MARXIST INTERNET ARCHIVE |  Marx Engels

Karl Marx

Illustrations of the Latest Exercise in Cabinet Style of Frederick William IV


Source: MECW Volume 3, p. 207;
Written: about August 15, 1844
First published: in Vorwärts! No. 66, August 17, 1844.


“I cannot leave the soil of the Fatherland, although only for a short time, without expressing publicly the deeply-felt gratitude in My and the Queen’s name by which Our heart has been moved. It has been produced by the innumerable verbal and written proofs of the love for Us which the attempt of July 26 has evoked — of the love which jubilantly acclaimed Us at the moment of the crime itself, when the hand of the Almighty cast the deadly bullet away from My breast to the ground. While looking upwards to the divine Saviour, I go with new courage about My daily work, to complete what has been begun, to carry out what has been prepared, to combat evil with new certainty of victory, and to be to My people what My high vocation imposes on Me, and My people’s love merits.
"Erdmannsdorf, August 5, 1844
(signed) Frederick William, [46]

Immediate emotion is a bad writer. The letter which a lover writes in great excitement to his beloved is no model of style, but it is just this confusion of expression that is the clearest, most obvious and most moving expression of the power of love over the writer of the letter. The power of love over the letter-writer is the power of hit beloved over him. That passionate unclarity and erratic confusion of style therefore flatters the heart of the beloved, since the reflected, general, and therefore untrustworthy nature of the language has assumed a directly individual, sensuously powerful, and hence absolutely trustworthy, character. The trusting faith in the truth of the love that the lover expresses for her, however, is the supreme joy of the loved one, her faith in herself.

From these premises it follows: We perform an inestimable service for the Prussian people when we put the inner truth of the royal gratitude beyond all doubt. We put this truth beyond all doubt, however, by proving the force of the thankful feeling over the royal writer, and we prove the force of this feeling over the royal writer by demonstrating the stylistic confusion of the cabinet edict in expressing thanks. Hence the aim of our patriotic analysis will not be misinterpreted.

“I cannot leave the soil of the Fatherland, although only for a short time, without expressing publicly the deeply-felt gratitude in My and the Queen’s name by which Our heart has been moved.”

By the construction of the sentence, it might be thought at first glance that the royal bosoms were moved by their own name. If amazement at this peculiar movement makes one think again, one sees that the relative conjunction “by which our heart has been moved” refers not to the name, but to the more remotely situated gratitude. The singular “Our heart” for the heart of the king and the heart of the queen can be justified as poetic licence, as a cordial expression of the cordial unity of the cordial royal couple. The laconic brevity: “in My and the Queen’s name”, instead of “in My name and in the name of the Queen”, can easily lead to a false interpretation. “My and the Queen’s name” could be understood to mean the simple name of the king, since the name of the husband is the name of the husband and the wife. Now, it is true that it is a privilege of great men and of children to make their name the subject of the sentence instead of saying “I”. Thus Caesar could say “Caesar conquered” instead of “I conquered”. Thus children do not say “I want to go to the school in Vienna”, but “Friedrich, Karl, or Wilhelm, etc., wants to go to the school in Vienna”. But it would be a dangerous innovation to make one’s “I” the subject of the sentence and at the same time to give an assurance that this “I” speaks in his “own” name. Such an assurance could seem to contain a confession that one did not usually speak from one’s own inspiration. “I cannot leave the soil of the Fatherland, although only for a short time” is neither a very skilful nor a more easily intelligible rephrasing of “I cannot leave the soil of the Fatherland, even for a short time, without, etc.” The difficulty is due to the combination of three ideas: (1) that the king is leaving his homeland, (2) that he is leaving it only for a short time, (3) that he feels a need to thank the people. The too compressed utterance of these ideas makes it appear that the king expresses his gratitude only because he is leaving his homeland. But if the gratitude was seriously meant, if it came from the heart, then its utterance could not possibly be linked with such a chance occurrence. Under all circumstances, the full heart speaks for itself.

“It” (the gratitude) “has been produced by the innumerable verbal and written proofs of the love for Us which the attempt of July 26 has evoked — of the love which jubilantly acclaimed Us at the moment of the crime itself, when the hand of the Almighty cast the deadly bullet away from My breast to the ground.”

It is not clear whether the attempt evoked the love or the proofs of the love, the more sb because the genitive “of the love” after the parenthesis appears again as the governing and emphasised phrase in the sentence. The stylistic boldness of the repetition of the genitive is very noticeable. The difficulty increases when we examine the content of the sentence. Was it correct that the love which spoke and wrote was described directly as the subject which shouted in the street? Did not chronological truth require that one should begin with the love that was voiced at once in the presence of the occurrence and only then go on to the subsequent expressions of love in writing and speech?

Should one not have avoided the suspicion that the king desires simultaneously to flatter both the aristocracy and the people? The aristocracy because their written and verbal expressions of love, although coming later in time than the popular expressions of love, nevertheless by their effect were earlier able to arouse gratitude in the royal heart; the people because its jubilant love is declared to be essentially the same as the written and verbal love, that is, the hereditary nobility of love is abolished? Lastly, it does not seem altogether appropriate to cause the “bullet” to be warded off directly by the hand of God, since in this way even a slight degree of consistent thought will arrive at the false conclusion that God at the same time both guided the hand of the criminal and diverted the bullet away from the king; for how can one presume a one-sided action on the part of God?

“While looking upwards to the divine Saviour, I go with new courage about My daily work, to complete what has been begun, to carry out what has been prepared, to combat evil with [...] certainty of victory, and to be to My people what My high vocation imposes on Me, and My people’s love merits.”

One cannot very well say: “I go” “to be something”. At the most one can go “to become something”. The motion involved in becoming appears at least as the result of the motion of going, although we would not recommend even the latter turn of phrase as correct. That His Majesty “goes while looking upwards to God” “to complete what has been begun, to carry out what has been prepared”, does not seem to offer a good prospect for either the

completion or the carrying out. In order to complete what has been begun and to carry out what has been prepared one must keep one’s eyes firmly fixed on what has been begun and prepared and not look away from these objects to gaze into the blue sky. One who truly “goes while looking upwards to God”, will he not be “completely absorbed by the sight of God"? Will he not lose all interest in worldly plans and ideas? The isolated final phrase, left on its own after a comma: “and My people’s love merits”, seems to point to an unexpressed, hidden subsequent clause, something like: “merits the knout of my brother-in-law Nicholas and the policy of our neighbour Metternich”; or also: “merits the petty constitution devised by the knightly Bunsen”.