Engels' caricature of 'The Free', the Berlin group of Young Hegelians (Words in the drawing: Ruge, Buhl, Nauwerck, Bauer, Wigand, Edgar [Bauer], Stirner, Meyen, stranger, Köppen the Lieutenant. The squirrel in the upper left corner is a caricature of the Prussian Minister Eichhorn

Frederick Engels
“The Insolently Threatened
Yet Miraculously Rescued Bible”

Canto The Second


Oh, woe to thee, Bonn woe, most pious of Faculties!
Put on sackcloth and ashes, pray on bended knees!
Upon that Chair of erstwhile pious reputation
Mad Bauer lectures through the Devil’s ministration.
He stands and foams with rage; a demon on his back
Goads him and sets him on the Theologians’ track.
Just like a hydrophobic dog, he howls and bays;
Through his blaspheming mouth the Adversary says:
“Let not the Theologians fool you with their guiles,
Or rank hypocrisy, or low, perfidious wiles.
See how they twist the sense of every word by force,
And slither through the darkness on their evil course.
Oh, see those letter — slaves in all their filthy fright,
And how they savage one another when they fight.
All unctuous torture, cunning Jesuitical,
All tinselled pious fraud and arts sophistical!
As the schoolmaster, when the village children run
Away from school to romp and have themselves some fun,
Comes raging with his stick to fetch the truants in,
And they, with jeers and catcalls, flee ahead of him —
Such is the Theologian, very soon perplexed
When trapped between the Contradictions of the Text.
See how he twists, turns, dodges, stretches, wriggles in it,
Forgetting everything he said that very minute.
just watch him cooking in his kitchen filled with steam,
Until the Contradictions flee him with a scream.
How he runs after them! Oh, how he starts to scold!
Will you come back againl Will you do as you're told!
With what insensate rage he plies Faith’s holy cane,
Hitting the godless freaks again and yet again!
He pops them in the witches’ cauldron, pokes them down,
Until the wretched things asphyxiate and drown!
They're all the same, including these Evangelists;
They'll never change as long as there are men of Christ’s.
The one Evangelist misapprehends the other,
He wriggles, writhes, distorts the meaning even further;
Caught in the hopeless toils of endless Contradictions,
He cannot help but multiply his misconstructions.
He tears to shreds the writings of the other one,
And then, to crown it all, there is the work of John.
just look!” — The mob of Faithful, past endurance, bellows:
“Away with that blasphemer, hang him on the gallows!
Away! Enough abuse from that once worthy Chair,
Sing Hallelujah, then, and get him out of there!”
The others shout: “Hurrah, and long live Bruno Bauer
Free Science’s support, Free-thinking’s mightiest power!
Hush, pious hypocrites If your God’s help is strong,
Then fight, and let the outcome prove you right or wrong.”
“Out with the liar!” all the Right-wing voices cry.
“Out with the Faithful!” comes the impious Left’s reply.
“Atheists, silence!” “Pious sheep, keep your mouths shut!
Or else you'll soon find out how billy-goats can butt!”
Christ here!” — “And Bauer here!”
              Making a thund’rous sound,
With all their weight the wielded sticks come crashing down
To echoing battle-cries the tussle grows amain,
As desks are overturned. and benches split in twain.
To thwart the Christian troops, the Atheist forces bold
Pile up the desks and build themselves A Safe Stronghold.
United in a closely welded mass, they throw,
Instead of bombs, ink-horns and Bibles at the foe.
In vain the Pious launch their sallies on the fort,
They fail to take it, even at the third onslaught.
Heads bleed, and many fighters of the Pious band
Collapse upon the bench, felled by an Atheist hand.
Then the blasphemers bring the walls a-tumbling down,
Lastly to drive the foe clean off the battleground.
Snarling, they hurl themselves on God’s chaste warriors, who
Flee in blind panic from the wild and horrid crew.
Ale field is clear, at last. —
              Swift speeds the pious band
Along the passage to the gates, and makes its stand.
The Lord sends proctors round to rescue them, and then
The Rector comes, and Senators, and Clergymen.
They want to mediate, ask what’s behind it all,
But they themselves are soon entangled in the brawl.
The fight breaks out again, all join in willy-nilly;
Many a lofty learned brow is knocked half silly,
Many a crooked back is beaten straight again,
Many a nose pulled down that stuck up in disdain.
The sky grows dark with clouds of beaten-out cloth dust,
And periwigs fly at the whim of every gust.
Philosophers, most Positive of gentlemen, [165]
Under the Atheist attack, turn tail and run.
Great Fichte’s little son, you certainly move fast!
You're much too skinny for the Atheist repast.
Herr Brandis, though you may he swift to flee pursuit,
The system-dust has all been walloped from your suit.
Refuting Hegel hasn’t done them any good,
If they are beaten up by Hegel’s crazy brood.
Onward they press, the frenzied Atheistic horde:
Their sticks make mockery of trusting in the Lord.
       But no, His eye is watchful; in the hour of need,
When ignominy threatens those who hold the creed,
To thwart the triumph of the evil ones down there,
He sends the faithful Sack, with neatly parted hair.
He comes straight from the vineyard of the Lord on High.
His grey eye gleams, a star up in the Church’s sky.
His nose, it is a mighty pillar of the Faith.
The Lord’s Word and Salvation dribble from his mouth.
His mount’s a virgin ass, with tail most wondrous fair,
And if his foot trails on the ground, he doesn’t care.
The Bible text he has invented, with God’s aid,
And tied it with her tail on to the donkey-maid.
He sits astride her, with his head bowed all the way;
The Spirit gently leads the beast towards the fray.
He sees the battle rage, the godless forge ahead,
And seeks the pious beast on other paths to lead.
But now the she-ass, who’s obeyed him faithfully,
Begins to rear and stall and jump and buck and shy.
“What ails you, little beast? What’s getting in your way?
Go where the bridle leads you, listen, and obey!”
She jams him up against a wall, unheeding still.
For the first time, he tries the stick to break her will.
He beats and beats and beats and beats her fit to bust.
Ale she-ass won’t give in to him. He bites the dust.
God opens up the donkey’s mouth; she, loud and clear,
Speaks His intention for the startled Sack to hear.
“Why do you beat me? See, the Spirit bars my way
And turns my bridle towards the scene of the affray.
Where’s your old courage? Up, fly to the battleground,
Where Atheist fury pins God’s faithful army down.
Lend me your ear, O Sack, and hear the tidings new
That through your donkey’s mouth the Lord reveals to you.
Henceforth your name is Bag and shall be Sack no more.
I'm sending you, O Bag, to terminate this war.”
Then did the pious Bag to Heaven gaze and cry:
“Lord, before Thee man’s knowledge is but vanity!
You choose a lowly beast for mouthpiece! Daring all,
I plunge into the battle’s terrors at your call!”
He turns and speeds in haste towards the scene of horrors,
And finds it strewn with faint, exhausted, bleeding warriors.
Then, with a mighty shout, he bravely dives into them,
And to a heavenly air he sings the peace-hymn to them.
His coming has the fighters dazed on either side,
But Brother Bag just sees the Heavens open wide.
“Why all this Hatred, Envy, Murder, Storm and Stress,
Where Faith’s Word should resound, and hymns of holiness?
In the full sight of God, where Heaven in twain divides,
Have you nought else to do but tan each other’s hides?”
The faithful flock gives ear and, much abashed, withdraws,
The Atheist mob just stares and brazenly guffaws.
Then Brother Bag: “Down here below is tumult, gore,
But up above there’s peace and bliss for evermore.
I see the Cherubim around the Almighty’s Throne,
I see the Lamb of God, the sole begotten son.
I see the glory of the Lord shine down so bright,
I see the angelic host in songs of praise unite,
I see — oh, bliss! — the Lamb of God begins to speak
And states its will to me, who am its servant meek:
‘I've pinned my hopes on Bruno Bauer all this while,
But the Arch-Fiend has cheated us of him by guile.
He who sat praying in his hermitage, alone,
Gives sinners now my holy Word to guzzle on.
He hounds my pious flock with desperate murderers.
His will be done; he'll know the meaning of my curse.
Be you the chosen one. Cross mountain, hill and valley,
Summon the Faithful ones to arms, and do not dally.
Go, let your trusty she-ass take you everywhere,
Go, preach the message of the Cross, and have no fear.
Put on the armour, armour of the Lord most high,
Await the day of battle, for that day draws nigh.
Then with the belt of Truth be sure your loins are girt;
For breastplate, Righteousness shall keep you safe from hurt.
With both legs booted, go you forth and do not yield,
Put out the fiery darts of Hell with Faith’s bright shield.
Put on Salvation’s helm that wards off mockery,
God’s Word shall be your sword; wield it courageously!'
Yea, Lord, I follow Thee. Thy servant flies apace
To spread Thy holy Word to all the sinful race! “
       Meanwhile, the pious crowd had gone to church to pray;
The godless went off boozing, in the usual way.
       But Brother Bag rode forth astride his animal,
And sang: “Praise to the Lord, praise to the Lord of All,
And may all folk on Earth in sweet content abide!”
His pious song was heard all over, far and wide.
So fared he forth and gave his animal free rein
To lead him where it would in God the Father’s name.
       Meanwhile, three sit in Leipzig. Glum and taciturn,
They've long been overdue in Satan’s hell to burn.
Wild Ruge’s one of those around the table there,
His broad fists propping up a head that’s full of care.
A valiant warrior, stout, seemingly hard to rattle;
But sharp as rapiers are his claws, well trained in battle.
He seems a philistine, beer-sodden, casual,
But deep inside his breast he bears the whole of Hell.
Laugh, Ruge, laugh! It’s very nearly judgment Day,
And then that mask you're wearing will be torn away!
The second eyes his glass with proud defiance — Prutz
The sinister, who’s hatching out infernal plots.
Mere human feeling is a thing he never uses;
Emotions, thoughts and deeds with him are all Medusas.
Innocent, trustful hearts devoid of doubt and schism
His sparkling rhymes corrupt with seeds of Atheism.
Laugh, Prutz, oh, laugh! It’s very nearly Judgment Day
And then the mask you wear, too, will be torn away.
Caressing his mustachios, t ‘ he third and last
Is Blücher-Wigand; he’s a scoundrel unsurpassed.
Thanks to his capital, the whole gang’s prop is he,
Untiring publisher of every blasphemy.
O Wigand with the Blücher beard, laugh, laugh away!
You'll surely be the Devil’s on that Judgment Day!
       Fuming with rage they gaze into each other’s eyes.
“Has all that money gone for nothing?” Wigand cries.
“Have I paid out so much, and done my very best,
To see the Halle Annals [Hallische Jahrbücher für deutsche Wissenschaft und Kunst ] totally suppressed?”
Growls Arnold Ruge: “Times are anything but good.
The Censor’s always out to suck my paper’s blood.
At least two-thirds of all my space he has to have,
Yet still they want my paper dead and in its grave!”
Then Prutz: “Alas, six months have passed, and here we are,
And still the Censor hasn’t passed a single par!
Things must ease up, or else I'll starve; I'll never make it,
Except by going back to love-songs — Devil take it!”
“What else am I to do?” says Ruge with a roar.
“I've got the Muses’ Almanack, [Deutscher Musenalmanach] and nothing more.
To Hell with Hegelising, then. I'll boost morale
With dreary novelettes and posies lyrical!”
“I'll get in touch with him at once,” continues Wigand,
“And get a new four-decker novel out of Mügge.
Come to my heart, oh, come, O sweet Belles-Lettres, do!
The Censor cuts Hegelian sophistries, not you!
My wings shall shield all German bards that care to come.
Minstrels and Tavern Fiddlers, make yourselves at home!
Brothers, your hands! Our line is to be different.
We're loyalists from now. Long live the Government!”
       The Devil walks straight in. “You wretched trash, for shame!
He castigates the Free[164] ones ‘with a tongue of flame.
“You think you're heroes, while your courage quite deserts you
As soon as you get banned, or when the Censor cuts you.
I ought to be ashamed. I let you take me in,
And never saw the Ass inside the Lion’s skin.
Well, just you wait awhile. It’s going to be a pleasure
To get you down in Hell and torture you at leisure.
But, no, you craven trash, you're nothing but small fry!
I'll chase you up to Heaven, up to the Lord on High!”
“Be reasonable!” Wigand is constrained to say.
“What, then, are we to do? Show us a better way!”
“You miserable scum!” cries Satan, most displeased.
“It’s plain you cannot even see the wood for trees!
For if the ban on Halle Annals bothers you,
just call them German [Deutsche Jahrbücher für Wissenschaft und Kunst], and start publishing anew.
You leave the Censorship to me. The will to fight
Is what you need and things will then come out all right.
Who with the Devil makes a binding covenant,
Must not turn tail and flee from every miscreant.
Courage is all you need. Now I must onwards press.
Rave on, as always, in the name of Godlessness!”
       He speaks and disappears. And lo! all starry-eyed,
Comes Brother Bag and sees the Heavens open wide.
Him bears the she-ass, mouthpiece of the Almighty’s Word;
She'll take him on his last ascent to meet his Lord.
He looks to Heav'n with God-intoxicated eyes
And says: “Blaspheming gang, I know your tricks and lies!
Thus saith the Lord your God: you are the Devil’s brood,
And ever seek to slake your thirst with righteous blood.
Once more, then, through my servant be my summons known
That you should kneel subservient before my Throne.
Do penance, saith the Lord, abase yourselves and crawl,
Or down to feed the flames of Hell you'll surely fall.
Thus saith the Lord your God: you'll either get converted
Or else I promise you I'll have you all degutted.
For sweet, I'll serve this gang of evil name to you,
My faithful Hengstenberg, and Bag, my servant true.
Their pious flesh shall be a living grave for you.
Thus saith the Lord your God.”
              And therewith he withdrew.