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of the plan argued statesmanlike instinct of a high order ; its subsequent adoption by the King and Chancellor proved that the Prince possessed not only the capacity to conceive, but the resolution to carry out, a great political idea. But the circumstances, under which the Diary was published, threw some suspicion upon its entire authenticity. Though Prince Bismarck did not venture to dispute the great central fact which it contained, he did dispute the complete genuineness of the publication. His démenti, backed by the well-drilled unanimity of the official German Press, may perhaps have discredited the Diary in the minds of some English readers. The Emperor Frederick's claim to the intellectual authorship of the Imperial title has recently received remarkable confirmation. Herr von Sybel, in the fifth volume of his history of the foundation of the German Empire ("Die Begründung des Deutschen Reiches'), draws his information from official sources and the Prussian State archives. He relates that, as early as 1867, the then Crown Prince proposed to his father that he should accept or assume the Imperial dignity. The suggestion, which was then regarded as premature, shows that the idea was already germinating in the brain of the Crown Prince. Yet many will still regard the question as undecided between the Emperor and Prince Bismarck, and the first question which will
be asked is, whether Freytag confirms the claim of the Crown Prince to be considered in any sense the founder of the German Empire ? Was the Emperor Frederick the originator of the policy of uniting the German people under the Imperial Crown?
On this point Freytag is clear and explicit. His evidence is all the more valuable, because it is the evidence of a hostile witness. Throughout the Reminiscences' he treats the Crown Prince as the originator and motive force' of the assumption of the Imperial Crown. On the 1st of August, at his first interview with Freytag, the Prince raised the momentous question. His mind had been occupied with the subject since 1866. It was no sudden idea by which he was carried away; it was a well-considered plan. In 1864, during the Danish War, he had acted as a court of reference for the disputes and differences of the allied Austrian and Prussian armies. In 1867–70, the same task of conciliation was discharged by him on a larger scale. He was sent to gain the attachment of the new provinces, conciliate their differences, assuage their bitterness, and, by his personal influence, to represent Prussia to them in the light, not of a victor, but of a friend. In this way he had sounded the disposition of South Germany. He had felt the pulse of the whole nation, and he knew that the French War, if it resulted
in a German triumph, must alter the existing relations of the German people. The combined authority of an Assembly of federated States would not suffice. True union demanded one head. With these feelings in his mind, the Crown Prince broached the subject at his first interview with Freytag. The Crown Prince, as Freytag tells us, treated the North German Federation as obsolete; he thought the time had come for closer union. To Freytag the ideas were novel, and appeared impracticable and visionary. •In his view of existing conditions,' says the poet-novelist
, “the Crown Prince seemed to be like a winged angel, hovering in mid-air above the earth.' again on the 11th of August, when the Crown Prince had led his mixed forces to victory at Weissenburg and Wörth, the Prince revived the subject by asking Freytag, “What is the King of Prussia to become?' When Freytag suggested that he should be Commander-in-Chief of the new Federation with the added title of • Duke of Germany, the Prince interrupted him with flashing eye and in emphatic voice, “No! he must be Emperor.' It was not till some days later that the Crown Prince opened the plan to the Chancellor. Subsequently—at Rheims, after the battle of Sedan—the Crown Prince told Freytag that Bismarck had taken the idea into favourable consideration. In both these chronological points Freytag confirms the memorial of Prince Bismarck, in which the latter disputes the detailed accuracy of the Emperor's Diary. But the evidence of Freytag, coupled with the acquiescence of Bismarck and the statements of the Diary, establish beyond all question the fact that the embodiment of German unity in the present Empire was the conception of the Emperor Frederick.
Those who are familiar with Prussian politics in 1870 will understand, that the honours due to the Emperor Frederick do not detract from the credit justly given to Prince Bismarck, who still remains the founder of the present German Empire. Without the framework, which he had already created, the idea could never have assumed practical shape. Freytag is probably correct in his surmise that, as a Prussian, the Chancellor felt little enthusiasm for the Imperial project; but that he gradually yielded to the ardour of the Crown Prince, and, as soon as he recognized that the Empire offered the best form of union, .converted the idea into a fact. Prussia, not Germany, was Bismarck's passion. Her aggrandizement was his primary object. He cared little for a conception of united Germany which would lessen her predominance. His Prussian particularism may have proved at times hard, narrow, even Chauvinistic. It certainly led him to underrate the strength
of national feeling which had grown up since 1866. On the other hand, it gives the key to his self-mastery in moments of victory; it set bounds to his ambition, imposed limits to his imagination, lent to his purpose the triple force of concentration Freytag regarded the Imperial idea from the same point of view. But his practical inexperience, professional training, historical studies, and middle-class, burgher, sympathies, made his resistance more obstinate. He lacked that adaptability to new circumstances which is the lesson of real life. A particularist, he upheld the tribalism of German people as the guarantee of Prussian ascendency. A doctrinaire and an historian, he regarded the Empire as an anti-national institution, discredited by experience, historically impossible, and socially inexpedient. A representative of the middle class, he feared that the assumption of the Imperial dignity would remove the rulers of the people to a distance from their subjects, necessitate an increase of court ceremonial, distract the attention of the Emperor from his serious duties, and strengthen the force of the democratic undercurrent. He would have preferred, and he advocated, a Federation for North and South Germany, of which the King of Prussia should be the Commander-in-Chief, bearing, if need be, the title of Duke of Germany.
Much may be said in favour of the views adopted by para ticularists, and shared by many among the middle classes and professional circles of Prussia. Many of their most gloomy previsions have been falsified by experience. Yet their feelings still bear fruit in German political life. In one form or another, they are the parents of the most injurious suspicions which have been propagated by the German official press, and are now reproduced in Freytag's . Reminiscences. The Imperial idea, as well as the supposed internal policy of the late Emperor Frederick, ran counter to some of their most cherished prejudices. But so far as the Empire was concerned, even Freytag admits that the then Crown Prince advocated the wisest cause, He had ex perienced the strength of the South German feeling for national unity. He saw that the existence of other German Kingdoms necessitated the assumption of some fresh title to represent the hegemony of Prussia. He felt that the revival of the old Imperial title was not a false antiquarian fancy, but would powerfully appeal to some of the most deep-rooted feelings of the German peoples. The idea might appear absurd to unpractical historical students like Freytag, who were keenly alive to the differences between the constitution and prerogatives of the old and the new German Emperors. Nor was the Crown Prince so ignorant of the history of the country as to confuse
the modern with the medieval institution. But he recognized as a practical man,-what the learned writer ignored, -that habit counts for more than theorists are willing to allow. He knew that the Empire formed a part of the national life of Germany, that it survived in popular legends and superstitions, and that its restoration would invoke a ready response in the enthusiasm of united Germany. A brand-new Constitution might be theoretically more perfect. But it was political folly to ignore the historical associations, or neglect the familiar traditions, which, in the revival of the Imperial Crown, seemed to gather up the broken threads of past history, and throw round a new institution the glamour of antiquity. In this union of practical sense with imaginative idealism lay the strength of the Emperor Frederick, and the guarantee of the success of his experiment. On the other hand, he pressed the Empire upon King William and Prince Bismarck, because he was thoroughly familiar with the aspirations of the German peoples, and believed that in this form they would best be realized. Prussia had pursued with singular success her particularist policy, and it was that policy which in 1870 made the Empire a possibility. But the idea by which that policy was inspired was necessarily sterile. If the full fruits of success were ever to be reaped, it must be through the realization of wider German aspirations. That fruition and that realization he discovered in the German Empire. In the Imperial Crown he saw the strongest centre of national unity; by its adoption the narrow tribalism of the German peoples could be best absorbed, and the conflicting energies of particular States directed towards the common interests of an united Fatherland. And if the honour of the conception of the German Empire thus belongs to the Crown Prince, to him also is due in a great measure the credit of bringing the plan within the range of practical politics. Upon him, as we have said, devolved the task of conciliating the new provinces which fell to Prussia after the war of 1866, of drawing closer the national bond of race, of mitigating the exasperation against Prussian domination. Napoleon III. counted upon the South Germans as his allies. That they proved to the full as patriotic as the Prussians themselves, was largely due to the personal influence of the Crown Prince. If they had been treated with true North German rigour, it is at least possible that supineness, if not hostility, would have justified Napoleon's expectations. The Third German Army, composed of troops who spoke twelve different dialects, consisting of Prussians, Bavarians, Badeners, Hessians, Westphalians, Würtemburgers, Thuringians, Frankfurters, followed with soldierly enthusiasm the leadership of the Crown Prince, in whose heroic figure they saw personified the idea of an united Germany.
Freytag confirms in the clearest manner the Emperor Frederick's title to be considered the originator of the idea of the present German Empire. But he seeks to deprive the fact of its real significance by a low estimate of the Emperor's aims and character. He cannot directly deny him the conception of the plan; he seeks to rob him of its credit by depreciating his motives. This is the keynote of his book. He endeavours to show that the Emperor's desire for the Empire arose from kingly pride, from the wish to elevate himself above the other ruling families of Germany, from the craving to accumulate titles and other external trappings of power. He represents him as a vehement stickler for the recognition of his rank, a lover of orders, ribands, armorial bearings, pomp, and ceremonial. In other words, he traces the origin of the German Empire to a passion for Court millinery. If such a derivation satisfies Germany, if the nation accepts so contemptible a parentage for one of the greatest events of the centuries, it is no concern of foreigners. But it may be confidently asserted that no charge ever rested on more flimsy evidence.
Freytag's theory is founded upon the conversation which he held with the Crown Prince on the 11th of August, 1870. It is based partly on the Prince's attire and attitude, partly upon his words. To the early part of that conversation we have already alluded. The Crown Prince interrupted Freytag's suggested plan of a Federation of North and South Germany with the emphatic words:«« No! the King of Prussia must be Emperor.”
" I looked at him” (says Freytag),“ in astonishment. He had put on his General's cloak, so that it hung from his tall figure like a royal mantle. had thrown round his neck the gold chain of the Hohenzollern Order, which he did not generally wear in camp. Thus attired, he paced proudly over the grass path."
This picture is a pure hallucination, a poet's dream. The personal adjutant attached to the Crown Prince was present, and clearly remembers the dress of the Prince. He wore a mackintosh, high riding-boots, and a regulation cap. Round his neck hung the Order of Merit, suspended by its black and silver riband, which he always wore.
At this time he wore no other decoration, except the Star of the Black Eagle on his undress uniform. Subsequently, in the campaign, he added the Iron Cross of the First and Second Class. In Freytag's