Letter to Friedrich Engels, December 10, 1864

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Author(s) Karl Marx
Written 10 December 1864

Source: Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 42, p. 53;
First published: in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Bd. 3, Stuttgart, 1913.

To Engels in Manchester

[London,] 10 December 1864[edit source]

Dear Fred,

My compliments to Mrs Lizzy.

You had already given me your private address some time ago, but not the ‘firm’ to which to write. I am very glad to have it now, as I sometimes find it desirable to drop you a few lines on Saturdays.

The £5 for Wilhelm [Liebknecht] is already on its way to Berlin today.

You have not sent me back the Becker. However cunningly, the Red fancies he has extricated himself from the matter, his letter is a document which one fine morning he may find to turn up for unforeseen purposes. The old Hatzfeldt woman will, incidentally, ensure that the statement gets to the right person.

What about Sherman’s expedition?

Apropos. Your poor-house Purdy is said to have published an absolutely disgraceful document during the cotton-famine, recommending reducing support to a minimum, on the grounds that the health of the cotton-operatives was said to have improved; as a result of this, famine diseases are said to have broken out in the East of Lancashire. (That was in the early days of the cotton-famine.) Do you know anything about it? And, in general, can you obtain for me the official papers in Manchester (of the Committee, etc.) relating to the cotton-famine?

Lothario Bucher, whom Lassalle appointed executor to his will and to whom he left £150 a year pension, has, as you probably already know, gone over to Bismarck’s camp. Baron Izzy [Lassalle] would perhaps have done the same himself as ‘Minister of Labour’, Marquis Posa to Philipp II of the Uckermark, but not in the small way of Lothario, with whom the Hatzfeldt woman has fallen out and who can now shake hands with Edgar Bauer and the Prussian consul in Milan, Mr R. Schramm. The Prussians were looking for a post for Mr Schramm ‘where yer don’t need no exam’. I also fancy Mr Rodbertus’ intentions are ‘none too ‘onourable’ because he is claiming to ‘have entirely divorced the social question from politics’ [quoting Liebknecht’s letter of 2 Dec 1864], a sure sign that he has got the ministerial itch. What a contemptible gang, all that riff-raff from Berlin, Brandenburg and Pomerania!

I fancy there is a secret understanding between Prussia, Russia and France for the war against Austria in next Spring. Venetia will, of course, provide the war-cry. The Austrians are behaving with abysmal cowardice and stupidity. This ensues from Francis Joseph himself interfering personally in Austrian politics. Buol-Schauenstein, etc., all the sensible hommes d'état, are obliged to keep their traps shut, and the Russian agents, such notorious fellows as the present Austrian Foreign Minister, are giving all the orders. For all that, the Austrians’ behaviour would be inexplicable, unless these fellows either have faith in Prussia’s perfidious promises or are determined to accept the long-standing promise of compensation in Turkey.

What do you say to Collet’s profound discoveries — based on Urquhart — about Nebuchadnezzar and the Russians’ Assyrian ancestry, and the further discovery, which is cited as ‘Urquhart’s’, that in Italy the Pope is the only real thing?

Today’s The Miner and Workman’s Advocate — the Moniteur of the mineworkers in England and Wales — is printing the whole of my ‘Address’. The London ‘bricklayers’ (over 3,000 men) have announced they are joining the International Association, and they are fellows who have never before joined a movement.

There was a sub-committee meeting last Tuesday, at which Mr Peter Fox (his real name is P. Fox Andre) presented his address on Poland to us. (This kind of thing is always dealt with beforehand in the subcommittee before going to the general committee.) The piece is not badly written and Fox has endeavoured to apply the concept of ‘class’, at least a semblance of it, although it is normally alien to him. His real forte is foreign policy, and it is only as a propagandist of atheism that he has had dealings with the working classes as such.

But easy though it is to get the English workers to accept a rational approach, one has to be all the more careful the moment men of letters, members of the bourgeoisie or semi-literary people become involved in the movement. Fox, like his friend Beesly (Professor of Political Economy at the University of London, he took the chair at the founding meeting in St Martin’s Hall) and other ‘democrats’, have a fanatical ‘love’ of France, which, as far as foreign policy is concerned, they extend not only to Napoleon I but even to Boustrapa, as opposed to what they call, not without justice, the English aristocratic tradition, and as a continuation of what they call the English democratic tradition of 1791/92. Well! Not content in his address (which, incidentally, is not to appear as an address from the whole Association but as an address from the English section concerning the Polish question, endorsed by the whole Committee) with telling the Poles, which is true, that the French people has been traditionally more sympathetic towards them than the English, Mr Fox winds up his address mainly by consoling the Poles with the passionate friendship that the English working classes have conceived for the French democrats. I opposed this and unfolded a historically irrefutable tableau of the constant French betrayal of Poland from Louis XV to Bonaparte III. At the same time, I pointed out how thoroughly inappropriate it was that the Anglo-French Alliance should appear as the ‘core’ of the International Association, albeit in a democratic version. To cut matters short, Fox’s address was accepted by the subcommittee on condition that he altered the ‘tail’ in accordance with my suggestions. Jung, the Swiss Secretary (from French Switzerland), declared that, as a minority on the General Council, he would move that the address be rejected as altogether ‘bourgeois’.

Our Major Wolff has been locked up by the Piedmontese for the moment in the fortress of Alexandria.

Louis Blanc has written to the General Secretary Cremer that he approves the ‘Address’ and regrets not having been able to attend the St Martin’s Hall meeting, etc. Altogether, the sole purpose of his letter is to get him co-opted an honorary member. Foreseeing that attempts of this kind would be made, I had, however, fortunately got the by-law accepted that no one (except workers’ societies) could be invited to join and that nobody at all could be an honorary member.


K. M.

Gumpert will get the photograph as soon as he sends me the long-promised one of his wife.