Bismarck Memoirs (Excerpt)
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Source:  Otto von Bismarck, Bismarck, the Man and the Statesman; Being the Reflections and Reminiscences of Otto von Bismarck (London:  Smith, Elder & co., 1898), 2 vols.

I was received at Babelsberg on September 22 [1862], and the situation only became clear to me when his Majesty defined it in some such words as these: "I will not reign if I cannot do it in such a fashion as I can be answerable for to God, my conscience, and my subjects. But I cannot do that if I am to rule according to the will of the present majority in parliament, and I can no longer find any ministers prepared to conduct my government without subjecting themselves and me to the parliamentary majority. I have therefore resolved to lay down my crown, and have already sketched out the proclamation of my abdication.".... The King showed me the document in his own handwriting lying on the table, whether already signed or not I do not know. His Majesty concluded by repeating that he could not govern without suitable ministers.
I replied that his Majesty had been acquainted ever since May with my readiness to enter the ministry.... After a good deal of consideration and discussion, the King asked me whether I was prepared as minister to advocate the reorganization of the army, and when I assented he asked me further whether I would do so in opposition to the majority in parliament and its resolutions. When I asserted my willingness, he finally declared, "Then it is my duty, with your help, to attempt to continue the battle, and I shall not abdicate."...
I succeeded in convincing him that, so far as he was concerned, it was not a question of Liberal or Conservative of this or that shade, but rather of monarchical rule or parliamentary government, and that the latter must be avoided at all costs, if even by a period of dictatorship. I said: "In this situation, I shall, even if your Majesty command me to do things which I do not consider right, tell you my opinion quite openly; but if you finally persist in yours, I will rather perish with the King than forsake your Majesty in the contest with parliamentary government." This view was at that time strong and absolute in me, because I regarded the negations and phrases of the Opposition of that day as politically disastrous in face of the national task of Prussia, and because I cherished such strong feelings of devotion and affection for William I.... It required all the king's honest and noble fidelity for his first servant, to keep him from wavering in his confidence towards me.
In the beginning of October I went as far as Jüterbogk to meet the King, who had been at Baden-Baden for September 30, his wife's birthday....My object in taking this opportunity for an interview was to set his Majesty at rest about a speech made by me in the Budget Commission on September 30, which had aroused some excitement and which, though not taken down in shorthand, had still been reproduced with tolerable accuracy in the newspapers....
I had indicated plainly enough the direction in which I was going. Prussia--such was the point of my speech--as a glance at the map will show, could no longer wear unaided on its long narrow figure the panoply which Germany required for its security; that must be equally distributed over all German peoples. We should get no nearer the goal by speeches, associations, decisions of majorities; we should be unable to avoid a serious contest, a contest which could only be settled by blood and iron. In order to secure our success in this, the deputies must place the greatest possible weight of blood and iron in the hands of the King of Prussia, in order that according to his judgment he might throw it into one pale or the other. I had already given expression to the same idea in the House of Deputies in 1849.... [The crucial part of the speech read: "not by speeches and majority votes are the great questions of the day decided--that was the great mistake of 1848 and 1849--but by blood and iron."]
For my part, I was torn between the desire of winning over members to an energetic national policy, and the danger of inspiring the King, whose own disposition was cautious, and shrank from violent measures, with mistrust in me and my intentions. My object in going to meet him at Jüterbogk was to counteract betimes the probable effect of press criticism....When I begged for permission to narrate the events which had occurred during his absence, he interrupted me with the words: "I can perfectly well see where all this will end. Over there, in front of the Opera House, under my windows, they will cut off your head, and mine a little while afterwards."...
I answered with the short remark, "Et après, Sire." "Après, indeed; we shall be dead," answered the King. "Yes," I continued, "then we shall be dead; but we must all die sooner or later, and can we perish more honorably? I, fighting for my King's cause, and your Majesty sealing with your own blood your rights as King by the grace of God....Your Majesty is bound to fight, you cannot capitulate; you must, even at the risk of bodily danger, go forth to meet any attempt at coercion." As I continued to speak in this sense, the King grew more and more animated, and began to assume the part of an officer fighting for kingdom and fatherland....He felt as though he had been touched in his military honor, and was in the position of an officer who has orders to hold a certain position to the death....This set him on a course of thought which was quite familiar to him; and in a few minutes he was restored to the confidence which he had lost at Baden, and even recovered his cheerfulness.

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