Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung, November 1848

The Ex-Principality [3]

Source: MECW Volume 8, p. 7;
Written: by Engels on November 7, 1848;
First published: in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 140, November 11, 1848.

From the Republic of Neuchâtel, November 7. You will be interested to hear something also from a little country that until recently enjoyed the blessings of Prussian rule, but which was the first of all the lands under the Prussian Crown to raise the banner of revolution and drive out the Prussian paternal Government. I am speaking of the former “principality of Neuenburg and Vallendis”,[4] in which Herr Pfuel, the present Prime Minister, performed his first administrative exercises as Governor and was deposed by the people in May of this year, even before he could win laurels in Posen[5] and gather votes of no confidence as Prime Minister in Berlin. This little country has now assumed the prouder title of “République et Canton de Neuchâtel”, and the time is probably not far off when the last Neuchâtel guardsman brushes his green tunic in Berlin. I must confess it gave me an amusing feeling of satisfaction five weeks after my flight from the Prussian Holy Hermandad[6] to be able once more to walk about unmolested on what is de jure still Prussian soil.

Incidentally, the Republic and Canton of Neuchâtel evidently finds itself in much more comfortable circumstances than the late principality of Neuenburg and Vallendis; for at the recent elections to the Swiss National Council the republican candidates received over 6,000 votes, whereas the candidates of the royalists, of the bédouins, [nickname of the Swiss royalists; allusion to the fact that the old Swiss cantons preserved patriarchal relations similar to those found among the Bedouin] as they are called here, hardly mustered 900 votes. The Great Council,[7] too, consists almost entirely of republicans, and only Les Ponts, a small mountain village dominated by the aristocrats, sent Calame, ex-State Councillor of the royal Prussian Neuenburg principality, as its representative to Neuchâtel, where a few days ago he had to swear an oath of loyalty to the Republic. Instead of the old royalist Constitutionnel Neuchâtelois; there is published now — in La Chaux-de-Fonds, the largest, most industrialised and most republican place in the canton — a Républicain Neuchâtelois, written it is true in very bad Swiss-French of the Jura, but otherwise not at all badly edited.

The clock- and watch-making industry of the Jura and the lace manufacture of Traverstal, which are the main sources of livelihood of this little country, are beginning to prosper again, and the Montagnards, [i.e. the revolutionary-minded population of the mountain canton of Neuchâtel who were engaged mainly in clock- and watch-making. They were given the name by analogy with the representatives of the revolutionary Montagne — the Jacobins — in the French Convention of 1792-93] in spite of the snow here being already a foot deep, are gradually regaining their old cheerfulness. Meanwhile the bédouins go about looking very dejected, displaying uselessly the Prussian colours on their breeches, blouses and caps, and sighing in vain for the return of the worthy Pfuel and the decrees that began: “Nous Frédéric-Guillaume par la grâce de Dieu.” High up in the Jura, 3,500 feet above sea-level, the Prussian colours, black caps with white edging, have the same dejected look and are as ambiguously smiled at as among us on the Rhine; if one did not see the Swiss flags and the big placards with the words “République et Canton de Neuchâtel”, one might think one was at home. Incidentally, I am glad to be able to report that in the Neuchâtel revolution, as in all the revolutions of 1848, the German workers played a decisive and very honourable role. For that reason, too, they are allotted the fullest measure of the aristocrats’ hatred.