Friday, September 5, 2008



How the Old Chancellor Came Out Ahead of a Stupid Hotel Keeper.

Perhaps the chief trait of Bismarck's genius is to be found in his entire freedom from the preconceived notions, and in the limpidness of his mind, which refused to submit to accepted fallacies. This tendency in early age earned for him, of the dull pedantry and prime Philistines around him, the sobriquet of "Tolle Bismarck" — the mad Bismarck — but later on it resulted in the complete demolition of the old system of diplomacy. For equivocation and downright falsehood his powerful intellect substituted a kind of outrageous frankness which bewildered and outwitted his adversaries. Nothing, however, marks his strong personality more vividly than the intense hatreds and blind devotions with which he has surrounded himself. He had the courage to be himself, the power to rely upon himself and to look at things in the face, while the keen sense of humor enabled him to see clearly the vast array of sham and pompous pretense of public and private life.

Never had madness more method than is shown by the originality of this strange being, half Mephistopheles, half dragon, who, before subduing to his iron will the whole of European diplomacy, shocked and horrified the fogies of the old school with the innuendoes and insinuations, the sarcasms and stories, the gibes and jokes which he flung at their heads mercilessly and continually. The wigged and powdered pomp which covered diplomatic pretense and mendacity was torn aside the instant that Prince Bismarck got a grip of political realities, and his first appearance among the dignified excellencies of the German diet constituted a veritable revolution.

The incidents of his early relations with these empty headed "importants sans importance" offer perhaps the most racy of the many anecdotes — in Prince Bismarck's own words in many cases — in his Boswell, his faithful secretary, Dr. Moritz Busch. His first encounter at Frankfort was with his hostler, who, like all the good burghers of the free city at that time, was intensely anti-Prussian. The old hotel where he put up, as Prussian delegate to the diet, was not provided with a complete system of bells, and Bismarck asked for a hand bell at least, wherewith to communicate with his valet. But he was gruffly told there was none to spare, and that he must shift for himself. Early next morning the loud report of a pistol set all the guests in a panic, with the exemption of Bismarck's servant, who explained that, as no bell was forthcoming, his master had summoned him by pistol shot. Five minutes later the desired bell was placed within Bismarck's reach. — New York Post.

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