Marx and Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung June 1848

The Shield of the Dynasty

Source: MECW Volume 7, p. 66;
Written: on June 9, 1848;
First published: in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 10, June 10, 1848.

Cologne, June 9. Herr Camphausen, according to the reports of German newspapers, poured out his overflowing heart to his agreers on the 6th of this month. He gave

“not so much a brilliant speech as one that flowed from the innermost recesses of his heart, a speech which reminds one of the passage in St. Paul which reads: ‘Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass!’ [ 1 Corinthians 13:1] His speech was full of that holy emotion that we call love ... it spoke inspiringly to the inspired ones, the applause did not seem to come to an end ... and a prolonged intermission was necessary to surrender oneself to and absorb its total impact”. [Kölnische Zeitung, June 9, 1848]

And who was the hero of this speech that was full of love and flowed from the innermost recesses of the heart? Who was the subject that inspired Herr Camphausen so much that he spoke inspiringly to the inspired ones? Who was the Aeneas of this Aeneid of June 6?

Who else but the Prince of Prussia!

One can read in the stenographic report how the poetic Prime Minister describes the journeys of the modern son of Anchises, how he acted on the day when

— holy Ilium fell in the fighting,
Priam too, and the folk of the King, skilled javelin-thrower,
[Homer, Iliad, paraphrased]

how after the fall of squirearchical Troy, and after a long odyssey on both water and land, he at last arrived at the shores of modern Carthage where he was received in a most friendly fashion by Queen Dido; how he fared better than Aeneas the First since there was a Camphausen who did his utmost to restore Troy and rediscovered the sacred “legal basis”, how Camphausen finally permitted Aeneas to return to his Penates and how joy once more reigns in the halls of Troy[48]. One has to read all this as well as countless poetic embellishments so as to feel what it means when an inspirer speaks to inspired ones.

This entire epic, by the way, only serves Herr Camphausen as a pretext for a dithyramb on himself and his own Ministry.

“Yes,” he exclaims, “we believed that we were acting in the spirit of the Constitution when we took the place of a high personage, when we ourselves posed as the personages against whom all attacks were to be directed.... And so it happened. We placed ourselves as a shield before the dynasty and drew all dangers and attacks upon ourselves.”

What a compliment for the “high personage” and what a compliment for the “dynasty"! The dynasty would have been lost without Herr Camphausen and his six paladins. As what a mighty “dynasty deeply rooted in the people” must Herr Camphausen regard the House of Hohenzollern, to speak in such a fashion! Verily, if Herr Camphausen had spoken less “inspiringly to the inspired ones”, had he been less “full of that holy emotion that we call love”, or had he only let his Hansemann speak who is content with “sounding brass” — it would have been better for the dynasty!

“Gentlemen, I am not saying this, however, with challenging pride but rather with the humility that arises from the conviction that the great task with which you and we are entrusted can only be solved if the spirit of gentleness and conciliation descends also upon this Assembly, if we can find besides your justice also your forbearance.”

Herr Camphausen is correct in pleading for gentleness and forbearance from an Assembly which itself is in such need of gentleness and forbearance from the public!