Bismarck's succession must be reflected upon. Since [Franz von] Roggenbach has now told me about having discussed the matter with you once before – I cannot share any of his views, though – and since I quite agree, on the other hand, with the opinion of [Johannes] Miquel, who among us all is the one most familiar with the issues, allow me to be so bold as to convey to you my thinking on the subject, without expecting an answer or response.
1. The Chancellor's successor simply must move into the entirely undiminished position of power that Bismarck holds now, and a reduction in this power over the course of time cannot be contemplated.
2. The successor must be a soldier.
3. He must possess the Kaiser's trust so absolutely that everyone knows it.
4. In order to maintain the balance of Bismarck's political capital, upon succession, a declaration is required in the [Prussian] Landtag and the Reichstag stating the intention to stay the course that has been embarked upon.
In elaboration and substantiation of these four points allow me to make the following remarks:
Re. 1. The unity of the German princes must form the cornerstone of a unified Germany, and the German princes would much rather endure a powerful chancellor than a powerful Kaiser. Only if the German monarchs are united does the Reich government have power, particularly vis-à-vis the Reichstag and its more or less liberal tendencies. The Reichstag grants, by way of public opinion (it is the best and most heard voice in the country), the surest means for overcoming particularistic inclinations; however, if the Reich government wishes to remain independent of the Reichstag, it cannot just rely on parliament for the maintenance of its own [i.e., the Reich government's] position. All of the German princes – I think there are no exceptions – have yet to get over their loss of sovereignty. According to the wording of the constitution, they are only allies of the King of Prussia; at the same