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The Schemes of the Kaiser
by Juliette Adam
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THE SCHEMES OF THE KAISER

From the French of Juliette Adam

by J. O. P. Bland



New York E. P. Dutton & Company 1918 Printed in Great Britain



TRANSLATOR'S INTRODUCTION

More fortunate than the majority of the prophets who cannot speak smooth things, Madame Adam has lived to find honour in her own country: La grande Francaise has come into her own. God willing, she should live to see that revanche for which, through good and evil report, she has laboured unceasingly these forty-five years, to see the arrogant Prussian humbled to the dust and Alsace-Lorraine restored to France. 1917, she firmly believes will revenge and reverse the tragedy of 1871. More fortunate than the great British soldier who spent his veteran days in warning his countrymen of the ordeal to come, Madame Adam, now in her eighty-first year, may yet hope to see the banners of the Allies crowned with victory, the black wreaths on the statue of Strasburg in the Place de la Concorde changed to garlands of rejoicing.

There have been dark days in these forty-five years, times when, even to herself, the struggle for la patrie seemed almost a forlorn hope. It was so at the time of the Berlin Congress in 1878, when, after his visit to Germany, Gambetta abandoned the idea of la revanche. It was so in 1891, when she realised that the influence of Paul Deroulede's Ligue des Patriotes had ceased to be a living force in public opinion, when France had become impregnated with false doctrines of international pacifism and homeless cosmopolitanism, when (as she wrote at the time) there were left of the faithful to wear the forget-me-not of Alsace-Lorraine only "a few mothers, a few widows, a few old soldiers, and your humble servant." But never, even in the darkest of dark days, was the flame of her ardent patriotism dimmed. After her breach with Gambetta, determined not to be defeated by the Government's abandonment of a vigorous anti-German policy of preparation, she founded the Nouvelle Revue, to wage war with her brain and pen against Bismarck and the ruler of Germany. The objects with which she created that brilliant magazine, as explained by herself to Mr. Gladstone in 1879, were threefold—"to oppose Bismarck, to demand the restoration of Alsace-Lorraine, and to lift from the minds of young French writers the shadow of depression cast on them by national defeat." The fortnightly "Letters on Foreign Politics" which she contributed regularly to the Nouvelle Revue, for twenty years were not only persistently and violently anti-Teuton: they became a powerful force in educating public opinion in France to the necessity for an effective alliance with Russia, and to the cause of nationalism, in the Balkans, in Egypt, and wherever the liberties of the smaller nations were endangered by the earth-hunger of the great. She disliked and feared the policy of colonial expansion inaugurated by Gambetta and pursued by Jules Ferry, because she felt that it must weaken France in preparing for the great and final struggle with Teutonism which she knew to be inevitable. Thus, when Ferry requested her to cease from attacking Germany, she defied him, assuring him that nothing less than imprisonment would stop her, and that no honour could be greater than to be imprisoned for attacking Bismarck.

Juliette Adam has always been intensely sure of herself and her opinions. She has the virile fighting spirit of a super-suffragette. "Always out of rank," as Gambetta described her, "Madame Integrale" has displayed throughout her political and literary work a contempt for compromise of every kind, which occasionally leads her into untenable positions and exaggerations. Like her friend George Sand, she has ever been an inveterate optimist and in the clouds, and this defect of her very qualities has tended to make her proficient in the gentle art of making enemies. Thus she broke with Anatole France for espousing the cause of Dreyfus, because, in spite of her keen sense of justice, she identified the Army with France and was instinctively opposed to Jews, because she regarded their "cosmopolitan" influence as incompatible with patriotism. For her, all things and all men have been subordinate to the sacred cause, to her watch-word and battle-cry of Vive la France! Nobly has she laboured for France, confident ever in the renaissance of la Grande Nation, and of her country's final triumph. And to-day her unswerving faith is justified, and her life work has been recognised and crowned with honour in her own land.

With one exception, all the articles collected in this book have been taken from Madame Adam's "Letters on Foreign Politics" in La Nouvelle Revue. Together they constitute a remarkable testimony to the political foresight and courage of la grande Francaise, and an equally remarkable analysis of the policy and character of Germany's ruler.



AUTHOR'S PREFACE

Modesty is out of fashion nowadays: what is wanted is the glorification of every kind of courage. That being so, I hold myself entitled to claim a Military Cross, for my forty-five years of hand-to-hand fighting with Bismarck and with William the Second, and to be mentioned in despatches for the past.

JULIETTE ADAM.



CHAPTER I

1890

William II, the "Social Monarch"—What lies beneath his declared pacifism—His journey to Russia—The German Press invites us to forget our defeat and become reconciled while Germany is adding to her army every day.

April 12, 1890. [1]

What an all-pervading nuisance is William!

To think of the burden that this one man has imposed upon the intelligence of humanity and the world's Press! The machiavelism of Bismarck was bad enough, with its constant demands on our vigilance, but this new omniscient German Emperor is worse; he reminds one of some infant prodigy, the pride of the family. Yet his ways are anything but kingly; they resemble rather those of a shopkeeper. He literally fills the earth with his circulars on the art of government, spreads before us the wealth of his intentions, and puffs his own magnanimity. He struggles to get the widest possible market for his ideas: 'tis a petty dealer in imperial sovereignty.

There is nothing fresh about his wares, but he does his best to persuade us that they are new; one feels instinctively that some day he will throw the whole lot at our heads. I am quite prepared to admit that, if he had any rare or really superior goods to offer, his advertising methods might be profitable, but William's stock-in-trade has for many years been imported, and exported under two labels, namely the principles of '89 and Christian Socialism.

The German Emperor has mixed the two, after the manner of a prentice-hand. His organ, the Cologne Gazette, with all the honeyed adulation of a suddenly converted opponent, [2] has called this mixture "Social Monarchism." Therefore, it seems, the German Emperor is neither a constitutional sovereign nor a monarch by divine right. He has restored Caesarism of the Roman type, clinging at the same time to the principle of divine right—and the result is our "Social Monarch"!

Rushing headlong on the path of reform—full steam ahead, as he puts it—he is prepared to change the past, present and future in order to give happiness to his own subjects. But France is likely to pay for all this; sooner or later some new rescript will tell us that the valley of tribulation is our portion and inheritance.

It is one of his ambitions to put an end to class warfare in Germany. To this end he begins, with his usual tact, by denouncing the capitalists (that is to say; the wealth of the middle class) to the workers, and then holds up the scandalous luxury of the aristocracy in the army to the contempt of the bourgeois.

One of his most brilliant and at the same time most futile efforts, is his rescript on the subject of the shortage of officers for the army. As the army itself is steadily increasing every day, it should have been easy in each regiment for him, gradually and quite quietly, to increase the number of officers drawn from the middle-class; indeed, the change would have practically effected itself, for the Minister of War had a hundred-and-one means of bringing it about. But this rescript has put a check on what might otherwise have been a natural process of change, and unless William now settles matters with a high hand, it will cease. In every regiment the aristocracy provides the great majority of officers; bourgeois candidates for admission to the service are liable to be black-balled, just as they might be at any club; it is now safe to predict that they will henceforward be regarded with less favour than ever, and that generals, colonels, majors and the rest will form up into a solid phalanx, to prevent the Emperor's platonic proteges from getting in.

William II appeals to the higher ranks of officers, who are tradition personified, to put an end to tradition. It is really wonderful what a genius he has for exciting cupidity in one class and resistance in the other. And he has done the same thing with the working class as with the army.

What a strange riddle his character presents—this quietist, this worshipper of an angry and a jealous God, with a mania for achieving the happiness of his people in the twinkling of an eye! A strange figure, this Emperor of country squires, who despises the bourgeois and who threatens to despoil the aristocracy of the very privileges which have been the safeguard of the Hohenzollerns' throne for centuries.

These peculiarities are due to an occult influence which weighs on the mind of William II, an influence which, while it points the way to action, blinds him to its consequences. The dead hand is upon him!

Frederick III, that liberal, bourgeois monarch, compels his reactionary, Old-Prussian-school son, to do those things which he would have done himself, had he not been victimised by Bismarck and his pupil.

I wonder whether the ever-mystical William II sometimes reflects on the ways by which God leads men into His appointed ways? Such thoughts might do more to enlighten him than his way of gazing at the heavens in the belief that all the stars are his.

There is one piece of advice that William's friends should give him—not to restore the sixty millions of Guelph money to the Duke of Cumberland. This ultra-modern young Emperor will very soon have greater need of the services of the reptile Press than even Bismarck himself; for every one of his latest rescripts adds new public difficulties to the number of those secret ones which the ex-Chancellor, with his infinite capacity for intrigue, will hatch for him.

Bismarck, of the biting wit, who accepts the title of Duke of Lauenburg, because, as he says, "it will enable him to travel incognito," sends forth from Friedrichsruhe winged words which sink deep into the mind of the people. This phrase, for example, which sums up the whole of William's policy: "The Emperor has selected his best general to be Chancellor and made of his Chancellor a field marshal." And Bismarck begs his readers to insert the adjectives, good and bad, where they rightly belong.



April 28, 1890. [3]

Emperor William continues to increase the list of his excursions into every field of mental activity. Intellectually divided between the Middle Ages and the late nineteenth century, it would seem as if he were trying to forget the infirmity of his one useless arm by assuming a prominent role modelled on men of action. He tries to combine in his person the effects of extreme modernism with those of the days of Charlemagne. Because of his very impotence, his desire to grasp and clasp all history is the fiercer, and this emphasises and aggravates the cruelty he showed in relegating Bismarck to compulsory inaction. Just imagine if some power stronger than himself were to compel this ever restless monarch to quiescence! What would be the cumulative effect of want of exercise at the end of a year?

And just because the German Emperor is pleased, amongst the innumerable costumes of his wardrobe, to don that of a socialist sovereign, the same people who before 1870 believed in the liberalism of Bismarck, now believe in the socialism of William II. They go on saying the same old things. In different words they ask: "Isn't the young Emperor amusing?" (tis' a great word with us French people), and before long, they will be appealing to the gullible weaklings among us by suggesting "After all, why shouldn't he give us back Alsace-Lorraine?" And thus are being sown the seeds of our national enervation.

The dangers that threaten us from the hatred that the Prussian bears us are all the greater now that Germany is ruled by this man-chameleon. Let William do what he will, let him change colour as he likes, our hatred for Prussia remains unshaken and immutable. But acquiescence in his performances will draw us into his orbit and expose us to those same dangers which he incurs, dangers which, were we wise, we should know how to turn to our own profit.



May 12, 1890. [4]

Amidst the ruins of his fallen fortunes, Bismarck can still erect a magnificent monument to his pride. If the results pursued by his once-beloved pupil stultify the old man's immediate intentions, they constitute nevertheless a testimonial to the Bismarckian doctrine in its purest form, to those immortal principles based on lies and the exploitation of "human stupidity," which the ex-Chancellor raised to such heights in German policy, from the commencement of his career to the date of his fall.

Let us, in the first place, inquire how it has come to pass that William II has been able to convince a certain number of people, either through their "human stupidity" or their cowardice, that he is striving for and towards peace, when every single act of his proves the opposite. Is it enough that, because he declares himself a pacifist, men should go about saying "Thank God that he, who seemed most eager for war, now sings the praises of peace"? And there are others who earnestly implore us to think no more or war "now that William of Germany no longer dreams of it."

Now I ask, is there a single reason to be found, either in the tradition of his race, or in his own character, or in the logic of Prussian militarism, which can justify any clear-thinking mind in believing that William is a pacifist?

During the past fortnight a pamphlet has been published in Germany under the title Videant Consules (a pamphlet having all the appearance of a Berlin semi-official, or officious, document) which gives us the key (my readers will agree that I have already placed it in the lock) of William II's sudden affection for paths of peace.

The illuminating pages of this work are written with the object of preparing the honorable members of the Reichstag to vote an annual credit of twenty millions (it is said that the Minister of War and the Chief of the General Staff originally asked for fifty). This money will be asked for to provide 474 new batteries, to bring up to 700 the number of the German battalions on the Vosges frontier and to increase the peace footing strength of the army. According to a statement made by William II, in his speech at the opening of the Reichstag, the special object of those twenty millions is to strengthen the defences of the eastern and western frontiers.

Videant Consules tells us that Bismarck created the Empire by war, but that his later policy threatened to destroy it by peace; for this reason the young Emperor deprived him of power. According to this pamphlet, the ex-chancellor allowed France to recover and Russia to prepare her defences, whereas he should have crushed us a second time in order to have only one enemy—Russia—to deal with later on.

Therefore, Germany's present task is to prepare in haste for the struggle against Russia and France united, and for this reason it behoves her (says Videant Consules) to increase her forces by a superhuman effort. As matters stand, in spite of the Triple Alliance, in spite of the sympathy and support of Austria and Italy (ruinous for them) William II is by no means confident in the future success of his arms.

Now this hero is not taking any chances. In order that might may overcome right, he wants to be quite sure of superior numbers. And this explains why the Emperor of Germany is a "pacifist" to-day!

But things are likely to be different by October 1. I would have the dupes of pacifism read carefully the following extract from his speech; if they remain deaf to its meaning, it can only be because, like the man in the fable, they do not wish to hear.

"It is true," says the German Emperor, "that we have neglected none of the measures by which our military strength may be increased within the limits prescribed by the law, but what we have been able to effect in this direction has not been sufficient to prevent the changes which have taken place in the general situation from being unfavourable to us. We can no longer postpone making additions to the peace footing of the army and to effective units, more especially the field artillery. A Bill will be brought before you which will provide for the necessary increase of the army to take place on the first of October of this year."

According to Videant Consules, the last favourable date for attacking France would have been in 1887. Bismarck sinned beyond forgiveness in not provoking a war at that time. More than that, his manoeuvres to undermine the credit of Russia and his policy of intimidation towards France, by exciting the hatred of both countries against Germany, only served to unite them.

In the position in which he finds himself, William II has therefore no alternative; he must vastly increase his forces, while assuming the pacifist role. He must pretend to be severe with the aristocracy of his army—the apple of his eye—and to be full of sympathetic concern for the welfare of the working classes and peasantry, whom he fears or despises, and who are nothing but cannon fodder to him. And he does these things in order to sow seeds of mutual distrust between France and Russia.

He will use every possible expedient of trickery and guile, and, even more confident than his teacher Bismarck in the eternal gullibility of human nature, he will exploit it for all it is worth.

Take this example of our gullibility, as displayed in the question of passports for Alsace-Lorraine. A section of the European Press, well primed for the purpose (the Guelph funds not having been restored, so far as we know, to their proper owner), continues unceasingly to implore William II to consent to a relaxation of the regulations in regard to these passports. The idea is, that when our credulous fools come to learn that this relaxation has been granted, there will be absolutely no limit to their enthusiasm for him. Already they speak of him good-naturedly as "this young Emperor."

(Is it not so, that, every day, old friends whose rugged patriotism we thought unshakable, meet us with the inquiry, "Well, and what have you got to say now of this young Emperor?")

This young Emperor piles falsehood upon falsehood. If he permits any relaxation of the passport regulations, you may be perfectly certain that he will give orders that the permis de sejour are to be more severely restricted than before. Once a passport is issued, it is of some value; but the permis de sejour is a weapon in the hands of the lower ranks of German officialdom, which they use with Pomeranian cruelty. Every German bureaucrat in Alsace-Lorraine aims at preventing Frenchmen from residing there, at getting them out of the country; and nothing earns them greater favour in the eyes of their chiefs. Therefore, if this "young Emperor" is to be asked to grant anything, let it be a relaxation of the permis de sejour.

To be allowed to travel amongst the brothers from whom we are separated, can only serve to aggravate the grief we feel at not being allowed to live amongst them.

William's socialism is all of the same brand. His first display of affection for the tyrant lower down was due to the fact that he used him to overthrow a tyrant higher up: it was the socialist voter who broke the power of Bismarck. When we see William embarking upon so many schemes of social reform all at once, we may be sure that he has no serious intention of carrying out any one of them. After having made all sorts of lavish promises to the industrial workers, he is now busy giving undertakings to make the welfare of the peasantry his special care!

In his speech to the Reichstag there is no mention even of the one definite benefit that the workers had a right to expect—namely, a reduction of the hours of labour; but the threat of shooting "them in the back" reappears in a new guise. William II warns the working classes of "the dangers which they will incur in the event of their doing anything to disturb the order of government."

"My august confederates and I," adds the Emperor, "are determined to defend this order with unshakable energy."

Delicious to my way of thinking, this expression "my august confederates." Is there not something astounding about the use of the possessive pronoun in connection with the word "august," implying sovereignty? One wonders what part can they have to play, these confederates, led and dominated by a personality as jealous and self-centred as this "young Emperor."

There is only one thing about which William II really concerns himself, over and above his blind passion for increasing the forces of Germany, and that is, other people's morals—the morals of working men or officers. The devil has always had his days for playing the monk.



May 20, 1890. [5]

Do my readers remember my last article but one, written at a moment when the whole Press was singing the praises of William the Pacifist, on the eve of the day when The Times published its despatch, proclaiming the complete agreement between Tzar and Kaiser, the entente that assures the world of the peace that shall come down from William's starry heavens? It was then that I wrote—

"Is there a single reason to be found, either in the traditions of his race, or in his own character, or in the logic of Prussian militarism, which can justify, any clear-thinking mind in believing that William is a Pacifist?"

Hardly had that number of May 1 appeared when the German Emperor made his speech at Koenigsberg! In his cups, the King of Prussia reveals his true nature, just as a champagne cork flies from a badly wired bottle. After giving expression once again to his animosity towards France, he borrows from us one of the famous dicta of Monsieur Prudhomme—

"The duty of an Emperor," he declared, "is to keep the peace, and I am determined to do it; but should I be compelled to draw the sword to preserve peace, Germany's blows will fall like hail upon those who have dared to disturb it."

Next, in the neighbourhood of the Russian frontier, he used the following provocative language: "I will not permit that any one should touch my eastern provinces and he who tries to do so, will find that my power and my might are as rocks of bronze."

Sire, beware! The God of the Hohenzollern will prove to you before long that your power and your might, those rocks of bronze, are no more in His hands than a feather tossed in the wind; He will show you that a tricky horse can unseat you, regardless of your dignity, when you take your favourite ride, the road to Peacock island, with your august brother-in-law.

Say what you will, the Prussians have not yet acquired either wit or good taste! There is proof of this not only in the speeches of William II at Konigsberg, but even more convincing, in that which was delivered before the Reichstag by that famous strategist, our conqueror de Moltke, on the subject of the proposed increase in the peace-footing effectives.

One must read the whole speech to get an idea of the sort of nonsense that "honorable" Germans are prepared to listen to. In urging the vote of credit, "the Victor" said: "Confronted with the fundamental problem of the army, the question of money is of secondary importance; for what becomes of your prosperous finances in war-time?"

Having proved that conquerors are the greatest benefactors of the human race, M. de Moltke goes on to declare that it is not the rulers, but the peoples, who want war to-day. In Germany, it is "the cupidity of the classes whom fate has neglected"; it is also the socialists who decline to vote more soldiers because they desire to trouble the world's peace and expect "to sacrifice hundreds of thousands of lives in the next war and to threaten the existence of morality and civilisation."

I do not know whether my readers can make head or tail of this speech—I certainly cannot—but its intention is plain enough. William II has been careful to emphasise it, by declaring that the increase in the peace strength of the army is intended to reinforce the eastern and western frontiers. Several officious newspapers (we no longer call them reptile, but to do so would make them more authoritative) sum up the matter in these words—

"The nearer the peace-footing of the troops on our frontiers approaches to war-strength, the more effectively these troops are provided with everything necessary to enable them to leave within three hours of receiving marching orders, the more secure becomes Germany's position."

Quite so! By next October there will be 200,000 men in Alsace-Lorraine. As you see, the new law adds to the security of Germany precisely what it takes from ours.



June 12, 1890. [6]

My readers will recollect that after a journey in Switzerland, two years ago, I proved by statements which could not be (and never were) refuted, that the Russian Nihilists established in Switzerland before the Federal Government's inquiry, were all either deliberate or unconscious tools of the German police.

On the one hand, M. de Puttkamer, Minister of the Interior, unable to refute the evidence brought forward by the socialist deputy, Bebel, had then been compelled to confess that the socialist agitators Haupt and Schneider were his agents in Switzerland. On the other hand, at the inquiry into the proceedings of these socialists, there was the evidence furnished by letters seized on Schmidt and Friedmann, associates of Haupt and Schneider, that Schmidt had been commissioned by M. Krueger of the Berlin Police to commit a crime. In one of the seized letters, the following words were actually used by Krueger: "The next attempt upon the life of the Emperor Alexander must be prepared at Geneva. Write to me; I await your reports." [7]

Whenever the alleged liberalism of William II finds its expression in anything else but speeches, it is easy to take its measure. He has just shown once more what it really amounts to, in the Treaty of Establishment with Switzerland, wherein restrictions are placed upon the issue of good moral character certificates by German parishes to their parishioners. These will no longer be available to enable a German to take up his residence in Switzerland. Henceforward it will be the business of the German Legation to pick and choose those whom it considers eligible to reside in Switzerland, either to practise a profession or to conduct an export business there. It will be for Germany to decide whether or not her subjects are dangerous abroad. This would be well enough if it were only a question of restraining rogues, but it is anything but reassuring when we come to deal with the ever advancing phalanx of German spies.



July 9, 1890. [8]

It seems to me that this Wagnerian Emperor, pursuing his legends to the uttermost parts of the earth, is doing his utmost to darken our horizon. Everywhere, always he confronts us, appearing on the scene to deprive us of the last remnants of good-will left to us in Europe.

In the Scandinavian States, even after 1870, we had preserved certain trusty friendships: of these William II now tries to rob us. He appears and, to use his own expression, draws men to him by magic strings. To the people who are offshoots of Germany he figures as "the Emperor," unique, mysterious, he who goes forward in the name of the fables of mythology, gathering and uniting anew in his slumbering people the instincts of vassalage. "Super-German virtues," he calls them, "ornaments of old-time Germany." This monarch who, in his own land, is pleased to pose as a Liberal!

Can it be that this same William who, on the Bosphorus held communion with the stars, who, writing to Bismarck, said, "I talk with God," finds the celestial responses so inadequate that his mind must needs invoke a retinue of Teutonic deities?

"Let the Latins, Slavs and Gauls know it," says he, "the German Emperor bears to Germans the glad tidings which promise them the sovereignty of the world!"

Have not even the Anglo-Saxons bowed before the sovereign will of William II, so that before long the island of Heligoland will see the German flag floating over its rocky shores?

Yes, let her Press and public men say what they will, proud Albion has delivered herself over to Germany. She has made surrender to our enemy in the hope that we shall thus become for her an easier victim, that she will be able to recover at our expense what Germany has taken from her. Lord Salisbury hopes, in return for the plum he has yielded, to be able to help himself to ours, to those of Italy and Portugal, and to share others with Germany.

But such is the character of William II that he despises those who serve him or who yield to his will. Like Don Juan, he seeks ever new worlds to conquer, new resistances to overcome, and neglects no means to secure his desired ends. England and Austria to-day count for less than nothing in his schemes. These countries have had a free hand in Bulgaria, and they have used it to indulge in every sort of intrigue. Screened by Bismarck, they have advised, upheld and exalted Stamboulof, they have set up the Prince of Coburg. And William, not having inspired any of this policy, would like to see it end in complications shameful for his associates.

As to the King of Sweden, he thinks it due to the dignity of his people to make some show of resistance, but one feels that this is only done to save appearances. He also has delivered himself, bound hand and foot, just as they have all done, the Emperor Francis Joseph, the King of Italy, the Hohenzollern who reigns at Bucharest, Stamboulof, Lord Salisbury and Leopold II.



July 29, 1890. [9]

The Imperial bagman travelling in Germanophil wares conceals under his flag a very mixed cargo. He makes a Bernadotte to serve as speaking trumpet for Prussian Conservatism at the same time that he subsidises agents provocateurs for the purpose of misleading and internationalising the social reform programme of the Danes.

And all the time, in every direction, he comes and goes—this ever restless, universal disturber—creating and perpetuating instability on all sides, so as to increase the price of his peace stock, he controlling the market. It is Bismarck's old game, played with up-to-date methods.



August 12, 1890. [10]

Does it not seem to you, dear reader, that the voyage of William II to Russia suggests in more ways than one the scene of the Temptation on the Mount?

At St. Petersburg there reigns a sovereign whose life, directed by the inspirations of his soul, is one long act of virtuous self-denial; who prefers the humble and the lowly to fortune's favourites; whose works are works of peace, and whose intentions are always those of a man ready to appear before Him Who only tolerates the great ones of this earth when their power is balanced by a due sense of their moral responsibility, by devotion to duty and truth.

At Berlin there reigns a man of ungovernable pride, who aspires to be torch-bearer to the world. Restless, like the spirit of evil, tormented by his inability to do good, he has dedicated his soul to wickedness and lies.

Alexander III regarded his accession to the throne as an ordeal, the sacrifice of his life. He would have given his own blood to spare his father the pangs of death. William II seized fiercely on the reins of power, after having committed a crime, at least in his heart; after having wished for the death of his father and increased his sufferings by his conduct.

By the tragic end of two martyrs, God has brought face to face those who are destined to be the champions of good and of evil respectively in these last years of the century.

The German Emperor goes to Russia to say to the Tzar, "Divide with me the kingdoms of the earth, always on condition that I receive the lion's share."

The Emperor of Russia will reply: "Let us endeavour, my brother, to work for the welfare of the nations, let us calm their hatreds and follow the rugged paths of justice; above all, let us regard the power which the God of hosts has confided into our hands as an instrument of sovereignty, whose only purpose should be to keep the nation's honour unsullied and safeguard the blessings of peace."

"Words, nothing but words," replies the Tempter. "Say, Yes or No, wilt thou go with me to the conquest of the world? On all sides your influence, which I have undermined, is waning: you and your followers are caught in a ring of iron from which before long you will be unable to escape.

"In Germany, all things are subject to my unfettered rule. Henceforth nothing can ever check or stop my triumphal march. Throughout the humbly listening world, which will soon be at my feet, I break that which will not bend before me. I overthrow all those that stand, and that which comes to me, I keep. Even the Church, which treated with my forefathers on a footing of equality, now bows the knee before me and humbly votes the money for my great slaughters.

"Socialism, that bogey of Bismarck's, is an easily tamed monster. I have only to sow discord amongst its leaders to make it serve my ends of policy like the veriest National Liberal party.

"In Austria, my grandfather and I created financial troubles, entangled things, let loose envy and hatred and sowed the seeds of quarrels, which have delivered her into my hands. Let them try as they will to free themselves from the fetters with which I have bound them; I shall create such obstacles to all these efforts that the future shall be mine, like the present.

"In Hungary, Prussian diplomacy has found a way to turn the people's hatred of Austria into hatred of Russia, and to make them forgive the House of Hapsburg for a policy of coercion so cruel than even a Romanoff denounced it.

"Everywhere I create dissension amongst my allies so that the final decision may be mine.

"In Italy I have my ame damnee, the only one who understands me, an ambitious tyrant, mad like Bismarck with the lust of power, who serves my purposes at Rome as effectively as Bismarck hampered them in Berlin.

"I have stifled and destroyed the spirit of brotherhood in the cradle of the Latin race. I have made history a liar, bringing a false morality to the interpretation of the most brilliant days and deeds. I have reduced to servility a Royal House that once was proud. I have cheated and deceived the cleverest and most suspicious race on earth.

"At Rome, I have insulted the traditional and sacred majesty of the Head of the Christian religion!

"In England, I have done even more. I have compelled proud Albion to serve the ends of my personal policy. I have forced the most jealous of nations to yield the leading place to me, to work, in her own colonies and against her own interests, for the benefit of my growing rivalry, sacrificing to me her dreams of supremacy in the four quarters of the globe.

"As to America, I will deal with her later. I have my plans.

"Despite Lord Salisbury's make-believe of caution and reserve (about which, I may say, we quite understand each other) England is so completely delivered into my power that, after the Conservatives the Liberals, in the person of the young leader John Morley, now proffer me their services, and no matter what changes may take place in the English parties my influence will soon prevail.

"My journeys to the Scandinavian States have been fruitful. In Denmark, O Tzar! your own father-in-law has become almost associated with my destiny.

"I have linked with my fortunes a king of French stock in Sweden, and I will prove it at Alsen Island, where I shall compel him to take part in the manoeuvres of my fleet.

"As to Norway, a few words from my Imperial lips have overcome the old republicanism of these brother Teutons.

"So as to keep closer watch over the submission of my new allies, I have wrested Heligoland from England; and there I shall build an eagle's nest from which I shall be able to swoop down upon them, should they attempt to escape me. Those who had any doubts as to the importance of this surrender, have learned it from the speeches that I made when taking possession.

"By this means I have closed the German Ocean for ever, and that which is closed gives access to something.

"What need I say of Turkey that you do not know already? All her thoughts, movements and actions are regulated by one man, and he a vassal of German policy. Turkey's army, trade and finances, the direction of her ruling minds, are either in my hands or in those of England. And England, say what you will, is hypnotised by me.

"I can afford at my pleasure to challenge her policy indefinitely.

"The diplomas which she conferred upon the Bulgarian bishops after the execution at Panitza have shown you, my brother, how greatly I am pleased to favour those whom you have condemned! Stamboulof, the inveterate foe of Russia, now dominates the elections in Bulgaria and Roumelia, thanks to the irade on the bishoprics. He goes in triumph through the land, so that even the Russophile candidates invoke the protection of this man, who shoots the country's heroes and reduces its prince to the level of an ordinary public servant. His audacity, his impunity, the length of his tether, have no limits except those which will be imposed upon him by my power should you turn a deaf ear to my proposals.

"And just as British policy has served the ends of Prussian statecraft in Bulgaria and Roumelia, even so it serves them at this moment in Armenia.

"It was I who willed and inspired the indulgence of the Sultan for the bloodthirsty Moussa Bey. Massacred by the Kurds on the one hand, and on the other observing the success of the revolution in Roumelia, the Armenians will inevitably be led from one revolt to another and, helped by a few timely suggestions, will come to believe that they can win their autonomy.

"Herein lies another difficulty which disturbs your mind, and of which my hands hold the threads; another people, to whom you might have looked for help in the event of my allies going to war with you, but which England and I will be able to remove from your influence.

"In Roumania, a Hohenzollern guards all the keys which open the doors of his frontiers.

"In Serbia, I am working by sure means to destroy the last remaining sympathies for Russia. To attain this end I will leave no stone unturned, even as I am doing in Greece against France.

"With an eye to the future interests of my African colonies, I have compelled England to keep Portugal quiet. I do not wish any revolutionary upheaval to react upon Spain, that indomitable nation which still resists me, but in whose mouth nevertheless, I have put an invisible bit. I shall know how to drive her headlong into the trap that awaits her in Morocco.

"With the help of Italy, Switzerland is mine. And Holland will fall to me through the little Duchy of Luxembourg, which will come to me by the marriage of one of my sisters with the heir of Nassau.

"My last master stroke was the way of my coming into Belgium. Therein I was artful. The Belgians affected to believe in the neutrality of their microscopic kingdom. I played up to the joke and entered their country by way of the sea.

"In all the splendour of my power, I came to Ostend on the Hohenzollern, and I made it my business to invest my appearance with every feature calculated to impress the mob, in these days when outward show appeals most powerfully to the popular imagination. And I was, moreover, determined that nothing should be lacking to the full effectiveness of this demonstration.

"Belgium had intimated by a revolution her objections to becoming German. Well and good: I imposed myself upon her as German Emperor. With wearisome reiteration she had manifested her sympathy for France. In order to challenge these sentiments the more effectively, I compelled King Leopold to take his seat beside me as the Colonel of one of my Alsatian regiments!

"And do you suppose that the Belgians protested? Not a bit of it! No, the trick is played. No longer in secret, but openly, Belgium will play my waiting game, in the Congo and at the gates of France.

"My visit to Belgium is destined to produce such important results in days to come, that I have neglected not the smallest detail in order to produce a legendary impression upon Europe. Nothing have I forgotten: costumes for each part, words, good seed sown broadcast in the public mind, communications to the Press, advice given to sovereigns of a nature to please the people, and elsewhere (as in England) popularity with the military caste!

"An individual of the name of Van der Smissen, having dared to argue in the ranks, got broken for his pains.

"At the same time, in order to cast into stronger relief the loftiness and majesty of my countenance, I invested it, amongst these good Belgians, with certain new features of good nature and cordiality.

"As to France, Russia's only possible ally to-day, her artless simplicity protects me from all risks that I might otherwise run. I shall compel her to accept the neutralisation of Alsace-Lorraine, whenever the provinces shall have become thoroughly Germanised.

"For the present I leave England to deal with her: England who keeps her busy with childish things, and soothes her vanity with illusory diplomatic successes, such as the exequatur of the Madagascar Consuls (which the settled policy of the residents would have achieved in time) and with useless concessions amidst the fogs of Lake Chad, or on the Niger, or in regions whose possession none disputed.

"Lord Salisbury evoked much mirth, over these concessions at the Lord Mayor's banquet, joking somewhat cynically at his own policy in disposing of territories over which he had no rights. One country, amongst others, given to France, has provided my good English friends with an inexhaustible source of merriment.

"Concerning Egypt, Lord Salisbury has clearly intimated to France that England will never give it up.

"Thus, the Salisbury Ministry has still at its disposal, to keep busy my fiery but easily duped neighbours, the Egyptian problem, with a French Minister at Cairo, who is more of a help than a hindrance to England; the Newfoundland question, with the Anglo-American Waddington, more yielding for the purposes of the British Foreign Office than one of its own agents.

"Moreover, whenever I choose, the rulers of France can be made to believe in a francophile reincarnation of M. Crispi! I have many things in store for them in that quarter.

"Deceived by the infinite resources of my diplomacy, led astray by my agents who have taken on less reptilian disguises, the guileless French nation remains a prey to ignorance and ambitions as countless as the sands on the shore of her democracy.

"To sum up; England, through India; England and Germany, through China, we hold in our hands that question of an Asiatic war, a scourge which will exhaust the strength of your Empire, O Tzar! and which may finally weaken France. I have said!"

'Tis a long tale, and were it all told at one time, Alexander III would certainly not listen to half of it. But William II spent a fortnight in Russia, and I have only an hour to summarise his argument.

Have the wings of the German Emperor the span of those of Lucifer, as he believes? He may play the part, but he will never be able to carry it through!



August 28, 1890. [11]

Although for the meeting of these two powerful Emperors (whose destinies, as history proves, are so frequently commingled) there was no real necessity, other than the desire of the young and restless King of Prussia, to keep the whole world guessing as to the object of his multifarious designs, their coming together has its undeniable importance and significance, for it has been the means of increasing the resistance and strengthening the determination of the Tzar. Alexander III, whose mind reflects the great and untroubled soul of Russia, is well able to estimate at its true worth the insatiable greed of Germany and the ever-encroaching character of her ruler. Because of his own self-control and disinterestedness, the Tzar must have been able to gather from William's words and works a very fair idea of his unbounded self-conceit; of that vanity which, like its emblem the eagle of the outspread wings, aspires to cover the whole earth.

Even though William has offered to the Emperor of Russia the prospect of a general disarmament; even though, with his present mania for speech-making he may have suggested a Congress for the settlement of Europe's disputes, his success must have been of the negative kind.

If the Tzar were to agree to a conference, it could only lead to one of two results. Either it would embitter those disputes which threaten to embroil the nations in a fierce struggle, and bring France and Russia together in resistance to the same greedy foes, or it would end in the imposition of a lasting peace, which would mean that the Prussian and military fabric of the German State would be dissolved, as by a miracle, to the benefit of French and Russian influences in Europe.

Let then the German Emperor have his head. God is leading him straight on the path of failure. It is this still-vague feeling, that he will never have power to add to the Prussian birthright, that makes him rush feverishly from one scheme to another; stirring up this question and that, ever testing, ever striving. It is this foreboding that has driven him to pursue fame, fortune and glory, and so to weary them with his importunities and haste, that they flee from him, unable and unwilling to bear with him any longer.

Sire, if it be your ambition to become, immediately and by your own endeavours, greater than any one on earth, allow me to express the charitable wish without hoping to dissuade you—that you may break your neck in the attempt!



September 12, 1890. [12]

It was just at the time that I was writing my last article, that the Emperor of Germany, King of Prussia (who has a perfect obsession for being in the middle of the picture), was carrying out at the army manoeuvres at Narva, a certain strategic design, long-prepared and tested, by means of which he proposed to fill with amazement and admiration not only the Russian army but the Imperial Court—nay, all Russia, and the whole wide world!

William's idea was to repeat the exploit performed by the troops of Charles XII (with the aid of the Russian Viborg Regiment, of which he is Colonel) and to pass through the heavy mass of a regiment of cavalry with light infantry battalions. The future Commander-in-Chief of the German Army wished to show the world that he would know how to add the elan of the French and the impetuosity of the Slav to the qualities of method and strength perfected by leaders like Von Moltke or Frederick Charles. Therefore, several weeks before, William II had asked the Tzar to be allowed to take part in the manoeuvres and to command in person the Viborg Regiment.

And so it came to pass that, having cast himself for a part of invincible audacity, he came to cut a very sorry and ridiculous figure. Surrounded by the Hussars, he was made to see that what may be done with German infantry against Uhlans, cannot be accomplished, even with Russian soldiers, against Russian cavalry.

This incident shows that the Tzar had something akin to second sight when he gave orders that the length of the manoeuvres would be optional. Thanks to this, the Kaiser was free to take home the sooner his pretty jacket (no, his tunic, I mean) from Narva.

What an interesting broadsheet might be made on the subject of "William II a prisoner"!

In the long winter evenings to come, how many a Russian peasant—gifted with imagination as they are—in telling again the tale of the Viborg Regiment's attack, will see in it an omen of the destiny of the German Emperor! And they will add, with bated breath, that the Hohenzollern, on leaving the shores of Russia narrowly missed being cut in two by another vessel. And one more sign of evil omen—a fearful tempest shook the Imperial yacht in Russian waters.

Let us, whose Emperor was a prisoner of the Germans in 1871, pray that some day a German Emperor may be taken prisoner by the Russian army—not like at Narva, but in all seriousness.

I said in my last letter that it might well be that William's journey to Russia might result in stiffening the resolution of the Emperor Alexander. And so it has proved, for scarcely had his Imperial guest returned to Berlin, than a ukase raised the Russian Customs tariff and imposed a new duty of 20 per cent. on German imports. A fine result this, of that which the German Press, before William's departure, described as the Russo-German Economic Entente, at a moment when, even for the Berlin newspapers, the prospects of a political entente were somewhat dubious.

For this reason, Professor Delbrueck says quite bluntly, in the "Prussian Annals," that William II's journey to Russia has been a lamentable fiasco; that the Tzar declined to listen to any diplomatic conversation; that he ridiculed and entertained his Imperial guest with a series of military parades whilst the Russian general staff was carrying out important manoeuvres on the western frontiers.

In the same spirit as that of the ex-deputy Professor, the whole German and Austrian Press have been demanding that, for the peace of Europe, the German and Austrian troops should be withdrawn from their respective frontiers, so as to compel the Russian forces to do the same.

That is all very well, but inasmuch as the military zones of the Great Russian Empire are separated by enormous distances, and the movement of troops being very much easier for Germany and Austria than for Russia, one would like to know precisely what is the idea at the back of these demands. As soon as ever he returned to Germany, two very significant ideas occurred to William II: one, to make a display of the warmest sentiments for his august pis-aller, the Emperor of Austria; the other, to have his faithful ally Italy play some scurvy trick on France, Russia's friend.

To this end, the German Emperor proceeded to hold a review of the Austro-Hungarian Fleet and went beyond the official programme by going aboard the ironclad Francis Joseph, flying the flag of Admiral Sterneck. After this, inviting himself to luncheon with the Archduke Charles Stephen, commanding the Austrian squadron, he made a fervent speech, wishing health and glory to his precious ally the Emperor of Austria.



September 27, 1890. [13]

When Germany agreed to withdraw her armies from the soil of France, she replaced them by other soldiers: crossing-sweepers, clerks, workmen, bankers (industrials or "reptiles" as the case might be), as well organised, linked up and drilled as her best troops. Unceasingly, therefore, and without rest, it behoves us to be on our guard and to defend ourselves.

A good many amiable Frenchmen will shrug their shoulders at this, but if we act otherwise we shall be delivered over to our enemies, bound hand and foot, at the psychological moment.

And now, dear reader, to return to William II. You will grant, I think, that since we have followed the interminable zig-zags of his wanderings throughout Europe, we are entitled to coin and utter a new proverb: "A rolling monarch gathers no prestige."



November 1, 1890. [14]

For mastodons like Bismarck, William II prepares a refrigerating atmosphere which freezes them alive. Splendid mummies like Von Moltke he smothers with flowers. The men whom William dismisses and discards are great men in the eyes of Germany, even though in history they may not be so, because the ex-Chancellor is of inferior character, and because certain successes of Von Moltke were due rather to luck than design. Nevertheless, they are in William's way and he gets rid of them, by different means. He needs about him men of a different stamp to those of the iron age; for the present, he is satisfied with courtiers, later he will demand valets. All those who are of any worth, all those who stand erect before his shadow, will be sacrificed sooner or later. His autocratic methods will end by producing the same results as those of the most jealous of democracies.

Let us bear in mind how often, under Bismarck and William I, the German Press made mock of our fatal French mania for change, pointing out to Europe how the everlasting see-saw of Ministers of War was bound to reduce our national defences to a position of inferiority. In two years William is at his fourth!

Soon, no doubt, William II will be able to score a personal success in the matter of his intrigues against Count Taaffe. His benevolence spares not his allies. We know the measure of his good-will towards Italy. Lately, it seems, the Emperor, King of Prussia, said to the Count of Launay, King Humbert's Ambassador at Berlin, "Do not forget that, sooner or later, Trieste is destined to become a German port." And it was doubtless with this generous idea in his mind that he had his compliments conveyed to M. Crispi for his anti-irridentist speech at Florence.

That the Triple Alliance is the "safeguard of peace," has become a catchword that each of the allies repeats with wearisome reiteration. But there! It is not that William II does not wish for war: it is Germany which forbids him to seek it. It was not M. Crispi who declined to seek a pretext for attacking France: it was Italy that forbade him to find it. It is not the Germanised Austrians who hesitate to provoke Russia: it is the Slavs who threaten that if a provocation takes place they will revolt.

Let me add that the official organs in Germany, Italy and Vienna only raise a smile nowadays when they describe Russia and France as thunderbolts of war.



November 12, 1890. [15]

At the outset of the reign of William II, referring to his father, I spoke of the "dead hand" and its power over the living. Now, what has the young King of Prussia done since his accession to the Throne? He, the flatterer of Bismarck, this disciple of Pastor Stoeker, this out-and-out soldier, this hard and haughty personage, who was wont to blame his august parents for their bourgeois amiability and their frequent excursions? He carries out everything that his father planned, but he does it under impulse from without and he does it badly, without forethought, without the sincerity or the natural quality which is revealed in a man by a course of skilful action legitimate in its methods.

He smashed Von Bismarck in brutal fashion. His father, on the other hand, was wont to say: "I will not touch the Chancellor's statue, but I will remove the stones, one by one, from his pedestal, so that some fine day it will collapse of itself."

It is a curious thing that these reforms and ideas, not having been applied by the monarch whose character would have harmonised perfectly with their conception and execution, now possess no reversionary value. They lose it completely by being subjected to a false paternity.

It is true that occasionally William II envoys some real satisfaction, such as that which he has derived from the coming of the King of Belgium. So impatient was His Majesty to return his visit, that he could not wait for the good season and therefore he came in the bad. At Ostend, Leopold II had caused sand to be strewn at William's coming (the beach being conveniently handy). The King of Prussia only spread mud. Why was the King of Belgium in such a hurry? After the visit of General Pontus to Berlin and his three days in retirement with the German headquarters staff, people at Brussels are still asking what more King Leopold could possibly have to settle in person with Messrs. Moltke and Waldersee at these same headquarters?

The Courier de Bruxelles informs us that certain proposals for an alliance were made to Leopold II during his stay at Potsdam. What! Could Prussia possibly have dared to think of laying an impious hand upon Belgian neutrality! But if not, why should they have been at such pains formerly to prove to me that the thing was inconceivable? Prussia wants a Belgian alliance and the King refuses. Splendid! But let him tell us so himself! I confess that such a document would interest me far more than all that I have published on the subject! May not the explanation of King Leopold's journey be, that William II would like a mobilisation in Belgium just as he wants one in Italy? M. Bleichroder will supply the cash. He has already got his bargain money, viz. Pastor Stoecker in disgrace, and the repudiation of anti-Semitism by its ex-partisan, William II.



November 27, 1890. [16]

How can one avoid taking an interest in William II of Hohenzollern? He is one of those people who, by every means and in every way, insist on being noticed. This up-to-date Emperor is obsessed by the idea of making profit, for purposes of advertisement, out of every sensation; he loves to upset calculations and produce every kind of astonishment. He believes that he has not fulfilled his part, until he has made a number of people lift their arms to heaven at least once a day and exclaim: "William is marvellous!" He wants to hear this cry arise from the humblest and the highest, from the miner's gallery and the palace of his "august confederates," from the workman's cottage and the homes of the middle-class, from the officers' club, from church and chapel, from the Parliament of the Empire and the House of Peers.

Being blase himself, it pleases him to tickle public opinion with spicy fare; his lack of mental balance compels him to these endless and senseless choppings and changes, to all these schemes projected, proclaimed and cast aside.

The former Court of his grandfather is already in ruins, the work of Bismarck crumbling in the dust; in less than no time he has reduced the old aristocratic and feudal Prussian monarchy to the purest kind of democratic Caesarism.

Perched above every political party in Germany, William the Young wants to be the one and only ruler and judge of all. Among themselves let them differ as and when they will, it being always understood that all these separate opinions must equally be sacrificed to the Emperor.

Before long the King of Prussia will endeavour to be at one and the same time the spiritual head of the Lutheran Church and the temporal Pope of the Catholic Church, the leader of economists, the cleverest of stategists, the one and only socialist, the most marvellous incarnation of the warrior of German legends, the greatest pacifist of modern times, explorer in his day and soothsayer whenever he likes. In his own eyes, William is all these.

Have not the delegates of the old House of Peers ingenuously complained during these last few days that they no longer possess any initiative of legislation? But they have just as much or as little as the honourable members of the Prussian Diet.

All schemes of reform emanate from the Emperor. The people have no right to be Emperor. Surely that is simple enough?

To bulk larger in the public eye, William dwells apart; he can no longer endure that any one should presume to think himself useful or agreeable to him or to give him advice. He is fulfilling the prediction that he made of himself when he was twenty-one: "When I come to reign I shall have no friends; I shall only have dupes."

More infatuated with himself than ever, the Emperor wears his mystic helmet a la Lohengrin, tramples the purple underfoot and has the throne surrounded by his life-guards, wearing the iron-plated bonnets of the days of Frederick II. Thus he deludes himself with the dream of absolute authority. His mania for power is boundless, his pride knows no limits. He recognises only God and Himself.

To his recruits, he says: "After having sworn fidelity to your masters upon earth, swear the same oath to your Saviour in Heaven!"

But in his moments of solitude, in the privacy of the potentate's toilet-chamber, must it not be dreadful for him to reflect that his silver helmet rests on ears that suppurate, that his voice comes from a mouth afflicted with fistula of the bone, and that there are days when his sceptre is at the mercy of the surgeon's knife?



December 11, 1890. [17]

The rumour has spread, and has not yet been authoritatively contradicted, that William is suffering from disease of the brain. Is not this in itself good and sufficient reason to make him wish to prove that no one in his Empire can do as much brain work as he can? We, whose minds are so confused in the endeavour to follow William's movements at a distance, where little things escape us, can imagine what it must be to observe them from close at hand!

One of the chief glories of his reign will be to have produced the diagnosis of a new disease, "locomotor Caesarism" of the restless type. Before his case, these symptoms were always associated with paralysis. Here is a discovery that may turn out to be more genuine that that of Dr. Koch.

The unfortunate Koch is one more of William's victims. It was his Imperial will that Germany should wake up one morning to find herself possessed of a Pasteur of her own. He could not even wait long enough to allow the necessary experiments to be made with a remedy which is so violent that it may well be mortal. At the word of command "Forward, march," Koch found himself propelled by His Majesty into the position of a benevolent genius.

Dr. Henri Huchard has expressed his opinion of Koch's method in the following words: "In therapeutics, daring is always permissible, so long as it preserves its respect for human life."

A few days ago, the German Emperor was thrusting his advice on a man of science, to-day he is overthrowing the most venerable traditions of the Prussian monarchy with the scheme of M. Miguel, the new system, for taxing incomes and legacies, opening a campaign against the nobility and the old conservatives. With the help of an official of the "younger generation"—for thus is he pleased to describe his Minister of Finance—he begins to make war on the "old school."

With the "old school" in his mind's eye, he conceives another idea, namely, that of a new method of teaching in the elementary, secondary and high schools, upon which it will be unnecessary to improve for the next hundred years. He sets the faithful M. Hinzpeter to work, and compels him to toil night and day to prepare a complete programme in all haste—whereupon behold the Emperor holding forth to the collegians just as he does to the recruits.

"Down with Latin!" cries William. "Let us make Germans instead of Greeks and Romans! Let us teach our children the practical side of life." All of which does not prevent him from adding: "Let us teach them the fabulous history of our race."

William insists that his name shall be on every lip—that he be recognised as father of his workmen, father of collegians, father of the country at large. It is his ambition to look upon all his subjects as his sons. Much good may it do them!



December 27, 1890. [18]

The Emperor of Germany, determined supporter of triumphant militarism, and, therefore, the deadly enemy of every permanent and beneficial social reform, has suddenly stopped short in his attempts to improve the condition of the masses.

If you ask: To whom does William II give satisfaction? the only possible answer is: Himself! For it matters nothing to him whether these plans of his succeed or fail. The thing that does matter to him is, that he should have left his mark everywhere, and that, after a quarter of a century or more, legislators shall inevitably find, in every project of law, the sacred mark, the holy seal of William's mind.



[1] From La Nouvelle Revue, of April 15, 1890, "Letters on Foreign Policy."

[2] This paper had been, till then, in the service of Prince Bismarck.

[3] La Nouvelle Revue, May 1, 1890, "Letters on Foreign Policy."

[4] La Nouvelle Revue, May 15, 1890, "Letters on Foreign Policy."

[5] La Nouvelle Revue, June 1, 1890, "Letters on Foreign Policy."

[6] La Nouvelle Revue, June 15, 1890, "Letters on Foreign Policy."

[7] Several pages of the "Letters on Foreign Policy" of June 12 give proofs, undeniable and complete, that the preparation of crimes committed by anarchists in Europe was instigated at Berlin, William knowing and approving the fact.

[8] La Nouvelle Revue, July 16, 1890, "Letters on Foreign Policy."

[9] La Nouvelle Revue, August 1, 1890, "Letters on Foreign Policy."

[10] La Nouvelle Revue, August 16, 1890, "Letters on Foreign Policy."

[11] La Nouvelle Revue, September 1, 1890, "Letters on Foreign Policy."

[12] La Nouvelle Revue, September 15, 1890, "Letters on Foreign Policy."

[13] La Nouvelle Revue, October 1, 1890, "Letters on Foreign Policy."

[14] La Nouvelle Revue, November 1, 1890, "Letters on Foreign Policy."

[15] La Nouvelle Revue, November 16, 1890, "Letters on Foreign Policy."

[16] La Nouvelle Revue, December 1, 1890, "Letters on Foreign Policy."

[17] La Nouvelle Revue, December 15, 1890, "Letters on Foreign Policy."

[18] La Nouvelle Revue, January 1, 1891, "Letters on Foreign Policy."



CHAPTER II

1891-1892

The danger to France of a rapprochement with Germany—The Empress Frederick's visit to Paris—William II as summus episcopus of the German Evangelical Church—Reception of the Alsace-Lorraine deputation in Berlin—The law against espionage in Germany: every German is a spy abroad—Christening of the Imperial yacht, the Hohenzollern—Further increase of the military effective force in peace-time—The Youth of William the Second, by Mr. Bigelow.

January 12, 1891. [1]

The Berlin Post thinks that we should be able to get on very well without Alsace-Lorraine, and that the best thing for us to do, if we are "reasonable souls," is simply to become reconciled with Germany. The reasonable ones among us are directed to prove to us others (who must needs be "gloomy lunatics") the folly of believing in the Russian alliance, and gently to prepare us for a last and supreme act of cowardly surrender—namely, to give William II a friendly reception at Cannes or in Paris.

The chief argument with which they would persuade us is, that Berlin is quite willing to receive our philosophers and our doctors. But we are more than quits on this score, seeing the number of Germans that we entertain and enrich in Paris. To prove that we owe them nothing in the matter of hospitality, it should be enough to ascertain on the 27th inst. how many Germans will celebrate the birthday of William II in one of our first-rate hotels.

Heaven be praised, hatred of the Hohenzollerns is not yet dead in France! If it be true that the corpse of an enemy always smells sweet, the person of a living enemy must always remain hateful.

Before we discuss the possibility of the King of Prussia visiting Paris, however, let us wait until M. Carnot has been to Berlin.



January 29, 1891. [2]

The nearer we approach to 1900, the less desire have I to be up-to-date. I persist in the belief that the solution of the problems of European policy in which France is concerned, would have been more readily attainable by an old fashioned fidelity to the memory of our misfortunes than by scorning to learn by our experience.

Certain well-meaning, end-of-the century sceptics may be able lightly to throw off that past in which they have (or believe they have) lost nothing, whilst we of the "mid-century" are borne down under its heavy burden. These people neglect no occasion to advise us to forget and they do it gracefully, lightly showing us how much more modern it is to crown oneself with roses than to continue to wear tragically our trailing garments of affliction and mourning.

I should be inclined to judge with more painful severity those witty writers who advise us to light-hearted friendship with Bismarck the "great German," with William the "sympathetic Emperor", with Richard Wagner "the highest expression of historical poetry and musical art," those men who prepared and who perpetuate Prussia's victories—I should judge them differently, I say, were it not that I remember my former anger against the young decadents and the older roues in the last days of the Empire.

All of them used to make mock of patriotism in a jargon mixed with slang which greatly disturbed the minds of worthy folk, who became half ashamed at harbouring, in spite of themselves, the ridiculous emotions "of another age."

But these same decadents and roues, after a period of initiation somewhat longer than that which falls to the lot of ordinary mortals, behaved very gallantly in the Terrible Year.

True, in order to convince them that they had been wrong in regarding the theft of Schleswig-Holstein as a trifle, wrong in applauding the victory of Sadowa, and declaring that each war was the last, it required such disasters, that not one of us can evoke without trembling the memory of those events, whose lurid light served to open the eyes of the blindest.

"Understand this," Nefftzer was wont to insist (before 1870), "we can never wish that Prussia should be victorious without running the risk of bringing about our own defeat; we must not yield to any of her allurements nor even smile at any of her wiles."

If the people of Paris applaud Wagner, he who believed himself to be the genius of victorious Germany personified, it can only be in truth that Paris has forgotten. And in that case, there will only be left, of those who rightly remember, but a few mothers, a few widows, a few old campaigners and your humble servant!

So that we may recognise each other in this world's wilderness, we will wear in our button-holes and in our bodices that blue flower which grows in the streams of Alsace-Lorraine, the forget-me-not!

And we shall vanish, one by one, disappearing with the dying century, that is, unless some surprise of sudden war, such as one must expect from William II, should cure us of our antiquated attitude.

Need I speak of these rumours of disarmament, wherewith the German Press now seeks to lull us, rumours which spread the more persistently since, at last, we have come to believe in our armaments?

"Germany is satisfied and seeks no further conquests," says William II. But does it follow that we also should be satisfied with the bitter memories of our defeats, and resolved that, no matter what may happen, we shall never object to Prussia's victories? I never forget that William II, as a Prince, in his grandfather's time, said, "When I come to the Throne I shall do my best to make dupes." This rumour of disarmament is part of his dupe-making. The real William reveals himself in his true colours when he awakens his aide-de-camp in the middle of the night, to go and pay a surprise visit to the garrison at Hanover.

In Militarism the German Emperor finds his complete expression and the emblem of his character. His empire is not a centralised empire and only the army holds it together.

And for this reason William has favoured the army this year at the expense of all the other public services, by increasing its peace-footing strength and the number of its officers, by ordering more than two hundred locomotives and a corresponding amount of rolling stock intended to expedite mobilisation. Seventy new batteries have been formed. The artillery has been furnished with new ammunition, the infantry with new weapons, and the strategic network of railways has been completed!

Abroad, every one, friends and enemies alike, think as I do on the subject of disarmament.

"This plaything of William the Second's leisure moments," says The Standard (although a fervent admirer of Queen Victoria's grandson), "this disarmament idea, is a myth." Our faithful and loyal supporter, the Sviet, says the same thing: "Disarmament is a myth, Germany talks of it unceasingly, but she strengthens her frontiers, east and west. On the north," adds the Russian organ, "she is converting Heligoland into a fortress; on the south-east, she is increasing the defences of Breslau, and holds in readiness two thousand axle-trees of the width of the Russian railways."

It is only in France that a few up-to-date journalists take this disarmament talk of the German Emperor quite seriously. To them, we may reply by a quotation from the official organ of the "great German."

"The course of historic events," says the Hamburger Nachrichten, "is opposed to any realisation of the idea of disarmament, and justifies the opinion expressed by Von Moltke, who declared war to be in reality a necessary element in the order of things, of itself natural and divine, which humanity can never give up without becoming stagnant and submitting to moral and physical ruin."

There you have the genuine style of Bismarck, of the man who invented the formula—"the Right of Might."

One thing—and one thing only—might possibly lead William II to entertain seriously this idea of disarmament, and that would be for Bismarck to oppose it. Truly, there is something extremely pleasant in this duel between the two ex-accomplices! Bismarck terrorising socialism, William coaxing and wheedling it, for no other tangible purpose than to act in opposition to him whose power he has overthrown.

What an eccentric freak is this German Emperor! One day he sends the Sultan a sword of honour, a bitter jest for one who has never known anything but defeat! The next, he proposes to take back the command of the fleet from his brother Henry, and in order to get rid of him conceives the plan of making Alsace-Lorraine and Luxembourg into a new kingdom.

At the same time he proposes to provide the Grand Duke of Luxembourg with a guard of honour, a guard a la Prudhomme, whose business it would be to defend and to fight him. The State Council of the patriotic Grand Duchy is aroused, and denies the right of Prussia on any pretext to interfere in its affairs. Boldly it reminds the Powers signatory to the Convention of 1867 of their pledges.

And with all his mania for governing the world at large, William II would seem to be possessed of the evil eye, and to bring misfortune to all whom he honours with his friendship for any length of time.



February 10, 1891.

It looks as if poor Bismarck were about to be treated just as he treated Count von Arnim. Can it be that everything must be paid for in this world, and that a splendid retributive justice rules the destiny even of super-men and punishes them for committing base actions? It is rumoured that the Duke of Lauenbourg (Bismarck) is threatened with prosecution on a charge of lese majeste, which the lawyers of the Crown will not have very much trouble in proving against him. That any one should dare to criticise the Emperor's policy, even though it be Bismarck, or that any one, even be it Count Waldersee, should express a personal opinion in his presence, is more than William II will tolerate.

The "sympathetic Emperor" has a cruel way of doing things. Before striking his victims it is his wont to give them some public mark of his esteem and good-will. Small and great, they pass before him, sacrificed each in his turn, so soon as they have come to believe themselves for a moment in the enjoyment of his favour. Thus Colonel Kaissel, aide-de-camp to the Emperor, is about to be shelved. Lieutenant von Chelin has been removed from the Court, General von Wittich has already lost his fleeting favour, and the moderating influence of Major de Huene, erected on the ruins of that of Von Falkenstein, proves to be equally short-lived. Three generals in command of army corps are now threatened—that is, of course, unless a fortnight hence they should prove to have reached the highest pinnacle of favour.

Three months ago Von Moltke declared that he and Bismarck would live long enough to be able to say "Farewell to the Empire."

On the other hand, Von Puttkamer seems to be regaining something of favour, and Prince Battenberg has been welcomed to the old Castle; strange plans concerning him are being hatched in the brain of William II.

Prince Henry has been brought back, ostensibly to take part in the Councils of the Government, but in reality that he may be watched the more closely. He also has received a letter in which he is publicly thanked for the services he has rendered. If I were in his place I should be very uneasy, seeing the kind of brother that he was, the most changeable the most jealous, and the most suspicious of men. There is a false ring about this letter to Prince Henry, just as there was in those which the Emperor addressed to Count Waldersee and to Bismarck. Gratitude is a word that William often thinks fit to use, but it is a sentiment that he is careful never to indulge in.

It is impossible to discover any sign of a heart in the actions of the German Sovereign. One may therefore predict that he will continue to show an ever increasing preference for distinguished personalities, whom it may please him to destroy, or creatures who would be the butts of his malicious sport, rather than to encourage the kind of public servants who strive continually to increase their efficiency, so as to serve him better. Instead of being simply good and ruling benevolently, he aspires to be first a sort of pope, imposing upon his people a social state composed of servility and compulsory comfort, and again a leader of crusades, drawing his people after him to the conquest of the world.

Spiritual and material interests, military organisation, he mixes and confuses them like everything else which occurs to his mind, and every day he does something to destroy the results of that marvellous continuity, which did more to establish the power of William I than the victories of Sadowa and Sedan. Ever more and more infatuated with the idea of military supremacy, he now pretends to be greatly concerned with the idea of disarmament. And he, the avowed protector of socialists, looks as if he were about to accept from Mr. Dryander, the protestant presidency of that association of workmen, which is being organised for the purpose of fighting socialism.

Wherever we look, it is always the same, false pretences, trickery, lying, love of mischief-making and of persecution, innumerable and unceasing proofs given by William that his sovereign soul, irretrievably committed to restless agitation, will never know the higher and divine joys of peace.



March 1, 1891. [3]

For some months past, my dear readers, I have predicted that William II will not be satisfied without paying a visit to France. The visit of the Empress Frederick should have prepared us for this amiable surprise. But because the august mother of the German Emperor was received by us with nothing more than cold politeness, the Cologne Gazette gives us a sound drubbing, as witness the following—

"The French have no right to be offensive towards the august head of the German Empire and his noble mother, by insulting them after the manner of blackguards (polissons). Every German who has the very least regard for the dignity of the nation must feel mortally insulted in the person of the Emperor."

"The German people have the right to expect that the French Government and the French nation will give them ample satisfaction, and will wipe out this stain on the honour of France, by sternly calling to order the wretches in question, creatures whom we Germans consider to be the refuse of human society."

And we who belong to this "refuse," who flatter ourselves that we have made extraordinary efforts of self-control when we refrained from saying to the Empress Frederick: "Madame, spare us; let it not be said that you went one day to Saint-Cloud, and on the next to Versailles, lest our resolution to be calm should forsake us"—we, I say, now perceive, that all our prudence has been wasted, and that we are still "refuse," the refuse of human society.

The character of William II continues to develop its series of eccentricities. With him, one may be sure of incurring displeasure, but his favours are shortlived. His mania for change is manifested to a degree unexampled since the days of the decay of the Roman Empire. His freakishness, the suddenness of his impulses, are becoming enough to create dismay amongst all those who approach him. One day he will suddenly start off to take by surprise the garrisons of Potsdam and of Rinfueld; he gives the order for boots and saddles, which naturally leads to innumerable accidents. Next day you will find him issuing a decree that, a play written by one of his proteges, entitled The New Saviour, is a masterpiece, which he would compel the public to applaud. The best he can do with it is to prevent its being hissed off the stage. Another day he has a room prepared for himself at the Headquarters of the General Staff, where he interferes in the preparation of strategic plans, without paying the least attention to the new chief who has replaced Count Waldersee. Then, again, he connects his private office with the entire Press organisation, so as to be able to manipulate the reptile fund himself, and to dictate in person the notices he requires, concerning all his proceedings, in the newspapers which he pays in Germany and in those which he buys abroad.

All of a sudden it occurs to him that six more war-ships would round off the German Fleet; and so he demands that they be built on the spot. His Minister resists, pointing out that the approval of the Reichstag is required, William II flies into a passion, and the wretched Minister obeys. Suddenly it occurs to him also to remember the existence of a certain Count Vedel, greatly favoured by the Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar. He summons him by telegraph, and makes him his favourite of an hour. When it pleases him to remove a superior officer, or to put one on the shelf, nothing stops him, neither the worth of the man, nor the value of the services he may have rendered. One can readily conceive that German generals live in a state of perpetual fright. Add to all this that William is becoming impecunious. He has taken to borrowing, and is reduced to making money out of everything. What will the Sultan Abdul Hamid say when he learns that the Grand Marshal of the German Court has put up for sale the presents which he offered to the Emperor, his guest, and which are valued at four millions!

These things bring to mind the threat which William II uttered a few days before the fall of Bismarck: "Those who resist me I will break into a thousand pieces."



March 12, 1891. [4]

The many and varied causes which led to the journey of the Empress Frederick to Paris, and the equally numerous results that the Emperor, her son, expected from that visit, are beginning to stand out in such a manner that we can appreciate their significance more and more clearly. This proceeding on the part of William II, like all his actions, was invested with a certain quality of suddenness, but at the same time, it reveals itself as the result of a complicated series of deliberate plans. The object of these last was, as usual, the young monarch's unhealthy craving for making dupes. To this I shall return later on. Let us first examine the causes of William's sudden impulses.

He has acquired, and is teaching his people to acquire, the taste and habit of sudden and unexpected happenings. It having been the habit of Bismarck to speculate on things foreseen, it was inevitable that his jealous adversary should speculate on things unforeseen. Moreover, the King-Emperor is dominated by that law of compensation, from which neither men nor things can escape, and from which it follows logically that Germany, after having profited by methods of continuity, is now condemned to suffer, in the same proportion, her trials of instability.

In determining upon the journey of his august mother to Paris, the Emperor took no risks other than those which pleased him, and which served the purposes of his grudges and his policy. In the first place, this journey would serve for a moment to divert attention in Germany from a policy which the great industrials and the workmen, the party of progress and the conservatives, all unite in condemning. In the next place, Berlin, having for a long time made ready to be amiable to Paris, was bound to resent all the more acutely any failure to reciprocate her kind advances. These results could not fail to be favourable to the vote of credits for military purposes, which are always the last credits asked for by the Government (whether under Bismarck or under Caprivi) and which are always voted under stress of an appeal to the eternal but utterly non-existent dangers, that are supposed to threaten Germany from France.

If our capital, then, should extend a cold welcome to the august mother of the German Sovereign, the result could not fail to be of immediate advantage to the vote of military credits. I ask my readers to notice, by the way, the deliberate coincidence of the journey of the Empress with the demand for these credits, and also with the anniversary of the Treaty of Versailles. Finally, it was to be expected that if she were badly received, the mistake thus committed by the Empress Frederick would make "the Englishwoman" more unpopular in Germany; and, so far as one knows, her Imperial son has never been passionately devoted to her. Moreover, she afforded Bismarck an opportunity of getting rid of a little of his venom, as witness the following words of his—

"Only an Englishwoman," the ex-Chancellor declared during a visit to Mr. Burckardt, "could possibly have inspired the Emperor with the idea of sending her to Paris as a challenge to the French. A German woman would have had too much respect for her own dignity to go and visit Versailles and Saint-Cloud. The nobility of her feelings would have forbidden her to make a triumphal appearance amidst the ruins of the houses and castles destroyed by our troops, and her pride would have prevented her from seeking the homage and the favours of the vanquished. The Empress is English, and English she will remain."

But if France were to welcome with enthusiasm—or even with favour—the Empress Frederick, William II might justifiably conclude (without making allowance for the sympathy which the widow of the Emperor-Martyr inspires in Frenchwomen) that France had accepted the accomplished fact, abandoned her claims to Alsace-Lorraine, and the defence of her future interests in common with Russia. In that case, he would have treated France as he treats those who show him the greatest devotion. In order to get a clear idea of the object pursued by William II, it is sufficient to read two short extracts from the Etoile Belge, a blind admirer of the Emperor of Germany, and to read them separately from the enthusiastic articles which this paper published at the commencement of the journey of the Empress Frederick.

The correspondent of the Etoile Belge wrote as follows—

"In confiding his mother and his sister to the hospitality of Paris, William II committed an act as clever as it was courageous. Let him continue in this policy of pacific advances, and the idea of a reconciliation with Germany will soon become more popular than the Russian Alliance."

The Berlin correspondent of the same Etoile wrote—

"Germany has at least as much as England to gain in bringing it about that Russia should not feel too sure of French support."

Is not this clear enough? There you have it: the real object which underlay the visit incognito of the Empress Frederick for the furtherance of the interests of Germany, It meant a reconciliation with Germany, which would have separated us from Russia, from which England had everything to gain, which would once more have surrendered our credit to Italy unconditionally, and would have compelled us to renounce Alsace-Lorraine for good and all.

What then would have been the results had she paid us an official visit? We have already seen that none of the alternative schemes for this journey could work to Germany's detriment; we need, therefore, not be astonished at the publicity given by the Count von Muenster to all the comings and goings of the Empress, and at the determination shown by Her Majesty to investigate the quality of our patriotism in all its various aspects. The memories which the Empress went to recall at Saint-Cloud and at Versailles were the same as those which she compelled us to call from the past: memories glorious for her but unforgettably sad for us, memories which, in reminding her of victory, were meant to remind us of a defeat to which our conquerors have added cruelty.

I watch with fervour the expression of our patriotism. A race which forgets the brutal insults of superior force deserves slavery. Italy would never have reconquered Milan and Venice had she resigned herself to see them pass under the yoke of the stranger. Forty years and more had passed since the 2nd of May, [5] when Prince Napoleon thought fit to send Prince Jerome as Ambassador to Madrid. He was forced to leave it. Princess Murat was in no way responsible for what the French Generals had done. She came in the suite of the Empress Eugenie, but Spain found a way to make her displeasure manifest without any lack of courtesy. To the Empress Frederick, France has shown a melancholy kind of astonishment rather than dislike, and has displayed an infinite courtesy. Not a single demonstration, not a gesture, not a word from the population of Paris has done anything to detract from the city's world-wide reputation for hospitality.

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