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A History of Germany by Bayard Taylor

The Field Marshal Count Moltke


the spring of the year (April 24th) Germany lost one of her greatest men, the Field-Marshal Count Moltke, who had lived more than ninety years in the full enjoyment of his powers. Another man, who also had been prominent in his way, Windthorst, had died just one month before Moltke, but he was missed only by the Roman Catholic Centre party, who lost in him their ablest leader.

The following year a bill was laid before the Prussian Assembly purporting to reform the public schools, but introducing at the same time such clauses as would render both public and private schools confessional. The bill was no sooner made public than it became evident that only the ultra Conservatives and the Centre or Ultramontane party were in favor of it, while the other parties, and behind them their constituents, declared themselves extremely opposed to it. In consequence of this bill the whole of Germany became greatly agitated; numerous protests were sent to the Assembly and the Minister of Culture, and men of note and intellect put in print their ominous warnings. All this resulted in the withdrawal of the bill and the resignation of the Minister of Culture, Count Zedlitz. But before the end of the year a new army measure began to stir afresh the minds of politicians and people. In his speech delivered before Parliament on November 23d, Caprivi explained that new sacrifices in money and taxation were necessary, in order to make the German army efficient to fight

enemies "on two fronts." He went on to demonstrate that, although no war was in sight, France had surpassed Germany in her military organization and numbers, while Russia was continually perfecting her strategical railway system, and locating her best troops on her western frontier. To keep up an equal footing with her neighbors, it was necessary for Germany to add 83,894 men to the present number of soldiers. In order to do this the existing obligation to serve in the army would have to be extended to every one capable of carrying arms. The cost was estimated at $16,700,000 for the first year, and $16,000,000 for every year succeeding. As a compensation for the heavy burdens to be imposed, the Government offered to reduce the time for active service from three to two years.

[Sidenote: 1893.]

There was from the first a widespread doubt among the people of the necessity for such heavy sacrifices as were entailed by this bill, and the possibility of carrying it successfully through Parliament. The body deferred dealing with it until the following year, when the fate of the bill was adversely decided on the 6th of May by a majority of forty-eight out of three hundred and seventy-two votes. Parliament was at once dissolved, and new elections were ordered to take place on the 15th of June. In the interval some unexpected splits favoring the Government's cause occurred in the Centre party and among the Liberals, or Radicals--a name now more befitting. As the election proceeded, it became more and more evident that the opposition was losing and the Government gaining ground.

[Sidenote: 1893. THE ARMY BILL.]

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