Heinrich Heine 1840

Letter XXV (“The King Cried”)

Translated: from the original for marxists.org by Mitchell Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) marxists.org 2011.

Paris, November 7, 1840

The king cried. He cried publicly, on his throne, surrounded by all the dignitaries of the kingdom, before the entire nation, whose representatives were in front of him, and all the foreign princes represented by their ordinary and extraordinary ambassadors and their plenipotentiary ministers witnessed this distressing spectacle. The king cried! This is a desolating spectacle. Nevertheless, many people regard these royal tears as suspect and compare them to those of the fox in the fable. But is it not already tragic enough that a king is harassed and tormented to the point that he resorts to the humid expedient of tears? No, Louis-Philippe, the modern Ulysses, the royal scapegoat, doesn’t need to do violence to his lachrymal apparatus when thinking of the disasters he is threatened with, and with him his people and the entire universe.

We cannot yet say anything definite about the state of mind of the Chamber. And yet everything depends on it, both the internal and external peace of France, and not only of France, but of the entire world. If there were to occur a serious discussion between the bourgeois notabilities of the Chamber and the crown, the leading lights of radicalism would no longer delay in provoking an insurrection that is already being organized in secret and which is only waiting for the moment when the king can no longer count on the assistance of the Chamber of Deputies. As long as the two parties do nothing but fight like cats and dog, though without breaking their marriage contract, the overthrow of the government cannot succeed, and this is why they are biding their time for the moment and are avoiding any hasty battles. The history of France shows that every important stage of the revolution had parliamentary beginnings and that the men of the legal opposition were always the ones to give the people the more or less distinct terrible signal. Thanks to this participation, we would almost say this complicity of parliament, the interregnum of brute force never lasts long in France, and the French are more protected against anarchy than other peoples in a state of revolution. We had proof of this during the July days when the parliament, the Legislative Assembly, changed into an Executive Convention. It is just such a transformation that we are expecting as a last resort.