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November, 1914 


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THE conduct of the German nation during 
the present war must be judged by the pre- 
liminary incidents and the brutality which 
marked the opening months of the war. In 
spite of a highly organised system of mendacity 
and misrepresentation, the truth has reached 
the ears of the civilised world, and some restraint 
has been imposed upon the German troops. 
We must, therefore, regard their conduct in 
the first months as the conduct they deliber- 
ately adopted. Their actions have been a 
sinister revelation to the nations of the 
world. There seems to have been an out- 
pouring from the pit, and the problem for 
thoughtful people in every nation is how this 



morbid temper has got into the German 

Many people are misled by the word " cul- 
ture," which has been associated with the 
German proceedings. What the Germans 
call Kultur is by no means the same thing as 
what English people call culture. It means 
civilisation. It means the whole system of 
social, political and commercial life; the 
schools, the parliamentary system, the indus- 
trial life, the technical skill, the military 
system, and everything which distinguishes the 
civilised man from the savage. The fact that 
various scholars of Germany seem to have 
approved the conduct of the war probably 
gives some colour to the general misunderstand- 
ing, yet how anyone could suppose that re- 
ligious thinkers like Harnack and Eucken 
could approve the horrible outrages that have 
desecrated the soil of Belgium one cannot 



understand. The censorship in Germany is 
far more rigorous even than in England, and 
one may well suppose that these outrages are 
entirely unknown to the leading thinkers. 
Yet it is a fact that some of Germany's leading 
scholars have approved the violation of the 
neutrality of Belgium, and it is well known 
how German military policy prescribes the 
treatment of a conquered country if there be 
any resistance. 

There is some taint in the blood or the brain 
of one of the greatest Powers of the modern 
world. It is, therefore, of interest to inquire 
whether there are any elements in German 
culture which indirectly might lead to or 
palliate such brutalities. Everybody now 
knows the sentiments of military writers 
like General von Bernhardi. With his name 
is associated, as the second apostle of 
the German modern gospel, the name 



of a distinguished historian, Heinrich von 

To understand what is called " the soul of 
the German people,' 1 one of the most familiar 
phrases in German literature, the history of 
Germany must be borne in mind. The pro- 
gress that has been made by the German 
people in the last one hundred years has few 
parallels in history. Prussia emerged from 
the Napoleonic war a small and deeply 
shattered State. Within the hundred years 
since the final victory at Waterloo, it has 
gathered province after province, and to-day 
it commands one of the most powerful and 
we thought yesterday most enlightened 
nations of the modern world. Germany is 
naturally proud of its great success. Nor 
must we suppose that this success has been 
purely military. How many times in recent 
years have not our magazines assured us 



of the superiority of German education, 
German commercial enterprise, German techni- 
cal skill ? The serious problem is not to 
explain the pride of the German people, 
but to understand how these achievements 
are squared with the horrible outrages which 
apparently find little restraint in higher 
quarters in Germany. 

Treitschke was one of the most popular 
historians of modern Germany. Of a very 
poetic and romantic nature, he impressed the 
story of his country upon crowds of youths 
in the greatest German University with a fire 
and eloquence of which we find few examples 
amongst modern historians. Although a Czech 
by extraction, his nature responded ardently 
to the features of modern German history, 
and he became the most influential teacher 
in the country. Prussia was to him almost 
a sacred Power. The Reformation had 



inaugurated a new period in the life of Europe, 
and Prussia was its great interpreter. Begin- 
ning life as a Liberal, his sympathy with 
Bismarck and the Prussian Government 
converted him into a Conservative of 
the most obstinate character. He almost 
deified the ways and traditions of the 

In person also, Treitschke was eminently 
fitted to be the apostle of Bismarckism. As 
a young man, although a brilliant student, 
he was sent down from his university for 
duelling and constant disturbance. Accident 
prevented him from becoming a soldier, and he 
carried all the ardour of a soldier into the 
interpretation of history. Like Goethe he 
wavered long between poetry and action, and 
he ended by infusing poetic fire into a gospel 
of drastic action. No demand could be made 
by the State, however exacting, but Treitschke 



religiously impressed it on the youth of Ger- 
many. He was a politician in the widest 
sense of the word, as well as an historian. The 
whole of history, in his mind, encouraged the 
development of the German Empire along 
the line on which it had entered. He glorified 
war as few historians have ever done, and he 
laid down principles the action of which 
we can plainly detect in the most recent 
ambitions of Germany. How these principles 
were seized by military writers, how Treitschke's 
sometimes reluctant concessions to the hard 
traditions of Prussia were made to serve the 
purpose of the more corrupt elements in 
German life, is one of the most interesting 
studies in connection with the German char- 
acter. To him we can trace a very large part 
of the abnormally swollen idea which young 
Germany has of its position and its future, 
and there are few points in the more repulsive 



military gospel which cannot find shelter 
in some of the pages of Treitschke. 

He, more than any, infused into German 
students the generation which is fighting 
against us to-day a jealousy and disdain 
of England. He, more than any, gave a 
high-sounding moral and religious character 
to the military ambitions of Germany. He 
lived through the making of the German 
Empire, and, in impressing that story on the 
mind of a new generation, he created the 
ambition which has led undoubtedly to the 
present confusion in Europe. How his char- 
acter developed these dangerous tendencies, 
and what were the doctrines which he ex- 
pounded in the class-rooms of the Berlin 
University, or the Hall of the Reichstag, or 
the higher Press of his country, I propose to 

J. M. 









LAW - - 185 








Dresden on September 15th, 1834. His father 
was an officer, and eventually a General, of 
the Saxon army; a man related to the 
Saxon nobility, but, not very many generations 
back, tracing his descent from Czech ancestors. 
His admiring biographer, Hausrath, traces 
those features of his nature which made him 
such a power in Germany precisely to his 
foreign ancestry. Nietzsche, who is regarded 
by many as another great influence in the 

17 B 


making of Germany, was a Pole. Treitschke, 
also, was by origin a Slav. But the whole 
environment of his early years gave a bent to 
his mind. His father had fought in the later 
years of the Napoleonic war ; his mother was 
the daughter of an officer. In the natural 
course of things he would assuredly have 
become a soldier, but an accident in his 
early years gave a different turn to his career. 
Talleyrand had his whole career perverted 
by an accident which lamed him when he 
was a child. In 1842 young Treitschke had 
smallpox, and it left him with a serious 
disorder of the ears, which in time turned into 
complete deafness. This closed the military 
world against him, and he threw his whole 
energy into learning. By the age of ten he 
knew Latin thoroughly and Greek very 
fairly. The military sentiment mingled with 
the books he read. He liked nothing better 



than to wrap himself in his father's military 
cloak and play the soldier. His great hero, 
shining beyond the heroes of Homer, was 

He was a strong, wild boy, with little 
affection for his mother and an ardent attach- 
ment to his father, whom he constantly 
accompanied to the camp. Letters written 
to his father in his fourteenth year show that 
he was deeply interested in politics even at 
that early age. His schoolmaster, moreover, 
was a vigorous Pan- German. Treitschke's 
readings about ancient Rome and Greece gave 
him a boyish leaning to republicanism, but 
he soon outgrew that bias and looked upon the 
revolutionary disturbances of 1848 with youth- 
ful disfavour; by his seventeenth year he 
was already an ardent believer in the union 
of Germany under Prussia. 

At that time, in 1848, the German subjects 


of Denmark were rebelling in Schleswig and 
Holstein, and he followed the accounts in 
the papers with deep interest. He wrote 
a fiery poem on the " heroes " who fell in the 
rebellion. He called upon Germany to " wipe 
out the wild shame with the wild sword of 
the avenger," and the juvenile poem ended : 

" Break, ye waves, break wildly on our advancing keel, 
Yet we will sail still onward, and we will reach the 

With these sentiments Treitschke went 
to Bonn University in the spring of 1851. 
He had already a keen eye for the division 
of Germany into little States, separated by 
tariff walls, as his letters to his father showed. 
In a vague, youthful way his idea of Germany 
had already dawned. At Bonn he applied 
himself chiefly to the study of history and of 
the Politics of Aristotle. Years afterwards 
he said to his students : " The man who 



would have a sound political sense must 
steel himself in the steel-bath of classical 
antiquity, which produced the greatest master- 
piece of theoretical politics the Politics of 

His deafness again influenced his career. 
For a time he strained his ears to follow the 
instruction of the professors, but he had little 
success, and he resigned himself to hard 
solitary reading and long solitary walks. For 
the ordinary frivolities of student life he had 
little taste. He was a stern, very religious 
young man; by no means anaemic. His 
broad shoulders, his penetrating dark eyes and 
black hair, revealed the great energy of his 
nature. His reading was exceedingly varied, 
and always turned upon the conception of a 
State. He read English lawyers like Black- 
stone, and his favourites ranged from Machia- 
velli to Shakespeare. His chief professor, 



Dahlmann, represented the Reformation as 
the starting point of a new civilisation, in 
which Prussia was to take the lead. This 
idea sank deep into the serious mind of young 
Treitschke. He wrote to his father, "The 
greatest thing of all is the fulfilment of duty," 
and he still followed the confused political 
development of Germany with remarkable 
intelligence for so young a man. In spite of 
his father belonging to one of the small German 
States, Treitschke was early convinced that 
they must be either persuaded or compelled to 
pass under the leadership of Prussia. 

By this time he had intelligently grasped 
the history and the situation of Germany. 
The kingdom which Frederick the Great had 
so ably established had been ground under 
the heel of Napoleon. At the Council of 
Vienna, in 1815, the ambitions of the German 
statesmen were checked by Talleyrand and 



the English representatives, so that the King- 
dom of Frederick was not wholly restored. 
The rest of Germany was linked with Prussia 
in a Confederation which proved itself an 
almost lifeless and helpless mass of petty 
States under the reactionary influence of 
Austria. This conflicted violently with the 
recent movement in German literature. 
Goethe and Schiller and Herder, and all the 
brilliant writers of the beginning of the 19th 
century, had called for a rebirth of the German 
spirit. For more than a hundred years 
Germany had shown signs of exhaustion. In 
letters it could do little more than imitate 
the French, but in the latter part of the 18th 
century a great German literature had arisen, 
and the strong patriotic sentiment which this 
literature inspired made young men deeply 
impatient of the actual helplessness of the 
country. Prussia seemed at first to Treitschke 



to share this helplessness. It had at first 
supported the claim of the Duke of Augusten- 
burg to Schleswig and Holstein, and had 
retired under the pressure of England and 
Russia. The cry of " weakness " and national 
shame was raised throughout young Germany. 
This was renewed when, in 1852, the Treaty 
of London guaranteed the integrity of Den- 
mark. During the same year a national 
parliament was at work in Germany trying 
to reorganise the Confederation. The country 
was split into two parties ; some were for a 
big Germany, including Austria, others for 
the exclusion of Austria and the welding 
of all the small States into a Kingdom under 
the lead of Prussia. They even offered the 
title of Emperor to Frederick William IV., 
but that autocrat would receive no gift from 
the hand of a democratic parliament. Thus 
every attempt of Germany to assert its strength 



and its mighty resources ended in failure, and 
the Powers of Europe paid little heed to the 
demands of Germany in their counsels. 

Treitschke's industrious reading and fiery 
thinking were accompanied by an acute 
interest in these domestic problems. In 1852 
he went to study at Leipzig. Here again he 
found himself unable to follow the professors, 
and spent his days and nights in hard solitary 
reading. He was comprehensive in his taste. 
French novels mingled with the volumes of 
Hume and Adam Smith and Ricardo on his 
desk, but everything which he read went in 
his mind to the building up of a great idea of a 
State, and that State was to be Prussia. For 
the time being he despised Prussia, and his 
feelings, as reflected in his letters, were 
almost aimless and discontented. In 1854 
he passed on to Tubingen, and then to Heidel- 
berg University, where he continued to 



unite a deep study of economics and history 
with the writing of patriotic poems. In 1855 
he was dismissed from Heidelberg University 
because of his constant challenges to dangerous 
duels with pistols. 

A letter, written to his father in March, 
1856, when he was studying at Goettingen, 
gives us a remarkable illustration of his 
development. He had, at an earlier date, 
studied Machiavelli, and it is clear that that 
unscrupulous theorist had made a lasting 
impression on his mind. He says to his 
father, referring to Machiavelli : " He was 
assuredly a practical statesman better fitted 
than any other, to destroy the illusion that 
the world can be reformed by cannon loaded 
only with ideas of right and truth. Even the 
politic of this much-decried apologist for crude 
force, seems to me adapted to the present 
condition of Prussia. It sacrifices right and 



virtue to a great idea the might and unity 
of its people : which cannot be said of the 
party that at present controls Prussia. This 
fundamental idea of the work the glowing 
patriotism, and the conviction that even 
the most oppressive despotism must be wel- 
comed when it makes for the might and unity 
of the Fatherland have reconciled me to 
many perverse and repulsive views of the 
great Florentine." 

It is almost humorous to find, that, when 
his father about the same date scolded him 
for his religious liberalism, he replied that 
he honoured Christianity above all religions 
in the world as " The Gospel of Love." 

Treitschke still hesitated between poetry 
and science. Year after year he polished the 
verses he had written in his 'teens, and at 
length, in 1856, he published them. The 
art is not impressive, but one finds running 



through the whole volume a feeling of burning 
shame for the lowliness of Germany in the 
concert of Europe, and a stern conviction 
that she must attain power and greatness 
by hard work and sacrifice. At the same 
time he wrote an article in the Prussian Year 
Book on " The Foundations of English 
Liberty," and we are told that it was 
attributed to Mommsen. In 1857 he returned 
to Leipzig and wrote his thesis on " The 
Science of Society." The whole work is a 
plea for the broader development of political 
economy, and the dream of German unity 
breaks in continually. It closed with the 
words of Shakespeare : 

" There is a mystery, with whom relation 
Dare not meddle, in the soul of State, 
Which hath an operation more Divine 
Than breath or pen can give expression to." 

He began to teach in the year 1859. His 



subject was " The History of Political 
Theories," and it is significant that we find 
his father warning him that he is being 
watched. Although he was teaching in one 
of the small German States, Saxony, he freely 
expounded his ideal of a United Germany. 
The rumour of a secret alliance between 
France and Russia for the destruction of 
Germany, which was current at that time, 
greatly alarmed him and he turned again 
to Prussia. He said in one of his letters: 
" That Germany will win in the end I do not 
doubt for a moment : otherwise there is no 
God in Heaven." He saw enemies of Ger- 
many on every frontier. Russia he despised. 
England he regarded, in spite of his admiration 
of Milton and Shakespeare, as thwarting the 
development of Germany. Austria he des- 
cribed as " the hereditary enemy of German 
Unity/' War seemed to him inevitable, and 



out of the crucible of war he believed a stronger 
and purified Germany would emerge. " Ger- 
many," he said, " will bleed again, as it did 
two hundred years ago, for the freedom 
of the whole world." 

Both his letters and his lectures reflect 
the terrible passions of the year 1859 in 
Germany. His hearers in the University 
increased monthly in numbers, and he took 
up the subject of the history of Prussia, in 
spite of his father's warning. In a letter of 
February 10th, 1861, he says that he is going 
to write a " History of the German Con- 
federation," which will convince all of the 
need to " destroy the small States." His 
correspondence with his father a high official 
in the most reluctant of these small States 
became more and more troubled, and he was 
compelled to leave Leipzig. " To change my 
conviction out of love of you I am unable," 



he said to his father. He went to Munich and 
began to write his history of the Confederation. 
His letters constantly complain that there is 
no power in small States. " Germany," he 
says, " needs an Emperor to teach it 
freedom." He was still a Liberal in regard 
to internal politics, and in 1863 he wrote 
an appreciative article on " Lord Byron and 
Radicalism," and lectured on the History of 

The sentiments which Treitschke openly 
expressed both in his university lectures and 
on many public occasions, brought increasing 
animosity upon him. In that year, 1863, 
there was a great meeting of 20,000 athletes 
at Leipzig, and Treitschke was invited to 
address them. The vast audience raised his 
patriotism to the whitest heat, and the inno- 
cent gathering was astounded to hear from 
the platform a glowing demand for the unity 



of Germany. The speech was afterwards 
printed, and had a large circulation in Saxony. 
The Saxon authorities, regarding with great 
distrust the plea of unity, and leaning towards 
Austria as some protection against what they 
described as the ambition of Prussia, watched 
Treitschke with anxiety. The agitation be- 
came worse when, in the same year 1863, 
the trouble about Schleswig and Holstein was 
renewed. Frederick VII. of Denmark had 
died, and the Prince of Augustenburg had 
renewed his claim to the Duchies. The Na- 
tionalist party in Germany warmly supported 
him, and Treitschke's eloquence was enlisted 
on his behalf ; indeed, modest as his salary 
was, and little as he could expect from his 
father in such a cause, he made a large con- 
tribution to the military . funds of the Duke's 
campaign. At that time he still regarded 
Prussia with great distrust, but before many 



months he was entirely converted to the 
Prussian cause. 

Bismarck had taken power in 1862. Treit- 
schke had been calling for "a heart glowing 
with great passion, a brain cold and clear." 
That was his ideal of the man that the German 
genius was to produce, as it had produced men 
like Luther and Frederick at every crisis in the 
national life. He was, however, repelled by 
Bismarck's internal policy. He was still a 
Liberal, and Bismarck's blood -and -iron was 
at that time directed solely against the sub- 
jects of Prussia. It was the turning point 
in Treitschke's transition from his early 
democracy to the drastic autocracy of his 
later years. When, in 1864, Austria and 
Prussia united for the purpose of ending the 
trouble in Denmark which they did in the 
thoroughly German manner of crushing Den- 
mark and appropriating its provinces 

33 C 


Treitschke began to look with more favour on the 
great Prussian statesman. Still they hesitated 
to incorporate Schleswig and Holstein into 
German territory, and Treitschke's admira- 
tion also hesitated. The arrangement was 
that Austria should administer Holstein, and 
Prussia should administer Schleswig. By this 
time the Duke of Augustenburg had become 
for Treitschke " a miserable pretender," and 
he saw in the co-operation of Austria and 
Prussia the beginning of " a real State." 

Leipzig had become so warm for him that 
he had in 1864 removed to Freiburg. Here 
he continued to work at his history of the 
German Confederation, and his lectures es- 
pecially dealt with States which had won 
independence by the sword. He dealt with 
the Netherlands and the rebellion against 
Austria. He depicted in glowing terms the 
revolt of the American colonies against 


England. Every page of history was made to 
serve the purpose of his great Pan -German 
ideal. One State alone could bring about this 
unity of Germany, and he perceived more and 
more clearly that that State was Prussia. 

His letters clearly illustrate the strange 
growth of his mind at that time. He was pre- 
pared to sacrifice everything to his ideal of 
the State. His early Roman reading still 
lingered in his mind, and to the end of his life 
" freedom " remained one of the most familiar 
terms on his lips. Now, however, he begins 
to say in his letters : " The democratic battle- 
cry first freedom, then unity is nonsense : 
it means first State-rights, then a State." 
In another letter of the same year he says : 
" The might of the greatest German State 
must compel the power of the smaller Courts 
to submit to a national central Government." 
He began to realise that over the whole period 



of German history, which he was studying, 
Prussia had been making steadily for suprem- 
acy. It must have been shortly after this 
period that he wrote the following passage in 
his History of Germany : 

" More than once before had Prussia amazed 
the German world by the sudden outburst of 
its latent moral energies. So it was when 
Prince Frederick William thrust his little 
State into the rank of the Great Powers : so 
it was when King Frederick entered upon the 
struggle for Silesia. But not one of these 
marvels of Prussian history so thoroughly 
astonished the Germans, as the rapid and 
glorious rise of the half -shattered power, after 
its terrible fall at Jena. While the honoured 
names of the past were disdainfully reckoned 
among the dead, and even in Prussia every- 
body deplored that there was no strong young 
generation to take the place of the elders, a 



new race gathered round the throne : powerful 
characters, inspired hearts, clear heads without 
number, a vast crowd of legal and military 
talents keeping pace with the literary great- 
ness of the nation. Just as Frederick had, 
on the battle fields of Bohemia, only reaped 
what his father had sown in time of peace, 
so this rapid recovery of the depressed mon- 
archy was the ripe fruit of years of hard work. 
The State pulled itself together and assimilated 
to itself all that German poets and thinkers 
had said, during the preceding decades, about 
the dignity and liberty of man and the moral 
purposes of life. It trusted the liberating 
power of the spirit : it let the full stream of 
the ideas of the new Germany flow over it. 
Now at last Prussia was the German State 
the best and ablest branch of the Fatherland 
and the Germans, down to the last man, rushed 
to the black and white standard. The soaring 



idealism of a higher culture held out new 
duties and new aims to the old Prussian 
bravery and loyalty, and nerved the heart for 
self-sacrificing deeds for the advance of 
political life." 

This language appears plainly in Treitschke's 
letters by the year 1864. He talks with the 
greatest bitterness about the Southern States. 
" I belong," he says, " to the North with all 
my soul." He begins to see the purpose of 
Bismarck. Bismarck is going to " secure for 
us our proper place on the North and the East 
coasts." The Saxons, who regarded the 
Prussians as still half-barbaric and were more 
friendly even to France, were greatly exasper- 
ated by this language. Treitschke returned 
their contempt. A little country, in his 
growing philosophy, could not be a State ; it 
could not have the power which he now firmly 
held to be the essence of a State. 



His visited Switzerland. He found the poor 
much more comfortable than in any of the 
great States of Europe. He found the brother- 
hood and freedom which were then beyond 
any other country in Europe. Yet he wrote 
with great disdain of Switzerland and its 
democracy. There was nothing " great " 
about it ; it had no art, no science, no state- 
craft. Mediocrity seemed to be the plainest 
outcome of the institutions of a small democ- 
racy. He visited Paris also, and he reported 
that the only thing the German need envy in 
Paris was the Louvre. Everything else in 
Paris was equalled or surpassed in one or other 
town of Germany. His Prussian religion was 
growing rapidly. In the next year it would 
reach its full growth. 

Since 1864 the arrangement between Aus- 
tria and Prussia had given rise to constant 
friction. Ardent Unionists like Treitschke 



were not entirely displeased with the friction. 
It would give Prussia the occasion that it 
required for annexing the Duchies, and Treit- 
schke now began to speak openly of taking 
that step. " We must," he said, early in 1865, 
" take a revolutionary step, in the good sense 
of the word ; we must cease to talk about law 
and right." His moral philosophy was rapidly 
accommodating itself to his German ideal. 
When, in 1866, the friction ended in war with 
Austria, Treitschke was one of the most ardent 
in approving the action of Bismarck. To the 
cries of the South German Press and the pitiful 
entreaties of his father, he replied : " The first 
duty of a good patriot is to make still greater 
the power of Prussia." People in Berlin kept 
an eye on this useful recruit in the Southern 
provinces. Treitschke was invited to begin 
his long connection with the Prussian Year 
Book. He asked the permission of Bismarck 



to make research in the Archives of Berlin. 
Keplying that there was nothing in the 
Prussian Archives to conceal from the 
public or from the historian, Bismarck, in 
a very gracious letter, gave him permission, 
and he went to Berlin at the beginning of 

Unlike Goethe, he was deeply impressed by 
the power and culture of Berlin. No other 
German town at that time could compare 
in growth with the capital of Prussia, and 
Treitschke's ardour considerably increased. 
While he was in Berlin the war with Austria 
grew nearer. Saxony was mobilising on the 
side of Austria, and a bitter correspondence 
took place between Treitschke and his father. 
The young man pleaded that for him politics 
was only part of a larger ethic, and patriotism 
a moral duty. His language is affectionate 
and most considerate, but he was a preacher 



of self-sacrifice and never for a moment hesi- 
tated to practice what he preached. 

As he drew away from his father he was 
attracted more and more to Bismarck. The 
Prussian Chancellor and Treitschke seemed to 
be in a singular position towards each other. 
Bismarck saw the immense value of this 
dithyrambic historian of Prussia. He was, 
however, quite aware that Treitschke still 
clung to his Liberal ideas, and he tried to bring 
about some form of compromise. He held 
out to Treitschke the prospect of occupying 
the chair of history at Berlin after the war, 
and in the meantime of using his great journal- 
istic power to influence public opinion in 
favour of Prussia. Treitschke replied candidly 
that he would not be a servant of Prussia 
until fully constitutional forms had been 
restored in the Kingdom. He therefore 
finished his work in the Archives of Berlin 



and returned to Freiburg. He was under the 
impression that Baden would remain neutral 
during the impending war, and that he could, 
therefore, plead the cause of Prussia from his 
platform at Freiburg. He soon found that 
his house was watched by the police, and that 
it was likely to be attacked by the mob. On 
June 17th Baden decided to throw in its lot 
with Austria against Prussia, and Treitschke 
fled from Freiburg to Berlin. He had now 
completely severed his connection with the 
Southern States ; and in the person of this 
Slav- Saxon, Prussia had obtained one of its 
most powerful and eloquent supporters. 

From the moment he began literary work 
in Berlin his Radicalism was modified. The 
Liberals fought shy of Bismarck, as Treit- 
schke himself had done in the earlier years. 
Treitschke rebuked them for their " obstinacy," 
and insisted that the question of liberty and 



reform must be placed on one side until the 
unity of Germany had been obtained. His 
mild criticisms of Bismarck's opinions now 
ceased entirely, and he turned with greater 
bitterness than ever to the attack on Saxony 
and Hanover. He belongs, he says, " to a 
glorious nation," and he will see it unified 
before he dies. His father was now almost 
entirely estranged from him, but the father's 
death in 1867 ended this painful feature of his 

As he was still unable to accept service in 
the Prussian State, he went in October to Kiel, 
and began to lecture on history and politics 
in the University. After a few months he 
was transferred to Heidelberg, where he con- 
tinued to mix history, politics and economics, 
in the new science which he believed he was 
founding. Most of his colleagues in the 
University looked with disdain on his new 



science, and regarded him merely as a journa- 
list or pamphleteer. His deafness, which now 
became total, more or less kept him out of 
social life, so that he was tolerably indifferent 
to the opinion of the other professors. The 
students, on the other hand, crowded round 
his chair, and his influence over German young 
men of the middle class grew rapidly. He 
was now on terms of great friendship with 
Bismarck, and was working out the singular 
theory of State power and individual liberty 
which appeared in his later works. Bismarck 
had, in 1867, formed the North German 
Federation, of which he became Chancellor. 
The most important result of this was that 
the Prussian system of compulsory military 
service was imposed upon all the North Ger- 
man States, and a formidable army was put 
at the disposal of Prussia. Treitschke's 
Liberalism had so far waned that he welcomed 



this extension of military power. Almost 
the only point he criticised in the new 
Federation was that, by special treaties, certain 
privileges were reserved for Bavaria, Baden, 
and Wiirtemburg. 

The next step in German history was now 
fairly clear in the minds of men like Treit- 
schke and Bismarck. Expansion westward 
was considered to be absolutely necessary for 
the growth of German power, and events 
swiftly moved onward towards the Franco- 
German war. Treitschke's patriotism again 
rose to white heat when the prospect of a 
war with France was made clear. When war 
was actually declared, he broke into the most 
fiery rejoicing. His students were called 
away for military service, and one of them has 
described the ardent speech with which he 
bade them farewell. Fichte had sent out his 
students in the War of Liberation with the 



words "Conquer or die." Treitschke said to 
his students, in recalling those words, " Con- 
quer at any price." There was a scene of 
wild excitement and Treitschke was regarded as 
a kind of hero by the students. 

During the early months of the war he was 
singularly silent and retired. He had no 
doubt about the issue of the war. He was, in 
fact, preparing the terms which should be 
imposed upon France when she was conquered. 
In several weeks of remarkable research he 
traced the whole history of Alsace and Lor- 
raine, and proved, as he believed, that they 
were really German, and must be taken from 
France at the close of the war. As he said at 
a later date, France had stolen the provinces 
from Germany, and^it was an act of the highest 
morality to restore their nationality to the 
despoiled provincials. It is in keeping with 
his character that, when the victory was 



aDiiounced, he resented the current talk about 
a contrast between German virtue and French 
vice, yet in his later history he speaks of the 
result of the war as a punishment of the sins 
of France. The formation of the German 
Empire was the first result of the war, and 
the realisation of Treitschke's dreams of 
the last ten years. With Gustav Freitag he 
agreed that the title " Emperor " was showy 
and melodramatic. He preferred the more 
businesslike title of "King," but he yielded 
again to the policy of Bismarck, and criticised 
only the fact that once more certain of their 
ancient privileges had been left to some of the 
South German States. 

In 1871 Treitschke became a member of 
the new Reichstag. His deafness made him a 
singular member of Parliament, but he was 
determined to watch with the closest interest 
the development of the new Empire, He had 



learned the lip language, but as a rule in the 
Reichstag he sat by the reporters and read 
their shorthand accounts of the speeches. 
In debates he could hardly take part, but his 
speeches on important issues made a profound 
impression on the House. He avoided rhetoric 
and sentimentality, even of the patriotic kind. 
His strong and clear convictions were expressed 
in language of great vigour, with occasional 
passages of biting wit and fierce reproof of all 
that stood in the way of Bismarck. " The 
star of our unity is rising : woe to the man 
who stands against it," he said occasionally 
in the House. He was one of the most urgent 
in demanding that the new provinces should 
be Germanised as speedily as possible, and in 
calling for the maintenance and further improve- 
ment of the victorious army. A short passage 
from one of his speeches delivered about that 
time will illustrate his Parliamentary method : 

49 D 


" There is in the world to-day, gentle- 
men, a dark suspicion that the German 
Empire, like the Prussian State of yesterday, 
must have its European War, its Seven Years' 
War. It seems to be written in the stars that 
the House of the Hohenzollerns can win no 
great success without incalculable sacrifices. 
God grant, gentlemen we all wish it that 
the foreboding is false. Whether it is false 
or not lies in the hands of fate. What lies 
in our hands is the task of keeping bright and 
sharp the weapons which have won Ger- 
many's new glory. As far as the eye of man 
can see the resolute armament of Germany 
is the only means of preserving the peace of 
the world to-day." He continued to sit in 
the Reichstag until 1888. By that time the 
appearance of new Parties, and especially 
of the Social Democratic Party, filled him 
with something like loathing of the Parlia- 



mentary system, and lie retired from his 

Meantime lie had continued to teach at 
Heidelberg. He was by this time one of the 
most popular professors in Germany. He 
refused to allow women to attend his lectures, 
and became more conservative every year. 
The great prosperity of Germany, however, 
which followed the successful war, filled him 
with joy, and even in social life he began to 
relax. About this time the German thinker, 
Hartmann, revived the philosophy of Schopen- 
hauer. It seems probable that this philosophy, 
which makes will the central reality of the 
universe, had greatly influenced Treitschke's 
early ideas. For him, the assertion of will 
was the first duty of the State, hence his great 
usefulness to so astute a statesman as Bis- 
marck. But the pessimism which was con- 
nected with the philosophy now filled 



Treitschke with disgust. A thinker, he said, who 
would put forward such a system in such 
glorious days as these must be suffering from 
spinal disease. At the same time Nietzsche 
began to put his weird speculations before 
the German public. His doctrine of power, 
of self-assertion, of reforming the moral code, 
agreed with some of Treitschke' s ideas, and, 
although puzzled by many of its features, he 
welcomed the philosophy of Nietzsche. 
Science, it seemed to him, was joining with 
history in approving the ideal of German 
power at which he had arrived. 

In 1874 Treitschke at last accepted the 
invitation to teach at the Berlin University, 
and from that time onward there was little 
left of his Liberalism. Bismarck entered upon 
the famous Kulturkampf. Treitschke duti- 
fully described it as " the struggle of freedom 
against fanaticism." Every measure that 



Bismarck brought forward had his support, 
although the Liberals and Radicals were grow- 
ing more and more indignant with the Chan- 
cellor. When at length Bismarck found it 
expedient to retire from the Kulturkampf, 
it was mainly Treitschke who covered his 
retreat. That episode of German political 
history has never been fully clear, and many 
Liberals have failed to understand the action 
of Treitschke. The truth seems to be that 
Bismarck abandoned the struggle against 
the Catholics because a new and more formid- 
able enemy had appeared on the horizon of 
the German political world. This enemy 
was Socialism, and, like Bismarck, Treitschke 
dreaded it above all other sects or parties. 
He now moved entirely in Conservative circles ; 
his friends were mainly members of the 
aristocracy or of military or clerical rank. 
Amongst the students he still retained all his 



popularity, and he used his influence to attack 
every Liberal and Humanitarian movement 
which arose. " Life," he said, " is too hard 
for philanthropic phrases " ; he would be no 
" preacher in politics." We shall see later 
how all these advanced ideas, which have been 
embodied in the legislation of modern times, 
conflicted with his utterly false ideal of the 
State. The authorities, however, applauded 
and encouraged in every way his influence on 
the young men of Germany. His lectures 
were said to be a " steel-bath " for students. 
So good was his position that, when the great 
historian Ranke died in 1886, Treitschke was 
chosen to succeed him as " The Historian of 
the State of Prussia." When, two years later, 
the Emperor died, Treitschke was invited to 
deliver a memorial address. The closing para- 
graph may be quoted here in illustration of the 
gospel that he was then preaching in Germany : 



"Life is to the living. The nation turns 
its eyes in hopeful confidence towards its 
young Imperial master. Every word he has 
yet addressed to his people breathes power 
and courage, piety and justice. We now know 
that the fine spirit of William's days is not lost 
to the Empire, and even in these days of grief 
we have lived through a great hour of German 
history. Our princes gathered with German 
fidelity around their Emperor, and with him 
met the representatives of the nation. The 
world learns that the German Emperor never 
dies, whoever may bear the crown. What 
a change since the time when the courts 
anxiously awaited, each New Year's Day, 
the orders of the mysterious Caesar for his 
subjects ! To-day the German speech from 
the throne does not devote a single word to 
those western powers which once had the idea 
of controlling the world without our assist- 



ance ; it is useless to reckon with enemies 
who cannot be taught or with doubtful friends. 
Whether Europe reconciles itself peacefully 
to the ending of the old situation, or whether 
the German sword must leap once more from 
the scabbard to protect what it has won, 
we are ready ; we are armed for either alterna- 
tive. Unless all the signs of the times deceive 
us, this great century, which in its earliest days 
was French, will end as a German century. 
Germany's intellect and Germany's deeds have 
solved the problem of combining a great tra- 
ditional power of the State, with the just de- 
mands of a new social order. A day must 
come when the nations will realise that the 
battles of Emperor William did not merely 
create a Fatherland for Germany, but gave 
a more just and more rational order to the 
whole civilised world. Then we shall see the 
fulfilment of the words of the venerable poet, 



Emanuel Geibel : One day tlie whole world 
may recover its health in the German 
character.' ' 

This was the Gospel which Treitschke was 
propagating amongst the young men of 
Germany, and one can read between the 
lines of it, if not in the lines themselves, the 
very terms of that ideal which has infatuated 
Germany in our day. This was the advice 
which the aged historian offered to the new 
Emperor. It was only too faithfully accepted. 
Bismarck was dismissed, but the worst ele- 
ments of the Bismarckian policy were retained. 
Treitschke fully approved of the immense and 
burdensome task which the military authorities 
imposed on Germany. Once more I may take 
a passage from one of his speeches. 

In 1895, the year before he died, he ad- 
dressed the students of the University of 
Berlin. The speech, which has been pub- 



lished, is called " In Memory of the Great 
War." He describes the long years of power- 
lessness under the shadow of Austria, the 
disaster under Napoleon, the " lamentable 
Confederation " which followed Waterloo. 
During all those years, he said, " we were the 
laughing-stock of foreigners." We had only 
one "loyal friend," Thomas Carlyle of Eng- 
land, the only non- German writer who saw 
" the nobility of the German soul." In 
England generally the very word " Father- 
land " was a thing of mockery and contempt, 
and no one in Europe expected any good to 
come of Germany. Germany itself was split 
into parties, or afflicted with " all the infantile 
diseases of politics." He went on : "As un- 
failing as the hammer of Thor, the sword of 
Germany had to strike : the changing fortune 
of war had to be made unchangeable, and 
wreath after wreath must be added to our 



colours in order that this most libelled and 
most hated of all nations should regain its 
place among the powers of the world." Then 
Prussia " entered on the old path of victory." 
Still the position of Germany was not recog- 
nised, and the contempt of Europe was in- 
tolerable. c We needed a complete, indis- 
putable, wholly German victory to compel 
our neighbours to respect us." King William, 
the " hero," gave the call, and " a free, strong, 
proud nation " responded. 

Treitschke then gave his hearers an idyllic 
description of the way in which the power 
of the German will overbore the French in 
1870, and even mothers and sisters " remem- 
bered in their grief that they had added one 
leaf to the growing wreaths of German glory." 
The Emperor " realised that Providence had 
chosen him and his army for carrying out its 
designs." Treitschke glorifies the generals, 



the Chancellor, the German princes, and all the 
other heroes of the war. He tells the young 
men how Germany insisted on having an 
Empire at the close of the war, and how the 
founding of the Empire led to the amazing 
prosperity of Germany. Not all their hopes 
were realised, however. They had thought 
that France would, " after two decades," co- 
operate amiably with Germany for the advance 
of civilisation, and France was still dreaming 
of revenge. Other nations were jealous of 
Germany's prosperity and hampered her 
development beyond the seas. Moreover, 
" the sub -German peoples of the region of the 
Danube illustrate the historical law of in- 
gratitude to the Germans, who gave them their 
civilisation." At home the artisans are dis- 
puting " the dominance of talent," and losing 
" all reverence for God, and all respect for the 
barriers which the nature of the sexes and the 



structure of society have set to human desires." 
The worst feature of all is that men are losing 
their " reverence for the Fatherland." They 
are regarding their country as a social com- 
munity which will enable them to earn more 
money and spend it in security on pleasure. 
This general spread of education is ruining the 
nation, and Bismarck himself had been very 
bitter and pessimistic in his last years. Still, 
Treitschke rejoices to think that " the idea 
of the Empire glows in every heart," and he 
concludes : " Germany has, during a quarter 
of a century of the most dangerous diplomatic 
friction, given peace to the world ; not by 
the means advocated by pacifists, that is, 
disarmament, but by precisely the opposite 
means, armament. Germany's example turned 
the armies of Europe into nations, and 
the nations into armies, and thus made war 
a terrible venture ; and, as no Frenchman has 



said that France can win back by arms its 
ancient ill-gotten provinces, perhaps we may 
expect further years of peace. Meantime our 
western frontier slowly but surely spreads 
towards that of our ancient Fatherland, and 
the time will come when German civilisation, 
which has so often changed its seat, will again 
reign supreme in its own home." 

He calls upon the young men to listen for 
the summons to the colours ; to be ready 
for either peace or war. And his last words 
have a sinister application .to the hideous 
trouble that is confronting us in Europe to- 
day : " God bless our Emperor and King, 
God give him a wise, just, and firm Govern- 
ment, and give us the power to sustain and 
enlarge the proud legacy of those glorious 

There, less than twenty years ago, only 
some months before his death, we have the 



complete doctrine which Treitschke put into 
the veins of the present generation in Germany. 
To his last hour the State was to him the stern 
bearer of the sword. Far from being content 
with that massive prosperity of which he had 
written the history, he still called upon the 
young soldiers of Germany to extend their 
frontiers at the cost of other people's. There 
can be no question but that this teaching, 
given with all the weight of the chief chair of 
history in Germany, written eloquently in a 
dozen popular works, and thundered oc- 
casionally from great popular platforms, was 
one of the chief elements in the making of the 
Germany which we confront to-day. Treitschke 
died at Berlin on April 28th, 1896. His teach- 
ing lives in the pernicious book of his pupil 
Bernhardi, in the Manuals of Instruction of the 
German officers, and in the hallucinations of 
the German Press. That teaching we may 



now examine more closely, in so far as it is 
responsible for the swollen ambition and 
lamentable methods of the modern German 





THE chief feeling of the German people, which 
one would not at first be disposed to connect 
with their scholars, is the inflated idea of the 
position and mission of their country. Nothing 
is perhaps more repellent in the German Press 
of the present day than the claim that God 
is watching with especial favour their un- 
scrupulous enterprise and the brutal method 
by which it is conducted. We read constantly 
of their assurance that conquering another 
country is only a painful necessity in the dis- 
charge of their mission to raise it to a higher 
civilisation. Undoubtedly many Germans 
have a sincere conviction in this respect. The 



most eccentric utterances of the Kaiser will 
be found anticipated to some extent in utter- 
ances of some of the learned professors of the 
German universities, and it is perhaps one of 
the most startling results of the study of Treit- 
schke's works that he fully encourages the 
stupid and mediaeval idea that God is, through 
the Emperor, directing the army and the Ger- 
man people. The most inflated idea that any 
German daily is at present impressing on the 
minds of its readers seems at times to be little 
more than a repetition of the passages in which 
Treitschke exalts Germany, and especially 
Prussia, above all the nations of the earth. 

The doctrine of Treitschke is a singular 
mixture of his own temperament, the influence 
of contemporary events, and his professional 
reading of history. A man of great physical 
vigour, he made an ideal of vigour, as such 
men are apt to do. " Greatness " was the 



feature which above all others he sought in a 
State. Hence he came to the singular view 
that " power " is the essence of the State. This 
view was fully confirmed by the history of 
Germany through which he lived. He knew 
from his reading the condition of Germany in 
the time of Goethe. The whole of the early 
German literature bears witness to the 
sterility and powerlessness of the country. 
It was not one great nation, but a great race 
shattered into a hundred small States, and 
apparently laid powerless by this dispersion. 
Treitschke then saw the contrast between the 
power and prosperity of a united Germany 
and the helplessness of the hundred small 
States of the earlier days. It was not un- 
natural, and not entirely wrong for him to 
suppose that the concentration of power had 
brought about the wonderful success of his 
country. He saw further that the one grea 



instrument in the restoration of German power 
was the Prussian army. Again he concluded 
that power, and chiefly military power, was the 
first aim or institution of a great State. 

His study of history, which ranged from 
ancient Rome and Greece to the latest develop- 
ments of Europe, easily confirmed him in this 
theory. In his chief work, where he expounds 
with great learning and ingenuity his theory 
of a State, there is one remarkable defect. 
He begins by insisting that the essence of a 
State is power. He nowhere proves that this 
is a legitimate and essential character of a 
State. We will examine later how he sup- 
poses that the State can be something greater 
than the people who compose it, and therefore 
justified at times in imposing authority against 
their will. For the moment it is enough to 
observe that his conclusion was drawn in a 
somewhat superficial way from the pages of 



history. The nations that stand out in the 
pages of history, the nations that we are 
accustomed to call great, are the large and 
powerful military nations. 

Treitschke did not overlook such States as 
Athens and Florence and their great artistic 
work. Here he is somewhat feeble in his 
reasoning. He knew well that they had no 
great military power, and he weakly ascribes 
their success to their constant intercourse with 
more powerful nations. He overlooks the 
fact that the philosophy of Greece and the art 
of Florence immensely surpass those of the 
more powerful nations with which they were 
in contact. He also overlooks the fact that 
in modern times, when every nation is richly 
connected with each other, the stimulus which 
he supposes in the case of Athens and Florence 
may be enjoyed by any small State in the 



Treitschke, however, read history mainly 
for the purpose of supporting his idea of the 
State. We find him repeatedly scoffing at 
small nations. Curiously enough, he bases 
his remarks upon Aristotle, who belonged to 
a State which from the German point of view 
was most emphatically so small as to be un- 
worthy of recognition. From this he goes 
on to examine the supposed decay of Holland 
and Spain, and other nations when they cease 
to^be great military powers. A passage from 
his chief work, Politik, gives his full argument : 

" A State must have a certain size. A ship 
which is only a foot long is, as Aristotle rightly 
says, not a ship, because you cannot sail in it. 
A State must, in addition, have sufficient 
material power to defend by arms the inde- 
pendence which is granted to it on paper. 
A political community which is not able to 
assert itself among its neighbours will always 



be in danger of losing its character as a State. 
That has always been the case ; great changes 
in the military arrangements have destroyed 
a large number of States. Since in our time 
an army of 20,000 men cannot be regarded 
as more than one weak army corps, the small 
States of central Europe cannot possibly last. 
There are, it is true, States which are not 
defended by their own forces but by the con- 
dition of equilibrium. That is clearly the case 
with Switzerland, Belgium and Holland ; 
they are protected by the international balance 
of power. This is a very firm foundation, and 
Switzerland may count on a very long lease 
of life provided that there is no material change 
in the present group of European States." 
(It should be noticed that Treitschke says 
nothing about Belgium and Holland. The 
omission, when we connect it with other 
passages relating to Belgium and Holland, 



which will be quoted later, shows clearly that 
Treitschke himself fully approved the design 
of Germany some day to acquire Belgium and 

" Applying the test of self-government, we 
find the larger States of Europe rising to greater 
and greater power. The whole development 
of our States tends very clearly to the exter- 
mination of all the States which are of only 
secondary rank. If we take the non- European 
world into consideration there is a very 
serious prospect for us (Germans). Germany 
has always come off very badly in the distribu- 
tion of territory beyond the seas amongst the 
European Powers, yet it is a matter of life 
and death to us as a great State to obtain 
territory beyond the seas. Otherwise we are 
faced with the terrible prospect of England and 
Russia dividing the world between them ; 
and one wonders which would be the worse 



evil, the Russian knout or the English 

" Looking more closely into the matter, we 
see clearly that if the State is power, only the 
really powerful States can be described as 
such. Hence the obvious absurdity which we 
find in the character of a small State. Weak- 
ness is not in itself ridiculous ; it is only the 
weakness which would pass itself off as 
strength. In small States you get the vulgar 
disposition to estimate a State according 
to the amount of taxes it levies ; the frame 
of mind which cannot see that the State, like 
the shell of an egg, cannot protect without 
exerting some pressure, and that the moral 
goods we owe to the State are priceless. 
In giving birth to this materialism the small 
State has a very mischievous influence on its 

" The small State is totally devoid of the 


large States' power to be just. If you have 
cousins enough in a small State, and are not 
quite an idiot, you are provided for . . . More- 
over the economic superiority of large States 
is obvious. In such ample proportions one 
has a greater feeling of security. ... It 
is only in great States that there is developed 
the genuine national pride which is the symp- 
tom of a nation's moral robustness : the senti- 
ments of the citizens are freer and larger 
in large institutions ... no great nation can 
last long unless it has a great metropolis of 
culture. Culture in the broadest sense of 
the word always nourishes better in the 
ample circumstances of great States, than 
within the narrow limits of small States . . . 
Taking history as a whole, we see that all 
the masterpieces of poetry and art were pro- 
duced on the soil of great nationalities. Proud 
Florence and Venice had so wide a commerce 



that there could be no question in their 
case of the Philistinism of the small State. 
There was an ideal pride, which recalls ancient 
Athens, in all their citizens. When did a 
masterpiece ever arise among a small people ? " 
(pp. 43-48). 

The defects of this historical argument 
need hardly be pointed out. Neither Athens 
nor Florence had the great commerce which 
he ascribes to them, and, even if they had, we 
have to reckon with the fact that they so far 
surpassed the larger powers with which they 
had intercourse. Take the case of the medie- 
val Italian Republics, in which art flourished 
so luxuriantly. It is true that they had con- 
stant intercourse with the German Roman 
Empire, and with France. Yet they learned 
nothing from either, and became, in fact, 
the teachers of each. But we need not linger 
over the sophistry [of Treitschke's argument. 



It is enough to show how one of the chief 
professors of history in Germany twists his 
learning into the service of the national 
ideal, and helps to build up the megalomania 
of the modern Empire. 

More interesting, and perhaps more startling 
is Treitschke's contribution to the religious 
side of this megalomania. He was by no 
means an orthodox Christian. His letters to 
his father in earlier years very frequently turn 
upon his father's sorrow at his abandonment 
of the Protestant faith. This, however, was 
part of his early Kadicalism. Although he 
probably never altered his conviction, he began 
in later years, as a matter of policy, to make 
a strong profession of supporting the Lutheran 
Church. Like Carlyle, of whom he speaks with 
such admiration, he made the mistake of 
taking the masses as they are and supposing 
that their character could not be altered. He 



noticed that their heroes were always either 
military or religious heroes. In order, there- 
fore, to confirm them in sentiments which could 
be so much utilised by the Prussian Govern- 
ment, he took up an old theory of his pro- 
fessor, Dahlmann, and, in working out this 
theory, he spread sentiments which are 
largely responsible for what we call the more 
blasphemous elements of the German megalo- 
mania. He says in his Politik : 

" The idea of a world -Empire is hateful : 
the idea of a State of Humanity is no ideal at 
all. The whole content of civilisation could 
not develop in a single State ; in no single 
people could the virtues of aristocracy and 
of democracy be united. All peoples are, like 
individual men, one-sided, and the richness of 
the human race consists in the totality of their 
partial natures. The rays of divine light 
are infinitely reflected in individual peoples ; 



each presents a different aspect and a distinct 
thought of the Deity. Hence any single people 
has the right to believe that certain forces of 
the divine reason are most beautifully embodied 
in itself. Without exaggeration a people 
cannot attain self -consciousness. The Ger- 
mans are always in danger of losing their 
nationality because they have too little of 
this massive pride. The average German has 
very little political pride ; but even our 
Philistines boast a social pride in the freedom 
and universality of the German spirit: and 
that is a good thing, for such a feeling is 
necessary if a people is to maintain and to 
assert itself." 

This was the language which Treitschke 
used to the students of history in the University 
of Berlin. When he addressed the people 
he used an even stranger language. We have 

a speech which he made at Darmstadt, in 



1883, on " Luther and the German Nation." 
In this he reviews the " Glorious history of 
Germany " from the earliest dawn. He finds 
that the Germans were the first barbaric 
people of western Europe to see the 
beauty of Christianity, and that from their 
earliest conversion they always frowned on 
the corruption of Rome. They alone had 
the courage to rebel. Our historian con- 
trives to overlook the Albigensians and other 
heretics who preceded the Reformation, and 
his analysis of the Reformation itself is super- 
ficial in the last degree. He is determined to 
place the whole merit of the Reformation in the 
character of Germany, and completely dis- 
regards the circumstances which made Germany 
so favourable a soil for the sentiment which 
was spreading throughout Europe. He 
says : " Only a man who had in his veins the 
boundless power of the German spirit could 

81 F 


venture upon so mighty an achievement." 
Italy had its Petrarch and its Machiavelli 
he makes no mention of Dante but " the 
Latin peoples had not the strength to take 
their own ideas seriously : they succeeded 
in halving their consciences and obeying the 
Church which they despised. The Germans 
dared to shape their lives by the truth which 
they perceived ; and, since the historical 
world is a world of will, since it is not ideas 
but will that controls the destinies of peoples, 
modern history does not begin with Petrarch 
nor with the artists of the Rennaissance, but 
with Martin Luther." Treitschke cannot lose 
the opportunity to connect his Prussian 
idea of the State with the Protestant religion. 
Luther, he said, brought about a political 
revolution in the fact that he destroyed the old 
maxim that spiritual power is superior to 
secular, and he thus prepared the way for 


the recognition of the sovereignty of the 
State. This was, he says, an immortal 
blessing for Germany. " Only in the cup 
of Protestantism could the ailing nation find 
its rejuvenating draught." It occurs to him 
that when the most oppressed part of the 
nation, the peasants, deduced from the prin- 
ciples of the Gospel that they were entitled 
to a larger share of the world's goods, Luther 
was one of the first to crush them. This 
was, Treitschke says, because the peasants 
took his Gospel "in a fleshly sense," and 
because Luther " shared with his people 
their reverent awe of the Imperial Majesty 
and of the noble young blood of Austria." 

Treitschke proves, in this address to the 
Protestants of Germany, that even the new 
science and the new literature of Germany in 
modern times were due to the Reformation. 
He does not mention names, but he implies that 



such men as Goethe and Schiller were, as he 
says, " thoroughly Protestant." " It was 
only from the autonomy of conscience which 
Luther gave us that the new ideal of humanity 
could spring." Luther's greatness and the 
varied nature of his powers cannot be under- 
stood by foreigners, according to Treitschke. 
The Germans, however, quite understand 
him, because "he is blood of our blood." 
" From the sunken eyes of this robust son 
of a German peasant blazed the heroic old 
spirit of the Teutons, which does not flee the 
world but seeks to govern it by the might of its 
moral will." 

The closing part of the speech unites the 
theory of the Reformation with the political 
ambition of Prussia in a remarkable manner, 
and shows us how Germans get the conviction 
that they are only carrying out a divine 
purpose in trampling on the lands of their 



neighbours. " In so rich an age as ours no 
good Protestant should lose the hope of even 
better days to come, since our whole people 
sees in Martin Luther its hero and teacher. 
We all know that at one time even a half- 
success of the Reformation was of great ad- 
vantage to our country." He hints that the 
complete success of the Reformation, which 
the world needs, will only be accomplished 
by the entire expansion of Germany. In the 
Middle Ages, he says, a Schism was good for 
Europe ; now the whole German nation must 
be Protestant. That holds out an uncom- 
fortable prospect for the Catholics of Posen or 
of the Rhine Valley, and for the Jews and 
other non-Protestants. There must, accord- 
ing to Treitschke, be in Germany one great 
Church which "recognises the evangelical 
freedom of the Christian and the independence 
of the loyal and penitent conscience, and 



grants their just rights to the moral powers 
of this world, especially the State.'* One 
must remember that these words, which, 
in pamphlet form were scattered over Ger- 
many, came with the authority of the leading 
historian of the country. It is hardly surprising 
that less learned Germans have succeeded in 
convincing themselves that through the Prus- 
sian Army God is working out His purpose in 
the world. 

This language, however, was hardly suitable 
for the class-room, and Treitschke turned to 
other arguments which would scientifically 
convince his pupils of the unique position of 
Germany. Germany, as is well known, and 
especially Berlin, is falling away from the old 
Lutheran religion. More secular considera- 
tions had to be invented for the unbelievers. 
These arguments Treitschke finds in the 
history, the geographical position and the 

culture ol Germany. I have already ex- 
plained that the word " culture " as used 
by the German means something very different 
from what we mean in English. The truth 
is, that even Treitschke had very little regard 
for culture as such. The State, he said 
repeatedly, " is not an academy of arts and 
sciences." He has a great disdain for most 
of the really great scholars of Germany. We 
must recognise, and until yesterday we did 
recognise, that German culture is one of the 
finest cultures in modern civilisation. Since 
the rise of Prussia, Germany has not only 
contributed more original philosophy to the 
world than any other three countries of 
modern times, but in every branch of science 
she has sustained her high position. It is a 
truism also, that she has attained great 
efficiency in education, industry and com- 
merce, and some of the German experiments 



in social improvement have been adopted as 
models in other countries. It is well for us 
to recognise this solid nucleus of German 
pride, but the truth is that for men like 
Treitschke even these things are of secondary 
consideration. It is the organisation of Ger- 
many as a power-State, in other words, it is 
Prussianism, that he regards as the chief 
distinction of his country. He repeatedly 
boasts that Germany is the most perfect 
monarchy under the sun, and we shall see 
in the next chapter how, in his .official lectures, 
he praises the German constitution and bitterly 
disdains the English constitution, which even 
German reformers were disposed to admire. 
This misunderstanding of German culture has 
made the German mind almost unintelligible to 
many people to-day. 

The confusion is perhaps all the more natural 
when we find Treitschke speaking constantly 



of the " idealism " of Germany and the 
" materialism " of England and other coun- 
tries. Once more, however, he takes idealism 
in a peculiar sense. In a lecture on " Fichte 
and the National Idea " he says : " It will 
last, this much-desired idealism of the Ger- 
mans. A grander future will open for this 
idealist people when a righter philosophy 
unites in one great system of thought, the 
results of our political activity and the im- 
mense wealth of our empirical knowledge. 
We who live can best sustain the spirit of 
Fichte if all the nobler of us work for the 
growth and ripening in our fellow citizens 
of ' the character of the warrior ' which 
knows how to make sacrifices for the State. 
When Fichte's name is mentioned, people 
think at once of the orator who cried 
out to an oppressed people those heroic 
words : ' To have character and to be 



German are beyond question the same 
thing.' " 

One needs very little knowledge of German 
history to recognise that this is sheer abuse 
of the doctrine of Fichte. Against the despo- 
tism which Treitschke was supporting in 
Germany, Fichte would have protested with 
all his soul. It was in the war against the 
despotism which Napoleon tried to fasten 
on his country that Fichte summoned his 
students to cultivate the spirit of the warrior, 
but Treitschke, as an historian, twists every 
fact and every authority to suit his purpose. 
Idealism in his mind is above all things the 
military spirit and a readiness to sacrifice 
one's life and property for the State. The 
State is a kind of Moloch in his philosophy. 
Time after time the people must offer their 
finest sons in the supposed sacred ceremonial- 
ism of the State. In his later years Treitschke 



found a very different idea of the State 
growing in the new generation. Men and 
women were concluding that the State was a 
social group, under the security of which their 
lives would be blessed with greater happiness 
and prosperity. This is really what Treitschke 
means by " materialism." One smiles to-day 
at the obstinate and antiquated^views, but 
in their time they served the purpose of 
Prussian ambition, and we still find echoes of 
Treitschke's sonorous voice in the Press of 
modern Germany. 

In another place, Treitschke attempts to 
show in a different way the peculiar fitness 
of Germany to carry out the mission of 
civilisation. He sums up the supposed advan- 
tages which Germany has by entering at a 
late date into the family of great Powers. 
Most of us realise that this late accession 
to power has brought with it one great 



disadvantage. A new Power, like a young man, 
is apt to have inflated ideas of its strength and 
its future. It is hardly more than forty years 
since Germany became a great manufacturing 
State, and again we must make some allow- 
ance for a very natural conceit which arises 
from the consciousness of this prosperity 
in the present generation. Older nations like 
England, long accustomed to a similar pros- 
perity, have ceased to use the bombastic 
language which it at first inspires. When we 
smile at the language of German writers, we 
have only to turn back a few pages in English 
history to find precisely similar language 
used by Englishmen. Treitschke, however, with 
his pseudo -scientific method, tries to con- 
vince his university students that Germany 
is really in a different position from other 
States. He says : 

6 We are later in our political development 


than other European States, and therefore we 
can be more universal. We have been able 
to make use of the wisdom of our predecessors, 
as is seen in the development of our literature. 
Beyond question Germany has, in the nineteenth 
century, taken the lead in political science, 
after having depended on foreigners for two 
centuries. The way in which the threads of 
our destiny have been broken at times, and 
the tortuous course of our history, have at 
least had the advantage of preserving us from 
the political traditions and prejudices which 
confuse the political thought and judgment of 
other peoples. The complex action of our State 
is due to our position in the world, our history, 
and our geographical circumstances, in virtue of 
which we are able to do things which seem to 
other nations impossible. . . . We are, more- 
over, the most monarchical people in Europe, 
although with this we must also combine a 



considerable measure of popular representa- 
tion. We hare solved the problem how an 
educated people can be an armed people ; 
and we will solve the still more difficult 
problem, how a wealthy people can secure for 
itself the moral advantages of an army and 
of war. It ia especially the many-sidedness 
of the German character which has enabled us 
to overcome all our difficulties, and this con- 
quest is a large part of our importance and 
greatness" (Politik, L, 86). 

I will not stay to discuss the evidently 
strained argument of this passage. Treit- 
schke is fond of pouring ridicule on the men 
who took their wisdom from books only, 
instead of studying the facts of life at first 
hand. Considering that almost the whole of 
the wisdom of this deaf man was necessarily 
drawn from books, we see that he is merely 
quarrelling with people who differ from him. 



His learning is purely bookish, and his theories 
have been built up without any control from 
the facts of life. However, he goes on to 
show that these peculiar advantages of Ger- 
many not only explain its present greatness, 
but justify its constant dream of further ex- 
pansion. We saw in the previous chapter 
how, even in his later years, he spoke quite 
openly of the further growth of Germany at 
the expense of its neighbours, and in a later 
chapter we shall see this at greater length. 
I may, however, quote here a passage in 
which he justifies this dream from another 
point of view. He is discussing, in his chief 
work, the influence of geographical conditions 
upon the State, and he says : 

" Our evil lot in Germany is due especially 
to the purely internal policy of the house 
of Hapsburg. Nature herself has not 
been generous to Germany. The Baltic is 



predominantly an inland sea ; it has very little 
influence on the inhabitants of the regions 
round about it. Two hours' journey from the 
coast in Pomerania you would not suspect 
that you were near the sea. The German 
coast of the North Sea is ruined by shoals. 
All that is as unfavourable as possible, yet we 
see here again how man can overcome natural 
obstacles. This Germany, with its miserable 
coast, was once the greatest sea power in the 
world, and, please God, it will be again (p. 

" In the matter of rivers, Germany, to which 
nature has in so many things been a step- 
mother, is very fortunate if it realises its 
destiny and some day takes entire possession 
of its rivers. Our Rhine is the King of 
Rivers. What great deed was ever done on 
the Danube ? On the Rhine you have the 
quintessence of historical life, wherever you 



go. It is an invaluable natural possession, 
yet by our own fault the most useful part of 
it has passed into foreign hands, and it is the 
unalterable aim of German policy to regain 
the mouth of the river. A purely political 
union is not necessary since the Dutch have 
become an independent nation : but an econ- 
omic union is indispensable. And we are 
greatly to be pitied when we dare not say 
openly that the inclusion of Holland in our 
customs-union is as necessary for us as our 
daily bread. Nowhere in the world do fools 
talk so much about Chauvinism as in Ger- 
many, and nowhere else is there so little 
Chauvinism. We are afraid to speak about 
the most natural claims that a nation can 
have (p. 218). 

" The law of the need of a State to keep 
together geographically is so plain that we 
are surprised at the short-sightedness of the 

97 G 


members of the Vienna congress who, out of 
jealousy, imposed such a ragged and ridicu- 
lous form on Prussia. No State of any power 
could long remain in this condition. Prussia 
had to choose between giving up its western 
territory or, directly or indirectly, controlling 
the lands which cut it off " (p. 221).* 

These ingenious arguments are, however, 
strengthened by the whole of Treitschke's 
reading of history. Once more he makes a 
mistake which is not uncommon, and in the 
middle of the nineteenth century was not 

* The two volumes of university lectures which have 
been published by Max Cornicelius with the title of 
Politik were not really written by Treitschke. We 
cannot therefore suppose that we have his exact words 
in every case. The editors have used the note-books 
of the students and the fairly abundant notes left by 
Treitschke himself ; and the work was submitted to a 
number of old students of Treitschke before it was 
published. We have therefore an assurance that at least 
no sentiment is attributed to Treitschke in this work 
without full authority. 



unnatural. He surveys history with a con- 
viction that what was in the beginning always 
will be. He sees that certain nations have 
made a deep impression on the chronicle of 
man, and it has become the custom to speak 
of every nation which makes such an impres- 
sion as a " great " nation. He further sees, 
as we must all recognise, that the power of 
these great military nations has often led to 
prosperity, and has encouraged the growth 
of art and high sentiments. The mistake of 
Treitschke, as of many historians, is to think 
that because in a warlike age a nation needed 
this powerful protection of its luxury and its 
culture, such protection would remain neces- 
sary under any conceivable circumstances. 
That, however, we will discuss more fully in 
dealing with his glorification of war. We 
must remember that it colours his entire 
treatment of the question of the greatness of 



a State. Greatness means to him historical 
greatness. All the other considerations which 
he brings forward are only artificial supports 
of his central idea. He says somewhere : 
" It is the nature of historical genius to be 
national. There never was an historical hero 
who was not national. Wallenstein never 
reached the highest historical fame because 
he was not a national hero but a Czech [like 
Treitschke], posing as a German for his own 
purposes. He was, like Napoleon, a great 
adventurer of history. The really great his- 
torical genius is always inspired by nationality ; 
and that is equally true of the writer. A 
great writer is a man who writes in such 
fashion that all his compatriots respond" 
(Politik, p. 23). 

When we remember that Treitschke is the 
great popular historian of Germany, and 
picture to ourselves how he infused these 


sentiments into what is in itself a great record, 
we can easily understand the enormous influ- 
ence that he has had. In whatever way his 
pupils have gone beyond his principles in 
various directions, none have surpassed him 
in the glorification of Germany. His History 
of Germany, in five large volumes, is a work of 
considerable research and general accuracy. 
Probably we should not rank him as a great 
historian from the ordinary scientific point of 
view. We have already seen that his position 
as Historian of the Prussian State and lecturer 
on history at Berlin was largely political. He 
was a useful instrument for the carrying out 
of Bismarck's policy. But this position 
enabled him to reach a large audience and to 
speak with weighty authority. He is one of 
the chief inspirers of the megalomania of so 
large a part of the German people. He tells 
the story of the making oFGermany with a 


natural eloquence of the greatest sincerity. 
He always disdained style. The style, he 
said, is the man. But the sincerity and the 
ardent feeling give his narrative a kind of 
eloquence which is more convincing than the 
elegant art of a Gibbon or the greater learning 
of a Mommsen. With this natural art he tells 
the story of Germany in such a fashion as to 
bring out what he believes to be its unique 
genius. Every emperor, every statesman, 
and every soldier shares the greatness of the 
German spirit, and on every page he presses 
home the advantages which Germany has 
derived by a loyal co-operation with ts 

We shall perhaps find much that startles 
us in connection with the present war more 
intelligible after this examination of some of 
the pages of Treitschke's works. We have 
very naturally poured ridicule on the Emperor's 


claim to be on terms of intimacy with the 
Almighty. Even this outrageous claim, how- 
ever, finds justification in the works of the 
official historian of Prussia. His impressive 
theory of the Reformation and the results of 
the Reformation puts Germany on a level 
with the ancient Jews as the chosen people 
of God. When learned professors use such 
language we can hardly be surprised that 
peasant soldiers enthusiastically repeat it. 
From the middle class, to which Treitschke 
immediately addressed himself, his message 
has gone down to the lowest circles of German 
society. Hundreds of his pupils have become 
journalists, and in the more flippant and more 
exaggerated language of the daily paper, they 
have spread the teaching of Treitschke 
throughout the country. So the present 
temper of the nation has been created. So 
the millions have marched out under the 


eagles, as deeply convinced as the ancient 
Romans were that their Fatherland is the 
greatest power of the world, and has a mission 
to share its power with the world by the 
painful process of conquering it. We can well 
understand that military men smile in 
private at the pretensions of this gospel. 
But it serves their purpose. The Emperor 
himself is evidently convinced of the truth 
of Treitschke's account of the genius of 
the Hohenzollerns. How far he and other 
leaders of Germany sincerely accept the idea 
of divine mission or of a unique genius it is 
impossible to say. They find, as such rulers 
always have found, as Bismarck found fifty 
years ago, that a patriotic pedant has his uses, 
and so the Gospel of Treitschke has been 
encouraged in every section of the German 



THE second chief element in the German 
temper which we are confronting to-day, is the 
disdainful attitude towards England ; or, at 
all events, the profession of disdain for Eng- 
land. For the explanation of this we need 
hardly go back to the writers of the last genera- 
tion. The time having arrived in the mind of 
German Imperialists when a further expan- 
sion seemed possible, it was at once perceived 
that England's command of the sea stood in 
the way. Further, German readers are well 
acquainted with English literature, and they 
must have noticed, with a satisfaction which 
was dangerous in their frame of mind, our 


admiration for many of their institutions. 
In addition, the theory encouraged by many 
historians that nations have a certain period 
of life and then decay, by some internal 
principle, has spread widely in Germany. 
This supposed historical law has no serious 
foundation whatever. A civilisation may last 
for 8,000 years, like that of ancient Egypt, 
or 4,000 years, like that of China, or 400 years, 
like that of Athens or of Florence. It depends 
entirely upon the circumstances and upon 
the neighbours of a particular State. The 
theory, however, pleased the German. His 
country was comparatively new and young as 
a great Power, while England had been a 
great Power for four or five centuries. He 
therefore flippantly repeated the remarks of 
English pessimists, and persuaded himself that 
England was in a state of decay. When the 
passions of war arose, it was very easy for 


this to take the form of the contempt which 
is expressed in the German Press to-day. 
Possibly the solid prosperity of England in 
the last ten years, and the unexpected import- 
ance of her share in the war, have only made 
the Germans more bitter against us. 

It is of interest to see how far Treitschke 
used his influence to encourage this disdain 
of England. His opportunities were very con- 
siderable. In reviewing the history of the 
last century, he constantly found England 
connected with the interests of Germany. 
He was, moreover, rather an economist than 
an historian. His subject was statecraft 
rather than history. His historical narrative 
is always coloured by its relation to his ideal 
of a State. He has, therefore, not only to 
refer constantly to the historical conduct of 
England, but it is part of his plan to study 
and to criticise English institutions. The 


petty spirit in which he does this may be 
shown in a humorous illustration. In justice 
to Treitschke it should be stated that he fre- 
quently writes with appreciation of English 
institutions. He never writes with admira- 
tion, but the facts are too strong occasionally 
for his prejudice, and he does justice to a 
few of the features of English life. On the 
whole he is unjust, and he is frequently ridicu- 
lous. In comparing the rival military systems 
of England and Germany, for instance, he 
pens the following egregious passage : 

"It is a defect of the English civilisation 
that it does not include compulsory military 
service. Some compensation for this is found 
in the very large development of the Fleet, 
and in the fact that continuous small wars 
in the Colonies keep the strength of the nation 
constantly employed and ever fresh. It is 
due to these incessant colonial wars that there 


is a good deal of physical robustness in 
England. Still, when we examine carefully, 
we find a serious defect in the country. The 
lack of chivalry in the English character, 
which falls so far short of the simple loyalty 
of the German, is largely connected with the 
fact that physical exercise is not sought in 
the use of manly weapons, but in the pas- 
times of boxing, swimming and rowing. These 
forms of exercise have a certain amount of 
value, it is true, but it is quite clear that 
these sports give rise to the athletic mind, 
with all its crudeness and with a superficial 
sentiment which is always looking for the 
first prize " (Politik, I, 362). 

When one looks back on this observation 
of a learned prof essor, made in the lecture-room 
of one of the chief universities of Germany, 
and then thinks of the horrible outrages that 
were committed in the first month of the 


war by the German soldiers, frequently under 
the direct control of their officers, one can see 
only the most obstinate prejudice in the mind 
of Treitschke. No word is more common in 
his glorification of the German character than 
loyalty and chivalry. We have seen their 
chivalry in the last few months. Instead of 
relying entirely on that bravery of the soldier 
which few would question, we have found 
Germany using a second army, all over the 
world, to do a kind of work which is the very 
opposite of chivalry ; nor does their persistent 
war upon civilians strike us as being very 
chivalrous. On the other hand, little com- 
plaint of a serious or well-founded nature has 
been made against the conduct of the French, 
English and Belgian troops. We must remem- 
ber that they are fighting in their own country 
and have not the temptation of the German 
soldier, yet one need not examine the conduct 


of the English troops on the field of battle in 
order to learn their character. The whole 
reference to the moral effect upon character 
of athletic exercises is preposterous in the 
extreme. Treitschke evidently had no insight 
whatever into the real character of other 

A more serious part of his work is to explain 
to the young men of Germany the nature of 
the English constitution. Here, as a repre- 
sentative of the highest political culture of 
Germany, one might expect him to proceed 
at least with accuracy and candour. Instead 
of this one finds him giving descriptions of 
English institutions which are absolutely 

One may make some allowance for the 

effect of his own ideal of a State. Absolute 

monarchy is to him the perfect form of State, 

because absolute monarchy is the Prussian 



form. Possibly no historian could survey the 
States of modern and ancient times in the 
way that Treitschke does, without allowing his 
description to be coloured by his own political 
views. For such prejudice we are prepared 
to make an allowance, yet this allowance can- 
not for a moment excuse some of the extra- 
ordinary pages, which Treitschke devotes to 
English institutions and the English character. 
I will quote a long passage in which he deals 
with what he regards as the primary institution 
of a State, that is to say, the monarchy. 
Before doing so I should recall Treitschke' s 
main idea in connection with the State. The 
State is power, something apart from, and 
superior to, the body of citizens and their 
interests. Treitschke therefore needs to find 
some mystical basis for this power, and he can 
OD?y fall back on the old and outworn idea 
of legitimacy. One must bear this in mind 



in reading his singular account of Royalty 
in England. After giving a glowing and 
exaggerated account of the successive Kings 
of Prussia, he turns to England. England 
being a constitutional monarchy, and therefore 
opposed to his own ideal, he deals with it in 
this peculiar fashion : 

" The principle that even in a constitutional 
state the crown rests on its own right the old 
Norman idea that all power and law proceed 
from the king is still maintained in theory 
in England, and, as far as ceremony is con- 
cerned, it is scrupulously followed. But when 
we look into the question more closely we 
find, as we do everywhere in^English life, that 
subtle hypocrisy to which the English give 
an untranslatable name [cant]. The droning 
of the parson is heard in everything and every 
body, not only in the Church, but in the best 
London society, which is as frivolous as that 

113 H 


of Paris, though it outwardly assumes an 
atrociously dull respectability. It is just the 
same in political life. This constitutional 
cant, as an able writer of our time has called 
it, has always affirmed the legitimacy of the 
Guelphs. But what are the facts ? English 
royalty, in its legitimate and genuine form, 
was destroyed by the second English revolu- 
tion ; James II. was the last real king of 
England. William III. was a throne- stealer, 
pure and simple ; the ' glorious revolution ' 
was a very thorough revolution, and after it 
occurred all the traditions of royalty began to 
disappear. William III. was, owing to his 
genial character, able to play the part of a 
king ; but from that time royalty became 
royalty by the grace of Parliament. In the 
Act which called William to the throne, it is 
expressly said that King James II. has by his 
own act, broken the treaty between the Prince 


and his People, and forfeited the throne. This 
is one of the things that doctrinaires in consti- 
tutional law never refer to ; modern English 
constitutional law is based on the false theory 
of an original contract. The Guelphs more- 
over, were called to the throne of England by 
an Act of Parliament, and they had not the 
slenderest title to that throne ; the whole of 
the twenty-five Stuarts who had a better claim 
to the throne, were passed over. The title in 
virtue of which the House of Hanover rules 
to-day, and the house of Coburg will go on 
ruling, is an Act of Parliament which, in 
spite of legitimate right, put upon the throne 
certain distant relatives of the dethroned royal 
family. Now, since it is the very essence of 
monarchy that its power should be based on 
its own rights, it must be clear to every im- 
partial person, that the English constitution 
is not very far from being an aristocratic 


republic ; because, in spite of the almost 
slavish etiquette that is followed, the real power 
is taken from the king, and he derives his 
title to rule from an arbitrary Act of 
Parliament instead of from his own historical 

;c That is a peculiar and intolerable state 
of things, and it is made worse by personal 
features of the English kings which have been 
inherited with remarkable fidelity. William III. 
was the last man of any importance to sit on 
the throne of England, and even he, being a 
usurper and a foreigner, never had the full 
power of a king. His successors have so 
entirely lost personal significance that, foreign 
usurpers as they were, they could not preserve 
their independent rights in face of the national 
pride of the nobility. A Duke of Norfolk has 
not much reason to look with awe upon a 
German prince [ ! ] The first two Georges were 


not Englishmen. George I. never even under- 
stood the English language, and he had to come 
to an understanding with his ministers by 
means of dog-Latin. He never attended a 
council of ministers. This development goes 
on to-day. It has got to such a pitch that 
the king's name is never mentioned in Parlia- 
ment, because he is no longer of any consequence 
[nichts mehr bedeutet noch bedeuten soil]. 
George III. made the last attempts in England 
to rule as a personal monarch. They began 
with the betrayal of Frederick the Great [it is 
well known that the action of England almost 
preserved Prussia and Frederick the Great 
from destruction], and ended in shame and 
mockery by accelerating the secession of the 
North American colonies. Such were the 
consequences of the last attempt at personal 
rule made by a narrow-minded prince. When, 
in our day, the Prince Consort attempted to 



rule in the German manner, he found that it 
was impossible to do so in England He gave 
up the attempt, and contented himself with 
teaching his wife how to occupy with a certain 
dignity her ridiculous position between the 
two parties, which she did with considerable 

" To sum up these English characteristics, 
we see how it was that Montesquieu could 
assert that distrust must be the prevailing 
spirit in a constitutional monarchy ; an appal- 
ling theory, basing a noble institution on one of 
the lowest impulses of human nature. Yet 
it is to-day the dogma of all sections of Radi- 
calism, however little they may care to 
express it openly. Even my good friend 
Dahlmann used to say, that in constitutional 
States political liberty had possibly less to 
fear from mediocre monarchs, than from really 
great men. Strange words for a noble-minded 


and able man to speak : as if genius, which 
was always a gift of Heaven, could become a 
public danger. 

" It is evidently not desirable, even if it 
were possible, to transfer to other States a 
royalty like that of England, ossified as it is 
by peculiar historical circumstances. Common 
sense tells us that those political institutions 
are best, which can do most good in the hands 
of capable men. Hence any man who says 
that a kingdom must be so established that 
it will work best under mediocre rulers is 
talking nonsense. The whole education of 
English princes is, nevertheless, directed on 
these lines, and it has succeeded wonderfully 
in maintaining the hereditary nullity of the 
Guelph line. No member of the family who 
is in a position to aspire to the throne is a 
soldier, in the best sense of the word. And the 
present situation is such that, without claiming 


the gift of prophecy, we may say confi- 
dently that for the next two generations the 
house of Coburg will sustain all the features 
of the house of Guelph. This is part of the 
essence of the English State, but we Germans 
will not abandon common-sense, and will not 
propose to our people to cut off a sound limb 
in order to replace it by a skilfully-made 
artificial limb. We have had experience, 
and we have found that our constitutional 
monarchy is of such a nature, that it works 
best under great monarchs. It is not the work 
of a constitutional polity to rob royalty of all 
significance ; on the contrary, it must keep 
royalty fresh and living even among the peoples 
that have reached political maturity. With 
us royalty is almost the sole power of political 
tradition which links our present with the past. 
Do we want English Georges instead of our 
far-famed Hohenzollerns ? The history of our 



monarchy is so magnificent that a Prussian 
may very well say, c The best monarch is good 
enough for us.' According to our constitu- 
tion all power is vested in the monarch. Any 
one who denies this will have to prove his 
charges against our constitution, on the basis 
of certain foreign elements which have become 
historical. Thus the first element of the 
English constitution is an illegitimate and 
powerless monarchy " (Politik, II, 132-136). 
It would be waste of time to discuss this 
passage in detail. Treitschke seized upon 
peculiar elements of the English constitution 
and entirely misrepresented them. 

)His main error is, of course, his obstinate 
refusal to grant any real right of self-govern- 
ment to a people. I need not, however, deal 
at such length with his further descriptions of 
English institutions. He passes on to our 
aristocracy, in which he finds " a great political 


capacity and enormous power." He fancies 
that in England the aristocracy has completely 
swallowed up the independent peasantry, 
" which is the strength of Germany," and that 
it dominates the Houses of Parliament. He 
seems to be strangely confused as to the state 
of England before the Reform Bill and in 
recent times, although he observes that many 
changes occurred in 1832. His description 
of the actual state of things really refers to 
the older days. The Lords, he says, nominate 
the members of the Lower House. The Houso 
of Commons does not in any sense represent 
the people. It is ruled by the nobles through 
their younger sons, and cousins, and othsr 
dependents. Thus the monarchy is " a 
shadow," and democracy does not exist. Eng- 
land is ruled by " a well-ordered and powerful 

He further finds that the rival parties are 


kept together by " colossal bribery," and he 
ends : "To live in such circumstances may 
be very pleasant, but it is ridiculous to hold 
up such a system as a model to the German 
State, with its strict sense of justice." He 
closes the whole comparison of English and 
German political institutions with this remark- 
able passage : " We have, it is true, borrowed 
a few knick-knacks from England. With us 
also the King's name is not to be mentioned 
in Parliament. The English who have 
always been expert in flattery of this kind 
say that it is no more lawful to take the name 
of the King in vain than the name of God. 
This Guelph royalty, the first representative 
of which did not know the language of his 
country and could not attend the council, has 
now no influence at all. It is of no conse- 
quence what Queen Victoria thinks about a 
political question. And that is supposed to 


be a model for our country, where the King 
speaks very good German ! In Germany the 
will of the King still counts for something. 
That is especially the case in Prussia, the 
only place which still has a real monarch ; a 
ruler who is entirely independent. In Prussia 
a cowardly minister cannot shelter himself 
behind the monarch when he addresses Parlia- 
ment. If in a particular case he says, * Don't 
decide to do that, gentlemen; I tell you 
confidently that we shall not be able to per- 
suade his Majesty to assent,' there is no 
reason why we should not." 

Treitschke betrays the same petty and 
unscientific spirit almost whenever he ap- 
proaches any feature of English life. One 
or two instances will suffice to show how he 
inoculated the young men of the German 
middle class, with that disdain of England 
which has led to such tragic consequences. 


Many of his colleagues of a less prejudiced 
nature, were pointing out the indisputable 
merits which the Reform period had intro- 
duced into English law and practice. Treit- 
schke rarely failed to say precisely the 
opposite, and to pour ridicule on the claim 
that any feature of English life could with 
profit be adopted in Germany. Sometimes 
he is curiously inaccurate, as in the following 
contrast : "In England the punishment of 
political crimes is severe to the verge of cruelty ; 
in Germany, under the influence of radical 
ideas, it is the fashion to take a sentimental 
view of political crimes." Those who recollect 
the treatment, let us say, of Colonel Lynch 
at the time of the South African war, will 
read with surprise this observation of the 
learned professor. One would imagine that 
it was in England, not in Germany, that a 
brilliant historical writer can be committed 


to a fortress for three years for making very 
natural comments on the words of the monarch. 

In another place he deals with the contrast 
in the authority of the police. He says : 
" Germany proceeds on the principle that 
it is not good to restrict too much the dis- 
cretionary power of the authorities ; England 
gives the police no discretionary power at all. 
The result is that a state of war is constantly 
announced in England ; not a year passes 
without the reading of the Riot Act in some 
part of the United Kingdom." .Finally, I may 
quote his reflection on a liberty which so many 
Germans envy us in England : 

"In the conception of personal freedom 
there is included some security against 
arbitrary arrest. England has been excep- 
tionally zealous on this point. The famous 
clause of Magna Charta, that no one shall be 
arrested without a warrant, is undoubtedly 


a great achievement ; but it is equally true 
that in large modern cities this right is anti- 
quated. In a well- ordered State, where the 
police are punished for exceeding their powers, 
and one can rely on the punishment being 
carried out, they should be free to enter the 
houses of citizens in the larger towns. To 
regard as secret the resorts of thieves and 
other evil houses is absurd. You see the 
consequences in London, where the most 
terrible crimes escape detection " (Politik, I, 

After this defence of the Prussian system 
of autocracy, and the despotism of the Prussian 
police, Treitschke passes on to examine what 
are believed to be some of the most important 
reforms of English political life as regards the 
representation of the people. To most socio- 
logists of any country the ballot-box, or the 
secrecy of the vote, is one of the most impor- 


tant of these reforms. Treitschke is so un- 
willing to admit any superiority in any 
field of English life, that he actually delivers 
an eloquent and highly moral attack upon 
the ballot-box. He, of course, opposes any 
effective system of popular representation. 
Men with lungs, he says, obtain the greater 
power under institutions of that character; 
and he bitterly opposes any extension of the 
miserable franchise that is allowed in Prussia. 
One would have thought at least that he 
could recognise the propriety, if not the civic 
excellence, of the ballot-box, and the long 
passage which he has on that subject is worth 
quoting, as an example of the way in which 
German students were initiated at Berlin 
to the features of English life. He says : 

" In connection with the spread of this 
irrational claim for a wider franchise, there 
has been introduced the equally irrational, 



and at the same time immoral, secret vote. 
By the secrecy of the vote people are supposed 
to enjoy an independence which they really 
do not possess. We are fools to talk about 
our educated and free age when we have 
lost the simplest natural feeling of honour. 
It is precisely these free political institutions, 
which have brought on men certain moral 
mischiefs, of which our fathers in less free 
times never dreamed. If the parliamentary 
vote is to be regarded as the highest duty of 
a citizen, let it at least be exercised in a form 
which does not seem repugnant to a man of 
honour and some sense of freedom ; that is 
to say, let it be exercised in public and with 
full responsibility. A man who feels no dis- 
gust when he goes to the ballot-box and 
stealthily puts his vote into it, has no senti- 
ment of politicaHhonour. There is nothing 
whatever in the arguments for the ballot-box. 

129 I 


It is not the business of the State to weaken 
its citizens morally. It is a real conflict of 
duties when father and son hold different 
political views, but the son must openly declare 
which he holds to be highest, his political 
conviction or his sentiment of gratitude to 
his father. It is not the business of the State 
to prevent such conflicts. They did not have 
that kind of thing in older England. Until 
the nineteenth century a secret vote was 
regarded as a sign of thorough corruption. 
Now our press has got the idea that it is 
freedom to hide behind a bush, or a ballot-box. 
This is the result of extending the vote to 
classes which ought not to vote because they 
are not independent enough. 

" Moreover, people who talk like this show 

a remarkable ignorance of real life. In the 

country, especially among the poor, it is quite 

impossible to keep secret the way that any 



person has voted. Even in the towns there 
are all sorts of ways of discovering how a 
man has voted. So we come down in the end 
to the basest device to which ' the sense of 
liberty ' has brought us : the voter must go 
into a sort of smoking-room, and there fill up 
a form provided by the Government. That 
is a pretty state of things for men with any 
sense of decency ! Such secret proceedings 
completely destroy the feeling of manliness, 
and the State dangles the lie before millions 
of workers, who know quite well that they 
are really dependent. There can be no ques- 
tion whatever but that such a system is 
thoroughly immoral. What a man per- 
sonally feels as a disgrace must have a 
demoralising effect on the community. But 
our enlightened age is so stubborn in this 
respect that we have no hope of reform. 
We are rearing a race that will be incapable 


of thinking candidly and rightly. The results 
will be seen soon enough, and they will be 
lamentable. It is a question rather of a 
moral than of a political nature" (Politik, 
II, 182). 

These will serve as interesting illustrations 
of that Kultw which Treitschke would have 
liked to see imposed upon other nations. 
I reserve, however, for a later chapter the 
conception of a well-ordered State, as it is 
presented in Treitschke's writings. I would 
conclude with one other extract which shows 
how Treitschke can hardly ever approach 
the subject of England, without a prejudice 
which makes his lectures almost ridiculous. 
One aspect of statecraft which he has to con- 
sider is, naturally, the influence of physical 
conditions upon the people. This gives him 
the opportunity once more to make a contrast 
between England and Germany : 


"In estimating the climate and other 
natural features of a country, we are chiefly 
keeping in mind their influence on its material 
life. The moral and aesthetic points of view 
are of secondary importance, and must not 
be exaggerated. The moist and foggy climate 
of England has had anything but a good 
influence on the inhabitants. There are times 
in London when the fog is so dense that the 
spleen fills the atmosphere. Moreover, Eng- 
land has no wine, and wine is unquestionably 
an important factor of a genial and free 
civilisation. . . . The climate and the absence 
of wine and the lack of beautiful scenery [ ! ] 
have undeniably had a bad effect on English 
civilisation. The English can boast of great 
literature, but they have never attained any 
distinction in music or the plastic arts " 
(PolitiJc, I, 224). Again it would be waste of 
time to discuss these extraordinary views of 



English life and character. We must, how- 
ever, seriously consider how this persistent 
habit of belittling the English people has had 
a share in creating the anti -British temper in 
Germany. I would not over-estimate Treit- 
schke's influence in this regard. There have 
been so many incentives to anti -British feeling 
in recent years in Germany, that one need not 
go back to lectures delivered in a university 
forty years ago. The passages are, perhaps, 
more important for showing the kind of 
civilisation which Germany would, if it had 
the power, impose upon other countries. With 
this I will deal at a later stage, and will for the 
present consider those sentiments which have 
a more direct connection with the present war. 




WE have already seen the central idea of 
Treitschke's system of thought. The State is 
power. This means at once that he will 
exaggerate, more than any other civilian 
writer has ever done, the importance of war 
in a State. And here we come to the third 
and almost the most important aspect of 
Treitschke's influence. He and other German 
writers recognise, even boast, that they have 
imposed the present exacting burden of 
militarism on Europe. To Treitschke, though 
a civilian, it is easy to defend this develop- 
ment. His view of history is, as I pointed 
out, really superficial. He does not believe 


in " cold-blooded objectivity " in writing 
history. Every line of his studies and his 
writings has an application to the problems 
of the State to-day. We may say, without 
hesitation, that, apart from the soldiers of 
Germany, he has done more than any other 
writer to encourage the abnormal and dan- 
gerous zeal for military greatness which has 
now proved so disastrous. 

" History," he says, " has wholly masculine 
features; it is not a thing for sentimental 
natures and women. Brave peoples alone are 
secure of existence, of a future, of develop- 
ment ; weak and lazy peoples go under. The 
beauty of history lies in this eternal for and 
against of the various States. It is simply 
madness to desire to put an end to this rivalry. 
So humanity has found in all ages." Or, as 
he expresses it on another page of his great 
work : " It is only in war that a people really 


becomes a people ; and in the majority of 
cases the expansion of existing States proceeds 
by way of acquisition by conquest, though the 
results of the struggle may afterwards be recog- 
nized by treaty." 

According to Treitschke the State has two 
chief functions : to administer justice within 
its frontiers and assert its power without. 
Most people to-day regard the second as an 
accidental and, we trust, temporary function 
of the State, but Treitschke would not hear 
of such a view. In his theory the military 
function is essential to the State, and it would 
be a positive disaster to humanity if a con- 
dition of peace arose which would enable us 
to dispense with armies. This is one of the 
results of his new science of statecraft. He 
says : 

" As long as the State was regarded as an 
economic institution, the view prevailed in 


Germany that the economic principle of divi- 
sion of labour should apply to the army. 
Professional and well-drilled soldiers were 
needed to shield the life of the citizens from 
the confusion of war. But hard and bitter 
experience has changed all this, and to-day 
even the ordinary man feels that the military 
system is of more importance than economic 
interests is, in fact, of incalculable import- 
ance ; that there is question here of moral 
forces, and that these are best aroused and 
applied under a system of compulsory military 
service " (Politik I, 143). 

The claim that war engenders moral forces 
is not entirely novel in the literature of this 
subject, but in Treitschke's writings it is 
carried to a remarkable length. Many writers 
have claimed that physical degeneration would 
follow the abandonment of warfare, and some 
few have declared that there are features of 



character which warfare does favourably 
develop. Very few, however, have written 
in this vein in regard to war : 

" Gibbon calls patriotism c the vivid feeling 
of my interest in society,' but, if you conceive 
the State as merely designed to ensure for the 
individual his life and property, how comes 
it that the individual will sacrifice his life and 
property for the State! It is a fallacy to 
suppose that wars are now waged in the interest 
of material life. Modern wars do not aim 
at the seizure of property. They are inspired 
by the lofty moral possession of national 
honour, which is handed down from genera- 
tion to generation ; which has something 
absolutely sacred about it and forces the 
individual to sacrifice himself to it. It 
is a possession above price, and cannot be 
measured in dollars and pence" (Politik L, 



He finds a quaint illustration of this in the 
German war of 1866 ; and in other places he 
makes the same comment on the Franco- 
Prussian war. His claim takes the singular 
form that war between two States enables 
the nations to appreciate each other's qualities 
more justly, and links them in a stronger 
friendship than peace would ever have pro- 
duced. One wonders how such a theory will 
apply to the respective relations of England 
and France, and Belgium and Germany, after 
the present trouble is over. He says : 

" We Germans cannot appreciate too highly 
the fact that our Revolution of 1866 did not 
take the form of a popular movement and 
popular settlement, as in Italy, but the form 
of a war. The result was that the Prussian 
Crown, which marshalled its physical forces, 
was in a position to restore order. We may 
add that a transformation of a milder 


character was not at that time possible. If we 
suppose that the feeling of the masses for 
German unity was so strong that it would 
have led to revolution, the conquered and 
the conquerors would even now live in a 
state of enmity ; whereas the war and the 
generous conclusion of peace filled the oppo- 
nents with mutual appreciation, and so far 
united them that four years later they, like 
true comrades, joined their arms against 
France " (I., 136). 

It is, however, in surveying the general 
stream of history, that Treitschke makes his 
most formidable mistake. The historian is 
naturally apt to enlarge upon a nation in 
the prime of its life, and the full glory of its 
achievements. It occurs to him that, if it 
could only have sustained the military power 
which for a time protected its artists and its 
merchants, there would never have been the 


ultimate decay which he has to record. 
Unfortunately, many historians, and Treit- 
schke above all others, fail to analyse the facts 
justly. It seems, on an impartial considera- 
tion, that, with all the will in the world, it 
was quite impossible for those ancient 
Empires or States to sustain their military 
strength. Treitschke forgets that war destroys 
all the good qualities which militarism 

We may admit not only the physical robust- 
ness, but, to some extent, the moral qualities 
which are brought out in a war conducted on 
lines of chivalry and humanity. The historian 
must equally recognise that those soldiers 
in whom these qualities are most richly 
developed are the first to fall on the field. 
It is those who are less distinguished by 
courage and manliness, and it is the inferior 
types which have not been selected for military 



purposes, that remain at home and are the 
fathers of the next generation. Throughout 
nearly the whole of his historical glorifica- 
tion of war, Treitschke is guilty of this over- 
sight. His knowledge in detail is very largely 
confined to the story of Germany within the 
last two hundred years. A century or two 
show us plainly the beginnings of the develop- 
ment of military influence. The nation con- 
tinues vigorous in spite of its losses, because, 
by the enlargement of its territory, new groups 
of peoples have come under the selective 
action of the military commander. Had 
Treitschke lived but twenty years longer, he 
might have seen the culmination of this 
development in the history of his own country. 
Against his religious neighbours he used to 
quote texts of the Bible in support of warfare. 
He seems to have overlooked one text : 
" They who take the sword shall perish by 
145 K 


the sword." If there is one lesson arising 
plainly from the study of history, it is con- 
tained in those simple words. 

From the days of Goethe men were perceiv- 
ing the truth of this real lesson of history. 
Around him on every side Treitschke found 
men clamouring for the abandonment of war- 
fare and the substitution of arbitration. It 
is well known how, openly and secretly, Ger- 
many has frustrated this work of progress at 
the Hague Conferences. Treitschke had a 
very great share in the obstinate militarism 
which has prolonged the danger which threat- 
ened Europe, until at last it has fallen like an 
avalanche upon five or six whole nations. 
The disastrous results he clearly foresaw. It 
was part of his doctrine part of his idealism, 
as he called it that the State should be able 
to claim and to receive the utmost sacrifices 
from its subjects. When, recently, the Ger- 


man Emperor assured his Prussian subjects 
that he was sure that they would gladly 
sacrifice their lives and their homes to the 
needs of the Empire, he was, as in his religious 
utterances, doing little more than repeating 
the words of Treitschke. Using every motive 
at his command, Treitschke, throughout his 
whole life, tried to impress on the German 
people, not merely the need, but, as he said, 
" the sacredness of war." His influence on 
the German people in regard to war is as great 
as we have found his influence in regard to 
the inflated ideal of the German position and 

The deification of war runs through the 
whole of Treitschke' s theory of a State. Two 
long extracts will suffice to show how he uses 
every argument, to impress the eternal need 
of war and militarism on his university 
students. In the first section, where he is 


explaining the nature of a State, he says as 
follows : 

" Without war there would be no State. 
All the States we know have their origin in 
war : the armed protection of its citizens is 
the first and the central duty of the State. 
Hence war will last as long as history does : 
as long as there is a plurality of States. That 
it should ever be otherwise can be deduced 
neither from the laws of thought nor from 
the laws of human nature ; nor is it in the 
least desirable. The blind worshippers of 
eternal peace make the mistake of isolating 
the State, or of dreaming of a world-State, 
which we have already recognised to be 

" Since it is equally impossible, as we have 

already seen, even to conceive of a higher 

judge over States, which are in their nature 

sovereign, we cannot imagine that the state 



of war will ever cease. It is the fashion of 
our time to speak of England as a lover of 
peace. Yet England is always at war ; there 
is hardly a moment in modern history when 
she has not been fighting somewhere. The 
great progress of civilised men, as opposed to 
barbarism and unreason, can only be realised 
by the sword. Even among civilised peoples 
war remains the form of the process by means 
of which States assert their claims. The 
evidence that is produced in this frightful 
process is as convincing as the evidence in a 
civil-law case. How often have we endeavoured 
to convince small States that Prussia alone 
can take the lead in Germany; we had to 
furnish a decisive proof on the battle-fields of 
Bohemia and the Main. War binds peoples 
together, it does not merely separate them. 
It brings people to face each other, not merely 
in enmity : they learn to understand and 


appreciate each other's qualities. We must 
also recognise that war is not always the 
verdict of God ; there are even here temporary 
successes, but the life of a nation must be 
counted in centuries. Our final judgment 
must be based on a survey of great epochs. 
A State like Prussia, which was, in accordance 
with the spirit of its people, always freer and 
more rational than France, might at times 
seem to be on the verge of extinction, owing 
to some temporary enervation, but might 
then recollect its true inner nature and assert 
its superiority. We must unhesitatingly 
affirm that war is the only remedy for sick 
nations. Whenever the State calls, ' My exist- 
ence is in danger,' social selfishness must 
disappear and party hatred must be silent. 
The individual must forget his own personality 
and realise that he is a member of the whole ; 
he must feel how little his life is in comparison 


with the good of the whole. Therein consists 
the nobleness of war, that the smallness of 
men vanishes before the greater interest of 
the State. Self-sacrifice for one's fellows is 
nowhere so splendid as in war. At such times 
the chaff is separated from the grain. Every 
man who lived through the year 1870 feels 
the truth of what Niebuhr said of the year 
1813 [the war of 1813 was a war of liberation, 
not of aggression] that in those days he felt 
* the happiness of sharing a sentiment with 
all his fellow- citizens, learned and simple, and 
every man who enjoyed it will remember all 
his life how kindly and strong his soul was at 
that time.' 

" It is precisely political idealism that 
demands war, while materialism shrinks from 
it. What a moral perversity it is to wish to 
strike militarism out of the heart of man ! 
It is a nation's heroes who gladden and inspire 


the hearts of the young ; and the writer we 
admired most, when we^were young men, is 
the man whose words have the sound of a 
trumpet. The man who does not leap at 
such a sound is too great a coward to bear 
arms for his country. It is no use referring 
to Christianity. The Bible expressly says 
that authority shall wear the sword, and it 
declares : ' Greater love than this no man 
hath, that he should lay down his life for his 
friends.' They who repeat nonsense about 
eternal peace do not understand the life of 
the Aryan peoples : the Aryans are first and 
foremost brave. They have always been men 
enough to protect with the sword what they 
had won by the spirit. Goethe once said : 
' The North Germans were always more 
civilised than the South Germans.' [Goethe 
had the most profound contempt for Prussia, 
and loved the South German State of Gotha.] 


Heroism the maintenance of bodily strength 
and moral courage is essential to a noble 

"We must not look at these things only 
in the light of the study lamp. The historian 
who lives in the world of will is convinced 
that the dream of eternal peace is thoroughly 
reactionary. He knows that with the cessa- 
tion of war all movement and all progress 
will disappear from history. It has always 
been the exhausted, spiritless, enervated ages 
that have played with the dream of eternal 
peace. . . . The third such period is that 
in which we now live ; it is, once more, a 
period of peace following a great war, which 
seems to have destroyed all idealism in 
Germany. Loud and shameless is the 
laughter of the crowd when something that 
has contributed to the greatness of Germany 
is destroyed. The foundations of our noble 



old education are ruined ; all that made us 
an aristocracy among the nations of the earth 
is now despised and trodden under foot. 
It is a fit time for dreaming once more the 
vision of eternal peace. But it is not worth 
while lingering over the subject. The living 
God will take care that the terrible physic 
of war shall be administered to humanity 
again and again " (Politik, L, 72-76). 

Treitschke makes some concession to the 
dreamers of peace. Inconsistently with his 
praise of the virtues of war, he contends 
that it is a benefit of the new military system 
that wars will become shorter and less fre- 
quent. Even in such practical matters as 
this, where one so intensely interested in 
militarism might seem to have authority, 
the events have shown the utter fallacy and 
hollowness of his position. We are now 
entering upon the fourth big war in twenty 


years, and this war bids fair to prove more 
expensive and disastrous than all the wars 
of the nineteenth century put together. 
Even in its length it may rival the Napoleonic 

But we need not linger to examine the 
hotch-potch of arguments which make up 
Treitschke's panegyric of war. The last sen- 
tence of the passage I have quoted will be 
sufficient to convince any impartial person 
of the utterly diseased nature of this great 
influence on Germany. I would pass on at 
once to consider the section of Treitschke's 
work which deals expressly with the military 
functions of the State. He begins (23) : 

" It was a defect of the older politics to 
regard the army merely as an instrument at 
the disposal of diplomacy, and to give it a 
subordinate place in its system, in the chapter 
on foreign politics. It was regarded only 


as a means of foreign policy. There is no 
question of such a thing in our age of universal 
military service. Everybody feels to-day that 
the army is not merely an instrument for 
the purposes of diplomacy, but that the 
constitution of a State rests precisely on the 
distribution of arms among the people. The 
State is supported by the ordered physical 
strength of the nation, and that is the army. 
If the essence of the State is power, directed 
both inwards and outwards, the organisation 
of the army must be one of the first con- 
stitutional questions in any State." 

Treitschke goes on to argue, plausibly 
enough, that the army performs a great 
civil function. Nearly every other institu- 
tion or element of national life divides the 
people, or confuses them with the people 
of other States. Art and science, or all 
culture in the English sense of the word, 


are cosmopolitan : and cosmopolitanism is 
to Treitschke, who hates all Jews and all 
idealists, one of the gravest dangers of modern 
times. What is ordinarily called politics, 
on the other hand, splits the nation into 
hostile parties ; and this element in turn was 
regarded with bitter contempt by Treitschke. 
He would have the whole nation listening 
in silence to the dictates of the monarch 
and his soldiers and historians. The great 
instrument for bringing about this docile unity 
is the army. " In the army alone do the 
citizens feel that they are sons of their coun- 
try," and "the King is its natural com- 
mander." He goes on : " An adequate 
equipment of the army is also the foundation 
of political freedom, so that we need not 
waste pity on States that have a powerful and 
well -drilled army. In this province academical 
theories have suffered the most amusing defeats 


at the hand of facts. Everybody who calls 
himself liberal speaks of the ideal of dis- 
armament toward which modern States are 
hastening. But what does the history of 
the nineteenth century really teach us ? 
Precisely the contrary. Armament grows 
heavier each year, and, as it is the same in 
all States, this cannot be due to accident. 
There is some radical defect in the whole 
theory of the Liberals. The State is not 
an academy of arts, or an Exchange : it 
is power, and it belies . its own nature 
when it neglects the army " (Politik, II. , 

Treitschke turns once more upon reformers 
in Germany who are pleading the economy 
of the English system. He points out, quite 
naturally, that the position of England is 
exceptional. England relies mainly upon her 
fleet, and her example cannot apply to 


Germany. But, with his constant disposition 
to seek those ingenious arguments which 
German writers are apt to regard as profound, 
he gives us a remarkable passage on the 
English army. He observes that the position 
of the army in England has been entirely 
irregular since the days of the Puritans. 
Parliament then disbanded the army and 
" since that time English people have regarded 
the army as a tool of the State, which might 
be used even against the will of the nation ; 
and when a second revolution set up a shadow 
of royalty by the grace of Parliament, the 
Mutiny Act was passed." This is, he says, 
a ridiculous contrast to the position of the 
army in Germany. " With us the institution 
of the army is precisely a result of the law. 
The military law of 1814, one of the greatest 
debts we owe to Prussia, is the basis of a 
comprehensive legislation. Hence our army 


is on a legal footing and not, as in England, 
an anomaly." He continues : 

" Could there be any greater humiliation 
than to sympathise with our country because 
it has the advantage over England of a large 
army ? For it is an advantage to have 
a large and well-equipped army, because 
the army is not only intended to be of use in 
supporting a nation's foreign policy, but a 
high-minded nation with a glorious history 
can employ the army for a long period as a 
dormant weapon ; and, in addition, it pro- 
vides for the people a school of the really 
manly virtues which are so easily lost sight 
of, in an age of commerce and pleasure. We 
must acknowledge that there are men of a 
fine artistic nature who cannot tolerate the 
military discipline. We often hear these 
people speaking in a very perverse way about 
military service. But in such things we 


cannot make laws for exceptional natures : 
we must, according to the old rule, deal with 
the mens sana in corpore sano. Bodily strength 
is especially important in times like ours. It 
is a defect of the English civilisation that 
it does not include compulsory military 
service. . . . 

[Here follows the humorous passage relating 
to the coarseness of English character on 
account of the prevalence of sport instead of 
military drill which I have quoted above.] 

" The normal and rational course for a great 
nation is to embody the essence of its State, 
which is power, in a well- drilled army. And 
as we have lived through a period of war, the 
over- sensitive, philanthropic way of looking 
at these things has rather gone out of fashion, 
so that, with Clausewitz, we again regard 
war as a great extension of politics. All the 
peace-pipe-smokers in the world will not 
161 L 


succeed in bringing harmony into the views 
of the political Powers, and until that is done 
the sword alone can decide between them. 
We have learned to appreciate the moral 
majesty of war precisely in those features 
which seem to superficial observers brutal and 
inhuman. It seems, at first, the most terrible 
feature of war that a man must, for his 
country's sake, crush his natural feelings of 
humanity ; that men who have never done 
any harm to each other, and have perhaps 
even respected each other as chivalrous 
enemies, shall now proceed to murder each 
other ; yet this is at the same time one of the 
glories of war. A man shall sacrifice not only 
his life, but also the natural and deep-rooted 
feelings of the human soul he shall give his 
whole personality for a great patriotic idea : 
that is the moral grandeur of war. If we con- 
sider the matter further, we see that war, with 


all its hardness and crudeness, weaves a 
bond of love between man and man ; since in 
war all social distinctions disappear, and the 
threat of death links man with man. Any 
man who knows history knows that it would 
be a stultification of human nature to wish 
to eliminate warfare from the world. There 
is no liberty without war-like action, which 
is ready to make sacrifices for liberty. We 
cannot repeat too often that scholars, in 
discussing these matters, start with the assump- 
tion that the State is destined to be an academy 
of arts and sciences. It ought, of course, to 
do the work of such an academy, but that 
is not its first task. When a State neglects 
its physical strength in favour of intellectual 
culture it is lost. 

' We see everywhere that the greatness of 
historical life acts on character more than on 
culture : the driving forces of history must 


be sought in fields where character is formed. 
None but brave peoples have a real history. In 
the great crises of a nation's life we see that 
the warlike virtues are decisive. In war 
nations show of what they are capable : not 
only in the way of physical strength, 
but also in moral, and, to some extent, 
intellectual strength" (PoKtik, II., 361- 

" Since the army is the orderly political 
strength of the State, it must be Power, and 
not have a will of its own; it must yield 
absolute obedience to the will of the head of 
the State. It cannot be denied that this 
absolute subjection to the will of the head 
of the State is a hard experience. But it is 
important to notice that the political liberty 
of a people is based precisely on this re- 
quirement, which Radical talkers are always 
decrying as reactionary. All political security 


would be at an end if the army had a will 
of its own (p. 365). 

" From this duty of absolute obedience it 
follows that there must be one single oath 
of fidelity, and this must direct the soldier 
with perfect clearness whom he must obey. 
You cannot promise to sacrifice your life 
under certain conditions. To compel young 
men, for the most part of the poorer class, to 
promise to obey the King and also the con- 
stitution ; in other words, to place before 
them the alternative of obeying either one 
or the other in case of conflict is sheer non- 
sense. There is an end of discipline if you 
make the soldier the judge whether the 
constitution has or has not been infringed in a 
certain case " (Ref. 366). 

Treitschke seems to shudder a little at his 
own doctrine. He goes on to admit that 
conscience has its rights, and he declares 


entirely contradicting what he has already 
said that absolute obedience can be promised 
to no human being. One wonders how far the 
Prussian military authorities would grant 
such a concession, but Treitschke goes on at 
once to show that he is by no means differing 
from the military authorities. He gives in- 
stances in which a man would be justified 
in refusing to obey orders. The first case is, 
if he were ordered to kill his father and mother ! 
One cannot see a very large concession to 
conscience in an extreme supposition of that 
kind. The second case is if the German 
soldiers were ordered to " become child - 
slayers like Herod's soldiers." After Belgium 
we need make no comment on the second of 
Treitschke's supposed cases of the soldier's 
right to disobey. He continues with his 
analysis of the State's military function : 
" A soldier's honour consists in the energy 


and promptness with which he obeys. Hence 
the unconditional obedience, which, amongst 
us is pushed with such severity, is a glory 
and a sign of the splendid spirit of our army. 
The disdain with which Radicals often speak 
of this ' dog-like submission ' is sheer non- 
sense. The army training is of very great 
value in the formation of character. Elderly 
and able officers are above all things men of fine 
character [like Major Manteuffel], and are 
in this respect on a higher level than the 
average scholar; since learned men have 
far less opportunity to form their characters. 
Goethe's immortal words in his e Tasso ' 
have hit the mark. Silent obedience to 
superiors and strict orders to inferiors imply 
an independence of character which must be 
very highly esteemed. Our Prussian generals 
have always been liberal -minded men. These 
facts are so well established that one can 


never cease to wonder at the stupidity of the 
idea, that an army bound to unconditional 
obedience is an instrument of slavery : it 
is rather an instrument of freedom. Anyone 
who thinks that such an army, pledged by 
its oath, can be used for a reactionary purpose 
does not know history (p. 367). 

" A brave man who has taken on himself 
the obligation of unconditional obedience 
would have no sense of dignity if he were not 
conscious that, since he was ready to sacrifice 
his life at any time, he must keep the shield 
of his honour bright. Anybody who doubts 
this ascribes his own inferior feelings to the 
soldier. Hence the military sense of honour 
is often peculiarly sensitive. There may be 
abuses, but the fact is in itself wholesome. 
Even among civilians the duel still survives. 
In a democratic society the duel is the last 

protection against the complete barbarism 


of social manners. Men are more or less 
restrained by the thought that a transgression 
may cost them their lives ; and it is better 
for a man in the prime of life to die now and 
again than for the ways of the whole people 
to run wild. And with this soldierly feeling 
of honour is connected the great moral force 
that is found in the army, and constitutes its 
strength to a great extent. Officers would 
lose the respect of their men if they had not 
a keen sense of honour and refined manners. 
Moral coarseness has increased in the English 
army since the duel was abolished ; there 
have been cases of officers thrashing each 
other in railway carriages in the presence of 
their wives. We need not consider how such 
conduct is bound to lower them in the eyes of 
their men. The democratic idea that a soldier 
will obey one of his own class rather than a 
social superior is the reverse of the truth (370). 


"It is not technical but moral superiority 
which finally decides the issue of a war. The 
English soldiers are very good at physical 
exercises ; they are trained to box, and are 
fed with extraordinary generosity. But people 
are beginning even in England to see that 
there is something wanting, and that the 
English cannot be compared with a national 
army because the moral energies of the 
people are shut out from the army. The 
world is not as materialistic as Wellington 
supposed. He said that mental development 
was of no use in the army; it led only to 
disorder and confusion (371). 

" In considering these matters we must 
keep to the purely moral estimate of institu- 
tion, as opposed to the purely economic. . . 
We must never lose sight of the fact that there 
are things which are beyond all price. Moral 
goods have no price, and it is therefore stupid 


to attempt to appraise such things as the 
honour and power of a State in terms of 
money. What we lost when the flower of 
our youth fell on the fields of France cannot 
be estimated in gold. It is unworthy to put 
moral things on the same level as material " 

One need not make any comment on these 
bewildering claims for the virtues of war. 
The well-known qualities of the German 
soldiers and officers are in themselves a crush- 
ing reply to the claims of their apologists. 
Treitschke goes on, since he has discovered 
the supreme moral value of the modern 
military system, to claim the merit of it for 
Prussia ; and we will not refuse to admit that, 
whether it be an advantage to Europe or 
otherwise, Germany has the lion's share in 
imposing the military burden on Europe. I 
will not, therefore quote the long historical 


proof which he gives that Prussia has, as he 
says, "the glory of leading modern Europe 
back to a natural and more moral conception." 
That is Treitschke's idea of the substitution 
of vast national armies for the small standing 
armies which preceded Frederick the Great. 
He is not blind to the appalling economic 
burden which this change has imposed on 
Europe, but, as we have seen, he finds that 
the moral qualities engendered entirely out- 
weigh the material cost. He goes on : 

" The example of the German national 
army has had a great influence on the rest 
of Europe. All the raillery that was once 
directed against it has proved foolish. It was 
common in foreign countries to shrug one's 
shoulders in talking of the Prussian Land- 
wehren; the Prussian army of children, they 
called it. Things have turned out very 

differently. It has been clearly shown that 


in war the moral factors are more important 
than technical training ; and it has also been 
shown that the increased technical experience 
of the barracks is accompanied by some moral 
degeneration (404). 

" On the whole the tendency of the modern 
system is for peace. A whole people in arms 
cannot so easily be drawn from its peaceful 
occupations into an unjustifiable war as a 
conscription army. Wars are now less com- 
mon and shorter, though they are bloodier. 
The desire to get home again gives the men 
a strong incentive to push on. The normal 
feeling of a brave, yet peace-loving, national 
army is that which the Prussian soldiers gave 
expression to in the summer of 1866 : ' Let 
us get to the Danube as quickly as possible, so 
that we shall get home all the sooner.' We 
may say that nothing is impossible to such a 

national army when it has a glorious history 


to look back upon ; our experience ^m the last 
two wars, especially in the Battles of Konig- 
gratz and Mars la Tour, proves this." 

This passage again shows what one must 
almost call the insincerity of Treitschke's 
argument. If war has all the virtues which 
he so ingeniously discovers in it, it is hardly 
a merit of the present system that war should 
become less frequent and that the soldiers 
should hasten home again. But the whole 
argumentation is so flimsy that it would be 
waste of time to linger over it. We are apt to 
forget in reading Treitschke that we are 
listening to words which come, with the full 
authority of the State, from one of the most 
learned chairs in Germany. The tragic feature 
which almost prevents us from enjoying the 
humour of many of these passages is that 
this doctrine has been one of the great influ- 
ences in bringing about the horrors of the 

present war. In a few more years men will 
perceive in Germany how terribly short- 
sighted these views were. The enthusiasm of 
a man who was cut off from his fellows and 
lived in a world of books and of his own fiery 
impulses, has led a whole nation to destruction. 

It was not only in his university lectures 
that Treitschke made this glorification of war. 
In his Historische und Politische Aufsatze 
(I., 782) he makes a violent tirade against 
the increasing demand in Germany for an 
International Court of Arbitration. He says : 

" Among the workers there is spreading 
a theory of the absolute blessedness of peace, 
which is a scandal to the intelligence and moral 
energy of our age ; a hotch-potch of phrases, 
so clear that everybody repeats them, and so 
miserable that every man who is a man 
throws them overboard at once when the 
majesty of war arises in bodily form before 
17ft " 


the people. Theological perversity has not 
had much to do with these ideas. More 
dangerous is the thoughtless sympathy of 
feminine natures, which cannot reconcile them- 
selves to the misery which war causes." 

Throughout his whole life he met the great 
dream of our age with this brutality, but the 
events of the year 1915 will give a decisive 
answer to all these miserable pages. It would 
be more interesting to examine how far 
Treitschke approved in advance the more 
unscrupulous aud repulsive methods of the 
military authorities. He rarely, however, 
enters into details on this subject. I have 
already quoted the passage in which he not 
only admits that the soldier must crush 
every feeling of humanity, but actually boasts 
that this is one of the moral victories of war 
It was reserved for the military pupils and 
followers of Treitschke to translate these 


general principles into the particular directions 
which we have seen carried out in the last 
few months. We shall further see, in the 
next chapter, that in spite of his high standard 
of honour. Treitschke makes extraordinary 
concessions to the spirit of casuistry whenever 
the supreme interest of the State requires it ; 
and the supreme interest of the State, we 
must always remember, is, in his opinion, 
the military interest. We shall find him 
praising and approving the doctrine of Machia- 
velli as no other writer in the last one hundred 
years has dared to do. We shall find him, 
somewhat shyly it is true, approving lying in 
the interests of the State. We shall, in fact, 
find that he imagines his God-directed monarch 
to be also the monarch of the moral law, and 
we shall conclude that he has had a share in 
inspiring even the worst features of this 

177 M 


I will conclude this chapter with one or 
two extracts, which show his attitude towards 
the growing demand for an international 
tribunal for the settlement of the disputes of 
nations. This proposal cuts deeply into the 
roots of his theory of a State ; what is worse, 
it cuts even more deeply into the roots 
of Prussian ambition. Treitschke therefore 
used his whole influence to cast ridicule on 
the advancing reform. We need not notice 
the way in which he argues against it, because 
of the sacredness and moral efficacy of war- 
fare. I need only reproduce one or two 
passages in which he makes a display of 
academic learning against the proposal. He 
says : 

" We have described the State as an inde- 
pendent Power. This pregnant idea of inde- 
pendence involves a legal autonomy, in such 
wise that no State can rightly tolerate any 


power over itself; it implies also a political 
independence, an abundance of means for 
securing itself against foreign influences. . . 
A human society which has abdicated its 
sovereignty is not a State " (135). 

It will be clearly seen that this principle 
justifies the German State in signing the docu- 
ments of the Hague Convention, and cancelling 
its obligations the moment it finds it con- 
venient to do so. But we will see this more 
clearly in the next chapter. In a later passage 
of his work Treitschke returns to the question 
of arbitration. He says : 

"From which it follows clearly that the 
establishment of an International Court of 
Arbitration as a permanent institution, is not 
consistent with the nature of a State. It is 
only in questions of a second or third rank 
of importance that the State could make use 
of such a tribunal. When we find people 


putting forward the stupid proposal to treat 
the question of Alsace as an open question, 
and submit it to arbitration, we cannot 
seriously regard this as a non-party proposal. 
It is a matter of honour for a State to settle 
such a question itself. There cannot therefore 
be such a thing as a supreme international 
tribunal. All that can happen will be that 
international treaties will become more and 
more common. But arms will maintain their 
right to the end of history ; and in that 
precisely consists the sacredness of war " 

Such is the doctrine that learned professors 
have joined with statesmen and soldiers in 
impressing on the mind of Germany during 
the last fifty years. There is no need to 
refute it at the present hour. Within another 
year the ambition of Germany will be shat- 
tered, and, in the interest of humanity, the 


vast Empire will be shorn of several large 
provinces. That will be the answer of the 
human race to this swollen and diseased 
military ambition. It is possible that Treit- 
schke's gospel will have an influence in direc- 
tions which he did not foresee. One can hardly 
believe that when Europe has lost its great 
teacher of military ambition, it will continue 
to shoulder the burden that it has borne so 
long. The issue of the war may be the 
supreme triumph of that ideal which Treitschke 
combated. It will be at least the death of 
Prussian ambition. 





WE have already seen how Treitschke has 
made three great and disastrous contributions 
to the mood of the German people. His 
fourth contribution is perhaps more extra- 
ordinary and even more disastrous. Treit- 
schke was a man, in every personal relation 
of life, of the strictest honour and integrity. 
We must recognise something like insincerity 
at times in his strained apologies for war and 
for Prussian ambition. On the whole, how- 
ever, he was a man of high standards and 
rigorous fidelity, and one turns with 
interest to inquire how a man of such a 
character is related to those features of 


recent German conduct which have proved 
so repulsive. 

We find that Treitschke laid down in advance 
almost all the immoral principles on which 
Germany has proceeded. The name of 
Machiavelli is not in good odour in the modern 
world. We understand Machiavelli to-day. 
The fifteenth century was one of the profound- 
est corruption in Italy, and this corruption 
was applied in the most licentious way to the 
international relations of princes and nations. 
Machiavelli simply made a code of the practices 
which he found prevalent in his time ; a code 
which was then followed even by Popes like 
Leo XIII. With the Humanitarianism of the 
nineteenth century this code has been rightly 
disdained, and the principle that honesty is 
the best policy is gradually being established 
in the conduct of international life. To our 
amazement Treitschke makes an eloquent 


defence of Machiavelli, and wishes to restore 
to honour some of his immoral principles. 
I related in the first chapter how, as a quite 
young man, he studied the Florentine politician 
and was taken with admiration of his princi- 
ples. In mature age, from the chair of Berlin 
University, he renews the admiration of his 
youth. The passage is worth quoting in its 
entirety, since it involves so many sentiments 
or principles with a direct application to the 
present trouble : 

" A great change began when the Reforma- 
tion issued from the Christian world, and the 
older authorities collapsed. It is in the midst 
of this dissolution of all traditional authorities 
that we must understand the great thinker 
who co-operated with Martin Luther in 
emancipating the State. It was Machiavelli 
who put forward the theory that, when the 
safety of the State is in danger, there must be 


no scrutiny into the cleanness of the means 
adopted. Let the State be preserved and 
everybody will approve the means. Machia- 
velli must be taken historically to be under- 
stood. He belongs to a race which was just 
passing from the bonds of the Middle Ages 
into the subjective freedom of modern thought. 
All around him in Italy he saw the mighty 
forms of the tyrants in whom the rich endow- 
ment of that wonderful people had displayed 
itself. These Italian tyrants were all born 
Maecaenae. They said, like the great artistes : 
' I am myself alone.' Machiavelli delighted 
in these men of power. It will always be his 
glory to have put the State on its own feet 
and freed it in its ethic from the Church ; and 
especially that he was the first to announce 
clearly, ' The State is Power.' 

" Yet Machiavelli has still one foot on the 
threshold of the Middle Ages. Although he 


tries to emancipate the State from the 
Church and says, with the courage of the 
modern Italian patriot, that the Roman See 
has brought misery on Italy, he is still domin- 
ated by the idea that morality is a thing of 
the Church ; and in freeing the State from the 
Church he cuts it away from moral law alto- 
gether. He says that the State has only to 
look to the purpose of its own power : all that 
contributes to attain this is good and right. 
Machiavelli tries to think on the lines of 
antiquity and does not succeed, because he 
has eaten the fruit of the tree of knowledge : 
because, without knowing or wishing it, he is 
a Christian. Hence his view of the freedom 
of political morals is confused and obscured 
by his position in an age of transition. 

" That need not prevent us from admitting 
gladly that the great Florentine was the first, 
if we regard all the far-reaching consequences 


of his ideas, to introduce into politics the theory 
that the State is Power. For that is true ; 
and any man who is not manly enough to look 
the truth in the face must keep his hands off 
politics. We must never forget this great 
merit of Machiavelli, even if we clearly recog- 
nise the profound immorality, in some respects, 
of his political theory. What repels us is not 
that he is entirely indifferent to the nature of 
the means which power uses, but that he pays 
so little attention to the question how the 
supreme power is attained and used, and that 
this power has no inner meaning for him. 
He has not the least idea that this power must 
justify itself by securing the highest moral 
good of humanity. 

" Machiavelli did not see that this sheer 

theory of power is contradictory even from 

his own point of view. Whom does he put 

before us as the ideal of a shrewd and brave 



prince ? Caesar Borgia. But can we regard 
this monster as, even in Machiavelli's sense, a 
model statesman ? Did any of his work 
last ? His State fell to pieces as soon as he 
died. [Csesar's State fell to pieces many years 
before he died ; the moment his father, Alex- 
ander VI., left the Papal throne, Caesar's 
dominion toppled over like a house of cards. 
This fact does not greatly confirm Treitschke's 
theory of power.] After ruining vast numbers 
of other people he was himself ruined. A 
power that trampled on all rights must neces- 
sarily come to grief, because in the moral 
world there is no support in anything that 
cannot resist. 

" In consequence of its frightfully candid 
and harsh expression of Machiavelli's views, 
his book, The Prince, is for most men a repul- 
sive thing; but it has had an enormous 
influence down to our own time. . . . This 


' Eeason of State ' a policy which asks only 
if a thing is advantageous to the State was 
followed toward the end of the seventeenth 
century with an unscrupulousness which it is 
now difficult for us to imagine. From that 
time dates the evil reputation which the 
word ' politician ' so long retained in the 
mind of the people. Machiavelli's book was 
called The Devil's Catechism, or The Ten 
Commandments Reversed. His name became 
a thing of contempt, and a vast number of 
books, each improving on the morality of its 
predecessor, were written against him. It is 
an unfortunate fact that public opinion is 
always more moral than men's own actions. 
The average man is ashamed to acknowledge 
openly a thousand things which he does in 
practice. What he can himself do in the way 
of Cossack-morality is incredible. 

" The whole anti-Machiavellian literature 


is, with one brilliant exception, absolutely 
worthless. Who were the chief writers to 
assail the great Florentine ? The Jesuits ; 
and one can be fairly confident that any man 
who is attacked by the Jesuits, is a great and 
noble-minded man. The chief ground of their 
hatred is Machiavelli's large Italian patriotism, 
and the candour with which he preached what 
the Jesuits practised daily. Their whole 
polemic against Machiavelli is insincere, and 
is morally and scientifically worthless. Yet 
the great Florentine was, in the eighteenth 
century, which had so great a regard theo- 
retically for the brotherhood of man, decried 
by all who smoked the pipe of peace, and 
traded in humanitarianism " (I., 89-93). 

It is unfortunate that Treitschke does not 
specify the points which he finds repulsive in 
Machiavelli. One asks, for instance, whether 
Treitschke would approve the lying and decep- 

193 N 


tion which Machiavelli favoured in diplomacy 
and politics. After a time Treitschke comes 
to deal expressly with this question. One 
would hardly expect him to say in so many 
words that lying was permissible in modern 
diplomacy, but a short passage will sufficiently 
indicate that he really approved it. He says : 
" Journalistic makers of phrases speak of 
statesmen as a corrupt class, as if lying were 
inseparable from diplomacy. The truth is 
precisely the opposite. Eeally great states- 
men have always been distinguished for can- 
dour. . . . Think of the massive candour of 
Bismarck in important matters, in spite of 
his cunning in small details ! It was his 
most powerful weapon, for smaller diplomatists 
always believed the opposite when he told 
them what he really wanted. In which of the 
professions do we find most lying ? Clearly 
in the commercial world; that has 


been the case. In trade lying has been 
systematised. In comparison with it, 'diplo- 
macy shines with the innocence of a dove. 
Yet notice the immeasurable difference be- 
tween the two : when an unscrupulous specu- 
lator lies on 'Change, he is merely thinking 
of his own purse, but the diplomatist is think- 
ing of his country when, in a political trans- 
action, he indulges in some obscuring of the 
facts. As historians, whose business it is to 
survey the whole life of man, we must admit 
that the profession of the diplomatists is far 
more moral than that of the merchant. The 
moral danger to which a diplomatist is exposed 
is not lying ; it is the intellectual dissipation 
of the drawing-room " (I., 96). 

In spite of the diplomatic language of these 

passages, it is plain that Treitschke approves 

of what he calls " the obscuring of facts," 

whenever the interest of his Divine State 



requires it. We may particularly notice his 
statement that what shocks us in Machiavelli 
is, not his indifference to the means used, but 
to the end for which the power of a State 
ought to be used. This means clearly that 
such a State as Prussia, which has such highly 
moral aims, need not be too scrupulous about 
the means which it employs to strengthen and 
extend its power. 

But he presently approaches the question 
directly, and we have as plain a statement 
of the Machiavellian principle as one could 
desire. He raises the question of the rela- 
tion of politics to moral law. Politics, he 
says gravely, is most assuredly subject to 
moral law, and there can be no collision what- 
ever between the two. u Most of the sup- 
posed conflicts of politics and moral law are, 
if you examine them carefully, conflicts be- 
tween politics and positive law. But positive 


law is of human origin and may be unreason- 
able. . . . When the social needs change, the 
law may become absurd, and so there are 
collisions. Hence politics is often obliged to 
act in violation of positive law, and a serious 
conflict may arise. In other cases there may 
be a collision of different duties." He is plainly 
arguing for a moral law which will prove 
sufficiently elastic to accommodate itself to the 
needs of the politician. He goes on to refer 
to the moral code of the Christian religion, 
which a greater German, Humboldt, described 
as equally binding upon a State and upon the 
individual. Treitschke says : " The chief 
precept of Christianity is that of love and of 
the freedom of the moral nature. It has no 
moral code and in that consists the very 
essence of its morality. Luther did a thing 
of immortal merit when he restored the doctrine 
that good works are of no avail without a good 


spirit. Neither can Kant's Categorical 1m 
perative replace the doctrine of Christianity : 
it fails to lay stress on personal freedom." It 
follows that the man or the State is the moral 
judge of his or its own conduct, and must 
interpret the moral law in this sense of free- 
dom. Then Treitschke goes into closer details 
about his subject : 

" Now if we apply this standard of a deeper 
and genuinely Christian morality to the State, 
and if we remember that the essence of this 
social personality is Power, we see that the 
highest moral duty of the State is to maintain 
its power. The individual must sacrifice him- 
self for the good of the community of which 
he is a member ; but the State is the supreme 
thing in the external community of men, 
and therefore it cannot in any circumstances 
have a duty of self-destruction. The Christian 
duty to sacrifice oneself for something higher 


does not apply to the State, because there 
is nothing in the world superior to it ; hence 
it cannot sacrifice itself for something higher. 
If a State finds itself in danger of destruction, 
we praise it if it dies sword in hand. Self- 
sacrifice for another people is not only not 
moral : it contradicts the idea of self-assertion 
which is to the State the supreme thing. 

" Hence also we must distinguish between 
public and private morals. The scale of duties 
must be quite different for the State, since it 
is Power, than for the individual. Quite a 
number of duties which are incumbent on the 
individual do not exist for the State. Its 
highest duty always is to assert itself ; for the 
State that is absolutely moral. Hence we 
must recognise that the worst and most con- 
temptible of all political sins is weakness : it 
is in politics the sin against the Holy Ghost. 
In private life there are pardonable weaknesses 


of sentiment. There can be no question of 
such a thing on the part of the State : it is 
Power, and if it belies its own nature, it cannot 
be too severely condemned. Take, for in- 
stance, the reign of Frederick William IV. 
Generosity and gratitude are, as we saw, 
political virtues also, but only when they do 
not interfere with the State's main purpose 
the maintenance of its power. Now in the 
year 1849 the thrones of all the smaller 
German princes were in danger. Frederick 
William IV. took a step which in itself was 
admirable ; he sent Prussian troops into 
Saxony and Bavaria, and restored order. But 
what followed was a mortal sin. Were the 
Prussians there to shed their blood for the 
Kings of Saxony or Bavaria ? Certainly 
there ought to have been some permanent 
gain to Prussia. It had the small States in 
its hand; it needed only to keep its troops 


there until these princes entered the new 
German Empire. Yet the King withdrew 
his troops, and the small States, which they 
had liberated, smiled on their retreat. That 
was a piece of thoughtless weakness ; the 
blood of the Prussian people was shed for 
nothing " (I., 99-101). 

One might apply these "idealistic" senti- 
ments to the relations of France and England 
and Belgium at the present moment. The 
ordinary moralist or historian would describe 
those relations as chivalrous. Chivalry, it 
seems, means something entirely different in 
Germany. Treitschke would describe the senti- 
ment which has united France and England as 
materialism. They have sinned against one 
of the exalted laws of his State in venturing 
to shed the blood of their soldiers without any 
confident prospect of territorial gain. Lest, 
however, the vagueness of his language should 


leave us in any doubt about the reality of his 
sentiments, he goes on to apply his principles 
expressly to one of those moral issues which are 
of actual interest. We all remember the Ger- 
man Chancellor's famous phrase, " A mere 
scrap of paper." How far did this, which 
seems to us a repulsive and mediaeval senti- 
ment, derive any inspiration from the supreme 
moralist of the Prussian State ? Fortunately, 
in the course of this chapter, Treitschke has to 
face candidly the question of the State's obli- 
gation to observe the Treaties that it has 
signed, and in solving the question he is brutally 
candid. He starts from the principle that the 
State is Power : a principle from which he can 
at once justify the most unjust despotism 
within, and the most unjust aggression 
without. He says : 

" It follows further from the fact that the 
essence of the State is Power, that it cannot 



recognise any arbitrating judge above itself 
[The Hague Tribunal], and that its legal 
obligation must in the last resort be deter- 
mined by itself. We must bear this in mind, 
and not be such Philistines as to judge things, 
during great crises, from a lawyer's point of 
view. When Prussia broke the Treaty of 
Tilsit, it did wrong from the point of view of 
civil law. But who will be brazen enough 
to say that to-day ? Even the French no 
longer say it. This applies also to inter- 
national treaties which are not quite so 
immoral as that between Prussia and France 
was. Every State retains its right to decide 
its treaty- obligations, and the historian can- 
not use any rigid standard in this respect. 
He must ask himself the deeper question, 
whether the absolute duty of self-preservation 
does not justify the State ? 

"So it was in Italy in 1859. On the face 


of it Piedmont was the aggressor ; and Austria 
and its servile admirers in Germany did not 
forget to complain of the disturbance of their 
eternal peace. In reality Italy had been in 
a state of siege for years. No high-minded 
nation can tolerate such a state of things, and 
it was really Austria that attacked, because 
for years it had deeply injured Italy " (I., 102). 
It is hardly necessary to point out the vital 
relation of these principles to the present 
situation. Very frequently in Treitschke we 
find the principle introduced that a nation 
is in a state of latent warfare when it is, in 
its own opinion, unjustly treated by another 
nation, or heavily pressed by the commercial 
rivalry of another nation. And since, accord- 
ing to his further principles, a State can in 
time of war annul all its treaties, this condition 
of latent warfare will equally justify it in 
ignoring a treaty-obligation. The way from 


these principles to the cynical violation of 
the treaty which guaranteed the neutrality 
of Belgium is perfectly clear. 

But Treitschke goes even beyond this 
flagrant principle. Since the State is Power, 
and there can be no higher power in this world 
to direct its action, and since Christianity has 
no moral code to limit its own decisions, it 
follows that it can withdraw its assent to a 
treaty at any moment when its influence 
requires the violation of the treaty. In this 
respect there is a remarkable passage in the 
first chapter of his Politik : 

" The idea of Sovereignty must not be rigid : 
it must be elastic and relative, like all political 
conceptions. Every State will, in its own in- 
terest, restrict its Sovereignty in some respects 
by treaties. When a State concludes treaties 
with another State, its completeness as a 
Power is more or less curtailed. But that does 



not alter the rule ; for every treaty is a 
voluntary restriction of a State's own power, 
and all treaties under international law em- 
body the clause: rebus sic stantibus. A 
State cannot bind its will for the future in 
relation to another State. The State has no 
higher judge above it, and will therefore conclude 
att treaties with that mental reservation. This 
is confirmed by the fact that, wherever there 
is an international law, all treaties between 
two States which go to war cease the moment 
war is declared ; yet every State, being 
sovereign, has assuredly the right to declare 
war when it wills, hence every State is in a 
position to cancel the treaties which it has 
concluded. The progress of history is based 
on this constant alteration of treaties ; and 
each State must take care that its treaties 
are alive, and not antiquated, so that another 
Power may not undo them by a declaration of 


war. Treaties which have outlived their 
uses must be denounced and replaced by new 
treaties corresponding to the new conditions. 
Hence it is clear that treaties under inter- 
national law which restrict the will of a State 
are not absolute restrictions, but limits 
voluntarily imposed upon itself " (I., 37). 

Here we have the complete " scrap- of - 
paper " theory, clothed in the most dignified 
academic language. It may seem singular 
that the diplomatists of Europe have not 
earlier taken into account, the fact, that this 
immoral principle was being taught, with a 
kind of official authority, from the political 
chair of Berlin. In point of fact, the diplo- 
matists of Europe were perfectly aware that 
this doctrine was current in Prussia, and were 
fully prepared for the violation of the neu- 
trality of Belgium. This does not alter the 
thoroughly corrupt nature of the principles 


laid down by Treitschke, and, after the present 
war, it will have to be seen whether the inter- 
national conduct of Europe cannot be cleansed 
from these devices, taken from the lowest and 
most contemptible branches of commerce. 

Treitschke, who has a great scorn for the 
supposed Jesuit principle that the end 
justifies the means a principle, I may remark, 
which no Jesuit ever did formulate is really 
always acting upon that principle. After 
laying down some of these astonishing rules 
about the violation of treaties, he insists that 
they are entirely justified if the State has 
" moral aims." He takes the case of Napoleon 
L, who, one would think, was an admirable 
instance of the carrying- out of his principles. 
On the contrary, he totally disapproves of 
the imperialist campaign of Napoleon L, 
not on the grounds on which most historians 
to-day condemn Napoleon that is to say, 


not on the ground that it is monstrous to 
immolate the lives of millions of men on the 
altar of one man's ambition but on the 
ground that " France was unable to assimilate 
what it had conquered." Here we have 
at once an ingenious way of condemning 
Napoleon and thoroughly] justifying the 
imperialist [dream | of [Germany. When 
Treitschke goes on to say that Napoleon is 
also to be condemned because he turned the 
rich diversity of peoples in Europe into "the 
dreary monotony of a world Empire," he 
seems to forget that this is precisely the aim 
of his Pan- German politics. In the other 
chapters of his book where he sketches the 
internal ideal of a State, we shall see that 
dreary monotony, to be rigidly enforced, is 
its first characteristic. However, in the end 
he has recourse to the remarkable principle 
that " morality must be political, if politics 
209 O 


is to be moral : that is to say, moralists must 
recognise that a moral judgment on the State 
must be based on the nature and aims of the 
State, not on the nature and aims of the 
individual " (I., 105). He makes his meaning 
still more clear by directly approaching the 
supposed Jesuit maxim. After what he has 
already said, we read with astonishment the 
following words : " Up to this point there 
will hardly be any serious difference of opinion 
among thoughtful people." He continues : 

" We now come to a series of very different 
questions, when we ask how far it is per- 
missible in politics to use means which are 
reprehensible in civil life to attain ends which 
are in themselves moral. The famous Jesuit 
maxim is crude and radical in its outspoken- 
ness, but no one can deny that it contains a 
certain truth. There are countless instances, 
both in political and private life, where it is 



impossible to use entirely proper means. 
If it is possible, of course, to realise a moral 
aim by moral means, they are to be preferred, 
even if they are slower and less convenient. 

" We have already seen that the power of 

truth and candour in politics is much greater 

than is generally supposed. . . . On the whole, 

however, it is clear that political matters 

must be adapted to the sentiments and ideas 

of peoples at a lower grade of culture, when 

we have to deal with them. An historian 

who would judge European politics in Africa 

or the East on the same principles as in Europe 

would be a fool. The nation is lost which 

cannot terrify such peoples. We cannot blame 

the English for tying the Hindoos to cannon 

during the Mutiny and scattering their 'bodies 

on the winds, since death was instantaneous. ' 

It is clear that in such a case it is necessary 

to terrify ; and if we assume that, as the 



English assert, the English government in 
India is moral and necessary, we cannot 
refuse to employ these means. 

" We must apply a standard varying with 
the place as well as with the age. If we 
further admit that great States are very often 
in a condition of concealed warfare [in com- 
merce] for decades, it is quite clear that many 
diplomatic deceptions are justified by this 
condition of latent war. Take, for instance, 
the negotiations between Bismarck and Bene- 
detti. Bismarck had, perhaps, still some 
hope of avoiding a great war. Then Benedetti 
came with his preposterous demand. Was 
not Bismarck fully justified in deluding him 
with a sort of assent, and inducing him to 
think that Germany would agree ? It is the 
same, in the same circumstances of latent 
warfare, with the use of bribery against other 
States. It is ridiculous to pose as moralists 



in this matter, and tell a State in such cir- 
cumstances to read its catechism. Before 
the outbreak of the Seven Years' War, 
Frederick the Great suspected that a storm 
was about to break on his little State. He 
therefore bribed two Saxon-Polish secretaries 
at Dresden and Warsaw. . . . There is no 
State in the world which, at such a time, 
would not have recourse to bribery and 
spying" (I., 105-107). 

Once again we are reading the texts of the 
gospel on which the brutal campaign of the 
year 1914 is based. Treitschke at last finds 
something in English history of which he can 
approve. He goes back a hundred years, 
to a time when modern humanitarianism was 
unknown, and when the circumstances were 
such that no other European nation is ever 
likely to find itself in them. On this highly 
exceptional and ancient precedent he lays 


down the general principle that the soldiers 
of an invading army must terrify the popu- 
lation. That is as we know the principle 
embodied in the German military manuals 
and carried out with such appalling results 
in the invasion of Belgium and France. 
Hardly a single outrage has been done under 
official direction, or is recommended in the 
pages of Treitschke's pupil, Bernhardi, which 
does not find a justification in such passages 
as these. 

Indeed the broader principle that you must 
use moral means if they are possible, but 
otherwise choose any which will serve your 
purpose, will cover the whole of the worst 
proceedings which we have already witnessed. 
They cover also that repulsive network of 
spies which Germany spread over the world, 
deeply corrupting the character of individuals 
and making permanently bitter the relations 


of foreigners to each other. They justify, 
if indeed they do not command, the network 
of mendacity which was spread over the world 
once the war was declared. They approve 
the enlisting of savage tribes in the German 
service in South Africa. I may remark in 
passing that Treitschke fully approved the 
use of coloured troops by European nations. 
He refers expressly to the use of the Turcos 
by the French in 1870, and says that the 
French had a perfect right to employ them. 
He is, of course, thinking of the coming days 
when Germany will have her colonies beyond 
the seas, and will be able to draw from them 
contingents of coloured troops, for the further, 
expansion of her territory. But we need not 
draw out in detail all the consequences of these 
principles ; they cover the brutal action of 
the Germans from Belgium to Constantinople 
and Cairo, from their intrigues in America 


to their intrigues in our South African 

All this is, of course, only a preparation for 
that future expansion of Germany which 
Treitschke regards as a sacred duty. We 
have already seen on different pages how he 
advocates this expansion. We have seen 
that he quite plainly directs the ambition of 
Germany toward the occupation of Belgium 
and Holland, if not of Denmark. Germany 
must possess the whole course of her rivers 
and a coast line in proportion to her size 
and population : this is for him a sacred and 
a moral duty. It is equally incumbent on 
Germany to obtain colonies. He speaks of 
the moral duty of sharing what has been 
called, with some hypocrisy, " the white man's 
burden " : Germany is compelled by her 
civilisation to join with the other peoples in 
raising the lower races to a higher level. We 


need not examine how much sincerity there 
is in this plea, because Treitschke makes it 
quite clear that he has far different grounds 
for demanding colonies. A few passages taken 
here and there in his works give perhaps a 
more sincere idea of his colonial ambitions : 

" The command of the sea is particularly 
useful in this respect. * The freedom of the 
sea makes the mind free,' as the ancient 
Greeks truly said. The time may come when 
States which are without oversea possessions 
will no longer count as great States " (43-48). 

" It may be said that no State can be 
largely and permanently developed without 
an approach to the sea. Every great State 
which aspires to stand on its own feet must 
have a coast line. Then it is really free. 
This is so true that we can explain whole 
periods of history on this ground alone. 
The key to the contrast which we find in the 


history of Germany and Poland lies in this 
truth. The German colonisation of the coast 
went so far eastward, while the territory 
inland remained Slav, that a deadly enmity 
arose which no one could prevent. Poland 
was bound to aspire to win the mouths of her 
rivers, and this the Germans could not allow. 
Thus, there arose a territorial conflict which 
could not be remedied. Every young and 
aspiring people presses pitilessly towards the 
coast" (p. 215). 

" The conquest of lands beyond the Atlantic 
is now the first aim of European fleets. For, 
as the aim of human civilisation is the 
aristocracy of the white race over the whole 
globe, the importance of any nation will in 
the end be determined by the share it has in 
the domination of the transatlantic world. 
Hence the Fleet becomes more and more 
important in our time " (II., 412). 


" A nation that seeks to acquire new terri- 
tory to exploit, in order to feed its growing 
population, shows the measure of its trust in 
God. It is scandalous to see the frivolity 
with which these grave matters are discussed 
to-day. People sing the old song in a new 
form : * My Fatherland must become smaller.' 
That is sheer perversity. We must and will 
have our share in the control of the globe by 
the white race. In this we have a great deal 
to learn from England. A Press that dis- 
misses these grave matters with a few jokes 
shows that it has no appreciation of the 
sacredness of the aims of our civilisation. It 
is a healthy and normal thing for a civilised 
people to forestall by colonisation on a large 
scale the dangers of over -population. . . . 
The material and moral advantages of this 
aggrandisement of the nation cannot be exag- 
gerated " (I., 233 and 234). 


<c All the great peoples of history have felt, 
when they became strong, the impulse to 
impress their civilisation on barbaric lands. 
To-day we see the various peoples of Europe 
roaming over the whole world, trying to create 
an aristocracy of the white race. The nation 
that does not take its part in this enterprise 
will play a lamentable role later on. It is, 
therefore, a question of life and death for a 
great nation to seek Colonial expansion. . . . 
We [Germans] see now what we have lost. 
One of the appalling consequences of the last 
half -century is that England has appropriated 
the globe. The Continent, being in a state of 
constant trouble, had no time to look over the 
seas, and England took everything. The 
Germans had to look on helplessly ; they had 
enough to do in fighting their neighbours and 
in their internal troubles. Beyond question 
a great Colonial development is an advantage 


to a nation. Those amongst us who oppose 
the acquisition of Colonies are short-sighted. 
The whole question of Germany depends on 
how many million men will speak German in 
the future. 

"It is nonsense to say that emigration to 
America is any advantage to Germany. What 
has Germany gained by the fact that thousands 
of her best sons, who could not support them- 
selves at home, have turned their backs upon 
her ? They are lost to her for ever. Although 
the emigrant himself is perhaps still linked 
with his native land by certain natural bonds, 
his children, and certainly his grand-children, 
are no longer Germans ; the German only too 
easily learns to deny his country. They are 
assuredly not in a position to keep up their 
nationality in America. Just as the Huguenots, 
when they migrated to the Mark of Branden- 
burg, were, on the average, more highly 


cultivated than the Brandenburgers, yet most 
of them lost their nati ality, so we find with 
the Germans in America. Nearly a third 
of the population of North America is of 
German extraction. Ho\v much valuable 
strength have we not lost, and are losing daily, 
without the least compensation ! We have 
lost both the labour and the capital of the 
emigrants. What an enormous advantage they 
would have brought us if they had become 
colonists ! 

" The kind of colonisation which maintains 
the nationality of the country of origin is a 
matter of immense importance for the future 
of the world. On it depends the extent to 
which each people will take its share in the 
domination of the world by the white race. 
It is quite conceivable that a country without 
colonies will cease to be one of the great 
Powers of Europe, however powerful it once 



was. Hence we must not lapse into that 
state of stagnation which comes of a purely 
continental policy, and the issue of our next 
successful war must be the acquisition of a 

" Who first awakened the Scandinavians 
and the Russians to civilisation ? Copen- 
hagen was German : so was Novgorod. . . . 
The greatest colonisations the world has ever 
seen since the time of the Romans were brought 
about by Germans. We have realised every 
conceivable form of colonisation. . . . The 
civilising a barbaric people is the best. They 
have to choose between merging in the superior 
nation or being annihilated. That is the way 
the Germans acted in regard to the Prussians : 
they were either destroyed or turned into 
Germans. And, however cruel this process of 
development must be, it is a blessing for 
humanity. It is a sound thing that happens 


in these cases. The nobler people conquers 
and assimilates the less noble. It is the 
normal procedure for the political conqueror 
to impose his own civilisation and ways upon 
the conquered " (I., 123-127). 

On the very next page Treitschke shows 
that this advantage of incorporation in a 
nobler Empire applies just as well to the 
small States of Europe as to the barbaric 
lands beyond the seas. He now says openly : 
" In the West a number of outposts of the old 
German Empire have developed into indepen- 
dent States. It is possible, and is greatly 
to be desired, that Holland should some day 
return to the Fatherland " (128). 

These passages give the whole gospel of 
Pan-Germanism. Germany is to overspread 
the little States which are her neighbours to 
the west ; Germany is to cripple the power 
of England, which stands in the way of her 


colonial ambitions. We have, further, the 
full justification of the methods which we 
have seen actually employed in our own time 
to realise this Pan-German ideal. It will now 
be fully realised how deeply the teaching of 
this fanatical historian has tainted the blood 
of Germany. When, moreover, it passes into 
the characters of men with less strict personal 
principles than Treitschke himself, we realise 
that it can easily become an instrument of 
entirely brutal conduct. There can be no 
question but that Treitschke has been the 
chief and most profound influence in the 
formation of the German mind of to-day. 




ALTHOUGH it is not essential for the purpose 
of this work, it will nevertheless be of some 
interest, to consider the nature of this Kultur 
which Germany has to impose upon the 
world. We have seen repeatedly that her 
expansion is merely to be justified by this 
task ; it becomes a sacred mission, a kind 
of Orusade, for the sake of which Germans 
must make such sacrifices as men made at 
the call of Peter the Hermit. I have already 
explained that Kultur does not mean culture. 
Even within his own department of culture 
Treitschke had something like a contempt for 
knowledge as such. He was a most in- 


dustrious historian, a writer of considerable 
ability, yet every part of his work has a 
strictly practical aim ; the higher or mental 
culture, as a German would call it, would not 
seem to either Treitschke or Bernhardi, or 
any one of their pupils, worth the wasting of 
a single army corps. Treitschke, at least, 
has a definite structure of society in view 
when he talks of the elevated Kultur of Ger- 
many. It is that ideal of a State which the 
two volumes of his Politik describe so minutely 
and, one must add, so repulsively. We have 
already had many glimpses of this social ideal, 
but it will now be an advantage to sum up 
the scattered references, and let the English 
reader see what would be the result for every 
Germanised land, if Austria and Germany 
won in the present war. It is quite true that 
what Treitschke holds out as a sacred banner 
for the really devout followers of his gospel is 


merely a hypocritical pretence for many of his 
soldier followers, and is little more than a 
shibboleth for the vast majority of the German 
people, but it is none the less interesting to 
examine it. 

Treitschke's ideal of a State is an anti- 
quated, mediaeval, and intolerable scheme 
which the majority of educated Germans 
would not tolerate for a moment. They 
repeat the language which they have learned 
from him, only because it gives some consecra- 
tion, in the name of learning and of morals, 
to their imperialist ambitions. The nineteenth 
century is an age of transition. From earlier 
days we have received the doctrine of the 
divine right of Kings. Whatever views we 
may hold, in the various states of Europe to- 
day, on the subject of monarchy, the old 
legend of the divine right of Kings is entirely 
discredited. Yet Treitschke had to build 


essentially upon this legend. On no other 
foundation could he raise the extraordinary 
power which he wished to put into the hand of 
the head of the State. The Hohenzollern 
possessed this power by a mystic divine 
right, and therefore there was no need for 
Treitschke to seek to justify it. All con- 
stitutional monarchies were, as we saw, 
derided by him because they had not his 
principle of legitimacy in their royal houses. 
This saved him from the confusion which 
might ensue if there were a dozen royal houses, 
each claiming a divine right and a divine 
mission. But in his eyes France was a de- 
crepit republic, Russia too barbarous to be 
taken into account, and England had forfeited 
her real title of monarchy. The Emperor of 
Germany alone, therefore, had a just title to 
supreme power, within and without, and, 
when we find in recent years that monarch 


speaking of the use of the mailed fist, he is 
only repeating, in more popular language, 
Treitschke's theory of monarchy. We have 
seen how this despotic power will work out 
as regards other States. It is curbed not even 
by moral law or religious codes. Internally, 
or in its relation to its own people, this power 
would exert the most intolerable oppression. 

Against this antiquated view modern Ger- 
many was protesting with increasing disdain, 
and in his later years Treitschke was as sour 
and pessimistic as he describes Bismarck to 
have been. The view was spreading in Ger- 
many the common-sense view of the vast 
majority of people in every civilised State to- 
day that the institutions of the State exist 
for the welfare of the people, and it is only 
so long as the military system exists that the 
State will have this painful and exacting 
duty to form them into armies for the defence 


of their land and property. The essential 
thing in the life of a State is to promote the 
progress and happiness of the individual 
citizens to the utmost of its power ; to educate 
the ignorant, to mitigate the burden of 
poverty, to organise or at least direct the 
industrial world, to care for the weak and 
powerless, to administer justice and to lay 
as little restriction on its people as these 
purposes will allow. To Treitschke this was 
" materialism." He says : 

" The modern individualistic conception, 
which adorns itself with so many names, is 
leagues removed from the ancient idea of the 
State's duty. It starts from the principle 
that the State must, internally and externally, 
protect life and property, and the State in this 
restricted sense is called emphatically the 
Legal State. This theory is the legitimate 
offspring of the old idea of natural right. 


According to it, the State may be only a 
means for the life -aims of the individuals who 
compose it ; we have already seen that this 
is a contradiction in terms. The more ideal- 
istic the terms in which you conceive human 
life, the more you are forced to conclude that 
the State's best policy is to confine itself to 
external protection alone. . . . The State is 
a moral community ; it is summoned to 
positive work for the education of the race ; 
and its final aim is to compel the people, in and 
through it, to form a definite character. 
That is the highest moral duty of a people, 
as well as of an individual " (I., 79). 

This theory imposes the State upon the 
citizens without any consultation of their will. 
It lends itself to the most arbitrary laws at 
the will of an absolute monarch. Treitschke, 
as we saw, very grudgingly allows a certain 
measure of popular representation, but he has 


not the slightest sympathy with it. He left 
the Reichstag in disdain, and he constantly 
holds that the guidance of a God -inspired 
monarch is far better than the deliberations 
of a Parliament. Of popular consent, either 
to the laws or the forms of a State, he will 
not hear for a moment. He says : 

" The State is the public power of defence 
and offence. It is in the first degree Power, 
in order to assert itself : it is not the totality 
of the people, as Hegel supposes in his glorifica- 
tion of a State. The people does not wholly 
constitute it, but the State protects and 
embraces the life of the people, externally 
directing it on all sides. It does not ask 
about their good-will : it demands obedience. 
Its laws must be observed, willingly or un- 
willingly. It is an advantage when the 
placid obedience of the citizens is accompanied 
by an internal rational assent : but this 


assent is not absolutely necessary. Empires 
have lasted for centuries, as powerful and 
highly developed States, without any such 
internal allegiance on the part of their 

" What the State chiefly wants is external 
compliance. It insists that it be obeyed : 
its nature is to realise what it wills. . . . 
Power is the principle of the State, Faith the 
principle of the Church, Love the principle of 
the Home. The State says : ' It makes no 
difference to me what you think you have 
got to obey/ That is why sensitive natures 
find it so difficult to understand the life of the 
State. It may be said of women as a whole 
that they normally attain an understanding 
of State and Right only through their hus- 
bands : just as a normal man has no feeling 
for the small details of economy. That is 
easily understood, for the idea of Power is 


assuredly hard, yet the highest and first thing 
is thoroughly to submit to it. ... 

" The State is not an Academy of Art : 
when it abdicates its power in favour of the 
ideal aspirations of humanity it belies its own 
nature and perishes. The belying of its own 
power is for the State the real sin against the 
Holy Ghost ; to attach oneself to a foreign 
State on sentimental grounds, as we Germans 
have so often done in regard to England, is 
really a mortal sin. Hence it is that the 
power of ideas has only a limited significance 
in the State. Certainly it is very great, but 
ideas alone do not advance political powers " 
(I., 32-34). 

At times Treitschke descends from these 
mystic heights, and offers what he would call 


materialist arguments for his position. He 

tries to prove on utilitarian grounds that the 

monarchy is the ideal institution. Parlia- 



ments, he says, " are always less scrupulous 
than monarchs," but as a rule he wishes to 
pledge his whole case on the divine right of 
the monarch. Dealing with various forms of 
constitution in his second volume, he says : 

"It is a secondary consideration that the 
will of the State is vested in a single person- 
ality : the more important point is that 
this power has not been bestowed on the King, 
but rests on its own rights. It has its power 
from itself, and that is the chief reason why 
a monarch is better able to dispense social 
justice, and does better dispense it, than 
any republic. Republicans find it more 
difficult to be just because of their system 
of party-government. In history the mon- 
archies have always been more distinguished 
for justice than republics " (II., 53). 

Even many who share Treitschke's con- 
clusion must have carefully avoided his 


argument. The idea that justice is better 
administered in the Kingdom of Prussia than 
in the modern United States, or that it 
was better administered in ancient Athens 
than in the ancient Roman Empire, is too 
preposterous to be considered. Not much 
better are Treitschke's other arguments for 
his absolute monarchy by divine right. He 
says again : 

" Owing to his exalted position the monarch 
can see further than ordinary men. The 
ordinary man surveys only a small area of 
life, especially when we consider the involun- 
tary class-prejudices which surround him. 
There are prejudices of the middle-class and 
the scholar, as well as prejudices of the 
nobility. They see only a small section, not 
the whole of society. Whereas it is clear that 
a monarch must know more than any of his 
subjects about the whole life of the nation : 


that he is in a position to appreciate the 
resources of society more accurately than the 
average man can. This is especially true in 
regard to foreign affairs. The King can judge 
much better than any of his subjects, or even 
than a Republican party- government, the 
real facts about the whole situation abroad " 
(II., 55). 

We must take such passages in connection 
with the constant glorification of the Hohen- 
zollerns in his historical writings. We certainly 
cannot suppose that this part of Treitschke's 
doctrine has been taken very seriously in 
educated Berlin ; and the other States com- 
posing the German Empire must have deeply 
resented many of Treitschke's remarks. He 
tells us that on one occasion Bismarck wished 
to restrain the Emperor William I. from 
taking a certain step, and told him that the 
representatives of the Empire would not agree 

241 Q 


to it. William I. angrily retorted to Bis- 
marck, " the Empire is merely an enlargement 
of Prussia." Treitschke's only comment on 
this is that it was " the brusque expression 
of a soldier, but true." He glorifies Bismarck 
and all the servants of the Prussian State 
in the same proportion. " The essential thing 
in a great statesman," he says, " is strength 
of will, massive ambition, and a passionate 
joy in success." The men whom Goethe 
called " the Apes and Pugs and Parrots 
of Frederick the Great " stand out in his pages 
as heroic figures in the history of Prussia. 
There can be little doubt that only a very 
restricted group among the educated people 
of Germany can have taken his doctrine of 
autocracy seriously. 

Treitschke groups together all the ad- 
vancing movements of Europe, which are, 
of course, ably represented in Germany, 



under the general heading of Liberalism or 
Radicalism. Against this theory of the State 
he waged an implacable war. We must, 
however, understand that what Treitschke 
calls Liberalism does not coincide with the 
political party of any country which goes 
by that name. It is really the whole humani- 
tarian spirit, as applied to the work of a State. 
Yet this is how Treitschke meets the feeling 
which is now accepted by both political parties 
in this and every other enlightened country : 
" There is a natural difference between the 
social and the political conception of the State. 
We may regard the State from above from 
the point of view of the government and 
ask : ' What secures its power ? ' The 
question of the material condition of its 
subjects is secondary from this political 
point of view of the State. The social view, 
on the other hand, approaches the State 


with a naive selfishness, and stridently calls 
attention to the fact that new social forces, 
which the legislation of the State has not 
yet regarded, have made their appearance. 
What we call in our days Liberalism approaches 
this social point of view. If that were the 
only way of regarding the State if it were 
not opposed by a hard political conception 
of the State's duty our national order would 
be broken up, and Germany would fall into 
countless hostile social groups. ... A nation 
that lives only for the satisfaction of its social 
desires, which wishes only to become richer 
and live more comfortably, yields entirely 
to the lower impulses of nature. What a 
glorious people the Dutch were when they 
fought against the power of Spain ! But 
they had hardly secured their independence 
when the curse of peace began to make 
itself felt. Adversity steels the hearts of 


noble nations : in prosperity they run the 
risk of being enervated. The once brave 
Dutch nation have become creditors of their 
State, and have, even from the physical 
point of view, degenerated. That is the 
curse of a people that looks only for social 
life and loses the sentiment of political 
greatness " (p. 58 and 59). 

One wonders how Treitschke would con- 
front the social problems which the modern 
State is beginning to regard seriously in 
every country. He assures us that there have 
always been masses, and that there always 
will be masses. This repetition of Carlyle's 
doctrine of fifty years ago may, or may not, 
commend itself to any reader, but assuredly 
none will accept Treitschke's justification of 
the squalid poverty which lies at the base of 
the social pyramid to-day. More than one 
writer has said, like him, that the millions 



must labour in order that the few may paint 
pictures and write books. A very natural 
point of view for the man who writes books 
or paints pictures, but a broader feeling is 
making its way into modem legislation and 
social effort. Against all these aspirations 
to do something for the poorer mass of the 
people Treitschke sets his face. Like war, 
the existence of a very large class of poor 
workers is an eternal part of the scheme of 
nature, or of Providence. A nation, he 
says, " is rejuvenated from below." When 
he perceives that the masses to-day are not 
entirely reconciled to this scheme, he pre- 
scribes the way in which his Kultur-State 
is to deal with them. He says: "It is 
important to remember that heroes of war and 
religion are the most popular with the masses : 
when we realise that, we know how to treat 
the discontented masses. The next thing 


is the satisfaction of their economic needs, 
and in this respect we must work upon their 
depressed spirits with all the power of the 
promise which religion alone affords. This 
virile spirit and religious feeling, which are 
so strong among the masses, must be en- 
couraged to the fullest extent. Hence national 
armies are a real blessing : and religion is not 
so necessary to any as to the common man." 
Once more he borrows a page from Napoleon's 
maxims. Treitschke, who in his earner years 
had had grave trouble with his father for 
abandoning the Protestant religion, becomes 
extremely zealous in support of the clergy. 
They are to be, according to Napoleon's 
idea, the spiritual gensdarmes, using their 
authority on behalf of the autocrat. For all 
the terrible burdens which the State imposes on 
them the clergy are to assure them that they 
will be richly rewarded in the next world. 


We can hardly wonder that the democracy 
of Berlin, which is so far Social Democrat that 
the other political parties could only return 
one member to the Reichstag in the city of 
Berlin, smiled on Treitschke's doctrine and 
conducted a scornful controversy with him. 
Treitschke perceived that, if you are going 
to share the real culture of our time with 
the more intelligent men and women of the 
working class, the basis of his servile State 
is undermined. Here again, therefore, we 
find him approaching a problem of great 
interest in every civilised community ; how, 
and to what extent, are we to give real educa- 
tion to the masses. In such " inferior " 
countries as England and the United States 
this problem is bravely met by university 
extension lectures and other admirable ways 
of lending a hand to the aspiring workers. 
Germany has as many social reformers as any 


other country, and the same means were 
being adopted in that country. To these 
measures Treitschke opposes the following 
somewhat threadbare argument : 

" There is a ridiculous idea spreading among 
us to-day of helping the masses by giving 
them what is called education by means 
of public lectures. The ordinary man has 
neither the leisure nor the freedom of mind, 
as a rule, to assimilate the unsystematic and 
irregular instruction which is given to him 
in these lectures. Enterprises of this kind 
are a complete failure ; they produce only a 
half-education of the worst kind. Regular 
instruction in elementary mathematics and 
in the mother tongue would be much more 

useful than such lectures " (p. 318). 

He sees that in the towns there is no hope 

whatever of placing his old-fashioned barriers 

against the enlightenment of the masses. 



His next direction is, therefore, that the 
workers must be kept on the land as much 
as possible, and he candidly says that the 
great advantage of life in villages is that it 
does not pay the demagogue to appeal to 
a village-audience. He adds that life in 
the city is unnatural and unhealthy, but 
throughout the whole of these pages he shows 
that his concern is entirely political. 

In the next section he deals with the 
State-system of education. Here, again, he 
quarrels entirely with the modern spirit. 
This scheme, which our professors of education 
and our teachers have framed on the basis 
of a hundred years of experience, he disdain- 
fully compares to the splendid system of 
elementary education which was followed 
in his younger days. There is not, he says, 
sufficient attention to religious instruction ; 
in which many would be disposed to agree 


with him until they perceive that his sole 
aim is to distract the workers from hopes of 
bettering their condition, and to infuse into 
them his remarkable doctrine of the divine 
mission imposed on Germany since the days 
of Luther. All this, he says, must be the 
essential part of the education of the children 
of the workers. Beyond that the only educa- 
tion of need is to make them useful workers 
and patriotic soldiers. 

Whatever point of social reform we take 
up, we find Treitschke in the same grossly 
reactionary mood. Even in Germany only 
a very small and very old-fashioned minority 
would agree with him. No doubt on many 
points which seem extraordinary to us in 
other countries, such as the praise of the 
duel, which I have quoted in an earlier 
chapter, he would find many supporters. 
But in his attacks on the ballot-box and 


similar elementary reforms of modern times 
he belongs almost to a departed generation. 
I will venture to quote one more passage 
in illustration of his attitude. The question 
of the death- sentence upon murderers is still 
a very open one in modern society, nor do I 
for a moment represent that in pleading for 
the retention of the death- sentence Treitschke 
is in any way singular. On the contrary, 
I agree with him. But the language in 
which he pleads for retaining it shows the 
whole spirit of the man. He says : " That 
those in authority shall bear the sword is a 
saying of the Bible which lies deep in the 
blood of every sensible man. Anyone who 
would remove this truth from the world, would 
sin against the simple moral sentiments of 
the people. The ultimate problems of social 
life are to be solved on practical, not theoreti- 
cal, grounds. The conscience of every serious 


man demands that blood shall be wiped out 
by blood. The ordinary man must doubt 
the existence of justice on earth if this last and 
highest punishment be abandoned. Think of 
a murderer of the type of the Australian 
murderers, who have the lust of murder in 
their blood, being condemned to life-long 
imprisonment ! He breaks out of prison, 
commits murder again, and returns to the 
same cell, as the State has no other way of 
punishing him. Does not such a State out- 
rage the moral consciousness ? It makes 
itself a laughing stock when it cannot do 
away with such a criminal " (II., 427). 

Finally, I may notice the attitude which 
Treitschke takes up in regard to every dis- 
senter from his ideals. His conflict with the 
Social Democrats was bitter and fiery. He 
hardly ever descends to argument with them, 
and, when he does, it is little better than 


platitude. The women movement had hardly 
begun in Germany, on a large scale, in his time, 
but we know how he would have met it. Again 
he takes his counsel from Napoleon. The 
woman's place is not merely the home, but 
the nursery. 

A third danger which he saw against his 
autocratic State was the permeation of the 
Jew throughout Europe. Here again he 
conducted a violent controversy, and he 
advocated measures of actual persecution 
against the members of the Jewish race. " I 
see," he says, " only one means that we can 
adopt to meet the danger : a real energy of 
our national pride, which must turn away 
from everything that is foreign to the German 
nature. That applies to everything and every- 
body : the theatre and the music-hall as well 
as the daily paper. Wherever the Jewish 
taint afiects our life, the German must turn 



away and learn the habit of telling the truth 
about it. The moderate parties in our midst 
are responsible for the violent Anti-Semitism 
which is growing amongst us " (p. 298). 

In this case Treitschke shows his usual want 
of historical insight : indeed here he shows far 
less than Luther himself, who had a shrewd 
perception of the way in which the treatment 
of the Jews by Christians was responsible for 
the features to which Christians objected. 
Treitschke repeats the usual reproach that 
the Jews excel only in one art, the stage 
(which is totally false), and only in one 
branch of commerce, finance. Here any 
candid historian might have enlightened his 
readers or pupils. During many centuries 
money-lending was the only profession in which 
the Jews of Europe were allowed to employ 
their activity, and thus the financial specialism 
of the Jew is by no means connected with 



features of his character, but is entirely 
understood from his history. With the Jews, 
the Roman Catholic and all other classes of 
dissenters fell under the lash of Professor 
von Treitschke. Despotism in the monarch, 
absolute and uniform docility in the subjects, 
are the features of the new religion and the 
new State. 

This dreary and appalling Sparta was to 
be imposed upon the world by the triumphant 
march of the German armies. Not the culture 
of the scientific or artistic world, but this 
grim political scheme, is what Treitschke 
meant when he put the word " Kultur " on 
the sacred banners of the German Crusaders. 
History was to be a succession of peoples 
living under this ghastly rule, and every few 
years pouring out their blood in struggles with 
their neighbours for the assertion of their 
will and their power. This would reduce 


the globe from the comparative civilisation it 
has reached to-day to the level of the Mesozoic 
ocean, where mighty sharks and gigantic 
devil-fishes struggled with each other for 
survival. The human refinement on their 
warfare would be most clearly perceived in 
the astuteness of the spies and the mendacious 
representatives which one of these super- 
powers sent among its neighbours to prepare 
the way for a war. One wonders which is 
the greater blasphemy, to connect the word 
'culture' or the words c divine mission' with 
such a conception. But, as I said, we must not 
suppose for a moment that any large propor- 
tion of the German people accepted this ideal. 
" Kultur " became a mere parrot-cry, or a 
flimsy pretext to cover the crude imperialist 
ambition of certain classes of German mer- 
chants and the officers of the German army. 
Each had hie own ideal of the system which 
257 R 


would be imposed upon conquered countries, 
and it is one of the most lamentable features 
of this development of the German mind, that 
it started from a perfectly clear and hard 
ideal, yet, when it comes to action, ends in the 
great confusion of the German mind to-day. 
Treitschke's views on the functions of the 
State have been generally discarded, but 
Treitschke's sanction of the gospel of im- 
perialism, and of the maxim that the end 
justifies the means, remain in full vigour. 





THE reader may imagine, that so much of 
this system of the Berlin historian is fantastic 
and antiquated, that he cannot possibly have 
had a great influence in Germany. Yet 
one of the recent writers who is best informed 
on modern German, literature, Professor 
Cramb, asserts confidently that Treitschke had 
as much influence on the mind of Germany, 
as Macaulay and Carlyle together had on the 
mind of England. Although Professor Cramb 
is at times inaccurate for instance, he is 
much too lenient to Treitschke, and confuses 
his early progressive views with the totally 
reactionary ideas of his later years this seems 


to be a good estimate of the influence of 
Treitschke. One may distinguish three types 
of mind in the German people to-day. It is 
needless to remark that they are not sharply 
separated from each other, but pass in the most 
delicate shades from class to class. In the 
main, however, there are three typical atti- 
tudes. There is first the attitude of the man 
who wishes to gain by aggressive war : to 
gain politically, to gain in territory, or to gain 
in purse. With this type of mind I am not 
concerned. Such men have merely used the 
cloak of Treitschke' s idealism to cover their 
sordid aspirations. The second type is the 
attitude of the vast mass of the German 
people. This type of mind, the mind of the 
uneducated masses, cannot be seriously con- 
sidered. It is merely a blind adhesion to 
the views of the daily paper, the patriotic 
preacher, or the blatant politician. One must 



merely regard it as a tragedy, that the whole 
momentum of the German struggle is given 
by this mass of undiscerning and utterly 
deluded ignorance. 

The type of mind that it is really interesting 
to study, and that it will be imperative for 
us to study when the hour of settlement 
comes, is the mind of the middle -class. There 
can be no doubt that the middle -class mind 
of Germany has been appallingly tainted 
with the doctrine which I have expounded 
in the preceding pages. The idea that the 
German nation has been driven on to the 
field of battle at the point of the bayonet is 
totally false. When war was declared they 
sprang with alacrity to carry out the dream 
of expansion, and of giving a death-blow to 
England, which had been fermenting in their 
minds for a whole generation. At last they 
were going to carry out the gospel of 


Treitschke; to assert the greatness of 
Germany, and to paralyse the strength of its 
more successful rival. 

Any man who doubts whether this sentiment 
was really widely spread among cultivated 
Germans is living under a delusion. For 
years I have been engaged in translating 
works from the German into English. I have 
been in contact with some of the leaders of 
German culture, and have always understood 
that we formed an international brotherhood 
which would, in time of erisis, endeavour to 
stem the war passions of less cultivated people. 
Travelling in Germany, I have found the most 
amiable and courteous treatment from 
members of the German middle-class, both 
men of science and men of commerce. Yet 
no man who is well acquainted with the German 
literature of the last thirty years can be 
ignorant that the ideal put forward so openly 


by Treitschke has lived and spread in works 
that have a commanding influence among 
educated Germans. 

Since the war began, indeed, we have had 
remarkable proofs of the existence of this 
spirit in the most unexpected quarters. Men 
of every class, every religious sect, and of the 
various bodies opposed to the religious sects, 
have joined hands in supporting the action 
of their country. Professor Harnack, the 
leading representative of Protestant theology 
in Germany, uses precisely the same language 
as the leaders of Eoman Catholicism : and 
it is a language of absolute approval of 
Germany's action. Professor Rudolph Eucken, 
the leader of the mystic religious school in 
Germany to-day, and Professor Ernest 
Haeckel, the leader of the German Rational- 
ists, have issued a joint letter in which they 
defiantly defend even the violation of the 


neutrality of Belgium. I have known Haeckel 
personally for many years, and have fre- 
quently heard him express the indebtedness 
of German science to English science, 
and the most sincere desire for cordial co- 
operation between the two countries. Most 
assuredly neither he nor any other German 
professor dreams of imposing their culture, 
in the sense in which many suppose in England 
to-day, upon any other country. " Co-opera- 
tion for the advance of humanity " is the 
ideal which Haeckel has put into the German 
Press even since the declaration of war. 
Haeckel's principal colleague, Professor Wil- 
helm Ostwald, one of the most distinguished 
physicists in Germany, uses even stronger 
language. A leader of one of the largest 
humanitarian bodies in Germany (the Monis- 
tenbund), he nevertheless has committed 
himself recently to the following sentiment : 


" If we are defeated, the defeat will result 
in the supremacy of the lower instincts over 
the higher ones, of the brute over man, and 
of a reaction from morality which would be 
the forerunner of the ruin of European 
civilisation. It is on our shoulders that the 
future of civilisation in Europe rests." 

Dr. Erich Marks, Professor of History 
in Munich University, speaking recently to 
members of the Ethical Society at Munich 
again a group belonging to one of the principal 
humanitarian movements in Germany, and 
one that has no ideal whatever of a divine 
inspiration of the Emperor has used an even 
grosser language. He affirms that Germany 
is animated and ennobled by " the intensest 
forces of our civilisation " : that this is an 
hour in which " we are to prove whether or 
no we shall become a real world-nation in 
power, in economics, and in culture " ; that 


Germany's aim is to beat her enemies to such 
an extent that she will be able to breathe 
freely : that " we must strive to shatter 
England's supremacy, on land and sea, which 
cramps and constrains us " ; and that 
Germany, supreme on the Continent at the 
end of the war, " can then devote her energies, 
in combining power with culture, to the task 
of spreading the German Welt-Kulture."* 

These passages, taken from writers of such 
very different schools, and particularly writers 
of the most progressive and humanitarian 
ideals, must convince everybody that the 
poison of Treitschkeism has made terrible 
ravages in the veins of the German nation. 
A half dozen younger historical writers like 
Sybel, Droysen, and others, as well as military 
writers like General von Bernhardi, have 

* I take the two preceding quotations from the 
Newcastle Daily Journal of October 26th. 



carried on the work of Treitschke and dis- 
seminated it in every section of the German 
nation. It may be asked, however, how it is 
that the fierce opponents of Treitschke have 
come under this influence. Here we have 
another very powerful German writer to con- 
sider. Friedrich Nietzsche has been very 
frequently mentioned in connection with the 
present mood of the German people, though 
the influence of Nietzsche has not the slightest 
proportion to the broader influence of Treit- 
schke. His significance really is that he 
inoculates with almost the same virus the 
classes which refuse to be inoculated by 
Treitschke. A brief consideration, therefore, 
of Nietzsche's ideas may be of some interest. 
Treitschke, we saw, deduced from the his- 
tory of nations that struggle is the law of 
human life : that the dream of eternal peace 
is a very grave danger to the progress of 


mankind. Nietzsche not only confirms this 
view, but says that hard and relentless conflict 
is not merely a law of the past few thousand 
years of human civilisation ; it is a law 
plainly discerned in the millions of years 
during which living things have been on this 
globe. It is well known how recent science 
has established the theory which is popularly 
called Darwinism : the theory of a struggle 
for life and survival of the fittest. On this 
law Nietzsche founded his philosophy, and 
he came to use the same language in regard 
to the demand for peace as Treitschke himself 
had used. Further, Nietzsche's philosophy 
agrees with one of the fundamental ideas of 
Treitschke' s system in the emphasis which it 
lays on will, power, and self-assertion. For 
Nietzsche also the supreme thing is will, and 
the supreme ideal is the attainment of power 
or the assertion of power. For both men 


weakness is the deadly sin. Students of the 
history of thought will know, that the long 
line of German philosophers from the days of 
Kant, had ended, in the middle of the nine- 
teenth century, with Schopenhauer, who 
asserted that not intellect, but will, was the 
supreme reality of the universe. This purely 
academic theory, which is almost entirely 
discredited in philosophy to-day, has had a 
great influence on the development of this 
political school in Germany. We must remem- 
ber, too, that such a theory harmonised very 
well with the natural sentiments of the Ger- 
man in the second half of the nineteenth 
century. From 1870 onward, Germany has 
been in the condition of a young man, robustly 
conscious of young strength and great ambi- 
tions. Both Treitschke and Nietzsche struck 
the note which was bound to have a vibrant 
response in the heart of the German people. 


There are, of course, profound differences 
between the views of Treitschke and of Nietz- 
sche. The power which Treitschke had in 
view was the power of the State : Nietzsche 
preached the doctrine of the power of the 
individual, or, rather, of certain individuals 
in the community. Treitschke almost made 
an idol of the authority of the State ; Nietz- 
sche was almost totally indifferent to questions 
of State. His ideal was strongly individual- 
istic : men who were conscious individually 
of power, were to cultivate their will and 
their strength, and assert it to their personal 
advantage. Further, Treitschke was eager 
to keep the masses thoroughly religious and 
obedient to the State authority; Nietzsche 
had the most bitter contempt of the Christian 
religion, and only a slightly less disdain of 
what he called "the Herd." There are 
many other differences between the two men. 


Treitschke held out to the individual the 
Stoic ideal of morality and self -sacrifice : 
Nietzsche despised the Stoic ideal, and scoffed 
at altruism and self-sacrifice in every shape. 
Treitschke glorified Germany and Prussia : 
Nietzsche had a great disdain of everything 
German, and not an atom of respect for the 
Prussian system. 

Yet with all these differences the most 
daring rebel of modern German thought, 
united with the most reactionary conserva- 
tive of modern Germany, in impressing upon 
the middle- class some of the sentiments which 
have broken out in the present war. Professor 
Cramb wrongly states that Treitschke was 
always bitterly opposed to Nietzsche. From 
the first he saw how far Nietzsche's views 
agreed with his own, and to the end of his life 
he had a kind of grudging sympathy with 
Nietzsche. Treitschke hated what is called 
273 S 


'* Young Germany," and it was these young 
Germans, scoffing at almost everything which 
Treitschke held sacred, who came particularly 
under the influence of Nietzsche. 

The common features which I have pointed 
out will show how the influence of the two 
powerful features coincided. Both glorified 
war in the same ultra-rhetorical language. 
Nietzsche's chief advice to the man who would 
follow his advice was : " Live dangerously." 
It was precisely the advice which Treitschke 
was giving to the model State. Even their 
difference in regard to Christianity will be 
found on careful examination to be not quite 
so deep as it seems. Nietzsche's scorn of 
Christianity was chiefly based upon the fact 
that, as he supposed, Christianity had brought 
the doctrine of mercy and unselfishness into 
the world. Although we have found Treit- 
schke recommending the Christian religion as 


the Gospel of Love, we have seen enough to 
realise that this was a hollow phrase. There 
was no room for love, or tenderness, or senti- 
ment in Treitschke's scheme. He has told 
us again and again that sentimental weakness, 
or what he is fond of calling the feminine 
nature, is merely a danger to a State. Where 
he differs from Nietzsche really, is that he 
denies that Christianity imposes any such 
sentiment. We remember his theory of the 
free Christian conscience, which has been 
introduced by Luther. This new type of 
conscience has, in the first case, to serve the 
purposes of the State, and in Treitschke's 
mind it takes the form of a hard and repellent 
ideal which is very closely similar to that of 

They agree further in regard to morality, 
much as they seem to differ at first sight. 
Treitschke spreads an unctuous moral language 


over the whole of his works : Nietzsche 
seems to be a fiery rebel against moral law on 
every page of his writings. Yet here again 
there has been a notable agreement. Nietz^ 
sche does not wish to abolish moral law, but, 
as he puts it in his works, " to transvalue 
moral values." That is precisely what we 
have found Treitschke doing time after time. 
If, he has told us, politics is to be moral, 
morality must become political ; and we 
know by this time what political conduct 
means. In other words, both men rebelled 
against the characteristic sentiment of modern 
times, which some will call Christian and 
some call Humanitarian. There are other 
agreements between the two men, and some 
of these again are important. Treitschke, 
we saw, was bitterly opposed to Socialism and 
to democracy in any shape or form. Nietz- 
sche was just as bitterly opposed to those 


tendencies of political thought. Again the 
followers of the two professors found them- 
selves on common ground. 

Other coincidences need not be explained 
at any great length. I may mention only, 
as illustrating this remarkable agreement of 
two men who were so utterly different in aims 
and characters, that they came to a similar 
conclusion in face of what we call the women- 
movement. Nietzsche crudely said : "If you 
are going to the women do not forget the 
whip." Treitschke was much too polite a 
person to use such language, but his ideal was 
substantially the same as that of Nietzsche. 
Men had a work to do in the world which 
women were utterly and eternally incapable 
of performing. 

This very brief examination of Nietzsche's 
ideas will suffice to show how the large class 
of " Young Germany," which sneered at 


Treitschke, still came under the influence of 
the same ideas. Indeed, many of the new 
generation belonged to both schools in a 
somewhat muddle-headed way. General von 
Bernhardi is a remarkable example of that 
class, and the soldierly bluntness with which 
he applies the vague principles of Treitschke 
shows how the next generation was shaping 
the gospel to its own ends. From both sides 
war was being exalted, and the military 
strength was becoming its greatest considera- 
tion. The language of the philosophers was, 
as is usual, borrowed by the journalists, and 
the doctrine of will and power pervaded the 
whole literature of Germany. 

As the time went on it became more and 
more apparent, that this vague aspiration to 
strike some person or some Power must 
ultimately be directed against England. People 
waited for " the hour," as they freely called 


it in military and other German circles, and 
any enlightened English journalist might 
have discovered any time in the last few 
years that this preparation was going on. 
If we had translated the works of Treitschke 
and his followers into English at an earlier 
date, no one would have believed that such 
fanatical sentiments were shared by any very 
large proportion of the German nation. 

So the German mind went on fermenting 
in its design until the hour struck. England, 
the great and real adversary, seemed to be 
embarrassed by at least the chances of civil 
war in Ireland and in South Africa. The 
colonies seemed to be growing more and more 
independent, and might decline to take on 
their shoulders a part of the Mother's burden. 
Both in India and in Egypt a strong national 
party was arising which might be trusted 

to take advantage of any grievous disturb- 


ances in England. On the other hand, the 
great political power which the Bismarckians 
dreaded in Germany, that is to say, Social 
Democracy, was making appalling progress, 
and the nation must be diverted from this 
examination of schemes of social betterment, 
by the old cry of national unity against a 
national peril. In fine, new devices in artillery, 
in aircraft and in ships had been discovered 
by the naval and military authorities, and it 
was felt that the sixteen-inch howitzers could 
not very long be hidden in the cellars of the 
Essen works. This accumulation of circum- 
stances clearly indicated the time for declaring 
war. How far German intrigue was respon- 
sible for the actual declaration, or for the 
failure of Austria and Russia to agree upon 
their quarrel I need hardly say that for 
most of us there is no uncertainty about the 
matter may be left to the impartial verdict 


of the future historian or, of other nations of 
our time. 

It must not be supposed, however, that the 
entire German nation has entered upon this 
war in the spirit of Treitschke, or even in the 
spirit of Nietzsche. We have had enough 
experience of the entire unscrupulousness of 
Prussian agents and Prussian officials to under- 
stand that the German people have been 
deliberately misinformed. When we find their 
leading theologians and professors of inter- 
national law zealously defending the action 
of the Government, we must make careful 
allowance for a probable misrepresentation of 
the facts. Those of us who are well acquainted 
with their writings know that the vast majority 
of them hold, and hold sincerely, precisely the 
same humanitarian ideals as ourselves ; and 
that the character of the cultivated man to- 
day, whether he be called German or English 


or American, has the same standard of con- 
duct. They are not men who approve of 
deliberate mendacity, and most assuredly not 
men who approve of brutal outrages on 

They have, however, as we well know, been 
taught for years that England regards their 
national prosperity with jealous and malicious 
sentiments, and is eager to grasp the first 
opportunity to destroy the young German 
Empire. This belief has so saturated the 
Press and literature of Germany for years, 
that it must have made an impression on the 
minds of even the most judicious. We must 
remember always that, however much it may 
be to our credit, we have made no serious effort 
to counteract the campaign of misrepresenta- 
tion which the agents of Prussia have con- 
ducted for many years. When the war is 
over, and the tariff-walls against truth are 



broken down, probably large numbers of 
these German scholars, at whom some of 
our writers scoff to-day, will join with us 
in condemning the action of the German 

We are to-day writing one of the most 
tragic pages in the history of mankind. A 
nation akin to us in blood, admirable at least 
in its courage and the success which has 
rewarded its courage, is nearing the climax 
of its career. Class for class, the German 
people correspond very closely to ourselves. 
I remember sitting a few years ago in a little 
inn near the old battlefield of Jena. With 
me was one of the most eminent scientific 
men of Germany, and, as we sat over a 
Thuringian steak and a glass of Thuringian 
ale, the simple country folk came in and out 
of the dining-room, greeting their distin- 
guished fellow- citizen, and receiving from 


this Privy Counsellor of the German Empire 
the most sincere and brotherly greeting. 
Nothing could possibly be farther from the 
ideal of a nation which is suggested to us 
in the abominable pages of Heinrich von 
Treitschke. Yet this fine and prosperous 
people has been cursed by his mighty hallu- 
cination. Travelling amongst them, I have 
heard them complain that our commercial 
rivalry is bound to lead to disputes, and, in 
order that England may not dictate the 
verdict, they must have a Fleet equal to our 
own. Yet all the time their statesmen were 
hindering the setting up of the International 
Tribunal which would have given a just 
verdict on such quarrels without the shedding 
of a drop of blood. Dazed and deluded by 
the Treitschkean ideal, that war is a salutary 
discipline, and that they had a divine mission, 
they rushed blindly over the fields of Europe, 


and scattered pain and outrage over Belgium 
and France. 

The issue of the war is certain. We have to 
compare the resources of the Allies on one 
side, and of Austria and Germany on the 
other. The resources of the Allies are im- 
measureably the greater. In order to balance 
this disadvantage the Germans will have to 
destroy their opponents far more rapidly 
than their own troops are destroyed. The 
precise opposite of this has been happening 
ever since the beginning of the war, and we 
have no grave reason to suppose that there 
will be any change. Already Germany and 
Austria have lost more than a million and a 
half of their sturdiest citizens, and Germany 
alone must have wasted at least 300,000,000. 
If the war lasts as long as some of our military 
experts predict, the great and aspiring Empire 

is obviously doomed. The ring of steel is 



already narrowing round its frontiers, and its 
more thoughtful citizens must see that nothing 
less than a miracle can save them from 
ultimate defeat. Yet it is certain that that 
ring of steel will draw inward and inward 
until it confines the heart of the German 

We all trust that the age of vindictive 
punishment is over ; but Europe owes it to 
its own finer sentiments that Germany shall 
be made powerless for ever to attempt to 
carry out its appalling ambition. It will lose 
at least five of its provinces, with a vast pro- 
portion of its population. It will lose some 
of its new colonies. It will lose, and never 
recover, a large proportion of the commerce 
which it has laboriously built up ; and it will 
shoulder an indemnity -debt which will crush 
the last trace of its morbid ambition. Thus 
history will give a reply to its Berlin inter- 


preter ; and Germany will realise with amaze- 
ment that, in spite of all its hollow or mistaken 
cries of moral duty and divine mission, a 
world armed with an outraged sentiment of 
justice, will brand for ever the colossal immor- 
ality of the man who seduced it. 

Wyman A Sons Ltd., Printers, London and Reading. 



McCabe, Joseph 

219 Treitschke and the Great 

17K3 War