Page 3411

3411 THE TWENTIETH CENTURY-THE GREAT WAR.

wonderfully far-reaching tones which are his

oratorical style," the following homily:

"A fateful hour has fallen upon Germany.

Envious people on all sides are compelling

us to resort to just defense. The sword

is being forced into our hand. If at the

last hour my efforts do not succeed in maintaining peace, I hope that with God's help

we shall so wield the sword that we shall

be able to sheathe it with honor.

"War would demand of us enormous

sacrifices in blood and treasure, but we

shall show our foes what it means to provoke Germany, and now I commend you

all to God. Go to church, kneel before

God, and pray to Him to help our gallant

army."

In this, as in many another scene, the

Kaiser had an eye to the dramatic. He

was, in fact, a greater actor than statesman.

His hour had struck-the hour, he fondly

believed, that was to make him master of

Europe, which meant of the world. He

was, in truth, about to precipitate the

greatest of all wars. From it he expected

his house to emerge with a grandeur that

would dim the glories of every other royal

house, ancient or modern. Little did he

dream that, after four crimson years, he

would be a fugitive in a foreign land, and

the most execrated figure in history. Fate

had already marked him. He was to be

known, not as "Kaiser of the World," but

as "Wilhelm the Last."

The next day was Sunday. In Berlin

there were many impressive religious services at which the aid of heaven was invoked in behalf of Germany. That evening a vast crowd gathered once more

about the Royal Castle, hungering "for

an opportunity to show the Supreme War

Lord that Kaiser and Empire were dearer

than ever to German hearts in the hour of

imminent trial." In the twilight, "the

All Highest" appeared once more upon

the balcony and beckoned for silence. Men

removed their hats and bent forward to

hear the Imperial message. It was as

follows:

"From the bottom of my heart I thank

you for the expression of your love and

loyalty. In the struggle now impending

I know no more parties among my people.

There are now only Germans among us.

Whichever parties, in the heat of political

differences, may have turned against me,

I now forgive from the depths of my heart.

The thing now is that all should stand together, shoulder to shoulder, like brothers,

and then God will help the German sword

to victory!"

Had the message been a revelation from

Sinai it would scarcely have been received

with greater reverence. Believing their

cause to be really just, the deluded people

of Germany rallied for Kaiser and Fatherland, and for four years displayed an example of unity and devotion rarely equaled

in history.

Sir Edward Grey had endeavored, at

the last moment, to localize the conflict

into a war between Austria-Hungary on

the one hand and Russia and Servia on the

other; but the entrance of Germany into

the war meant an inevitable widening

of the conflict. France had already given

Russia assurances of her support. On

July 31, the German Ambassador at Paris

demanded to know by one o'clock the next

day what the attitude of France would be

in case of a war between Germany and

Russia. To this demand the French Prime

Minister, Rene Viviani, returned the cryptic answer that "France would do that

which her interests dictate." France began to mobilize the next day, the 2nd, and

Germany declared war on the 3rd.

The main scene had now shifted to the

west. Neither France nor Great Britain

had great interests, either material or sentimental, in Servia, but both were profoundly

interested in the question of the European

balance of power. The participation of

France was rendered certain by her hatred

of Germany and by her alliance with

Russia; but Great Britain, although a

member of the understanding vaguely

known as the Triple Entente, was under no

definite engagements to render assistance,

except, perhaps, certain naval protection

to the west coast of France.

England's attitude now became the all

important question. In the light of later

events it is easy to see that upon her