THE CONSERVATIVE CHANCELLOR
THE end of the year 1879 opened a new epoch in Bismarck's life. Gone were the days when he had unified Germany on the basis of universal suffrage and given her modern institutions with the help of a great liberal party; gone the days when he welcomed conflicts between the other Great Powers and profited from them. Now he echoed Metternich and became 'a rock of order'. The change has given him another cycle of posthumous fame. Fifty years ago Bismarck was admired as the great nationalist and revolutionary; now he is held up as the man who sought to preserve Europe's traditional civilization. Both pictures are true, though of different times. All revolutionaries become conservative once they are in power; and Bismarck had always longed for tranquillity even when he was a revolutionary.
Personally, Bismarck enjoyed more absolute power than ever before. The old emperor became a figurehead; even Augusta ceased to criticize, especially when the Kulturkampf was relaxed. His only fear now was of what would happen when the crown prince came to the throne; and Bismarck pursued with destructive hatred any political figure who he imagined might be the head of a so-called ' Gladstone ministry'. This was a spook of his own creation. The crown prince was too weary and too ineffective to have any clear plans. It was characteristic of Bismarck that whereas he had constantly expressed weariness of office when he was regarded as indispensable he now clung to it with frenzied determination. He said in 1888: 'I shall refuse to sign any letter of resignation. I shall cling to my chair and not go even if they try to throw me out.' Previously he had had colleagues of some independence and ability. Now he had underlings to carry out his orders. He distrusted