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Works of Karl Marx 1853

The Knight of Noble Consciousness

Source: MECW Volume 12, p. 479;
First published: as a pamphlet in New York, January 1854.


Marx’s pamphlet The Knight of the Noble Consciousness, written in November 1853 and published with Adolph Cluss’ and Joseph Weydemeyer’s assistance in pamphlet form in New York in January 1854 was a reply to the slanderous article by August Willich, “Doktor Karl Marx und seine Enthüllungen”, which was published in the Belletrisches Journal und New-Yorker Criminal-Zeitung on October 28 and November 4, 1853. Soon after Willich’s article appeared supporters of Marx and Engels in the USA, Joseph Weydemeyer, Adolph Cluss and Abraham Jacobi, sent a refutation to the newspaper which was published on November 25, 1853. However, Marx thought it expedient to answer himself. In his pamphlet Marx refutes Willich’s attempts to cast doubt on the fairness of Marx’s criticism of the activity of the Willich-Schapper sectarian and adventurist group in his work Revelations Concerning the Communist Trial in Cologne. Marx included statements of refugees who testified to the slanderous character of Willich’s assertions and borrowed passages The Great Men of the Exile which was not published.

The man of small-scale war (see Decker’s Theorie des kleinen Kriegs) does not need to be a man at all noble, but must have a noble consciousness. According to Hegel, the consciousness that is noble becomes transmuted necessarily into a consciousness that is base [The Phenomenology]. I shall elucidate this transmutation from the effusions of Herr Willich — who is Peter the Hermit and Walther Havenought in one person. I shall confine myself to the cavaliere della ventura [adventurer]; the cavalieri del dente [parasites] standing behind him I leave to their mission.

To make it clear from the outset that the man of the noble consciousness is wont to express truth in the “higher” sense by lies in the “ordinary” sense, Herr Willich begins his reply to my Revelations [330] with the words:

“Dr. Karl Marx published a report on the Cologne Communist trial in the Neue-England-Zeitung and the Criminal-Zeitung.”

I have never reported on the Cologne Communist trial in the Criminal-Zeitung. It is common knowledge that I published the Revelations in the Neue-England-Zeitung and Herr Willich published Hirsch’s confessions in the Criminal-Zeitung.

On p. 11 of the Revelations it is stated: “From the list of documents stolen from the Willich-Schapper party and from the dates of these documents it follows that although the party had been warned by Reuter’s burglary, it still constantly found ways and means of having its documents stolen and allowing them to fall into the hands of the Prussian police.” On p. 64 this passage is repeated.

“Herr Marx,” replied Herr Willich, “knows very well that these documents were themselves mostly falsified, and in part invented.”

Mostly falsified, therefore not wholly falsified. In part invented, therefore not wholly invented. Herr Willich, therefore, admits: both before and after Reuter’s burglary, documents belonging to his faction found their way to the police. Just as I assert.

So the noble-mindedness of Herr Willich consists in detecting a false consciousness behind a correct fact. “Herr Marx knows.” How does Herr Willich know what Herr Marx knows? I know of some of the documents in question that they are genuine. About none of them do I know that during the proceedings at the trial it was shown to be falsified or invented. But I ought to have known “more”, since “a certain Blum, who was among Willich’s closest associates”, was “Marx’s informant”. Blum, therefore, flourished b in Willich’s immediate neighbourhood. So much the more distant did he keep himself from me. All that I know about Blum, to whom I have never spoken, not even metaphorically, is that he is said to be a Russian by birth and a shoemaker by trade, that he also plays the part of Morison, swears by Willich’s Morison pills, and now probably lives in Australia.[331] About the activity of the Willich-Kinkel missionaries, I received information’ from Magdeburg, not London. Hence the man of the noble consciousness could have spared himself the certainly painful operation of publicly vilifying one of his sons in the faith on the basis of mere suspicion.

At first the noble-minded one tells a lie attributing a non-existent informant to me, then he tells a lie denying the existence of an existing letter. He quotes: “Page 69 of the Revelations note A from the alleged letter of Becker’s.”

Herr Willich is too noble-minded to assume that “a man of intellect and character” like Becker could fail to see the intellect and character of a man like Willich. Hence, he converts Becker’s letter into an alleged one and me into a forger. He does so, of course, out of nobility of mind. The alleged letter is still in the possession of defence counsel Schneider II. I sent it to Cologne for the defence at the time of the trial, because it refutes that Becker had any part in Willich’s stupidities. Not only was the letter written by Becker, but the Cologne and London postmarks testify to the date of despatch and receipt.

“Previously, however, Frau Kinkel wrote a fairly long, informative letter to me” (Willich); “Becker in Cologne undertook its despatch. He told her that the letter had been mailed — I have never seen it. Has Herr Marx, Becker, or the post, kept it?”

Not the post, Willich asserted. Perhaps Becker? As long as he was in freedom, no Willich had asked him about it. Therefore, “Herr Marx”. In his quiet way, Herr Willich contrives to make out that I publish letters which Becker did not write to me and that I suppress letters which Becker entrusted to me for despatch. Unfortunately, Becker was so kind as never to trouble me with any mailing of letters, whether from Frau Johann or from Herr Johann Gottfried. Neither the prison nor the Black Bureau[332] stands in the way of approaching Becker with inquiries of such a neutral content. Herr Willich lyingly perpetrates a foul insinuation out of a pure intention to promote virtue and to depict the elective affinity between the good, between the Kinkels and Willichs, as victorious over all divisive arts of the wicked. ‘

“The party situation within the proletariat is that between the Marx party and the Willich-Schapper party, according to Herr Marx’s designation, not mine.”

The man of the noble consciousness has to prove his own modesty by the overweening conceit of others. Therefore, he converts the “designation of the Cologne bill of indictment” (see p. 6 of the Revelations) into “Herr Marx’s designations”. Similarly, out of modesty he converts the party situation within a particular German secret society[333], about which I speak (see loc. cit.), into the “party situation within the proletariat”.

“When in the autumn of 1850 Techow came to London-Marx contrived to have Dronke write to him that Techow had made highly contemptuous statements about me; the letter was read out. Techow arrived, we spoke to each other as man to man, the information given in the letter had been invented!!”

When Techow came to London, I had Dronke write to me, I received the letter, I read it aloud, and then Techow came. The false consecutio temporum reflects the embarrassment of the noble-minded one, who is trying to create a false causal connection between me, Dronke’s letter and Techow’s coming. In Dronke’s letter, which incidentally is addressed to Engels and not to me, the incriminating passage reads word for word as follows:

“Today I caused Techow to change his opinion somewhat, although in doing so I became involved in a heated dispute with him and Schily” — Schily is at this moment in London — “and he repeatedly declared the attacks on Sigel to be a personal whim of Willich’s, to whom he incidentally denies even the slightest military talent.”

Dronke, therefore, speaks not of Techow’s highly contemptuous statements in general, but of Techow’s contemptuous utterances about Herr Willich’s military talent. Hence, if Techow did declare anything to have been invented, it was not the information in Dronke’s letter, but the information by the noble-minded one about Dronke’s information. In London, Techow did not modify the view he held in Switzerland about Herr Willich’s military talent, although perhaps he did modify other views he had held about the false ascetic. My connection with Dronke’s letter and Techow’s coming is, therefore, confined to the fact that I read out Dronke’s letter, just as I as President of the Central Authority [of the Communist League] had to read out all letters. Thus, among others, a letter from Karl Bruhn, in which he, too, made merry over Willich’s military talent. At the time, Herr Willich was convinced that I had let Bruhn write this letter. But since Bruhn, unlike Techow, has not yet gone to Australia, Herr Willich prudently suppresses “this. sample of my tactics”. Similarly, I had to read out a letter in which Rothacker writes:

“I will join any other community, — but this one” (viz. Willich’s) “never”.

He relates how, owing to simple opposition to Willich’s views on “the striking arming of Prussia”, he incurred the fate of having one of Willich’s henchmen

“demand his immediate expulsion from the League, while another wanted to have a commission appointed to investigate how this Rothacker had come into the League, which he considered suspicious”.

Herr Willich was convinced that I had Rothacker write this letter. But since instead of digging for gold in Melbourne, Rothacker is putting out a newspaper in Cincinnati, Herr Willich has again found it convenient to deprive the world of this further “sample of my tactics”.

In accordance with his nature, the noble-minded one wants to evoke delight whenever he goes, and to receive homage everywhere. If, therefore, he finds his good opinion ‘of himself contradicted, if Techow denies him military talent or Rothacker denies him political competence, or if Becker goes so far as to call him “stupid”, then these unnatural experiences are accounted for by pragmatic reference to the tactical opposition between Ahriman — Marx and Engels — and Ormuzd-Willich; accordingly, his nobility of mind finds expression in the extremely base occupation of detecting, inventing, and lying about the secrets of this imagined tactic. We see, says Hegel, how this consciousness is concerned not with what is highest, but, with what is lowest, namely with itself.

“Here,” exclaims Herr Willich triumphantly, “are some samples of the tactics of Herr Marx.”

“The first contradiction between Marx, Engels and myself showed itself when the invitation to a meeting was sent to us from the men of the revolution living in London who possessed a greater or lesser sphere of influence. I wanted to accept it; I demanded that our party line and organisation should he safeguarded, but that the scandal of internal dimensions among the émigrés should not he spread outside. I was voted down, the invitation was refused, and from that day date the disgusting dissensions among the London émigrés, the consequences of which are still present today, although now they have certainly lost all significance for public opinion.”

Herr Willich, as a “partisan” in the war, finds that in peace also it accords with his mission to go from one party to another, and it is fully in accord with the truth that his noble-minded desires for a coalition were voted down. The admission is all the more naive since Herr Willich later tried to spread the word that the émigrés had expelled us from their guild organisation. Here he admits that we had expelled the émigrés’ guild from our midst. So much for the facts. Now for, their transfiguration The noble-minded one has to prove that it was only due to Ahriman that he was prevented from the noble work of obviating all the evil that had befallen the émigrés. To this end he had once again to resort to lying with an evangelist-like distortion of secular chronology (see Bruno Bauer’s Synoptiker[334]). Ahriman-Marx and Engels-announced their withdrawal from the Workers’ Society of Great Windmill Street... and their split away from Willich in the meeting of the Central Authority on September 15, 1850.’ From that day they withdrew from all public organisations, demonstrations, and manifestations. It was, therefore, since September 15, 1850. On July 14, 1851 “the notable men of all factions” were invited to Citizen Fickler, on July 20, 1851 the “Agitation Union” was founded, and on July 27, 1851 the German Émigré Club"[336]. “From that day”, when the secret desires of the noble-minded one were fulfilled, “date the disgusting dissensions” among the “London émigrés”, and the struggle on both sides of the ocean between the “ Émigrés” and the “Agitators”, the great war between frogs and mice.

Now who will give me words and who the tongue,
To sing of such brave deeds in sonorous sounds!
For ne'er was strife upon this earth begun
More proudly fought on bloodier battle grounds;
Compared to this all other wars are roses.
To tell of it my lyric art confounds
For on this earth there ne'er was seen such glory
Or noble valour bright as in this story.

(After Boiardo, Orlando Innamorato, Canto 27)

The “significance of these disgusting dissensions” never existed in “public opinion”, but only in the private opinion of the frog-and-mouse warriors. But “the consequences are still present”. Even the stay of Herr Willich in America is a consequence. The money which found its way from America to Europe in the shape of a loan[337] made the journey from Europe back to America in the shape of Willich. One of his first occupations there was the formation of a secret committee in ..., to safeguard the Holy Grail[338], the democratic gold, for Gottfried of Bouillon and Peter the Hermit against Arnold Winkelried-Ruge and Melanchthon-Ronge.

Although the “noble ones” were left to themselves and, according to the expression of Eduard Meyen, were all united “up to and including Bucher”, the process of scission proceeded so famously, not only among the main armies but also within each camp, that the Agitation Union was soon reduced to a half-complete pleiad, while the Émigré Club, in spite of the cohesive power of the man of the noble consciousness, was reduced to the trinity of Willich, Kinkel, and the innkeeper Schärttner. Even the trinitarian loan-regency — so attractive was the noble consciousness-degenerated into something which cannot even be called a duality, namely, Kinkel-Willich. Herr Reichenbach was too respectable to remain as the third in such an alliance for long. He learned to know the “personal character” of the noble-minded one from practical experience.

Among the samples which the noble-minded one gives of the “tactics of Marx”, are included also his experiences with Engels. At this point I insert a letter from Engels himself:

Manchester, November 23, 1853. I, too, have the honour to figure in the novel which Herr August Willich published to justify himself in the New-Yorker Criminal-Zeitung (dated October 28 and November 4). I am compelled to put on record a few words on this matter, insofar as it concerns me.

“That friend Willich, who confuses pure idleness with pure activity and, therefore, is exclusively concerned with friend Willich, possessed an excellent memory in everything that touches on his person, and that he kept a kind of register of every remark made about him even in beer-drinking company, long ago ceased to be a secret to those who had the pleasure of his acquaintance. Friend Willich, however, for a long time past has known how to make very good use of his memory and his register. On each occasion when trifles of this sort came to be spoken of again, a slight distortion, a few apparently unintentional omissions, made him the hero of the dramatic event, the focal point of a group, of a living picture. In the details of Willich’s novel as in its entirety, the struggle always and everywhere turns on the artless and therefore persecuted Willich. In each separate episode we find at the end honest Willich making a speech and the infamous opponents defeated, broken, crushed and knuckling under in the consciousness of their nullity. Et cependant on vous connaît, ô chevaliers sans peur et sans reproche! [And nevertheless one knows you, o you knights without fear and without reproached]

“In Willich’s novel, therefore, the era of suffering, during which the noble-minded one had to suffer so much iniquity at the hands of Marx, Engels and the other impious ones, is at the same time an era of triumph, in which he always victoriously crushes his opponents, and each new triumph surpasses all the previous ones. Friend Willich depicts himself, on the one hand, as the suffering Christ, who took on himself the sins of Marx, Engels and Co., but on the other hand, as the Christ who came to judge the living and the dead. It was left for friend Willich to unite two such contradictory roles simultaneously in one person. One who represents these two aspects simultaneously, must indeed be believed.

“For us, who have long known by heart these self-indulgent fantasies with which an elderly bachelor fills his sleepless nights, for us the only surprising thing is that all these idiosyncrasies still crop up today in the same unaltered form as in 1850. Now for the details.

“Friend Willich, who converts Herr Stieber and Co. into agents of a German ‘federal police’, which has not existed since the long past affair of the demagogues[339], and who relates a quantity of equally wondrous ‘facts’, asserts with his usual accuracy that I wrote a ‘pamphlet’ on the Baden campaign of 1849. Friend Willich, who has studied with rare thoroughness that part of my work in which he is mentioned, knows very well that I never issued any such ‘pamphlet’. What I wrote was a series of articles on the campaign for an Imperial Constitution in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung. Revue, Hamburg and New York, 1850, in one of which I published an account of my experiences during the Palatinate-Baden campaign.’ In this article, of course, friend Willich also figures and, he says, this article was ‘very appreciative’ of him, but immediately brought him into conflict with his habitual modesty by making him, as it were, a ‘competitor of so many other great statesmen, dictators and generals’.

“And what was the nature of. this great ‘appreciation’ on my part which so rejoices the noble heart of Herr Willich? It consists in the fact that I ‘appreciated’ Herr Willich as, in certain circumstances, a thoroughly useful battalion commander, who in twenty years, when a Prussian lieutenant, had acquired the requisite knowledge; who was not without aptitude for a small war, particularly a guerilla war, with, finally, the advantage that he was the right man at the right place as leader of a volunteer corps of 600-700 men, whereas the majority of the superior officers in that campaign were persons who either had had no military training at all or one wholly unsuitable for their position. To say that Herr Willich could lead 700 men better than a student, non-commissioned officer, schoolmaster or shoemaker, taken at random, is of course ‘very appreciative’ in the case of a Prussian lieutenant who had had twenty years to prepare himself! Dans le royaume des aveugles le borgne est roi. [in the kingdom of the blind the one-eyed man is king] And it goes without saying that in his subordinate position he bore less responsibility, hence could make fewer mistakes than his ‘competitors’ who were divisional or top-ranking generals. Who knows whether Sigel, who was out of place as an “Obergeneral”, would not also have achieved something as a simple battalion commander?

“And now for the doleful lament of modest Willich, who meanwhile, by virtue of seniority, has been ‘promoted by some American newspapers to the rank of ‘general’, probably through my fault, — that my ‘appreciation’ had exposed him to the danger of also becoming a general in partibus, and not merely a general, but commander of an army, a statesman, indeed -a dictator! Friend Willich must have developed some peculiar notions of the brilliant rewards which the Communist Party holds in store for a moderately good battalion or volunteer-corps commander who joins it.

“In the above-mentioned article I spoke of Willich only as of a soldier, for he could be of public interest only in that capacity, since it was but later that he became a ‘statesman’. If I had possessed the malice towards him that he ascribes to me and my friends, if I had been interested in giving a picture of his personal character, what stories could have been told! If I were to have confined myself even to merely the amusing aspect, how could I have left out the story of the apple tree under which he and his Besançons[340] had sworn an oath to die while singing a song rather than once again forsake German soil. How could I have failed to relate the comedy at the frontier, when friend Willich behaved as if this oath was now going to be fulfilled; when some honest fellows came to me in full earnest to induce me to make brave Willich abandon his resolve; when finally Willich asked the assembled corps whether they would not rather die on German soil than go back into exile, and after a long general silence a single death-defying Besançon cried out: ‘stay here!’, and when in conclusion the whole company with great satisfaction and with their weapons and baggage crossed into Switzerland. Would not the subsequent history of the baggage itself have made quite an episode, not without value today as Willich himself invites half the world to speak out about his ‘character’. Anyone who should desire further details about this and other adventures need only turn to one of his 300 Spartans, who had at that time searched in vain for their Thermopylae. They were always ready to relate behind Willich’s back the greatest scandals about his personal character. Of this I have plenty of witnesses.

“I am not going to waste any words on the story about my ‘courage’. To my surprise at the time, I discovered in Baden that courage is one of the commonest of all qualities, and not worth speaking about; that crude courage alone, however, is of no more value than mere goodwill, and that, therefore, it often happens that each individual is a hero as regards courage, and yet the whole battalion takes to its heels as one man. We have an example of this in the expedition of Willich’s corps to Karlsdorf, which is described at some length in my account of the campaign for an Imperial Constitution.

“On this occasion, namely, on New Year’s Eve 1850, Willich claims to have preached me a victorious moral sermon. Since I am not accustomed to keep a record of how I spend the tr ansition from one year to the next, I cannot vouch for the date. At any rate, Willich never delivered the sermon in the shape in which he has had it printed.

“In the Refugee Committee[342], he says, I and several others behaved in an ‘unworthy’ manner towards the great man. Shocking! But where then were the victorious moral arguments at the time when Willich, pulveriser of the impious, suddenly found himself powerless against mere ‘unworthy behaviour’. No one will demand that I should pay serious attention to such silly remarks.

“In the meeting of the Central Authority, when it came to a challenge to a duel between Schramm and Willich, I am supposed to have committed the crime of having ‘left the room’ together with Schramm shortly before the scene took place, and, therefore, of having prepared the whole scene in advance.

“Previously it was Marx who was alleged to have ‘egged on’ Schramm, now for a change I am supposed to have done so. A duel between a Prussian lieutenant, an old hand at pistol shooting, and a commerçant who perhaps had never had a pistol in his hand, was truly a remarkable means to ‘get rid’ of the lieutenant. Yet friend Willich maintained everywhere, orally and in writing, that we had wanted to get him shot.

“It is quite possible — I do not keep a record of when certain needs cause me to leave the room — that I left the room at the same time as Schramm; but it is not likely, since from the minutes of that meeting of the Central Authority deposited with me I see that on that evening Schramm and I took turns in recording the minutes. Simply, Schramm was furious at Willich’s shameless behaviour, and to the great astonishment of us all he challenged him to a duel. A few minutes before, Schramm himself had no inkling that it would come to this. Never was an action more spontaneous. Here again Willich relates that he made a speech, saying: ‘You, Schramm, leave the room!’ Actually, Willich appealed to the Central Authority to expel Schramm. The Central Authority ignored his request and Schramm departed only after being personally addressed by Marx, who wanted to avoid any further scandal.’ On my side there is the minute book, on that of Herr Willich is his personal character.

Frederick Engels

Herr Willich relates further that in the Workers’ Society he gave an account of the “unworthy behaviour” of the Refugee Committee, and that he made it the basis for a motion.

“When the indignation against Marx and his clique rose to a climax,” the noble-minded one reports, “I voted for the matter to be dealt with by the Central Authority. This took place.”

What took place? Willich’s voting or the Central Authority’s dealing with the matter? What magnanimity! His imperious vote rescues his enemies from the popular indignation that had risen to a climax. Herr Willich forgets the fact that the Central Authority was the secret committee of a secret society, whereas the Workers’ Society was a public, open society. He forgets that treatment of the matter by the Central Authority could not therefore be made the subject of a vote in the Workers’ Society, and so the Samaritan scene in which he figures as the hero could not have happened. Friend Schapper will help him to refresh his memory.

From the public Workers’ Society, Herr Willich leads us into the secret Central Authority, and from the Central Authority to Antwerp, to the duel, to his duel with Schramm:

“Schramm came to Ostend in the company of a former Russian officer, who according to his own account went over to the Hungarians in the Hungarian revolution, and who vanished without trace after the duel.”

This “former Russian officer” is no other than Henryk Ludvic Mishowsky.

“This is to testify,” states one of the certificates of the former Russian officer, “that the bearer Henri Lewis Miskowsky, a Polish gentleman, has served during the late Hungarian war 1848-1849 as officer in the 46th battalion f the Hungarian Honveds, and that he behaved as such praiseworthy and gallantly.

London, November 12, 1853. L. Kossuth, late Governor of Hungary.”

Mendacious man of noble consciousness! But the intention is noble. The opposition of good and evil must he presented in striking contrast as a living picture. What an artistic grouping! On one side the noble-minded one, surrounded

“by Techow, now in Australia, Vidil, French captain of Hussars, then in exile and now a prisoner in Algiers, and Barthélemy, owing to French newspapers known as one of the most resolute revolutionaries”.

In short, on one side is Willich in person, surrounded by the élite of two revolutions. On the other side is Schramm, the depraved, deserted except for a “former Russian officer whose participation in the Hungarian revolution is not a matter of fact, but only occurred “according to his own account”, and who even “vanished without trace after the duel”, and is, therefore, in the final analysis, the devil himself. In a picturesque description, virtue puts up at the “best hotel” in Ostend, where a “Prussian prince” is lodged, whereas depravity, together with the Russian officer, “lived in a private house”. The Russian officer does not seem to have entirely “vanished after the duel”, since,’ according to Herr Willich’s further account, “Schramm remained behind at the stream with the Russian officer”. Moreover, the Rugsian officer has not vanished from the world as the noble-minded one hopes, which is proved by the statement reproduced below:

“London, Nov. 24, 1853

“Under the date October 28, in the Criminal-Zeitung there is an article by Herr Willich in which, among other things, he describes the duel he fought with Schramm in Antwerp in 1850. I regret to say that not all points of the description give the public a truthful account. The article says: ‘The duel was arranged, etc.; Schramm came accompanied by a former Russian officer, etc., who, etc., vanished.’ This is an untruth. I was never in the service of Russia, and all the other Polish officers in the Hungarian war of liberation could, just as much as myself, be called Russian I served in Hungary from the beginning of the war in 1848 until 1849 when the end came at Villagos. Furthermore, I have not vanished without trace. After Schramm’s shot, which he fired at Willich at half a pace from the initial position, had missed, Willich fired at Schramm from where he stood and his bullet wounded Schramm slightly in the head. I remained with Schramm because we had no doctor” (Herr Willich had arranged the duel), “washed and bandaged his wound, paying no attention to the seven persons who were haymaking nearby, who had witnessed the duel, and who could have become dangerous for me. Willich and his named companions left the scene in haste, while Schramm and I remained where we were, watching them go. Soon they were out of sight. I must point out, furthermore, that Willich and his companions were already at the scene of the duel when we arrived, and that they had marked out the duelling ground, on which Willich took up a position that placed him in the shade. I pointed this out to Schramm, who said: let it be. Schramm was in good spirits, fearless and quite unperturbed. That I was compelled to remain behind in Belgium was not unknown to the persons concerned. I do not wish to dwell on the other circumstances of this in form so peculiar duel.

Henryk Ludvic Miskowshy

The wheel-work of the noble-minded one is wound up. He conjured up a Russian officer only to make him vanish without trace. In his place I must now necessarily make my appearance on the battlefield as Samiel, albeit in incorporeal form.

“Early next morning” (after Herr Willich’s arrival in Ostend), “he” (a friendly French citizen) “showed us the Précurseur de Bruxelles in which newspaper there was a private correspondent’s report containing the following passage: ‘A number of German refugees have arrived in Brighton. A message from this town informs us: in the next few days Ledru-Rollin and the French refugees from London will hold a congress in Ostend together with Belgian democrats.’ Who can claim the honour of calling this idea his own? It did not come from a Frenchman, it was too 5 propos for that. This honour belongs exclusively to Herr Marx, for although one of his friends may have undertaken it — the brain is the source of ideas and not the hand.”

“A friendly French citizen showed Herr Willich and Co. the Précurseur de Bruxelles. He showed them something that does not exist. There is, of course, a Précurseur d'Anvers. Systematic falsification and distortion in regard to topography and chronology is an essential function of the noble consciousness. Ideal time and ideal space are the appropriate framework for its ideal productions.

In order to prove that this idea, namely the article in the Précurseur de Bruxelles “came from” Marx, Herr Willich assures us that “it did not come from a Frenchman”. This idea did not come from! “It was too ‘a propos for that.” Mon dieu, an idea which Herr Willich himself can only describe in French could not come from a Frenchman? But how does the Frenchman appear on the scene at all, noble-minded one? What has the Frenchman to do with Willich and Schramm and the former Russian officer and the Précurseur de Bruxelles?

The spokesman of the noble-minded one’s thoughts gives tongue out of season and betrays the fact that he finds it à propos to conjure away an essential intermediate link.

Before Schramm had challenged Herr Willich to a duel, the Frenchman Barthélemy had agreed to fight a duel with the Frenchman Songeon, and this was to take place in Belgium. Barthélemy chose Willich and Vidil as seconds. Songeon travelled to Belgium. The incident with Schramm came in between. Both duels were then to take place on the same day. Songeon did not turn up. On his return to London, Barthélemy asserted publicly. Songeon was responsible for the article in the Précurseur d'Anvers.

The noble-minded one hesitated for a long time before he finally applied the idea concerning Barthélemy to his own person and the idea about Songeon to me. Originally, as Techow himself told Engels and me after his return to London, the noble-minded one was firmly convinced that through Schramm I aimed at his removal from this world, and he put this idea in writingeverywhere. On closer reflection, however, he found it impossible that a diabolical tactician could hit on the idea of getting rid of Herr Willich by means of a duel with Schramm. Hence, he seized on the idea “which did not come from a Frenchman”.

Thesis. “This honour belongs exclusively to Herr Marx.” Proof. “For although one of his friends may have undertaken” (to undertake an idea!) “it” (for the pure-minded one an idea is not feminine but sexless), — “the brain is the source of ideas and not the hand.” “For although!” A significant “although"! To prove that Marx had invented “it”, Herr Willich imputes that a friend of Marx’s had undertaken “it”, or rather “may have undertaken it”. Quod erat demonstrandum.

If,” says the noble-minded one, “if it is established that Szemere, Marx’s friend, betrayed the crown of Hungary to the Austrian Government, that would be a convincing proof, etc.”

However, precisely the opposite is true. But that has no bearing on the matter. If Szemere had committed treason, then for Herr Willich that would be a “convincing” proof that Marx had undertaken the article in the Précurseur de Bruxelles. Although, however, the premise is not an established fact, the conclusion remains valid, and it is established that if Szemere betrayed holy Stephen’s crown, Marx betrayed holy Stephen himself.

After the Russian officer vanished without trace, Herr Willich reappeared, and this in the “Workers’ Society in London”, where

“the workers unanimously condemned Herr Marx” and “on the day after his resignation from the Society in a general meeting of the London District unanimously expelled him from the League”.

Previously, however,

“Marx with the majority of the Central Authority adopted a resolution to transfer the Central Authority from London”

and, despite Schapper’s well-meant remonstrances, resolved to form a section for themselves. According to -the statutes of the secret society the majority had the right to transfer the Central Authority to Cologne and provisionally to expel the entire Willich group, which was not entitled to pass resolutions in regard to it. The striking fact remains that on this occasion the noble-minded one, with his predilection for petty dramatics, in which Herr Willich plays a great rhetorical role, allowed the catastrophe itself, the scene in which the split occurred, to pass without taking advantage of it. The temptation was great, but unfortunately the dry text of the minutes exists and it proves that the triumphant Christ sat for hours silent and embarrassed in face of the accusations of the evil ones, then finally made off, left friend Schapper in the lurch, and did not recover his speech until he was in the “circle” of the believers. En passant: whereas Herr W. in America proclaims the glories of the “Workers’ Society linked with him by respect and confidence”, even Herr Schapper has considered it necessary for the time being to resign from Herr Willich’s Society.

For a moment the man of the noble consciousness rises from the sphere of “tactical” procedure characteristic of him to the sphere of theory. Or so it seems. In actual fact he continues to furnish “samples of the tactics of Herr Marx”. On p. 8 of the Revelations it says: “The Schapper-Willich party” (Herr Willich quotes it as Willich-Schapper) “have never laid claim to the dignity of having their own ideas. Their own contribution is the peculiar misunderstanding of other people’s ideas”. In order to show the public how well provided he is with ideas of his own, Herr W. reports as his latest discovery, and indeed as a refutation of the views of Engels and myself, “what institutions” the petty bourgeoisie would “adopt” if it came to power. In a circular letter’ drawn up by Engels and myself, which the police of Saxony found on Bürgers, and which was published in the most widely-read German newspapers and forms the basis of the Cologne bill of indictment, there is a rather lengthy account of the pious wishes of the German petty bourgeoisie. This provides the text for Willich’s sermon. The reader should compare the original and the copy. How human of virtue to copy vice, even if with a “peculiar misunderstanding"! The improved sentiments compensate for the inferior style.

On p. 64 of the Revelations it says that in my view the Communist League “aims at forming not the government party of the future but the opposition party of the future”. Herr Willich is so noble that he craftily omits the first part of the sentence, “not the government party”, in order firmly to seize on the latter part, “the opposition party of the future”. By this ingenious halving of the sentence he proves that the Party of office-seekers is the true Party of the revolution.

The other idea of “his own” which Herr Willich produces is that the practical opposition between the noble consciousness and its opponents can be also theoretically expressed as “a division of mankind into two species”, the Willichs and the anti-Willichs, the noble species and the ignoble species. Concerning the former, we learn that its main characteristic lies in the fact “that they recognise one another”. To be boring is the privilege of the noble-minded one when he ceases to amuse by his samples of tactics.

We have seen how the man of the noble consciousness distorts or adapts facts by means of lies, or accords ludicrous hypotheses the rank of serious theses, — all in order to show that the opposite to himself is in fact the ignoble, the base. We have seen how in consequence his whole activity consists exclusively in discovering the base. The reverse aspect of this activity is that the actual complications with the world into which he himself gets entangled, however compromising they may appear to be, are transformed into proofs of his own noble-mindedness. To the pure, all is pure, and an opponent who fails to see the nobility of his deeds proves by that very fact that he is impure. The noble-minded one, therefore, does not have to justify himself, but has merely to express his moral indignation and astonishment at an opponent who compels him to provide justification. Hence the episode in which Herr Willich pretends to justify himself could just as well have been omitted altogether, as anyone can see by comparing my Revelations, Hirsch’s confessions and Herr Willich’s reply. Hence, I shall give only a few examples to characterise the men of the noble consciousness.

Herr Willich was less compromised by my Revelations than by Hirsch’s confessions, although the latter were originally intended to glorify him as the deliverer of his own enemies. Hence, he is careful to avoid dealing with Hirsch’s confessions. He avoids even any mention of them. Hirsch is the notorious tool of the Prussian police against the party to which I belong. In contrast to this fact, Herr Willich puts forward the suggestion that really Hirsch was chosen by me to “smash” the Willich party.

“Very soon he” (Hirsch) “intrigued with some followers of Marx, in particular a certain Lochner, in order to smash the Society. As a result of this he was put under observation. He was found out, etc. On a motion from me, he was expelled; Lochner stood up for him and was likewise expelled.... Hirsch then intrigued particularly against O. Dietz.... This intrigue was again immediately discovered.”

That Hirsch was expelled as a spy from the Workers’ Society of Great Windmill Street on a motion from Herr Willich, I myself reported in the Revelations, p. 67. This expulsion carried no weight with me, since I ascertained what Herr Willich himself now confirms, namely, that it took place not on the basis of proven facts, but on the suspicion of imaginary intrigues between Hirsch and me. I knew Hirsch to be innocent of this crime. As for Lochner, he demanded proof of Hirsch’s guilt. Herr Willich replied that Hirsch’s sources of subsistence were unknown. But what about the sources of subsistence of Herr Willich? asked Lochner. On account of this “unworthy” utterance, Lochner was brought before a court of honour and since he refused to repent his sin in spite of all spiritual admonition, he was “expelled”. After Hirsch had been expelled, and Lochner had been sent off after him, Hirsch

then intrigued particularly against O. Dietz with a very suspicious former police agent, who denounced Dietz to us”.

Stechan, who had escaped from a Hanover prison, came to London, joined Willich’s Workers’ Society and denounced O. Dietz. Stechan was neither “suspicious” nor a “former Saxon police agent”. What led him to denounce O. Dietz was the fact that the examining magistrate in Hanover had shown him a number of letters sent by him to London addressed to Dietz, the secretary of Willich’s Committee[343]. At approximately the same time as Stechan, Lochner appeared on the scene, also Eccarius II, who had just been released from prison in Hanover and deported, Gimpel, for whose arrest a warrant had been issued on account of his participation in the Schleswig-Holstein affairs, and Hirsch, who had been imprisoned in Hamburg in 1848 because of a revolutionary poem, and who asserted that he was again being hunted by the police. Together with Stechan, they formed a kind of opposition and committed the sin against the Holy Ghost of contesting Herr Willich’s articles of faith in the public discussions of the Society. All of them were struck by the fact that Stechan’s denunciation of Dietz was answered by the expulsion of Hirsch by Willich. Soon all of them resigned from the Workers’ Society and for a period formed with Stechan a society of their own[344]. They did not come into contact with me until after their resignation from Herr Willich’s Society. The noble-minded one betrays his lie by distorting the time-sequence and omitting Stechan, the essential but irksome intermediate link.

On p. 66 of the Revelations I say: “Not long before the court action in Cologne, Kinkel and Willich sent a journeyman tailor [Aaugust Gebert] as emissary to Germany, etc.”

“Why,” exclaims the noble-minded one indignantly, “why does Herr Marx lay stress on the journeyman tailor?”

I do not “lay stress” on the journeyman tailor in the way that, for example, the noble-minded one lays stress on Pieper, “the private tutor with Rothschild”, although as a result of the Cologne Communist trial Pieper lost his job with Rothschild and instead won a place on the editorial board of the organ of the English Chartists. I call the journeyman tailor a journeyman tailor. Why? Because I must not mention his name and yet prove to the Herren Kinkel-Willich that I was well acquainted with the personality of their emissary. The noble-minded one, therefore, accuses me of high treason against all journeyman tailors and tries to secure their votes by a Pindaric ode to journeyman tailors. In order to spare the good reputation of journeyman tailors, he magnanimously omits to say that Eccarius, whom he calls one of the expelled he-goats, is a journeyman tailor, which so far has not prevented Eccarius from being one of the greatest thinkers of the German proletariat and from gaining a position of prestige among the Chartists themselves by his English articles in The Red Republican, the Notes to the People, and The People’s Paper. This is how Herr Willich refutes my revelations of the activity of the journeyman tailor whom he and Kinkel sent to Germany.

We now come to the case of Hentze. The man of the noble consciousness tries to cover up his own position by an attack on me.

Among other things, he’ (Hentze) “lent Marx 300 talers.

In May 1849 I gave Herr Rempel an account of the financial difficulties of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung, which increased as the number of subscribers grew larger since expenses were in cash but receipts were to come in later. More, considerable losses were caused by the desertion of almost all the shareholders as a result of the articles in favour of the Paris June insurgents and against the Frankfurt parliamentarians, the Berlin agreement-seekers, and the members of the March Associations.[345] Herr Rempel referred me to Hentze, and Hentze advanced the Neue Rheinische Zeitung 300 talers against my written undertaking. Hentze, who at the time was himself being harried by the police, found it necessary to leave Hamm and travelled with me to Cologne, where I was greeted by the news of my expulsion from Prussia. The 300 talers borrowed from Hentze, the 1,500 talers for subscriptions which I received through the Prussian post, and the rapid printing-press, etc., belonging to me, were all used to cover the debts of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung to compositors, printers, paper merchants, office workers, correspondents, editorial personnel, etc. No one knows this better than Herr Hentze, since he himself lent my wife a travelling case in which to pack her silver in order to take it to a pawnshop in Frankfurt and thus obtain the means to meet our private needs. The account books of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung are in Cologne in the care of the merchant Stephan Naut, and I authorise the noble-minded one to have an officially certified extract from them made for him there.

After this digression, let us return to the matter in hand.

The Revelations does not find it at all unclear that Herr Willich was Hentze’s friend and received support from him. What it finds unclear (p. 65) is that Hentze, whose house had been searched and whose documents were seized, who was proved to have sheltered Schimmelpfennig on a secret mission in Berlin, and who, on his own “admission”, was an accomplice of the League, that this Hentze at the period when the Cologne trial was approaching a decision, when the attention of the Prussian police was strained to the utmost and every half-suspected German in Germany or England was being kept under the strictest surveillance, that this Hentze received permission from the authorities to travel to London and to consort freely there with Willich, and then came to Cologne in order to give “false evidence” against Becker. The specific time gives the relationship between Herr Hentze and Herr Willich its specific character, and the circumstances mentioned must have appeared strange to Willich himself, although he did not know that Hentze communicated with the Prussian police by telegraph from London. It is a question of the specific time. Herr Willich correctly feels that this is so, and therefore declares in his noble manner:

“He” (Hentze) “came to London before the trial” (this I, too, maintain), “not to me, but to the Great Exhibition.”

The noble-minded one has his own Great Exhibition just as he has his own Précurseur de Bruxelles. The real Great Exhibition in London closed in October 1851; Herr Willich makes Hentze travel “to it” in August 1852., This circumstance can be testified to by Schily, Heise, and the other guarantors of the Kinkel-Willich loan, on each of whom Herr Hentze danced attendance in order to gain their votes for the transference of the American money from London to Berlin.

Long before Herr Hentze stayed with Herr Willich he had been invited to appear at the Cologne court trial as a witness, not for the defence but for the prosecution. As soon as we learned that Herr Willich had instructed Hentze to testify against Becker, “the man of intellect and character” (p. 68 of the Revelations), the necessary information was sent at once to lawyer Schneider II, Becker’s defence counsel. The letter arrived on the day when Hentze was being heard as a witness; the nature of his testimony agreed with our prediction. For that reason, Becker and Schneider cross-examined him publicly about his relation to Willich. The letter is to be found in the dossiers of the defence in Cologne, and the report on the cross-examination of Hentze in the Kölnische Zeitung.

I do not put forward the argument: If it is established that Herr Hentze did this or that, that would be a striking proof of the activity of Herr Willich; “for although” friend Hentze “may have undertaken it — the brain is the source of ideas and not the hand”. I leave this dialectic to the man of the noble consciousness.

Let us return to Herr Willich’s proper domain:

A few more samples of the tactics” (pursued by Marx) “for their full appreciation.”

At the time of passive resistance in Hesse, of the mobilisation of the Landwehr in Prussia, and of the simulated conflict between Prussia and Austria,[346] the noble-minded one was on the point of achieving a military insurrection in Germany, to be brought about by sending “to some persons in Prussia a short draft plan for forming committees of the Landwehr”, and by the willingness of Herr Willich “himself to go to Prussia”.

“It was Herr Marx, who having been informed by one of his agents, made my intended departure more widely known and subsequently boasted of having hoaxed me with false letters from Germany.”

Indeed! Becker sent me with comical marginal notes the lunatic letters with which Willich favoured the public in Cologne. I was not so cruel as to deprive my friends of the enjoyment of reading them. Schramm and Pieper took delight in hoaxing Herr Willich with replies, not “from Germany” but through the London post. The noble-minded one will take care not to produce the postmarks of the letters. He asserts that he “received one letter in an imitated handwriting and recognised it as false”. This is impossible. These letters were all written by the same hand. While, therefore, Herr Willich “boasts” of having discovered a non-existent imitated handwriting, and of having discovered one that was false among a number of letters each of which was in its way as genuine as any of the others, he was much too noble-minded to recognise the hoax from the glorification of his person couched in Asiatic hyperbolas, the crudely comic account of his fixed ideas, and the romantic exaggeration of his presumptions. Even if Herr Willich had seriously intended his departure, it was frustrated not by my “making it more widely known to third persons”, but by what was made known to Herr Willich himself. For the last letter which he received tore away the transparent veil. Until the present moment his vanity has compelled him to declare the letter which undeceived him to be false, and the letters which made a fool of him to be genuine. Does the noble-minded one, because he is virtuous, believe that there shall indeed be sect and cakes’ but no humour in the world? It was ignoble of the noble-minded one to withhold from the public the enjoyment of these letters.

“As regards the correspondence with Becker mentioned by Marx, what is said about it is false.”

As regards this false correspondence and Herr Willich’s intention to travel to Prussia in person, and my making it more widely known to third persons, I found it appropriate to send a copy of the Criminal-Zeitung to ex-Lieutenant Steffen. Steffen was a witness for the defence on behalf of Becker, who had entrusted all his documents to him for safe-keeping. Compelled by the police to leave Cologne, he is now a teacher in Chester, for he belongs to the ignoble species of human beings who have to earn their living, even in exile. The man of the noble consciousness, true to his ethereal nature, does not live from capital, which he does not possess, nor from work, which he does not perform. He lives from the manna of public opinion, from the respect of other people. Hence he fights for this as his sole capital.

Steffen writes to me:

“Chester, November 22, 1853

“Willich is very angry at your giving me fragments from a letter of Becker’s. He describes the letter, and therefore also the passages quoted from it, as fictitious. To this clumsy assertion I counterpose the facts in order to provide documentary evidence for Becker’s view of Willich. One evening, with a hearty laugh, Becker gave me two letters and told me to read them when I was in low spirits; the contents would be the more effective in cheering me up, because I would be in a position to judge them from a military standpoint in view ‘of my earlier circumstances. In fact, on reading those letters sent by August Willich to Becker, I found they contained extremely comic and remarkable order of the day to the troops (to make use of an appropriate royal Prussian expression), in which the great Field-Marshal and social Messiah sends out from England the order to capture Cologne, to confiscate private property, to establish an artificially contrived military dictatorship, to introduce a military-social code of laws, to ban all newspapers except one, which would have to publish daily orders about the prescribed mode of thought and behaviour, and a quantity of further details. Willich was kind enough to promise that when this job in Cologne and the Prussian Rhine province was done, he himself would come to separate the sheep from the goats and to pass judgment on the living and the dead. Willich claims that his ‘short draft plan would he easy to put into effect if some persons took the initiative’, and ‘that it would have highly important consequences’ (for whom?). For my edification I should very much like to know who were the deep-thinking ‘Landwehr officers’ who ‘later explained’ this to Willich, and whether these gentlemen, who made a pretence of believing in ‘the highly important consequences of the short draft plan’, stayed in England during the mobilisation of the Prussian Landwehr or in Prussia, where the child of the world was to be brought into being. It was very good of Willich to have sent the birth announcement and the description of the child to ‘some’ persons. None of these persons, however, seem to have been more inclined to act as godfather at the baptism than Becker, ‘the man of intellect and character’. On one occasion, Willich sent over an adjutant named.... This man did me the honour of having me summoned and was very firmly convinced that he could judge the whole situation in advance better than anyone confronted by the facts day by day. Hence he came to have a very low opinion of me when I informed him that the officers of the Prussian army would not consider themselves lucky to fight under his and Willich’s banner, and were not at all inclined to proclaim a Willichian republic at the earliest possible moment. He was still more angry when he found that no one was stupid enough to want to multigraph the Appeal, which he had brought with him ready-made, inviting the officers to declare themselves immediately and openly in favour of ‘that’ which he called democracy. Full of rage, he left ‘the Cologne enslaved by Marx’ (as he wrote to me) and arranged for his nonsense to be multigraphed elsewhere, sent it to a great many officers, and thus it came about that the chaste secret of this cunning method of turning Prussiarr officers into republicans was prostituted by the ‘Spectator’ of the Kreuzzeitung.

“Willich says he is absolutely incapable of believing that persons of ‘Becker’s character and intellect’ could laugh at his plan. He declares the utterance of this fact a clumsy lie. If he had read the Cologne Trial, and after all he has every reason to do. so, he would have found that both Becker and I openly expressed the judgment on his plan contained in the letter published by you. If Willich would like to have a correct military description of the then existing situation, which he depicts according to his fantasy, I can oblige him.

“I regret that it is not only in Weydemeyer and Techow that Willich finds former comrades who deny him the wished-for admiration of his Military genius and practical understanding of the situation.

“W. Steffen”

Now for the final “sample of the tactics of Marx”.

Herr Willich gives a fantastic description of a February banquet in 1851 organised by Louis Blanc as a counter-demonstration to Ledru-Rollin’s banquet and against the influence of Blanqui.

“Herr Marx, of course, was not invited.”

Of course not. Anyone could get in for two shillings, and a few days later Louis Blanc asked Marx with great emphasis why he had not been present at it.

“Thereupon” (where? at the banquet?) “an undelivered toast of Blanqui’s, with an introduction reviling the celebration and calling Schapper and Willich misleaders of the people, was distributed as a leaflet among the workers in Germany.”

The “undelivered toast of Blanqui’s"[347] forms an essential part of the story recounted by the noble-minded one, who, believing in his words in the higher sense, is accustomed to state emphatically: “I never lie.”

Some days after the banquet the Paris Patrie published a toast which Blanqui had sent from Belle-Île to the organisers of the celebration at their request, and in which in his customary pregnant manner he scourged the entire Provisional Government of 1848 and particularly the father of the banquet, M. Louis Blanc. The Patrie said it was surprised that this toast had been suppressed at the banquet. Louis Blanc immediately declared in the London Times that Blanqui was an abominable intriguer and had never sent any such toast to the banquet committee. On behalf of the banquet committee, MM. Louis Blanc, Landolphe, Barthélemy, Vidil, Schapper, and Willich himself, stated in the Patrie that they had never received the toast in question. Before printing this statement, however, the Patrie made enquiries of M. Antoine, Blanqui’s brother-in-law, who had sent the toast for publication. Below the statement of the gentlemen mentioned above, the newspaper printed Antoine’s reply, which was to the effect that he had certainly sent the toast to Barthélemy and had received from him an acknowledgement of its receipt. “Thereupon”, M. Barthélemy declared that it was true he had received the toast but had put it aside as unsuitable without notifying the committee about it. Unfortunately, however, ex-Captain Vidil, who was one of the signatories, had already written to the Patrie that his military sense of honour and his instinct for truth compelled him to confess that he himself, Louis Blanc; Willich and all the others had lied in their first statement. The committee, he said, did not consist of the six persons named but had thirteen members. Blanqui’s toast had been submitted to all of them, it had been discussed by all of them, and after a fairly lengthy debate it was decided by a majority of seven to six to suppress it. He himself was among the six who had voted in favour of its being read out.

One can understand the jubilation of the Patrie when, after Vidil’s letter, it received M. Barthélemy’s declaration, which it published with the following “preface”.

“We have often asked ourselves, and it is a difficult question to answer, whether the demagogues are notable more for their boastfulness or their stupidity. A fourth letter from London has increased our perplexity. There they are, we do not know how many poor wretches, who are so tormented by the longing to write and to see their names published in the reactionary press that they are undeterred even by the prospect of infinite humiliation and mortification. What do they care for the laughter and the indignation of the public — the Journal des Debats, the Assemblée nationale and the Patrie will publish their stylistic exercises; to achieve this no cost to the cause of cosmopolitan democracy can he too high.... In the name of literary commiseration we therefore include the following letter from ‘citizen’ Barthélemy — it is a novel, and, we hope, the last proof of the authenticity of Blanqui’s famous toast whose existence they first all denied and now fight among themselves for the right to acknowledge.”

So much for the history of Blanqui’s toast. As a result of “Blanqui’s undelivered toast”, the Société des proscrits démocrates [et] socialises broke off its agreement with Herr Willich’s Society.

Simultaneously with the split in the German Workers’ Society and the German Communist Society, a split took place in the Société des proscrits démocrates [et] socialises. A number of members suspected of gravitating towards bourgeois democracy, towards Ledru-Rollinism handed in their resignations and were subsequently expelled. Ought then the man of the noble consciousness to tell this society what he now says to the bourgeois democrats, that Engels and Marx had prevented him from sinking into the arms of bourgeois democracy, from remaining “united by bonds of sympathy- with all companions of the revolution”, or ought he to tell them that “in the split the various views about revolutionary development played no part"? On the contrary, the noble-minded one said that in both societies the split occurred as a result of the same diametrically opposed principles, that Engels, Marx, etc., represented the bourgeois element in the German Society just as Madier and Co. did in the French one. The noble-minded one is even afraid that mere contact with this bourgeois element could endanger the “true faith” and therefore with calm nobility moved that the bourgeois element should not be admitted to the Société des proscrits, “not even as visitors”.

Invented! False! exclaims the noble-minded one in his staunch monosyllables. “Samples of tactics” on my part! Voyons!

Meeting of 30 Sept. 1850, citizen Adam in the chair.

“Three delegates from the German Democratic Society of Windmill Street are introduced. They make known their mission, which is to deliver a letter that is read out.” (In this letter the reasons for the split are allegedly set out.) “Citizen Adam calls attention to the analogy between the events which have taken place in the two societies, in both of them the bourgeois element and the proletarian p” have separated from each other under identical circumstances, etc., etc. Citizen Willich moves that the members who have resigned” (he then corrects himself, as the minutes state, and says “who have been excluded”) “from the German Society should not he admitted to the French Society, even as visitors.” (Extracts conform to the original text of the minutes).

Recorder of the Society of Exiled Democrats and Socialists
J. Clédat.”

Herewith ends the mellifluous, singular, grandiloquent, unprecedented, truthful, and adventurous story of the world-renowned knight of the noble consciousness.

“An honest mind and plain; he must speak truth,
And they will take it so; if not he’s plain.
These kind of knaves I know."
[King Lear]

London, November 28, 1853. Kart Marx

Footnotes from MECW Volume 12


330 Revelations Concerning the Communist Trials in Cologne, which Marx wrote between late October and early December 1852, was published in pamphlet form in Basic in January 1853. Almost all its copies (2,000) were confiscated by the police in Baden while being transported from Switzerland to Germany. In the USA the work was initially reprinted in March and April in instalments in the Boston Neu-England Zeitung, and at the end of April 1853 it was published by this newspaper as a pamphlet. In The Knight of the Noble Consciousness Marx cites the Revelations from a separate Boston edition.


331 The editors gave the following footnote to this passage: “Mr. Blum is in Philadelphia, not in Australia, and when the American Workers’ Union was formed he sat on its board as Willich’s agent.”


332 The Black Bureau — a secret institution established at postal departments in France, Prussia, Austria and several other states to inspect private correspondence. It existed at the time of absolute monarchies in Europe.


333 A reference to the Communist League, the first German and international communist organisation of the proletariat, formed under the leadership of Marx and Engels in London early in June 1847, as a result of the reorganisation of the League of the Just (a secret association of workers and artisans that appeared in the 1830s and had communities in Germany, France, Switzerland and England). The programme and organisational principles of the Communist League were drawn up with the direct participation of Marx and Engels. The League’s members took an active part in the bourgeois-democratic revolution in Germany in 1848-49. Though the defeat of the revolution dealt a blow at the League, it was reorganised in 1849-50 and continued its activities. In the summer of 1850 disagreements arose in the League between the supporters of Marx and Engels and the Willich-Schapper sectarian group which tried to impose on the League its adventurist tactics of starting a revolution immediately without taking into account the actual situation and the practical possibilities. The discord resulted in a split within the League. Owing to police persecutions and arrests of League members in May 1851, the activities of the Communist League as an organisation in Germany practically ceased. On November 17, 1852, on a motion by Marx, the London District announced the dissolution of the League.

The Communist League played an important historical role as the first proletarian party based on scientific principles of communism, as a school of proletarian revolutionaries, and as the historical forerunner of the International Working Men’s Association.


334 Synoptics — the writers of the first three Gospels. Marx is referring to Bruno Bauer’s book which points out contradictions between the different Gospel versions and also between actual historical events and the Gospels.


335 A reference to the German Workers’ Educational Society in London which was founded in February 1840 by Karl Schapper, Joseph Moll and other leaders of the League of the Just. After the reorganisation of the League of the Just in the summer of 1847 and the founding of the Communist League (see Note 333), the League’s local communities played a leading role in the Society. During various periods of its activity, the Society had branches in working-class districts in London. In 1847 and 1849-50 Marx and Engels took an active part in the Society’s work, but on September 17, 1850 Marx, Engels and a number of their followers withdrew because the Willich-Schapper sectarian and adventurist faction had temporarily increased its influence-in the Society, causing a split in the Communist League. In the late 1850s Marx and Engels resumed their work in the Educational Society, which existed up to 1918, when it was closed down by the British Government.


336 The tasks of these two organisations, both with small memberships and headed mainly by petty-bourgeois democrats, were to collect money for starting an “immediate revolution” in Germany. Willich and other Communist League members who belonged to his faction joined the Emigré Club. Shortly afterwards these two organisations broke up. For details on the disputes between them see: Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, The Great Men of the Exile.


337 A reference to the attempts by Johann Gottfried Kinkel and other leaders of the Emigré Club to organise a so-called German-American revolutionary loan. To this end Kinkel went to the USA in September 1851. The loan was to be floated among the German-horn Americans and used to begin an immediate revolution in Germany. The Agitation Union, headed by Arnold Ruge, was in rivalry with the Émigré Club and also sent a representative to the USA to canvass for revolutionary funds. The attempt to distribute the “revolutionary loan” failed. Marx and Engels in a number of works and letters denounced the undertaking as an adventurist attempt to produce a revolution artificially during a period when the revolutionary movement was on the wane.


338 The Holy Grail — according to medieval legend, the cup or chalice used by Christ at the Last Supper.


339 Demagogues — members of the opposition movement among German intellectuals. The word has been in use since the Carlsbad Conference of Ministers of German States in August 1819, which adopted a special resolution against the demagogues’ intrigues.


340 A reference to the detachment formed by Willich in Besançon, France, in November 1848 from German emigrant workers and artisans. The members of the detachment received allowances from the French Government until the beginning of 1849. Later the detachment merged with a volunteer corps which took part in the Baden-Palatinate uprising of 1849 under the command of Willich.


341 Engels is referring to the Spartan King Leonidas and his troop of three hundred men who fought the battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C., defending the mountain pass against an army of Persians during the Greco-Persian wars. King Leonidas and his men were all killed during the battle.


342 In September 1849 Marx was elected to the German Relief Committee formed by the German Workers’ Educational Society in London. With a view to counteracting the attempts of petty-bourgeois refugee democrats to influence the proletarian refugees, the Committee was reorganised into the Social-Democratic Refugee Committee, as suggested by Marx and other Communist League leaders. Engels was among the leaders of the new committee. In mid-September 1850 Marx and Engels withdrew from the Refugee Committee because the majority of its members were under the influence of the Willich-Schapper group.


343 Marx is referring to the Central Committee of the Willich-Schapper sectarian and adventurist faction which split away from the Communist League in September 1850 and formed an independent organisation. Marx and Engels ironically called this organisation the Sonderbund by analogy with the separatist union of the seven economically backward Catholic cantons of Switzerland formed in the 1840s to resist progressive bourgeois reforms.


344 A reference to the workers’ society founded in London in January 1852 with Marx’s support and a Hanoverian refugee, the carpenter G. L. Stechan, as President. It included workers who broke away from the German Workers’ Educational Society which had come under the influence of the Willich-Schapper group. The Communist League member Georg Lochner, a worker close to Marx and Engels, also took an active part in organising this society. Later, many of its members, including Stechan himself, came under the influence of the Willich-Schapper group and re-joined the Educational Society.


345 A reference to the articles by Marx and Engels on the uprising of Paris workers in June 1848, the anti-revolutionary policy of the liberal majority in the Frankfurt National Assembly, the collaborationist position of the liberal deputies in the Prussian National Assembly, and the wavering of the petty-bourgeois leaders of the March Associations.

March Associations which were organised at the end of November 1848 by representatives of the Left wing of the Frankfurt National Assembly, existed in a number gf German towns and were headed by the Central March Association in Frankfurt. They were named after the March revolution of 1848 in Germany. Their leaders, Fröbel, Simon, Wesendock, Rayeaux, Eizenmann, Ruge, Vogt and others, all petty-bourgeois democrats, confined themselves to revolutionary bluster and were hesitant and inconsistent in their struggle against counter-revolution. In December 1848 Marx and Engels, writing in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung, began to criticise the hesitant and ambivalent policy of the leaders of the March Associations, pointing out that such a policy aided the enemies of the revolution.


346 A reference to the conflict between Prussia and Austria which arose in the autumn of 1850 as a result of their struggle for supremacy in Germany. Prussia and Austria both demanded the right to intervene in the internal affairs of the Hesse-Cassel electorate to suppress the growing movement for a Constitution directed against Frederick William I and his reactionary Ministers. Austria received diplomatic support from Nicholas I, the Russian Tsar. Prussia was obliged to surrender and let the Austrians carry out a punitive mission in Hesse-Cassel.


347 On February 24, 1851 an international meeting, the so-called banquet of the equal, was organised in London by some French emigrants headed by Louis Blanc and the Blanquist refugees Barthélemy, Adam and others, together with the Willich-Schapper faction, to celebrate the anniversary of the February revolution of 1848. Marx and Engels sent their supporters, Konrad Schramm and Wilhelm Pieper, to the banquet, who were assaulted and turned out by Willich and Schapper’s followers. Blanqui, who was in prison at the time, sent the text of a toast to London to be read out at the banquet. In the toast he denounced Louis Blanc and other members of the Provisional Government of the French Republic. The text was deliberately withheld from those present at the banquet by its organisers. However, it was published in a number of French newspapers. Marx and Engels translated it into English and German and provided it with a preface. The German version was printed in a large edition and distributed in Germany and England. The fate of the English translation is unknown.