Chapter VI. "The Great Days"

They were playing "The Categorical Imperative" that evening at the Little Theatre in Unter den Linden. It is an old-fashioned comedy laid in the Vienna of 1815 - two love-stories, lightly and quaintly told, across which, through the chatter of a little Viennese salon, we dimly see Napoleon return from Elba and hear the thunder of Waterloo. A young cub of a Saxon schoolmaster, full of simple-hearted enthusiasm and philosophy, comes down to the Austrian capital, and, taken up by a kindly, coquettish young countess, becomes the tutor of her cousin, a girl as simple as he. The older woman with her knowing charm, the younger with her freshness, present a dualism more bewildering than any he has ever read about in his philosophy books, and part of the fun consists in seeing him fall in love with the younger in terms of pure reason, and finally, when the motherly young countess has quietly got him a professorship at Konigsberg, present to his delighted Elise his "categorical imperative."

You can imagine that thoroughly German mixture of sentiment and philosophy, the quaint references to a Prussia not yet, in its present sense, begun to exist; how to that audience - nearly every one of whom had a son or husband or brother at the front - the century suddenly seemed to close up and the Napoleonic days became part of their own "grosse Zeit." You can imagine the young schoolmaster and the frivolous older man going off to war, and the two women consoling each other, and with what strange eloquence the words of that girl of 1815, watching them from the window, come down across the years:

"Why is it that from time to time men must go and kill each other? There it stands in the paper - two thousand more men - it writes itself so easily! But that every one of them has a wife or mother or sister or a - ... And when they cry their eyes out that means that it is a victory, and when some brave young fellow has fallen, he is only one of the 'forces' - so and so many men - and nobody even knows his name..."

You must imagine them coming back from the war, and pale, benign, leaning on their canes as returning heroes do in plays, talk across the footlights to real young soldiers you have just seen limping in with real wounds - pink-cheeked boys with heads and feet bandaged and Iron Crosses on black-and-white ribbons tucked into their coats, home from East Prussia or the Aisne. Then between the acts you must imagine them pouring out to the refreshment-room for a look at each other and something to eat - will they never stop eating? - fathers and mothers and daughters with their Butterbrod and Schinken and big glasses of beer in the genial German fashion, beaming on the young heroes limping by or, with heads bandaged like schoolboys with mumps, grinning in spite of their scars.

And when they drift out into the street at last, softened and brought together by the play - the street with its lights and flags, officers in long, blue-gray overcoats and soldiers everywhere, and a military automobile shooting by, perhaps, with its gay "Ta-tee! Ta-td!" - the extras are out with another Russian army smashed and two more ships sunk in the Channel. The old newspaper woman at the Friedrichsstrasse corner is chanting it hoarsely, "Zwei englische Dampfer gesunken!" - and they read that "the sands have run, the prologue is spoken, the curtain risen on the tragedy of England's destiny."

Great days, indeed! Days of achievement, of utter sacrifice, and flinging all into the common cause. Round the corner from Unter den Linden, under the dark windows of the Information Bureau, you may see part of the price. It is still and deserted there, except for a lone woman with a shawl over her head, trying to read, by the light of the street-lamp, the casualty lists. You must imagine a building like the Post Office in New York, for instance, or the Auditorium Hotel in Chicago, with a band of white paper, like newspapers, spread out and pasted end to end, running along one side, round the corner, and down the other. Not inches, but yards, rods, two city blocks almost, of microscopic type; columns of names, arranged in the systematic German way - lightly wounded, badly wounded - schwer verwundet - gefallen. Some have died of wounds - tot - some dead in the enemy's country - in Feindesland gefallen. Rank on rank, blurring off into nothingness, endless files of type, pale as if the souls of the dead were crowding here.

One tried to think of the "Categorical Imperative" in a New York playhouse - of the desperate endeavor to make the young schoolmaster really look simple and boyish, and yet as if he might have heard of Kant, and of convincing the two ladies that they lost their sweet comfortableness by dressing like professional manikins; how the piece might succeed with luck, or if it could somehow be made fashionable; and how here, with all the unaffected and affectionate intelligence with which it was played - and watched - it was but part of the week's work.

And, in spite of the desperation of the time, you might have seen a dozen such audiences in Berlin, that night - and yet tourists generally speak of Berlin, compared with some of the German provincial cities, as a rather graceless, new sort of place, full of bad sculpture and Prussian arrogance. You might have seen them at the opera or symphony concerts, at Shakespeare, Strindberg, or the German classics we used to read in college, or standing in line at six o'clock, sandwiches in hand, so that they might sit through a performance of "Peer Gynt," with the Grieg music, beginning at seven and lasting till after eleven. A wonderful night, with poetry and music and splendid scenes and acting, and a man's very soul developing before you all the time - sandwiches and beer and more music and poetry, until that tragedy of the egoist is no longer a play but a part of you, so many years of living, almost, added to one's life. Yes, it is all here, along with the forty-two-centimetre shells - good music and good beer and good love of both; simplicity, homely kindness, and Gemutlichkeit.

Mere talk about plays would not be much encouraged in Germany nowadays. In one of the Cologne papers the other day there were two imaginary letters - one signed "One Who Means Well," asking that there be a little relief from war poems, war articles, and the like; and the other signed "One Who Means Better," demanding if it were possible for any German to waste time in artistic hair-splitting when the Germanic peoples, in greater danger than in their entire history, stood with their back to the wall, facing and holding back the world. A Berlin dramatic critic, going through the motions of reviewing a new performance of "Hedda Gabler" the other morning, finally dismissed the matter as "Women's troubles - if anybody can be interested in that nowadays!" Yet a woman, asking at the same time that the "finer and sweeter voices of peaceful society" be not forgotten, concluded her letter with "East and west the cannon thunder, but in men's souls sound many bells, and it is not necessary that they should always and forever be drowned out."

I mention the theatre only as an easy illustration of that many-sided vitality one feels at once on entering Germany, that development of all a people's capabilities, material and spiritual, which is summed up, I suppose, in that hapless word Kultur.

You may not like German learning or German art, and consider the one pedantic and the other heavy and uninspired. A Frenchman wrote very feelingly the other day, in the Revue des Deux Mondes, about a return to the old French culture, an escape from what he described as the German habit of accumulating mere facts to something that, in addition to feeding the brain, nourished the taste as well - carried with it, so to speak, a certain spiritual fragrance.

You may be of this persuasion. The thing one cannot escape, however, in Germany, whether one likes its manifestations or not, is the vitality, the moral and intellectual force, everywhere apparent, whether it be applied to smashing forts or staging a play. When a people can hold back England and France with one hand and the Russian avalanche with the other, and, cut off from oversea trade and living on rations almost, yet, to take but one of the first examples, maintain the art of the theatre at a level which makes that of New York or London in the most spacious time of peace seem crude and infantile, one is confronted with a fact which a reporter in his travels must record - a force which, as the saying goes, "must be reckoned with."

So far as the special business of keeping the war going is concerned, this vitality, after seven months of fighting, in spite of those lists in Dorotheenstrasse, seems ample. Here in Berlin, which is an all day's express journey from either front, you see thousands of fit young men marching through the streets, singing and whistling; you are told of millions ready and waiting to go. Every one seems confident that Germany will win - indeed, with a unity and resolution which could scarcely be more complete if they were defending their last foot of territory, determined that Germany must win.

When I was in London in the autumn a man who had made a flying trip to Berlin said that the German capital made him think of a man with his feet on the table smoking a cigar and pretending to be unconcerned although he knew all the time in his heart that he was doomed. I find little to suggest such a picture. The thing that at once impresses the stranger, along with the apparent reserve strength, is the moral earnestness behind that strength, the passionate conviction that they are fighting a defensive fight, that they are right. I shall not attempt to explain this here, but merely record it as a fact. Possibly all people in all great wars believe they are right - and that is why there are great wars.

Crossing the frontier from Rotterdam, I stopped for a day or two at Cologne. The proprietor of the hotel, a typical, big, hearty German of the commercial class, such as you might expect to find running a brewery at home or a bank or coffee plantation in South America, came out of his office when he heard English spoken. There are no "loose Englishmen" in Germany nowadays.

"I suppose you are surprised to see the Dom, yes?" he laughed, pointing toward the cathedral towers in whose shadow we stood. And then - "What do you think about the war?" I asked him what he thought.

"Well," he said, and with the air of brushing aside what was taken for granted before considering more doubtful issues, "of course we win!"

He showed me a photograph of his son, just made an officer. "In a few weeks," he said, "maybe I volunteer myself." He was fifty-five years old, but thoroughly fit. He doubled up a big right arm and laughingly gripped it. "Like iron!" he boomed. "And there are five million men like me. Not men - soldiers!"

I found myself the other evening, after zigzagging all over Berlin with an address given me at a typewriter agency, in a little apartment on the outskirts of the town. The woman who lived there had been a stenographer in the city until the war cut off her business, and she was now supporting herself with the six marks (one dollar and fifty cents) weekly war benefit given by the municipality and by making soldiers' shirts for the War Department at fifty pfennigs (twelve and one-half cents) a shirt. She was glad to get typewriting, and without words on either side at once got to work. So we proceeded for a page or two until something was said about an Iron Cross stuck inside a soldier's coat.

"That is the Iron Cross of the second class," she interrupted; "they put that inside. The first class they wear outside," and, as if she could keep still no longer, she suddenly flung out, almost without a pause:

"My brother has the Iron Cross. I have seven brothers in the army. Three are in the east and three are in the west, and one is in the hospital. He was shot three times in the leg - here - and here - and here. They hope to save his leg, but he will always be lame. He got the Iron Cross. He was at Dixmude. They marched up singing 'Deutschland ueber Alles.' They were all shot down. There were three hundred of them, and every one fell. They knew they must all be shot, but they marched on just the same, singing 'Deutschland ueber Alles.' They knew they were going against the English, and nothing could stop them."

Her brother would go back if he had to crawl back - if only she could go and not have to sit here and wait!

"I told you," she said, "when you first came in, that I was German. And I asked you if you were an American, because I know that dreadful things have been said in America about our Kaiser, and I will not have such things said to me. Our Kaiser did not want the war - he did everything he could to prevent the war - no ruler in the world ever did more for his people than our Kaiser has done, and there is not a man, woman, or child in Germany who would not fight for him." And this, you must remember, was from a woman whose support was cut off by the war and who was making a living by sewing shirts at twelve and a half cents a shirt.

I walked down the busy High Street that night in Cologne, and the bright shop-windows with their chocolates and fruit - apples from Canada and Hood River - crowded cafes, people overflowing sidewalks into the narrow streets somehow reminded me of the cheerful Bordeaux I tramped through in November. There are, indeed, many French suggestions in Cologne, and in the shops they still sometimes call an umbrella a parapluie.

An American who lives in Cologne told me that the decrease in the number of young men was noticeable, and that eleven sons of his friends had been killed. To a stranger the city looked normal, with the usual crowds. One did notice the people about the war bulletin-boards. They were not boys and street loungers, but grave-looking citizens and their wives and daughters, people who looked as if they might have sons or brothers at the front.

The express from Cologne to Berlin passed through Essen, where the Krupp guns are made, the coal and iron country of Westphalia, and the plains of the west. It is a country of large cities whose borders often almost touch, where some tall factory chimney is almost always on the horizon. All these chimneys were pouring out smoke; there is a reason, of course, why iron-works should be busy and manufacturing going on - if not as usual, at any rate going on.

The muddy plains between the factory towns were green with winter wheat, the crop which is to carry the country through another year. Meanwhile, one was told, the railroad rights of way would be planted, and land not needed for beets - for with no sugar going out Germany can produce more now than she needs - also be seeded to wheat.

Here in Berlin we are, it seems, being starved out, but in the complex web of a modern city it is rather hard to tell just what that means: In ordinary times, for instance, Germany imports thirty-five million dollars' worth of butter and eggs from Russia, which, of course, is not coming in now, yet butter seems to appear, and at a central place like the Victoria Cafe, at the corner of Unter den Linden and Friedrichsstrasse, two soft-boiled eggs cost fifty pfennigs, or twelve and a half cents, which is but two and a half cents more than they cost before the war, and that includes a morning paper and a window from which to see Berlin going by. Even were Berlin, in a journalistic sense, "starving," one presumes the cosmopolitans in the tea-rooms of the Kaiserhof or Adlon or Esplanade would still have their trays of fancy cakes to choose from and find no difficulty in getting plenty to eat at a - for them - not unreasonable price.

For weeks white bread has had to contain a certain amount of rye flour and rye bread a certain amount of potato - the so-called war bread - and, except in the better hotels, one was served, unless one ordered specially, with only two or three little wisps of this "Kriegsbrod." For Frenchmen this would mean a real privation, but Germans eat so little bread, comparatively speaking, that one believes the average person scarcely noticed the difference. Every one must have his bread-card now, with coupons entitling him to so many grams a day - about four pounds a week - which the waiter or baker tears off when the customer gets his bread. Without these cards not so much as a crumb can be had for love or money. Yet with all this stiff and not unamusing red tape your morning coffee and bread and butter costs from thirty pfennigs (seven and one-half cents) in one of the Berlin "automats" to one mark fifty pfennigs (thirty-seven cents) in the quiet of the best hotels.

Meat is plentiful and cheap, particularly beef, and in any of the big, popular "beer restaurants," so common in Berlin, an ordinary steak for one person costs from thirty-five to fifty cents. Pork, the mainstay of the poorer people, is comparatively expensive, because hogs have been made into durable hard sausages for the army, and potatoes, also expensive, have been bought up in large quantities by the government, to be sold in the public markets to the poor, a few pounds to each person, at a moderate price. There are said to be eight hundred thousand prisoners now in Germany, and the not entirely frivolous suggestion has been made that the hordes of hungry Russians captured in the east are more dangerous now than they were with guns in their hands. Yet there are no visible signs of such poverty as one will see in certain parts of London or Chicago in times of peace, and a woman in charge of one of the soup-kitchens where people pinched by the war get one substantial meal a day at ten pfennigs told me there was no reason for any one in Berlin going hungry. Meanwhile, the scarcity of flour only adds fuel to the people's patriotism, and they are told everywhere on red placards that England never can starve them out if every German does his economical duty. Where so much thinking is done for the people, and done so efficiently, it is difficult not to feel that everything is somehow "arranged," and one finds it difficult to become acutely anxious while the hundreds of crowded cafes are running full blast until one o'clock every morning and the seal in the Tiergarten has the bottom of his tank covered with fresh fish he is too indolent to eat.

"Society," in its more visible, decorative sense, is as forgotten as it is in France, as it must be in such a time. There are no dances or formal parties; every one who is not going about his civil business has in one way or another "gone to the war." The gay young men are at the front, the idle young women knitting or nursing or helping the poor, and it is an adventure uncommon enough to be remembered to meet on the street a pretty young lady merely out to take the air, with hands in her muff and trotting in front of her the timorous dachshund, muzzled like a ravening tiger and looking at the world askance with his rueful eyes.

The apparent quietness and gravity is partially due to the lack of a "yellow" or, in the British or American sense of the word, popular press. There is none of that noisy hate continually dinned into one's ears in London by papers which, to be sure, represent neither the better-class English civilians nor the light-hearted fighting man at the front, yet which are entertainingly written, do contain the news, and get themselves read.

The German papers print comparatively little of what we call "news." They hide unpleasant truths and accent pleasant ones, and are working all the time to create a definite public opinion; but their partisanship is that of official proclamation rather than that of overworked and underpaid reporters striving to please their employers with all the desperation of servants working for a tip. The yelping after spies, the heaping of adjectives on every trifling achievement of British arms, the ill-timed talk of snatching the enemy's trade in a war theoretically fought for a high principle, all that journalistic vulgarity - which might be as characteristic of our own papers under similar circumstances - one is mercifully spared.

This taciturnity is astonishing toward the work of the men at the front. A few days ago flags were flung out all over Berlin at the news of Hindenburg's victory; military attaches were saying that there had been nothing like this since Napoleon; up and down the streets the newswomen were croaking: "Sechsund-zwanzig tausend Russen gefangen... Hindenburg zahlt noch immer..." ("Twenty-six thousand Russians captured... and Hindenburg's still counting..."). And all you could find in the papers was the General Staff report that "at one place the fighting has been very severe; up to the present we have made some twenty-six thousand prisoners," etc., and even this laconic sentence lost in the middle of the regular communique beginning: "Yesterday on the Belgian coast, after a period of inactivity..."

The picturesqueness and personalities of the war are left to the stage and the innumerable weeklies and humorous papers, yet even here there is little or no tendency to group achievements around individual commanders - it is "our army," not the man, although even German collectivism cannot keep Hindenburg's dependable old face off the post-cards nor regiments of young ladies from sending him letters and Liebesgaben.

In the theatre you see the Feldgrau heroes in dugouts in Flanders or in Galician trenches; see the audience weep when the German mother sends off her seven sons or the bearded father meets his youngest boy, schwer verwundet, on the battle-field; or cheer when the curtain goes down on noble blond giants in spiked helmets dangling miniature Frenchmen by the scruff of the neck and forcing craven Highlanders to bite the dust.

You may even see a submarine dive down into green water, see the torpedo slid into the tube, breech-block closed, and - "Now - for Kaiser and fatherland!" - by means of an image thrown on a screen from the periscope, see the English cruiser go up in a tower of water and founder.

In all this comment there is a very different feeling for each of the three allies. The Russians "don't count," so to speak. They are dangerous because of their numbers and must be flung back, but the feeling toward them is not unlike that toward a herd of stampeded range cattle.

Toward the French there is no bitterness either, rather a sort of pity and the wish to be thought well of. One is reminded now and then of the German captain quartered at Sedan, in Zola's "Debacle," who, while conscious of the strength behind him, yet wanted his involuntary hosts to know that he, too, had been to Paris and knew how to be a galant homme. Men tell you "they've put up a mighty good fight, say!" or speaking of the young French sculptor allowed to go on with his work in the prison camp at Zossen, or the flower-beds in front of the French barracks there - "but, of course, the French are an artistic people. You can allow them liberties like that." Every now and then in the papers one runs across some anecdote from France in which the Frenchman is permitted to make the retort at the expense of the English.

Toward John Bull there is no mercy. He is shown naked, trying to hide himself with neutral flags; he is sprawled in his mill with a river of French blood flowing by from the battle-fields of France, while the cartoonist asks France if she cannot see that she is doing his grinding for him; he is hobnobbing cheek by jowl with cannibals and black men, and he is seriously discussed as a traitor to the Germanic peoples and the white race.

A German woman told me the other day that in her house it was the custom to fine everybody in the family ten pfennigs if they came down to breakfast without saying: "Gott strafe die Englander!" ("God punish the English!") In a recent Ulk there is a cartoon of a young mother holding up her baby to his proud father with the announcement that he has spoken his first words. "And what did he say?" "Gott strafe England!"

America is criticised for supplying the Allies with arms - shades of South American revolutions and the old "Ypiranga"! - while permitting itself, without sufficient protest, to be shut off from sending food to Germany. Yet, in spite of this and the extremely difficult situation created by the submarine blockade, the individual American is not embarrassed unless mistaken for an Englishman or unless he finds some supersensitive patriot in a restaurant or theatre who objects even to hearing English.

At the frontier the honest customs inspector landed, first thing, on a copy of "Tartarin sur les Alpes," which I had picked up at the railroad news-stand in the Hague.

"Franzosisch!" he declared, flapping over the pages. Next it was a bundle of letters of introduction, the top one of which happened to be in English. "Englische Briefe!" and forthwith he bellowed for help. A young officer sauntered out from the near-by office, saluted, and said, "Good morning!" glanced at "Tartarin" with a smile, and tossed it back into the bag, at letters and passport, said it must be very interesting to see both sides, and so, after a question or two, to the train for Koln.

On the way to Berlin from Koln, that rainy afternoon, I went into the dining-car toward five o'clock attired in a pepper-and-salt tweed suit and heavy tan boots, and, speaking German with evident pain, tactfully asked - everybody else drinking beer - for tea. The man across the way whispered to his companion and stared; a middle-aged man farther up the aisle stood stock-still and stared; a young woman at the other end of the car turned round and, gazing over the back of her chair, whispered aghast to her companion: "Englaender!"

Not particularly enlivened by the cup that cheers, I regained my compartment presently and glared out at the sodden landscape, with now and then a shot at the other occupant who had got on at Essen or one of the western stations and sat the day out without a word. One of those disagreeable Prussians evidently - until, actually needing to know, I broke the silence by asking which station we arrived at in Berlin. He answered with perfect good humor, and we began to talk. I mentioned the tea incident.

"Ignorant people!" he said, dismissing them with a wave of the hand. They ought to have seen my little flag - he had - and, anyhow, a gentleman was a gentleman, and they were fighting England, not individual Englishmen. Then, reverting to my apologies for my German, he amiably shifted into French, and so we talked until reaching Berlin, when, hoping that I would get what I came for, he shook hands and wished me "Bon voyage!" So you never can tell.

The militarism which any man in the street-car at home can tell you all about, and which Cramb and Bernhardi make so interesting and understandable, is here on the spot not so easy to put one's finger on. Apparently nobody ever heard of Bernhardi, and you might talk with every man you meet for a fortnight without finding any one who could tell you - as any young girl who happens to sit next you at dinner can tell you at home - about the German belief in war as a great blessing, because it is the only way of asserting your own superior ideas over the other man's inferior ideas, and thus getting a world ahead.

People want to smash England, of course, because, as they explain, she brought on the war and is trying to starve them, and they roar with the applause when the lightning-change man at the Wintergarten impersonates Hindenburg, because Hindenburg is a grand old scout who is keeping those millions of slovenly Russians from overrunning our tidy, busy, well-ordered Germany. But Treitschke - who was he?

And then, of course, it is not always easy to put one's finger on just what people mean by militarism. Some have objected to militarism because they didn't like the manners of the German waiters at the Savoy, and some because - "Well, those people somehow rub you the wrong way!" It is not universal conscription, because many nations have that, nor the amount spent per capita on soldiers and ships, for we ourselves spend almost as much as the Germans, and the French even more.

One of our old-school cattlemen, used to shooting all the game, cutting all the timber, and using all the water he wanted to, would doubtless say, without seeing a soldier, that it was "their damned police!" No, when people think they are talking about German militarism, they are quite as likely to be talking about the way German faces are made or about German collectivism - the uncanny ability Germans have for taking orders, for team-work, for turning every individual energy into the common end.

One may, however, run across a certain feeling toward war, quite local and unconscious, yet very different from the French love of "gloire" and the English keenness for war as a sort of superior fox-hunting or football. You are, let us say, watching one of the musical comedies which the war has inspired.

The curtain rises on a darkened stage, through whose blackness you presently discover, twinkling far below, as if you were looking down from an aeroplane, the lights of Paris, the silver thread of the Seine and its bridges. There is a faint whirring, and two faces emerge vaguely from the dark - the hero and heroine swinging along in a Taube. And as they fly they sing a wistful little waltz song, a sort of cradle song:

"Ich glau-u-be... Ich glau-u-be Da oben fliegt... 'ne Taube..."

They are thinking, so the song runs, that there is a Taube overhead; it has flown here out of its German nest, and let's hope it will not let anything fall on them. And, as they sing, the young man makes a motion with his hand, there is a sort of glowworm flash, and a few seconds later, away down there among the Paris roofs a puff of red smoke and fire. The illusion is perfect, and the audience is enchanted - that ride through the velvet night, so still, so quaint, so roguish in its way, and the flash far below, that has flung some unsuspecting citizen on the cobblestones like a bundle of old rags.

And, whirring gently, the Taube sails on through the night:

'Ich glaube. Da oben fliegt Ich glaube. 'ne Taube'

Again the glowworm flash, and a moment later, over on the left bank, not far from the Luxembourg, apparently, another of those eloquent little puffs of fire. The crowd is as delighted as children would be with bursting soap-bubbles.

Or we are, let us say, at "Woran Wir Denken" ("What We're Thinking Of") with delightful music and such verses as we rarely enough hear in musical comedies at home. In the spotlight there is a square young man dressed in a metallic coat and conical helmet, so as to suggest the famous forty-two-centimetre shell - the shell which makes a hole like a cellar and smashed the Belgian forts as if an earthquake had struck them. And singing with him an exquisite, nun-like creature in a dove-colored robe, typifying the Taube. They are singing to each other:

"I am delicate and slender And made for the salon..." "And I am the biggest smasher In all the present season..." "High up above the clouds I fly at heart's desire..." "And I'm a child of Krupp's, Whom nobody knew about..." "I fly, trackless as a breath..." "I slash on with smoke and roar..."

They are in love with each other, you see, the Taube and the forty-two-centimetre shell, the "Brummer," or "Grumbler," as they call it in Germany - could anything be more piquant? You should hear them - the chaste, chic, nun-like Taube and the thick-chested old Brummer, singing that he is her dear old Grumbler and she his soft, swift Dove:

"Suesser, dicker Brummer... Du mein Taubchen, zart und flink..."

There is a sort of poetry about this - a new sort of poetry about a new sort of war. And it might possibly be proved that such poetry could only come from a people so bred to arms that they do not shrink, even in imagination, from the uses to which arms must be put - a people in love with war, having a mystical feeling for its instruments, such as their remote ancestors had for their battle-axes and double-edged swords.

I shall not attempt to do this - heaven preserve Americans from being judged by their musical comedies ! - and doubtless the children even of our most devoted advocates of universal peace have played with lead cannon and toy soldiers. I merely speak of it, this curious mixture of refinement and brutality, as something which, it struck me, we Americans - who always do everything exactly right - would not have thought of doing in just that way.

Many of the ways of this people are not our ways. You have heard, let us say, of the German parade step, sometimes laughed at as the "goose step" in England and at home. I was lunching the other day with an American military observer, and he spoke of the parade step and the effect it had on him.

"Did you ever see it?" he demanded. "Have you any idea of the moral effect of that step? You see those men marching by, every muscle in their bodies taut and tingling as steel wire, every eye on the Emperor, and when they bring those feet down - bing! bang! - the physical fitness it stands for, the unity, determination - why, it's the whole German idea - nothing can stop 'em!"

"Did you ever see one of these soldiers salute?" Yes, I had seen hundreds of them, and I had been made extremely ill at ease one day in my hotel when a young officer with whom I had started, in the American fashion, comfortably to shake hands suddenly whacked his heels together like a couple of Indian clubs and, stiff as a ramrod, snapped his hand to his cap.

"Did you ever see them salute? They don't do it like a baggage porter - there's nothing servile about it. They square off and bring that hand to their heads and look that officer square in the eyes as if to say: 'Now, damn you, salute me!' And he gets his salute, too - like a man!"

You may not like this salute or you may not like the parade step, but you can be very sure of one thing - that it is not the militarism that pushes civilians off the sidewalk nor permits an officer to strike his subordinate - though these things have happened in Germany - that is holding back England and France and driving the Russian millions out of East Prussia. It is something bigger than that. Peasants and princes, these men are dying gladly, backed up by fitness, discipline, and a passionate unity such as the world has not often seen. This, and not the futile nurses' tales with which the American public permitted itself to be diverted during the early weeks of the war, is what strikes one in Germany. It is a fact, like the Germans being in Belgium, which you have got to face and think about, whether you like it or not. Berlin, February, 1915.