Mr. Bigelow’s William has a complete knowledge of the history of Europe and of the character of its peoples. There is nothing that he does not know of the upper and lower foundations of the views of European statesmen, past and present. A frank and loyal fellow withal, good to children, he feels keenly the sufferings of soldiers ill-treated by their officers, and the hardships of the working classes exploited by their masters.
Frederick the Great is the only one who in any way approaches him. Then, as to his magnanimity, he proved it to M. Jules Simon, by offering him the musical works of the said Frederick the Great, with a letter which, according to Mr. Bigelow, should have made France give up her foolish ideas about Alsace-Lorraine, were it not for the fact that “from the drawing-rooms of the Faubourg Saint Germain to the garrets of Montmartre, all Frenchmen suffer from an incorrigible mania for revenge.”
To the great satisfaction of Mr. Bigelow, however, it has been given to England to understand, and she knows how to promote William’s mission. On August 9, 1890, she ceded to him Heligoland, the Gibraltar of Germany. It is not I who put these words into the mouth of the friend of the King of Prussia! “Since Waterloo,” adds Mr. Bigelow, “England has not been on such good terms with Germany.”
A very touching confession for us to remember! Hatred of Russia finds expression in a hundred ways under the pen of Mr. Bigelow. Nothing that is Russian can find favour in his sight; the least of the sins of Russia are barbarism, corruption, vice of every kind, cruelty and ignorance. After having piled up all the usual accusations, he stops, and one might think that it was for lack of materials. But not at all! He could, but will not say more about it; and this “more” assumes most fabulous proportions “so as not to compromise my German friends.” I imagine that some of those friends of his must figure on the margin of the Russian budget, for if it were not so, why should they be liable to be compromised?
Travelling down the Danube by boat, Mr. Bigelow was able to make use everywhere of the German language. Every intelligently conducted enterprise which he found on his way was in the hands of Germans. “Sooner or later,” said he, “the Danube will belong to Germany.”
According to Mr. Bigelow, all the people who have the misfortune to live in the neighbourhood of the frontiers of Russia only dream of becoming Germans, in order to escape her.
There is one remarkable quality which William II possesses and which Mr. Bigelow has forgotten, and that is his talent as a scenic artist and impresario for any and every kind of ceremony; in this he is past master. For the 375th Anniversary of October 31, 1517, the day on which the famous theses, which inaugurated the Reformation, were posted by Martin Luther on the door of the chapel at Wittenberg, the Emperor-King surpassed himself. The Imperial procession aroused the greatest enthusiasm in the little town by its successful reconstruction of the historic picture. The speech of the summus episcopus cast all sermons into the shade by its lofty tone and spirit of tolerance.