Reply to Prof. Burgess
To the Editor of The New York Times:
The Burgess Kaiser is a truly admirable person. Every right-minded man will be only too glad to believe all that Prof. Burgess affirms of him. To be sure, there is a lurking sense that the professor “doth protest too much.” But let that go. In the present topsy-turvy state of the world it is refreshing to hear of a man who loves his wife and children in the good, old way. But just now the world is not interested in the private, personal, peculiarly German characteristics of the Kaiser. We outsiders must take him as he is known to the international world. We of course trust that he is an able, cultivated, attractive gentleman. There are many such in the world. But this gentleman happens to be the head of one of the great nations. Our interest in him centres in his relations to his neighbor nations.
An English friend of mine was appointed to duty in a tribe of savages in Africa. I dislike to call them savages after the testimony of my friend. But they were just plain, naked folk, living in primitive simplicity in their native land. The chief of this little tribe was, as my friend asserts, a superior man, and, in spite of his undress, a good deal of a gentleman. In physique he was superb. A sculptor’s heart would have leaped for joy at sight of him. My friend said to see him teaching his young son to throw a spear was a sort of physical music. He himself could throw a spear to an incredible distance with the precision of a rifle shot. He ruled his little kingdom with surprising wisdom and fairness. He was welcomed everywhere among his people as the friend and counselor. His family relations were unimpeachable. The same was true throughout the tribe. He was devoutly pious. In short, he was a Burgess Kaiser in the small. But he was the war lord of all that region. He was fiercely jealous of all the neighboring tribes. He kept his own people armed and drilled to the top of efficiency, ready for attack or defense. He was noted for his hatred and contempt for his people except his own. His forays were marked by savage cruelty. His military necessities stopped at nothing.
Need it be said that the surrounding tribes were in nowise interested in this chief’s physique or domestic virtues, or in his fidelity to his own people? It is safe to affirm that the British Government did not ask whether he had the body of a Michael Angelo’s David or of a baboon from the jungle. It did not ask whether he was good to his wife and children. Most animals are. It did not care how devoted he was to his fetich. The sole question was, What sort of public citizen is he? How does he stand related to surrounding peoples? On what terms does he propose to live with them? That precisely is what we want to know about the Kaiser.
Fortunately, we do not have to ask Prof. Burgess, or any group of savants, or the German people. The Kaiser’s record is known and read of all men.