The Education of William Ii

IN an absolute monarchy, such as the German Empire is in fact, the sovereign’s personality plays a supremely important part. In the thought of the whole world, to-day, Germany is William II. Even in time of peace the Kaiser’s figure aroused keen curiosity, and that curiosity has been immensely quickened since July, 1914. Everybody wants to know how far he is personally responsible for everything that has happened and is happening; and his character is scrutinized for arguments tending to prove his innocence or his guilt.

In opposition to some personal enemies of William II, — if I may call them so, — I am of the opinion that he was not essentially warlike at the outset of his career. So long as he was not subjected to the baleful influence of Prussian militarism, — or, at all events, so long as he was under other influence as well, — he justified the fairest hopes. He exhibited as a child sentiments far different from those that he exhibits today. In those days every sort of violence seemed to horrify him. He even gave evidence of certain estimable tendencies. The Kaiser’s present rôle, then, is not a logical result of his natural disposition, and is only in part a consequence of his early education.

From the very beginning the man who lately reigned over the German Empire was subjected to numerous contradictory influences. In the end, the most detestable of them carried the day; but for some time the triumph of the others seemed very probable. The education that he received is what I propose to sketch briefly in the ensuing pages.


The prince who was destined one day to reign under the name of William II was born at Berlin on January 27, 1859. Prussia was still only a kingdom, but a kingdom assured of never lacking kings. William I was in robust health, and his son, too, was likely to live for many years. The accession of the new-born prince to the throne of Prussia seemed far in the future. Nevertheless the loyal Prussian people learned with the liveliest satisfaction of this new gift of Heaven to its royal family. And when an old general, a familiar guest at the palace, shouted to the crowd, ‘My friends, it’s a fine healthy youngster!’ his words were received with enthusiastic cheers.

Until January 27, 1877, when he attained his majority, the eldest son of the Crown Prince and Princess Victoria bore the same Christian names as his father — Frederick William; but to his parents he was always ‘Unser Fritz’: and his future subjects also loved to call him by that name.

The monarchical spirit is so deeply rooted in the Prussian people that the young prince, even in the cradle, became the object of a veritable cult. The kings of Prussia must needs be guilty of enormous errors to lose their popularity. This popularity seems today an incomprehensible phenomenon to the nations at war with Germany; and, in truth, it can be explained only by the unparalleled blindness of a whole people. But we must always make allowance for Prussian loyalty, which has not been shaken by the war.

For a short time the excellent relations between the Prussian people and King William I were slightly impaired. It was in 1848, when he was still only the heir apparent to the throne, at the time of the revolutionary movement which menaced so seriously every throne in Europe. But a reconciliation soon followed, and the events of 1848 had been entirely forgotten in 1859, when the young prince was born. As for the father of ‘Unser Fritz,’ then Crown Prince, he too was universally beloved and admired. And in very truth he well deserved both affection and admiration. He was noble-hearted and upright, kindly and fearless. The Germans, over whom he reigned but a hundred days, called him the ‘Noble.’ This is one of the finest titles that can possibly be bestowed upon a prince by popular acclaim. It is one which none would ever have thought of giving to Bismarck, the bitter and inveterate enemy of Frederick III.

Frederick the Noble had married, as everybody knows, Victoria, daughter of Queen Victoria and Princess Royal of Great Britain. They were the happiest and most devoted couple. Both had simple tastes, detested the military régime which was held in honor at the Prussian court, and preferred above all else the privacy of their own intimate circle. The community of their tastes extended even to their political ideals. They insisted upon the superiority of Anglo-Saxon liberalism to Prussian absolutism and militarism. That is why Bismarck and the court detested the Crown Prince and his wife; but they were not disturbed by the hatred with which the Junker party pursued them. They quietly brought up their two sons, Prince Frederick William and Prince Henry, according to the ideas which were dear to them and which they held in common.

In the message thanking the people for the marks of affection which they had received on the occasion of the prince’s birth, they said, ‘May we succeed, with God’s help, in rearing our son for the honor and welfare of our dear Fatherland!’ It is due to the present Emperor’s parents to say that they never forgot this oath taken before the whole nation. They did everything in their power to fit William II for the burdensome task which awaited him.

Being solicitous to make of him a man sound in body and in mind, they attached equal importance to bodily exercises and intellectual tasks. The prince was born with a withered left arm, so that he was manifestly unfitted for most kinds of sport. Nevertheless a methodical system of training made him an accomplished sportsman. As a child he showed a marked predilection for aquatic sport and performed some genuine exploits in that field. The ponds of Potsdam held no mysteries for him. In his holidays he traversed them in all directions, in all weathers. It is told of him that one day, between six o’clock in the morning and three in the afternoon, he accomplished an itinerary including the circuit of the Isle of Potsdam and a trip to the Isle of Peacocks — in all, going and returning, about 42 kilometres. It was on Wednesdays and Saturdays, during the summer months, that the young prince performed these prodigies. Accompanied by his younger brother, Prince Henry, and a tutor, he would set out at dawn and not return till evening. They lunched on an island on eatables which they had taken good care to fetch, and which they warmed in the ashes of a huge fire of dead branches, playing that they were Indian chiefs on a hunting trip.

Like all young Europeans of his generation, William II read with keen delight in his boyhood the romances of Fenimore Cooper. He built ‘wigwams’ in the park of Potsdam, brandished the tomahawk over the heads of caitiff warriors, and smoked the pipe of peace till it made him sick.

Ardent as he was in play, he was no less ardent in work. Unlike his brother, Prince Henry, who is only moderately intelligent, William II is unusually well endowed mentally. His mother, who was herself a very intellectual person, was proud of her eldest son’s aptitudes, and eagerly pushed forward his education in all branches. He learned French and English in childhood, and always talked with his mother in English.

Did he love his mother? Certain words and acts of his — we shall recur to this subject later — have occasioned some doubt; but they are of a later period, when he had begun to take a hand in politics. He seems to have been in the early days an obedient and even affectionate son. Indeed, the Princess Victoria devoted herself to his upbringing with such solicitude and love that it would have been unpardonable of him to be unmoved thereby. To be sure, her love did not preclude a proper sternness of discipline. William II and his brother were not spoiled by over-indulgence. Indeed, it was said that the Princess Victoria sometimes went so far as to punish them with her august hand, when they had committed a serious fault. But such incidents were rare.

The young princes began their day’s work at six o’clock in the morning, and had most of their lessons between six and nine. Then mental gymnastics gave place to physical gymnastics. They alternated methodically according to the wise plan drawn up by their mother. It was by her command, too, that cold baths played a leading part in the hygiene of the princes. Lastly, their table was exceedingly simple — one might almost say, frugal. Their meals lasted twenty minutes — twentyfive at most.

This strict discipline had a beneficial effect on the elder prince’s constitution. That he is a strong swimmer, a good shot, a skillful fencer, he owes to the training which he had in his youth. Being almost helpless so far as his left arm was concerned, he made it a point of honor to have a right arm strong enough for two; and by dint of willpower and application he succeeded.

The scheme of education worked out in mutual agreement by the young prince’s parents naturally assigned a place to religious instruction. Here again it was the mother who determined the general principles to which such instruction must conform; and it was she who selected the ministers of religion to whom it was intrusted. Now the Princess Victoria, albeit a good Christian, was utterly opposed to the narrow orthodoxy held in honor at the Prussian court. Personally she had fallen under the influence of rationalism, then a new thing. She was even supposed to approve the audacious utterances of David Strauss, the author of a Life of Jesus which the court clergy had solemnly condemned. William II received his first lessons in religion from a pastor who was not a disciple of David Strauss, but who was broadminded and tolerant. This was enough to provoke loud outcries from the orthodox and Chauvinists of the old Prussian nobility. Because Princess Victoria had a more exalted conception of religion than those fossils, she was regarded by them as an enemy of the Christian faith, a free-thinker-unworthy to be intrusted with the spiritual education of a future German Emperor.

Inasmuch as William II loses no opportunity to-day to celebrate the ‘good old German God,’ as he practises with so much beating of drums the old Chauvinistic, bellicose national religion, one finds it hard to understand that the Junkers should once have been afraid that he would turn out ‘badly.’ From a religious no less than from a political standpoint, he underwent an extraordinary change between the year 1874, when he was ‘confirmed,’ and 1914, when he declared war on the civilized world in order to hasten the progress of the Teuton Moloch.

The religious education which he received was wholly devoid of sectarian narrowness. We must not forget that a third of the population of the German Empire is Catholic. Frederick William’s instructors would have been greatly at fault in teaching him any save a broad and tolerant form of Christianity. On this point Princess Victoria’s personal preferences were in accord with the interests of the kingdom and the empire. It is generally believed in other countries that the religion of the Hohenzollerns is the Lutheran. This is an error. The Hohenzollerns belong to the Evangelical confession, which is less rigidly dogmatic than the Lutheran. The prince’s religious masters sought their inspiration in the same principles believed in by his parents; they devoted themselves especially to making him a zealous disciple of Jesus Christ; they strove to develop in him the Christian conscience. Since the beginning of the war he has ceased to deserve the title of a Christian sovereign, but as child and young man, he did his utmost — sincerely and with success — to make his conduct conform to the teaching of Christ.

For the occasion of his confirmation, which took place in the church of SansSouci at Potsdam, September 1, 1874, he had prepared, by order, a ‘confession of faith,’ of which we must acknowledge the deeply religious tone. ‘I know,’ he wrote, ‘that grave tasks await me in life; but that prospect, far from depressing me, does but strengthen my courage. I will ask God to develop my powers.’

What a pity that William II has abandoned this truly Christian humility! What a misfortune that he has denied the truly Christian God of his youth, to sacrifice to the overweening, sanguinary false gods of the German Walhalla!


It has been said that Frederick III, had he lived, would have been, unlike his father, William I, a ‘civilian emperor.’ That would have been a singular novelty in the Hohenzollern family — a novelty which the court dreaded mightily.

The kings of Prussia have many times spoken of the absolutist, military Prussian monarchy as ‘a bronze rock,’ fatal to guilty aspirations toward modernity. Such has been through the ages the predominant characteristic of the monarchy of the Hohenzollerns. It rests upon an essentially military foundation. It is based upon the right of might, as opposed to the might of right. Princess Victoria’s English liberalism recoiled from this old-fashioned conception of government, and she had infected her husband with her repugnance. By common consent the prince’s father and mother did their utmost to guide their son in a direction less archaic than that followed by the court. If it had depended on them alone, they would certainly have prepared the heir to the throne to be, like his father, a civilian emperor. But sacrosanct tradition, always so powerful in a monarchy, triumphed over their personal predilections, and reduced their efforts to nought.

This tradition demanded that the young prince’s military education should be carried on pari passu with his general education; nay, more, that it should take precedence of it and, in some sense, absorb it. When he was barely six years of age, Frederick William had his initiation in the profession of arms; at nine he had acquired the habit of giving the military salute to all those who approached him. On May 2, 1869, he figured for the first time in a regiment of the Guard, wearing the immense bearskin cap of the grenadiers, and with the ribbon of the Black Eagle across his chest.

On the occasion of the first parade in which he took part, his grandfather addressed to him personally a part of the speech which he made to the troops. He had to commemorate the doughty deeds of General von Werder, and acquitted himself of that pious duty with all the eloquence at his command. After which, he added, addressing his grandson, —

‘As for you, Prince Frederick William, to-day you have, for the first time, drawn your sword among your troops. I cherish the memory of the oldest officers of this regiment, and I trust that you will bear your sword in its ranks to an advanced age. May you also, one day, after as long a period of service as General von Werder’s, look back upon a new and brilliant chapter of the history of this gallant regiment! May the same good fortune befall you as befell the general in 1866!’

It is impossible to misconceive the warlike tone of this speech. If the young prince’s father, breaking with the militaristic past of his family, gave to the education of his sons a rigidly civil direction, his grandfather remained doggedly attached to the militaristic tradition of the Hohenzollerns; and, as the head of the family, he exercised a preponderating influence. He would not have permitted his grandson to fail to comply with the rule so devoutly regarded in his family. Before the gratified eyes of his grandfather the young prince passed through all the grades of the Prussian army. At six years of age they had given him a military tutor in the person of Captain von Schroetter, of the field artillery, and that military mentor exercised no less authority than his civilian mentor. Even as a child, he was keenly alive to the prestige of the uniform. Moreover, he adored his grandfather. No one greeted with more fervent enthusiasm that victorious sovereign when he returned to Berlin after a successful campaign, his brow wreathed with glorious and bloodstained laurels.

If we would fairly grasp the character of William II, comprehend the contradictory influences to which he was subjected and the battle they waged in his mind, we must not forget that the spectacle of a victorious home-coming of Prussian troops after a successful war was thrice presented to him. On June 16, 1871, he appeared in person in the triumphal review of the German army on its return from France. He rode behind his father and beside the Grand Duke of Baden. He witnessed the tokens of well-nigh frantic adoration with which his grandfather was greeted. He saw what outbursts of unreasoning enthusiasm military renown can evoke in a people fond of war.

That spectacle reacted profoundly — perhaps without his knowledge — on the young prince. He passed twentyseven years of his reign repeating, with variations, that he did not desire war; but even when he declared himself altogether devoted to peace, he did it in words that smelt of powder. His grandfather’s militaristic and warlike influence counterbalanced most unhappily the civilian influence of his parents during that period of his life when his character was being formed.

Faithful to their programmes, the Crown Prince and Princess kept their eldest son away from the court as much as possible — and from the courtiers as well. He would become familiar only too soon with those shady intrigues and base rivalries which are the daily fare of all courts. It was much better to place the heir to the throne in direct touch with the nation itself in all its simplest and sanest qualities.

After mature reflection and careful inquiry, Frederick William’s parents put him in the gymnasium at Cassel. As everyone knows, the German gymnasium is a sort of intermediate stage between the grammar-school and the university. After two years of study in the gymnasium, the pupil comes out with a certificate of proficiency which entitles him to be matriculated at any university in the Empire.

On the benches of the gymnasium of Cassel Frederick William and his brother Henry came into direct contact with young men of the middle class. This compulsory companionship was the very thing that attracted Princess Victoria and her husband. But Emperor William, and the Prussians of the old stock of whom his immediate entourage was composed, were far from happy over this arrangement. They did not conceal their displeasure. Nevertheless, despite their disapproval, the young princes went to live at Cassel in the autumn of 1874.

They remained at Cassel two years and a half, entirely devoted to their studies. Not only did they follow the lectures given at the school, but they had private lessons from the most competent teachers. The same instruction was given to both, but they did not derive equal profit from it. Prince Henry — be it said with due respect — was a very dull pupil. He had no liking for any kind of study. He cared for nothing but sport, and spent the lesson-time longing for the hours of recreation and the holidays. He shared his older brother’s predilection for aquatic sports, but cared for nothing else. In conformity with his tastes, he became the sailor of the family.

The reports that Prince Henry received from his masters at the Cassel gymnasium were far from flattering. All the laurels were for his brother. We may think what we will of William II, — and we cannot to-day avoid thinking all evil of him, — but we cannot justly deny his acute intelligence. His mind is singularly keen and alert, he has an all-embracing curiosity, an extraordinary power of assimilation, and an incredible memory. The Hohenzollerns have always had good memories, but William II eclipses them all.

At the risk of distressing his German biographers, we must remark that he inherited most of his intellectual qualities from his mother. His father was an excellent man and a noble nature; but his most fervent flatterers have never dared assert that he was of superior intelligence. On the other hand, the Crown Princess Victoria was admirably endowed in that respect. Her son derives from her, we say again, his multiple aptitudes: the artistic sense of which he has not always made judicious use; the grasp of scientific problems; the comprehension of commercial and industrial questions. During his sojourn at Cassel, his masters saw these aptitudes spring up and develop. They did their best to encourage them, while Prince Henry lagged behind, dreaming of boats.

This universal adaptability which characterizes the Kaiser impressed his masters at Cassel. He shone no less brilliantly in letters than in the sciences. He was very fond of poetry, especially poetry in the grand style, popular and primitive. The Iliad and the Nibelungenlied were his favorites. In the matter of eloquence he inclined to the style of Demosthenes, much less to that of Cicero. He loved history and geography, he drew fairly well, and was proficient in music. Of all the fine arts, music was the one which he studied most thoroughly.

The diploma which was awarded him after very satisfactory examinations contained this flattering testimony: 4His conduct was always irreproachable, and by his zeal and application Prince William has won the absolute confidence of his masters.’

He was no less popular with his fellow pupils than with his instructors. He has always striven to please. How often I have heard him spoken of as ‘a charmer’ by French statesmen who have met him traveling — before the war! On the benches of the gymnasium, he exerted himself to make a conquest of hearts. An unscrupulous professor having secretly communicated to him, on the eve of an examination, the text to which the questions would refer, the prince wrote out the text in full on a blackboard that stood before all the pupils, so that all could profit by it. This served the double purpose of teaching an indiscreet master a harsh lesson and of conferring a favor on his fellow pupils. William derived much advantage from such actions as this, which he always performed with more or less ostentation. His behavior as a youth showed signs of this theatrical predilection, which was destined eventually to become a mania.

At Cassel the two princes led a life as active as it was retired. Its details were arranged by a man who exerted a dominating, although ephemeral influence on William II — Professor Hinzpeter.

Westphalian by birth, but Prussian in heart and soul, Hinzpeter was not an illustrious university professor, a scientific or literary colossus. Before he was called to serve princes, he was a humble schoolteacher. It was by his ‘moral qualities’ alone that he attracted Frederick III so strongly, who, with his wife’s assent, intrusted to Hinzpeter not only the instruction of his sons, but the general oversight of their education. By confiding to this civilian, this man of no birth, this simple and modest bourgeois, the responsibility of directing the spiritual and moral development of the future German Emperor, the son and daughter-in-law of William I displayed anew that recalcitrant humor which scandalized the court.

Hinzpeter had in his make-up nothing of the ‘Byzantine,’ that is, of the servile and selfish flatterer. He brought up the young princes without indulgence, without weakness, without regard to the exalted position which they were some day to occupy. William II assuredly has no penchant for democracy; but, on the other hand, if he has not been altogether heedless of popular desires, it is due, in part, to Professor Hinzpeter. A dyed-in-the-wool Prussian in spirit, Hinzpeter confused love of the Fatherland with love of the reigning dynasty. To the young princes’ instructor in French — a Frenchman who was a frantic Jacobin — he insisted upon this thesis, which seems absurd outside of Prussia: ‘The Hohenzollerns have been great sovereigns because they have always marched with their epoch — when they have not gone ahead of it.’ He proved this thesis by the most equivocal arguments. It is amazing to contemplate these Prussian intellectuals, so ultra-rigid and severe in the matter of private morals, and so strangely complaisant, not to say cowardly, in respect to the public morality practised by their kings. Hinzpeter maintained, for instance, that Frederick II, called the ‘Great,’ living in an age of free thought, was fully justified in affecting a dense incredulity. And he had no doubt, he said, that the same Frederick would have been a scrupulous believer if he had lived in an age of faith. The readiness of the Hohenzollerns to espouse the ideas of their generation, in order to dominate it, was the secret of their popularity.

We must agree that this thesis is decidedly disquieting. The Kaiser’s biographers exalt in all keys Hinzpeter’s absolute honesty. Was not that quality of his somewhat too patriotically Prussian fully to deserve that name?

Professor Hinzpeter’s favorable opinion of Frederick the Great was shared by the young man under his tutelage. His pupil had in those days a marked predilection for two of his ancestors — Frederick William, called the ‘Great Elector,’ who lived in the seventeenth century, and Frederick II, who ascended the throne in 1740. Both, it is important to note, were illustrious warriors. The Great Elector gave to Germany its first standing army. It was in his reign that Prussian militarism, which was destined to infect European politics with its virus, celebrated its earliest triumphs. Although not as yet a king, he assumed the rôle of an absolute monarch. Not content with making Prussia a militaristic state, he strove to convert it into an autocracy.

As for Frederick the Great, his rôle in history is well known. He passed his youth proclaiming his preference for a liberal government, extolling toleration, and declaring that he would be the king of the poor; he even dubbed himself ‘King of the beggars.’ He affected also a great horror of war and of conquerors — the scourge of mankind. But he had no sooner ascended the throne than he changed his mind on all these points. He crushed the indigent classes with taxes, restricted public liberty, and passed his time making war — not without success, be it said.

In choosing the Great Elector and Frederick the Great among his ancestors for his models, did not the young ‘gymnasiast’ of Cassel act in conformity with deeply rooted atavistic instincts? Was it not to be feared beforehand that the efforts of his parents (especially of his mother) to remove him from militaristic, absolutist, feudal influences, in a word, from the genius of old Prussia, would prove fruitless?

The sojourn of Prince Frederick William — now known as Prince William — at the University of Bonn removed him still further from his father’s and mother’s ideal. At Cassel the young princes had led the strictest kind of life. The meals which they ate under the eye of Professor Hinzpeter were dispatched in a twinkling. Prince William had twenty marks a month for pocket-money, and from this he had to provide tips for his servants. At Bonn he lived on a less niggardly footing. The study of social science, jurisprudence, and political economy did not occupy all his time. He devoted many evenings to the corps to which he belonged — the Borussia, a society of students to which only scions of noble families were admitted. Duels with rapiers were a popular form of exercise. The prince was a warm admirer of that institution, a legacy from the days of barbarism. He never let pass an opportunity to extol and defend it against its defamers. ‘It is my firm conviction,’ he declared one day, ‘that every young man who belongs to a corps of students derives from the spirit that prevails there the real guiding tendency of his life.5

The course at Bonn, the friendships formed in the Borussia with the young feudal lords, future military officers or civil functionaries, speedily banished from the thoughts of the heir to the throne all the relatively democratic ideas which the worthy Hinzpeter had inculcated, and the genuinely liberal principles upon which his mother had nourished him.


The military education which Prince William pursued concurrently with his university course was not of a nature to imbue him with the modern spirit. His grandfather was really his military instructor. In that domain he was preeminently competent; and Prince William listened devoutly to his counsels. As a soldier, he owes everything to his grandfather and nothing at all to his father.

Delighted to find so docile a pupil, old William I put forth all his energy to develop the young prince’s military fibre. As a child he had manifested distinctly anti-warlike, even anti-military sentiments. The French tutor, who accompanied him to Cassel, M. François Ayme, has left some interesting evidence of these traits. Prince William, it appears, never missed an opportunity to tell his French tutor that he would never make war on France. He never intended to make war on anybody. Nothing was easier than to abolish war. If the ministers who praised it were forced to settle international disputes with their own fists, there would be no more wars. M. Ayme had no doubt of his imperial pupil’s sincerity, and it is possible that he then leaned toward that very simple solution of a very complicated problem; but as he came more directly in contact with the Prussian machine, as it has been fashioned by centuries of absolutism and militarism, his point of view was modified.

Officers of high rank, specialists in every branch of military education, demonstrated to him the excellence of the German army, put him in touch with the prestige which it reflected upon the Empire and the benefits that would continue to be derived from it. On October 29, 1879, on leaving the University of Bonn, Prince William entered the First Regiment of the Guard, with the rank of lieutenant. He was instructed to train the young recruits who had recently joined the regiment. He performed this task successfully, and was congratulated by his grandfather on the day that he presented his first pupils to him.

On October 22, 1880, he was promoted captain, and his superior officers extolled the initiative which he displayed in handling troops. October 1, 1881, he was made a major and was transferred to the cavalry. In July, 1883, he made still another change and became an artillerist. He carried into the profession of arms the same seriousness and the same application which he put into everything else. He is no foe of gayety and good fellowship; he is even supposed to have a special taste for anecdotes of the sort that men tell only among themselves, in the smoking-room; but he has always treated serious matters seriously.

On his promotion to the higher ranks he exacted from his officers unremitting activity and application. He went so far as to claim the right to supervise their conduct outside the service. He showed his displeasure openly to those who lived too luxuriously and especially to those who played for high stakes.

By his marriage with Princess Augusta Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein, which was solemnized February 27, 1881, Prince William gratified his grandfather’s earnest wish. Although the princess’s father had recently been dispossessed of his principality by Prussia, her family was closely connected in spirit with the conservative tradition represented by William I. She got on much better with her husband’s grandfather than with the liberal-minded Crown Prince and his still more liberal-minded consort.

It does not appear that the present German Empress ever exercised any great influence over her husband. In so far, however, as her influence has extended, it has usually been, politically speaking, deplorable. With her narrow pietism, the extraordinary inaccessibility of her mind to any outside influence, her complaisance to militarism and reaction, the Empress has helped largely to make Berlin a veritable citadel against progress and liberty. If the Empress Frederick had continued to reign, she would have done her utmost to compel the German Empire to follow in the pacific path of the other Western powers. No one has claimed that the wife of William II ever attempted anything of the sort.

Mirabeau, the great French revolutionist, said of Prussia that she was not a nation possessing an army, but an army possessing a nation. This judgment, uttered more than a century ago, is still true to-day. Prussia is an army, an intrenched camp, and the man destined by his birth to command Prussia finds himself, so to speak, compelled by all the institutions of Prussia to govern in accordance with tradition. At the outset he was seized and whirled away by the gears of the machine.

Under the influence of the British princess whom he had invited to share his throne, Frederick III attempted to stem the absolutist, militarist, feudal current. Perhaps, had he lived, he would have succeeded in turning the German Empire in the direction of democracy and peace. But this is not certain, so potent were the forces which would have been marshaled against him.

So far as William II is concerned, the efforts made by his parents to inculcate a taste for novel Western ideals met with a pitiable failure. To be sure, in his childhood he was under the influence of his father and mother, of Professor Hinzpeter, — more questionable, that, — and of the masters selected by them; but as soon as he escaped from their supervision, as soon as he was subjected to other influences as well, these latter destroyed the work which had been begun and gave to Prince William’s character its definitive stamp.

According to the unanimous opinion of eye-witnesses, he seemed infinitely more distressed by the death of William I, than by that of his own father. He felt himself to be much more truly his grandfather’s grandson than his father’s son. The ideas — or should we not say, the prejudices — in highest favor at the aged Emperor’s court were in conformity with his innate sentiments and in entire harmony with his subconscious being. As a young man, he seemed to himself to stand on the same level with his grandfather and the ‘great men’ of his court. In the paternal and maternal circle, he was conscious of a sort of embarrassment. Indeed, the court gossip ascribes to him some almost irreverent remarks concerning his parents. It is reported in Germany, that he was taken one day, during manœuvres, with a violent bleeding at the nose. ‘It is nothing,’ he said to the officers who hastened to assist him; ‘it’s the last drop of English blood coming from my veins.’

The anecdote is so unpleasant, it connotes so great a lack of filial respect on the prince’s part, that I prefer to regard it as apocryphal; but the mere fact that it should have been invented, that it should have been circulated freely, bandied about, with pleasure and admiration, in those Prussian circles where people plume themselves on maintaining intact the genuine Prussian tradition, speaks for itself.

However, this anecdote, difficult as it is to verify, would simply go to confirm what events have proved: that William II, after his father’s death, ceased to be an affectionate and obedient son to his mother. At the time of the distressing intrigues which raged about the death-bed of Frederick III, Crown Prince William openly took his place in the camp of Bismarck and the other inveterate enemies of his mother. He was able to rid himself of Bismarck in the sequel; but he carried out the policy which Bismarck would have carried out, and repudiated that which his parents would have tried to follow.

The official chronicles of the reign laud the Kaiser’s energy; but that energy has been ill-directed. He has not set before himself the one goal worthy of a German sovereign of an open and far-seeing mind: the reformation ot the foundation upon which the German Empire rests. And William II is the more blameworthy for having failed to accomplish this task because his first, teachers had triumphantly proved to him how absolutely essential it is.