24 APRIL 1915, Page 13


[To nut Enna 01 nu ..8rsorkroo...] Sra,—In reply to Mr. Ellis Barker's letter in answer to mine, I have first to Bay that his letter does not carry the question of the real responsibility of Bismarck for the articles in the Hamburger Nachrichten and other German papers much further. I admit readily that the Memoirs were dictated by the Prince, and are as much his work as if he had written them in ink with his own signature appended. Lothar Bucher, who helped to compose the Memoirs, alone is sufficient authority for the authorship. But we have no conclusive evidence that the articles were ever dictated—at least I have seen none. The only evidence suggested is the "inimitable style." But many clever and competent journalists are not incapable of imitating a markedly individual style sufficiently well to deceive the ordinary newspaper reader. We want some better proof than mere style. So if style is not enough we are referred to a portentous work of three thousand pages in German almost impossible to obtain, confirmed by another book in German quite impossible to obtain in this country. The articles may have been vaguely inspired, but more cannot be said. Further, was Bismarck in the years succeeding his fall capable of sustaining the mental fatigue of dictating with any real approach to accuracy long elaborate political articles crammed with facts and figures? Any one who turns to Busch's easily accessible book, Vol. III, will find letters written in 1890, 1891, and 1892 from Lothar Bucher, the ablest and most highly esteemed of Bismarck's assistants, set out, which contain such expressions as "his [Bismarck's] chronology is quite untrustworthy"; "II is impossible to squeeze out of him what actually occurred "; "He has begun to dictate [i.e., his Memoirs], but without any real coherence"; "Mentally, and in particular sc far se memory is concerned, he is falling to pieces." There are many more statements of the same kind. Busch himself bears similar testimony. I cannot see why Busch's book should be brushed aside as mere " tittle-tattle" not to be takes seriously. Many responsible writers refer to the work as en authority. And why " spiteful" P Busch himself felt no spits towards his "dear master" when he left him in 1893. Are Bucher's letters " tittle-tattle " or are they forged by Busch P If they are genuine, the sentence assorting that Bismarck "retained his matchless faculties till the day of his death" requires, I think, some little emendation. If Busch's book has not been hopelessly discredited, anonymous political articles written, dictated, or inspired by Bismarck in his latter years are not worth much either as "prophecies of doom" or " centenary reflections." Have experts ceased to regard Busch

[We cannot continue this correspondence.—Eo. Spectator.]