Letter to Friedrich Engels, February 13, 1855

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Author(s) Karl Marx
Written 13 February 1855


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Source: Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 39, p. 522;
First published: abridged in Der Wechsel zwischen F. Engels, und K. Marx, 1913 and in full in Marx and Engels, Works, 1929.

To Engels in Manchester

[London,] 13 February 1855, 28 Dean Street, Soho[edit source]

Dear Engels,

Firstly an acknowledgment of receipt of the ‘bullion’, and secondly of today’s splendid article. For the past 4 -5 days I have been prevented from writing, hence also to you, by a severe inflammation of the eyes which is not yet fully cleared up: also, as a result of the cold weather my usual secretary [Jenny] has not risen from her bed again as quickly as is her wont. However I think that she will shortly be able to return to her post. My eye trouble was brought on by reading through my own note-books on economics, the intention being, not so much to elaborate the thing, as at any rate to master the material and get it ready to work on.

I have told you how Herzen elbowed his way on to the ‘International Committee’. Enclosed is a letter from him in which he proffers thanks for the ‘invitation’ which ‘was never made’. The letter was intended for publication in The People’s Paper in order to assert his importance coram publico. This miscarried, for I immediately wheedled the scrawl out of Jones. However Herzen has had himself nominated a steward.

Also enclosed a 2nd letter, in which this committee invites me to the banquet and ‘to take part in the meeting’. I do not want to offend the crapauds, still less the Chartists. So the question is: in what form I should couch my refusal. Tell me your view by return. The thing must be declined, 1. because such meetings are, on the whole, humbug; 2. because at this moment it would be to expose oneself uselessly to governmental persecution, and Palmerston has his eye on me; 3. because at no time and in no place do I wish to appear alongside Herzen, not being of the view that Old Europe should be rejuvenated with Russian blood. Should one’s reply, perhaps, include some reference to Herzen’s presence?

Jones has done something infinitely ‘stupid’, indeed gone completely off the rails, in leaving the management of the affair to the crapauds and the German louts. He sacrificed everything to the desire to show, at a big public meeting, that the foreign emigrations were in the tow of the Chartists. The meeting will be a large one and create an uproar, but as a result: 1. Urquhart and Co. (likewise The Times if the thing creates a sensation) will denounce the Chartists as being led by Russian agents. This is unavoidable. 2. It will provide the Ministry with a pretext for reviving the Aliens Bill. Discord within the Chartist Party has already broken out. A section of the London Chartists maintains that Jones has arbitrarily departed from the Charter and compromised their whole cause by adopting the slogan ‘social and democratic republic’ when forming the branch committee which is to be the connecting link between the Chartists and the foreign emigration. There is no denying the extent of Jones’ energy, persistence and activity, yet he goes and spoils everything by the way he cries his wares, by his tactless striving after pretexts for agitation and his anxiety to be ahead of the time. If he can’t agitate in reality, he seeks an appearance of agitation, improvises movements after movements (so that, of course, everything remains at a standstill) and periodically works himself up into a state of fictitious exaltation. I have warned him, but in vain.

Mr Golovin — Herzen’s fidus Achates — has inserted in today’s Morning Advertiser, under the heading ‘February Revolution’, a small notice to the effect that

‘he has heard that Herzen is to represent Russia, or rather liberal Russia, at the banquet. His name alone betrays that he is a German, or rather a German Jew. In Russia the Czar is criticised for making especial use of these people. The emigration should take care not to fall into the same error’.

If, as the Paris correspondent writes in the 2nd Edition of today’s Morning Chronicle, Bonaparte minor assumes personally the supreme command of the Army of the Rhine against Prussia, the ‘campagne’ might end badly for the French.

Your
K. M.