LXII Corfu 8/V/09

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Corfu 8/V/09

Dearest Nicky

As Hintze is returning for your birthday I gladly seize the opportunity to send you these lines. With all my heart I wish you many happy returns. May Heaven bless and protect you and your wife and children. May you be successful in your work for your country and the welfare of your people.

A few weeks ago when affairs threatened to become dangerous[1] your wise and courageous descision secured peace for all the nations. I was most gratified that through my helping cooperation you were able to fullfill your task.

I very naturally expected that you and I would win universal applause, and I venture to think that we may have earned the gratitude of all well meaning people. But to my regret and astonishment a great many blame us both instead. Especially the Press in general has behaved in the basest way against me. By some papers I am credited with beeing the Author of annexation and am accused among other rot and nonsense of having humiliated Russia by my Peace proposal! Of course you know better. Yet the fact must be taken note of that the papers mostly create public opinion. Some of them err through their ignorance and lack of correct information; they scarcely see further than their own noses length. But more dangerous and at the same time more loathesome is the part of the press which writes what it is paid for. The scoundrels who do such dirty work, are in no fear of starving. They will allways continue to incite the hostility of one nation against the other, and when at last, through their hellish devices, they have brought about the much desired collision, they placidly sit down and watch the fight which they organized, well assured that the profit will be theirs no matter what the issue may be. In this way in 99 cases out of a hundred what is vulgarly called "public opinion" is a mere forgery.

As Sovereigns who are responsible to God for the wellfare of the Nations entrusted to our care it is our duty therefore to closely study the genesis and development of "public opinion" before we allow it to influence our actions. Should we find that it takes its origin from the tarnished and gutterlike sources of the above named infamous press our duty will and must oblige us to energetically correct it and resist it.

Personally I am totally indifferent to newspaper gossip, but I cannot refrain from a certain feeling of anxiety, that if not contradicted at once, the foul and filthy lies which are freely circulated about my policy and my country, will tend to create bitterness between our two people by virtue of their constant uncontradicted repetition. Public opinion wants clear information and leading. When I set out for Corfu I was looking forward to a quiet holiday. But alas it was no to be! Another revolution[2] broke out at Constantinople! We poor rulers it seems are not entitled to holidays like other simple mortals. The troubles in the East made me very anxious for the time and still do so. The east is a regular nightmare a "boite à surprises".[3] I would be most grateful if you could kindly write to me what your opinion is about the general outlook in Turkey. An exchange of our views is urgent and necessary lest fresh events should again take us by surprise.

The events of the last half year are a vivid proof of the absolute necessity of doing so; as they clearly show that it would have been most profitable if we had immediately communicated with each other at the outbreak of the crisis.

"If you and I join in loyal and open cooperation for the maintenance of Peace -- which is my most fervent wish -- I am thoroughly convinced that Peace will not only be maintained but not even be troubled. There is not a shadow of doubt that Peace guarantees the vital interests, the security and wellfare of our People as well as of our dyansties.

Will you kindly accept as birthday present a watercolour sketch made by a clever Corfiote painter representing the "Achilleon"[4] seen from the olive grove at the foot of the hill. We spent a lovely time there under a blue sky, surrounded by sweet scents and the marvellous display of any amount of flowers spending the whole day nearly out of doors, sitting on the marble terraces in the shade of fine palmtrees. I hope that once I may be able to show you this Paradise when you chance to be yachting in the Mediterranean. We made many charming excursions par Auto with tea picnics in the country, quite delightful. The island is quite lovely and the people quiet, simple and very polite, and no tourists! Today we leave with a heavy heart on our return journey to Malta, Brindisi, Pola.[5] We saw much of the King and Queen[6] and I had the great pleasure of seeing my sister[7] very often.

Now goodbye dearest Nicky, best love to Alix and the children, especially the boy, God bless and protect you, au revoir I hope and believe me

Your most aff-ate and devoted friend and cousin


  1. The affairs which had threatened to become dangerous were connected with Bulgaria's outstanding compensation to Turkey, the negotiations over which were impeded by friction between Constantinople and Sofia on associate questions. Mobilisation and movements of troops by both Powers caused Europe to be apprehensive of fresh conflict, but trouble was averted by an offer from Russia hr the capitalisation of the Russian indemnity for the war of 1876. The solution thus affected was ratified on April 19th, three weeks before the present letter. At the same time Bulgaria's independence, proclaimed by Turkey the previous year, was formally recognized by all the signatories to the Berlin Treaty.
  2. The Kaiser had not reached Corfu when, on April 13th, the revolution broke out in Constantinople which led to the resignation of Hilmi Pasha, and the appointment of Tewfik Pasha in his place, as Grand Vizier, the brief overthrow of the Committee of Union and Progress and ultimately its return and the deposition of Abdul-Hamid on April 27th.
  3. A box of surprises.
  4. The Kaiser's palace in Corfu.
  5. The Kaiser and Kaiserin visited Malta on the 10th, where they were received by the Duke and Duchess of Connaught; Brindisi on the 12th, where they met the King and Queen of Italy; and Pola on the 13th. From there they went to Vienna, where the Kaiser's visit was one of great ceremony.
  6. The King and Queen of Greece.
  7. The wife of Constantine, then Crown Prince of Greece.

Return to 'Willy-Nicky' Letters XLIX - LXXV (22 August 1905 - 26 March 1914)