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22 pages (2008/1899); 173KB downloadWOWIO Books
; ISBN: WOWIO-00481
“In delivering his great speech on the Army Bill (February 1888) which, in the opinion of his enemies, was the most powerful reactionary utterance of the second half of the century, Bismarck showed himself a consummate master of that art which conceals itself so thoroughly that it requires a laborious collection of evidence to demonstrate its existence. He did not care at all to be considered an orator. His whole mind was centered on carrying his point. In this he succeeded so well on that occasion, and on almost every other, that though he probably made more public speeches and carried more points than any other man in Germany during his day, he is seldom thought of as an eloquent man or as an orator and is rarely classed among the great speakers of his country. In delivering his speech on the Army Bill, he talked to the German Reichstag in what was apparently a bluff, offhand, jovial style, very much as if he were talking to half a dozen companions around a table over beer and pipes. Now, he stopped to jest with the opposition, now he grew confidential as if he were revealing State secrets to trusted friends, now he appealed as a German to Germans in behalf of the Fatherland, now he spoke for the sacred interests of peace and philanthropy—always with the easy, assured assumption that every one must agree with him as a matter of course without the necessity for anything more than this conversational style of putting things among friends.
“His mastery of German is phenomenal. Though his language is simplicity itself, his sentences grow on him until no one of less mental power could have emerged from their labyrinths. He does emerge, however, and that so easily and naturally that their involved nature only becomes remarkable when the attempt is made to transfer his thought to another language.
“Bismarck (Otto Edward Leopold, Prince von Bismarck-Schonhausen), was born April 1st, 1815, and died July 30th, 1898. He was the greatest ‘Conservative’ of his age and one of the greatest of any age. Among the public men with whom he was matched in Europe only Gladstone equaled him in intellect and, lacking his intense force of prejudice, Gladstone himself was never anything like his equal in effectiveness. To Bismarck more than to any other one man, probably more than to any other ten men, was due the gradual but sure growth of the feeling which at his death had turned Europe into an ‘armed camp.’ When he first entered politics, as a representative of the extreme royalists of the German landholding nobility in their opposition to the parliamentary movement of 1848-49, he showed the same tendencies which appear in his speech on the Army Bill of 1888. He was disturbed by the evident tendency of the world to grow into cities, which he regarded as hotbeds of treason and disorder. To check this he believed ‘blood and iron’ were necessary in both domestic and foreign politics. This and his intense devotion to the royal family of Prussia are the mainsprings of his politics. He opposed the ‘United Germany,’ proposed by the Frankfort Parliament of 1849, because he thought it gave too much recognition to the people at the expense of the crown. He fought for royal prerogative at every point in the history of Germany until the empire was established at Versailles after France had submitted on terms he had dictated. In 1884 he achieved his greatest triumph against the ‘Liberals’ of Germany by committing the empire to the colonial policy, which it has since pursued in antagonism to England. His quarrel with the present emperor which resulted in his retirement from court did not retire him from the public affairs of Germany and, up to the time of his death, he remained one of the greatest individual forces in the politics of Europe.
“His speech on the Army Bill, here given as an illustration of his oratory, was translated for this work from the Stuttgart edition of his speeches published by authority in 1894.”—David J. Brewer