Letter to Emil Blank, May 24, 1848

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Author(s) Friedrich Engels
Written 24 May 1848

Source: Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 38, p. 175;
First published: in Marx and Engels, Works, First Russian Edition, 1934.

To Emil Blank in London

Air extract from this letter was published in English for the first time in: Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Selected Correspondence, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1975.

Cologne, 24 May 1848 14, Höhle[edit source]

Dear Emil,

I arrived here in Cologne last Saturday. The [Neue] Rheinische Zeitung will be appearing on 1 June. But if we are not at once to come up against obstacles, some preliminary arrangements must be made in London, and we are taking the liberty of entrusting these to you since there’s nobody else there.

1. Arrange at any newsman’s for a subscription to The Telegraph (daily paper) and The Economist, weekly paper, from the time this letter arrives until 1 July. The newsman, whose address you can give us to save being bothered again later on, should include both papers in one wrapper or paper band — in the way papers are customarily sent — and dispatch them daily, addressed to Mr W. Clouth, St, Agatha, 12, Cologne, via Ostend.[1]

2. Please forward the enclosed letters.

3. Pay the cost of the subscription to the two papers, the postage of this letter, etc., etc., and charge them at once to the dispatch department of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung, St Agatha, 12, Cologne, stating to whom the sum is to be sent, and it will be done at once.

The necessary capital for the newspaper has been raised. Everything is going well, all that remains is the question of the papers, and then we can start. We are already getting The Times and, for the first month, we need no other English papers than the two above-mentioned. Should you ever happen upon something worthy of note in another paper, we should be grateful if you would send it to us. Any expense will, of course, immediately be refunded. Papers containing detailed information on trade, the state of business, etc., etc., are also desirable. Write some time and let me know what papers are now to be had there, so that we know how we stand.

I didn’t, of course, see Marie, as I had to leave before she arrived. But I'll be going over there some time soon, when things here are really under way. Barmen, by the way, is more boring than ever and is filled with a general hatred for what little freedom they have. The jackasses believe that the world exists solely to enable them to make tidy profits and, since these are now at a low ebb, they are screeching gruesomely. If they want freedom they must pay for it, as the French and English have had to do; but these people think they ought to have everything for nothing. Here things are looking up a little, if not very much. The Prussians are still the same as ever, the Poles are being branded with lunar caustic and, at the moment of writing, Mainz is being bombarded by the Prussians because the Civic Guard arrested a few drunken and rampaging soldiers[2] — the sovereign National Assembly in Frankfurt hears the firing and doesn’t seem to take any notice.[3] In Berlin Camphausen is taking it easy, while reaction, the rule of officials and aristocrats grows daily more insolent, irritates the people, the people revolt and Camphausen’s spinelessness and cowardice lead us straight towards fresh revolutions. That is Germany as it now is! Adieu.

F. E.

  1. Here and below Engels gives the addresses of the editorial office and the dispatch department of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung which at the beginning was printed by Clouth (12 St Agatha) and from 30 August 1848 by Dietz (17 Unter Hutmacher).
  2. In the spring of 1848 the Polish national liberation uprising broke out in the Grand Duchy of Posen subject to Prussia. The Prussian General Pfuel ordered that all the insurgents who had been taken prisoner should be shaved and their hands and ears branded with silver nitrate.

    In May 1848 a clash took place between the soldiers and the civic militia in Mainz, which the fortress commander Hüser used as a pretext to send troops to disarm the latter. The conflict was discussed in the Frankfurt National Assembly which, however, did not take any serious measures to stop the arbitrary actions of the Prussian military authorities.
  3. The all-German National Assembly, which opened on 18 May 1848 in Frankfurt am Main, was convened for the purpose of unifying the country and drawing up its constitution. The liberal majority of the Assembly turned it into a debating club engaged in fruitless discussions such as on the disarmament of the civic militia in Mainz.