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WE WERE SEATED IN THE GARDEN OF THE KAISER HOF, AT BONN 9 24 THE SATURDAY EVENING POST Volume I7 , No. 41 Copyright, r899. by 7eronte K. 7eronte. Copyright in Great Britain The three men—George, Harris and the author—are touring Germany awheel. A tandem and a safety are the mounts. Back to Ethelbertha ANYBODY could rule this country," said George ; "I could rule it." We were seated in the garden of the Kaiser Hof, at Bonn, looking down upon the Rhine. It was the last evening of our trip; the early morning train would be the beginning of the end. I should write down on a piece of paper all I wanted the people to do," continued George, " get a good firm to print off so many copies, have them posted about the towns and villages, and the thing would be done." In the placid, docile German of to-day, whose only ambition appears to be to pay his taxes, and do what he is told to do by those whom it has pleased Providence to place in authority over him, it is difficult, one must confess, to detect any trace of his wild ancestor to whom individual liberty was as the breath of his nostrils; who appointed his magistrates to advise but retained the right of execution for the tribe; who followed his chief, but would have scorned to obey him. In Germany to-day one hears a good deal concerning Socialism; but it is a Socialism that would only be Despotism under another name. Individualism makes no appeal to the German voter. He is willing, nay, anxious, to be controlled and regulated in all things. He disputes, not government, but the form of it. The policeman is to him a religion, and one feels will always remain so. In England we regard our man in blue as a harmless necessity. By the average citizen he is employed chiefly as a sign-post, though in busy quarters of the town he is considered useful for taking old ladies across the road. Beyond feeling thankful to him for these services, I doubt if we take much thought of him. In Germany, on the other hand, he is worshiped as a little god, and loved as a guardian angel. To the German child he is a combination of Santa Claus and the Bogie Man. All good things come from him: holidays, Spielplatze to play in, furnished with swings and giant strides, sand heaps to fight around, swimming baths, and fairs. All misbthavior is punished by him. It is the hope and aim of every well-meaning German boy and girl to please the police. To be smiled at by a policeman makes it conceited. A German child that has been patted on the head by a policeman is not fit to live with; its self-importance is unbearable. t • The German citizen is a soldier, and the policeman is his officer. The policeman directs him where in the street to walk, and how fast to walk. At the end of each bridge stands a policeman to tell the German how to cross it. Were there no policeman there he would probably sit down and wait till the river had passed by. At the railway station, the policeman locks him up in the waiting-room, where he can do no harm to himself. When the proper time arrives he fetches him out and hands him over to the guard of the train, who is only a policeman in another uniform. The guard tells him where to sit in the train, and when to get out, and sees that he does get out. In Germany you take no responsibility upon yourself whatever. Everything is clone for you, and done well. You are not supposed to look after yourself ; you are not blamed for being incapable of looking after yourself ; it is the duty of the German policeman to look after you. That you may be a helpless idiot does not excuse him should anything happen to you. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing you are in Editor's Note —Three Men on Four Wheels was begun in the Post of January 6. Each paper is practically complete in itself. his charge, and he takes care of you—good care of you; there is no denying this. If you lose yourself, he finds you; and if you lose anything belonging to you, he recovers it for you. If you don't know what you want, he tells you. If you want anything that is good for you to have, he gets it for you. Private lawyers are not needed in Germany. If you want to buy or sell a house the State makes out the conveyance. If you have been swindled, the State takes up the case for you. The State marries you, insures you, will even gamble with you for a trifle. " You get yourself born," says the German Government to the German citizen; " we do the rest. Indoors and out of doors, in sickness and in health, in pleasure and in work, we will tell you what to do, and we will see to it that you do it. Don't you worry yourself about anything." And the German doesn't. Where there is no policeman to be found he wanders about till he comes to a police notice posted on a wall. This he reads; then he goes and does what it says. I remember in one German town—I forget which; it is immaterial ; the incident could have happened in any —noticing an open gate leading to a garden in which a concert was being given. There was nothing to prevent any one who chose from walking through that gate and thus gaining admittance to the concert without paying. In fact, of the two gates, quarter of a mile apart, it was the more convenient. Yet of the crowds that passed not one attempted to enter by that gate. They plodded steadily on under a blazing sun to the other gate, at which a man stood to collect the entrance money. I have seen German youngsters stand longingly by the margin of a lonely sheet of ice. They could have skated on that ice for hours and nobody have been the wiser. The crowd and the police were at the other end, more than half a mile away, and around the corner. Nothing stopped their going on hut the knowledge that they ought not. Things such as these make one pause to wonder seriously whether the Teuton be a member of the sinful human family or not. Is it not possible that these placid, gentle folk may in reality be angels, come down to earth? In Germany the country roads are lined with fruit trees. There is no voice to stay man or boy from picking and eating the fruit, except conscience. In England such a state of things would cause public indignation. Children would die of cholera by the hundred. The medical profession would be worked off its legs trying to cope with the natural results of over-indulgence in sour apples and unripe walnuts. Public opinion would demand that these fruit trees should be fenced about, and thus rendered harmless. Fruit growers, to save themselves the expense of walls and palings, would not be allowed in this manner to spread sickness and death throughout the community. But in Germany a boy will walk for miles down a lonely road hedged with fruit trees to buy a pennyworth of pears in the village at the other end. To pass these unprotected trees, drooping under their burden of ripe fruit, strikes the Anglo-Saxon mind as a . wicked waste of opportunity, a flouting of the blessed gifts of Providence. I do not know if it be so, but from what I have observed of the German character I should not be surprised to hear that when a man in Germany is condemned to death he is given a piece of rope and told to go and hang himself. It would save the State much trouble and expense, and I can see that German criminal taking that piece of rope home with him, reading up carefully the police instructions, and proceeding to carry them out in his own back kitchen. The Germans are a good people, on the whole—the best people, perhaps, morally speaking, in the world; an amiable, unselfish, kindly people. I am positive that the vast majority of them go to Heaven. Indeed, comparing them with the other Christian nations of the earth, one is forced to the conclusion that Heaven will be chiefly of German manufacture. But I cannot understand how they get there. That the soul of any single individual German has sufficient initiative to fly up by itself and knock at St. Peter's door I cannot believe. My own opinion is that they are taken there in small companies, and passed in under the charge of a dead policeman. Carlyle said of the Prussians (and it is true of the whole German nation) that one of their chief virtues was their power of being drilled. Of the Germans you might say they are a people who will go anywhere, and do anything, they are told. Drill a German for the work and send him out to Africa or Asia under charge of somebody in uniform, and he is bound to make an excellent colonist, facing difficulties as he would face the devil himself, if ordered. But it is hard to con- ceive of him as a pioneer. Left to run himself, one feels he would soon fade away and die, not from any lack of intelligence, but from sheer want of presumption. The German has so long been the soldier of Europe that the military instinct has entered into his blood. The mili- tary virtues lie possesses in abundance. But he also suffers from the drawbacks of the military training. It was told me of a German servant, lately released from the barracks, that he was instructed by his master to deliver a letter to a certain house, and to wait there for the answer. The hours


Three_Men_on_Four_Wheels
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