The Secret Memoirs of the Courts of Europe: William II, Germany; Francis Joseph, Austria-Hungary, Volume I. (of 2)
Mme. La Marquise de Fontenoy

Part 1 out of 5

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William II and Francis Joseph


_From Life_]


William II

Francis Joseph
_Austria Hungary_








The essential qualifications for an author of such a work as the
present are an actual acquaintance with the persons mentioned, an
intimate knowledge of their daily lives, and a personal familiarity
with the scenes described.

The author of William II. and Francis-Joseph, sheltered under the _nom
de plume_ of Marquise de Fontenoy, is a lady of distinguished birth
and title. Her work consists largely of personal reminiscences, and
descriptions of events with which she is perfectly familiar; a sort of
panoramic view of the characteristic happenings and striking features
of court life, such as will best give a true picture of persons and
their conduct.

There has been no attempt to trammel the subject,--which embraces
religious, official, social and domestic life,--by following a
strictly sequential form in the narrative, but the writer's aim has
been to present her facts in a familiar way, impressing them with
characteristic naturalness and lifelike reality.

To this task the author has brought the habits of a watchful observer,
the candor of a conscientious narrator, and the refinement of a
writer who respects her subject. Hence she presents a true, vivid
and interesting picture of court life in Germany and Austria. If such
merely sensational, and too often fictitious, unsavory tales as crowd
the so-called court narratives expressly concocted for the "society"
columns of the periodical press are not the most prominent features
of the present work, it is because they receive only a truthful
recognition and place in its pages.





"If only Emperor William would be true to himself--be natural,
in fact!" exclaimed Count S----, a Prussian nobleman, high in the
diplomatic service of his country, with whom I was discussing the
German Emperor a year or so ago. Then my friend, who had, a short
time previously, been brought into frequent personal contact with his
sovereign, in connection with his official duties, went on to say:

"There are really two distinct characters, one might almost say
two personalities, in the kaiser. When he is himself he is the most
charming companion that it is possible to conceive. His manners are as
genial and as winning as those of his father and grandfather, both
of whom he surpasses in brilliancy of intellect, and in quickness
of repartee, as well as in a keen sense of humor. He gives one
the impression of possessing a heart full of the most generous
impulses,--aye, of a generosity carried even to excess, and this,
together with a species of indescribable magnetism which appears to
radiate from him in these moments, contributes to render him a most
sympathetic man."

"But," interposed an Englishman who was present, "that is not how he
is portrayed to the outer world. Nor is that the impression which he
made upon me and upon others when he was at Cowes."

"That is precisely why I deplore so much that the emperor should
fail to appear in his true colors," continued Count S----. "All
the qualities which I have just now ascribed to him are too often
concealed beneath a mantle of reserve, self-consciousness, nay,
even pose. During my recent interviews with his majesty, whenever we
happened to be alone, he would show himself in the light which I
have just described to you. But let a third person appear upon the
scene--be it even a mere servant--at once his entire manner would
change. The magnetic current so pleasantly established between us
would be cut through, his eyes would lose their kindly, friendly
light, and become hard, his attitude self-conscious and constrained,
the very tone of his speech sharp, abrupt, commanding, I would almost
say arrogant. In fact he would give one the impression that he was
playing a role--the role of emperor--that he was, in one word, posing,
even if it were only for the benefit of the menial who had interrupted
us. But when the intruder had vanished, William would, like a flash,
become his own charming self again. That is what made me exclaim just
now, 'if only the kaiser would be true to himself!--be natural, in

"I fully agree with you, my dear S----," I remarked, after a short
pause. "If the emperor has remained anything like what he was prior
to his ascension to the throne, your estimate of his character is
correct." And I went on to relate a little incident which occurred on
the occasion of my first meeting with the emperor many years ago.

This meeting took place on that particular spot where the empires of
Germany, Austria, and Russia may be said to meet, the frontier guards
of each of those three nations being within hail of one another.
The great autumnal military manoeuvres were in progress, and a merry
party, including a number of ladies, were riding home from the mimic
battlefield. We passed through a narrow lane, bordered on each side by
groups of stunted willows and birch trees, under the sparse shadow of
which nestled a few cottages painted in blue, pink, or yellow, in
true Polish fashion. Suddenly our progress was arrested by terrifying
screams proceeding from one of these hovels. Several of us were out of
our saddles in an instant and rushed in at the low door.

Before the hearth, where a huge peat-fire was burning, stood a young
peasant woman, her face distorted with agonized grief, and holding in
her arms a bundle of blackened rags. We found that her baby had fallen
into the glowing embers, while she herself was occupied out of doors,
and the poor mite was so badly burned that there seemed but little
hope of its ever reviving from its state of almost complete coma. We
were all busying ourselves eagerly about the child and its distraught
mother, when raising my eyes from the palpitating form of the child,
I caught sight of "Prince William," as the kaiser was then called,
standing near the door, apparently quite undisturbed and unmoved by
this tragedy in lowly life. It even seemed to me in the dim light as
if he were smiling derisively at our efforts to relieve the sufferings
of the little one, and to soothe the grief of its mother. But my
indignation vanished quickly when a slanting ray of the setting sun,
piercing through the grime of the little window, revealed the presence
on his cheek of two very large and _bona-fide_ tears, which had
welled up in his eyes, to which the lad was endeavoring to impart an
expression of callous indifference; and when at last we left the hut
to seek a doctor for the tiny sufferer it was Prince William's own
military coat, none too new, and even, to say the truth, much worn,
that remained as an additional coverlet upon the roughly-hewn wooden
cot, over which the sobbing mother was bending.

"Nobody," I added, "will, therefore, make me believe that Emperor
William has not got a very soft spot in his heart, and that beneath
the mannerisms which he considers it necessary to affect in order to
maintain the dignity of his position as emperor,--those mannerisms
which have given rise to so much misapprehension about his
character,--there is not concealed a very kindly spirit, literally
brimming over with generous impulses, which, if more widely known,
would serve to render the kaiser the most popular, as he is the most
interesting figure of Old World royalty."

It is because Emperor Francis-Joseph and the veteran King of Saxony
are so thoroughly acquainted with his real nature, that they are truly
and honestly fond of him. Both of them old men, with no sons in whom
to seek support for the eventide of lives that have been saddened by
many a public and private sorrow, they entertain a fatherly affection
for William, who as emperor treats them in public as brother
sovereigns, and as equals, but accords to them in private the most
touching filial deference and regard, remembering full well the
kindness which both of them showed to him when he was still the
much-snubbed, and not altogether justly-treated "Prince William." They
on their side are led by his behavior towards them to regard him in
the light of a son. Of course they cannot be blind to his faults, but
they are disposed to treat them with an indulgence that is even more
than paternal, and to see in them relatively trivial defects, due
to the manner in which he was brought up, and which are certain to
disappear with advancing years and experience.

During his early manhood, Prince William was by no means a favorite
either at his grandfather's court or at that of any other foreign
sovereign which he was occasionally allowed to visit. Pale-faced and
delicate-looking, very severely treated by his mother, who is what one
is bound to call _une maitresse femme_, the boy at seventeen was by no
manner of means prepossessing, and his efforts to assert himself, and
to crush down a good deal of natural awkwardness and timidity added to
his singularly unlikeable appearance.

In those days it could clearly be seen that everything that he did or
said was meant to create an impression of dignity and of grandeur, to
which his physique did not lend itself very easily, and the contrast
between him and his bosom friend the courteous, graceful and dashing
Crown Prince of Austria, was very marked.

Good-hearted and endowed with a great many truly generous instincts
the young fellow was, however, sorely handicapped by his education,
the abnormal strictness displayed towards him at the Court of Berlin,
and also by a continually and most distressingly empty purse. It is a
hard and almost pitiful thing for the heir apparent of a great empire
to find himself often without the necessary amount with which to cut
the figure which his social rank forces him to adopt, and it must have
been especially galling to the overbearing and proud nature of this
boy to be continually obliged to borrow from his friends, nay even
from his _aides de camp_, small sums wherewith to pay his way wherever
he went. Nevertheless his father and mother, then Crown Prince and
Crown Princess of Germany, believed it to be a thoroughly wholesome
thing for the young man to have to humble his pride, should he not be
content with the very small allowance made to him, this unfortunate
idea being, however, the cause of a great deal of bitterness, which to
this day has not completely faded from the heart of the now omnipotent
ruler of the German Empire.

It is undeniable that many eccentricities and false moves on the part
of William II. have been grossly exaggerated and placed before the
public in a false light, showing him up as a conceited, bumptious
and silly person, whereas not only his state of health, but his
_entourage_ should have been blamed for whatever he did that was out
of place. During a great many years the young prince suffered from
what is called technically _otitis media_, namely, a disease of the
middle ear, very painful, exasperating and even somewhat humiliating
to endure, and which he must have inherited in some extraordinary way
from his great-uncle, King William IV. of Prussia, who died insane.
There are certainly some traits of resemblance between this hapless
monarch and the present occupant of the German throne, for in both
there exists and has existed the same exaggerated and narrow-minded
religious beliefs, bordering on mysticism, and also an all-embracing
faith in their absolute and unquestionable infallibility.

It has long since become a well-anchored creed that William II. has
occasional fits of insanity. This is by no means the case, but it must
be admitted that the peculiar malady to which I referred above, and
which is as yet not eradicated from his system, causes him, at times,
days of the most excruciating pains all over the back and side of his
head, and it is scarcely surprising that at such moments the emperor
should act in a way which astonishes the uninitiated. Indeed, William
II. displays extraordinary force of character in suppressing physical
agony, when the duties he owes to the state force him to come forward
when unfit for anything else but the sick room.

The truth of the matter is that there are but few who can boast of
knowing him well, and the masses as well as the classes both at home
and abroad seem to take a peculiarly keen delight in accepting for
gospel truth any sweeping statements made about him by the press of
all civilized countries.

Although twenty-nine years of age when he ascended the throne on June
15, 1888, he may be said to have been at that time still but a raw
youth, continually kept in the background, and treated more or less
like a child, without any consequence or weight. It is, therefore,
not remarkable that the first years of his reign should have been
signalized by many errors of judgment; for it is not with impunity
that one suddenly releases a person, locked up for years in a dark
room and drives him into dazzlingly-lighted spaces without a guide,
a philosopher, or a friend by his side to lead him on the way.
The mental, as well as the physical optic has to gradually become
accustomed to so complete a change, and this fact was not sufficiently
taken into consideration by all the detractors of the young monarch,
when he, to speak very familiarly, leaped over the saddle in his
anxiety to secure for himself a firm seat on the throne of his

It is well to mention also that Emperor Frederick III., who reigned
alas! but for a few weeks, was positively worshipped by the German
people, and not without cause, for he was undoubtedly one of the
finest personalities of this century. His appearance, his demeanor,
his unaffected dignity, kindness of heart, and loftiness of purpose
were difficult to surpass, and it was a bitter disappointment to his
subjects when death snatched him away before he had had time to carry
out the grand plans and ideas which he had long cherished and reserved
for the time when he would have the reins of government in his own

Speaking with all kindness and good-will, one cannot but after
a fashion understand the disappointment of the Germans when this
towering military figure, this magnificent specimen of perfect
physical and mental manhood, vanished from their ken, to be replaced
by the slender, pale-faced, somewhat arrogant and despotic young man,
who resembled this father so little.

Emperor William II. is an extremely intelligent personage, in spite
of all that may have been said to the contrary. He thinks for himself
when he has a mind to do so, and, what is more, thinks logically, and
is quite capable of following a thus logically-attained conclusion to
its furthermost point. He feels keenly his enormous responsibilities,
and the tremendous international importance of his position as the
ruler of over 50,000,000 people, for he well knows that any man
wearing on his head the double crown of King of Prussia, and of German
Emperor, is a being endowed with powers which are bound to compel
attention from every point of the European Continent. Being given, as
I have just remarked, that his health and his physique are neither of
them of a kind to aid him in the tremendous task which belongs to him
by right of birth, it is easily explainable that his self-assertive
ways and imperious manners should often be mistaken for posing and
posturing. Moreover, his imperfect left arm--a misfortune which has
been a source of great distress to him ever since his birth--is but
another one of those physical troubles which his pride makes him
anxious to conceal, this only adding to his stilted and repellent
attitude. In spite of all these drawbacks, the emperor fences
exceedingly well, rides with pluck, and even skill, managing to hold
his reins with his poor withered left hand when in uniform, in order
to keep his sword-arm free, and during his visit to Austrian Poland,
which I referred to at the beginning of this chapter, I more than once
saw him with my own eyes, whilst we were riding across country, take
obstacles which would have made a far older and more experienced
hunter pause and reflect on.

Nobody, even the best-intentioned, can deny that Emperor William has
many faults; those are, however, either ignored altogether, or else
exaggerated to an extent that eclipses all his good qualities, by his
various biographers. Very few pen-portraits of royal personages that
pass through the hands of the publishers can be said to present a true
picture of their subject. Either the writer holds up the object of his
literary effort as a person so blameless as to suggest the idea that
he is an impossible prig, or else every piece of malevolent gossip is
construed into a positive fact, his shortcomings magnified until they
lose all touch of resemblance, while every word and action capable of
misrepresentation is construed in the manner most detrimental to his
reputation. In one word, he is either glorified as a preposterous
saint, or else held up to public execration as an equally impossible
villain. Now, in pictorial art, a portrait, in order to present a
satisfactory and successful resemblance to its subject, must contain
lights and shadows. You cannot have all light, or all shadow, but it
is necessary to have a judicious mixture of both. So it is with the
art of biography. If one wishes to give in print a true, and above
all, a human picture of one's subject, it is necessary to mingle the
shadows with the lights. In fact, the former may be said to set off
the latter, and there are many shortcomings, especially those
which the French, so graphically describe as _petits vices_,--small
vices--which, resulting from a generous and impulsive temperament,
serve, like the Rembrandt shadow of a portrait, to render the subject
more attractive to the eye.

It is my object, not to give a definitive biography of either of the
two kaisers, or even a mere record of their _vie intime_, but rather
to present to my readers a series of incidents, full of lights and
full of shadows, showing their surroundings, describing as far as
possible the atmosphere in which they move, the conditions of life
which they are obliged to consider, the temptations to which they
are exposed--and to which they sometimes succumb--and when I have
completed my task I venture to believe that the readers of these
volumes, while they may find the two emperors neither quite so
blameless, nor yet quite so bad as they expected, may nevertheless
experience a greater degree of sympathy and regard for them as being
after all so extremely human.


While Emperor Francis-Joseph is justly reputed to have played sad
havoc with the hearts of the fair sex in his dominions, especially in
his younger days, having inherited that frivolity with regard to women
which is a traditional characteristic of the illustrious House of
Hapsburg, he has never at any moment during his long reign permitted
his susceptibility to feminine charms to go to the length of
influencing his political conduct, or the action of his government.

Emperor William, on the other hand, whose married life has been, from
a domestic point of view, singularly blameless, and who has been
an exceptionally faithful husband, has, in at least two instances,
permitted himself to be swayed in his role of sovereign by ladies,
who for a time figured as his "Egerias." One of them was a woman of
extraordinary cleverness, and an American by birth, who while she has
long since ceased to exercise any influence upon him, has retained the
affection and the regard of both his consort and himself. She is the
Countess Waldersee, daughter of the late David Lee, a wholesale
grocer of New York, and who at the time that she became the wife of
Field-marshal Count Waldersee, was the widow of the present German
empress's uncle, Prince Frederick of Schleswig-Holstein. The latter
abandoned his royal rank and titles, and assumed the merely nobiliary
status of a Prince of Noer, in order to make her his consort.

The countess is treated as an aunt by both William and the kaiserin,
and she may be said to have swayed her imperial nephew by her
cleverness and intellectual brilliancy, rather than by her looks, for
she is a woman already well-advanced in years.

Different in this respect was the influence of the emperor's other
Egeria, namely, the Polish baroness, Jenny Koscielska, a woman of rare
elegance and beauty, whose political importance during the time
she reigned supreme at the Court of Berlin, was attributable to her
personal fascination rather than to her sagacity or statecraft. She
is the wife of that Baron Kosciol-Koscielski, who was one of the most
celebrated leaders of the Polish party in the Russian House of Lords,
and perhaps, also, the most popular of all modern Polish poets and

It would be going too far to assert that William was infatuated by her
loveliness. Yet there Is no doubt that as long as she figured at the
Court of Berlin, he not only paid her the most marked attention, but
likewise allowed himself to be advised by her in political matters.
It was during the so-called "reign of the baroness" that the kaiser
showed such an extraordinary degree of favor to his Polish subjects as
to excite the jealousy and ill-will of the people in many other parts
of his dominions. He reestablished the Polish language in the schools
and churches of Posen, that is of Prussian-Poland, nominated a Polish
ecclesiastic to the archbishopric of that province, and conferred so
many court dignities, government offices, and decorations upon the
compatriots of the fair Jenny, as to give rise to the remark that the
best road to imperial preferment at Berlin was to add the Polish and
feminine termination of "ska" to one's name. Old Prince Bismarck, who
was at the time at daggers-drawn with his young sovereign, at length
gave public utterance to the popular ill-will, excited by the role
of Egeria, which the baroness was accused of playing to the "Numa
Pompilius" of Emperor William. For, in the course of an address
delivered by the old ex-chancellor at Friedrichsrueh, and reproduced in
extenso in the press, he declared among other things that: "The Polish
influence in political affairs increases always in the measure that
some Polish family obtains of more or less influence at Court. I need
not allude here to the role formerly played by the princely house of
Radziwill. To-day we have exactly the same state of affairs, which
is to be deplored!" Bismarck's allusion to the Radziwills was an
ungenerous reference to the romantic attachment of old Emperor William
for that Princess Elize Radziwill, whom he was so determined to marry
that he offered his father to abandon his rights of succession to the
throne on her account. This King Frederick-William would not permit,
and William was compelled to wed Goethe's pupil, Princess Augusta
of Saxe-Weimar. A loveless match in every sense of the word, for he
remained until the day of Princess Elize's death her most devoted
friend and admirer, seeking her advice in many a difficulty, to the
great annoyance of Prince Bismarck, who detested her, and after her
death the old emperor continued to show the utmost favor and good-will
to the members of her family in honor of her memory. Of course this
speech of Prince Bismarck created no end of a sensation throughout the
empire, as well as abroad, the press being encouraged thereby to
print in cold type what had until that time been merely whispered
in official and court circles. It is possible that the young emperor
might have remained indifferent to popular clamor about the matter,
had not two other incidents occurred about the same time to cool his
liking for the fair Jenny.

In the first place, she felt herself so much encouraged by the
influence which she believed that she exercised over the emperor, that
when during the annual army manoeuvres Field Marshal Prince George of
Saxony, and other Prussian and foreign royalties were quartered under
her roof, she absolutely declined to hoist either the German flag, or
the Royal Saxon standard, but insisted upon flying the national
colors of Poland from the flag staff that surmounted the turret of
her chateau. Naturally, Prince George and his fellow royal guests
complained of this breach of etiquette to the kaiser, and protested
strongly against it.

Almost at the same time, her husband, the baron, having been invited
to attend the opening of a provincial exhibition in the neighboring
Empire of Austria, was so carried away by enthusiasm, due to the
kindness with which the Poles present were treated by Emperor
Francis-Joseph, that forgetting all he owed to Emperor William,
he publicly hailed Francis-Joseph as "sole sovereign of all Polish
hearts," and as "Poland's future king!" About this time too, the
empress paid a couple of rather mysterious visits to her mother-in-law
at Friedrichkron. Court gossip ascribed these hurried trips to
the fact that the empress had been prompted by her jealousy of the
baroness to invoke the intervention of the strong-minded widow of
Frederick the Noble. But it is far more likely that the empress
visited the Dowager Kaiserin in order that she should call the
attention of her son to the harm which the association of the name of
the baroness with his own was doing him in a political sense both at
home and abroad.

Whatever the cause of these consultations between the two
empresses may have been, the fact remains that almost immediately
afterwards Baron and Baroness Koscielski received from the
Grand-Master-of-the-Court, Count Eulenburg, an official intimation
that their presence at court was not desired in highest quarters until
further notice, and that under the circumstances they would do well
to remain at their country seat. In fact they were virtually banished,
and when both husband and wife travelled all the way to Berlin with
the object of asking for an explanation from the emperor, he declined
to receive either the one or the other. He had apparently come to the
conclusion that the game was not worth the candle, and that in view
of the fact that his intimacy with the baroness had never gone beyond
platonic friendship and mild flirtation, it was ridiculous to incur
the ill-will of his subjects and expose himself to slanderous stories
concocted by his enemies on her account.

The influence of the American born Countess Waldersee was of a far
more lasting character, and may be said to have been inaugurated
very shortly after his marriage. Prior to becoming a benedict, Prince
William was as gay as his very limited financial means would permit.
In fact, he was charged with playing the role of Don Juan to at least
half a dozen beauties of the Prussian Court, while at Vienna he became
involved in a scandal of a feminine character, from which he was only
extricated with the utmost difficulty by the then German Ambassador to
the Austrian Court, namely, Prince Reuss. The presumption is that he
had allowed himself to become the prey of an adventuress, and with the
object of avoiding publicity he was practically compelled to provide
for the welfare and future of a child which may or may not have been
his offspring. But as soon as he married, he turned over a new leaf,
and became the very model of husbands.

It has always been my conviction that this was due in part to the
influence of the Countess Waldersee, and largely also to the unkindly
treatment which his consort received during the early years of
her marriage at the hands of his family. Although a nice and
gentle-looking girl, Augusta-Victoria was far from shining either by
her beauty or her elegance at a court which is one of the most cruelly
critical and satirical in all Europe. Moreover, she labored under the
disadvantage of being the daughter of the Duchess of Augustenburg, who
is not credited with a robust intellect, and, in fact has passed
the greater part of her life in retirement, and of the Duke of
Augustenburg, who was famed thirty years ago for the dullness of his
mind. In fact, after Prussia had undertaken in his behalf the conquest
of the Duchy of Schleswig-Holstein, to which he was entitled by right
of inheritance, and which had been unlawfully seized by Denmark,
Prince Bismarck refused to permit the duke to assume the sovereignty
thereof, on the publicly expressed ground that it would be an act of
the most outrageous tyranny to subject any state to the rule of so
intensely stupid a man as the duke.

This utterance on the part of Bismarck, which may be found in most
of the German histories printed prior to the accession of the present
Emperor, was naturally recalled to mind at the Court of Berlin, when
the daughter of the duke became the bride of Prince William, and the
widespread belief in her inherited dullness of intellect was further
increased by the mingled impatience and pity which characterized the
behavior of her husband's mother and sisters towards her.

There is much that is chivalrous in the nature of the present German
emperor, and it was precisely the unkindness and slights to which his
bride was subjected that had the effect of drawing him more closely
to her. He did not conceal the fact that he strongly resented the
attitude of his family towards her, and his friendship with Countess
Waldersee owes its origin to the motherly way in which she behaved
to his wife, acting as her mentor, as her adviser and guide in the
intricate maze of Berlin society, and of court life. Debarred from all
intimacy with her sisters-in-law, who were ever ready to scoff at, and
to make fun of her, Augusta-Victoria was wont to have recourse to
the countess in all her difficulties, and inasmuch as Count Waldersee
himself is the most brilliant soldier of the German army, and was
designated at the time by the great Moltke as his successor and his
principal lieutenant, Prince William and his wife ended by becoming
very intimate indeed with the Waldersees, and almost daily visitors at
their house.

The countess is of a deeply religious turn of mind, with a strong
disposition towards evangelism, and already before the marriage
of Prince William, she had become conspicuous as one of the most
influential leaders of the anti-Semite party in Prussia. It was in her
salons at Berlin that the great Jew-baiter Stoecker was wont to hold
his politico-religious meetings, denouncing the Jews, and it was
through her influence, too, that he obtained appointment as court
chaplain, in spite of the opposition of the father and the mother of
Prince William. It was also under the roof of the Countess Waldersee
that the present emperor became imbued with that very religious,--one
might almost say pietist--disposition, which has since been so marked
a feature of his character.

True, the hereditary tendency of the sovereign house of Prussia is
distinctly religious, leaning in fact towards fanaticism, and King
Frederick-William III., his son Frederick-William IV., and likewise
old Emperor William, entertained the most extraordinary ideas on the
subject of Providence, with which they believed themselves to be in
constant communion, as well as its principal agent here on earth.
In fact, there is hardly a public utterance of any of these three
sovereigns, which is not marked throughout by a deep religious tone,
and by a degree of familiarity with the Almighty which would be
blasphemous were it not so manifestly sincere. This hereditary
tendency towards religion was, to a certain extent, obliterated by the
education which William received, and which was of a nature to dispose
him to be both a materialist and a free-thinker. He may be said
in fact to have been brought up in an atmosphere of Renan-ism and
Strauss-ism, for which his extraordinary and mercilessly clever
mother, Empress Frederick, was largely responsible, and at the moment
of his marriage it looked as if he were destined to figure in history
as quite as much of a philosopher, and even atheist, as Frederick the
Great, for whom he professed the most profound veneration.

It was Countess Waldersee who revived all the inherited and latent
religious tendencies of his character.

Up to the time when he ascended the throne, Prince William and his
consort were constant and devout attendants at the prayer-meetings
held in the salons of the countess, and if he remains to this day
a remarkably religious man, with a sufficient regard for scriptural
commands to have shown himself a more faithful husband than any other
prince of his house, either living or dead--if, to-day, piety is
fashionable at the court of Berlin instead of being bad form, if the
building or endowment of a church, or of a charitable institution,
is regarded as the surest road to imperial favor, it is due to the
influence of William's American aunt, the daughter of that New
York grocer, the first Princess Noer, and who is to-day Countess of

It is natural that the influence exercised over William and his
wife by the countess should have given rise to the utmost jealousy,
especially on the part of his mother, Empress Frederick, and during
the hundred days' reign of her lamented husband, she availed herself
of her brief spell of power to secure the virtual banishment of the
count and the countess from Berlin, by causing the field marshal to
be transferred from the chieftaincy of the headquarter staff to
the command of the army stationed in Altona. Moreover, she did not
hesitate to denounce the influence of the Waldersees as disastrous,
as illiberal, and in every sense of the word reactionary, and if her
husband, Emperor Frederick, was led to share her views concerning
them, it was because of his disapproval of the movement against the
Jews in which the countess had figured so conspicuously. It is a
peculiar fact that although Emperor William has always remained on
the most affectionate terms with the Waldersees, and never loses any
opportunity of manifesting the warmth of his affection for them,
he has never repealed the decree of banishment to which they were
virtually subjected during his father's reign. He has transferred the
field marshal from one post to another, but he has never appointed
him to one which would admit of his coming back to live in Berlin. I
cannot help thinking that the emperor resented the imputation that he
was subject to the sway of his wife's aunt, and was offended by the
articles which appeared at one moment both in the German and foreign
press intimating that she was the power behind the throne. He is
sufficiently jealous of his dignity to object to be considered as
subject to the influence of anyone, be it man or woman, and one of
the chief causes of the dismissal of old Prince Bismarck was precisely
because so long as he remained in office there was a disposition to
regard the kaiser as a mere puppet in the hands of the old statesman.

It is this aversion to being considered as swayed by any other
influence than his own that has led the emperor on so many occasions
to adopt a course diametrically opposed to that urged upon him by his
clever and masterful mother, a woman with the most powerful intellect
and the least tact to be found in all Old World royalties. It was
this, too, that led the emperor to banish, just a trifle unjustly,
the pretty and dashing Countess Hohenau from his court. She had been
guilty of no indiscretion with regard to him. She had done nothing
wrong, and she was not only a brilliant ornament of the imperial
_entourage_, but likewise a relative of the family. But he banished
both her husband and herself almost at a moment's notice, owing to
the fact that in the anonymous letters circulated at the time of the
so-called Kotze scandal, he was mentioned as altogether infatuated and
subjugated by her beauty.

Count Hohenau is the half-brother of that Prince Albert of Prussia,
who is now Regent of the Grand Duchy of Brunswick. Old Prince Albert
of Prussia, his father, was married to the eccentric and half-crazy
Princess Marianne of the Netherlands. Not long after the birth of
the present Prince Albert, she lost her heart to such an extent to a
chamberlain in her household that her husband was compelled to divorce
her, whereupon she contracted a morganatic marriage with the gentleman
in question, and lived and died at an advanced age only about twelve
years ago.

Prince Albert, the elder, thereupon married morganatically a young
girl of noble birth of the name of Baroness Rauch, whose family had
for more than one hundred and fifty years occupied leading positions
at the Court of Berlin. On the occasion of her marriage to the prince,
she received from the Prussian Crown the title of Countess of Hohenau,
and the children whom she bore to Prince Albert the elder are now
known as Counts and Countesses of Hohenau. The elder of these Counts
Hohenau bears the name of Fritz, and his wife, before their banishment
from the capital, was one of the most dashing and brilliant figures
in the ultra-aristocratic society of Berlin. No entertainment was
regarded as complete without her presence, and in every social
enterprise, no matter whether it was a flower corso, a charity fair,
a hunt, a picnic, or amateur theatricals, she was always to the
fore, besides being the leader in every new fashion, and in every new
extravagance. Although eccentric--she was the first member of her sex
to show herself astride on horseback in the Thiergarten--and in spite
of her being famed as a thorough-paced coquette, and as a flirt,
yet no one ventured to impugn her good name, until the disgraceful
anonymous letter scandal; and both her husband and herself naturally
resent most keenly that without any hearing or explanation they should
have been banished from the court, and sent to live, first at Hanover,
then at Dresden, but always away from Berlin and Potsdam, solely on
account of an anonymous letter.

The sympathy of society in the affair was all with the Hohenaus, who
although absent from Berlin, may be said to have taken the leading
part in that great controversy which is known to this day as "the
anonymous letter scandal," and which not only divided all Berlin
society into separate hostile camps, but led to innumerable duels,
some of them with fatal results; to the imprisonment of some great
personages; to the ruin of others, and in one word to one of the
most talked of court scandals of the present century. In fact, the
anonymous letter affair, many of the features of which remain shrouded
in mystery to this day, played so important a part in the history of
the Court of Berlin during the first decade of the present emperor's
reign, that it deserves a chapter to itself.

What, however, I wish specially to impress upon my readers is that in
spite of the many scurrilous stories that have been circulated on both
sides of the ocean concerning the alleged intrigues of Emperor William
with the fair sex, since his marriage, nearly eighteen years ago, his
wedded life has been singularly free from storms, and exceptionally
happy. In fact, there are few more thoroughly-devoted couples than
William and Augusta-Victoria, who is to-day far more comely as a woman
than she was as a young girl. So domestic, indeed, are the tastes of
the kaiser, so excellent is he both as a husband and a father, that
his home life may be said to atone for many of his political errors
and shortcomings as a monarch. His loyalty towards his consort is all
the more to his credit, as the Anointed of the Lord in the Old World
are exposed to feminine temptations in a degree of which no conception
can be formed in this country. In most of the capitals of Europe it
is in the power of the sovereign to make or mar the social position
of any man, and of any woman. Social ambitions coupled with an
exaggerated degree of loyalty will lead many a beautiful woman
to cross that border line which separates mere indiscretion from
something worse, all the more that the reputation of being the fair
favorite of a monarch, and able to influence his conduct, is regarded
as a title to prestige, and has the effect of converting the fair one
into one of the acknowledged powers of the land.

For an ambitious woman it is something to be treated by statesmen and
the representatives of foreign governments, as the power behind the
throne, and provided this power is wisely exercised, the intimacy of
the lady with the monarch is regarded by high and low with something
more than mere indulgence.

History has given so lofty a pedestal to Madame de Maintenon, that
there are many women who are eager to emulate her role in present
times, and to likewise figure in history. That is why royal
personages, and especially kings and emperors, are exposed to such
extraordinary temptations.

Most women put forth all their charms and powers of fascination
to captivate the attention, and, if possible, the heart of their
sovereign, who is, after all, but human. That is why Emperor William
deserves so much credit for having remained true to his wife, and
why Emperor Francis-Joseph of Austria merits so much indulgence in
connection with the indiscretions which had the effect of keeping him
for so many years parted and estranged from his lovely consort, the
late Empress Elizabeth.

While on this subject, it should be stated that for many years past,
probably for the last decade, the life of Francis-Joseph has been free
from affairs of this kind, for it is hardly possible to treat in the
light of a scandal his association with that now elderly actress,
Mlle. Schratt, since it is virtually tolerated, accepted and, so to
speak, recognized both by the imperial family and by the Austrian
people. Indeed the only persons who have ever taken exception to
this intimacy have been Herr Schoenerer, and some of his anti-Semite
colleagues who, to the indignation of every one, gave vent three
years ago to their spite against their kindly old sovereign by calling
attention in the Reichsrath to the alleged questionable relations
between the sovereign and the popular and veteran star-actress of the
Burg Theatre.

Herr Schoenerer, who was formerly a baron, but who was deprived of
his title by the emperor at the time when he was sentenced to a
year's imprisonment for a violent and unprovoked assault upon a Jewish
newspaper proprietor, declared in the legislature, to which he had
been elected on emerging from jail, that public opinion was becoming
outraged by the impropriety of the conduct of the emperor. The scene
which ensued defied description. Schoenerer was suspended, and had not
steps been taken to assure his protection, would have been subjected
to very violent treatment by the vast majority of the house, which
is intensely loyal to the emperor, and the members of which resented
criticism of his majesty's twenty years' friendship with old Frau
Schratt Even the late empress herself did not regard as serious or
dangerous her husband's association with the actress. This is shown by
the fact that on two separate occasions she honored Frau Schratt with
a visit at the actress's villa near Ischl. At the Austrian Court it
is generally understood that whatever may have been the nature of the
intimacy of the monarch and the actress in the past, it is now nothing
more than a platonic affection between two old friends, the emperor
being accustomed to spend half an hour or so with this witty and
amiable lady nearly every day. The actress is a great favorite with
the people at large, on account of her devotion to the emperor, and
for her tact in declining to take any undue advantage of the favor
which he accords to her. Indeed, the degree of indulgence with which
Austrian society, as well as the masses, look upon this intimacy maybe
gathered from the fact that one of the most--popular photographs on
exhibition in the windows of the leading picture-shops at Vienna, and
at Pesth, is a snapshot, showing the kindly-faced old emperor and
the sunny-tempered old actress seated in the most domestic fashion
opposite one another at a breakfast table with the actress's pet dog
on a chair midway between stage and throne.


It was on the evening of June 7th, 1894, that a carriage, the servants
of which wore court liveries, drew up at the entrance of that old
building on the avenue known as "Unter Den Linden," which serves as
a military prison of the Berlin garrison. From this equipage alighted
two men, each of them a well-known figure in the great world of the
Prussian metropolis. The one in uniform was General Count von Hahnke,
chief of the military household of the emperor, while the other, who
was in civilian attire, was Baron von Kotze, master of ceremonies at
the court of Berlin, one of the most well-to-do and jovial of _bons
vivants_, and who up to that time had stood so high in the favor of
the reigning family that his sovereign was accustomed to address him
by his Christian name, and by the so familiar equivalent pronoun in
German of "thou."

Shortly afterwards General von Hahnke reappeared alone, entered the
carriage hurriedly, and drove back to the palace. On the following
morning it became known that Baron von Kotze had been suddenly
arrested, and lodged in the military prison by personal order of the
kaiser, and without the warrant of any tribunal or magistrate, either
military or civil.

While the general public was speculating as to the cause of this
mysterious and startling disciplinary measure against a nobleman so
well known and so prominent in every way as Baron von Kotze, the court
gossips were rubbing their hands, chuckling with satisfaction, and
congratulating themselves on the fact that success had at length
crowned the efforts made to bring to book the author of the hundreds
of anonymous letters that had been circulated in the great world of
Berlin during the two preceding years.

Gradually the circumstances which had led to the arrest of Baron Kotze
became public property, and people both at home and abroad were made
aware for the first time of the existence of a scandal which for over
four-and-twenty months had set court and society by the ears, and
which had caused every man and woman to regard with suspicion not
merely their acquaintances, but even their most intimate friends and
nearest relatives. No one, with the exception of the emperor, the
empress, and the widow of Emperor Frederick, can be said to have been
altogether exempt from this reflection on their honor. For among those
who were at one time most strongly suspected of being the author
of these letters were the eldest sister of the kaiser, Princess
Charlotte, and the only brother of the empress, Duke Ernest-Gunther of

Color was given to these suspicions by the fact that many of the
anonymous letters contained remarks and information that manifestly
emanated from the imperial family, while some of the views expressed
in the letters were known not merely to have been shared, but even
to have been uttered in conversation by the prince and princess in
question. What gave still further weight to these suppositions was the
extraordinary fact that incidents which had occurred within what may
be described as the most intimate circle of the court,--incidents,
indeed, of which no one could be aware, save royal personages
themselves and those few chosen friends and associates who were
with them at the time when the incidents in question occurred,--were
revealed a few days later in the anonymous letters, twisted and
distorted in such a manner as to admit only of the most shameful

Added to this was the knowledge that there are few women at the Court
of Berlin more cruelly satirical or have a keener sense of ridicule
than Princess Charlotte, or any more inveterate gossip than Duke
Ernest-Gunther of Schleswig-Holstein.

The anonymous letters had literally spared no one, not even that most
blameless and excellent of women, the Empress Augusta-Victoria; nor
was there anybody of mark who had not received at least several of
them. But for some reason or other which was not understood at the
time, they seemed to be imbued with an especially relentless and
savage animosity against the charming Countess "Fritz" von Hohenau,
who must not be confounded with her less attractive sister-in-law,
Countess "Willy" von Hohenau; for whereas the latter is by birth a
princess of Hohenlohe and a niece of the imperial chancellor of
that ilk, Countess Fritz is by birth a Countess von der Decken, and
rejoices in the Christian name of Charlotte.

If Countess Fritz has one weakness which in any degree lends itself to
unfriendly criticism and ridicule it is the pride which she manifests
in her relationship through marriage to the reigning house of Prussia,
and in her being the sister-in-law of that Prince Albert of Prussia,
who is regent of the Duchy of Brunswick, her husband, Count Fritz von
Hohenau, being a half-brother to Prince Albert. It is owing to
this very innocent weakness of the countess that she was nicknamed
"_Lottchen von Preussen_," or "_Die Preussiche Lotte_" that is to say
"_Lotte of Prussia_" and at least a third of the hundreds of anonymous
letters confided to the mails during the period extending between 1892
and 1896 were filled with the most scurrilous remarks concerning the
unfortunate "_Lottchen von Preussen_."

The letters imputed to the countess almost every crime under the sun.
Inasmuch as her husband's principal friend was Baron Schrader, who
was of course frequently seen in her company at the races and at the
opera, it naturally followed that she was charged with an altogether
questionable intimacy with him. In fact, she was accused of sharing
her favors between him and the emperor, and in the letters that
reached both the kaiser and his consort, it was asserted that she was,
moreover, in the habit of constantly boasting among her friends about
the influence which as "_Sultana"_ she was able to exercise over the
ruler of the German Empire.

It was on the receipt of one of these letters that the emperor without
a moment's warning abruptly ordered Count and Countess Fritz Hohenau
to leave Berlin and to transfer their residence to Hanover. The count
and countess were not long in discovering the cause of their disgrace,
and bitterly incensed, at once resolved to leave no stone unturned in
their efforts to discover the culprit.

In this determination they were supported by the "Willy" von Hohenaus,
by the various members of the Hohenlohe family, by Baron Schrader,
Baron Hugo Reischach, chamberlain to the Empress Frederick, Prince and
Princess Aribert of Anhalt, the latter being a granddaughter of Queen
Victoria, Prince and Princess Albert of Saxe-Altenburg, and last, but
not least, Baron von Tausch, the chief of the secret police attached
to the particular service of the emperor.

I have already mentioned that suspicions had at first been
directed against the empress's only brother, Duke Ernest-Gunther of
Schleswig-Holstein. Somehow or other, probably through reading the
detective novels of Gaboriau, Baron Schrader became imbued with the
idea that the most successful manner of discovering the identity of
the suspected writer of the anonymous letters would be to carefully
examine the blotting-pads which either he or she were in the habit of
using. Accordingly, Countess Fritz von Hohenau took advantage of the
admiration and devotion entertained for her by Count Augustus Bismarck
to induce him to bring to her the blotting-pad habitually used by the
duke, to whose household he belonged, as chief aid-de-camp. The count,
very reluctantly, it is true, brought to Madame von Hohenau, the said
blotting-pad, and it was immediately submitted to a most careful and
even microscopical examination by her husband, herself, and their
friends. But in spite of every effort it was impossible to discover
the slightest analogy between the writing of the anonymous letters and
the impressions left on the blotting-pad of the duke. The countess and
her assistants in this queer task, therefore, came to the conclusion
that they would have to search in a different direction.

It is impossible to say with any degree of certainty how suspicion was
then directed towards Baron Kotze. But I am under the impression that
his name was first mentioned in connection with the affair by Baron
Schrader, who like himself was a Master of Ceremonies of the Court
of Berlin. The vast wealth enjoyed by the Kotzes, as well as the
extraordinary favor manifested towards them by the emperor and the
members of the reigning family, had not unnaturally rendered them
objects of no little jealousy on the part of other personages
belonging to the court circle. The exceedingly sarcastic and
malevolent tongue of the Baroness Kotze, and the somewhat coarse
flavor of the ever-ready jest and quip of her jovial, loud-voiced,
hail-fellow-well-met mannered husband did not tend to render the
couple very popular.

Baron Kotze's mother had been an heiress in her own right as the
daughter of the court banker, Krause, while the baron's wife is the
daughter of that extraordinary old General von Treskow, who for so
long commanded the division of Guards, and whose reputation as one of
the bravest and most dashing officers of the war of 1870, alone saved
him from the ridicule which his corseted waist, his painted cheeks,
his dyed moustache, and his youthful wig, would otherwise have
excited. While he himself has no drop of Jewish blood in his veins,
both his daughter, Madame Kotze, and her brother possess the facial
features of the Semitic race in a most marked degree, and despite
their protestations to the contrary, have undoubtedly Hebrew
ancestors, if not on the father's side, at any rate on that of the
mother. Old General Treskow was very rich indeed, his country seat at
Friedrichsfeld being one of the most magnificent country seats in the
neighborhood of Berlin.

During the early years of the reign of Emperor William, his eldest
sister, Princess Charlotte, and her husband, Prince Bernhardt of
Saxe-Meiningen, occupied a lovely little palace, or rather, I should
say large and roomy villa on the outskirts of the Thiergarten, at
Berlin. Among their near neighbors were Baron and Baroness Kotze.
Little Ursula Kotze, the daughter of the baroness, was precisely of
the same age as Princess Fedora of Saxe-Meiningen, the only child of
Princess Charlotte, and the two young girls soon became inseparable
friends. The relations thus established soon extended to the parents,
and while Princess Charlotte,--herself disposed to satirizing and
ridiculing everybody, and like many royal personages, passionately
fond of gossip, especially when spiced with scandal,--found
never-ceasing entertainment in the witty comments of the baroness
about the social events of the day, and in her reports of the latest
stories current concerning mutual acquaintances and friends, Prince
Bernhardt, in spite of his seriousness, and his fond predilection
for Hellenic research, could not help laughing and enjoying the merry
sallies of Baron Kotze. In fact, the Kotzes ended by becoming the most
intimate friends of the princely Saxe-Meiningen couple, whose taste
for their society was eventually shared by the Empress Frederick to
a degree that excited the utmost jealousy and ill-will of her
chamberlain, Baron Reischach. The latter was, therefore, only too
ready to accept the view expressed by his friend. Baron Schrader, to
the effect that Baron Kotze was the author of the anonymous letters.

I think that it was in the latter part of 1892 that the Prince and
Princess of Saxe-Meiningen, having made up their minds to visit Greece
and the Holy Land, invited Baron and Baroness Kotze to accompany
them. Some quarrel, however, took place between the princess and the
baroness during this trip, which they did not complete together, and
when they took up their residence once more at Berlin the formerly so
intimate relations between the two families ceased absolutely. It was
about this time that it became known that Princess Charlotte either
during her trip to the Orient, or just before she started, had in some
unexplainable manner lost the diary in which she had, like so many
members of the fair sex, been accustomed to describe her daily
impressions, and to the pages of which she was wont to impart
sentiments and opinions that she did not venture to confide to anybody

For a considerable time after the return of the princess from the
Orient the anonymous letters contained phrases and peculiarities of
expression that clearly indicated Princess Charlotte, and to such an
extent was this the case that those in pursuit of the sender of the
missives would have ascribed their authorship to the princess, had it
not been that she herself was referred to in many of the letters in
a particularly savage and scurrilous manner. Baron Schrader, the
Hohenaus and their friends, being aware of the existence of the
quarrel between the Kotzes and the Saxe-Meiningens, naturally became
more convinced than ever that it was either Baron Kotze, or his
"viper-tongued" wife, as they described her, who were the culprits,
and insisted that it was the baroness who had taken advantage of her
intimacy with the princess to get possession of her royal highness's
diary, the contents of which were now being used in so many of the

What has now become of the diary it is impossible to say, but
judging by the excerpts used in the anonymous letters, it must have
constituted a particularly piquant volume or series of volumes!
Thus there was one remark about the emperor which ridiculed "his
intolerable swagger." There were also some comical references to
Princess Victoria of Prussia, who was jilted by the late Prince
Alexander of Battenberg, on the very eve of the day appointed for the
wedding, and that for the sake of a little actress. This princess
has since then married Prince Adolph of Schaumburg, who was recently
ousted from the regency of the tiny principality of Lippe. "_Poor
Vicky_" was described as being "_many-sided_" owing to the number of
her _affaires de coeur_, notably those with Baron Hugo von Reischach,
at that time a very handsome lieutenant of the "Garde-du-Corps,"
but who afterward became gentleman-in-waiting to the widowed Empress
Frederick, and married one of the princesses of Hohenlohe. This
flirtation between Baron Reischach and Princess Victoria formed
the theme of quite a number of the anonymous letters, in which
the princess was charged with every kind of indelicacy, while the
unfortunate baron was ridiculed in connection with the modernity
of his nobility. Other love affairs of "_poor Vicky_" were likewise
discussed in no friendly manner, and she was represented as being to
such a degree infatuated for Count Andrassy, the eldest son of the
famous Austro-Hungarian statesman, that the young fellow, it
is declared, was forced to resign his secretaryship to the
Austro-Hungarian Embassy, at Berlin, and to flee from the Prussian
Court, in order to escape from the demonstrative attentions of the
princess: "If it is like this now," said one of the letters, "what in
Heaven's name will it be when '_Vicky_' marries!"

There were, moreover, all sorts of matters relating to the _vie
intime_ of the imperial family discussed in these anonymous
communications, such as bickerings between the emperor and his mother,
quarrels with his English relatives, flirtations of the younger
princesses, etc., which no one could possibly have known about, save
members of the imperial family, and which were just the sort of thing
that Princess Charlotte would have written in her diary, in her witty
and sarcastic manner.

In fact there was so much of the phraseology and style habitual to
Princess Charlotte in the letters, that they would inevitably have
been, as I remarked above, positively ascribed to her had it not been
for the grossly improper and even disgusting twist and construction
that was invariably added to her well-known manner of writing.
Although a terrible flirt as well as a daring coquette, the princess
has never been charged with anything more serious than trivial
_affaires de coeur_, excepting by the writer of the anonymous letters.

Then too, as I have also already stated many of these letters assailed
the princess herself, in the most unscrupulous fashion; an abominable
and impossible story, picked up from the filthiest of Berlin gutters,
impugning the legitimacy of the only child of the princess, being thus
circulated far and wide. This vile fabrication alleged that Charlotte
had been married off in a hurry to Prince Bernhardt of Saxe-Meiningen,
in order to avoid a public scandal. It is only necessary to recall the
fact that the sole child of Princess Charlotte, Princess Fedora, now
married to Prince Henry of Reuss, was born twelve months after her
mother's marriage, in order to show how utterly without foundation was
this shameful slander. At least a dozen anonymous letters sent to the
emperor and to various other personages dealt with an episode said to
have taken place during a trip undertaken by the princess in Norway
and Sweden. She was attended on that occasion by a Captain von Berger,
and his wife, who were her gentleman and lady-in-waiting, and there
was also in her suite a diminutive officer holding the rank of
lieutenant, and bearing the old Silesian name of Count Schack, who
acted as aid-de-camp.

According to the anonymous letters, Princess Charlotte made a kind
of toy of the little officer, and behaved in a most volatile manner.
There was evidence of such intense malignity in these letters against
Princess Charlotte that they were attributed to a jealous woman,
and that if not actually written by one, they had at any rate been
inspired by a member of the fair sex.

There can be no doubt that Princess Charlotte and her husband ended by
sharing the opinion entertained by the Schrader-Hohenau clique, about
the letters being inspired by Baroness Kotze, and written by her
husband, and it must be confessed that there was a certain amount of
ground for their doing so. The blotting pads used by Baron Kotze,
both at the Union Club and elsewhere, were subjected to much the
same microscopic examination as those of Duke Ernest-Gunther of
Schleswig-Holstein, and when at length a distinct degree of similarity
was discovered to exist between the caligraphy of the anonymous
letter writer and the impressions which figured on the blotting pads
habitually used by Baron Kotze, Baron Schrader drew up a report on the
subject, charging Baron Kotze with being the author of the letters,
and presented it to the emperor. The latter hesitated a little before
taking any action in the matter, and would doubtless have yielded
to the advice of the minister of the imperial household, Prince
Stolberg-Wernigrode, who urged him to institute a very careful secret
investigation of his own before rushing the _denouement_, cautioning
him that Baron Schrader's evidence was inadequate, had it not been for
the pressure brought to bear upon his majesty by the Saxe-Meiningens
and other members of his family, who were all convinced that Baron
Kotze was the guilty party.

It was due entirely to this pressure that the kaiser, incensed beyond
measure at the persistency and the malignity of these letters, took
the extraordinary step of having Baron von Kotze arrested by the chief
of his military household, General von Hahnke merely on the strength
of his imperial order, dispensing with any legal warrant. That Count
Hahnke should have been selected for this duty, and that a military
prison, rather than the ordinary house of detention, should have been
chosen for the incarceration of Baron Kotze, must be ascribed to
the fact that the latter was at the time a captain of cavalry on the
reserve lists, and that in a military prison the authority of the
emperor, as head of the army, is supreme and absolute, which cannot be
said of the ordinary civil prisons, the officers of which are subject
above everything else to the tribunals and to the laws of the land.

Of course, from the very moment when the baron was arrested, the
entire scandal, that is to say the existence of a conspiracy for the
writing and distribution of anonymous letters, became public, and
served to furnish material for articles both in the German and the
foreign press on the alleged moral rottenness of the Court of Berlin.
At first there is no doubt that society, and even the ordinary public,
accepted the guilt of Baron Kotze as assured, and were further led
to believe the story about the baroness having been the instigator of
many of the letters, by her at once withdrawing to her country-seat at
Friedrichsfeld, and refusing to receive anyone.

Doubts as to the baron's guilt, however, commenced to arise when it
was found that in spite of his incarceration, the anonymous letters
continued to be sent as before, without any interruption, while all
efforts to bring home the guilt to the baron completely failed in
every sense of the word. Not only did the famous expert in caligraphy,
Langenbuch, declare that the handwriting of the letters had nothing
whatsoever in common with that of Baron Kotze, but that those written
during his incarceration were exactly similar to the others. The
emperor himself received anonymous letters, describing him to be a
fool for having unjustly imprisoned an altogether innocent man, and
recommending him to look after his brother-in-law, Duke Ernest-Gunther
of Schleswig-Holstein.

At the end of a fortnight, therefore, the military governor of Berlin,
old Field Marshal Count Pape, declared to his majesty that he would
do well to immediately set Baron Kotze at liberty, since there was
no adequate ground for keeping him under arrest. The field marshal,
however, suggested that in view of the seriousness of the charge that
had been made against the baron, the only thing to do would be to
hold a court-martial, permitting the baron meanwhile to reside "_on
parole_" at Friedrichsfeld. The whole matter was thereupon turned over
to General Prince Frederick of Hohenzollern, brother of the King
of Roumania, commanding the metropolitan division of troops, to the
reserve force of which Baron Kotze belonged.

Nine months after his arrest. Baron Kotze appeared before a
court-martial, composed of a colonel, who acted as president, and
eight other officers, and after a lengthy trial, during the course of
which Baron Schrader acted not merely as witness against Kotze,
but likewise as prosecutor, endeavoring to show analogy between the
writing of the anonymous letters, and the caligraphy, not merely of
Baron Kotze, but also of the baroness, the court-martial acquitted
the prisoner, and the emperor not only signified his approval of the
verdict, but a week later took the occasion of the Easter festivities
to send to his former favorite Kotze, a huge floral piece in the shape
of an Easter egg, bound with ribbons in the national colors.

William, however, refrained from intimating to Kotze his desire that
he should resume his service at court as master of ceremonies, and
this taken in conjunction with the fact that the procedure of the
court-martial remained a secret, left a painful degree of suspicion
resting upon the character of the unfortunate Baron Kotze. It is
perfectly true that many of those members of the court, and of
society, who had been most bitter in their denunciation of him,
left cards at his residence, but the Hohenau clique still remained
obdurate, and in spite of every possible intervention, persisted
in regarding Baron Kotze as having been unable to clear himself
completely. His most obdurate detractor remained Baron Schrader.

Kotze learning the part which Schrader had played in the entire
affair, after having consulted with his friends, came to the
conclusion that the injury done to him by his fellow master of
ceremonies, was far too great to admit of its being expiated, or
atoned for by a mere exchange of bullets on the duelling field, and
he accordingly instituted criminal proceedings against him. The
preliminaries to this sort of thing are exceedingly intricate and
tedious in Germany, and the legal authorities having received the
impression in one way or another that the public trial in connection
with the scandal would be viewed with displeasure in high quarters,
naturally placed every obstacle in Baron Kotze's way. Of course,
having instituted legal proceedings against Schrader, he was
debarred by the so-called code of honor from challenging Schrader, a
circumstance of which the latter took advantage to insinuate that if
Kotze had refrained from calling him to account on the field of honor,
it was because he did not feel sufficiently sure of his ground.

This insinuation was taken up by Kotze's cousin, Captain Dietrich
Kotze, who challenged Schrader and fought a duel with him, slightly
wounding him. Kotze himself meanwhile challenged, and fought a duel
with another of his persecutors, Baron Hugo Reischach, the chamberlain
of Empress Frederick, and received a rather severe wound, which kept
him in bed for several weeks.

As legal proceedings were pending, which were expected to eventually
clear up the entire scandal, and show who was the author of the
anonymous letters, it was generally assumed that Baron von Kotze could
not be regarded as altogether cleared from the suspicion which rested
upon him, until the case had come up for trial. Meanwhile poor Kotze
remained under a cloud. Nearly nine months elapsed before the criminal
authorities declared that there was no ground for a criminal suit
against Schrader. Kotze thereupon endeavored to institute a civil
suit, this requiring still more time, and when at length the matter
came into court, Kotze was non-suited virtually without any hearing,
on the ground that the statutes of limitation had disqualified him
from any civil redress against Baron Schrader.

Kotze being thus frustrated in his efforts to obtain punishment
for his foe and persecutor through the courts of law, came to the
conclusion that there was no other means left him to vindicate his
honor, but a challenge to fight a duel. His demand for satisfaction,
however, was declined by Baron Schrader, on the ground that it was too
late for Kotze to resort to arms, and that if he had stood in need of
satisfaction of this kind, he should not have allowed so long a period
to elapse before demanding it. The matter was referred to a so-called
court of honor, which sustained the contention of Baron Schrader, and
declared that inasmuch as Baron Kotze had by his dilatoriness placed
himself beyond the power of exacting satisfaction from Baron Schrader
for the indignities to which he had been subjected, he was no longer
worthy to wear the uniform of a Prussian officer. This decision of the
court of honor was ratified by Prince Frederick of Hohenzollern, the
general commanding the division of Guards, to the reserve force of
which Baron Kotze belonged, but it was annulled by the emperor, an
action on the part of his majesty which led Prince Frederick to resign
his command, and to withdraw for the time from the Court of Berlin.

The emperor thereupon entrusted the affair to another jury of honor
at Hanover, which rendered a decision, blaming Baron Kotze for
his dilatoriness in demanding satisfaction of Baron Schrader, but
authorizing him to continue to wear the uniform, and to remain in the
service of the emperor as an officer. This verdict was ratified by the
emperor himself and on the strength thereof the long delayed duel
took place between the two barons. In June, 1896, Baron Schrader was
wounded in the abdomen by Baron Kotze, a wound to which he succumbed
on the following day. That seemed to settle, in the minds of all, the
innocence of Baron Kotze, for after spending the customary few months
in nominal imprisonment for infraction of the civil laws, which
prohibit the fighting of those very duels which are prescribed by the
military code, he was invited to resume his service as master of the
ceremonies at court, was treated once more with the utmost distinction
by the emperor, while his wife spent several weeks in the autumn of
that year as the guest of Princess Charlotte of Saxe-Meiningen, at the
latter's country seat.

But who was the author of the anonymous letters?

That is a question with which I propose to deal in the following
chapter, at the same time showing how this most sensational court
scandal of the latter half of the nineteenth century led to the
exodus from Berlin, and the desertion of its court by numerous royal
personages and great nobles.


To this day the identity of the writer of the anonymous letters
remains a secret to the general public in Germany, as well as abroad,
but it is pretty generally known in court circles at Berlin and at
Vienna; and if steps have been taken by the authorities to prevent the
true facts from getting into print, and the writer was merely expelled
from Germany, instead of being brought to justice and sentenced to a
long term of imprisonment, it is only because the culprit could not
have been tried and convicted without the name of one of the greatest
personages in Germany being dragged into the case.

Needless to add that the anonymous letter writer was a woman--a
foreign lady of title--who for a time was one of the most admired
beauties at the Court of Berlin, where, thanks to her inimitable chic,
elegance and brilliancy of wit, everybody, men and women alike, were
charmed. Old Emperor William, who was always very attentive to the
fair sex, up to the very last, and easily smitten by a pretty face,
had introduced the lady to his court without taking much trouble to
investigate her antecedents or character, and of course, with such
a sponsor, everyone took it for granted that she was above reproach,
socially, as well as morally. She became very intimate with many of
the court people, notably with the Hohenaus, the Kotzes, etc., and was
even admitted to the intimacy of Princess Charlotte of Saxe-Meiningen,
the emperor's eldest sister. She possibly might have, in spite of
all, retained her social eminence, had she not allowed herself to be
compromised, first, in the eyes of a few, and subsequently, in a
more general fashion, by the only brother of the empress, Duke
Ernest-Gunther of Schleswig-Holstein-Augustenburg. The association of
their names ultimately became such that the great ladies of the
Berlin Court, commenced to cut adrift from the fair foreigner, whose
resentment at this treatment naturally became particularly bitter
against precisely those with whom she had been most intimate.

Her animosity against Countess Fritz Hohenau was especially
intensified by the particularly offensive manner in which she was
cut by "Charlotte of Prussia," whose bitter and contemptuous remarks
concerning her were naturally communicated to the foreign lady by
the men who still frequented her salons. Through these noblemen and
princes she was kept _au courant_ of everything that went on at court,
and there is no doubt that she was able to extract much information
concerning the emperor and his family from the duke, who visited her
daily, and who was infatuated by her potent and undeniable charms
beyond all reason.

Of course, no one dreams to-day of accusing the duke of having
knowingly played any part in the fabrication of the anonymous letters;
but there is no doubt that, with his utter absence of discretion, his
lack of intellectual brilliancy, and the thoroughly royal predilection
for gossip and tittle-tattle, which monopolize to this day his
interest, he imparted to her, in the course of his daily visits, a
vast amount of news and information which she could not possibly have
obtained from any one else. Dissipated, foolish and indiscreet to an
incredible extent, the duke is nevertheless an honorable man, and in
spite of the suspicions entertained at one time concerning him by the
Schraders, the Hohenaus, the Anhalts, and the Reischachs, there is no
doubt that he had not the slightest conception of the manner in which
the gossip which he retailed day by day to his _inamorata_ was used by
her for the fabrication of her anonymous letters.

It was Baron von Kotze's cousin, Captain Dietrich Kotze, mentioned in
the preceding chapter as having espoused the cause of his unfortunate
relative with particular vigor, to whom belongs the credit of having
discovered the culprit. He accomplished this more through a piece of
good fortune than by design, for he was put on the right scent by a
mere chance remark which he happened to overhear at a dinner party in
Paris. The information which he obtained was imparted to the emperor,
and the latter without a moment's hesitation gave orders that his
palace police should visit the "Grande Dame's" residence during the
following night, take possession of all her papers and correspondence,
and convey her to a small town, near the Belgian frontier, where she
was to be kept by the police under strict surveillance, without being
permitted to see any one, until further orders.

It is impossible to say exactly what was discovered among these
papers, but it is generally understood that the police recovered
possession of the missing diary of Princess Charlotte, and obtained
ample proofs of the fact that the fair foreigner was the author of all
the anonymous letters.

After a twenty-four hours' detention, she was conducted to the
frontier by the police, and warned against returning to Germany. If no
severer measures were taken against her, it is because it would have
resulted in a more or less public disclosure of the indiscreet role
played by the duke in the matter, and likewise because she really
knew too much! In fact, there is scarcely a secret pertaining to the
reigning family, or to the Court of Prussia, with which she is not
acquainted, and the fact that she should have refrained from
making any attempt to publish them to the world, gives rise to the
presumption that means of a financial character, or else some threats
of terrorism, have been used to insure her silence.

At the time of the descent of the police upon her house, Duke
Ernest-Gunther was staying at Lowther Castle, in Westmoreland,
England, as the guest of Lord Lonsdale, and was to have gone on at the
end of the week to Sandringham, to stay with the Prince and Princess
of Wales. On receiving telegrams, however, from his beautiful friend,
notifying him of her expulsion from Germany, he left Lowther Castle,
literally at an hour's notice, and without taking leave of his host,
proceeded immediately to Paris for the purpose of meeting her, in
order to find out to what extent the situation was compromised. There
is every reason to believe that it was not until then that he realized
that the writer of the long series of anonymous letters was no
other than the lady by whose fascinations he had been so completely
captivated. A considerable time elapsed before he returned to Berlin.
In fact, a very serious estrangement between himself and the emperor
ensued, William declining to hold any intercourse with a relative
whose susceptibility to feminine charms, and whose extraordinary
absence of even the most elementary discretion, had contributed to one
of the most painful scandals that have overtaken the Prussian Court
since the close of the last century.

Not even the Kaiser's fondness for his wife, nor his anxiety to please
her, could soften the anger which he felt against his brother-in-law,
and when after a prolonged voyage to India and elsewhere, the duke
on landing at Trieste, ran over from there to the neighboring seaside
resort of Abbazia, for the purpose of visiting the German imperial
couple, who were spending the early spring there with their children,
the kaiser declined to receive his brother-in-law and went out
shooting, so as to avoid an interview with him, the princely prodigal
meeting with no one except his sister, the empress, with whom he had
an interview of a couple of hours.

It is generally believed that Princess Charlotte's missing diary is
to-day in the possession of the emperor, after having been seized
by the police among the correspondence of Duke Ernest-Gunther's fair
friend; for the former very warm affection manifested by William for
his eldest sister, arising from the belief that she had been subjected
to as harsh treatment as he imagined himself to have received at the
hands of their mother, the imperious, masterful and immensely clever
Empress Frederick, appears since the anonymous letter episode to
have given way to feelings of distrust, and even dislike. Princess
Charlotte and her husband have been ever since that time virtually
banished from the Court of Berlin, at which they are rarely if ever
seen. Prince Bernhardt of Saxe-Meiningen, was transferred to the
command of the troops at Breslau, although he has but little taste for
a military career, and is far more devoted to art, literature, music,
and the drama, than to soldiering. At Berlin his duties as a general
were more or less titular, and he had all the leisure which he
required for the researches into the affairs of modern and ancient
Greece, which have won for him celebrity as one of the most erudite
Hellenists of the present time. He was surrounded by a congenial
circle of friends possessed of the same disposition as himself, and
had access to some of the finest libraries and museums in the world,
while his still charming wife was the most conspicuous figure in a
circle composed of all that was most elegant, witty, brilliant and
clever in the so-called "_Athens on the Spree_" Indeed, her palace
in the Thiergarten was the centre of everything that was eclectic and
brilliant, and her salons were the rendezvous of all that was best in
Berlin society.

Imagine, therefore, a prince and princess with tastes and dispositions
such as these compelled to close up their lovely home, to bid adieu to
all their friends, and to take up their residence in the dullest,
most uninteresting and provincial of cities, situated in the least
picturesque portion of the empire; where the only society consists
of bureaucrats of the most starchy description, with no ideas
beyond their office, or of impoverished landowners, belonging to the
district, whose nobiliary pretensions can only be compared with the
paucity of their resources, and whose conversation and even intellect
is restricted to mangelwurzels, potatoes, and the different grades of

Breslau, to say the whole truth, is a city utterly without any
attractions, either social or intellectual; the only other royal
personage in the place is an eccentric Wurtemberg princess, a cousin
of the now reigning King of Wurtemberg. This lady sacrificed her royal
rank and prerogatives in order to marry a physician of the name of
Dr. Willim, who had attended her father in his last illness. She could
not, however, bring herself to descend to the social level of her
husband, who is of plebeian origin, and a mere commoner, but thought
that she had done enough in that direction when she contented herself
with the name and title of Baroness Kirchbach, which she now bears. Of
late years she has become a convert to socialism, much to the dismay
and distress of her eminently respectable husband, and at the last
Socialist Congress held at Breslau, took a very prominent part in the
proceedings, arrayed in a blouse of flaming red.

I am very sorry to have to destroy the romance by which the name of
this Princess Wilhelmina of Wurtemberg has until now been surrounded,
especially that portion thereof which represents her as a lovely and
interesting woman. The truth is that she is fearfully homely, both in
face and figure, while her eccentricities are such that in America,
for instance, she would be described as a "crank." Thus she
distinguishes herself through her inordinate fondness for cats, goats
and rabbits; escorted by whole herds of which she is wont to wander
through the gloomy streets of Breslau. Her costumes are invariably
as queer as the one in which she appeared on the platform of the
Socialist Congress. Compare this strange figure so utterly unfeminine
in its lack of all elegance, with the dainty, spirituelle Princess
Charlotte! Yet Baroness von Kirchbach is the only lady of sufficiently
lofty birth either in Breslau or in the vicinity to associate with
Princess Charlotte on terms of any thing like equality!

It is probable that Princess Charlotte and her husband will be kept
at Breslau, virtually exiled from the Court of Berlin, until the
accession of Prince Bernhardt to the throne of Saxe-Meiningen, through
the death of his aged father. It is naturally surprising that Prince
Bernhardt, as heir to his father's crown, should not take up his
residence in the capital of the Duchy of Saxe-Meiningen, instead of
being condemned to vegetate at Breslau. The fact of the matter is,
however, that the atmosphere of the Saxe-Meiningen capital is even
less congenial than that of Breslau to Prince Bernhardt and Princess
Charlotte, for the old duke is morganatically married to an actress
of the local theatre, upon whom he has conferred the title of Baroness
Helburg, and the princess finds it difficult to associate with this

How unrelenting William remains with regard to his sister, may be
gathered from the fact that when her only daughter, Princess Fedora,
was married the other day at Breslau, he himself, and the empress,
pointedly avoided being present at the ceremony, although they were
within a couple of hours' distance of Breslau at the time, spending
the day in shooting. The slight thus placed upon Princess Charlotte
and her husband was all the more marked, as not only were all the
other members of the reigning house of Prussia present, but even the
aged King of Saxony, the King of Wurtemberg and the Grand Duke of
Hesse, had all three taken the trouble to come from long distances in
order to attend the wedding, at which Queen Victoria was represented
by several members of her family, who had travelled from England for
the purpose. The sensation created, not only over all Germany, but
even throughout Europe by the absence of the emperor and empress from
the wedding of the only child of the hereditary Prince and Princess
of Saxe-Meiningen, when they were actually in the neighborhood, was so
great that it can only be assumed that the emperor intended to give a
public manifestation of his continued ill-will towards his sister;
and that his so kind-hearted and good-natured consort should have thus
joined him in this act of public discourtesy, can be explained by a
story current at Berlin to the effect that she, too, feels that she
can neither forget nor forgive the mingled ridicule, satire and even
downright contempt expressed not only about herself, but about the
emperor, her sisters, and her mother in the missing diary of Princess

Another reason why Princess Charlotte and her husband are forced to
conform themselves to the command, by means of which the sovereign
keeps them almost permanently at Breslau, is that Prince Bernhardt has
little or no money at all, as long as his father lives, and that the
couple are, therefore, almost entirely dependent upon the allowance
which the princess receives as a member of the reigning house
of Prussia. Now it is the kaiser who, as chief of the family of
Hohenzollern, controls all its vast private possessions, and, if at
any time, a member of the House of Prussia declines to yield obedience
to his orders, he is empowered by the statutes of the Hohenzollern
family to suspend the allowances of those guilty of such
insubordination. Thus it is greatly because they are so poor that the
prince and princess invariably travel incognito when they go abroad,
although it has been asserted that the kaiser carries his irritation
against his sister to the extent of declining to permit her to leave
Germany, save on the understanding that neither she nor her husband
will anywhere exact, or receive the honors due to their royal rank.

At the time of the visit of the Emperor and Empress of Germany to
Rome, during the silver-wedding festivities of King Humbert and Queen
Marguerite of Italy, Prince Bernhardt and Princess Charlotte were in
the Eternal City, entirely ignored by the Italian court, as well as by
all the foreign royalties present. Indeed, while the emperor, and even
the pettiest foreign princelets invited for the occasion, were driving
about the streets and parks in royal equipages, the kaiser's sister
and brother-in-law had to content themselves with the dingiest of hack
cabs, and also with the role of ordinary sight-seers.

Those who imagine that Princess Charlotte prefers an incognito role
to that of a royal princess are singularly mistaken. No one is fonder
than she is of the prerogatives of rank, and like all clever and
pretty women, she is ever eager to be the centre of attraction, and
the object of much homage. She cannot, therefore, be said to relish
the treatment and neglect to which she is subjected through her
brother's displeasure.

In the Berlin great world the princess has always been popular, not
merely by reason of her devotion to society, but because a certain
amount of sympathy was felt for her in connection with the treatment
which she had received at the hands of her mother. For some strange
reason or other, Princess Charlotte was never appreciated by her
mother, who showed her preference for her younger daughters in a very
marked manner. Charlotte was always treated with a far greater degree
of strictness than any of the other girls, in spite of her being
vastly superior to them in intellect and in looks. Princess Charlotte
is still a very charming woman, and was in her younger days a
singularly attractive girl, one of the fairest indeed of all Queen
Victoria's numerous descendants, but her sisters are inclined to be
homely, absolutely deficient in feminine elegance or chic, and, while
accomplished, are extremely dull, and not a bit sparkling or witty.

Empress Frederick always declared that her daughter Charlotte was
frivolous, and as much inclined to be forward and rebellious to
discipline and control as her eldest son, the present emperor.
Therefore, as I have already stated, Charlotte and William were
treated by their mother with exceptional severity, were snubbed on
every occasion, often in the most humiliating manner, and were made to
feel that Prince Henry and their younger sisters held a higher place
in the maternal heart than they.

Sad is it to add that the youth of neither William nor Charlotte was
a particularly happy one, and thus it is not astonishing that one as
well as the other should have felt inclined to run a bit wild, like
young colts, when first emancipated from the school-room. It was
during the very few years that intervened between his leaving the
university at Bonn and his marriage, that William obtained his
reputation for dissipation. His shortcomings, due to the exuberance of
youth, were exaggerated until they were transformed from very venial
offences into the most mortal of sins, while in the same way the
delight manifested by Princess Charlotte at the admiration and homage
to which her comeliness gave rise--a very natural feeling when one
recalls the snubbings and humiliations to which she had been subjected
until then--were construed into frivolity and deep-dyed coquetry,
altogether unworthy of a royal princess. She was taxed, too, with an
absence of that simpering modesty, more or less affected, which is
_de mise_ with so many young girls in Germany and in France, when they
make their debut in society, and even her most harmless flirtations
were condemned by her mother as grave indiscretions.

Empress Frederick became very soon imbued with the idea that it was
necessary to marry off Charlotte without delay, in order to avert
the danger, as she conceived it, of one or another of these girlish
flirtations developing into something calculated to compromise both
her dignity and her fair name. Had the princess been less hurried in
this matter, it is probable that she would have found a more suitable
husband, and above all one calculated to capture the fancy of a
young girl, reared at a court which can boast of some of the finest
specimens of manhood in the world. But she was married to the first
princelet who happened to catch the eye of Empress Frederick, namely
Prince Bernhardt of Saxe-Meiningen--aye, and she was hustled into
matrimony in such a hurry, too, as to give a sort of foundation for
some shameful and base slanders, cruelly unmerited, but which one
hears even Germans who profess loyalty to the crown repeating to this
day. Prince Bernhardt, though an excellent man in his way, was very
far from meeting the requirements of the "Prince Charmant" fit to
be mated to a princess so gay and so brilliant as Charlotte of
Hohenzollern. His appearance is effeminate, his manner finicky and
old-maidish to a degree. He is neither stalwart nor good-looking; he
excels neither as a dancer nor as a rider, nor yet as an athlete, and
he gives one at first sight the impression of being an artist or a
composer, rather than a son of that grand looking old fellow, the
reigning Duke of Saxe-Meiningen.

Indeed, there was at the time of the marriage but one voice in Berlin
society, condemning it as having been forced upon Princess Charlotte
against her inclinations by her mother. And after the marriage the
poverty of the prince rendered him to such an extent dependent upon
the financial assistance of his mother-in-law, that he, as well as
his wife, was compelled to remain subservient in every respect to
her wishes. Nor was it until William came to the throne and availed
himself of his position as head of the family to grant Princess
Charlotte an allowance suitable to her rank, that the princess and
her husband were emancipated from the strict control of her mother,
Empress Frederick.

Young married folks in America can form no conception of the extent of
such tyranny, and when, some time after the wedding, Prince Bernhardt
and Princess Charlotte secured permission from Empress Frederick--then
only crown princess--to visit Paris, and to make a stay there of three
weeks, she only gave her consent on the condition that they should
be accompanied by one of her chamberlains, and one of her
ladies-in-waiting who had known the princess from childhood, and whose
behests the prince and princess were obliged to obey throughout their
sojourn in the French capital, just as if they had been a little
boy and girl, instead of grown-up and married people. Probably the
happiest time of Princess Charlotte's life was the period which
elapsed between the death of her lamented father and her exile to
Breslau. She amused herself to her heart's content, fluttered about in
Berlin like a butterfly, took a leading part in every social movement,
was admired, feted and petted by everyone, but gave her worthy husband
no cause whatsoever for uneasiness, and avoided all scandals, save
those contained in the anonymous letters, for which she cannot really
be held responsible.

To-day she must feel that she has exchanged the unbearable tyranny of
Empress Frederick for the yet infinitely more oppressive despotism of
her eldest brother, Emperor William,--a despotism so harsh that it has
won for her, somewhat late it is true, the kindly sympathy of her own
mother,--a severity which may be said to have its source in that most
dangerous of all the intimate friends and confidants of the princess,
namely, that diary of hers which was stolen from her, and which is
believed to be now in the possession of the kaiser.


I am thoroughly aware that the point which is likely to excite the
attention of my readers to a greater degree than any other in the
previous chapter, is the reference contained therein to the tyranny
exercised by the monarchs of the Old World upon their relatives. In
fact, it is far better in Europe to be a mere subject than a kinsman
or kinswoman of the sovereign.

Even the lowliest of the lieges of the anointed of the Lord has
certain constitutional rights and prerogatives which may be said
to safeguard him from oppression and persecution, but princes and
princesses of the blood have no such rights, and are exposed to every
caprice and every whim of the head of their family, defiance of whose
wishes entails exile, loss of property, even poverty and outlawry,
without any redress.

Royal and imperial personages, in addition to being subjected to
the ordinary laws of the land, are expected to yield blind and
unquestioned obedience to another code, comprising what are officially
styled the "Family Statutes" of the dynasty to which they belong.
These are administered by the head of the family, who is free to
construe them as he sees fit, and while they are binding upon the
members of his house, they in no way can be said to constitute any
limitation to the exercise of his authority. In fact, the latter is
absolutely unrestricted, and extends to every phase of the life of a
royal personage. Thus, a prince or princess of the blood is debarred
from contracting a marriage without the consent of the sovereign, and
if any union has taken place without the sanction of the head of the
family, it is regarded, not only at court, but even by the tribunals
of the land, as invalid, and children that may be born of the marriage
bear the stigma of illegitimacy. If a marriage has received the full
authorization of the ruler, and there is any issue, the children
cannot be educated without the sovereign's wishes being consulted.
The parents, in fact, are regarded much as if they were either minors,
outlaws, or demented people, unfitted to be entrusted with the control
and bringing up of their offspring, for the sovereign is _ex officio_
the guardian of all children who are under age, belonging to the
married members of his family, and his rights over the children are
superior to those of the latter's father and mother.

If the boy is to have a tutor, or the girl a governess, the
appointment cannot be made by the parents without their previously
obtaining the permission of the sovereign, and he has it in his power
to reject their nominee, and to assign some candidate of his own,
who may possibly be regarded as most objectionable to the unfortunate
parents, for the duty of taking charge of the education of the young
people in question. The royal or imperial mother, indeed, may esteem
herself fortunate if the sovereign does not insist on personally
selecting the nurses of her infants: when the present kaiser was
born, not merely the late Empress Augusta, but likewise all the other
members of the reigning house of Prussia, and of the Court of Berlin,
thought it quite right and natural that the old Emperor William should
exercise his authority for the purpose of prohibiting the young mother
from herself nursing her baby; on the ground that it was contrary to
the traditions of the House of Hohenzollern, and a quite undignified
proceeding. Fortunately, the late Emperor Frederick, who had spent
much of his time at the court of his mother-in-law, Queen Victoria,
and who was aware that she had nursed every one of her numerous
children herself, without permitting this motherly duty to interfere
with the arduous official business of the State, expostulated with
his father, and persuaded him to withdraw his prohibition, much to the
horror of the courtiers, and greatly to the satisfaction of the royal
lady, who is now Empress Frederick.

In Austria one of the principal sources of the domestic unhappiness
of the lamented Empress of Austria, was the small voice that she was
allowed by the sovereign--her husband--to have in the management and
the control of her own children, as long as her mother-in-law, the
late Archduchess Sophia, was alive. It was only after the demise of
the archduchess that Empress Elizabeth first realized in their full
measure the joys of motherhood.

While on the subject of Austria, I may cite the case of the widowed
Crown Princess Stephanie as another illustration of the extent to
which royal parents are deprived of all authority over their children.
Thus when Crown Prince Rudolph died at Mayerling, his little
daughter, at that time barely six years of age, was assigned to the
guardianship, not of her widowed mother, but of her grandfather. A
very general belief prevails that this arrangement about the care of
the little Archduchess Elizabeth, was due to a piece of animosity on
the part of the ill-fated crown prince against his wife, and I have
seen it stated in print that he had left a will confiding his only
child to his father, and directing that its mother should be allowed
no voice in its education. There is no official authority for any such
statement, but no matter whether the crown prince expressed any such
testamentary wish or not, the fact remains that at his death his child
was bound by the statutes of the House of Hapsburg, to become the ward
of the sovereign, who in this case happened to be her grandfather.
Gentle and soft-hearted as is Emperor Francis-Joseph, he nevertheless
exercised his authority over his grandchild in a way that cannot but
have been galling in the extreme to its mother, a way, in fact, which
I imagine would be beyond the endurance of any American woman. Thus
he insisted upon himself appointing and selecting her governesses and
teachers; he nominated her entire household without consulting her
mother, and its members, as well as the girl's instructors made their
reports not to Crown Princess Stephanie, but to him, from whom, also,
they alone took their instructions.

It was the emperor who decided where his grandchild was to stay, where
she was to spend this part of the year, and where another season, and
finally he strictly prohibited her from leaving his dominions. The
position of the Crown Princess of Austria since the death of her
husband has been so extremely unpleasant and painful, that she has
spent much of her time--indeed, at least nine months of the year--in
foreign travel. The imperial family, the court and the people, hold
her responsible for that domestic wretchedness which drove her so
universally popular husband to his tragic death at Mayerling. Of
a jealous disposition and of a temper that even at its best is
difficult, she is generally understood to have driven him by her
violence and injustice to seek, away from his home, the pleasures that
he could not find by his own fireside.

It had been known that she had been strangely lacking in dignity in
her complaints concerning his behavior, and after his death she gave
cruel offence both to his parents and to the people of her adopted
country by her indifference to his terrible fate, and by the frivolity
with which she bore her widowhood, not a little of which was spent
at the gaming tables of Monte-Carlo in the gayest mourning costumes
possible; a circumstance which horrified Queen Victoria, who was at
that time at Nice, and naturally cruelly embittered the bereaved and
sorrowing mother, Empress Elizabeth, who, robed in deepest black,
was at Cap-Martin, endeavoring to recover her health, which had been
absolutely shattered by the tragedy.

All these things led to the crown princess being regarded with deep
disfavor in Austria. Difficulties were raised with regard to her rank
and precedence at court, and the animosity manifested towards her was
such at Vienna, and elsewhere in the dual empire, that she found it
preferable to spend the greater part of her time abroad. She was not,
however, permitted to take her little daughter with her, and thus the
young archduchess may be said to have grown up altogether away from
her mother, whom she saw for barely two months of the year, and then
more as a visitor and a stranger, than as a relative who had any voice
in the ordering of her life.

If, then, this control of the minor princes and princesses of his
dynasty is insisted upon to such an extent by the aged Emperor of
Austria, the kindliest, most warm-hearted and sympathetic of old men,
always prone to patient forbearance and indulgence, it will be readily
understood that it is exercised to its fullest extent by Emperor
William, in whose character the tendency to autocracy, and the spirit
of command, is far more developed than in his brother monarch. Indeed,
he not only claims the right to act as the chief guardian of the
junior members of the reigning house of Prussia, of which he is the
head, but likewise of the children of all those sovereign families of
Germany which have acknowledged him as their emperor. Thus he insisted
upon having entire control of his young cousin, the only son of
the reigning Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, declaring that his own
authority must be substituted for that of the lad's father, in spite
of the latter being himself a reigning sovereign, and an ally rather
than a vassal.

The tragic fate of the young prince will be too fresh in the memory of
my readers to need more than passing reference here. The boy, removed
from parental care, was transferred by Emperor William to Berlin, with
the avowed purpose of being under his own imperial eye. Unfortunately,
the duties and occupations of William are so multifarious that he was
unable to fulfil his very excellent intentions with regard to Prince
Alfred. The latter fell into bad hands, squandered large sums of
money at cards, became involved in pecuniary difficulties, and in
his endeavors to retrieve them, sunk deeper and deeper into the mire,
until finally Emperor William, suddenly alive to the results of his
wholly-unintentional neglect of the royal lad, sent him back to
his heart-broken parents, discredited, implicated in all sorts of
unpleasant gambling transactions, and shattered alike in health and
mind. In the midst of their silver-wedding festivities, they were
forced to send their only boy off to a sanitarium in Austria, where,
in spite of the close restraint under which he was kept, he managed
to put an end to his life, only a few days after his arrival, prompted
thereto by either physical or mental agony, no one knows which.

Small wonder, when it became necessary to find a likely successor to
the present reigning Duke of Saxe-Coburg, and his younger brother,
Prince Arthur of Great Britain, Duke of Connaught, was proclaimed
heir, that the prince decided that it would be preferable to sacrifice
his rights to this throne, rather than his rights over his only son.
On being given to understand that if he accepted the position of heir
apparent, his sixteen-year-old boy would become the ward of Emperor
William, and that the authority of the kaiser would be superior to his
own over the lad, Prince Arthur declined to have anything to do with
the Saxe-Coburg succession, and abandoned both his own claims thereto
and those of his son, in favor of his young nephew, the fatherless
Duke of Albany. It was precisely on the same ground that the Duke of
Cumberland declined to complete the agreement whereby a reconciliation
was to be effected between himself and the kaiser. Born crown prince
of the now defunct Kingdom of Hanover, he should have succeeded to the
throne of the Duchy of Brunswick on the death of his kinsman, the late
Duke of Brunswick, in 1884. The German Emperor, however, decided that
he could not be permitted to take possession of the sovereignty of the
duchy, nor to assume the status of one of the federal rulers of the
confederation known as the German Empire, unless he recognized the
latter, as now constituted, that is to say with his father's Kingdom
of Hanover incorporated with Prussia. For a long time he refused to
do this, but was ultimately persuaded by his brother-in-law, the late
czar, and the Prince of Wales, to consent to a reconciliation
with Prussia, and to accept the present condition of affairs. The
arrangements were on the eve of being completed when a conflict arose
between the duke and the kaiser, as to the education of the former's
eldest son, Prince George. The duke wished to send him to the Vizhum
College, at Dresden, where so many members of the sovereign families,
and of the great houses of the nobility, have received their
instruction, while the kaiser objected to this particular school on
the ground that its teachings were calculated to increase instead
of to diminish particularist and anti-Prussian sentiments. The duke
thereupon declared that he alone was competent to judge and determine
how his boy should be educated, whereupon the kaiser put forth his
pretension to the guardianship of all the junior members of the
sovereign houses comprised in the German Empire. Rather than consent
to this, the Duke of Cumberland, who has inherited much of the
obstinacy for which his great-grandfather, King George III. of Great
Britain, was so celebrated, broke off all negotiations with Emperor
William, and refused to have anything more to do with him, for, like
his cousin, the Duke of Connaught, he would rather sacrifice his
rights to a German throne than his parental rights over a much-loved

But the despotism of the monarchs of the Old World is by no means
restricted to this question of the control and custody of the junior
members of their respective families. Every prince and princess of
the latter, no matter what his or her age, or superiority in point of
years to the sovereign may be, is subjected to the will of the head
of the house. For instance, no Russian grand duke or grand duchess can
leave the Muscovite empire without previously asking and obtaining the
permission of the czar, and in the same way, the Austrian
archdukes and archduchesses have to crave the sanction of Emperor
Francis-Joseph, and the Prussian princes and princesses, that of the
kaiser, before they can leave their respective countries for a foreign
trip. Even Empress Frederick is compelled to obtain the permission
of her son, the emperor, before taking her departure from Germany for
England or Italy, and a few years ago when quietly enjoying herself in
Paris, she was forced by a peremptory command from her son to suddenly
cut short her stay in the French capital, and to betake herself to

To such an extent is this despotism carried that when Prince Henry
of Prussia was stationed at Kiel, he had to ask his elder brother's
permission before he could run up to Berlin, although Kiel is only
a few hours' trip from the capital; and, as stated in the previous
chapter, Princess Charlotte of Saxe-Meiningen and her husband,
are kept at Breslau, except when their brother William graciously
condescends to permit them to leave their home. Two years ago the
emperor, for reasons which can only be surmised, and which were of
a personal rather than of a political character--of which more
anon--suddenly ordered his only brother Henry off to China, and a
little later, possibly with the object of showing to the world that
his authority extended to the ladies of his house, as well as to the
men, he directed Princess Henry to join her husband at Hong Kong. As
the two little boys of the princess are exceedingly delicate, owing
possibly to the fact that their parents are first cousins, the poor
mother was very reluctant to undertake the trip, but she was forced
by the emperor to go, and had scarcely reached Hong Kong before
she learnt by cable that both her little ones were prostrated by a
terrible attack of diphtheria. She was not, however, permitted to
return, but was kept out in China away from her children until late
in the spring, and reached home well on towards autumn, to find her
little ones--the youngest was but two years old--more delicate than
ever, but fortunately alive.

In the memoirs of Bismarck published by Dr. Busch, there is reproduced
one of Emperor William's letters, written prior to his accession
to the throne, in the course of which he asks the great chancellor
whether he approves of his "commanding" (the German word is
"_befehlen_") his brother Prince Henry to make certain inquiries of
the late Prince Alexander of Battenberg. William in this letter does
not talk of "requesting" his brother, but of ordering him to do this.
If then William, as crown prince, already took upon himself the right
of ordering his brother and his sisters to do this and to do that, it
may be readily imagined that he is not less peremptory in his dealings
with them now that he is their emperor and king.

If they disobey him, he has various means of punishment at his
command. He can banish them from court for a long term; he can
deprive them temporarily, or for all time, of the prerogatives, the
privileges, and the honors due to their rank; he can suspend their
allowances from the national treasury, or from the family property,
or can stop it altogether; he can take from them the control of any
estates which they may have inherited, and confide the administration
thereof to curators appointed for the purpose; finally, he can subject
them to various forms of arrest, as he once did in the case of his
brother-in-law, Prince Frederick-Leopold; while in very extreme cases
he can place the offending relative under restraint in an asylum for
the insane on the pretext of dementia, as has been done in the case
of Princess Louise of Coburg, daughter of King Leopold of Belgium,
and mother of Princess "Dolly" of Coburg, who is now the wife of Duke
Ernest-Gunther of Schleswig-Holstein.

"_Aux arrets_," or confinement to one's quarters, is the most common
form of punishment inflicted by Old World monarchs upon those of their
kith and kin who have failed to comply with their behests, and there
is scarcely a single sovereign or prince of the blood, who has not
been subjected to this species of discipline at one time or another of
his career. Thus the late Emperor Frederick, prior to his accession
to the throne, but long after his marriage, was sentenced to several
weeks' detention in his palace under strict arrest, as a punishment
for a little joke which he had played during the course of a military

He had been protesting for a long time against the tightness of the
uniforms, and of the belts of the rank and file of the infantry,
declaring that it impeded the movements and play of the muscles of the
men, to such an extent as to deprive them of more than fifty per cent,
of their usefulness. One day, during an inspection of the division of
guards at Potsdam, while the troops happened to be standing at ease,
he walked along the front rank of the first regiment, accompanied by
a number of officers, with whom he had just been discussing this very
question of equipment; suddenly, he stopped short in his walk, and
extracting a piece of gold from his pocket, dropped it on the ground,
and told the men nearest him to pick it up, adding that whoever got
hold of it first, might keep it! Several of them made frantic attempts
to bend down in order to get the money, but so tight were their
uniforms and belts that they found it absolutely impossible to reach,
the coin, which Emperor Frederick ultimately picked up himself, and
handed to them.

"And how do you expect to win battles with soldiers hampered to such
an extent as that in their movements?" he exclaimed contemptuously
to the officers around him. "What greater demonstration than this is
needed to prove the justice of my argument?"

The incident was reported to the then Minister of War, who immediately
lodged a complaint with Frederick's father, the result being that
"Unser Fritz," at that time Crown Prince of Prussia, was placed by old
Emperor William for several weeks under arrest in his palace!

Prince Rupert of Bavaria, the heir apparent to the ancient throne of
the Wittelsbachs, was sentenced by his grandfather, the prince regent,
to no less than three months' close arrest in his quarters at Munich,
for having left the kingdom without permission, in order to spend
three days at Paris, in fair but frail company; while the widowed
Duchess of Aosta on one occasion was placed under arrest in her palace
of Turin by her brother-in-law, King Humbert, because she had ventured
to appear in public on her wheel wearing a pair of bloomers!

Prince and Princess Frederick-Leopold, the latter a younger sister of
the Empress of Germany, have both been condemned on several occasions


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