chapter  II
101 Pages

THE CONGRESS

Bismarck'sdeterminationtobringtheCongresstoaspeedy andsuccessfulconclusionwasfacilitatedbythefactthatGermany hadnostrongintereststosafeguardintheNearEast;theclaims shewaspressingontheRoumaniangovernmentmerelysupplied anadditionalreasonforco-operationwithRussia.Hewasso

determined to emphasize his country's impartiality that he is said to have prefixed almost every statement at the Congress with the words, ' L' Allemagne, qui n' est liee par aucun interet directe dans les affaires d'Orient ... .' His main task during the deliberations was to overcome resistance to the Russian and Austrian programmes; by hurrying through the business he certainly succeeded at times in disconcerting the British, and even more the Turks, and in hurrying them into more hasty decisions and less effective tactics than they had intended.1 There were other reasons for this haste. The Congress met under the shadow of the assassination attempts of Hodel and Nobiling, and as the old Emperor was still too ill to entertain the delegates, this task devolved upon. the Crown Prince; Bismarck's health and nerves were not at their best under the strain, and the heat of the Berlin summer increased his desire to escape to his summer holiday at Kissingen. An unfamiliar Bismarck greeted the delegates; he had grown a beard, and made himself almost a prisoner in his own home at a moment when the diplomatic world was at his call. It was said that he always kept two revolvers on his writing-table, and carried a revolver even when he walked in the garden. During the opening days of the Congress it was rumoured that he did not intend to stay in Berlin longer than 28 June.2