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Bismarck

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

1815-1898

THE FORGING OF THE GERMAN EMPIRE

Otto Edward Leopold von Bismarck was born at Schönhausen, in the old Mark of Brandenburg the core of modern Prussia on April I, 1815. The Bismarck family is both old and distinguished. It was ennobled as early as the middle of the Fourteenth Century, and has always held a foremost rank among the fighting noblesse of Brandenburg. Several of the Bismarcks fought in the Thirty Years' War, some on the side of the Emperor, some on the side of the Swedes. Moreover, Bismarck could reckon among his ancestors Field Marshal Von Derflinger, the conqueror of the Swedes, General von Zieten, and Lieutenant Katte, whose savage execution by Frederick William I formed such a tragic incident in the life of Frederick the Great.

But Bismarck's forefathers were not distinguished alone for their fighting qualities. Most of his paternal ancestors, says one of his biographers, "had been mighty hunters and drinkers before the Lord." His great grand-father, in particular who fell in one of the battles of the Seven Years' War had in one year slain as many as 154 red-deer, and his toasts were usually accompanied by trumpet blasts and carbine volleys across the table from a section of his troopers. The Chancellor was supposed to be the very image of this stormful dragoon-major. "So much so, indeed, that when gazing upon his portrait, it was like looking at my own face in the glass."

The mother of Bismarck, Louise Wilhelmina Menken, was the only commoner who had ever married into the family. But if she did not bring the Bismarcks blood, she brought them what was better brains; for the future Chancellor is said to have inherited much of his intellectual capacity from his mother.

So far, then, as parentage is concerned, young Otto von Bismarck had a capital start in life. At the tender age of six he was placed in a boarding school at Berlin, conducted on the Pestalozzi system; and from this, at the age of twelve, he passed to the Grey Friars Gymnasium, or Board School. From this institution he passed, in his seventeenth year, to the University of Göttingen.

Bismarck's university life was of the sort which finds more favor with students than with professors. Reading, carousing, dueling were its essential features. In his first semester he was twice fined, once for heaving a bottle out at the window, once for smoking on the street, and he was at least twice sentenced to the "carcer," or University jail. He stayed at Göttingen three semesters from May, 1832, to November, 1833 and then left to continue his studies at Berlin; and it is on record that at the time of leaving he was under a sentence of four days for having taken part in a duel.

Having completed his course of study at Berlin, Bismarck passed the very rigid examination which enabled him to enter the civil service of the State. He began his bureaucratic life as official reporter to one of the Berlin tribunals. He was then given a higher position at Aix-la-Chapelle, and from there after a while was transferred to the Crown Office at Potsdam. While here he entered the Jäger, or Sharpshooter, Battalion of the Guards, to perform his required one year's term of military service. At the same time he attended lectures on agriculture and kindred subjects, having determined to quit the civil service and to settle down to the life of a country squire. In the next eight years we find him leading a free life in the country farming, hunting, soldiering, carousing, studying, and occasionally rubbing off the rust of country life with excursions into the great world. On one of these excursions he visited England. On the death of his father, in 1845, he settled at his native Schönhausen, which had fallen to him in the division of the family property.

In July, 1847, Bismarck was married to Johanna, daughter of Heinrich von Puttkamer. The union proved an eminently happy one. "You know little what this woman has done for me," he once said to Signor Crispi, when talking of his wife.

Bismarck made his first appearance in national politics as a substitute deputy to the so-called United Diet, which Frederick William IV, yielding reluctantly to the spirit of the times, summoned to Berlin in February, 1847. This Diet, made up of delegates from the eight Provincial Diets, was called ostensibly to deliberate on the subject of a Constitution; but really it was no more than a sop thrown to a discontented people. The King swore roundly that no "sheet of paper should ever intervene between the Lord God in Heaven and his subjects." Herr Bismarck, now in his thirty-second year, could respond to this declaration with a hearty Amen. Prussia, he argued in the Assembly, had done excellently well under her régime of divine right, and well enough should be let alone. The Diet sat for three months and was dismissed. Bismarck was heartily glad that the King had refused to listen to its advice.

A good beginning this for the future counselor of William I. We must hurry over the events of these preliminary years. The Paris Revolution of 1848, was echoed in Berlin. A bloody encounter occurred in the streets there between the royal troops and the citizens. Bismarck hurried from Schönhausen to Potsdam, where the King's troops were stationed, and his voice with the military was for an advance on the capital. The King vacillated. The Prince, his brother, afterward Emperor William I, fled to England. The outcome of it all was that the King called a second Union Diet. The Diet paved the way for a Constituent Assembly. This ended by being dispersed with bayonets. Then the King himself, sick of the quarreling and anarchy, granted Prussia on his own authority a Constitution modeled on that of Belgium. At the same time he summoned a Parliament, consisting of two chambers, the first of its kind in Prussia, to ratify the new charter.

Bismarck was a member of this Parliament, having sought and obtained a seat in it in compliance with the express wish of the King. The spirit with which he entered into its debates may be gathered from a single extract from one of his speeches, as reported :

"He hoped that this was the last time the achievements of the Prussian sword would be given away with generous hand in order to appease the insatiable demand of a phantom which, under the name of the spirit of the time or public opinion, stupefied with its deafening clamor the reason of princes and people till each grew afraid of the other's shadow, and forgot that beneath the lion's skin of the specter there was only a very innocuous animal." This was Bismarck's way of looking at "public opinion" in 185o.

Throughout Germany there had long existed a desire to see the various States united into a single Nation. The present seemed a favorable opportunity for taking an initial step in this direction. Delegates chosen in the several States by universal suffrage met at Frankfort, April, 1848, to discuss this question of national unity. In the course of a year's deliberation and wrangling they elaborated what they were pleased to call a National Constitution, but which Bismarck contemptuously characterized as a "transcript of the parchment of Magna Charta on Continental blotting paper." The figure-head of this new national government was to be styled Emperor. The position was offered to the King of Prussia, who emphatically declined to accept it, for one reason, with others, that the movement was purely a popular one and was not countenanced by any of the Sovereigns of the States. Both Frederick and Bismarck were earnest for national unity; but to neither was it acceptable in this shape. Here is Bismarck's objection, as it was declared in the Prussian Parliament :

"The Frankfort Constitution," he said, "bore upon its brow the broad impress of popular sovereignty, and invited the King to hold his free crown as a mere fief from the people, which simply meant the extinction of his power."

Bismarck, in 1849, would have had the Emperor of Germany invested with the power exercised, as a "divine right," by the King of Prussia. Such views naturally en-cleared him to the King. It is interesting to note here that the Constitution which he finally accepted for United Germany is essentially that which he spurned in 1849. The present Kaiser of Germany is simply an executive officer a mere figure-head, powerless to initiate measures and without the power to veto an act of the Reichstag. Bismarck was wiser in 1870 by twenty years, than when the Frankfort Convention met which is not at all to his discredit.

Frederick William now entered into a treaty with Han-over and Saxony with a view of forming a federation of the German States apart from Austria. But this move toward unification also met the disapproval of Bismarck.

He indicated plainly his opinion that the consolidation should be effected by the sword, not by treaty. "We all desire," he said, "to behold the Prussian eagle spread its protecting and controlling pinions from the Memel to the Donnersberg; but free we wish to see it, not fettered by a new Diet of Ratisbon." And in the diary of a friend he wrote, about this time, "Our watchword must not be Federal State at any price, but integrity of the Prussian crown at any price."

The Three-king alliance resulted in another National Parliament, held at Erfurt, in the spring of 185o. Bismarck went to this convention as a representative of Prussia. Another Constitution for united Germany was elaborated, this time with the sanction of the Sovereigns. But this Constitution, like that of Frankfort, was unacceptable to Prussia.

"Gentlemen," said Bismarck to the assembled delegates, "if you do not make more concessions to the Prussian, the old Prussian spirit, call it what you please, than you hitherto have done in this Constitution, then I do not believe in its realization." Nor was it realized.

But perhaps the result would have been different had not Prussia and Austria just at this time come within an ace of going to war over a quarrel which had broken out between them in Hesse-Cassel. The crisis was averted by the intervention of the Czar Nicholas. The Treaty of Olmütz was signed by the two Powers. By the terms of this convention Prussia bound herself to abandon her schemes of national unity, and to accept the restoration of the old German Bund, under the leadership of Austria.

This treaty was loudly denounced by the Liberals in the Prussian Chamber; but it was warmly supported by Bismarck, who declared that, "If Prussia had gone to war for her Union idea . . . she would only have resembled the Englishman who fought a victorious combat with a. sentinel in order to be able to hang himself in the sentry-box." He was opposed to Unionism on the lines laid down at Frankfort and Erfurt. In other words, the union of Germany, when it came, must be simply an expansion of Prussia. But even at this time, wrote his friend Herr Wagener, editor of the Kreuz-Zeitung, Bismarck "cherished schemes which could only gradually come to be executed."

From May, 1851, to January, 1859, Bismarck was Prussia's representative in the newly resuscitated Diet, which met at Frankfort. He went to the Diet rather disposed to be the friend of Austria; but her domineering attitude, her continual intrigues with the smaller States against the interests of Prussia, convinced him that a conflict in arms between the two countries was inevitable, and that thus only could be established a lasting peace in Germany. For this reason he exerted himself in the Diet, and successfully, to keep Prussia and the other German States from uniting their fortunes with Austria against Russia in the Crimean War (1854) ; and after the close of the war he strongly counseled his Government to court the friendship of Napoleon. Already he was scheming for the neutrality, if not the alliance, of Russia and France when the inevitable war with Austria should come.

One of Bismarck's fellow students at Göttingen one with whom he formed a very close friendship was an American, John Lothrop Motley. The following extract from a letter written by Mr. Motley, who had returned to Europe to pursue his historical studies and renewed acquaintance with his old friend Bismarck, gives us a very interesting picture of the home-life of the future unifier of Germany at this time :

"The Bismarcks are as kind as ever. It is one of those houses where everyone does what one likes. The show apartments where they receive formal company are on the front of the house. Their living rooms, however, are a salon and dining-room at the back, opening upon the gar-den. Here there are young and old, grandparents and children and dogs all at once; eating, drinking, smoking, piano playing and pistol firing (in the garden), all going on at the same time. It is one of those establishments where every earthly thing that can be eaten or drunk is offered you; porter, soda water, small beer, champagne, burgundy or claret are about all the time, and everybody is smoking the best Havana cigars every minute."

In one of these years Bismarck made a flying trip to Paris, where he first made the personal acquaintance of Napoleon, as well as of Queen Victoria, at a grand ball given in her Majesty's honor at Versailles. He seems to have been impressed favorably by the Emperor and was pleased to note that "in comparison with other foreigners we Prussians were treated with great consideration."

In 1858 Frederick William broke down mentally and his brother, Prince William of Prussia, became Regent. The Prince, not altogether pleased with Bismarck's hostile attitude toward Austria, removed him from the Diet and sent him as Ambassador to St. Petersburg "put him in ice," as was Bismarck's own comment on the change.

Bismarck remained at St. Petersburg about three years. He at once became a favorite-here with everybody from the Czar down, as a known opponent of Austria and of the anti-Russian Liberalism of Prussia. Moreover, he flattered the Russians by learning a little of their language, while he won their admiration no less by his skill as a rifle-shot than "by his doughtiness as a diner-out and a capacity to drink all his boon companions under the table."

During this honorable banishment of Bismarck from Germany occurred the Franco-Austrian War in Italy (in the summer of 1859). The time had come, in the opinion of Bismarck, to vindicate for Prussia her proper position of authority in Germany. Great was his disgust, there-fore, to learn from Berlin, directly after the battle of Magenta, that the authorities there, contrary to his advice, were preparing, not to impede Austria, but to give her the support of a strong military force; in other words, to invade France, and anger the very man he was counting on in his proposed war upon Austria. Luckily, from his point of view, Austria and Prussia could not agree as to which should exercise the supreme military command, and in the meantime Napoleon hurried matters, won the battle of Solferino, and, with his eye upon Prussia, arranged terms with Francis Joseph at Villafranca. The whole affair was over so quickly that nothing serious for Bismarck's plans happened; but for a few weeks he was on pins and needles. Many thought at the time that Bismarck had an understanding with Napoleon. This may have been. But of one thing we may be certain; Bismarck would never have bought the alliance of Napoleon against Austria at the price of the left bank of the Rhine, as Count Cavour bought it by the surrender of Savoy and Nice.

In January, 1861, the demented King of Prussia died and his brother ascended the throne, as William I. Bismarck had been one of the Prince's chief advisers, and many expected to see the Russian Ambassador now called to the Cabinet. He was, indeed, called home for consultation; but the King could not yet decide to give him a portfolio. Events soon decided the matter for him, how-ever. William wished to increase his army to double it, in fact. The Chamber objected. A conflict ensued between the Crown and the Chamber, ending in the dissolution of the latter, and at the same time the dismissal of the Cabinet. Bismarck was again sent for; but he was not yet ready to undertake the task of "Parliament-Tamer." He pleaded poor health; and, moreover, he hinted that before taking on the Ministerial harness he would like to know more about the "man of destiny." Accordingly, he was transferred from St. Petersburg to Paris. This was in the spring of 1862.

Bismarck did not long enjoy the beauties of France, with its health-giving idleness at Bordeaux, Biarritz, Bayonne and other holiday resorts. About the middle of September he received a telegram calling him back post-haste to Berlin. The Chamber had again rejected the King's demands, and his Majesty had replied by appointing Bismarck to the Presidency of the Cabinet.

"When I arrived in Berlin on September 19, 1862," said Bismarck, relating these events thirty years later, "summoned by his Majesty from Paris, his abdication lay already signed on his writing table. I refused to take office. The document was ready to be handed to the Crown Prince. He asked me whether I was prepared to govern against the majority of the national representation even without a budget. I answered 'Yes,' and the letter of abdication was destroyed." A fortnight later, Bismarck tells us, the King showed signs of weakening. "The Queen had pointed to the lessons of history. I pointed to the Prussian officer's sword which he wore," and in the end "the officer's sword had carried the day and I had won back my King."

And now was inaugurated the policy of "Blood and Iron," or in other words, a government which, sustained by bayonets, dared to override the Constitution. True, the excited Liberals in the Chamber declared that Prussians would never draw the sword against any but a foreign enemy. But the thing was not so certain, and luckily it was never put to the test. Bismarck took the machinery of the Government into his own hands; he collected the revenues and appropriated them as he saw fit. Why not? Here was a state of things for which the Constitution had not provided by a mere oversight, for surely it had never been intended that one of the three coördinate branches of the Government should be able to stop the working of the Governmental machine. So reasoned the Prime Minister. When the Chamber became too noisy, it was dissolved and replaced by another. The rumpus extended beyond the walls of the Chamber. The press added to the clamor; the press was muzzled. Bismarck became quickly the best-hated man in Germany. And right in the midst of these occurrences happened a revolt in Russian Poland. The affair was menacing to Prussia, and Bismarck promptly arranged with the Czar to help him in putting down the revolt. Directly a howl was heard in the West in England and even in France. Lord John Russell protested in behalf of indignant England, and demanded a copy of the convention with the Czar. Bismarck virtually told Sir John to mind his own business, and, in fact, the British Minister had no ground on which to stand, for the revolting Poles had never been accorded belligerent rights, and were simply rebels. Napoleon was brought around by means of a commercial treaty which favored France, effected in spite of the intrigues of Austria.

Austria began to grow ugly. After having proposed to Prussia several schemes of reform, which Bismarck would not accept, she called, in the summer of 1863, a grand meeting of the German Sovereigns at Frankfort, for the purpose of discussing her schemes. Prussia declined to accept the invitation to the Congress, and in consequence received notice, in effect, that she must with-draw from the German Confederacy. The conflict which Bismarck knew must come, and which he had yearned for so long, seemed on the point of breaking out, when there happened an occurrence which not only prevented it, but, more surprising still, caused a temporary alliance between Prussia and Austria.

The Schleswig-Holstein question is altogether too large and too complicated to be treated of here. Fortunately, all that we need to know is that these two Duchies, the population of which was German, had been placed by the "London Treaty" under the protection of the Danish Crown, and that in 1863 the Danish Parliament passed a law incorporating one of them, Schleswig, with the Kingdom of Denmark. Prussia and Austria were both parties to the London Treaty; and now, despite the fact that the German Diet refused to sanction an interference in behalf of Schleswig, Bismarck persuaded Austria to join with Prussia in a war upon Denmark. The Prussian Chamber refused to grant the necessary supplies. But for that he cared nothing, exclaiming in the Chamber, "Flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo." (If I cannot bend the gods, I will rouse the lower world.)

The Austro-Prussian War with Denmark occurred in the spring of 1864. It ended in the defeat of Den-mark. Schleswig, Holstein, and Lauenburg (another German Duchy, under the protectorate of the Danish Crown), were taken away from Denmark. And now arose the question, What should be done with them? The Prussians and Austrians began at once to squabble over the matter. Finally, they reached (August, 1865) an agreement which virtually vested the sovereignty of Schleswig in Prussia, and of Holstein in Austria; while King William bought out Austria's claim upon Lauenburg for half a million of dollars. At the same time he rewarded his "blood and iron" Minister with the title of Count.

Bismarck was still ruling without a Budget, his conflict with the Chamber had risen to a fiercer pitch than ever, and public feeling ran so high against him that a young man, Ferdinand Cohen, or Blind, constituting him-self the exponent of this feeling, attempted to shoot the Minister President as he was passing down the Linden. The Chamber clamored for the independence of the Duchies; it refused to vote supplies for the creation of a fleet; it pronounced null and void the agreement by which the King had become possessed of Lauenburg. The Chamber was again dissolved. It was a time of the greatest confusion and excitement; but in the midst of all these storms and dangers, Bismarck stood unflinchingly firm to his purpose, bending everyone to his own inflexible will.

The convention between Austria and Prussia relating to Schleswig and Holstein had hardly been signed when both parties began to violate its terms. Within six months, so great had the friction between the two powers become, that both began to arm with more or less secrecy for the war which was now inevitable. Among other military preparations now made by Bismarck was the forming of a secret treaty with Italy. Venice was to be the price of Italy's assistance when the war with Austria should break out. Louis Napoleon, perceiving the drift of affairs, entered into secret negotiations with both Prussia and Austria, in the hope of getting, in whatever way the war might end, a good slice of Prussia's possessions on the left bank of the Rhine. At the same time he posed as a peacemaker, proposing a Peace Congress, which, however, though favored by Prussia, was rejected by Austria.

All was now ready for springing the mine upon which Bismarck had been at work for years. The only question remaining was where and when the match should be applied. The Austrians soon settled this point by making a move in Holstein which Bismarck declared to be in violation of the agreement and of the joint rights of Prussia. A body of Prussians at once entered Holstein (early in June, 1866), and drove out the Austrians. A few days later the armies of both Powers were in motion. Before the close of the month the Prussians had won brilliant victories in Hanover and Saxony; General von Moltke had astonished Europe with his splendid strategy; the Prussian army had won admiration for its perfect organization and discipline; and the needle gun seemed to have made a revolution in warfare. On the 3rd of July was fought the greatest of modern battles, near Königgrätz, in Bohemia greatest in point of numbers (about 430,000 men) and greatest in its political results. Austria was overwhelmingly defeated, and Prussia became at once the leading State in Germany.

King William and Bismarck were both with the army at Königgrätz, or Sadowa, as this field was called by the Austrians. On the day after the battle the King received a telegram from Napoleon announcing that the Emperor of Austria had already ceded to him Venice, as in trust for Italy, and offering his services as a mediator to pre-vent further bloodshed. An armistice was arranged a few days later, and on July 26 preliminary terms of peace were signed at Nikolsburg, which became the basis of the Treaty of Prague, signed August 23, 1866. By the terms of this treaty Austria withdrew from the German Confederacy. Venetia was ceded to Italy. The territories of Prussia were increased by the annexation of Schleswig-Holstein, Hanover, Hesse-Cassel, Nassau, and the Free City of Frankfort. Austria paid to Prussia a war indemnity of forty million thalers, and the South German States, which had fought with Austria, were mulcted in proportionate sums. These States were assured of political independence, it being the hope and expectation of Bismarck that eventually they would ally themselves with Prussia.

Such were the general results of the German War, of which the closing scene was formed by the triumphal entry (September 20) of King William and his victorious troops into Berlín. In this pageant Bismarck rode, with Moltke and Roon, in front of the King, and was frantically cheered by the people who had but a short time before loaded him with the bitterest abuse. They were beginning to understand the purpose of this man of "blood and iron."

The Chamber now hastened to pass a bill of indemnity on all the Budgetless and other irregular acts of the Government during the "conflict time." Furthermore, it granted a credit of fifty million thalers to defend, if need be, what had now been won. A million and a half thalers were voted for distribution among the chief actors in the war. The largest share, 400,000 thalers, was allotted to Bismarck; with a part of this money he purchased the fine estate of Varzin, that was now to become his "Pomeranian Tusculum."

In February, 1867, a Convention consisting of delegates elected by universal suffrage in all of the States north of the Main twenty-two in number met at Berlin to form the Constitution for a new Confederacy of these States. Their work was completed in less than two months. Each State, under the new Constitution, was accorded home rule in its own affairs. National affairs were entrusted to a legislature consisting of two branches, a Council, representing the allied Sovereigns, and a Reich-stag, representing the people. Bismarck, under the title of Bundeskanzler, or Federal Chancellor, became the sole responsible Minister. The King of Prussia, as ex officio President of the Cabinet of the Council, became the executive chief.

Germany had now fairly entered upon her career of national existence. It remained only to bring into the Confederacy at the proper time the outstanding Southern States and to give finally a more dignified title to the President of the Cabinet. This was Bismarck's work during the next four years. The chief obstacle which he encountered was the French Emperor. Napoleon had set his heart upon extending France to the Rhine. To do this he must get possession, by bargain or otherwise, of certain territories which belonged to Prussia. The first slice which he sought to obtain was Mayence, which he demanded of Bismarck directly after the Treaty of Prague, as the price of his neutrality during the war and his good offices in the peace negotiations. The demand was virtually an ultimatum. But Bismarck refused to listen to it; he declared that he would accept the alternative and fight if need be, and the demand was withdrawn. Later came an attempt by Napoleon to get Luxembourg, which, though German, owed a certain allegiance to Holland. Here again Napoleon had to measure wits with Bismarck, and was worsted. It was the way in which Napoleon was defeated by Bismarck in all his attempts to carry out his pet project, which led to his determination to try as a last resort the fortunes of war. His own position in France had become precarious. Some great success of foreign policy was needed to prop his waning prestige. He had failed with Bismarck; he must try Moltke.

A trivial matter, which under ordinary circumstances could easily have been adjusted an invitation extended to one of the Hohenzollerns to ascend the vacant throne of Spain, and which was not accepted afforded a pretext, and Napoleon declared war upon Prussia ( July 19, 1870). The result, so far as he was concerned, was the crushing defeat at Sedan on the 1st of September, and the over-throw of his Empire. On the following day Napoleon was the prisoner of King William, and it was Bismarck to whom he had surrendered. "In a small, one-windowed room," said Bismarck, "with a deal table and two rush-bottomed chairs, we sat alone for about an hour, a great contrast to our last meeting at the Tuileries in 1867. Our conversation was a difficult thing, wanting, as I did, to avoid touching on topics which could not but painfully affect the man whom God's almighty hand had cast down."

Four months and a half later a very different scene was enacted at Versailles. The German army was then besieging Paris. A deputation from the Reichstag had besought his Majesty, King William, "to consecrate the work of unification by accepting the Imperial crown." The Southern States had at last applied for admission into the Confederation of the North, and by their action, German unity had become complete. Bismarck, it should be said, had all along been careful not to appear to bring any pressure upon these States, believing that they would in the end enter the national fold of their own free will. There was some question as to the title to, be employed; but "Deutscher Kaiser" was finally agreed upon, and as such William I was solemnly proclaimed in the Hall of Mirrors of Versailles on January 18, 1871, the anniversary of the day on which Frederick, the first King of Prussia, had crowned himself at Königsberg, in 1701.

All the negotiations with the French through their ambassadors sent successively to the conquering Germans —first M. Jules Favre and afterward M. Gambetta and Thiers, and with the peace commissioners were conducted, of course, by Bismarck. The preliminary terms of peace were signed at Versailles on the 26th of February. The conditions were the cession to Germany of Alsace, including Strasburg, a part of Lorraine with Metz, and a war indemnity of five milliard francs ($i,000,000,-000). The preliminary treaty was duly ratified by the French Assembly at Bordeaux on the 8th of March. A few days later Bismarck had returned to Berlin as Imperial German Chancellor, with a bigger and quicker record of achievement than had been made by any man of his time. Eight years before William had summoned him from Paris to Berlin to make him a Minister. He had returned the compliment by summoning the King from Berlin to Paris to make him an Emperor.

The great constructive work of Bismarck had now been accomplished. The independent German States had been forged, with Prussia as a core, into a compact Empire. Henceforward for nearly twenty years Bismarck appeared in a new rôle. His war days were over; he became, to use his own expression, a Friedensfanatiker, a "fanatic for peace." His mission, as he understood it, was to preserve the peace of Europe. To this end all his influence, all the powers of his judgment were directed. Germany had demonstrated her military strength, but in a purely defensive war; she had no lust for conquest, for, though she had taken from France Alsace and Lorraine, she had only taken that which was hers by right. The Nations of Europe understood this, and therefore the rise in their midst of this mighty German Empire was no source of alarm. The new Kaiser William was neither a Charles V nor a Napoleon I, and the peaceful intentions of the great Chancellor of the Empire came also to be universally recognized.

The most difficult task which Bismarck had now to perform was to soothe the wounded sensibilities of France; and he found it necessary at times to exercise the greatest forbearance. Yet he steadily adhered to his purpose of facilitating in every way to the French the performance of their peace conditions. "It is not our aim," he said, in the Reichstag, "to injure our neighbor more than is absolutely necessary to assure for us the execution of the Treaty of Peace, but, on the contrary, to help and enable him as far as we can do without detriment to our own interests, to recover from the disaster that has befallen his country." In pursuance of this policy, for example, he agreed to accept financial security for the payment of the second milliard a concession which had the effect of reducing the army of occupation left in France to only 50,000 men; and this was followed (December, 1871) by the restoration of regular diplomatic relations between the two countries.

It is impossible in a sketch of this character to go into the details of a policy extending over so many years. A few points only can be selected by way of illustrating the work done. In the autumn of 1872 Bismarck had the satisfaction of seeing the accomplishment of one of his most cherished schemes a meeting of the three Emperors, together with their Chancellors, at Berlin. Austria and Russia had consented to forgive their mutual hostility of 1854, while the still more recent breach between Prussia and Austria had been effectually closed up. The meeting was the work of Bismarck. The "Three Emperor League" was hailed throughout Europe, not as a menace, but as a sign of peace. Later came the Triple Alliance between Germany, Austria, and Italy, also the work of Bismarck, and also in the interest of peace. In the course of these twenty years events occurred which strained the relations of the several European Powers. The Eastern Question, with Bulgaria at its core, was ever looming up. Austria became estranged from Russia; and Russia at the Berlin Congress, called to settle questions raised by the Peace of San Stefano, felt herself badly treated, and for a time became estranged from Germany. Bismarck's skillful hand was always at work to bring about reconciliation in such cases as quickly as possible, never to ferment a quarrel. He seemed to have a peculiar genius for this work. As a single instance, when in 1879 the relations between Germany and Russia had become so strained —not, however, through any fault of his that war between the two countries seemed inevitable when several Russian Grand Dukes were spending their summer in Paris in ostentatious intimacy with French statesmen, and the heart of the Kaiser was nearly broken at the thought of a war with his nephew, Bismarck slipped down to Vienna, talked the matter over with Count Andrassy, and the result was a quiet little arrangement that if Russia should attack either one of the two Empires, then the other should assist in repelling the aggressor with all its military force. It was a purely defensive alliance in the interest of peace; and care was taken that a knowledge of it should reach Russia. It had the desired effect. Russia paused; and in good time friendly relations with Germany were restored.

But while Bismarck was eminently successful in his foreign policy, he was not in all respects lucky in his management of internal affairs. The Kultur-Kampf, which was virtually a war with Rome, is mentioned elsewhere in this volume* and is only alluded to here as one contest into which Bismarck entered without his usual discretion, and in which he was fairly beaten. The conflict quickly assumed the nature of a religious persecution, and it could only, of course, have one ending; yet he persisted in pro-longing the struggle, yielding little by little, for ten years.

We now come to the year 189o, and the month of March. The young Kaiser William II had not then been two years upon the throne. His grandfather, William I, had died in March, 1888, and his father, Frederick III, had reigned but three months. So far as the public had been able to judge, the relations between the new Kaiser and the "Iron Chancellor" had been most cordial, and it caused therefore no little surprise when the old and faithful Minister, the constructor of the Empire, in this month of March left Berlin and went into retirement at Friedrichsruh an estate, by the way, given to Bismarck by the old Kaiser at the same time that he conferred upon him the title of Prince, directly after the Peace of Paris. It was generally supposed, however, that he had resigned of his own volition; but the ex-Chancellor had not been many days in retirement when he used the word dismissal with reference to his retirement from office, and later the fact came out that the Chancellor had, indeed, been compelled to resign.

It soon became apparent that he deeply resented his dismissal. He made no secret of the fact. He, the trusted repository of all the State secrets of his time, began to reveal to his visitors, even the newspaper reporters, things which ought not to be told-which tended to disturb the relations of Germany to foreign powers. Within two months after Bismarck left Berlin, his Majesty authorized his new Chancellor, General Caprivi, to address a circular to all the representatives of Germany abroad, requesting them to discount the damaging effect of the Prince's revelations and running criticisms. The quarrel became more and more bitter; it became scandalous--painfully scandalous, for however much the friends and admirers of Bismarck might, in their utter ignorance of the true state of the case, be disposed to criticise the action of the young Kaiser, as ungrateful to one to whom alone he owed his position, no one could approve of the conduct of the old Chancellor nor hold him blame-less.

It was therefore with gratification that, in the autumn of 1893, when Bismarck was severely ill, the public learned that the Kaiser had graciously extended to him an invitation to take up his winter quarters in one of his own castles. The offer was declined, though courteously. The Kaiser, however, soon after, of his own magnanimous impulse, made a second attempt at reconciliation, happily with success. He dispatched one of his personal aides-de-camps, Lieutenant-Colonel von Moltke, a nephew of the great General, to congratulate the Prince on his recovery from an attack of influenza, and to present to him a bottle of fine old Hock. The ex-Chancellor accepted the gift, and said that he would come to Berlin to thank the Emperor in person on the occasion of his Majesty's approaching birthday, which he did. "All Germany was more or less intoxicated with that single flask of rare old Rhenish which the Emperor had sent to Friedrichsruh."

We skip four years now and come to the end. In the early summer of 1898 the public attention was directed toward Friedrichsruh by the intelligence that the veteran ex-Chancellor was in a critical state of health. He was now in his eighty-fourth year, and though naturally of a strong constitution, he could not be expected to hold out for many years against the grim destroyer. And yet when the announcement went forth from Friedrichsruh that his death had occurred, on the night of the 30th of July, the public were scarcely expecting it, for the bulletins of the few days previous had all been encouraging. He had been, in fact, but a week in bed, and two days before the end came he was able to be wheeled to the family dinner, to celebrate the fifty-first anniversary of his marriage to the devoted wife and Princess who, four years before, had preceded him to the tomb. The event came, therefore, as a shock upon Europe, as well as upon this country. There was probably no one who did not feel that one of the greatest men of the Century had passed away.

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