Letter to Friedrich Engels, April 16, 1856

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To Engels in Manchester

London, 16 April 1856[edit source]

Dear Frederic,

A packet went off to you today through the usual parcels company. It contains: 1. Kars papers. 2. Igor. 3. Destrilhes, Confidences sur La Turquie. 4. 2 issues of L'Homme; in one, the letter from Cayenne, in the other, Pyat’s litany to Marianne, which he read aloud on 25 February of this year at a Chartist meeting in honour of the French Revolution. The good fellow was, of course, hoping to see a repetition of the row caused by his ‘lettre à la reine’. Was disappointed, however. From this you will also gather how subordinate is the attitude adopted by the French would-be revolutionaries here vis-à-vis ‘Marianne’. 5. 2 cuttings from The People's Paper, my first 2 articles on the Kars papers. Shall also send you third and final instalments. Since the original of Article 1 had gone astray, and time, not to mention Ernest Jones, was pressing, I had to do a hasty rehash of the Tribune article out of my head, so that sundry bits of nonsense have crept in which will certainly not elude your keen nose. But never mind that! I mention it simply to let you know why I didn’t send you the thing straight away.

The day before yesterday a little banquet took place to celebrate the anniversary of The People's Paper. On this occasion, the times seeming to require it, I accepted the invitation, the more so since (as announced in the paper) I alone of the whole emigration was invited, and the first toast also fell to me, i.e. I was asked to propose one to the souveraineté du prolétariat dans tous les pays. So I made a short speech in English, which, however, I shall not allow to appear in print. The end I sought has been achieved. Mr Talandier — who had to pay 2/6d for his ticket — is now convinced, like the rest of the French and other émigré crews, that we are the Chartists’ only ‘intimate’ allies and that, though we may hold aloof from public demonstrations and leave it to the Frenchmen to flirt openly with Chartism, it is always in our power to resume the position already allotted to us by history. This had become all the more necessary because, at the above-mentioned meeting of 25 February presided over by Pyat, the German lout Scherzer (Old Boy) spoke and, in truly dreadful Straubingerian Style, denounced the German ‘scholars’, the ‘intellectual workers’, for having left them (the louts) in the lurch, thus forcing them to make fools of themselves in the eyes of the other nationalities. You will remember Scherzer from Paris days. I have met friend Schapper again several times and have found him very much the repentant sinner. The retirement in which he has been living for the past 2 years would seem rather to have sharpened his wits than otherwise. As you will realise, there are all sorts of contingencies in which it might be advantageous to have the man to hand and, still more, to have him out of the hands of Willich. Schapper is now furiously angry with the Windmill louts.

I shall forward your letter to Steffen. You ought to have kept Levy’s letter there. Do so in general with all letters I don’t ask you to return. The less they go through the post the better. I fully agree with you about the Rhine Province. As for us, the worst of it is that, looming in the future, I see something that looks like ‘high treason’. Whether we are forced into the same kind of position as the Mainz Clubbists in the old revolution will largely depend on the tournure things take in Berlin. Ça sera dur. We, who are so enlightened about our good frères from across the Rhine! The whole thing in Germany will depend on whether it is possible to back the Proletarian revolution by some second edition of the Peasants war. In which case the affair should go swimmingly.

I have heard nothing whatever about Stieber II. Write and tell me what you know on this score.

Now for the chronique scandaleuse.

The Pieper comedy came to an end as abrupt as it was bitter. On the one hand, he got a letter in which the old greengrocer turned him down out of hand and forbade him the house. On the other, the green-bespectacled screech-owl — an indescribably hideous piece of baggage — turned up at our house in search of ‘her’ Pieper. She proposed that they should elope together. With great tact he refused quite unequivocally. So the comedy is over. It is to be hoped that this bitter experience, the result of his irresistibleness, will have some salutary effect upon Prince Charming.

Enclosed a letter from Seiler. As soon as this Falstaff arrived in New York he caught Edgar [von Westphalen] just as the latter was about to set out for Texas. Edgar has in the meantime come into some money from the inheritance. The nasty consequences of this meeting with Seiler will be apparent to you from the letter.

A fine pair, Seiler and Conrad Schramm!


K. M.