Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung April 1849

The Comedy with the Imperial Crown

Source: MECW Volume 9, p. 193;
Written: by Engels on April 3, 1849;
First published: in the special supplement to the Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 263, April 4, 1849.

Cologne, April 3. Herr Brandenburg yesterday told the Second Chamber what the King will do about the “German question”. The temptation was too great: “the loyal Eckarts” of the Neue Preussische Zeitung with all their warnings have been ignored. The King of Prussia will accept the proffered crown, and in the near future therefore we may be able to look forward to solemn entry of His Christian-Germanic royal imperial Majesty into the residence of the “Imperial Government”.

But, while accepting the imperial crown from the hands of the plebeian Frankfurt parliament, Frederick William at the same time gives a gentle kick to this parliament and the illusion of its sovereignty.

The Prime Minister

“recognises that the decision of the Frankfurt Assembly is a big step forward towards the realisation of German unity. But he has to take into account also the rights of the governments. He considers that the decision will take effect only with the voluntary consent of the sovereigns and that it will be binding only for those German states the sovereigns of which have given this voluntary consent. The Prussian Government for its part will make every effort to bring about this voluntary unification.”

Very cunning! The imperial crown is always acceptable, particularly when it is an aim in life that has been desired in vain for a long time — compare von Radowitz’s well-known pamphlet: How Frederick William IV did not become German Emperor. But to the crown proffered by the Frankfurt parliament there adheres too much plebeian dirt, too much unpleasant memory of the unhappy days of the rule of the sovereign people, for a king by the grace of God and, moreover, one who has been rehabilitated, to be able to place it on his head without more ado.

Only when the other sovereigns, also crowned by the grace of God, have given their consent to it, only then will the new crown be cleansed by the grace of God from all sinful stains caused by the March events and consecrated; only then will he who has been chosen by 290 professors and Höfräte take it into his hands and say, as he did earlier in Berlin: “By the grace of God do I have this crown, and woe to him who encroaches on it!” [179]

What new stage in the German imperial chaos will result from the imperial comedy, and especially from recognition or non-recognition on the part of the individual governments, is a matter which we leave to the wisdom of the Kölnische Zeitung to determine.