Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung December 1848

News from Switzerland

Source: MECW Volume 8, p. 113;
Written: by Engels on November 29, 1848;
First published: in Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 159 (2nd edition), December 3, 1848.

Berne, November 29. At yesterday’s sitting of the Council of States the law centralising the control of the posts in the hands of the federal authorities as from January 1, 1849, was debated and approved without amendments. It had already received the approval of the National Council. The decision on the seat of the Federal Government was on the agenda. However, since the National Council was debating this decision at the same time and had already taken the initiative, the sitting was adjourned until four o'clock. At four o'clock the Council proceeded to the vote. At the first vote Berne received 21 votes, Zurich 13 and Lucerne 3, which gave an absolute majority to Berne. Berne is therefore definitively the seat of the Swiss federal authorities.

This morning both Councils came together to swear in Federal Councillor Franscini. Franscini delivered a longish speech in Italian which was applauded by all. Thereupon the Federal Assembly adjourned indefinitely. It was left to the Federal Council to reconvene the Assembly at the appropriate time.

The Federal Council made the following distribution of departments among its members: Furrer, as President, was put in charge of external affairs and general direction of federal policies; Druey, justice and police; Ochsenbein, war; Franscini, internal affairs; Munzinger, finance; Frei-Herose, taxes on commerce and turnpike money (péages); Näff, posts and public works.

The two recent elections in Berne for the National Council resulted in victories for the liberals; in Mittelland Weingart was elected and in Emmenthal, governor Karrer.

It goes without saying that the people of Berne are jubilant at their elevation to citizens of the capital of Switzerland. Last night there were any number of torchlight processions and serenades; in addition, the inevitable roar of cannon; bell-ringing seems to be left to the “imperial authority”. There was naturally quite a serenade in front of the Erlacher Hof, where the Federal Council has its seat, and Steiger and Furrer made speeches.

I have just heard that Luvini fought a duel with Colonel Berg because of the latter’s provocative remarks during the Tessin debate. It appears that no one was hurt; however, I cannot yet say anything definite on that score.