THE FALL FROM POWER
BISMARCK made one of his rare public appearances at the funeral of William I. Afterwards in the evening he sat with his family, lost in thought, speaking softly and almost to himself of the ruler whom he had served for so long. An occasional tear ran down his cheek. Suddenly he pulled himself up, straightened his back and exclaimed in a rough, harsh voice: 'And now forward!' Forward to what? To further struggle which became more and more personal. Contemptuous of the new emperor, careless of public opinion, Bismarck meant to remain in power till he died. He believed that only he could rule Germany, indeed that he alone was Germany. Everyone else was factious, particularist, or a Reichsfeind. For more than twenty years he had played off Reichstag and emperor against each other. A parliamentary majority could not overthrow him as long as he possessed the emperor's confidence; indeed, every parliamentary attack strengthened William I's conviction that Bismarck was the only barrier against democracy. On the other hand he could always get his way with the emperor by threatening to resign and so open the gates to the democratic flood. Now Frederick III was on the throne--an emperor long critical of Bismarck's opposition to liberalism and long friendly to the National Liberal politicians.
Bismarck had been taking precautions against this catastrophe for many years. He had surrounded Frederick and his wife with his own creatures; he had broken the National Liberal party; and now he had a majority in the Reichstag pledged to his support. As a matter of fact, the precautions were largely unnecessary. Frederick was a National Liberal, not a democrat. Despite his occasional