Letter to Friedrich Engels, December 10, 1869

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Author(s) Karl Marx
Written 10 December 1869


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Source: Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 43, p. 396;
First published: abridged in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Stuttgart, 1913 and in full in MEGA, Berlin, 1931.

To Engels in Manchester

London, 10 December 1869[edit source]

Dear Fred,

D'abord, about the Solingen business. (Are £2 necessary here? I think only one.)

These people have bothered me, the General Council, the Basle Congress etc., with their appeals. They themselves admit that their productive cooperative is only of local interest. How can they expect foreign countries to contribute a single farthing to them, in view of the international sacrifices that the strikes, etc., cost, and of the tribulations of hundreds of French and English production cooperatives? They have seen what benefit they have gained from Becker’s enthusiastic appeals.

On the other hand: these Solingen people are supporters for you and me in the Rhine Province. They belonged (the leaders) to the League. Under Lassalle’s lordly sway, when Marquis Izzy [Lassalle] was in Cologne, the same Karl Klein announced a toast for us, the editors of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung, and Izzy was forced de faire bonne mine à mauvais jeu [grin and bear it]. Further, their cooperative was solid and maintained itself for years. The stupidity of the Prussian legislation forced them to fix their capital and thus reduce their working capital. Then the Rhenish bourgeois became irritable and decided to break them up, partly by selling their obligations, and partly by withdrawing all commercial advances (not based on obligations).

Thus, the business is of general importance and, for us, personal importance.

What I suggest is this:

You send the fellows 50 thaler for obligations, and tell them, at the same time, that they must themselves see you can do nothing for them among the English bourgeois in Manchester. Tell them as well — and this is a fact — that I in London have made all possible efforts on their behalf, but in vain. Finally, tell them — and I shall try this immediately — that I shall try to raise money for them among the German bourgeois I shall — naturally you will not tell them this — write immediately to Menke in Hamburg to this end. It is possible that Menke (who is a millionaire, and has read Capital from beginning to end, and furnished it with ‘correcting notes’, which he himself showed me) will do something. 2,000 thaler are nothing to such people. They would naturally, d'abord, send somebody to Solingen to look at how the thing works. If the business is not capable of surviving, it should not and may not receive support. If the contrary, then I am certain that these people (Menke et Co.) will provide the money.

Ad voce: Irish question. I did not attend the Central Council last Tuesday. My ‘family’ did not allow me to go in this fog and in my present state of health, although I had undertaken to open the debates.

With regard to the report in the National Reformer, not only has nonsense been attributed to me, but even what is rightly reported is incorrectly reported. But I didn’t want to complain. D’abord, I would, thereby, offend the reporter (Harris). Second, as long as I don’t interfere, all these reports are in no way official. If I correct something, I admit the rest is right — yet everything is wrong the way it is reproduced. Besides, I have reasons not to convert these reports into legal evidence against me, which happens the moment I correct details.

The way I shall express the matter next Tuesday is: that, quite apart from all ‘international’ and ‘humane’ phrases about Justice for Ireland — which are taken for granted on the International Council — it is in the direct and absolute interests of the English working class to get rid of their present connexion with Ireland. I am fully convinced of this, for reasons that, in part, I cannot tell the English workers themselves. For a long time I believed it would be possible to overthrow the Irish regime by English working class ascendancy. I always took this viewpoint in the New-York Tribune. Deeper study has now convinced me of the opposite. The English working class will never accomplish anything before it has got rid of Ireland. The lever must be applied in Ireland. This is why the Irish question is so important for the social movement in general.

I have read a lot of Davies in extracts. The book itself I have only glanced through superficially in the Museum, so you would oblige me if you would copy out for me the passages relating to common property. You must get hold of Curran’s ‘Speeches’ edited by Davies (London: James Duffy, 22 Paternoster Row). I meant to give it to you when you were in London. It is now circulating among the English members of the Central Council, and God knows when I shall see it again. For the period 1779-1800 (Union) it is of decisive importance, not only because of Curran’s ‘Speeches’ (namely in court; I regard Curran as the sole great lawyer (people’s advocate) of the 18th century, and the noblest personality, while Grattan was a parliamentary rogue), but because you find all the sources about the United Irishmen. This period is of the greatest interest, scientifically and dramatically. First, the dirty infamies of the English in 1588-89 repeated (perhaps even intensified) in 1788-89. Second, class movement is easily shown in the Irish movement itself. Third, the infamous policy of Pitt. Fourth, which very much irks Messrs the English, the proof that Ireland came to grief because in fact, from a revolutionary standpoint, the Irish were too far advanced for the English King and Church mob, while, on the other hand, English reaction in England (as in Cromwell’s time) had its roots in the subjugation of Ireland. This period must be described in at least one chapter: a pillory for John Bull!

Enclosed something French — and, as a contrast, Freiligrath-ish!

I would be glad if you would send the money for the next quarter as soon as possible.

Apropos. Tussy has undertaken a foolish work, embroidering a sofa cushion for you for Christmas. I don’t believe she will be finished, before the New Year. She allows neither Mama, nor Jennychen, nor Lenchen to sew a single stitch, so she has done nothing else for weeks. This is, however, a great secret, and you must naturally not give the slightest hint that you know about it. Tussy would eat me alive.

Compliments to Mrs Lizzy.

Your
K. Moor

Of the French stuff I am sending you, Gaulois — half Bonapartist, half opposition — is stupid. Père Duchèsne will astonish you by its impudence. And in such a state of things the bitch Eugénie dares to push herself forward ... ? She really wants to get hanged.

Apropos. The translation of Capital goes on. Keller has now interrupted it, however. He wants to publish 18th Brumaire first, believing this possible under the present circumstances and important for France.

As for the current Irish movement, 3 important factors: 1. opposition to lawyers and trading politicians and Blarney; 2. opposition to the dictates of the priests who (the higher ones) are traitors, as in O'Connell’s time, just as in 1798-1800; 3. the emergence of the agricultural labouring class against the farming class on the last meetings. (Similar phenomenon from 1795 to 1800.)

The Irishman only made its way owing to the suppression of the Fenian Press. For a long time it stood in opposition to Fenianism. Luby, etc., of the Irish People were educated people who treated religion as a bagatelle. The government cast them into prison, and then came the Pigotts et Co. The Irishman will only continue to amount to anything until those people come out of prison. He knows this, though he is now squeezing political capital out of declarations on behalf of the ‘felon convicts’.