Letter to Friedrich Engels, April 23, 1866

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To Engels in Manchester

[London,] 23 April 1866[edit source]

Dear Fred,

You will have had little difficulty in explaining my long silence as arising from the mental condition that is generated by more than 2 weeks of incessant toothache and rheumatism. However, a turning-point appears to have been reached today.

As the pain of the rheumatism, which was particularly acute at night, greatly interfered with my sleep and my whole domestic routine — as a consequence of which I was several times attacked by vomiting — I thought it wise to stop, or suspend, the arsenic. But I shall continue with it again now (if a turning-point has really been reached). Nor is there the slightest sign of any furuncular or carbuncular bother, and I have not the slightest doubt that once I am over these incidents, which are connected more with the weather, I shall be fully restored. But indeed it is high time as I have already lost so much time.

With the ‘International’ the situation is as follows: since my return discipline has by and large been re-established. The successful intervention of the ‘International’ in the tailors’ strike (by means of letters from the secretaries for France, Belgium, etc.) has also created a sensation among the Trades Unions here. With respect to the Geneva Congress, I have resolved to do all that I can here to promote its success, but not to attend it in person. I thereby evade all personal responsibility for its conduct.

As far as The Commonwealth is concerned, the encroachments of Miall et Co. would be more tolerable if they were at least founded on the pretext of financial assistance really worthy of mention. But the fellows are exceedingly liberal with good advice and petty criticisms, and exceedingly parsimonious with cash, so that the existence of the paper is assured only from one week to the next. Its readership is spreading week by week, but a penny paper, be it ever so successful, needs to be funded for at least a year ahead. To make it self-supporting in a shorter space of time is quite out of the question. If the paper is for the moment no worse than it is, then that is thanks to Fox alone, who has to fight a continuing battle.

For the present, they do not seem to be coming to blows in the Fatherland after all. Prussian braggadocio is slow indeed to draw the sword! Whatever the outcome, we shall have the pleasure of a Prussian disgrace before both a domestic and foreign audience. For all that, it still seems uncertain whether war might not break out one fine morning. The Russians want war (although they have indeed already gained and are continuing to gain much merely from the bickering and bellicose threats in Germany), and for Bonaparte it would be a God-send. At all events, Mr Bismarck has set ‘the movement’ going again in Germany.

The phase of the Civil War over, only now have the United States really entered the revolutionary phase, and the European wiseacres who believe in the omnipotence of Mr Johnson will soon be disappointed.

In England, the Tories and Palmerstonian Whigs really deserve thanks for frustrating Russell’s quiet settlement. At one of the latest sittings, Mr Gladstone himself, expressed his ‘melancholy’ conviction that now, quite contrary to his benevolent expectations, a ‘long series of struggles’ was imminent.

What do you say to the ‘8th’ sage of the world — [J.S.] Mill?

Best regards to Mrs Lizzy.

Tout à vous
K. M.