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Freytag's lay criticism. The Crown Prince, riding over the battle-field, spoke some kindly words to a Bavarian soldier who had made himself at home in a farmhouse. Standing at attention, with his hand at the salute, the Bavarian's enthusiasm got the better of him: 'If we had only had your Royal Highness to lead us in 1866, you would have seen how we would have thrashed those cursed Prussians!'
It has been shown that Freytag attributes the origin of the German Empire to the Crown Prince's foppery ; that he represents him, after the war, as enfeebled in body and mind; that he depreciates his military skill. He adds the final touch to his tribute of affectionate reverence, when he suggests that the Prince was subjected to foreign influences, and entirely dominated by his wife. It is in these passages that Freytag most crudely repeats the charges of the Reptile Press and the Memorial of Bismarck. The subject is one of such delicacy that we only touch upon it in reply to the charges made in the Reminiscences.'
Freytag is a finished literary artist, and the way in which the required effect is produced is a triumph of the suggestive method. He begins by noting the presence in the Prince's camp of the English correspondent, Russell, of the Duke of Sutherland,* and of the Duke of Augustenburg, whose brother was married to Princess Helena. He introduces, by way of a digression, the examination of the Morier Incident, to which we have already alluded. Having thus created an impression of the dangerous cosmopolitanism of the Emperor Frederick, and of the special difficulty created by the confidential reports which went from head-quarters to England,' he goes on to say that the Crown Prince himself wrote every day to his wife at Homburg, and that the change of camp was often delayed because the Prince had not yet completed his letter. Prince Louis of Hesse also wrote from his division to his consort, the Princess Alice.' The serious charge against the Crown Prince may be omitted, because a still graver accusation is insinuated by Freytag against the Princess Alice, the Empress Frederick, and other members of our own Royal Family. In effect he suggests that through their means,whether through carelessness or through treachery he does not specify,-important secrets of the German military movements reached the French commanders. Both the Empress Frederick and Princess Alice,
As Freytag's accuracy is on trial, it may be mentioned that it was not the Duke of Sutherland who was present in the camp. Froytag has confused him with Lori Ronald Gower and the Duke of Manchester. This points to the late origin of this part of the 'Diary.'
says Freytag, wrote to their august mother and the family in London. They could not judge of the importance of the news which their letters contained. What crossed the North Sea could be sent to France again in letters a few hours later. It was therefore not unnatural that the French learned by way of England a variety of things about our army which, with greater propriety, would have remained concealed.' Here, again, Freytag is endeavouring to support Prince Bismarck's Memorial through thick and thin. But Freytag knows absolutely nothing of the contents of the Crown Prince's letters to his wife, who was. occupied day and night in the German hospitals. He does not even know whether the Crown Princess and Princess Alice did, or did not, write to their relations in England; still less does he know when, what, or how often, they wrote. The three facts, upon which this monstrous charge is rested, are that the Crown Prince wrote to his wife, that the Crown Princess wrote to her family in England, and that news from the German camp might thus reach France in three or four days by the partial aid of the telegraph. The whole fabric is pure conjecture, resting on the Aimsy tissue of improbable assumptions,—that the Crown Prince discussed with his wife the future movements of the German army, that the Crown Princess indiscriminately transmitted to England all the information contained in her husband's letters, and that the English Royal Family, either through carelessness or treachery, handed on the news to France. Such a charge need not be discussed. It bears on the face of it its own denial. To insinuate a grave accusation against several distinguished persons, without a vestige of evidence, without any personal knowledge of the facts, and with no support except a series of reckless assumptions, is a course which reflects no credit upon Freytag. It only creates distrust of his tact, taste, and discretion. Blumenthal and Moltke were married to English wives.
Is it because these two Field Marshals are alive, and in a position to defend themselves, that they escape the same accusation? Of the truth of such a charge Freytag has exactly the same evidence,-namely, conjecture.
Freytag does not hesitate to carry his support of Prince Bismarck's Memorial to the most extreme length. He has insinuated that the Crown Prince's cosmopolitanism imperilled the national interests of Germany. It is only an expansion of the charges to say that he was absolutely dominated by his wife. Freytag has coupled together the names of the Empress Frederick and Princess Alice as receiving letters from their husbands in the German camps.
Princess Alice was at heart during the whole of the war a brave German woman, and it is a debt of honour to record this fact of the late Princess,' &c. • Both Princesses, in their anxious solicitude for the welfare and safety of the men they loved, wrote in their turn,' &c. Here Freytag first couples the two sisters together, then singles out one of the two for eulogy as 'a brave German woman,' and then again resumes the joint treatment of their correspondence. The obvious suggestion of the passage is that the heart of the Crown Princess was not in the German cause. Under all the circumstances of the case, such a suggestion, if it was intended, is not only utterly false, but a cowardly insinuation which recoils upon the head of the man who made it. It serves Freytag's object well enough. It is the preparation for the theory that the Crown Princess, whose sympathies, as Freytag suggests, are not with Germany, and whose indiscretions, as he assumes, betrayed important secrets to the enemies of her adopted country, held her husband in absolute subjection. This theory of Freytag's is put forward under the cloak of enthusiastic admiration for the ability of the Crown Princess. He pays an eloquent tribute to her rich natural gifts,' keen soaring intellect,' and 'wide intellectual attainments':
The Crown Prince's love for her,' says Freytag, ‘was the highest and holiest passion of his life, and filled his whole existence; she was the lady of his youth, the confidante of all his thoughts, his trusted counsellor whenever she was so inclined. Arrangements of the gardens, decorations of the house, education of the children, judgments of men and things, were in every respect regulated by him in accordance with her thoughts and wishes. It is perfectly intelligible that so complete an ascendency of the wife over the husband, who was destined to be the future ruler of Prussia, threatened to occasion difficulties and conflicts, which, perhaps, would be greater for the woman than the man-greater for the wife who led and inspired the husband whose guidance she ought to have accepted.'
This theory of Freytag's occurs in the first part of his · Reminiscences. But the context proves that it belongs to 1889, not to 1870. The passage appears in the middle of a con versation between the Crown Prince and Freytag, suggested by the photographs of his wife and children which stood on the Prince's camp-table. The conversation is interrupted by this interpolated passage, and subsequently resumed. Whether Freytag's judgment of the relations between the Emperor and the Empress is, or is not, correct, they alone could have really told. Into the domain of conjecture, or the tittle-tattle of the drawing-room, we do not propose to descend with Freytag.
But is it creditable that a man of Freytag's reputation should thus lend the sanction of his name to injurious suspicions which admit neither of proof nor disproof? In Freytag's Reminiscences' we were justified in expecting to hear something more than the parrot-cry of the official German press. As to the suggestion itself, those who knew the Emperor best are well aware that there were legitimate bounds to the Empress's influence, and that he lent à ready ear to the advice of all those whose counsels were valuable. The opinions of the wife were naturally important to her husband. They had the same interests, the same tastes, the same friends. Their views frequently coincided. They were associated in many artistic and philanthropic enterprises. There existed between them that entire unanimity, mutual confidence, and trustful cooperation, which form the ideal of married happiness in this country.
In this fact lies the secret of the origin of the suggestion. To the North German such an ideal is practically inconceivable. His wife is, to use the old legal term, a mere chattel, at the best his respected housekeeper, rarely, if ever, his companion. To seek the advice of his wife would be beneath his dignity; to benefit by her counsel, a loss of manhood. So long as women hold the place they now occupy in Prussian middle-class life, the national ideal of matrimony is necessarily outraged, when husband and wife associate on a footing of domestic equality.
As a personal revelation, the · Reminiscences' of Freytag are painful reading. The contents and drift of the volume do not correspond with what the Preface states of its object, materials, and publication. We must look elsewhere for its inspiration, and we find it in the Bismarck Memorial, and other papers directed against friends or associates of the Emperor Frederick. Any one who studies the late Chancellor's utterances upon the Emperor's Diary, or upon the Morier Incident, will have little difficulty in tracing the inspiration of the Reminiscences. Several 'illustrations are given in the preceding pages. No one can blame Freytag for his attachment to the great Prussian
Our quarrel with him rests on different grounds. Blinded by his devotion, he has suffered political prejudice to distort his sense of justice, both to the dead and to the living. It would have been better for his reputation as a man, if he had never published these · Reminiscences.'
ART. III.*-1. H. de Balzac, La Comédie Humaine. Paris,
1883. 2. De Stendhal, Euvres complètes. Paris, 1889. 3. G. Flaubert, Euvres complètes. Paris, 1885. 4. G. Flaubert, Lettres à George Sand. Paris, 1884. 5. E. Zola, Euvres complètes. Paris, 1888. 6. A. Daudet, Euvres complètes. Paris, 1888. 7. P. Bourget, Euvres complètes. Paris, 1889. 8. P. Loti, Pécheur d Islande, etc, Paris, 1888. 9. H. Taine, Nouveaux Essais de Critique et d'Histoire. Paris,
1860. 10. F. Brunetière, Le Roman Naturaliste. Paris, 1884. 11. E. Tissot, Les Évolutions de la Critique Française. Paris,
HO was the father of French Realism? Are we to go
back as far as Diderot, the painter of a world of rascaldom, and herald of the great secret, as he deemed it, that good and evil are, like words in the philosophy of Bacon, the *counters of wise men, but the money of fools'? Or shall we be content with Balzac as the head and front of the movement, Balzac, in whose romances it is neither easy nor of much consequence to strike upon the trace of Diderot ? again, had Flaubert, that astonishing victim of his own style, in creating a manner he detested? And where does Gautier, true artist of the Decadence, come in upon the line of march? These, like the enigmas with which Tiberius plied his mathematici, are puzzling questions.
They have been as hotly debated as the existence of Homer's Troy,' the authorship of • Junius,' or the drift of Mr. Gladstone's most eloquent speeches. And critics who are at all competent to speak on the subject, greatly differ in their conclusions. To some it appears as false as it certainly is degrading to couple Balzac with the author of La Bête Humaine' and La Terre. On the other hand, M. Zola, though content as Napoleon was to be his own ancestor, holds that from Balzac and Diderot he is assuredly descended. And for the spirit, if not the letter of this conclusion, he may appeal to the high authority of M. Taine, whose study of the Saint Simon of the populace,' though now more than a quarter of a century old, is still the most pregnant word that has been uttered about him.t But perhaps the
See Quarterly Review,' No. 340: "The Modern French Novel.' + Taine, Nouveaux Essais,' pp. 63–170. See also Zola, Le Roman Expérimental,' passim.