Letter to Antoinette Philips, July 17, 1861
|Written||17 July 1861|
First published: in International Review of Social History, Vol. 1, Part 1, Assen, 1956.
To Antoinette Philips in Zalt Bommel
[London,] 17 July 1861[edit source]
My sweet little Cousin,
I hope you will not have misinterpreted my long silence. During the first time I did not exactly know where to direct my letters to, whether to Aachen or to Bommel. Then, there came a heavy pressure of business, and during the last 2 or 3 weeks I laboured under a most disgusting inflammation of the eyes which very much limited the time I had disposable for writing or reading. So, my dear child, if I must plead guilty, there are many attenuating circumstances which I trust you, as a gracious judge, will allow to influence your sentence. At all events, you would do me great wrong in supposing that during all that time one single day had passed away without the remembrance, on my part, of my dear little friend.
My Berlin affair has not yet been brought to a definite issue. You will remember that during my stay in the Prussian metropolis the Hohenzollern authorities seemed to yield, and even furnished me with a passport for one year. Yet hardly had. I turned my back upon them, when Lassalle, to his utter astonishment, received a letter from the Polizelpräsident v. Zedlitz to the purpose that I could not be ‘renaturalised’ because of my ‘politische Bescholtenheit’. At the same time the Prussian government declared that all the Political Refugees, having been absent from Prussia for more than 10 years, had lost their right of citizenship, had become foreigners, and would, consequently, like all other foreigners, only be re-naturalised at the pleasure of the king. In other words, they declared their so-called ‘amnesty’ to be a mere delusion, sham and share. This was a point I had tried to drive them to during my Berlin stay, and it was more than even the Prussian press and the Prussian chamber of deputies were able to bear silently with. Consequently, the case gave rise to bitter discussions in the journals, and to an interpellation of the cabinet in the Abgeordnetenhaus. For the nonce the ministry escaped by means of some equivocous and contradictory statements, but the whole affair contributed not a little to disillusion people in Germany as to the ‘new era’ inaugurated by what the Berliners irreverently call the ‘Schöne Wilhelm’ Lassalle, with his usual stubbornness, tried hard to get the better of the authorities. First he rushed to Zedlitz and made him such a scene that the Frelherr got quite frightened and called his secretary for assistance. A few weeks later, Zedlitz having been removed from his post, in consequence of hostile demonstrations against him by the Berlin mob, Lassalle called upon Geheimrath Winter, the successor of Zedlitz, but the ‘successor’ declared that his hands were bound by the decision of his ‘predecessor’. Lassalle, lastly, caught hold of Count Schwerin, the minister of the Interior who, to escape from the violent expostulations of my ‘representative’, promised him to leave the whole case to the decision of the Berlin magistrate — a promise he is, however, not very likely to keep. As to myself, I have attained at least the one success of forcing the Berlin government to throw off its liberal mask. As to my return to Berlin, if I should think proper to go there before May 1862, they could not prevent it because of the passport granted to me. If I should delay my return, things will perhaps have so altered in Prussia, that I shall not want their permission. It is really ridiculous that a government should make so much fuss, and compromise itself so much, for fear of a private individual. The conscience of their weakness must be awful.
At the same time I had the good fortune of being honoured by the singular attention of the French government. A person at Paris whom I do not know, had a translation of my pamphlet Herr Vogt already in print, when an order on the part of M. de Persigny forbade him going on with the translation. At the same time a general warning was communicated to all the booksellers at Paris against selling the German original of Herr Vogt. I got only acquainted with this occurrence by a Paris correspondence published in the Allgemeine Augsburger Zeitung.
From the Gräfin Hatzfeldt I have received a letter filling 16 pages. Take an example of this, my dear child. She has gone — of course, in company of Lassalle — to a bathing place near Frankfurt on the Main. Thence they will proceed to Switzerland, and, after a month’s sojourn there, to Italy. She feels much ennuyée and thinks herself much to be pitied, because she has no other business on hand save that of amusing herself. It is in fact a bad plight for an active, stirring and rather ambitious woman whose days of flirtation are gone by.
A propos. I have sent from Manchester to August the two volumes of Lassalle’s new juridical work and should like to hear whether the packet has found out its address. From Jacques I have heard nothing.
I think not, my dear child, that Mrs Marx and her daughters will find an occasion of paying this year a visit to Bommel, because the Doctor thinks a sea-bath during the hot season would be the best she could do for getting rid of the remainders of the terrible disease that befell her last autumn. On the other hand, I hope you will not forget your promise to visit London where all the members of the family will feel happy to receive you. As to myself, I need not tell you that nothing in the world would give me greater pleasure.
I hope, my sweet little charmer, you will not prove too severe, but, like a good Christian, send me very soon one of your little letters without revenging yourself for my too long protracted silence.
Recommend me to your father, to my friend ‘Jettchen’, the Doctor, your brother Fritz and the whole family, and believe me always
Your most sincere admirer
I am quite astonished at the news of the attentat on his Prussian Majesty, alias ‘Der schöne Wilhelm’. How could any person of common understanding risk his own head in order to kill a brainless ass?