis worked out by the general of the Prussian staff.

The First Army, under the command of General von Steinmetz, consisted of the VIIth and VIIIth Corps, and one division of cavalry; 60,000 men all told.  It was ordered to encamp at Wittlich and form the right wing.

The Second Army, under the command of Prince Frederick Charles, was 131,000 strong, and constituted the central army.  It consisted of the IIId, IVth, and Xth Corps of Guards, and two divisions of cavalry.  Its meeting-point was in the vicinity of Homburg and Neunkirchen.  The Third Army, under the command of the Crown Prince of Prussia, was to form the left wing, near Landau and Rastat, a strength of about 130,000 men.  It consisted of the Vth and XIth Prussian, and the Ist and IId Bavarian Corps, the Wuertemberg and the Baden Field Divisions, and one division of cavalry.

The IXth Corps, consisting of the 18th and the Hesse divisions, was united with the XIIth Royal Saxon Corps to form a reserve of 60,000 men, and was encamped before Mayence, to reinforce the Second Army, which was thus brought up to the strength of 194,000 men.

The three armies combined numbered 384,000 men.

There were still the Ist, IId, and IVth Corps, 100,000 men; but they were not at first included, as the means of railway transport were engaged for twenty-one days.

The 17th Division and the Landwehr troops were told off to defend the coast.  During the night of July 16th the Royal order for the mobilization of the army was issued, and when His Majesty arrived in Mayence, a fortnight later, he found 300,000 men assembled on and in front of the Rhine.

In his plan of war, submitted by the Chief of the General Staff, and accepted by the King, that officer had his eye fixed, from the first, upon the capture of the enemy’s capital, the possession of which is of more importance in France than in other countries.  On the way thither the hostile forces were to be driven as persistently as possible back from the fertile southern states into the narrower tract on the north.

But above all the plan of war was based on the resolve to attack the enemy at once, wherever found, and keep the German forces so compact that a superior force could always be brought into the field.  By whatever special means these plans were to be accomplished was left to the decision of the hour; the advance to the frontiers alone was preordained in every detail.

It is a delusion to believe that a plan of war may be laid for a prolonged period and carried out in every point.  The first collision with the enemy changes the situation entirely, according to the result.  Some things decided upon will be impracticable; others, which originally seemed impossible, become feasible.  All that the leader of an army can do is to get a clear view of the circumstances, to decide for the best for an unknown period, and carry out his purpose unflinchingly.

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The departure of the French troops to the frontier, before they were thoroughly prepared for service in the field, which is a very serious step to take, was evidently ordered for the purpose of surprising the German army, with the forces immediately at command, and thus interfering with the formation of their advance.  But, in spite of this, the German commanders did not deviate from their purpose of massing their armies on the Rhine and crossing that river.  The railway transport of the troops of the IId and IIId Corps, however, was to end at the Rhine; thence they were to march on foot into the cantonments prepared on the left bank of the river.  They moved in echelon, advancing only so many at a time as would make room for the Division behind them, as far as the line marked by the towns of Bingen, Duerkheim, and Landau.

The final advance towards the frontier was not to be undertaken until the Divisions and Corps were all collected, and provided with the all-necessary baggage train; and then proceed in a state of readiness to confront the enemy at any moment.

The assembling of the First Army appeared to be less threatened, as its route lay through neutral territory, and was protected by the garrisons of Treves, Saarlouis, and Saarbruecken, the German outposts on the Saar.

The First Army, 50,000 strong, was concentrated at Wadern, in the first days of August.  The Second Army, which meanwhile had been increased to a strength of 194,000 men, had pushed forward its cantonments to Alsenz-Guennstadt, at the termination of the Haardt Mountains, a position which had been thoroughly reconnoitered by an officer of the Staff, and where the troops might boldly await an attack.

The 5th and 6th Cavalry Divisions were reconnoitering the country in front.  The regiments and squadrons of the Third Army were still gathering on both banks of the Rhine.

The French so far had made no serious attempt at Saarbruecken; Lieutenant-Colonel Pestel was able to successfully withstand their petty attacks with one battalion and three squadrons of cavalry.

It had meanwhile been observed that the French were moving further to the right, toward Forbach and Bitsch, which seemed to indicate that the two French Corps, known to be drawn up at Belfort and Strassburg, might purpose crossing the Rhine and marching on the Black Forest.  It was therefore of very great importance to set the Third Army moving at the earliest opportunity, first to protect the right bank of the Upper Rhine by an advance on the left; secondly to cover the progress of the Second Army towards that point.

A telegraphic order to that effect was dispatched on the evening of July 30th, but the General in command of the Third Army Corps desired to wait for the arrival of the Fourth and its baggage train.  In spite of this hesitancy the Second Army was ordered to proceed towards the Saar, where the French were showing much uneasiness.

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The time had gone by when they might have taken advantage of their over-hasty mobilization; the condition of the men had prohibited any action.  France was waiting for news of a victory; something had to be done to appease public impatience, so, in order to do something, the enemy resolved (as is usual under such circumstances) on a hostile reconnoissance, and, it may be added, with the usual result.

On August 2d three entire Divisions were sent forward against three battalions, four squadrons, and one battery in Saarbruecken.  The Emperor himself and the Prince Imperial watched the operations.  The IIId Corps advanced on Voelklingen, the Vth on Saargemuend, the IId on Saarbruecken.

The Germans evacuated Saarbruecken after a gallant defence and repeated sorties, but the French did not cross the Saar.  They may have convinced themselves that they had wasted their strength by hitting in the air, and had gained no information as to the resources and position of the enemy.

After this the French generals hesitated for a long while between contrary resolutions.  Orders were given and recalled on the strength of mere rumors.  The left wing was reinforced on account of a current story that 40,000 Prussians had marched through Treves, the Guards received contradictory orders, and, when a small German force showed itself at Loerrach in the Black Forest, it was at once decreed that the VIIth Corps must remain in Alsace.  Thus the French forces were spread over the wide area between the Nied and the Upper Rhine, while the Germans were advancing in compact masses on the Saar.

This scattered state of the army finally induced the French leaders to divide their forces into two distinct armies.  Marshal MacMahon took provisional command of the Ist, VIIth, and Vth Corps, the latter being withdrawn from Bitsch.  The other Divisions were placed under Marshal Bazaine, with the exception of the Guards, the command of which the Emperor reserved to himself.

It had now become a pressing necessity to protect the left wing of the advancing Second German Army against the French forces in Alsace; the Third Army was therefore ordered to cross the frontier on August 4th, without waiting any longer for the batteries to come up.  The First Army, forming the right wing, was already encamped near Wadern and Losheim, three or four days’ march nearer to the Saar than the Second Army in the centre.  They were ordered to concentrate in the neighborhood of Tholey and there await further orders.  In the first place this, the weakest of the two Divisions, was not to be exposed single-handed to an attack of the enemy’s main force; and, secondly, it was to be used for a flank-movement in case the Second Army should meet the enemy on emerging from the forests of the Palatinate.

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To execute this order, the First Army had to extend its cantonments in a southerly direction as far as the line of march of the Second Army, and evacuate its quarters near Ottweiler.  This was a difficult matter to accomplish, as all the towns and villages to the north were billeted, and quarters had also to be found for the Ist Corps, now advancing by the Birkenfeld route.  General von Steinmetz therefore decided to march his entire forces in the direction of Saarlouis and Saarbruecken.  The Second Army had assembled, and was ready for action on August 4th, and received orders to take the field on the farther side of the wooded zone of Kaiserslautern.


[Footnote 44:  From The Franco-German War of 1870-71. Permission Harper & Brothers, New York and London.]


August 18th


Marshal Bazaine had not thought it advisable to proceed to Verdun now that the Germans were so close on the flank of such a movement.  He preferred to assemble his forces at Metz, in a position which he rightly supposed to be almost impregnable.

Such a position was afforded by the range of hills, bordering on the west of the valley of Chatel.  That side facing the enemy sloped away like a glacis, while the short and steep decline behind offered protection for the reserves.  The IId, IIId, IVth and VIth Corps were placed on the ridge of the hills between Roncourt and Rozereuilles, a distance of one mile and a half (German); thus there were eight or ten men to every yard of ground.

A brigade of the Vth Corps stood at Ste.-Ruffine in the valley of the Moselle, the cavalry in the rear of the two wings.

The positions of the IId and IIId Corps were hastily entrenched, batteries and covered ways were established, and the farmhouses in front prepared for defense.  To approach this left wing from the west it was necessary to cross the deep valley of the Mance.  The VIth Corps on the other hand had no engineering tools; and it is indicative of the general ill-equipment of the French that, merely to convey the wounded to the rear, in spite of the enormous baggage-train, provision wagons had to be unloaded and their contents burnt.  This Corps was therefore unable to construct such defenses on the side overlooking the forest of Jaumont as were necessary to strengthen the right wing.  This would undoubtedly have been the place for the Guards, but in his fear of an attack from the south, Marshal Bazaine kept them in reserve at Plappeville.

The King again arrived at Flavigny at six o’clock on the morning of the 18th.  All officers in command were ordered to report directly to headquarters, and Staff-officers of Army Headquarters were despatched in all directions to watch the progress of the engagement.

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The VIIth army Corps, forming the pivot upon which the intended wheel to the right was to be effected, occupied the Bois de Vaux and Bois des Ognons; the 8th, under the personal command of the King, halted at Rezonville, ready to proceed to the north or east, as might be required.  The IXth Corps, on its left, advanced toward the Marcel, while the IIId and Xth formed the second line.  The Guards and XIIth Corps moved in a northerly direction.

A serious delay occurred when the XIIth Corps of the Second Army, which was stationed on the right, was commanded to form the left wing, by the crossing of the two on the march.  The Saxon troops did not get through Mars-la-Tour until nine o’clock, and till then the Guards could not follow.

The advanced guard of the XIIth Corps had meanwhile reached Jarny, and proceeded as far as Briey without encountering the enemy.

Before this could be known, the authorities at headquarters had been convinced that at least the main forces of the enemy were still at Metz; misapprehension, however, prevailed as to the extension of their lines, and it was thought the French front did not reach beyond Montigny.  The general in command of the Second Army was therefore instructed not to proceed further northward, but to join the IXth Corps in attacking the enemy’s right wing, and move in the direction of Batilly with the Guards and the XIIth Corps.  The First Army was not to attack in the front until the Second was ready to strike.

In obedience to this, Prince Frederick Charles ordered the IXth Corps to march on to Verneville, and, in case the French right wing should be found there, to open battle by bringing a large force of artillery into action.  The Guards were to continue their advance via Doncourt to reinforce the IXth as soon as possible.  The XIIth was to remain at Jarny for the present.

A little later fresh reports came in which indicated that the IXth Corps, if proceeding in the manner ordered, would come upon the French centre, instead of their right wing.  The Prince therefore determined that the Corps should postpone the attack till the Guards had done so at Amanvillers.  At the same time the XIIth Corps was pushed on to Ste.-Marie-aux-Chenes.

But, while these orders were being given, the first heavy firing was heard at Verneville.  This was at twelve o ’clock.

The two Corps on the left had, of their own accord, taken an easterly direction without waiting for orders, and the IId Corps moved up behind the IXth at the farm of Caulre.

General von Manstein, in command of the IXth, had observed from near Verneville a French encampment at Amanvillers, apparently in a state of quietude.  From that point of view the great masses of troops on their immediate left at St.-Privat were not visible.  Mistaking this camp for the right wing, he determined to act on his first orders and take the foe by surprise.  Eight of his batteries at once opened fire.

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But it did not take the French troops long to move into the position assigned to them.  The independent action of a single Corps naturally exposed it not only to the fire of the troops opposite, but to an attack in flank.

To obtain some shelter on the field, the Prussian batteries had taken up a position on the shoulder of the hill below Amanvillers facing the southeast, where they were exposed from the north, on the flank, and even in the rear to the fire of French artillery, as well as to the concentrated fire of their infantry.

To meet this, the battalions nearest at hand were ordered forward.  They took possession of the eastern point of the Bois de la Cusse on the left, and on the right seized the farmhouses of L’Envie and Chantrenne, forcing their way into the Bois des Genivaux.  Thus the line of battle of the 18th Division gained a front of 4,000 paces.

Its losses were very great, for the French with their long-range Chassepot rifles could afford to keep out of range of the needle-gun; the artillery especially suffered severely.  One of the batteries had already lost forty-five gunners when it was attacked by French sharpshooters.  There was no infantry at hand to retaliate, and two guns were lost.  By two o’clock all the batteries were almost hors-de-combat, and no relief arrived till the Hessian Division reached Habonville, and brought up five batteries on either side of the railway, thus diverting on themselves the concentrated fire of the enemy.  The batteries of the 18th Division, which had suffered most, could now be withdrawn in succession, but even in their retreat they had to defend themselves against their pursuers by grapeshot.

The artillery of the IIId Corps and the Guards were likewise sent to the assistance of the IXth, and those of the damaged guns which were still fit for service were at once brought into line.  Thus a front of 130 guns was drawn up before Verneville as far as St.-Ail, and its fire soon told upon the enemy.  Now, when the IIId Corps was approaching Verneville and the 3d Brigade of Guards had reached Habonville, there was no fear that the French would break through the line.

The main force of the Guards had arrived at St.-Ail as early as two o’clock.  General von Pape at once saw that by wheeling to the east he would not encounter the right wing of the French, which was to be out-flanked, but would expose his own left wing to the forces occupying Ste.-Marie-aux-Chenes.  The first thing to be done was to gain possession of this village—­almost a town.  It was strongly occupied and well flanked by the main position of the French army; but, in obedience to superior orders, he must await the arrival of a cooeperative Saxon contingent.

The advance guard of this Corps had already reached the vicinity of Batilly, but was yet half a mile distant from Ste.-Marie, so its batteries could not be placed in position west of the town until three o’clock.  But, as the Guards had sent most of their own artillery to the support of the IXth Corps, this was substantial aid.

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Ten batteries now opened fire upon Ste.-Marie, and by the time it was beginning to tell the 47th Brigade of the XIIth Corps came up.  At half-past three the Prussian and Saxon battalions stormed the town from the south and west and north, amid vociferous cheers, and without further returning the fire of the enemy.  The French were driven from the place, and a few hundred were taken prisoners.

The Saxons tried to follow them up, and a lively infantry engagement ensued, north of Ste.-Marie, which masked the artillery.  As soon as the brigade had been ordered to retire, the batteries reopened fire, and the repeated efforts of the French to regain the lost position were frustrated.

Soon afterwards the IXth Corps succeeded in taking and holding the farm of Champenois, but all further attempts, by isolated battalions or companies, to force their way on against the broad and compact centre of the French were, on the face of it, futile.  Thus, by about five o’clock, the infantry ceased fire, and the artillery only fired an occasional shot.  Fatigue on both sides caused an almost total suspension of hostilities in this part of the field.

The Commander-in-Chief decided that the First Army should not engage in serious assault until the Second stood close to the enemy; but when the day was half-spent and brisk firing was heard about noon from Vionville, it was to be supposed that the time for action had arrived; still, for the present permission was only given to send forward the artillery in preparation for the fight.  Sixteen batteries of the VIIth and VIIIth Corps accordingly drew up to right and left of the highway running through Gravelotte.  Their fire was ineffective, as they were too far from the enemy; besides they were suffering from the fire of the French tirailleurs, who had established themselves in the opposite woods.  It became necessary to drive them out, so here again there was a sharp skirmish.  The French had to abandon the eastern portion of the Mance valley, and the artillery, now increased to twenty batteries, was able to advance to the western ridge and direct its fire against the main position of the enemy.

The battalions of the 29th Brigade followed up this advantage.  They pressed forward into the southern part of the Bois des Genivaux on the left, but were unable to effect a connection with the IXth Corps, occupying the north of the forest, as the French could not be driven from the intervening ground.  On the right, various detachments took possession of the quarries and gravel-pits near St.-Hubert.

The artillery meanwhile had got the better of the French guns; several of their batteries were silenced, others prevented from getting into position.  The French fire was in part directed on the farm of St.-Hubert, on which the 30th Brigade were gradually encroaching.  This well-defended structure was stormed at three o’clock, close under the face of the enemy’s main position, and in spite of a tremendous fire.  The 31st Brigade had also got across the valley, but an attempt to reach the farms of Moscow and Leipzig, over the open plain enclosed by the enemy on three sides, proved a failure and resulted in great loss.  The 26th Brigade had taken possession of Jussy, on the extreme right, thus maintaining the connection with Metz, but found it impossible to cross the deep valley of Rozerieulles.

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The advanced detachments of the French had been repulsed on all sides, the farms in their front were burning, their artillery appeared to be silenced, and, viewing the situation from Gravelotte, there remained nothing but pursuit.  General von Steinmetz, therefore, at four o’clock, ordered fresh forces to the front for a renewed attack.

While the VIIth Corps occupied the border of the wood, four batteries, backed by the 1st Cavalry Division, made their way through the narrow ravine extending for about 1,500 paces east of Gravelotte.  But as soon as the advanced guard of the long column came in sight, the French redoubled their rifle and artillery fire, which had till now been kept under.  One battery had soon lost the men serving four of its guns, and was hardly able to return into the wood; a second never even got into position.  The batteries under Hesse and Gnuegge, on the other hand, held their own at St.-Hubert in spite of the loss of seventy-five horses and of the firing from the quarries in their rear.

The foremost regiment of cavalry wheeled to the right after leaving the hollow way, and galloped toward Point-du-Jour, but the enemy, being completely under cover, offered no opportunity for an attack.  Evidently this was no field for utilizing the cavalry, so the regiments retired through the Mance valley under a heavy fire from all sides.

This ill-success of the Germans encouraged the French to advance from Point-du-Jour with swarms of tirailleurs, who succeeded in driving the Prussians back from the open ground as far as the skirts of the wood.  The bullets of the Chassepots even reached the hill where the Commander-in-Chief was watching the battle, and Prince Adalbert’s horse was shot under him.

Fresh forces were now at hand and drove the enemy back to his main position.  St.-Hubert had remained in the hands of the Germans; and though the survivors there were only sufficient to serve one gun, still every attempt to cross the exposed plateau proved a failure.  Thus hostilities ceased at this point also, at about five o’clock in the afternoon, allowing the weary troops on both sides to take breath and reorganize.

King William and his staff rode over to the hill on the south of Malmaison at about the same hour, but could see nothing of the situation of the left wing, which was more than a mile away.  The French artillery had ceased firing along the centre, from La Folie to Point-du-Jour; but to the northward the thunder of artillery was louder than ever.  It was six o’clock, the day was nearly at an end, and decided action must at once be taken.  The King therefore ordered the First Army to advance once more, and for that purpose placed the IId Corps, just arrived after a long march, under the command of General von Steinmetz.

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Those battalions of VII Corps which could still do good service, except five, which were kept in reserve, were again sent up the Mance valley, and the battalions from the Bois de Vaux came to their support toward Point-du-Jour and the quarries.  The IId Corps of the French Army thus attacked was now reinforced by Guard Voltigeur Division.  All the reserves were brought to the front.  The artillery was more rapidly served, and a destructive musketry fire was directed on the advancing enemy.  Then the French on their side made an attack.  A strong body of riflemen dispersed the smaller parties which were lying in the open, destitute of commanders, and drove them back to the wood.  There, however, their advance was checked, and there was still another Army Corps ready for action.

The IId Corps, the last to come up by rail to the seat of war, had up to this time followed in the wake of the army by forced marches, but had not yet fought in any engagement.  It had started from Point-a-Mousson at 2 p.m. and, taking the road by Buxieres and Rezonville, arrived south of Gravelotte in the evening.  The Pomeranians were eager to get at the enemy without delay.

It would have been better if the Chief of the Staff, who was personally on the field at the time, had not allowed this movement at so late an hour.  A body of troops, still completely intact, might have been of great value the next day; it was not likely this evening to affect the issue.

Rushing out of Gravelotte, the foremost battalions of the IId Corps pushed forward to the quarries, and up to within a few hundred paces of Point-du-Jour; but those following were soon entangled in the turmoil of the troops under fire south of St.-Hubert, and any further advance toward Moscow was arrested.  Darkness was falling, and friend became indistinguishable from foe.  So the firing was stopped; but not until ten o’clock did it entirely cease.

The advance of the IId Corps resulted in some good, however, for these fresh troops could occupy the fighting-line for the night, while the mixed companies of the VIIth and VIIIth Corps were enabled to re-form in their rear.

The whole course of the engagement had conclusively proved that the position of the French left wing, made almost impregnable by nature and art, could not be shaken even by the most devoted bravery and the greatest sacrifices.  Both parties were now facing each other in threatening proximity, and both fully able to reopen battle next morning.  The success of the day must depend on events at the other end of the French line.

The Prince of Wurtemburg, standing at Ail, believed that the hour had come for an attack on the French right at about a quarter-past five; but that wing extended much further north than the line of his Guards, further, indeed, than the French Commander-in-Chief himself was aware of.  Though the Saxons had participated in the capture of Ste.-Marie-aux-Chenes, the Crown Prince deemed it necessary to assemble his Corps at the Bois d’Auboue, to attack the enemy in flank.  One of the brigades had to come from Jarny, and one from Ste.-Marie; so, as the Corps was late in getting away from Mars-la-Tour, it was not expected to be on the field for some hours yet.

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The 4th Brigade of Foot Guards, in obedience to orders, proceeded in the direction of Jerusalem, immediately south of St.-Privat.  As soon as General von Manstein, in command of the IXth Corps, observed this, he ordered the 3d Brigade of Guards, which had been placed at his orders, to advance from Habonville toward Amanvillers.

Between these two brigades marched the Hessians, but it was not till half an hour later that the First Division of Guards joined from Ste.-Marie, marching on St.-Privat, on the left of the Second.  This attack was directed against the broad front of the French IVth and VIth Corps.  Their fortified positions at St.-Privat and Amanvillers had as yet hardly felt the fire of the German batteries, which had found sufficient employment in replying to the enemy’s artillery outside the villages.

Several ranks of riflemen, one above the other, were placed in front of the French main position, on the hedges and fences in a slope up the ridge.  At their back towered St.-Privat, castle-like, with its massive buildings, which were crowded by soldiers to the very roof.  The open plain in front was thus exposed to an overwhelming shower of projectiles.

The losses of the attacking Guards were, in fact, enormous.  In the course of half an hour five battalions lost all, the others the greater part of their officers, especially those of the higher grades.  Thousands of dead and wounded marked the track of the troops, who, in spite of their losses, pressed forward.  The ranks, as fast as they were thinned, closed up again, and their compact formation was not broken even under the leadership of young lieutenants and ensigns.  As they got nearer to the enemy the needle-gun did good service.  The French were driven from all their foremost positions, where, for the most part, they did not await the final struggle.  By a quarter-past six the battalions had advanced to within 600 to 800 paces of Amanvillers and St.-Privat.  The troops, weary from long combat, halted under the steeper slopes offering some, though small, protection, and in the trenches just abandoned by the enemy.  Only four battalions now remained in reserve at Ste.-Marie, behind the German line, which now extended to a length of 4,000 paces.  Every charge of the French cavalry and of Cissy’s Division had been persistently repelled with the aid of twelve batteries of the Guards which had now put in an appearance; but the German troops, reduced, as they were, by untold losses, had to face two French Corps for thirty minutes longer before reinforcements came to their aid.

It was nearly seven o’clock when, to the left of the Guards, two brigades of the Saxon infantry arrived on the field; the other two were still assembling in the forest of Auboue; their artillery, however, had for some time kept up a lively fire on Roncourt.

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When Bazaine, at three o’clock, received word that the Germans were extending the line to enclose his right wing, he ordered Picard’s Division of the Grenadier Guards, posted at Plappeville, to advance to the scene of action.  Though the distance was no more than a mile through the wooded valley on the right of the highway, his all-important reinforcement had not yet arrived at seven o’clock, and Marshal Canrobert, who was hardly able, by the most strenuous efforts, to check the advance of the Prussians, decided to rally his troops closer to the fortified town of St.-Privat.  The retreat from Roncourt was to be covered by a small rearguard, as the border of the Bois de Jaumont was to be held.

Thus it happened that the Saxons found less resistance at Roncourt than they expected, and entered the town after a short struggle, together with the companies of the extreme left of the Guards; part of them had previously been diverted from the road to Roncourt to assist the Guards, and marched direct on St.-Privat.  There terrible havoc was worked by the twenty-four batteries of the two German Corps.  Many houses were in flames, or falling in ruins under the shower of shell.  But the French were determined to defend this point, where the fate of the day was to be decided, to the last.  The batteries belonging to their right wing were placed between St.-Privat and the Bois de Jaumont, that is, on the flank of the advancing Saxons.  Others faced the Prussians from the south, and as the German columns came on side by side they were received by a shower of bullets from the French rifles.


All these obstacles were defied in the onward rush, though again under heavy losses, some stopping here and there to fire a volley, others again never firing a shot.  By sundown they stood within 300 paces of St.-Privat.  Some detachments of the Xth Corps, who were on the road to St.-Ail, now joined them, and the final onset was made from every side at once.  The French still defended the burning houses and the church with great obstinacy, till, finding themselves completely surrounded, they surrendered at about eight o’clock.  More than 2,000 men were taken prisoners, and the wounded were rescued from the burning houses.

The defeated remnant of the IVth French Corps retired towards the valley of the Moselle, their retreat being covered by the brigade occupying the Bois de Jaumont and by the cavalry.

Only at that period did the Grenadier Guards put in an appearance, drawing up the artillery reserves east of Amanvillers.  The German batteries at once took up the fight, which lasted till late in the night, and Amanvillers also was left burning.

Here the retirement of the IVth French Corps had already commenced, screened by repeated severe onslaughts; the right wing of the Guards and the left of the IXth Corps had a lively hand-to-hand encounter with the enemy.  Still the town remained in the hands of the French for the night.  Their IIId Corps maintained their position at Moscow until three o’clock, and the IId until five o’clock in the morning, though engaged in constant frays with the outposts of the Pomeranian Division, who eventually took possession of the plateaus of Moscow and Point-du-Jour.

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This success of the 18th of August had only been made possible by the preceding battles of the 14th and 16th.

The French estimate their losses at 13,000 men.  In October, 173,000 were still in Metz, which proves that more than 180,000 French engaged in the battle of the 18th.  The seven German Corps facing them were exactly 178,818 strong.  Thus the French had been driven out of a position of almost unrivalled natural advantages by a numerically inferior force.  It is self-evident that the loss of the aggressors must have been much greater than that of the defence; it amounted to 20,584 men, among them 899 officers.

Though the war-establishment provides one officer to every forty men, in this battle one officer had been killed to every twenty-three; a splendid testimony to the example set by the officers to their brave men, but a loss which could not be made good during the course of the war.  During the first fortnight of August, in six battles the Germans had lost 50,000 men.  It was impossible at once to find substitutes, but new companies were formed of time-expired soldiers.

The first thing to be done that same evening was to move on the foremost baggage train, and the ambulance corps from the right bank of the Moselle; ammunition was also served out all round.  In Rezonville, which was crowded with the wounded, a little garret for the King and quarters for the Staff had with much difficulty been secured.  The officers were engaged throughout the night in studying the requirements which the new situation created by the victory peremptorily demanded.  All these orders were placed before His Majesty for approval by the morning of the 19th.


[Footnote 45:  From The Franco-German War of 1870-71.  Permission Harper & Brothers, New York and London.]




The last noteworthy use to which the aged Fieldmarshal put his pen was to commit to paper certain reflections and chains of reasoning, for which he drew upon the rich experience of his strenuous and eventful life, and in which he hoped to find consolation in his last days, and a vantage ground from which he might cast a glance over the unknown future and confirm his faith in an everlasting life.

The aim of the Fieldmarshal, in writing these pages, was to attain to clearness of vision concerning his earthly lot, to bring the forces which were at work in his soul into harmony with those which govern the universe, to reconcile faith and knowledge, and to satisfy himself that life on this earth can only be regarded as a preparation for eternal life, and must be regulated accordingly.  So lofty is this aim that it alone entitles these confessions to a serious

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and respectful consideration.  But how much must our admiration and our sense of the value of this work be increased when we perceive with what earnestness of effort, and with what depth of feeling, the Fieldmarshal had revolved these thoughts in his mind till he brought them to maturity.  And more than that.  It was his wish to bequeath these consolatory thoughts to his family, as a sincere confession of his private convictions.  This is the light in which he wished posterity to regard this manuscript, which he wrote out in the last year of his life, in wonderfully firm characters, which attest the worth of the matter contained in it.

He wrote down these thoughts at Creisau, and left the copy on his desk.  Whenever he visited his country-seat he revised and corrected what he had written.  No less than four drafts of the introduction to this work have been preserved.

The succession of thoughts is the same in all four versions, but on the one hand renewed and deepened meditations enabled him to express his ideas with greater force and precision, and on the other sometimes developed them further, so as to present them more exhaustively and convincingly.

These pages contain the last efforts of a noble life.  In them Moltke appears as he was when we knew him and took him for our pattern, reconciled with the anomalies and the contradictions of life, with a pious grasp of principles which he had thought out for himself, and in the assurance of which he found peace.  We learn here how it was possible for him to rise superior to the world, and preserve a contented mind in all the vicissitudes of life.


[Footnote 46:  From Moltke:  His Life and Character.  Permission Harper & Brothers, New York and London.]


Man feels that he is a complete being, different from other creatures, and outwardly distinguished from them by his body, which here on earth is the habitation of the soul.

Yet in this complete whole I believe I can distinguish different functions, which, though closely connected with the soul, and ruled by it, have an independent existence.

In the mysterious beginnings of life physical development takes the first place.  Nature is busily at work in the child’s body as it grows, and is already preparing it to be the dwelling-place of higher functions.  The body reaches the acme of its perfection before its career is half over, and out of the surplus of its energy calls new life into being.  Thenceforward its lot is decay and painful struggling to preserve its own existence.

During something like a third of our existence, that is, while we are asleep, the body receives no commands from its ruler, and yet the heart beats without interruption, the tissues are wasted and repaired, and the process of respiration is continued, all independently of our will.

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The servant may even rebel against the master, as when our muscles are painfully contracted by cramp.  But pain is the summons for help which is sent by the living organism when it has lost control over the dead matter, which loss we feel as the illness of our vassal.

On the whole we must regard our body as a real part of our being, which is still, in a sense, external to our inmost selves.

Is, then, the soul at least the true ego, a single and indivisible whole?

The intellect advances, by slow development, to greater and greater perfection till old age is reached, if the body does not leave it in the lurch.  The critical faculty grows as experience accumulates, but memory, reason’s handmaid, disappears at an earlier stage, or at least loses the power of receiving new impressions.  Wonderful enough is this faculty which enables us to store up all the valuable lessons and experiences of earliest youth in a thousand drawers, which open in a moment in answer to the requirements of the mind.

It is not to be disputed that the old often appear dull-witted, but I cannot believe in a real darkening of the reason, which is a bright spark of the Divine, and even in madness the negation of reason is only external and apparent.  A deaf man playing on an instrument out of tune may strike the right notes, and be inwardly persuaded that his execution is faultless, while all around him hear nothing but the wildest discords.

The sovereignty of reason is absolute; she recognizes no superior authority.  No power, not even that of our own wills, can compel her to regard as false what she has already recognized as true.

E pur si muove!

Thought ranges through the infinite realms of starry space, and fathoms the inscrutable depths of the minutest life, finding nowhere any limit, but everywhere law, which is the immediate expression of the divine thought.

The stone falls on Sirius by the same law of gravitation as on the earth; the distances of the planets, the combinations of chemical elements are based on arithmetical ratios, and everywhere the same causes produce the same effects.  Nowhere in nature is there anything arbitrary, but everywhere law.  True, reason cannot comprehend the origin of things, but neither is she anywhere in conflict with the laws that govern all things.  Reason and the universe are in harmony; they must therefore have the same origin.

Even when, through the imperfection of all created things, reason enters on paths which lead to error, truth is still the one object of her search.

Reason may thus be brought into conflict with many an honored tradition.  She rejects miracle, “faith’s dearest child,” and refuses to admit that Omnipotence can ever find it necessary for the attainment of its purposes to suspend, in isolated cases, the operation of those laws by which the universe is eternally governed.  But these doubts are not directed against religion, but against the form in which religion is presented to us.

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Christianity has raised the world from barbarism to civilization.  Its influence has, in the course of centuries, abolished slavery, ennobled work, emancipated women, and revealed eternity.  But was it dogma that brought these blessings?  It is possible to avoid misunderstandings with regard to all subjects except those which transcend human conception, and these are the very subjects over which men have fought and desolated the world for the last eighteen hundred years, from the extermination of the Arians, on through the Thirty Years’ War, to the scaffold of the Inquisition, and what is the result of all this fighting?  The same differences of opinion as ever.

We may accept the doctrines of religion, as we accept the assurance of a trusty friend, without examination, but the kernel of all religions is the morality they teach, of which the Christian is the purest and most far-reaching.

And yet men speak slightingly of a barren morality, and place the form in which religion is presented before everything else.  I fear it is the pulpit zealot, who tries to persuade where he cannot convince, that empties the church with his sermons.

After all, why should not every pious prayer, whether addressed to Buddha, to Allah, or to Jehovah, be heard by the same God, beside whom there is none other?  Does not the mother hear her child’s petition in whatever language it lisps her name?

Reason is nowhere in conflict with morality, for the good is always finally identical with the rational; but whether our actions shall or shall not correspond with the good, reason cannot decide.  Here the ruling part of the soul is supreme, the soul which feels, acts, and wills.  To her alone, not to her two vassals, has God entrusted the two-edged sword of freewill, that gift which, as Scripture tells us, may be our salvation or our perdition.

But, more than this, a trusty councillor has been assigned us, who is independent of our wills, and bears credentials from God Himself.  Conscience is an incorruptible and infallible judge, whom, if we will, we may hear pronounce sentence every moment, and whose voice at last reaches even those who most obstinately refuse to listen.

The laws which human society has imposed upon itself can take account of actions only in their tribunals, and not of thoughts and feelings.  Even the various religions make different demands among the different peoples.  Here they require the Sunday to be kept holy, here the Saturday or Friday.  One allows pleasures which another forbids.  Even apart from these differences there is always a wide neutral ground between what is allowed and what is forbidden; and it is here that conscience, with her subtler discrimination, raises her voice.  She tells us that every day should be kept sacred to the Lord, that even permitted interest becomes unjust when exacted from the needy; in a word, she preaches morality in the bosom of Christian

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and Jew, of heathen and savage.  For even among uncivilized races which have not the light of Christianity there is an agreement as to the fundamental conceptions of good and evil.  They, too, recognize the breaking of promises, lying, treachery, and ingratitude as evil; they, too, hold as sacred the bond between parents, children, and kinsmen.  It is hard to believe in the universal corruption of mankind, for, however obscured by savagery and superstition, there lies dormant in every human breast that feeling for the noble and the beautiful which is the seed of virtue, and a conscience which points out the right path.  Can there be a more convincing proof of God’s existence than this universal sense of right and wrong, this unanimous recognition of one law, alike in the physical and in the moral world, except that nature obeys this law with a full and absolute obedience, while man, who is free, has the power of violating it?

The body and the reason serve the ruling part of the soul, but they put forward claims of their own, they have their own share of power, and thus man’s life is a perpetual conflict with self.  If in this conflict the soul, hard-pressed from within and without, does not always end by obeying the voice of conscience, let us hope that He who created us imperfect will not require perfection from us.

For consider to what violent storms man is exposed in the voyage of life, what variety there is in his natural endowments, what incongruity between education and position in life.  It is easy for the favorite of fortune to keep in the right path; temptation, at any rate to crime, hardly reaches him; how hard, on the other hand, is it for the hungry, the uneducated, the passionate man to refrain from evil.  To all this due weight will be given in the last judgment, when guilt and innocence are put in the balance, and thus mercy will become justice, two conceptions which generally exclude one another.

It is harder to think of nothing than of something; when the something is once given, harder to imagine cessation than continuance.  This earthly life cannot possibly be an end in itself.  We did not ask for it; it was given to us, imposed upon us.  We must be destined to something higher than a perpetual repetition of the sad experiences of this life.  Shall those enigmas which surround us on all sides, and for a solution of which the best of mankind have sought their whole life long, never be made plain?  What purpose is served by the thousand ties of love and friendship which bind past and present together, if there is no future, if death ends all?

But what can we take with us into the future?

The functions of our earthly garment, the body, have ceased; the matter composing it, which even during life was ever being changed, has entered into new chemical combinations, and the earth enters into possession of all that is her due.  Not an atom is lost.  Scripture promises us the resurrection of a glorified body, and indeed a separate existence without limitation in space is unthinkable; yet it may be that this promise implies nothing more than the continued existence of the individual, as opposed to pantheism.

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We may be allowed to hope that our reason, and with it all the knowledge that we have painfully acquired, will pass with us into eternity; perhaps, too, the remembrance of our earthly life.  Whether that is really to be wished is another question.  How if our whole life all our thoughts and actions should some day be spread out before us and we became our own judges, incorruptible and pitiless?

But, above all, the emotions must be retained by the soul, if it is to be immortal.  Friendship does indeed rest on reciprocity, and is partly an affair of the reason; but love can exist though unreturned.  Love is the purest, the most divine spark of our being.

Scripture bids us before all things love God, an invisible, incomprehensible Being, who sends us joy and happiness, but also privation and pain.  How else can we love Him than by obeying His commandments, and loving our fellow-men, whom we see and understand?

When, as the Apostle Paul writes, faith is lost in knowledge, and hope in sight, and only love remains, then we hope, not without reason, to be assured of the love of our merciful Judge.  COUNT MOLTKE.

Creisau, October, 1890.

* * * * *



Assistant Professor of Government, Harvard University

Ferdinand Lassalle was born on April 11, 1825, at Breslau, of Jewish parents.  The father, Hyman Lassal, was a prosperous business man, ambitious for his son, able to give him the best education the times afforded, and willing to let him choose his own career.  The life of the Lassal family seems to have been like that of any well-to-do Jewish family in the kingdom of Prussia during the early nineteenth century.  Of a quiet and peaceable behavior, they were devoted mainly to money-making and their domestic affairs.

The young Lassalle gave early indications of his unusual character.  While still a boy in the local grammar school, his proud and independent disposition won him the displeasure of his teachers.  Especially the oppression of his own race filled his soul with wrath.  “O could I only give myself up to my boyish day-dreams,” he wrote in his note-book at this time, “how I would put myself at the head of the Jews, weapons in hand, and make them independent!” Eventually he abandoned in disgust the attempt to gain a classical education in the schools of his native city and entered the commercial high school in Leipzig.  Here again his fiery temperament could not brook the restraints imposed upon him and he presently returned to his father’s house.

The problem of a career was not easy to solve.  The father’s success enabled the son to choose his course in life without regard to financial considerations.  Business and mere money-making were in fact distasteful to him.


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The learned professions were more to his liking.  The father recommended medicine or the law, but the son aspired to some less hackneyed career.  Jews were not then admitted to the service of the state in Prussia and the absence of popular institutions of government rendered an independent political career for the time being out of the question.  The son chose, therefore, to make his mark as a man of learning.  He would be a great philosopher or scientist.  Doubtless he kept in mind the possibility of engaging in journalism, should the times change, and becoming a tribune of the people.  Such bold ideas are the birthright of all boys of spirit.

Ferdinand Lassale finished his education with his destiny consciously before him.  He studied philology and philosophy at the universities of Breslau and Berlin and in the winter of 1845-46 made his first visit to Paris as a traveling scholar.  Here he first adorned his family name with the final le, and here, also, he met the chief of the heroes of his youth, Heinrich Heine.  Heine has given us a vivid pen-picture of Lassalle, as he saw him in those student days.  “My friend, Mr. Lassalle ... is a most highly gifted young man, uniting the widest knowledge with the greatest astuteness.  I have been astounded at his energy of will, vigor of intellect, and promptness of action....  Lassalle is a true child of modern times, wishing to know nothing of the humility and renunciation which have characterized our own lives.  This new race means to enjoy, to assert itself....  We were, however, perhaps happier in our idealism than these stern gladiators who go forth so proudly to mortal combats.”

Returning to Berlin in the spring of 1846, Lassalle signalized the attainment of his majority by espousing the cause of the Countess von Hatzfeld, then in the midst of her suits for divorce and for an accounting of her property.  It was a characteristic act.  The Countess’ troubles arose through no fault of his.  He had little to gain by engaging in the affair and much to lose—­not only time and money, but friends, reputation, and his very career.  Yet he plunged into the thick of the fray and made the cause of the unhappy lady his own.  For eight long years he fought her enemies from law-court to law-court, through thirty-six of them in all, to final victory.  From it all he gained a good working knowledge of the law, a splendid training in forensic address, and a taste of the joys of combat against bitter odds.  These things were later to stand him in good stead.  But he had touched smut and was himself besmirched.

Meanwhile the famous year, 1848, had come and gone.  Men like Lassalle are made for just such years.  His friends all played their parts, each in his own way, in the struggle for German liberty and union.  Lassalle alone was absent from the field.  He was defending himself against a charge of criminal conspiracy to commit larceny, an incident in the case of the Countess von Hatzfeld.  He disposed of this

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charge in season to join the editors of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung, and in the spring of 1849 he completed his apprenticeship as a revolutionist with a term in jail.  At the expiration of his sentence he returned to the cause of the Countess, but he was required by the Prussian government to keep away from Berlin.  Not until 1857, through the intervention of A. von Humboldt, did he receive permission to resume his residence in the capital.  Then, with his friend, the Countess, he settled down once more to the realization of his youthful dreams, and the long-deferred career was taken up in earnest.

Lassalle’s career as a scholar and man of learning was short, but productive.  It was opened in 1857 with the publication of his work, the Philosophy of Heraclitus, projected more than ten years before, and it was concluded in 1861, as the event proved, by the publication of his System of the Acquired Rights.  Midway between the two appeared a dramatic composition, Franz von Sickingen, which served both as an intellectual diversion from the more serious studies in philosophy and law and as a personal confession of faith on the part of the author.  None of these works can be pronounced an unqualified success.  The philosophy of Heraclitus was too obscure to exert any great influence upon contemporary thought, even when expounded by a Lassalle, and the philosophy of Lassalle himself was too closely modeled upon that of his master, Hegel, to obtain much notice on its own account.  The treatise on the acquired rights of man was too technical to attract popular attention and too unorthodox to receive the general approval of professional students of the law.  The Franz von Sickingen was too deficient in dramatic action to be presented on the stage and too artificial in literary form to be read in the library.  The three productions secured for Lassalle a position among scholars but brought him no general recognition.

The three productions, however, pour a flood of light upon Lassalle’s own powerful personality.  In the Philosophy of Heraclitus he grappled with the most formidable philosophical problems and showed himself a master of the Hegelian dialectic.  In the System of the Acquired Rights he attacked the very foundations of the current theories of law and justice with the same concentration of energy and purpose as had been displayed in the more practical problems of law and justice involved in the case of the Countess von Hatzfeld.  But it is in Franz von Sickingen that Lassalle expressed his own nature most clearly and most completely.  Here indeed he speaks directly for himself through the lips of Ulrich von Hutten.  Passage after passage springs from the soul of the living Lassalle, the same Lassalle that in his boyhood dreams would emancipate the Jews by force of arms, that in his early manhood so deeply impressed Heine, and that so shortly afterwards was ready to defy all the powers of the kingdom in defence of a friendless woman.  The following speech of the legendary von Hutten is characteristic of the real Lassalle: 

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“O worthy Sir!  Think better of the sword! 
A sword, when swung in freedom’s sacred cause,
Becomes the Holy Word, of which you preach,
The God, incarnate in reality.
* * * * *
And all great things, which e’er will come to pass
Will owe their final being to the sword.”

In short, Lassalle was not by nature a man of the study.  He was a man of the battlefield.

The hour for battle was fast approaching.  In 1859 the alliance of Napoleon the Third and Cavour against the Austrians was consummated and the war for the liberation and unification of Italy began.  The hopes of all true Germans for the unification of the Fatherland took new life.  Especially the survivors of ’48 felt their pulses quicken.  In 1859 Lassalle revealed his own interest in contemporary politics by the publication of his pamphlet on The Italian War and the Duty of Prussia, and in the following year by his address on Fichte’s Political Legacy and Our Own Times.  He also planned to establish a popular newspaper in Berlin, but the scheme was abandoned in 1861, on account of the refusal of the Prussian government to sanction the naturalization of the man whom Lassalle desired for his associate in the enterprise, Karl Marx.  With the Prince of Prussia’s accession to the throne and the brilliant successes of the Progressive party in the Prussian elections, men instinctively felt that the times were big with portentous events.

Lassalle’s political ideas were already well developed.  He was born a democrat.  In early nineteenth-century England the young Disraeli could hopefully plan a different course, but Lassalle in Prussia could look for no public career as an aristocrat.  Under the circumstances to be a democrat meant also to be a republican, and, if need be, a revolutionist.  As a youth he drank deep from the idealistic springs that inspired the republican party throughout Germany.  He admired Schiller and Fichte and, above all, Heine and Boerne.  Lassalle indeed had drunk deeper than most of the revolutionists of ’48.  He was not only a democrat and a republican; he was also a socialist.  Even before his first visit to Paris he had become acquainted with the writings of St. Simon, Fourier, and the utopian socialists in general.  His mind was ripe for the doctrines of the Communist Manifesto, when that epoch-making document appeared, but he does not seem to have become personally acquainted with Marx until his connection with the Neue Rheinische Zeitung in the fall of 1848.  From that time on till the foundation of the Allgemeiner Deutscher Arbeiterverein Lassalle stood closer to Marx than to any other one man.

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Lassalle’s opportunity to turn definitely from scholarship to politics came in 1862 with the outbreak of the struggle over the Prussian constitution.  In a series of vigorous addresses (April, 1862, to February, 1863) he first criticised, then condemned, the Progressive party for its—­as it seemed to him—­pusillanimous policy.  But Lassalle was not content merely to criticise and condemn.  His restless energy found no adequate expression short of the creation of a new party of his own.  His repudiation of the Progressives, however, was not dictated by differences over tactics alone.  He rejected the fundamental principles of the liberal movement in German politics.  He saw around him the evidences of deep and widespread poverty.  The great problem of the day to his mind was not the political problem of a proper constitution of government, but the social problem of a proper distribution of wealth.  The need, as he saw it, was not for parchment-guarantees of individual liberty.  It was for practical promotion of social welfare.  Hence, at the same time that he opened fire upon the tactics of the Progressives, he unfolded his plans for the constructive treatment of the social, as distinct from the political, problem.

The nature of Lassalle’s social ideal and the character of the means by which he sought to justify it are for the first time systematically set forth in his address (April 12, 1862) “upon the special connection between modern times and the idea of a laboring class,” subsequently published under the title, The Workingmen’s Programme.  This address was the point of departure for the socialist movement in Germany, as the Communist Manifesto of Marx and Engels was that of international socialism.  It was indeed largely inspired by the spirit of that revolutionary document.  During the two and a half years which followed the publication of this address, Lassalle often set forth his fundamental social philosophy with extraordinary clearness and force, but he never surpassed his opening salutation to the workingmen of Germany.  It has been read by hundreds of thousands.  It was his masterpiece.

The Workingmen’s Programme attracted the immediate attention of the Prussian government.  The police took offence at the tone of the address and brought against its author a charge of criminal incitement of the poor to hatred and contempt of the rich.  On January 16, 1863, Lassalle appeared in court and defended himself against this charge in an almost equally celebrated address, published under the title, Science and the Workingmen.  Here Lassalle speaks in a different but no less brilliant vein.  From that time forth Lassalle’s appearances before audiences of workingmen quite generally led to corresponding appearances before audiences of judges.  If one court set him free, he was liable to be haled before another court for defamation of the prosecuting attorney in the court of first resort.  But the prisoner’s dock served as well as the orator’s platform for the purposes of his agitation.

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The Workingmen’s Programme attracted less immediate attention from the workingmen themselves.  But among the few whose attention was attracted was a group of Leipzig labor leaders who invited Lassalle to advise them more fully concerning his plans for the formation of an independent labor party.  Lassalle’s reply to this invitation was the Open Letter to the Committee for the Calling of a General Convention of German Workingmen at Leipzig, dated March 1, 1863.  This letter sets forth the platform upon which Lassalle proposed to make his appeal for the support of the working classes.  The two main planks of the platform were the demands for manhood suffrage and for the establishment of cooeperative factories and workshops with the aid of subventions from the State.  Through manhood suffrage Lassalle expected that the working classes would immediately become the dominant power in the State, and through State-aided producers’ associations he expected that the cooeperative commonwealth would eventually come into being.  Manhood suffrage was thus the fundamental political condition of Social Democracy.  State-aided producers’ associations were but a temporary economic expedient.  Upon this basis, May 23, 1863, the General Association of German Workingmen (Allgemeiner Deutscher Arbeiterverein) was founded.

The immediate results of the foundation of the General Association of German Workingmen were much less than Lassalle had anticipated.  He had hoped that it would quickly surpass the Liberal National Association, founded by the leaders of the Progressive party in 1859, which at this time counted about 25,000 members.  In fact, during Lassalle’s life the Workingmen’s Association never reached one-fifth of that number.  The workingmen generally were slow to recognize either the character of Lassalle’s purposes or the character of the man himself.  Despite the power and brilliancy of the speech-making campaign upon which Lassalle promptly entered he made little headway.  The progress of the movement among the rank and file, however, was more satisfactory than in any other quarter.  Marx had been lost to the movement before it was inaugurated and the rigid Marxians among the German socialists continued to hold aloof.  Lassalle’s close personal friend, Lothar Bucher, could see no prospect of early success and withdrew while there was still time.  The independent socialist, Rodbertus, to whom Lassalle next turned for assistance, had little faith in manhood suffrage and none at all in State-aided producers’ associations.  To confirm his unbelief in manhood suffrage he pointed to the ease with which a popular plebiscite could be manipulated by a Louis Napoleon.  State-aided producers’ associations, he declared to be incompatible with scientific socialism, a dangerous compromise between the national workshops advocated by the utopian socialist, Louis Blanc, and the cooeperative corporations, advocated by the anarchist, Prudhomme.  So Lassalle found himself alone at the head of his new independent labor party.

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It was not the workingmen but the middle-class Progressive party that was most aroused by Lassalle’s Open Letter. He was regarded as a traitor to the cause of the constitution and a practical ally of the forces of reaction—­in short, as either a fool or a knave.  Lassalle saw clearly enough that he could not succeed without making clear to his prospective followers the irreconcilability of liberalism and socialism, and directed his most powerful efforts against the position of the Progressive party.  His Workingmen’s Reader (May, 1863) and Bastiat-Schulze von Delitzsch (January, 1864) are conspicuous memorials of his campaign against liberalism.  The liberal position was substantially that the workingmen, though without effective voting-power, were honorary members of the Progressive party, and hence needed no independent party of their own, and that, for the rest, they could best promote their special economic interests by “self-help,” that is, through voluntary and unassisted cooeperation.  Liberal leaders, especially Schulze-Delitzsch, labored strenuously to improve the well-being of the working-classes along these lines, and their efforts were not in vain.  The Progressive watchword, “right makes might,” sophistical as it seemed to Lassalle, appealed to the idealism of the German people, and the party was in the heyday of its success.  More and more Lassalle found himself forced by the necessities of his struggle with the Progressives into compromising relations with the government of Bismarck.  His last great speech delivered at Ronsdorf on the first anniversary of the foundation of the Workingmen’s Association betrays the dilemma into which he had fallen.  Under the conditions of the time there was not enough room between the contending forces of progress and reaction for the great independent labor party which Lassalle had hoped to create.  There was room for a humble beginning, but that was all.

It is not necessary to dwell on the details of Lassalle’s last twelve months and tragic end.  The story is brief:  a year of exhausting toil and small result, then a short vacation, an unfortunate love-affair, a foolish challenge to a duel, a single pistol-shot, and three days later, August 31, 1864, the end.  Thus he died, and on his tomb in Breslau was written:  “Here lies what was mortal of Ferdinand Lassalle, the Thinker and Fighter.”

The name of Lassalle is most frequently connected with that of Marx.  Certainly the two had much in common.  They worked together in 1848 and would have done so again in 1862 if Lassalle had had his way.  For fourteen years they were personal friends.  Though they ultimately drifted apart, they never became enemies.  Lassalle was seven years younger than Marx and was unquestionably strongly influenced by the ideas of the founder of scientific socialism.  At the same time he was a man who did his own thinking, and his speeches and writings, even those dealing most particularly with the philosophy of socialism,

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are by no means mere paraphrases of Marx.  His ideas betray resemblances to those of various contemporary writers on socialism and the socialist movement, notably Lorenz von Stein, the author of the History of the Social Movements in France from 1789.  The economic interpretation of history, set forth in the Workingmen’s Programme, however, is in many respects but an amplification of the economic interpretation of history originally and more briefly set forth in the Communist Manifesto.  The theory of economics in general and of wages in particular, contained in the Bastiat-Schulze von Delitzsch, is substantially the same as that contained in Marx’s Critique of Political Economy, published in 1859.  Regarded solely as a theoretical socialist, Lassalle is rightly classed among the Marxians.

Yet Lassalle’s position with regard to some important theoretical questions was distasteful to Marx.  In philosophy, for example, Lassalle was a pure Hegelian and never abandoned the idealistic standpoint of his master.  Marx, as is well known, was a materialistic Hegelian.  The differences between them in this regard were revealed most clearly in the System of the Acquired Rights.  Lassalle traced the development of the German laws of inheritance from the Roman concept of the immortality of the legal personality.  Marx would have derived them from the conditions of life among the Germans themselves.  In Franz von Sickingen and his cause Lassalle thought he saw a glimpse of the revolutionary spirit of modern times.  Marx saw only a belated and futile struggle on the part of a member of the decadent medieval order of petty barons against the rising order of territorial princes.  Had Lassalle linked up the cause of the petty barons with the revolt of the peasants, Marx would have thought better of his performance, but this Lassalle had neglected to do.  In the Philosophy of Heraclitus Marx took little interest.

The most important differences between Marx and Lassalle arose with respect to the exigencies of practical politics.  Marx, like Lassalle, was a democrat.  Lassalle, however, consistently placed the demand for manhood suffrage in the forefront of his immediate political demands, whilst Marx believed that manhood suffrage under the then-existing conditions on the Continent of Europe would prove more useful to those who controlled the electoral machinery than to the workingmen themselves.  Marx, like Lassalle, believed in the republican form of government.  Lassalle, however, could recognize the temporary value of monarchical institutions in the struggle against the capitalistic system, whilst Marx would have had the workingmen depend upon themselves alone.  Marx, like Lassalle, believed in the inevitableness of the fall of capitalism.  Lassalle, however, could appreciate the desirability of realizing some portion of the promised future in the immediate present, whilst Marx preferred not to risk the prolongation of the life of the capitalistic system by attempting to discount the day when the wage-earning classes should come wholly into their own.  Marx, like Lassalle, was a revolutionist.  Lassalle, however, was interested primarily in bringing about the social revolution on German soil, whilst Marx was an internationalist, a veritable man without a country.

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The two were bound to clash as soon as Lassalle began the development of his practical political programme.  Marx was not only sceptical of the wisdom of Lassalle’s campaign for manhood suffrage, but he was even strongly opposed to the campaign for the establishment of producers’ associations with the aid of subventions from the Prussian monarchy.  That programme represented all that was odious to Marx:  organization of the wage-earners on purely national instead of international lines, conversion of private ownership of capital into corporate instead of public ownership, establishment of a social monarchy instead of a cooeperative commonwealth.  Obviously Marx could not endorse Lassalle’s proposals to make the socialist movement a factor in contemporary German politics, nor did Lassalle endorse the Marxian policy presently embodied in the “International.”

In the matter of programme and tactics neither Marx nor Lassalle has been altogether justified by the verdict of history.  In the beginning the followers of Lassalle and the followers of Marx pursued their common ends by independent roads.  Brought together by the logic of events, they composed their differences, taking what seemed best to serve their purpose from the ideas of each.  It is known that Marx was harshly critical of the programme adopted at Gotha in 1875.  It may be guessed that Lassalle, had he lived, would not altogether have approved of the tactics pursued by those in charge of the united party’s affairs.  Today, the Social Democratic party, having grown strong and great, can recognize its obligations to both Marx and Lassalle.

Lassalle and Marx had entirely different functions to perform in the socialist movement.  Marx’s part was to be the prophet of socialism, not a prophet in the vulgar sense of a mere prognosticator, but in the old Hebrew sense of an inspired voice crying in a wilderness of unbelief.  Lassalle was no prophet.  His function was to reduce principles to action, to engage the forces of the times in the spirit of the times, and by combat with such weapons as lay to hand to urge the cause forward.  The word “agitator” might have been invented for him.  He was the first great warrior of socialism.  It is no reflection upon Marx to indicate that the present need of the Social Democracy is for warriors rather than for prophets.

Lassalle was one of the great figures of modern German history.  Bismarck’s judgment of men was of the keenest and his opinion of Lassalle, expressed in a speech before the Reichstag (September 16, 1878) is well known:  “In private life Lassalle possessed an extraordinary attraction for me, being one of the most brilliant and most agreeable men I have ever met, and ambitious in the biggest sense of the term.”  The eminent classical historian, Boeckh, who knew Lassalle well, compared him to Alcibiades.  Heine, in a letter introducing Lassalle to a friend, wrote:  “I present to you a new Mirabeau.”  There is much that is striking in either of these parallels.

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Thoughts of what might have been, had Lassalle’s career in politics not been brought to so melancholy an end, are likely to be idle.  Helen von Racowitza, the pathetic instrument of his fate, not unnaturally indulged her fancy in such thoughts.  Writing in her old age she queries:  “Would he, ... with his incomparable ambition and will, ever have been able to adapt himself to the compact edifice of the German empire?  Assuredly it must always have seemed to him like a prison!” To a woman wracked by remorse it may have been comforting to believe that when the catastrophe occurred the work of the man she once had loved was really completed.  Doubtless indeed Lassalle himself had begun to realize, short as was the period from the foundation of the Workingmen’s Association to the fatal duel with the Rumanian Yanko, that he could not bring his enterprise to a head as quickly as he had hoped.  Doubtless he already saw that the establishment of an independent labor party was not a matter of a single hard-fought campaign, to be waged and won by the genius of any one great leader, but a task requiring long and patient toil and the indefinite postponement of the sweet joys of victory.  Certainly in his last months Lassalle showed an unwise readiness seriously to compromise his position for the sake of more immediate success.  Had he lived, he would soon have discovered that he must retrace those latest steps, or Bismarck, and not he, would have been the actual leader of the first German independent labor party.  There was nothing in Lassalle’s life to warrant the assumption that he would deliberately sell his party for a mess of pottage.  Lassalle had put his hand to the plow and it was not in his nature to leave the furrow unturned.

Yet Lassalle’s title to greatness must lie less in what he himself achieved than in the achievements of others in his name.  He founded a political party; others have made that party great.  But the most signal service is the service of the founder, for to found a party is to generate a living organism which will, in the fullness of time, express the purposes and unite the energies of millions.  So it has been with the party of Lassalle.  Like the husbandman who casts his seed on good ground, he implanted the germs of the Social-Democracy in the hearts of his country’s workingmen when the time was ripe for the sowing.  It is enough to secure his fame that he had the vision to see that the time was ripe and the strength to break the ground.

* * * * *




Assistant Professor of German, Tufts College

Gentlemen:  Requested to deliver an address before you, I have thought it best to choose, and to treat in a strictly scientific way, a subject, which, from its nature, must be particularly interesting to you, namely, the special relation of the character of the historical period in which we are living to the idea of a working class.

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I have said that my treatment of the subject will be purely scientific.

A true scientific attitude, however, is nothing more than perfect clearness, and therefore the complete separation of our thinking from any preconceived notion.  For the sake of this complete absence of preconceived notions with which we must approach the subject, it will even be necessary, in the course of the discussion, to form a clear conception of what we really mean by the term “workingmen” or “working class.”  For even on this point we must not admit any preconceived notion, as if these terms were something perfectly well understood—­which is by no means the case.  The language of common life very frequently attaches at different times different conceptions to the words “workingman” or “working class,” and we must therefore, in due time, get a clear conception as to what meaning we will attach to these designations.

With this problem, however, we are not concerned at the present moment.  We must rather begin this presentation with a different question:  The working class is only one class among several which together form the body politic, and there have been workingmen at every historical period.  How, then, is it possible, and what does the statement mean, that a particular connection exists between the idea of this special definite class and the principle of the particular historical period in which we are living?

To understand this it is desirable to take a glance into history—­into the past, which properly interpreted, here, as everywhere, gives us the key to the present and points out to us an outline of the future.  In this retrospect we must be as brief as possible, or we shall be in danger (in the short time which is before us) of not reaching at all the essential subject of the discussion.  But even at this risk we shall at least be obliged to cast such a glance into the past, even if it is limited to the most general considerations, in order to understand the import of our question and of our subject.

If, then, we go back to the Middle Ages, we shall find, in general, that the same classes and divisions of the population which today compose the body politic were already in existence, although by no means so fully developed; but we find, furthermore, that at that time one class, one element, is predominate—­the landholding element.  It is land proprietorship which in the Middle Ages is the controlling influence in every particular, which has put its own special stamp upon all the institutions and upon the whole life of the time:  it must be pronounced the ruling principle of that period.

The reason why land ownership is the ruling principle of that time is a very simple one.  It lies—­at least this reason is quite sufficient for our present purposes—­in the economic conditions of the Middle Ages and in the state of development of production.  Commerce was then very slightly developed, manufactures still less.  The chief wealth of every community consisted, in greatest measure, in the products of agriculture.

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Personal property at that time, in comparison with the ownership of real estate, came only slightly into consideration; how far this was the case is shown very plainly by property law, which always gives a very clear criterion for the economic relations of the period in which it arises.  Medieval property law, for instance, with the object of holding the property of families from generation to generation and protecting it from dissipation, declared family property or “estate” inalienable without the consent of the heirs; but by this family property or “estate” was expressly understood only real estate.  Personal or portable property, on the other hand, could be disposed of without the consent of the heirs; and in general all personal property was treated by the old German law not as an independent self-perpetuating basis of property (capital), but always as the fruit of the soil—­in the same way, for instance, as the annual crop from the soil—­and was subject to the same legal conditions as the latter.  Nothing but real estate was then regularly treated as an independent self-perpetuating basis of property.  It is therefore entirely in keeping with this condition of things, and a simple consequence of it, that landed property and those who had it in their hands almost exclusively—­the nobility and clergy—­formed the ruling factor, from every point of view, in the society of that period.

Whatever institution of the Middle Ages you may consider, you meet this phenomenon at every point.  It will suffice us to glance at a few of the most essential of these institutions in which landholding appears as a ruling principle.

First:  The organization of the public power given by it, or the Feudal System.  The essential point of this was that kings, princes and lords ceded to other lords and knights land for their use, in return for which the recipient had to promise military vassalage—­that is, he had to support the feudal lord in his wards or feuds, both in person and with retainers.

Second:  The organization of public law, or the constitution of the empire.  In the German parliaments the princes and the large landholdings of the counts, the empire, and of the clergy were represented.  The cities had the right to a seat or a vote only if they had succeeded in acquiring the privileges of an imperial free city.

Third:  The exemption from taxation of the large landholdings.  It is a characteristic and constantly recurring phenomenon that every ruling privileged class tries constantly to throw the burden of the maintenance of the State, in open or disguised manner, in direct or indirect form, on the propertyless classes.  When Richelieu, in 1641, demanded six million francs from the clergy as an extraordinary revenue, the latter gave, through the archbishop of Sens, the characteristic answer:  “L’usage ancien de l’eglise pendant sa vigeur etait que le peuple contribuait ses biens, la noblesse son sang, le clerge ses prieres aux necessites de l’Etat.” (The ancient custom of the church in her prosperity was that the people contributed to the needs of the State their property, the nobility their blood, the clergy their prayers.)

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Fourth:  The social stigma that rested upon all work other than occupation of the soil.  To conduct manufacturing enterprises, to acquire money by commerce and manual trades, was considered disgraceful and dishonorable for the two privileged ruling classes, the nobility and the clergy, for whom it was regarded as honorable to obtain their revenue from landownership only.

These four great and determining motives which established the basic character of the period are entirely sufficient, for our purpose, to show how it was that landed property put its stamp upon that epoch and formed its ruling principle.

This was so far the case that even the movement of the Peasant War, which apparently was completely revolutionary—­the one which broke out in Germany in 1524 and involved all Swabia, Franconia, Alsace, Westphalia, and other parts of Germany—­depended absolutely upon this same principle, and was therefore in fact a reactionary movement in spite of its revolutionary attitude.  The peasants at that time burned down the castles of the nobles, killed the nobles themselves, and made them run the gauntlet according to the custom of the times; but, nevertheless, in spite of this externally revolutionary appearance, the movement was essentially thoroughly reactionary.  For the new birth of State relations—­the German freedom which the peasants desired to establish—­was to consist, according to their ideas, in the abolition of the special and intermediary position which the princes occupied between the emperor and the empire, and, in its stead, the representation in the German parliament of nothing but free and independent landed property, including that of the peasants and knights (these two classes up to this time not having been represented), as well as the individual independent estates of the nobles of every degree—­knights, counts, and princes, without regard to former differences; and, on the other hand, of the landed property of the nobles as well as of the peasants.

It is clear at once, then, that this plan, in the last instance, results in nothing more than still more logical, clear, and equitable carrying-out of the principle which had formed the basis of the historical period which was even then approaching its end; that is, landownership was to be the ruling element and the only condition which entitled anybody to participation in the government of the State:  that anybody should demand such participation just because he was a man, because he was a reasonable being, even without owning any land—­this did not occur to the peasants in the remotest degree!  For this the conditions of the time were not sufficiently developed, the method of thought of the time was not revolutionary enough.

So then this peasant uprising, which came forward externally with such revolutionary determination, was in its essence completely reactionary; that is to say, instead of standing upon a new revolutionary principle, it stood unconsciously on the old, existing principle of the period which was then just closing; and just because it was reactionary, while it thought itself revolutionary, did the peasant uprising fail.

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Accordingly, in comparison with the uprising of the peasants as well as that of the nobles under Franz von Sickingen—­both of which had the principle in common of basing participation in the government, more definitely than had before been the case, upon landholding—­the rising monarchical idea was relatively a justifiable and revolutionary factor, since it was based upon the idea of a state sovereignty independent of landholding, representing the national idea independent of private property relations; and it was just this which gave it the power for a victorious development and for the suppression of the uprising of the peasants and the nobles.

I have gone into this point somewhat explicitly, in the first place to show the reasonableness and the progress of liberty in the development of history, even by an example in which this is not at all evident on superficial observation; in the second place, because historians are still far from recognizing this reactionary character of the peasant uprising and the reason for its failure, which lay chiefly in this aspect; but, rather deceived by external appearances, they have considered the Peasant War a truly revolutionary movement.

Finally, in the third place, because at all ages this phenomenon is frequently repeated—­that men who do not think clearly (among whom are often found those apparently most highly educated, even professors) have fallen into the tremendous mistake of taking for a new revolutionary principle what is only a more logical and clear expression of the thought of a period and of institutions which are just passing away.

Gentlemen, let me warn you against such men, who are revolutionists only in their own imaginations, and such tendencies, because we shall have them in the future as we have had them in the past.  We can also derive consolation from the fact that the numerous movements which, after momentary success, have immediately, or in a short time, come to naught again, which we find in history and which may cloud the superficial vision of many a patriot with gloomy forebodings, have never been revolutionary movements except in imagination.  A true revolutionary movement, one which rests upon a really new idea, as the more thoughtful man can prove from history to his consolation, has never yet failed, at least not permanently.

I return to my main subject.  If the Peasant Wars are revolutionary only in imagination, what was really and truly revolutionary at that time was the advance in manufacturing—­the production of the middle class, the constantly developing division of labor, and the resulting wealth in capital, which accumulated exclusively in the hands of the middle class because it was just this class that devoted itself to production and reaped its profits.

It is usual to date the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of modern history from the Reformation—­accordingly, from the year 1517.  This is correct in the sense that, in the two centuries immediately following the Reformation, a slow, gradual, and unnoticed change took place, which completely transformed the aspect of society and accomplished within it a revolution that later, in 1789, was merely proclaimed, not actually produced, by the French Revolution.

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Do you ask in what this transformation consisted?

In the legal position of the nobility there had been no change.  Legally the nobility and the clergy had remained the two ruling classes, and the middle class the class universally kept down and oppressed.  But although there had legally been no change, yet actually the reversal of conditions had been all the more tremendous.

By the production and accumulation of capital and of personal property, in contrast to real estate, in the hands of the middle class, the nobility had dwindled into complete insignificance—­even into actual dependence upon the enriched middle class.  If the nobles wished to maintain their place beside the middle class, they must renounce all class traditions and begin to adopt the same methods of industrial acquisition to which the middle class owed their wealth and in consequence their de facto power.  The comedies of Moliere, who lived at the time of Louis XIV., show us, as an extremely interesting phenomenon, the nobles of the times despising the rich middle class and at the same time playing the parasite at its tables.  Louis XIV. himself, this proudest of monarchs, takes off his hat in his palace at Versailles and humbles himself before the Jew, Samuel Bernard, the Rothschild of the times, in order to influence him in favor of a loan.

When Law, the famous Scotch financier, at the beginning of the eighteenth century, formed in France his trading companies—­a stock corporation which was formed for the exploitation of the Mississippi region, the East Indies, etc., the Regent of France himself was on its directorate—­a member of a merchant company!  The Regent found himself in fact compelled in August, 1717, to issue edicts in virtue of which the nobles might, without loss of dignity, enter into the naval and military service of these trading companies!  To that point, then, the warlike and proud feudal aristocracy of France had fallen—­to be the armed employees of the industrial and commercial enterprises of the middle class, whose relations extended through all continents.

Corresponding to this radical change, there had already developed a materialism and an eager, grasping struggle for money and property which could overcome all moral ideas and (what I regret to say was generally still more significant for the privileged classes) even all privileges of rank.  Under this same Regent of France, Count Horn, one of the highest of the aristocracy and connected with the first families of France, even with the Regent himself, was broken on the wheel as a common robber and murderer; and the Duchess of Orleans, a German princess, writes in a letter of November 29, 1719, that six ladies of the highest rank waylaid in the court of a building the above-mentioned Law, who was at that time the most courted and the busiest man in France and therefore very hard to interview, in order to induce him to dispose of some of the shares founded by him, for which at that time all France was competing and which brought on the Exchange six and eight times the nominal price at which Law had issued them.

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If you ask me again what the causes were which made possible this development of manufacturing and the consequent wealth of the middle class, I should have to exceed, if I tried to give them thorough treatment, the time at my disposal.  I can only enumerate for you the most essential ones:  The discovery of America and its tremendous influence on production; the route to the East Indies around the Cape of Good Hope, taking the place of the former land route by way of Suez for all trade with the East Indies; the discovery of the magnetic needle and the invention of the mariner’s compass, and in consequence greater safety and speed and lower insurance rates for all ocean traffic; the waterways established in the interior of the countries, the canals, also the good roads which made possible for the first time a more remote market through the lessening of the transportation costs of various commodities which formerly could not carry the raise in price thus caused; greater security of property; well-established courts of law; the invention of powder, and, in consequence of this invention, the breaking down by the monarchy of the feudal military power of the nobility; the dismissal of the mercenaries and mounted retainers of the nobles on account of the destruction of their castles and of their independent military power.  For these retainers there was now nothing left but to find work in the medieval workshops.  All these events gave impetus to the triumphal chariot of the middle class.  All these events, and many more which might be enumerated, combined to produce this one effect.  By the opening of wider markets and the accompanying reduction of the costs of production and transportation, there comes production for the world-market, and consequently the necessity for cheap production which, in its turn, can be met only by a constantly extending division of labor, i.e., by the more perfectly developed division of the work into its simplest mechanical processes; this in turn brings about a constantly increasing output.

We are on the ground here of action and reaction.  Each of these circumstances is a cause for the other, and the latter then reacts upon the former, and extends it and increases its scope.

It must be clear that the production of an article in enormous quantities—­its production for the world-market—­is, in general, possible only if the costs of production of the article are low and if also its transportation is cheap enough not to raise its price essentially.  Production in enormous quantities demands a wholesale market, and a wholesale market for any commodity can be obtained only by its low price, which makes it available for a very large number of consumers; thus the low cost of production and transportation of any commodity brings about its production on a huge scale in enormous quantities.  It must also be clear, on the other hand, that the production of a commodity in enormous quantities causes and increases its cheapness. 

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A manufacturer, for instance, who turns out 200,000 pieces of cotton goods in a year, is able, because he procures his raw material more cheaply on a large scale and because the profit on his capital and the interest on his plant is distributed over so large a number of pieces, to market each piece, within certain limits, at a far lower price than the manufacturer who produces yearly only 5,000 such pieces.  Greater cheapness of production leads accordingly to production on a large scale.  This results, in turn, in greater cheapness; this in its own turn brings about production in still greater quantities, and this still greater cheapness, and so on.

The relations are also quite similar in the matter of division of labor, which is another necessary condition for production in large quantities and for cheapness, for without it neither cheapness of production nor large quantities would be possible.

The division of labor which splits up the production of an article into a great number of very simple and often purely mechanical operations requiring no thought on the part of the operative, and sets at each one of these single operations a single workman, would be entirely impossible without extensive production of this article.  It is therefore established and extended only through such production.  On the other hand, this division of the work into simple operations leads (1), to a constantly increasing cheapness; (2), to production in enormous and constantly increasing quantities—­a production calculated not only for this or that neighboring market, but for the entire world-market; and (3), through this and through new divisions which can for this reason be applied to single operations, to still farther advances in the division of labor itself.

By this series of actions and reactions there had accordingly appeared a complete transformation in the manufacturing institutions of the community and hence in all its relations of life.  The best way to state this briefly is to reduce it to the following contrast: 

In the early Middle Ages, since only a small number of very valuable products could stand the expense of transportation, production was calculated for the need of the immediate locality and a very limited neighboring market whose demand was, just for this reason, a well-known, steady, and unchanging one.  The need or the demand preceded production and formed a well-known criterion for it; in other words, the production of the community had been chiefly artisan production.  Now, in distinction from factory or wholesale production, the character of small or artisan production is this:  Either the need is awaited before production—­as, for example, a tailor waits for my order before he makes me a coat, a locksmith before he makes me a lock; or even if some goods are manufactured to be sold ready-made, on the whole this ready-made business is limited to a minimum of what is definitely known from experience to be the needs of the immediate locality and its nearest neighborhood—­as, for instance, a tinsmith makes up a certain number of lamps, knowing that the local demand will soon dispose of them.

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The characteristics of a community producing chiefly in this manner are poverty, or at least only a moderate prosperity, but, to offset this, a certain definiteness and steadiness of all relations.

Now, on the other hand, through the incessant and complete action and reaction which I have been describing to you, there had appeared in the community a totally different kind of work, and therefore of all relations of life.  There had already appeared the germ of the same characteristic which today marks, in a differently developed but enormously extended manner, the production of the community.  In the tremendous development which it has today this characteristic, in contrast to that previously described, can be indicated as follows:  Whereas, formerly, need preceded production, made it a consequence of itself, determined it, and formed a criterion and well-known standard for it—­production and supply now go in advance of the demand and try to develop it.  Production is no longer for the locality, no longer for the well-known need of neighboring markets, but for the world-market.  Production goes on for remote regions and for a general market, for all continents, for an actually unknown and not definitely calculated need; and in order that the product may arouse need a weapon is supplied it—­cheapness.  Cheapness is the weapon of a product, with which, on the one hand, it obtains customers, and, on the other, drives from the field other goods of the same nature, which are likewise urged upon the consumers; so that under the system of free competition any producer may hope, no matter what enormous quantities he may produce, to find a market for them all if he only succeeds, by making his goods exceedingly cheap, in keeping out of the market the goods of his competitors.  The predominant character of such a society is vast and boundless wealth, but, on the other hand, a great instability of all relations, an almost continual, anxious insecurity in the position of each individual, together with a very unequal sharing of the returns of production among those taking part in it.

Thus great had been the changes brought about, unnoticed in the heart of society, by the revolutionary and all-pervading activity of industrialism, even before the end of the eighteenth century.

Though the men of the Peasant Wars had not ventured any other conception than that of founding the State upon land ownership, though they had not, even in thought, been able to free themselves from the view that land ownership is necessarily the element which holds sovereignty over the State and that participation in that ownership is the condition for participation in that sovereignty, yet the quiet, imperceptible, revolutionary progress of industrialism had brought about the condition that, long before the end of the eighteenth century, land ownership had become an element stripped entirely of its former importance, and had fallen to a subordinate position, in the face of the development of new methods of production, of the wealth which this development bore in its bosom and increased from day to day, and of the influence which it clearly had on all the people and their affairs—­even upon the largely impoverished nobility.

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The revolution was therefore an accomplished fact in the actual relations of society long before it broke out in France; and it was only necessary to bring this reversal of conditions to outward recognition to give it legal sanction.  This is always the case in all revolutions.  You can never make a revolution.  You can only give external legal recognition and logical embodiment in practice to a revolution which has already become an actuality in the essential relations of society.  Trying to make a revolution is the folly of immature men who have no conception of the laws of history.

Precisely for this reason it is just as immature and childish to suppress a revolution already fully formed in the womb of society and to oppose its legal recognition, or to reproach those who assist at its birth with being revolutionary.  If the revolution is at hand in the actual conditions of society, nothing can prevent its appearing and passing into legislation.

How these things were related, and how far they had already gone in this direction in the period of which I speak, you will best see from another matter which I will mention.

I have already spoken about the division of labor, the development of which consists of separating all production into a series of entirely simple mechanical operations requiring no thought on the part of the operator.  As this separation progresses farther and farther, the discovery is finally made that these single operations, because they are quite simple and call for no thought, can be accomplished just as well, and even better, by unthinking agents; and so in 1775, fourteen years before the French Revolution, Arkwright invented the first machine, his famous spinning-jenny.

We can see that the machine in itself was not the cause of the revolution.  Too little time intervened between this invention, which furthermore was not immediately introduced into France, and the revolution; but it embodied in itself the actually incipient and fully ripe revolution.  This machine, however innocent it seemed, was in fact the revolution personified.  The reasons for this are simple.  You, of course, have heard of the guild system, by which production in the Middle Ages was directed.  The guild system of the Middle Ages was inseparably connected with other institutions.  The guilds lasted through the whole medieval period up to the French Revolution; but as early as 1672 the matter of their abolition was considered in the German parliament, though without result.  Even in 1614, in the French Etats Generaux, the abolition of the guilds was demanded by the middle class, whose production the guilds everywhere restricted; but also without result.  Indeed thirteen years before the Revolution, in 1776, a minister of the Reformed party in France, the famous Turgot, abolished the guilds, but the privileged world of medieval feudalism considered itself, and with perfect justice, in mortal danger if its vital principle of privilege did not extend to all classes of society; and so, six months after the abolition of the guilds, the king was empowered to revoke this edict and to reestablish the guilds.  Nothing but the Revolution could overthrow (and it did overthrow in one day, by the capture of the Bastille) that which in Germany had been vainly assailed since 1672 and in France since 1614—­for almost two centuries—­by legal means.

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You see from this, Gentlemen, that however great the advantages of reformation by legal means are, such means have nevertheless in all the more important points one great disadvantage—­that of being absolutely powerless for whole centuries; and, furthermore, that the revolutionary means, undeniable as its disadvantages are, has as a compensation the advantage of attaining quickly and effectively a practical result.

If you will now keep in mind that the guilds were connected in an inseparable manner with the whole social arrangement of the Middle Ages, you will see at once how the first machine, Arkwright’s spinning-jenny, embodied a complete revolution in those social conditions.

For how could machine production be possible under the guild system, in which the number of journeymen and apprentices a master workman could employ was determined by law in each locality; or how, under the guild system, in which the different trades were distinguished by law from one another in the most exact manner, and each master could carry on only one of them—­so that, for instance, the tailors and the nail-makers of Paris for centuries had lawsuits with the menders of clothes and the locksmiths, in order to draw lines between their respective trades—­how, under such a guild system, could production be possible with a system of machines which requires the union of the most varied departments of work under the control of one and the same management?

It had come to the point, then, that production itself had called into being, by its constant and gradual development, instruments of production which must necessarily destroy the existing condition of things—­instruments and methods of production which, under the guild system, could no longer find place and opportunity for development.

Thus considered, I call the first machine in itself a revolution; for it bore in its wheels and cogs, little as this could be seen on external observation, the germ of the new condition of things, based upon free competition, which must necessarily develop from this germ with the power and irresistibility of life itself.

And so, if I am not greatly mistaken, it may be true today that there exist various phenomena which imply a new condition that must inevitably develop from them—­phenomena which, at this time also, cannot be understood from external conditions; so that the authorities themselves, while persecuting insignificant agitators, not only overlook these phenomena, but even let them stand as necessary accompaniments of our civilization, hail them as the climax of prosperity, and, on occasion, make appreciative and approving speeches in their honor.

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After all these discussions you will now understand the true meaning of the famous pamphlet published by Abbe Sieyes in 1788—­and so before the French Revolution—­which was summed up in these words:  "Qu’est-ce que c’est que le tiers etat? rien! qu’ est qu’il doit etre?  Tout!” Tiers etat, or third class, is what the middle class in France was called, because they formed, in contrast to the two privileged classes, the nobility and the clergy, a third class, which meant all the people without privilege.  This pamphlet brings together the two questions raised by Sieyes, and their answers:  “What is the third class?  Nothing!  What ought it to be?  Everything.”  This is how Sieyes formulates these two questions and answers.  But from all that has been said, the true meaning of these questions and answers would be more clearly and correctly expressed as follows:  “What is the third class de facto—­in reality?  Everything!  But what is it de jure—­legally?  Nothing!”

What was to be done, then, was to bring the legal position of the third class into harmony with its actual meaning; to clothe its importance, already existing in fact, with legal sanction and recognition; and just this is the achievement and significance of the victorious revolution which broke out in France in 1789 and exerted its transforming influence on the other countries of Europe.

This question arises here:  What was this third class, or bourgeoisie, that through the French Revolution obtained victory over the privileged classes and gained control of the State?  Since this third class stood in contrast to the privileged classes of society with legal vested rights, it considered itself at that time as equivalent to the whole people, and its cause as the cause of all humanity.  This explains the exalting and mighty enthusiasm which was general in that period.  The rights of man were proclaimed; and it seemed as if, with the liberation and sovereignty of this third class, all legal privileges in society were ended, and as if every legally privileged distinction had been replaced by its principle of the universal liberty of man.

At that time, however, in the very beginning of the movement, in April, 1789, on the occasion of the elections to a parliament which was summoned by the king under the condition that the third class should this time send as many representatives as the nobility and clergy together, a newspaper of a character anything but revolutionary writes as follows:  “Who can tell us whether a despotism of the bourgeoisie will not follow the so-called aristocracy of the nobles?”

But such cries at that time were drowned in the general enthusiasm.

Nevertheless we must come back to that question, we must put the question definitely:  Was the cause of the third class really the cause of all humanity; or did this third class, the bourgeoisie, bear within it a fourth class, from which it wished to distinguish itself clearly, and subject it to its sovereignty?

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I must now, if I do not wish to run the risk of subjecting my presentation to great misunderstandings, explain my own conception of the word bourgeoisie, or upper bourgeoisie, as a term for a political party.  The word bourgeoisie may be translated into German by Buergertum (body of citizens).  In my opinion this is not what it means.  We are all Buerger (citizens)—­the working man, the Kleinbuerger (lower middle class), Grossbuerger (upper middle class), etc.  But in the course of history the word bourgeoisie has acquired the significance of a definite political tendency, which I will now explain.[47]

The whole class of commoners outside the nobility was divided, when the French Revolution began, and is still divided in general, into two subordinate classes—­first, those who get their living chiefly or entirely from their labor, and are supported in this by very little capital, or none at all, which might give them the possibility of actively engaging in production for the support of themselves and their families; to this class, accordingly, belong the laborers, the lower middle class, the artisans, and, in general, the peasants; second, those who control a large amount of property and capital, and on that basis engage in production or receive an income from it.  These can be called the capitalists; but no capitalist is a bourgeois merely because of his wealth.

No commoner has any objection to a nobleman’s rejoicing privately over his ancestry and his landed estates.  But if the nobleman tries to make these ancestors or these landed estates the condition of special influence and privilege in the government, of control over public policy, then the anger of the commoner rises against the nobleman and he calls him a feudalist.

Conditions are the same with reference to the actual difference of property within the class of commoners.  If the capitalist rejoices in private over the great convenience and advantage which a large estate implies for the holder, nothing is more simple, more moral, and more lawful.

To whatever extent the laborer and the poorer citizen—­in a word, all classes outside the capitalists—­are entitled to demand from the State that its whole thought and effort be directed toward improving the lamentable and poverty-stricken material condition of the working classes and toward assuring to them, through whose hands all the wealth is produced of which our civilization boasts, to whose hands all products owe their being, without whom society as a whole could not exist another day, a more abundant and less uncertain revenue, and thus the possibility of intellectual culture, and, in time, an existence really worthy of a human being—­however much, I say, the working classes are entitled to demand this from the State and to establish this as its true object, the workingmen must and will never forget that all property once lawfully acquired is completely inviolable and legitimate.

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But if the capitalist, not satisfied with the actual advantages of large property, tries to establish the possession of capital as a condition for participation in the control of the State and in the determination of public policy, then the capitalist becomes a bourgeois, then he makes the fact of possession the legal condition of political control, then he characterizes himself as a new privileged class which attempts to put the controlling stamp of its privileges upon all social institutions in as full a degree as the nobility in the Middle Ages did with the privilege of landholding.

The question therefore which we must raise with reference to the French Revolution and the period of history inaugurated by it, is the following:  Has the third class, which came into control through the French Revolution, looked upon itself as a bourgeoisie in this sense, and has it attempted successfully to subject the people to its privileged political control?

The answer is given by the great facts of history, and this answer is definitely in the affirmative.  In the very first constitution which followed the French Revolution—­the one of September 3, 1791—­the difference between citoyen actif and citoyen passif—­the “active” and “passive” citizen—­is set forth.  Only the active citizens received the franchise, and the active citizen, according to this constitution, is no other than one who pays a direct tax of a definitely stated amount.

This tax was at that time very moderate.  It was only the value of three days’ work:  but what was more important was that all those were declared passive citizens who were serviteurs a gages (wage earners), a definition by which the working class was expressly excluded from the franchise.  After all, in such questions the essential point is not the extent, but the principle.

This meant the introduction of a property qualification, the establishment of a definite amount of property as the condition of the franchise—­this first and most important of all political rights—­and in the determination of public policy.

All those who paid no direct tax at all, or less than this fixed amount, and those who were wage earners, were excluded from control of the State and were made a subject body.  The ownership of capital had become the condition for control over the State, as was nobility, or ownership of land, in the Middle Ages.

This principle of property qualification remains (with the exception of a very short period during the French Republic of 1793, which perished from its own indefiniteness and from the whole state of society at the time, which I cannot here discuss further) the leading principle of all constitutions which originated in the French Revolution.

In fact, with the consistency which all principles have, this one was soon forced to develop into a different quantitative scope.  In the constitution of 1814, according to the classified list promulgated by Louis XVIII., a direct tax of three hundred francs (eighty thalers) was established, in place of the value of three days’ work, as a condition of the franchise.  The July Revolution of 1830 broke out, and nevertheless, by the law of April 19, 1831, a direct tax of two hundred francs (about fifty-three thalers) was required as a condition of the franchise.

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What under Louis Philippe and Guizot was called the pays legal—­that is, the country as a legal entity—­consisted of 200,000 men; for there were not more than 200,000 electors in France who could meet the property requirement, and these exercised sovereignty over more than 30,000,000 inhabitants.  It is here to be noted that it makes no difference whether the principle of property qualification, the exclusion of those without property from the franchise, appears, as in the constitutions referred to, in direct and open form, or in a form in one way or another disguised.  The effect is always the same.

So the second French Republic in 1850 could not possibly revoke the general direct franchise, once proclaimed, which we shall later consider, but adopted the expedient of granting the franchise (law of May 31,1850) only to such citizens as had been domiciled in a place without interruption for at least three years.  For, because workingmen in France are frequently compelled by conditions to change their domicile and to look for work in another commune, it was hoped, and with good reason, that extremely large numbers of workingmen, who could not bring proof of three years uninterrupted residence in the same place, would be excluded from the franchise.

Here you have a property qualification in disguised form.  It is still worse in our country, since the promulgation of the three-class election law, under which, with variations according to locality, three, ten, thirty, or more voters without property, of the third class of electors, have only the same franchise as one single capitalist who belongs to the first class; so that, in fact, if the proportion were only one to ten, nine men out of every ten who had the franchise in 1848 have lost it through the three-class election law of 1849, and exercise it only in appearance.[48]

But this is only the average situation.  In reality, conditions vary greatly in different localities, and they are often still more unfavorable, most unfavorable in fact where the inequality of property is most developed; thus for instance, in Duesseldorf twenty-six voters of the third class have no more power than one rich man.

If we return from this discussion to our main thought, we have shown, and shall continue to show, in what manner, since the time when, through the French Revolution, the capitalist element obtained sovereignty, its principle, the possession of capital, has now become the controlling principle of all social institutions; how the capitalist class, proceeding in just the same manner as the nobility in the Middle Ages with land ownership, impresses now the controlling and exclusive stamp of its particular principle, the possession of capital, upon all institutions of society.  The parallel between the nobility and the capitalist class is, in this respect, complete.  We have already seen this with regard to the most important fundamental point, the constitution of the

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Empire.  As in the Middle Ages landholding was the prevailing principle of representation in the German parliaments, so now, by a direct or disguised property qualification, the amount of tax, and therefore, since this is determined by the capital of an individual, the holding of capital, is what, in the last instance, determines the right of election to legislative bodies and therefore of participation in the control of the State.

Just so in reference to all other institutions in which I have demonstrated to you that land ownership was the controlling principle in the Middle Ages.  I called your attention then to the exemption from taxation of the noble landholders of the Middle Ages, and told you that every privileged ruling class tries to throw the burden for the maintenance of public welfare upon the oppressed propertyless class.  Just so the capitalists.  To be sure they cannot declare publicly that they wish to be exempt from taxation.  Their expressed principle is rather the rule that everybody shall be taxed in proportion to income; but, on the other hand, they attain, at least fairly well, the same result in disguised form by the distinction between direct and indirect taxes.

Direct taxes are those which, like the classified income tax, are collected, and therefore are determined, according to the amount of income and capital.  Indirect taxes, however, are those which are laid upon any necessity—­for instance, salt, grain, beer, meat, fuel; or on the necessity for legal protection—­law costs, stamp taxes, etc., and which the individual very frequently pays in the price of the commodity without knowing or perceiving that he is being taxed, that the tax increases the price.

Now no man, of course, who is twenty, fifty, or a hundred times as rich as another eats by any means twenty, fifty or a hundred times as much salt, or bread, or meat; or drinks fifty or a hundred times as much beer or wine; or has fifty or a hundred times as much need for heat, and therefore for fuel, as the workingman or the relatively poor man.

The result of this is that all indirect taxes, instead of falling upon individuals according to the proportion of their capital and income, are paid in the main by the propertyless classes, the poorer classes of the nation.  It is true that the capitalists did not invent indirect taxes—­they were already in existence—­but they were the first to develop them into a monstrous system and to throw upon them nearly the whole cost of government.  To make this clear to you, I will simply allude to the Prussian financial administration of 1855. (Shows by official statistics that out of a budget of 109,000,000 thalers all but 12,800,000 were derived from indirect taxes.)

Indirect taxation is therefore the institution through which the capitalistic class obtains the privilege of exemption for its capital and lays the cost of the government upon the poorer classes of society.

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Observe, at the same time, Gentlemen, the peculiar contradiction and the strange kind of justice of the procedure of laying the whole expense upon indirect taxation, and therefore upon the poor people, and of setting up as a test and a condition of the franchise, and therefore of political control, the direct taxes, which contribute for the total need of the State only the insignificant sum of twelve million out of one hundred and eight million.

I said further with reference to the nobility of the Middle Ages, that they held in contempt all activity and industry of the commoners.  The situation is the same today.  All kinds of work, to be sure, are equally esteemed today, and if anybody became a millionaire by rag-picking he would be sure of obtaining a highly esteemed position in society.

But what social contempt falls upon those who, no matter at what they labor or how hard they toil, have no capital to back them—­that is a matter which you, Gentlemen, do not need to be told by me, but can find often enough, unfortunately, in your daily life.  Indeed, in many respects, the capitalist class asserts the supremacy of its special privilege with even stricter consistency than the nobility of the Middle Ages did with its land ownership.  The instruction of the people—­I mean here of the adult people—­was in the Middle Ages the work of the clergy.  Since then the newspapers have assumed this function; but through the securities a newspaper must give, and still more through the stamp tax which is laid in our country, as in France and elsewhere, on newspapers, a daily newspaper has become a very expensive institution, which cannot be established without very considerable capital, with the result that, for this very reason, even the opportunity to mold public opinion, instruct it, and guide it has become the privilege of the capitalist class.

Were this not the case, you would have much different and very much better papers.  It is interesting to see how early this attempt of the bourgeoisie to make the press a privilege of capital appears, and in what frank and undisguised form.  On July 24, 1789, a few days after the capture of the Bastille, during the first days after the middle class obtained political supremacy, the representatives of the city of Paris passed a resolution by which they declared printers responsible if they published pamphlets or sheets by writers sans existence connue (without visible means of support).  The newly won freedom of the press, then, was to exist only for writers who had visible means of support.  Property thus appears as the condition of the freedom of the press, indeed of the morality of the writer.  The straightforwardness of the first days of citizen sovereignty only expresses in a childishly frank manner what is today artfully obtained by bonding and stamp taxes.  With these main characteristic facts corresponding to our consideration of the Middle Ages we shall have to be satisfied here.

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What we have seen so far are two historical periods, each of which stands for the controlling idea of a distinct class, which impresses its own principle upon all institutions of the time.

First, the idea of the nobility, or land ownership, which forms the controlling principle of the Middle Ages, and permeates all the institutions of that time.

This period closed with the French Revolution; though, of course, especially in Germany, where this revolution came about, not through the people, but in much slower and more complete reforms introduced by the governments, numerous and important survivals of that first historical period still exist, preventing to a large extent, even today, complete control by the capitalist class.

We observed, second, the period beginning with the French Revolution at the end of the last century, which has capitalism as its principle and establishes this as the privilege which permeates all social institutions and determines participation in the public policy.  This period is also, little as external appearances indicate, essentially at an end.

On February 24, 1848, the first dawn of a new historical period became visible, for on that day in France—­that land in whose mighty internal struggles the victories as well as the defeats of liberty indicate victories and defeats for all mankind—­a revolution broke out which placed a workingman at the head of the provisional government, which declared the principle of the State to be the improvement of the lot of the working classes, and proclaimed the universal and direct franchise, through which every citizen who had attained his twenty-first year, without regard to property, should receive an equal share in the control of the State and the determination of public policy.  You see, Gentlemen, if the Revolution of 1789 was the revolution of the tiers etat (the third class), this time it is the fourth class—­which in 1789 was still undistinguished from the third class and seemed to coincide with it—­that now attempts to establish its own principle as the controlling one of society and to make it pervade all institutions.

But here, in the case of the supremacy of the fourth class, we find the tremendous distinction that this class is the final and all-inclusive disinherited class of humanity, which can set up no further exclusive condition, either of legal or actual kind, neither nobility, land ownership, nor capital, which it might establish as a new privilege and carry through the institutions of society.  Workingmen we all are, so far as we have the desire to make ourselves useful to human society in any way whatsoever.

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This fourth class, in whose bosom therefore no possible germ of a new order of privilege is concealed, is for that very reason synonymous with the whole human race.  Its class is, in truth, the class of all humanity, its liberty is the liberty of humanity itself, its sovereignty is the sovereignty of all.  Whoever hails the principle of the working class, in the sense in which I have developed it, as a controlling principle of society, utters no cry which separates and makes hostile to another the classes of society.  He utters, rather, a cry of reconciliation, a cry which includes all society, a cry for the leveling of all hostilities among the social strata, a cry of accord, in which all should join who do not wish privilege and the oppression of the people by privileged classes, a cry of love, which, ever since it spoke for the first time from the heart of the people, will always remain the true voice of the people, and, on account of its meaning, will still be a cry of love, even if it sounds the battle-cry of the people.

The principle of the working class as a controlling principle of society we have still to consider from three points of view—­first, as to the formal means of its realization; second, as to its moral significance; third, as to its political conception of public policy.

The formal means for carrying out this principle is the universal and direct franchise already discussed—­I say the universal and direct franchise, not merely the general franchise such as we had in 1848.  The introduction in elections of two steps—­of voters and of electors—­is nothing but an artful means introduced purposely with the intention of thwarting, so far as possible, the will of the people in the elections.  To be sure, the universal and direct franchise will be no magic wand, Gentlemen, which can protect you from temporary mistakes.  We have seen in France, in the years 1848 and 1849, two unfavorable elections in succession, but the universal and direct franchise is the only means which automatically corrects, in course of time, the mistakes and temporary wrong to which this may lead.  It is that legendary lance which itself heals the wounds it makes.  In the course of time it is impossible, with universal and direct franchise, for chosen representatives not to be a completely faithful reflection of the people who have elected them.  The people, therefore, at every time will consider universal and direct franchise as an indispensable political weapon, and as the most fundamental and important of their demands.

Let us now glance at the moral bearing of this social principle which we are considering.

Perhaps the idea of the lowest classes of society as the controlling principle of society and of the State may appear very dangerous and immoral, one which threatens to expose morality and culture to the danger of being overrun by a “modern barbarism.”

And it would be no wonder if this thought should appear so at present.  For even public opinion—­I have already indicated by what means, namely, through the newspapers—­receives today its imprint from the coining-die of capital and from the hands of the privileged capitalist class.

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Nevertheless this fear is only a prejudice; and it can be proved, on the contrary, that this thought would represent the highest moral progress and triumph which the world’s history has shown.  That view is a prejudice, I say, and it is the prejudice of the present time, which is still controlled by privilege.

At another time—­at the time of the first French Republic of 1793, which was necessarily forced to fail from its own lack of clearness—­the opposite prejudice prevailed.  At that time it was held as a dogma that all the upper classes were immoral and only the common people were good and moral.  This view is due to Rousseau.  In the new Declaration of Human Rights which the French Convention, that powerful constitutional assembly, published, it is even set forth in a special article—­Article 19—­which reads “Toute institution, qui ne suppose le peuple bon et le magistrat corruptible, est vicieuse.”  (Every institution which does not assume that the people is good and the magistracy corruptible is faulty.) You see that is exactly the opposite of the confidence which is called for today, according to which there is no greater crime than to doubt the good-will and the virtue of the magistrates, while the people are considered on principle a sort of dangerous beast and centre of corruption.

At that time the opposite dogma even went so far that almost anybody whose coat was in good repair appeared for that very reason corrupt and suspicious, and virtue and purity and patriotic morality were believed to be found only in those who had no good coat.  It was the period of sans-culottism.

This point of view had really a foundation of truth, which, however, appears in a false and perverted form.  Now there is nothing more dangerous than a principle which appears in false and perverted form; for, whatever attitude you take toward it, you are sure to fare badly.  If you adopt this truth in its false, perverted form, then, at certain times, this will produce the most terrible devastation, as was the case in the period of sans-culottism. If, on account of the false form, you reject the whole proposition as false, you fare still worse, for you have rejected a truth, and, in the case which we are considering, a truth without whose recognition no wholesome progress is possible in modern political affairs.

There is therefore no other procedure possible than to overcome the false and perverted form of that proposition, and to try to establish clearly its true meaning.

Current public opinion is, as I said, disposed to stamp the whole proposition as entirely false and as a declamation of the French Revolution and of Rousseau.  However, if this unreceptive attitude toward Rousseau and the French Revolution were still possible, it would be entirely impossible with reference to one of the greatest German philosophers (Fichte), the one hundredth anniversary of whose birth this State will celebrate next month, one of the most powerful thinkers of all nations and all times.

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Fichte also declares expressly and literally that, with the rising social scale, a constantly increasing moral deterioration is found, and that “inferiority of character increases in proportion to the higher social class.”

The final reason of these propositions Fichte has nevertheless not developed.  He gives as the reason of this corruption the selfishness of the upper classes; but then the question must immediately arise whether selfishness is not also to be found in the lower classes, or why less in these classes.  Now it must immediately appear as a strong contradiction that less selfishness should prevail in the lower classes than in the upper, who have in large measure the advantage of them in the well-recognized moral elements, culture and education.

The real reason, and the explanation of this contradiction, which appears at first so strong, is the following: 

For a long time, as we have seen, the development of nations, the tendency of history, has been toward a constantly extending abolition of the privileges which guarantee to the higher classes their position as higher and ruling classes.  The wish for perpetuation of these, or personal interest, brings therefore every member of the upper classes who has not once for all, by a wide outlook upon his whole personal existence, raised himself above such considerations (and you will understand, Gentlemen, that these can form only very unusual exceptions) into a position which is from principle hostile to the progress of the people, to the extension of education and science, to the advance of culture, to all tendencies and victories of historical life.

This opposition of the personal interest of the upper classes to the progress of culture in the nation produces the great and inevitable immorality of the upper classes.  It is a life whose daily requirements you only need picture to yourselves in order to feel the deep decline of character to which it must lead.  To be obliged daily to take an attitude of opposition to everything great and good, to bewail its success, to rejoice at its failures, to check its further progress, to make futile or to curse the progress which has already been made, is like a continual existence in the enemy’s country; and this enemy is the moral fellowship of the whole country in which you live, for which all true morality urges support.  It is a continual existence, I say, in an enemy’s country.  This enemy is your own people, who must be looked upon and treated as an enemy, and this hostility must, at least in the long run, be craftily concealed and more or less artfully veiled.

From this arises the necessity either of doing what is against the voice of your own conscience, or of stifling this voice from the force of custom in order not to be annoyed by it, or, finally, of never knowing this voice, never knowing anything better or having anything better than the religion of your own advantage.

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This life, Gentlemen, therefore leads necessarily to a complete lack of appreciation and a contempt for all ideal efforts, to a pitying smile when the great word “ideal” is even mentioned; to a deep lack of appreciation and of sympathy for everything beautiful and great; to a complete transformation of all moral elements in us into the one passion of selfish opportunism and the pursuit of pleasure.

This conflict between personal interest and the cultural development of the nation is, fortunately, not to be found in the lower classes of society.

In the lower classes, to be sure, there is, unfortunately, selfishness enough, much more than there should be; but this selfishness, if it exists, is the fault of individuals and not the inevitable fault of the class.

Even a very slight instinct tells the members of the lower classes that, so far as each one of them depends merely upon himself and merely thinks of himself, he can hope for no considerable improvement of his situation; but so far as the lower classes of society aim at the improvement of their condition as a class, so far does this personal interest, instead of opposing the course of history and therefore of being condemned to the aforesaid immorality, coincide in its tendency completely with the development of the people as a whole, with the victory of the ideal, with the progress of culture, with the vital principle of history itself—­which is nothing else than the development of liberty.  Or, as we have already seen, their cause is the cause of all humanity.

You are therefore in the fortunate position, Gentlemen, instead of being compelled to be dead to the idea, of being destined rather, through your own personal interests, to a greater receptiveness for it.  You are in the fortunate position that that which forms your own true personal interest coincides with the throbbing heart-beat of history—­with the active, vital principle of moral development.  You can therefore devote yourself to historical development with personal passion and be sure that the more fervent and consuming this passion is, the more moral is your position, in the true sense which I have explained to you.

These are the reasons why the control of the fourth class over the State must produce a fullness of morality and culture and knowledge such as never yet existed in history.

But still another reason points in the same direction, which again is most intimately connected with all the considerations which we have stated and forms their keystone.

The fourth class has not only a different formal political principle from the capitalist class—­namely, the universal direct franchise in place of the property qualification of the capitalist class; it has, further, not only through its social position a different relation to moral forces than the upper classes, but also, and partly in consequence of this, a conception of the moral purpose of the State entirely different from that of the capitalist class.  The moral idea of the capitalist is this—­that nothing whatsoever is to be guaranteed to any individual but the unimpeded exercise of his faculties.

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If we were all equally strong, equally wise, equally educated, and equally rich, this idea might be regarded as a sufficient and a moral one; but since we are not so, and cannot be so, this thought is not sufficient, and therefore, in its consequences, leads necessarily to a serious immorality; for its result is that the stronger, abler, richer man exploits the weaker and becomes his master.

The moral idea of the working class, on the other hand, is that the unimpeded and free exercise of individual faculties by the individual is not sufficient, but that in a morally adjusted community there must be added to it solidarity of interests, mutual consideration, and mutual helpfulness in development.

In contrast to such a condition the capitalist class has this conception of the moral purposes of the State—­that it consists exclusively and entirely in protecting the personal liberty of the individual and his property.

This is a policeman’s idea, Gentlemen—­a policeman’s idea because the State can think of itself only in the guise of a policeman whose whole office consists in preventing robbery and burglary.  Unfortunately this conception is to be found, in consequence of imperfect thinking, not only among acknowledged liberals, but, often enough, even among many supposed to be democrats.  If the capitalist class were to carry their thought to its logical extreme they would have to admit that, according to their idea, if there were no thieves or robbers the State would be entirely unnecessary.

The fourth class conceives of the purpose of the State in a quite different manner, and its conception of it is the true one.

History is a struggle with nature—­that is, with misery, with ignorance, with poverty, with weakness, and, accordingly, with restrictions of all kinds to which we were subject when the human race appeared in the beginning of history.  A constantly advancing victory over this weakness—­that is the development of liberty which history portrays.

In this struggle we should never have taken a step forward, nor should we ever take another, if we had carried it on, or tried to carry it on, as individuals, each for himself alone.

It is the State which has the office of perfecting this development of freedom, and of the human race to freedom.  The State is this unity of individuals in a moral composite—­a unity which increases a millionfold the powers of all individuals who are included in this union, which multiplies a millionfold the powers which are at the command of them all as individuals.

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The purpose of the State, then, is not to protect merely the personal liberty of the individual and the property which, according to the idea of the capitalist, he must have before he can participate in the State; the purpose of the State is, rather, through this union to put individuals in a position to attain objects, to reach a condition of existence which they could never reach as individuals, to empower them to attain a standard of education, power, and liberty which would be utterly impossible for them, one and all, merely as individuals.  The object of the State is, accordingly, to bring the human being to positive and progressive development—­in a word, to shape human destiny, i.e., the culture of which mankind is capable, into actual existence.  It is the training and development of the human race for freedom.

Such is the real moral nature of the State—­its true and higher task.  This is so truly the case that for all time it has been carried out through the force of circumstances, by the State, even without its will, even without its knowledge, even against the will of its leaders.

But the working class, the lower classes of society in general, have, on account of the helpless position in which their members find themselves as individuals, the sure instinct that just this must be the function of the State—­the aiding of the individual, by the union of all, to such a development as would be unobtainable by him merely as an individual.

The State then, brought under the control of the idea of the working class, would no longer be driven on, as all states have been up to this time, unconsciously and often reluctantly, by the nature of things and the force of circumstances; but it would make this moral nature of the State its task, with the greatest clearness and complete consciousness.  It would accomplish with ready willingness and the most complete consistency that which, up to this time, has been forced only in the dimmest outlines from the opposing will, and just for this reason it would necessarily promote a nourishing of intellect, a development of happiness, education, prosperity, and liberty, such as would stand without example in the world’s history, in comparison with which the most lauded conditions in earlier times would drop into a pale shadow.

It is this which must be called the political idea of the working class, its conception of the purpose of the State, which, as you see, is just as different, and in a perfectly corresponding manner, from the conception of the purpose of the State in the capitalist class as the principle of the working class—­a share of all in the determination of public policy, or universal suffrage—­is from the corresponding principle of the capitalist class—­the property qualification.

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The line of thought here developed is therefore what must be pronounced the idea of the working class.  It is that which I had in view when, at the beginning, I spoke of the connection between the particular period of history in which we live and the idea of the working class.  It is this period, beginning with February, 1848, which has the task of bringing such a political idea to realization, and we may congratulate ourselves that we have been born in a time which is destined to see the accomplishment of this most glorious work of history, and in which we have the privilege of lending a helping hand.

But for all who belong to the working class there follows from what I have said the duty of an entirely new attitude.  Nothing is more effective in impressing upon a class a dignified and deeply moral stamp than the consciousness that it is destined to be the ruling class; that it is called upon to elevate the principle of its class to the principle of the whole historical period; to make its idea the leading truth of the whole of society, and so, in turn, to shape society into a reflection of its own character.  The lofty historical honor of this destiny must lay hold upon all your thoughts.  It is no longer becoming to you to indulge in the vices of the oppressed, or the idle distractions of the thoughtless, or even the harmless frivolity of the insignificant.  You are the rock upon which the church of the present is to be built.

The lofty moral earnestness of this thought should entirely fill your mind, should fill your hearts and shape your whole life to be worthy of it and conformable to it.  The moral earnestness of this thought, without ever leaving you, must stand for better thoughts in your shop during your work, in your leisure hours, your walks, your meetings; and, even when you lie down to rest on your hard couch, it is this thought which must fill and occupy your soul until it passes into the realm of dreams.  The more exclusively you fill your minds with this moral earnestness, the more undividedly you are influenced by its warmth—­of this you may be assured—­the more you will hasten the time in which our present historical period has to accomplish its task, the sooner you will bring about the fulfilment of this work.

If, among those who listen to me today, there were even two or three in whom I have succeeded in kindling the moral warmth of this thought, with that fullness which I mean and which I have described to you, I should consider even that a great gain, and account myself richly rewarded for my presentation.

Above all, your soul must be free from discouragement and doubt, to which an insufficiently valid consideration of historical efforts might easily lead.  So, for instance, it is absolutely false that in France the Republic was overthrown by the coup d’etat of December, 1851.

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What could not maintain itself in France, what really was destroyed at that time, was not the Republic but that republic, which, as I have already shown you, abolished, by the law of May 30, 1850, the universal franchise, and introduced a disguised property qualification for the exclusion of the workingman.  It was the capitalist republic which wished to put the stamp of the bourgeoisie—­the domination of capital—­upon the republican forms of the State; it was this which gave the French usurper the possibility, under an apparent restoration of the universal franchise, to overthrow the Republic, which otherwise would have found an invincible bulwark in the breast of the French workingman.  So what in France could not maintain itself, and was overthrown, was not the Republic, but the bourgeois republic; and, on really correct consideration, the fact is confirmed, even by this example, that the historical period which began with February, 1848, will no longer tolerate any State which, whether in monarchical or in republican form, tries to impress upon it, or maintain within it, the controlling political stamp of the third class of society.

From the lofty mountain tops of science the dawn of a new day is seen earlier than below in the turmoil of daily life.

Have you ever beheld a sunrise from the top of a high mountain?  A purple line colors blood-red the farthest horizon, announcing the new light.  Clouds and mists collect and oppose the morning red, veiling its beams for a moment; but no power on earth can prevail against the slow and majestic rising of the sun which, an hour later, visible to all the world, radiating light and warmth, stands bright in the firmament.  What an hour is, in the natural phenomena of every day, a decade or two is in the still more impressive spectacle of a sunrise in the world’s history.


[Footnote 47:  The word bourgeoisie is henceforth used throughout the discussion to designate the political party now defined.—­TRANSLATOR.]

[Footnote 48:  Here the speaker quotes statistics showing that, on the average, throughout Prussia, a vote by a man of the first class has as much weight as seventeen votes by men of the third class.—­TRANSLATOR.]

* * * * *


[A speech delivered by Lassalle in his own defense before the Criminal Court of Berlin on the charge of having incited to class hatred.]

TRANSLATED BY THORSTEIN B. VEBLEN, PH.D.  Lecturer in Economics, University of Missouri

Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Court: 

I shall have to make my beginning with an appeal to your indulgence.  My defense will go somewhat into detail.  It will, on that account, necessarily be somewhat long.  But I consider myself justified in pursuing this course, first, by the magnitude of the penalty with which I am threatened under Section 100 of the Criminal Code—­the full extent of this penalty amounting to no less than two years’ imprisonment.  In the second place, and more particularly, I consider my course justified by the fact that this trial by no means centres about a man and the imposition of a penalty.

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You will, therefore, permit me, without further preliminary, to carry the discussion from the region of ordinary court-room routine to that higher level on which it properly belongs.

The indictment brought against me is an evil and deplorable sign of the times.  It not only offends the common law, but it is a notable violation of the Constitution.  This is the first count in the defense which I have to offer.

I. Article 20 of the Constitution reads:  “Science and its teaching is free.”

What may be the meaning of this phrase in the Constitution, “is free,” unless it means that science and its teaching are not subject to the ordinary provisions of the Criminal Code?  Is this expression, “Science and its teaching is free,” perhaps to be taken as meaning “free within the limits of the general provisions of the criminal code?” But within these limits every expression of opinion is absolutely free—­not only science and its teaching.  So long as they live within the general specifications of the criminal code, every newspaper writer and every market woman is quite free to write and say whatever they choose.  This liberty, which is conceded to all expressions of opinion, need not and could not be proclaimed by a special article of the Constitution as a peculiar concession to “science and its teaching.”

To put such a construction upon this article of the Constitution amounts to reading it out of the Constitution, to so interpreting it that it has nothing to say,—­which is in our time by no means a neglected method of quietly putting the Constitution out of the way.

Now, the first principle of legal interpretation is that a provision of law must not be so interpreted as to make it superfluous or absurd, or to virtually expunge it.  This, of course, applies with peculiar force to an article of the Constitution.  There can accordingly be no doubt, Gentlemen, that precisely this was the intention of this provision of the Constitution; namely, that the prerogative was to be conceded to science that it should not lie under the limitations which the general criminal code imposes upon every-day, trivial expressions of opinion.

It is easy to understand that the legislature of any country will seek to protect the institutions of the country.  In the nature of the case, the laws forbid inciting the citizens of a country to disorderly outbreak against the constituted authority.

Indeed, if we accept certain current views of law and order we have no difficulty in understanding that the law may consistently forbid all such appeal to the passions as is designed to foster contempt and disregard of existing conventions, or to stir up sentiments of hatred and distrust in their populace through a direct appeal to the unstable emotions.

But what is in the eternal nature of things free, on which no limits must be imposed, the importance of which to the State itself is greater than that of any single provision of law, to the free exercise of which no provision of law can set bounds—­that is the impulse to scientific investigation.

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No situation and no institution is perfect.  Such a thing may happen as that an institution which we are accustomed to consider the most unimpeachable and indispensable, may, in fact, be vicious in the highest degree, and be most seriously in need of reform.

Will any one deny this whose view comprehends the changes which history records since the days of the Hindus or the Egyptians?  Or even if he looks no further than the narrow space of the past one hundred years?

The Egyptian fellah warms the hearth of his squalid mud hut with the mummies of the Pharaohs of Egypt, the all-powerful builders of the everlasting pyramids.  Customs, conventions, codes, dynasties, states, nations come and go in incontinent succession.  But, stronger than these, never disappearing, forever growing, from the earliest beginnings of the Ionic philosophy, unfolding in an ever-increasing amplitude, outleaping all else, spreading from one nation and from one people to another, and handed down, with devout reverence, from age to age, there remains the stately growth of scientific knowledge.

And what is the source of all that unremitting progress, of all that uninterruptedly, but insensibly, broadening amelioration which we see peacefully accomplishing itself in the course of history, if it is not this same scientific knowledge?  And, this being so, science must have its way without restraint; for science there is nothing fixed and definite, to which its process of chemical analysis may not be applied, nothing sacred, no noli me tangere.  Without free scientific inquiry, therefore, there is no outcome but stagnation, decline and barbarism.  And, while free scientific inquiry is the perennial fountain-head of all progress in human affairs, this inquiry and its gradually extending sway over men’s convictions, is at the same time the only guarantee of a peaceable advance.  Whoever stops up this fountain, whoever attempts to prevent its flowing at any point, or to restrain its bearing upon any given situation, is not only guilty of cutting off the sources of progress, but he is guilty of a breach of the public peace and of endangering the stability of the State.  It is through the means of such scientific inquiry and its work of painstaking elaboration that the exigencies of a progressively changing situation are enabled gradually, and without harm, to have their effect upon men’s thinking and upon human relations, and so to pass into the life of society.  Whoever obstructs scientific inquiry clamps down the safety valve of public opinion, and puts the State in train for an explosion.  He prohibits science from finding out the malady and its remedy, and he thereby substitutes the resulting convulsions of the death struggle for a diagnosis and a judicious treatment.

Unrestrained freedom of scientific teaching is, accordingly, not only an inalienable right of the individual, but, what is more to the point, it is, primarily and most particularly, a necessity of life to the community; it involves the life of the State itself.

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Therefore has society formulated the provision that “Science and its teaching is free,” without qualification, without condition, without limits; and this proviso is incorporated into the Constitution, in order to make it plain that it must remain inviolate even at the hands of the law-giver himself, that even he must not for a moment overlook or disregard it.  And so it serves as pledge of the continual peaceable development of social life down to the remotest generations.

Does a question present itself at this point, Gentlemen?  Am I setting up a new and unheard-of theory on this head?

Am I, possibly, misconstruing the wording of the Constitution in order to extricate myself from an embarrassing criminal process?

On the contrary, nothing is easier than to prove to you from the evidences of history that this provision of the Constitution has never been taken in any other sense; that for long centuries before the days of the Constitution this theory has been current among us in usage and practice; that it is by ancient tradition a characteristic feature of the culture of all Germanic peoples.

In the days of Socrates, it was still possible to be indicted for having taught new gods (Greek:  katnos theous), and Socrates drank the hemlock under such an indictment.

In antiquity all this was natural enough.  The genius of antiquity was so utterly identified with the conditions of its political life, and religion was so integral an element in the foundations of the ancient State, that the ancient mind was quite incapable of divesting itself of these convictions, and so getting out of its integument.  The spirit of antiquity must stand or fall with its particular political conventions, and, in the event, it fell with them.

Such being the spirit of those times, it follows that any scientific doctrine which carried a denial of any element of the foundations of the State was in effect an attack upon the nation’s life and must necessarily be dealt with as such.

All this changes when the ancient world passes away and the Germanic peoples come upon the scene.  These latter are peoples gifted with a capacity to change their integument.  By virtue of that faculty for development that belongs to the guiding principle of their life, viz.:  the principle of the subjective spirit,—­by virtue of this, these latter are possessed of a flexibility which enables them to live through the most widely varied metamorphoses.  These peoples have passed through many and extreme transformations, and, instead of meeting their death and dissolution in the process, they have by force of it ever emerged on a higher plane of development and into a richer unfolding of life.[49]

The means by which these peoples are able to prepare the way for and to achieve these transmutations through which they constantly emerge to that fuller life, the rudiments of which are inborn in them, is the principle of an unrestrained freedom of scientific research and teaching.

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Hence it comes that this instinct of free thought among these peoples reaches expression very early, much earlier than the modern learned world commonly suspects.  “We are mistakenly in the habit of thinking of free scientific inquiry as a fruitage of modern times.  But among these peoples that instinct is an ancient one which asserts that free inquiry must be bound neither by the authority of a person nor by a human ordinance; that, on the contrary, it is a power in itself, resting immediately upon its own divine right, superior to and antedating all human institutions whatever.

Quasi lignum vitae,” says Pope Alexander IV. in a constitution addressed to the University of Paris in 1256, “Quasi lignum vitae in Paradiso Dei, et quasi lucerna fulgoris in Domo Domini, est in Sancta Ecclesia Parisiensis Studii disciplina.”  “As the tree of life in God’s Paradise and the lamp of glory in the house of God, such in the Holy Church is the place of the Parisian corporation of learning.”  To appreciate the import of these words of the holy father, it should be borne in mind that in the Middle Ages all things whatever lived only by virtue of a corporate existence, so that learning existed only as incorporated in a university.

It would be a serious mistake to believe that the universities of the Middle Ages rested that prerogative of scientific censure—­censura doctrinatis—­to which they laid claim in such a comprehensive way, upon these and other like papal or imperial and royal decrees of establishment.  Petrus Alliacensis, a man whom the University of Paris elected as its magnus magister in 1381, and who afterward wore the archiepiscopal and also the cardinal’s hat, tells us that not ex jure humano, not from human legislation, but ex jure divino, from divine law, does science derive its competence to exercise the censura; and the privileges and charters granted by popes, emperors and kings are nothing more than the acts of recognition of this prerogative of science that comes to it ex jure divino, or, as an alternative expression has it, ex jure naturali, by the law of nature.  And in this, Petrus Alliacensis is substantially borne out by all the later scholastics.

Gentlemen, we are in the habit of giving ourselves airs and of looking down on the Middle Ages as a time of darkness and barbarism.  But in so doing we are frequently in the wrong, and in no respect are we more thoroughly in the wrong than in passing such an opinion upon the position of science in the Middle Ages.  Frequent and most solemn are the cases in which recognition is made of the right of science to raise her voice without all regard to king and pope, and even against king and pope.

We have recently witnessed a conflict between the government and the house of deputies as to the meeting of expenditures not granted by the house.  An impression has been diligently spread abroad through the country that this is an unheard of piece of boldness and a subversive assumption of power on the part of the house of deputies, and indeed there have not been wanting deputies who have been astonished at their own daring, and have taken some pride in it.

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But, on the other hand, Gentlemen, in February, 1412, the University of Paris, which was in no way intrusted with an oversight or a control of this country’s fiscal affairs, took occasion to address a memorial to the King of France, Charles VI., as it said:  “pour la chose publique du votre royaume”—­on the public concerns of the realm.  And in this memorial the university subjects the fiscal administration of the country, together with other branches of the administration, to a drastic criticism, and passes a verdict of unqualified condemnation upon it.  This remonstrance of the University of Paris rises to a degree of boldness, both in its demands and in its tone, that is quite foreign to anything which our house of deputies has done or might be expected to do.  It points out that the revenues have not been expended for the purposes for which they were levied—­“on appert clairement, que les dictes finances ne sont point employees a choses dessus dictes,” etc.—­and it closes this its review with the peremptory demand:  “Item, et il fault savoir, ou est cette finance,”—­“Now, we have a right to know what has become of these funds.”  It describes the king’s fiscal administration, including the highest officials, the finance ministers, gouverneurs and treasurers, as a gang of lawless miscreants, a band of rogues conspiring together for the ruin of the country.  It upbraids the king himself with having packed the parliament of Paris, and so having corrupted the administration of justice.  It points out to him that his predecessors carried on the government by means of much smaller revenues:  “au quel temps estoit le royaume bien gouverne, autrement que maintenant_”—­“when the country was well governed, as is not the case today.”  The remonstrance goes on to picture the burdens which rest upon the poor, and to demand that these burdens be lightened by means of a forced loan levied upon the rich.  And the remonstrance closes with the declaration that all this, which it has set forth is, in spite of its length, but a very adequate presentation of the matter, in so much that it would require several days to describe all the misgovernment the country suffered.

[Illustration:  THE IRON FOUNDRY From the Painting by Adolph von Menzel]

The university rests its right to make such a remonstrance upon this ground alone,—­that it is the spokesman of science, of which all men know that it is without selfish interest, that there are neither public offices nor emoluments in its keeping, and that it is not concerned with these matters in any connection but that of their investigation; but precisely for this reason, it is incumbent upon science to speak out openly when the case demands it.

And the conclusion to which it comes is of no less serious import than this:  It is the king’s duty, without all delay (sans quelque dilacion) to dismiss all comptrollers (gouverneurs) of finance from office, without exception (sans nul excepter), to apprehend their persons and provisionally to sequestrate their goods, and, under penalty of death and confiscation of property, to forbid all communication between the lower officials of the fisc and these comptrollers.

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If you will read this voluminous remonstrance, Gentlemen—­you may find it in the annals of that time by Enguerrand de Monstrelet (liv.  I. c. 99, Tom.  II. p. 307 et seq., ed.  Douet d’Aroy)—­you cannot avoid seeing that, had this memorial been promulgated in our time, e.g., by the University of Berlin, there is scarce an offense enumerated in the code but would have been found in it by the public prosecutor.  Defamation and insult of officials in the execution of their office, contempt and abuse of the government’s regulations and the disposition taken by the officials, lese majeste, incitement of the subjects of the State to hatred and disrespect—­and, indeed, I know not what all would be the offenses which our prosecutors would have discovered in the document.  It is less than a year since, according to the newspapers, a disciplinary inquiry was instituted with respect to a memorial of a very different tenor, wherein one of our universities declined the mandatory suggestions addressed to the university by the ministers in regard to a given appointment.  But, at that earlier day, in the dark ages, such was not the custom.  On the other hand, in compliance with the university’s demands, the treasurer of the crown, Audry Griffart, together with many others of the high officers of finance, was taken into custody, while others avoided a like fate only by escaping into a church vested with the right of asylum.

That was in 1412.  But already eighty years before that date there occurred another, and perhaps even more significant case, which I may touch upon more briefly.  Pope John XXII. promulgated a new construction of the dogma of visio beatifica and had it preached in the churches.  The University of Paris,—­nec pontificis reverentia prohibuit, says the report, quominus veritati insistereat,—­“reverence of the holy father prevented not the university from declaring the truth”—­, although the matter then in question was an article of the faith and lay within a field within which the competence of the pope could not be doubted, still the university, on the 22d of January, 1332, put forth a decree in which this construction of the dogma was classed to be erroneous.

Philip VI. served this decree upon the pope, then resident at Avignon, with the declaration that, unless he recanted as the decree required, he would have him burned as a heretic.  And the pope, in fact, recanted, although he was then on his deathbed.  All of which you may find set forth in Bulas, Historia Universitatis Parisiensis. (Paris, 1668, fol.  Tom.  IV. p. 375 et seq.)

These instances, which might be multiplied at will, may suffice to show how unqualified was the freedom of science even in early days, constrained by no punitive limitation at the hands of pope or king; for, be it remembered, in the Middle Ages, science had, as I have before remarked, only a corporate existence in its bearers, the universities.  So that the view for which I speak has practically been accepted as much as five hundred years back, even in Catholic times and among Latin peoples.

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But now comes Protestantism and creates its political structure, which it erects on precisely this broad principle of free thought and free research.  This principle has since that epoch been the foundation upon which our entire political life has rested.  A protestant State has no other claim to existence than precisely this—­cannot possibly exist on other ground.  When has there, since that time, been talk of a penal prosecution in Prussia on account of a scientific doctrine?

Christian Wolf, at Halle, popularized the Leibnizian philosophy, and it was then brought to the notice of the soldier-king, Frederick William I., that, according to Wolf’s teaching of preestablished harmony, deserting soldiers did not desert by their own free will but by force of this peculiar divine arrangement of a preestablished harmony;[50] wherefore this doctrine, being spread abroad among the military, could not but be very detrimental to the maintenance of military discipline.  It is true, this soldier-king, whose regiments were his State, was incensed at all this in the highest degree, and that he forthwith, in November, 1723, issued an order-in-council against Wolf, ordering him on penalty of the halter, to leave Prussian ground within twice twenty-four hours—­and Wolf was obliged to flee.  But, inasmuch as the king’s lettres de cachet in that time permitted no appeal, they are also passed over in history as being devoid of interest or historic significance.  It may be added that the soldier-king had simply perpetrated a gratuitous outrage, and had not set the claims of law and right aside.  He threatened to hang Wolf, and this threat he could have carried out with the help of his soldiers.  Even brute force is not devoid of dignity when it acts openly and above-board.  He did not insult his courts by asking them to condemn scientific teaching.  It did not occur to him to disguise his act of violence under the forms of law.

Moreover, no sooner had Frederick the Great ascended the throne, 31st of May, 1740, than he, six days later, 6th of June, 1740, sent a note to the Councillor of the Consistory, Reinbeck, directing the recall of Wolf.  Even Frederick William I. had repented of his violence against Wolf and had in vain, in the most honorable terms, addressed letters of recall to him.  But Frederick the Great, while he too had use for soldiers, was no soldier-king, but a statesman.  The note to Reinbeck runs:  “You are requested to use your best endeavor with respect to this Wolf, who is a person that seeks and loves the truth, who is to be held in high honor among all men, and I believe you will have achieved a veritable conquest in the realm of truth if you persuade Wolf to return to us.”

So it appears, then, that also this conflict serves only to add force to the ancient principle that scientific research and the presentation of scientific truth is not to be bound by any limitations or by any considerations of expediency, and must find its sole and all sufficient justification in itself alone.  This principle hereby achieved a new lustre and gained the full authentication of the crown.

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Even the existence of God was not shielded from the discussion of science.  Science was allowed, as it is still allowed, to put forth its proofs against his existence.  The provisions of the new penal code bear only upon blasphemous utterances, such revilings of God as may offend those who believe otherwise, not upon the denial of his existence.

For many decades before the days of the Constitution the unquestioned liberty of science on Prussian ground had served the antagonists of Prussia as their supreme recourse, their chief boast and proudest ornament.  You will remember the extraordinary sensation created by the case of Bruno Bauer, the Privat Docent on the theological faculty at Bonn, whom it was attempted to deprive of his licentia docendi[51] at the ominous instance of the absolutist-pietistical Eichhorn ministry, because of his peculiar doctrine concerning the gospel.  This was the first case during the present century in which an assault has been attempted upon the freedom of scientific teaching, and even this was an infinitely less heinous one than the present.  The faculties of the university were deeply stirred, and for months together official pronunciamentos swarmed about the town; men of the highest standing, such as Marheinecke and others, declared that protestantism and enlightenment were threatened in their very foundations in case such usurpation, hitherto unheard of in Prussia, were allowed to take its course.  And even such expressions of opinion as reached a conclusion subservient to the ministerial view based their conclusion on the ground that the case in question concerned a licentia docendi in the theological faculty, with the fundamental principles of which Bauer’s doctrines were incompatible.  They took care expressly to declare that had the question concerned a licentia docendi in any one of the nontheological faculties, in a philosophical faculty, e.g., the decision must necessarily have been reversed.  No one, not even Eichhorn himself, harbored the conceit that this doctrine and its teaching was to be dealt with by the criminal court.  A teacher who spread abroad scientific teachings subversive of theological doctrines was deprived of the opportunity to proclaim his teaching from a theological chair; but to call in the jailer to suppress him—­to that depth of subservience to absolutism had no one at that time descended.  Alas, that Eichhorn, the much berated, could not have lived to see this day!  With what admiration and with what gratification would he have looked upon his “constitutional” successors!

Even in the days of Eichhorn’s pietistical absolutism, with its ecclesia militans of obscurantism, there survived so much of a sense of decency regarding the ancient traditions as to exempt the liberty of scientific teaching from the indignity of that preventive censure which in those days rendered repressive legislation superfluous.  In their search for some tenable and tangible criterion of the scientific character of any publication, the men of that time, it is true, hit upon a somewhat absurd one in making the test a test of bulk—­books of more than twenty forms were exempt from censure.  But however awkward the outcome, the aim of the provision is not to be denied.

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These ancient traditions, with more than five hundred years of prescriptive standing; this principle which prevailed by usage and acceptance among all modern peoples long before it was embodied in legal form; this primordial deliverance of the spiritual life of the Germanic nations is the substantial fact which our modern society has now finally embodied in Article 20 of the Constitution and so has constituted a norm for the guidance of all later law-givers, in other words:  “Science and its teaching is free.”

It is free without qualification, without limits, without bolts and bars.  Under established law everything has its limitations,—­every power, every function, every vested authority.  The only thing which remains without bounds or constituted limitation, whose privilege it is to over-spread and to overlie all established facts, in such boundless and unhindered freedom as the sun and the air, is the irradiating force of theoretical research.

Scientific theory must be free even to the length of license.  For, even if we could speak of a license in science and its teaching,—­which, by the way, is most seriously to be questioned,—­this is by all means a point at which an attempt to guard against abuse in one case would be liable in a million instances to put a check upon the blessings of rightful use.  If any given measures of state, or any given class institutions, were shielded from scientific discussion, so that science might not teach that the arrangements in question are inadequate or detrimental, iniquitous or destructive,—­under these circumstances, what genius could there be of such comprehensive reach, so far overtopping the spiritual level of all his contemporaries and all succeeding generations, as even to surmise the total extent of the loss which would thereby be sustained?  What fruitful discoveries and developments, what growth of spiritual power and insight would be stifled in the germ by one such rigid interdict upon abuse; and what violent convulsions and what decay might not come upon the State in consequence of it?

The question is also fairly to be asked:  what is legitimate use and what is abuse of science?  Where lies the line between them, and who determines it?  This discretion would have to lie, not with a court of law, but with a court made up of the flower of scientific talent of the time, in all departments and branches of science.

However enlightened your honorable body may be—­and indeed the more enlightened the more unavoidably—­this proposition must appeal to you as beyond question.  What am I saying?  The flower of the scientific talent of the time?  No; that would not answer.  The scientific genius of all subsequent time would have to be included; for how often does history show us the pioneers of science in sheer contradiction with the accepted body of scientific knowledge of their own time!  It may take fifty, and it may often take a hundred years of discussion in scientific matters to settle the question as to what is true and legitimate and what is abuse.

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In point of fact, there has hitherto been not an attempt, since the adoption of the constitution, to bring an indictment against any given scientific teaching.

Gentlemen, since 1848—­since 1830—­we have here in Prussia had many a sore and heavy burden to bear, and our shoulders are lame and tired with the bearing of them.  But even under the Manteuffel-Westphalen administration, and until today, we have been spared this one indignity, of being called upon to see a scientific doctrine cited before the court.

The keenest attacks, attacks which, taken by themselves, might easily have been subject to criminal prosecution, have suffered no prosecution in any case where they have been embodied in a scientific work and when promulgated in the form of a scientific doctrine.

I am myself in a position to testify on this point.  It is not quite two years since I published a work in which, I believe, I have succeeded in contributing something to the advancement of your own science, Gentlemen,—­the science on which the administration of justice is based.  The work of which I speak is my “System of Acquired Rights.” (System der erworbenen Rechte.) In this work I take occasion to say (Vol.  I., p. 238):  “Science, whose first duty is the most searching inquiry and concise thinking, can on this account in no way deprive itself of the right to formulate its conceptions with all the definiteness and concision which the clearness of these conceptions itself requires.”  And proceeding on this ground I go on, in the further discussion, to show that the agrarian legislation of Prussia subsequent to 1850 is nothing else—­to quote my own words literally—­than a robbery of the poor for the benefit of the wealthy landed aristocracy, illegal and perpetrated in violation of the perpetrators’ own sense of equity.

How easy would it not have been, if the expressions had occurred elsewhere than in a scientific treatise, to find that they embodied overt contempt of the institutions of the State, and incitement to hatred and disregard of the regulations of the government.  But they occurred in a scientific treatise—­they were the outcome of a painstaking scientific inquiry,—­therefore they passed without indictment.

But that was two years ago.

In return for the accusation which has been brought against me, I, in my turn, retort with the accusation that my accusers have this day brought upon Prussia the disgrace that now for the first time since the State came into existence scientific teaching is prosecuted before a criminal court.  For what can the public prosecutor say to my accusation, since he concedes the substance of my claims, since he is compelled to acknowledge that science and its teaching is free, and therefore free from all penal restraint?  Will he contend, perhaps, that I do not represent science?  Or will he, possibly, deny that the work with which this indictment is concerned is a scientific

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work?  The prosecutor seems to feel himself hampered by the fact that he has here to do with a scientific production, for he begins his indictment with the sentence:  “While the accused has assumed an appearance of scientific inquiry, his discussion at all points is of a practical bearing.”  The appearance of scientific inquiry?  And why is it the appearance only?  I call upon the prosecutor to show why only the appearance of scientific inquiry is to be imputed to this scientific publication.  I believe that in a question as to what is scientific and what not, I am more competent to speak than the public prosecutor.

In various and difficult fields of science I have published voluminous works; I have spared no pains and no midnight vigils in the endeavor to widen the scope of science itself, and, I believe, I can in this matter say with Horace:  Militavi non sine gloria.[52] But I declare to you:  Never, not in the most voluminous of my works, have I written a line that was more carefully thought out in strict conformity to scientific truth than this production is from its first page to its last.  And I assert further that not only is this brochure a scientific work, as so many another may be that presents in combination results already known, but that it is in many respects a scientific achievement, a development of new scientific conceptions.

What is the criterion by which the scientific standing of a book is to be judged?  None else, of course, than its contents.

I beg you, therefore, to take a look at the contents of this pamphlet.  Its content is nothing else than a philosophy of history, condensed in the compass of forty-four pages, beginning with the Middle Ages and coming down to the present.  It is a development of that objective unfolding of rational thought which has lain at the root of European history for more than a thousand years past; it is an exposition of that inner soul of things resident in the process of history that manifests itself in the apparently opaque, empirical sequence of events and which has produced this historical sequence out of its own moving, creative force.  It is, in spite of the brief compass of the pamphlet, the strictly developed proof that history is nothing else than the self-accomplishing, by inner necessity increasingly progressive unfolding of reason and of freedom, achieving itself under the mask of apparently mere external and material relations.

In the brief compass of this pamphlet, I pass three great periods of the world’s history in review before the reader; and for each one I point out that it proceeds on a single comprehensive idea, which controls all the various, apparently unrelated, fields of development and all the different and widely-scattered phenomena that fall within the period in question; and I show that each of these periods is but the necessary forerunner and preparation for the succeeding period, and that each succeeding period is the peculiar and imminently necessary continuation, the consequence and unavoidable consummation of the preceding period, and that these together, consequently, constitute a comprehensive and logically inseparable whole.

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First comes the period of feudalism.  I here show that feudalism, in all its variations, rests on the one principle of control of landed property, and I also show how at that time, owing to the fact that society’s productive work to a preponderating extent consisted in agriculture, landed property necessarily was the controlling factor, that is to say, the feature conditioning all political and social power and standing.

And I beg you, Gentlemen, to take note with what a strict scientific objectivity of treatment, how free from all propagandist bias, I proceed with the discussion.  If there is any one datum which lends itself to the purposes of that propagandist bias which the public prosecutor claims to find in this pamphlet—­namely the incitement of the indigent classes to hatred of the wealthy—­it is the peasant wars.  If there is any one fact which has hitherto been accepted, in scientific and in popular opinion alike, and more particularly among the unpropertied classes, with, the fondest remembrance, as a national movement iniquitously put down by the strong hand of violence, it is the peasant wars.

Now, unmoved by this predilection and this shimmer of sentiment, with which the science and the popular sense have united in investing the peasant wars, I go on to divest these wars of this deceptive appearance and show them up in their true light,—­that they were at bottom a reactionary movement, which, fortunately for the cause of liberty, was of necessity doomed to failure.

Further:  If there exists in Germany an institution which, as a question of our own times, I abominate with all my heart as the source of our national decay, our shame and our impotence, it is the institution of the territorial State.

Now, the pamphlet in question is so strictly scientific and objective in its method, so far removed from all personal bias, that I therein go on to show that the institution of the territorial State was, in its time, historically a legitimate and revolutionary feature; that it was an ideal advance, in that it embodied and developed the concept of a State independent of relations of ownership; whereas the peasant wars sought to place the State, and all political power and standing, on the basis of property.

I then, further, go on to show how the period of feudalism is succeeded by a second world-historic period.  I show how, while the peasant wars were revolutionary only in their own delusion, there begins almost simultaneously with them a real revolution, namely, that accumulation of capitalistic wealth which arose through the development of industry.  This wrought a thoroughgoing change in the whole situation,—­a change which reached its final act, achieved its legal acceptance, in the French Revolution of 1789, but which had in point of fact for three hundred years been imperceptibly advancing toward its consummation.

I show in detail, which I need not here expound or recapitulate, what are the economic factors that were destined to push landed property into the remotest back-ground and leave it relatively powerless, by making the new industrial activity the great lever and the bearer of modern social wealth.  All this took place by force of the new industrial activity the great lever and the bearer of methods which they brought in.

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I show how this capitalized wealth, which has come forward as an outcome of this industrial development and has grown to be the dominant factor in this second period, must in its turn attain the position of prerogative as the recognized qualification of political competence, as the condition of a voice in the councils and policy of the State; just as was at an earlier time the case with landed property in relation to the public law of feudalism.  I show how, directly and indirectly in the control of opinion, in the requirement of bonds and stamp duties, in the public press, in the growth of individual taxation, etc., capitalized wealth, as a basis of participation in public affairs, must work out its inherent tendency with the same thoroughness and the same historical necessity as landed property had done in its time.

And this second period, which has completed its three hundred and fifty years, as I further go on to show, is now essentially concluded.  With the French Revolution of 1848 comes the dawning of a new, a third historical period.  By its proclamation of universal and equal suffrage, regardless of property qualifications, this third period assigns to each and every one an equal share in the sovereignty, in the guidance of public affairs and public policy.  And so it installs free labor as the dominating principle of social life, conditioned by neither the possession of land nor of capital.

I then develop the difference in point of ethical principles between the bourgeoisie and the laboring class, as well as the resulting difference in the political ideals of the two classes.  The aristocratic principle assigned the individual his status on the basis of descent and social rank, whereas the principal for which the bourgeoisie stands contends that all such legal restriction is iniquitous, and that the individual must be counted simply as such, with no prerogative beyond guaranteeing him the unhindered opportunity to make the most of his capacities as an individual.  Now, I claim, if we all were by native gift equally wealthy, equally capable, equally well educated, then this principle of equal opportunity would be adequate to the purpose.  But since such equality does not prevail, and indeed cannot come to pass, and since we do not come into the world simply as undifferentiated individuals, but endowed in varying degree with wealth and capacities, which in turn result in differences of education; therefore, this principle is not an adequate principle.  For, if under these actual circumstances, nothing were guaranteed beyond the unhindered opportunity of the individual to make the most of himself, the consequence must be an exploitation of the weaker by the stronger.  The principle for which the working classes stand is this, that free opportunity alone will not suffice, but that to this, for the purposes of any morally defensible organization of society, there must be added the further principle of a solidarity of interests, a community and mutuality in development.

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From this difference between the two classes, in point of ethical principle, follows, as a matter of course, the difference in political ideals.

The bourgeoisie has elaborated the principle that the end of the State is to protect the personal liberty of the individual and his property.  This is the doctrine put forth by the scientific spokesmen of the bourgeoisie.  This is the doctrine of its political leaders, of liberalism.  But this theory is in a high degree inadequate, unscientific, and at variance with the essential nature of the State.

The course of history is a struggle against nature, against need, ignorance and impotence, and, therefore, against bondage of every kind in which we were held under the state of nature at the beginning of history.  The progressive overcoming of this impotence,—­this is the evolution of liberty, whereof history is an account.  In this struggle we should never have made one step in advance, and we should never take a further step, if we had gone into the struggle singly, each for himself.

Now the State is precisely this contemplated unity and cooeperation of individuals in a moral whole, whose function it is to carry on this struggle, a combination which multiplies a million fold the force of all the individuals comprised in it, which heightens a million fold the powers which each individual singly would be able to exert.

The end of the State, therefore, is not simply to secure to each individual that personal freedom and that property with which the bourgeois principle assumes that the individual enters the state organization at the outset, but which in point of fact are first afforded him in and by the State.  On the contrary, the end of the State can be no other than to accomplish that which, in the nature of things, is and always has been the function of the State,—­in set terms:  by combining individuals into a state organization to enable them to achieve such ends and to attain such a level of existence as they could not achieve as isolated individuals.

The ultimate and intrinsic end of the State, therefore, is to further the positive unfolding, the progressive development of human life.  In other words, its function is to work out in actual achievement the true end of man; that is to say, the full degree of culture of which human nature is capable.  It is the education and evolution of mankind into freedom.

As a matter of fact, even the older culture, which has become the inestimable foundation of the Germanic genius, makes for such a conception of the State.  I may cite the words of the great leader of our science, August Boeckh:  “The concept of the State must,” according to him, “necessarily be so broadened as to make the State the contrivance whereby all human virtue is to be realized to the full.”

But this fully developed conception of the State is, above all and essentially, a conception that is in a peculiar sense to be ascribed to the working classes.  Others may conceive this conception of the State by force of insight and education, but to the working classes it is, by virtue of the helpless condition of their numbers, given as a matter of instinct; it is forced home upon them by material and economic facts.

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Their economic situation necessarily breeds in these classes an instinctive sense that the function of the State is and must be that of helping the individual, through the combined efforts of all, to reach a development such as the individual in isolation is incapable of attaining.

In point of fact, however, this ethical conception of the State does not set up any concept that has not already previously been the real motor principle in the State.  On the contrary, it is plain from what has already been said, that this, in an unconscious way, has been the essential nature of the State from the beginning.  This essential character of the State has always in some measure asserted itself through the logical constraint of the course of events, even when such an aim has been absent from the conscious purposes of the State, even when opposed to the will of those in whose hands the power of control had rested.

In setting up this conception of the working classes as the dominant concept of the State, therefore, we do nothing more than articularly formulate what has all along, but obscurely, been the organic nature of the State, and bring it into the foreground as the consciously avowed end of society.

Herein lies the comprehensive unity and continuity of all human development, that nothing drops into the course of development from the outside.  It is only that that is brought clearly into consciousness, and worked out on the ground of free choice, which has in substance all along constituted the obscurely and unconsciously effective organic nature of things.

With the French Revolution of 1848 this clearer consciousness has made its entry upon the scene and has been proclaimed.  In the first place, this outcome was symbolically represented in that a workman was made a member of the provisional government; and, further, there was proclaimed universal, equal and direct suffrage, which is in point of method the means whereby this conception of the State is to be realized.  February, 1848, therefore, marks the dawning of the historical period in which the ethical principle of the working classes is consciously accepted as the guiding principle of society.

We have reason to congratulate ourselves upon living in an epoch consecrated to the achievement of this exalted end.  But, above all, it is to be said, since it is the destined course of this historical period to make their conception the guiding principle of society, it behooves the working classes to conduct themselves with all moral earnestness, sobriety and studious deliberation.

Such, expressed in the briefest terms, is the content and the course of argument of the disquisition in question.

What I have sought to accomplish in that argument is nothing else than to explain to my auditors the intrinsic philosophical content of the historical development, to initiate them into this most difficult of all the sciences, to bring home to them the fact that history is a logical whole which unfolds step by step under the guidance of inexorable laws.

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One who gives himself up to work of this kind is entitled to address your public prosecutor in the words of Archimedes, when, at the sacking of Syracuse, he was set upon, sword in hand, by the savage soldiery while drawing and studying his mathematical figures in the sand:  “Noli turbare circulos meos."[53]

To enable me to write this pamphlet, five different sciences, and more than that, have had to be brought into cooeperation and had to be mastered:  History in the narrower sense of the term, Jurisprudence and the History of Law, Political Economy, Statistics, Finance, and, last and most difficult of the sciences, the science of thought, or Philosophy.

What a paragon of scientific erudition must the public prosecutor be, in whose eyes all this is not sufficient to lend a publication the attribute of scientific quality.

But the indictment itself, when it is more closely examined, is seen to assign the ground on which this work is held to lack the requisite scientific character.  The indictment says:  “While the defendant, Lassalle, has been at pains to give himself the appearance of scientific method in this address, still the address is after all of a thoroughly practical bearing.”

So it appears, then, that, according to the public prosecutor, the address is not scientific because it is claimed to have a practical bearing.  The test of scientific adequacy, according to the public prosecutor, is the absence of practical bearing.  I may fairly be permitted to ask the public prosecutor—­and it is a Schelling whose signature this indictment bears—­where he has learned all this.  From his father?  Assuredly not.  Schelling the elder assigns philosophy no less serious a task than that of transforming the entire cultural epoch.  “It is conceived to be too much,” says he in formulating an anticipated objection, “to expect that philosophy shall rehabilitate the times.”  To this his answer is:  “But when I claim to see in philosophy a means whereby to remedy the confusion of the times, I have, of course, in mind not an impotent philosophy, not simply a product of workman-like dexterity, but a forceful philosophy which can face the facts of life, philosophy which, far from feeling itself impotent before the stupendous realities of life, far from confining itself to the dreary business of simple negation and destruction, draws its force from reality and, therefore, reaches effective and enduring results.”

The public prosecutor, with his brand-new and highly extraordinary discovery, will scarcely find much comfort with the other men of the science.

In his Address to the German People, Fichte tells us:  “What, then, is the bearing of our endeavors even in the most recondite of the sciences?  Grant that the proximate end of these endeavors is that of propagating these sciences from generation to generation, and so conserving them; but why are they to be conserved?  Manifestly only in order that they in the fulness of time shall serve to shape human life and the entire scheme of human institutions.  This is the ulterior end.  Remotely, therefore, even though it may be in distant ages, every endeavor of science serves to advance the ends of the State.”

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Now, Your Honor and Gentlemen of the Court, if I were to spend further speech in the refutation of this discovery of the public prosecutor—­that impracticability is the test of science—­I should be insulting your intelligence.

In the pamphlet in question my aim was the thoroughly practical one of bringing my readers to a comprehension of the times in which they live, and thereby permanently to affect their conduct throughout the course of their life and in whatever direction their activity may lie.

Now, then, what characteristic of scientific work is it which the public prosecutor finds wanting in all this?  Is it, perhaps, that it falls short in respect of bulk?  Is it the circumstance that this work is only a pamphlet of less than fifty pages, instead of comprising three folio volumes?  But when was it decided that the bulk of a work, instead of its contents, is to be accepted as a test of its scientific character?  Is the public prosecutor prepared, for instance, to deny that the papers presented by the members of the Royal Academy at their sessions are scientific productions?  But nearly all of these are shorter than this of mine.

During the past year, as speaker for the Philosophical Society at the celebration of Fichte’s birthday, it was my fortune to present an address in which I dealt intimately with the history of German metaphysics.  That address fills only thirty-five pages as against the forty-four pages of the present pamphlet.  Is the public prosecutor prepared to deny the character of science to that address because of its brevity?

Who will not, on the contrary, appreciate that the very brevity imposed by circumstances makes the scientific inquiry contained in this work all the more difficult and the more considerable?  I was compelled to condense my exposition within the compass of a two-hours’ address, a pamphlet of forty-four pages, at the same time that I was obliged to conform my presentation of the matter to an audience on whose part I could assume no acquaintance with scientific methods and results.  To overcome obstacles of this kind and, at the same time, not to fall short in point of profound scientific analysis, as was the case in the present instance, requires a degree of precision, close application and clarity of thought far in excess of what is demanded in these respects in the common run of more voluminous scientific works.

I return, therefore, again to the question:  What is the requirement of science with respect to which this address falls short?  Is it, perhaps, that it offends the canons of science in respect of the place in which it was held?

This, in fact, touches the substantial core of this indictment, and, at the same time, the sorest spot of the whole.  This address might well—­so runs the prosecutor’s reflection—­have been delivered wherever you like—­from the professor’s chair or from the rostrum of the singing school, before the so-called elite of the educated people; but that it was actually delivered before the actual people, that it was held before workingmen and addressed to workingmen, that fact deprives it of all standing as a scientific work and makes it a criminal offense,—­crimen novum atque inauditum.[54]

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I might, of course, content myself with the answer that the substance of an address, and therefore its scientific character, is in no way affected by the place in which it happens to have been delivered, whether it is in the Academy of Science, before the cream of the learned world, or in a hall in the suburbs before an audience of machinists.

But I owe you, Gentlemen, a somewhat fuller answer.  To begin with, let me express my amazement at the fact that here in Berlin, in the city where Fichte delivered his immortal popular lectures on philosophy, his speeches on the fundamental features of the modern epoch and his speeches on the German nation before the general public, that in this place and day it should occur to any one to fancy that the place in which an address is delivered has anything whatever to do with its scientific character.

The great destiny of our age is precisely this—­which the dark ages had been unable to conceive, much less to achieve—­the dissemination of scientific knowledge among the body of the people.  The difficulties of this task may be serious enough, and we may magnify them as we like,—­still, our endeavors are ready to wrestle with them and our nightly vigils will be given to overcoming them.

In the general decay which, as all those who know the profounder realities of history appreciate, has overtaken European history in all its bearings, there are but two things that have retained their vigor and their propagating force in the midst of all that shriveling blight of self-seeking that pervades European life.  These two things are science and the people, science and the workingman.  And the union of these two is alone capable of invigorating European culture with a new life.

The union of these two polar opposites of modern society, science and the workingman,—­when these two join forces they will crush all obstacles to cultural advance with an iron hand, and it is to this union that I have resolved to devote my life so long as there is breath in my body.

But, Gentlemen, is this view something new and entirely unheard-of in the realm of science?  Let us see what Fichte himself, in his Addresses to the German People, has to say to the cultured classes, to whom he addresses these words:  “It is particularly to the cultured classes of Germany that I wish to direct my remarks in the present address, for it is to these classes I hope in the first place to make myself intelligible.  And I implore these classes, then, as the first step to be taken, to take the initiative in the work of reconstruction, and so, on the one hand, atone for their past deeds, and, on the other hand, earn the right to continued life in the future.

[Illustration:  FLAX BARN IN LAREN From the Painting by Max Liebermann]

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It will appear in the course of this address that hitherto all the advance in the German nation has originated with the common people, and that hitherto all the great national interests have, in the first instance, been the affair of the people, have been taken in hand and pushed forward by the body of the people; so that today for the first time does it happen that the initiative in the cultural advance of the nation is committed to the hands of the cultured classes, and if they will but accept the commission it will be the first time when such has been the case.  It will presently appear that it is quite impossible for these classes to determine how long the matter will yet rest in their discretion, how long the choice will yet be open to them whether to take the initiative in this matter or not, for the whole matter is nearly ripe to be taken in hand by the people, and it will be carried out by men sprung from the body of the people, who will presently be able to help themselves without assistance from us.”

Fichte, then, knew and proclaimed this fact, that the realization of all the great national interests in the past has been the work of the common people and has never been carried out at the hands of the cultured classes.  That, in spite of this knowledge, he turned to the cultured classes is due, as he himself says, to the hope he had of first and most readily making himself understood by them.  It is because, in his apprehension, for the presentment of the matter to the people, the whole was, so he says, “only approaching readiness and maturity,” but not yet ready and mature.

That it is possible today to do what in Fichte’s time was recognized as the only fruitful thing to do, but, at the same time, as not then ready to be done, and therefore too serious to be undertaken,—­this expresses the whole short step in advance that has been accomplished in Germany during the past fifty years; for you will seek in vain for the slightest progress on the part of the German government.

Fichte himself, in the passage cited, says that this advance is coming in the near future.  This “near future” proves to have been fifty years removed, and I trust, Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Court, that you will all consider a fifty-years’ interval long enough to satisfy the requirements of the “near future.”

But the men who, undeterred by all the difficulties of the task, put all their energies into this stupendous undertaking of carrying scientific knowledge and scientific habits of thought among the body of the people,—­are they fairly open to the accusation of having sought to incite the indigent classes to hatred of the well-to-do?  Do they not thereby really deserve the thanks and the affection of the propertied classes, and of the bourgeoisie above all?

Whence arises the bourgeoisie’s dread of the people in political matters?

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Look back, in memory, to the months of March, April, and May, 1848.  Have you forgotten how things looked here at that time?  The power of the police was broken; the people filled all the streets and public places.  And all streets, all public places and all the people in the hands of Karbe, Lindenmueller, and other reckless agitators like them,—­men without knowledge, without intelligence, without culture, thrown into prominence by the storm which stirred our political life to its depths.  The bourgeoisie, scared and faint hearted, hiding in their cellars, trembling every instant for fear of their property and their lives, which lay in the hands of these coarse agitators, and saved only by the fact that these agitators were too good-natured to make such use of their power as the bourgeoisie feared they would.  The bourgeoisie, secretly praying for the reestablishment of the police power and quaking with a fright which they have not yet forgotten, the recollection of which still leaves them incapable of taking up the political struggle.

How came it that in a city which proudly calls itself the metropolis of intelligence, in so great a city, in the home of the most brilliant intellects,—­how came it that the people here for months together could be at the disposal of Karbe and Lindenmueller and could tremble before them in fear for their life and property.  Where was the intelligence of Berlin?  Where were the men of science and of insight?  Where were you, Gentlemen?

A whole city is never cowardly.

But these men reflected and told one another:  The people do not understand our ways of thinking; they do not even understand our speech.  There is a great gulf between our scientific views and the ways of the multitude, between the speech of scientific discussion and the habits of thought of the people.  They would not understand us.  Therefore the floor belongs to the coarsest.

So they reflected and held their peace.  Now, Gentlemen, are you quite sure that a political upheaval will never recur?  Are you ready to swear that you have reached the end of historical development?  Or are you willing to see your lives and property again at the mercy of a Karbe and a Lindenmueller?

If not, then your thanks are due to the men who have devoted themselves to the work of filling up that gulf which separates scientific thought and scientific speech from the people, and so to raze the barriers that divide the bourgeoisie and the people.  Your thanks are due these men, who, at the expense of their utmost intellectual efforts, have undertaken a work whose results will redound to the profit of each and all of you.  These men you should entertain at the prytaneum, not put under indictment.

The place in which this address was held, therefore, can also not afford ground for exception as to its scientific character.

I have now shown you conclusively that the production is a scientific work.

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But if, contrary to all expectation, this should still be questioned, although I do not for a moment consider it possible that it should be questioned by men as enlightened as you are, Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Court; now, in such a case, I seek refuge in the privilege which is accorded every cobbler and which you can all the less deny me, viz., to submit a question of workmanship in my trade to the award of men expert in the trade.

In the last resort, the question as to the scientific character of a given work is a question for the men of the trade, and therefore a question which may not be decided on a basis of common education and common culture alone, and therefore also not by a court of law.  The question at issue does not concern jurisprudence, with which you are necessarily familiar, but it concerns other sciences with which you may well be unfamiliar, although, as a matter of chance, you may, in your private capacity, not your capacity as jurists, also be acquainted with these matters.

It is true, you may answer this question in the affirmative, your competence extends that far.  For in very many cases is the scientific character of a given work manifest, even to the commonly instructed intelligence.

But to pass a negative opinion in the face of the expert testimony to which I provisionally appeal as a subsidiary recourse;[55] to that your competence does not extend, for the nicer question, whether in a given case the most profound researches of science may not, with a view to their readier apprehension, be presented in a facile and popular form, whether this fact of a facile presentation may not itself mark a peculiarly high achievement of scientific endeavor, in which all traces of the struggle, all difficulties and all the refractoriness of the materials handled have been successfully eliminated and the whole has in the outcome been reduced to the simplest and clearest terms; where the result presented is a scientific work of art, which, in the words of Schiller, has risen above the limitations of human infirmity and moves with such ease and freedom as to give the impression that it offers but the free play of the auditor’s own unfolding thought; to decide with confidence whether you have to deal with a scientific work of this class, and to decide it with that certainty and security that is required in order to pass a sentence, that is something of which none but men trained in the science are capable.

This question, therefore, I beg that the following gentlemen:  Privy Councillor August Boeckh, Efficient Privy Councillor Johannes Schultze, formerly Director of the Ministry of Public Worship, Professor Adolf Trendelenburg, Privy Councillor and Chief Librarian Dr. Pertz, Professor Leopold Ranke, Professor Theodor Mommsen, Privy Councillor Professor Hanssen, all members of the Royal Academy of Science, and as specialists capable of judging in the matter, be constituted a subsidiary tribunal to pass on the question, whether the address in question is not in the strict sense a scientific production.

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But, if such is found to be the case, then, as I have already explained, it has nothing to do with the penal code.

I have permitted myself to go exhaustively into an exposition of this, my first ground of defense, because, for the sake of the country itself and the dignity and liberty of science, and for the sake of establishing once for all a precedent which shall bar out all similar endeavors of the public prosecutor in the future, it is incumbent on me to adjure you to acquit me under Article 20 of the Constitution.

But it is not that recourse to this article is necessary to protect my person from the penalty of the law.

For, even were it held that the present case comes within the competence of the penal code, the law appealed to has in no wise been violated, and the paragraph cited by the public prosecutor has no application.

Even this one exception, alone would suffice to set the indictment aside; viz., that no objection is taken to any given passage in which the specified offense is alleged to occur; so that the prosecution proceeds wholely on an allegation of bias, and in the baldest manner.  The indictment runs against a bias; that is all.  But a bias is not actionable.

But I am not to be permitted to dispose of my defense in so easy a manner.  The accusation of having endeavored to incite the poor to hatred of the rich is an accusation of such a kind that, apart from all question of punishment, it is likely to injure any citizen’s name and fame.  This accusation is of such character that, even if it is formally disproven on legal ground, it may still leave the accused an object of suspicion.  You will, accordingly, Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Court, take it simply as evidence of the respect I bear you when I now go on to clear my honor in your sight, with the same solicitude as that with which I have defended my freedom.  To this end it is necessary for me to present the grounds of fact, as painstakingly as I have presented the grounds of law, on which this accusation is to be quashed, and you will, therefore, I am sure, hear me with the same forbearance if this second part of my defense turns out to be but little briefer than the first.

I am accused of having violated Section 100 of the penal code.  This section reads as follows:  “Any person who endangers or jeopardizes the public peace by publicly inciting the subjects of the State to hatred or to contempt of one another, is liable to punishment by a fine of not less than 20 and not more than 200 thalers, or by imprisonment of not less than one month and not more than two years.”

This section of the law specifies three different conditions, which must be found to concur if it is to be applicable.

I. There must be incitement to hatred or to contempt;

II.  This incitement must be directed to the detriment of given classes of the subjects of the State, and I am accordingly accused by the public prosecutor of having incited the class of the unpropertied against the class of the propertied;

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III.  This incitement must be of such a nature as to endanger the public peace.

These three conditions must concur, must combine, if the section of the law is to apply,—­and not one of these conditions occurs.

As to I. There must be incitement to hatred and contempt; there can in the case before you be no question of this point, and for several reasons.

1.  The offense specified in Section 100 cannot be committed except there be an intention to incite to hatred and contempt.  A contingent incitement to hatred and contempt, an incitement by inadvertence, is in this case not conceivable.  If such a contingent incitement, an unintended incitement to hatred and contempt, were conceivable, what would not the consequences be?  We have, all of us, for instance, recently read certain speeches delivered in the upper house, which have, we will say, filled me,—­and not me alone, Gentlemen, but along with me a very large part of the nation—­with hatred and contempt to the point of distraction.  Does it follow that the public prosecutor could take action against the speakers in question?  He is not competent to do so, even aside from the political prerogative of the speakers, for, although such has been the effect of these speeches, the purpose of these gentlemen was assuredly not to stir up hatred and contempt.  But it is equally true that no one can deny that the purpose of my address was to impart knowledge.  The most that the public prosecutor can allege is that it was a matter of indifference to me if the knowledge imparted stirred up hatred and contempt,—­an allegation without significance, since there is no such thing as an incitement to hatred and contempt by inadvertence.

But, in point of fact, a deliberate incitement of this kind is in the present case absolutely excluded for another reason, which at the same time establishes that the address in question could not even have had the effect of stirring up hatred and contempt.  I, therefore, in order to prevent repetition, beg to present this reason in connection with the second, viz.:  that my address could not have the effect of causing hatred and contempt.

I have, therefore, to say, as the second count under this head, that this address cannot possibly have had the effect of stirring up hatred and contempt, and a fortiori cannot have had that intention.

On what grounds alone can hatred and contempt be deserved?

On the ground of viciousness, which in turn is an attribute of voluntary human actions alone.  But in this address of mine, I show that the dominance of this principle of the bourgeoisie, against which I am by the public prosecutor accused of inciting to hatred and contempt, is but a stage of economic and ethical development, which is the outcome of historical necessity, and that its nonexistence is an utter impossibility and that it therefore has all the character of natural necessity that belongs to the developmental progress of the earth.

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Do we hate Nature because we have to struggle with her?  Because we have to strive to guide her processes and improve her products?

But there is the further question:  How has the public prosecutor understood my pamphlet?

The fundamental idea of my address is that the dominance of the bourgeoisie has in no wise been produced, consciously and by their own motion, intentionally and in a responsible manner, by the propertied class as persons or individuals.  On the contrary, the bourgeois are but the unconscious, choiceless, and therefore irresponsible products, not the producers of the situation as it stands and as it has developed under the guidance of quite other laws than the direction of personal choice.  Even their reluctance to surrender this their mastery I refer back to the laws of human nature, whose character it is to hold fast to whatever is and to account it necessary.  But a doctrine which goes the length of denying the propertied class all responsibility for the existing state of things, which makes them a product instead of the producers of this state of things—­this doctrine the public prosecutor construes to have incited to hatred and contempt of these persons.

For, be it noted, we have here to do with persons and classes of persons, under section 100, not with institutions established by the State, as under section 101.

No workingman has got so faulty an understanding of my address as the public prosecutor, and I leave it to him to say whether this is due to his lack of understanding or to his lack of will to understand.

But, more than all this, I go on to show that the dominance of the idea of the bourgeoisie is a great historic move in the liberation of humanity; that it was a most potent moral cultural advance; that in fact it was the historically indispensable prerequisite and transitional stage through development out of which the idea of the working class was to emerge.

I therefore must be said to reconcile the working class to the dominance of the bourgeoisie as an historical fact by showing the logical necessity of this dominance.  I reconcile them to it, for a comprehension of the rationality of what restricts us is the fullest possible reconciliation to it.

And if I proceed, further, to show that the idea of the bourgeoisie is not the highest stage of the historical development, not the perfect flower of advancing improvement, but that beyond it lies yet a higher manifestation of the human spirit, and that this ulterior phase rests on the former as its base—­does this mean that I incite to hatred and contempt of the former?

The working class might as well hate and despise themselves and all human nature, whether in their own or in their neighbors’ persons, because it is the law of human nature to unfold step by step and to proceed to each succeeding stage of development from the indispensable vantage ground of the phase preceding.

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If I had any predilection for homiletical discourse, Gentlemen, I should be quite justified in saying that I have exhorted the working classes to a filial piety toward the bourgeoisie, in that I have shown that the dominance of the bourgeoisie was the indispensable prerequisite and condition by transition out of which alone the idea of the working class could come forth.  For even if the son, by grace of a freer and fuller education and a larger endowment of personal force, strives to place himself above the level on which his father stood, still he never forgets the source of his own blood and the author of his own being.  How deep in the mud is it the intention to thrust the noblest of all the sciences in bringing this charge of criminal instigation against the doctrine that history is an unfolding evolution of reason and human liberty?

It was for long incomprehensible to me how the public prosecutor could use such words as instigation to hatred and contempt in this connection.  In the end I have been able to explain this fact to myself only on this one supposition.  The public prosecutor must have endeavored in reading this address, to put himself in the place of a working man and has then come to feel that he would in such a case be moved to hatred.

The public prosecutor, then, is sensible that he would hate.

Now, Gentlemen, I might say that this would be attributable to the peculiarity of his temperament, and that he had no call to generalize and go beyond that.  But I will lend a hand to the public prosecutor in this perplexity.  I will bring the charge against myself in a more telling form than he has been able to do.  I will formulate it as the facts of the case require that it must be formulated if it is to be preferred at all.  And in so doing, the more pointedly I may be able to bring to light the essential nature of the charge, the more utterly shall I annihilate it.

This is what the public prosecutor should have said: 

It is true this address held by Lassalle appeals to the intellect of the auditors, not to their practical impulses or their emotions.  It is accordingly true also that this address does not come within the sphere of competence of the penal code.

But in a person endowed with the normal complement of human sensibility, cognition, will and emotion are not so many insulated pigeonholes which stand in no relation to one another.  Whenever the one compartment is full it flows over into the next.  Will and emotion are servants of the intellect and are controlled by it.

Lassalle, it is true, has not a word to say of hatred and contempt; he is simply occupied with a theoretical exposition of how certain arrangements, for instance, the three-class suffrage, is pernicious.  I am unable to confute this teaching.  But I have this to say with respect to the organic unity of human nature, that if the doctrine is true then it follows that every normally constituted working man must come to hate and distrust not only these arrangements and institutions but also those who profit by them.

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Such is the logical framework on which this indictment must proceed.  This is the line of argument which avowedly or not, by logical necessity comes to expression in this indictment.

It is not I, but the public prosecutor speaking from the eminence of his curule chair, who proclaims to the working classes the awful doctrine:  You must hate and distrust.

It is not for me, it is for the public prosecutor to square himself with the bourgeoisie.

But what is my answer to the public prosecutor and his indictment which charges me with his own offense?

My answer is a four-fold one: 

In the first place a full recognition of the inadequacy or the viciousness of a given institution must arouse in any person of normal sensibility an enduring purpose to change such an institution, if possible, and the arousing of such an undying purpose in my hearers has necessarily been the aim of my scientific investigation, as it necessarily is the end of all scientific work.  But such a purpose, so long as it does not utter itself in an illegal manner, is absolutely unconstrained by law.  The like is true of all effort to arouse such a purpose, so long as it does not resort to illegal means.  But such a purpose to amend the shortcomings of any established arrangement, is by no means the same thing as hatred and contempt of the arrangement in question; since these shortcomings are a matter of historical growth, of historical necessity; since, indeed, they may even be, in effect, a factor in the work of liberation, and a factor of the gravest consequence and of the most beneficial effect for cultural growth.  Further reasons to the like effect have already been recited and I will not take up your time with their repetition and further development.  Here, then, is the first hiatus in the public prosecutor’s argument.

In the second place, if it actually follows in any given case that hatred and contempt is, for a normally constituted human being, the necessary consequence of a scientific knowledge of the facts, such hatred and contempt could by no means be laid under penalties by the legislator.

Whatever institution is so vicious that knowledge of it necessarily excites hatred and contempt, that institution should be hated and despised.

The legislator lays penalties upon such hatred and contempt as are but the effects produced by blind emotions and passions.  But he has not imposed penalties upon human reason and the moral constitution of man.  He consequently does not impose penalties upon hatred and contempt which are the necessary outcome of these two features of human nature.  The public prosecutor construes section 100 to the effect that the legislator has therein intended to prohibit the use of reason and proscribe the moral nature of man.  But such a purpose has not entered the thoughts of the law-giver.  No court will put such a construction upon the law as to make the legislator the avowed enemy

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of intelligence and science,—­and here come into bearing again all the arguments of my defense directed to Article 20 of the Constitution.  The only meaning of these arguments in this connection is that even if science and its teaching were not by Article 20 of the Constitution exempt from the application of the criminal code, still section 100, except it be construed to intend the utter destruction of human nature, cannot be leveled against such hatred and contempt as is the necessary outcome of scientific knowledge.

In the third place, hatred and contempt of a given institutional arrangement or expedient is by no means the same thing as hatred and contempt of those persons who profit by the arrangement in question; whereas section 100 deals only with hatred of persons,—­so that we have here the third break in the public prosecutor’