Letter to Friedrich Engels, February 13, 1863

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Author(s) Karl Marx
Written 13 February 1863


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Source: Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 41, p. 453;
First published: in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Stuttgart, 1913.

To Engels in Manchester

[London,] 13 February 1863[edit source]

Dear Frederick,

I enclose divers Urquhartiana. Of late, the fellows have really distinguished themselves by their stupidity. Take, for example, their ‘philosophy’ with regard to the movement in the United States.

I'd have written before now, but for some twelve days I've been strictly forbidden all reading, writing, or smoking. I had some kind of inflammation of the eye, combined with a most obnoxious affection of the nerves of the head. Things have improved to such an extent that I am venturing to write again for the first time at this moment. In between whiles I indulged in all manner of psychological fantasies about what it would feel like to be blind or insane.

What do you think of the Polish business? This much is certain, the era of revolution has now fairly opened in Europe once more. And the general state of affairs is good. But the comfortable delusions and almost childish enthusiasm with which we welcomed the revolutionary era before February 1848, have gone by the board. Old comrades such as Weerth, etc., are no more, others have fallen by the wayside or gone to the bad and, if there is new stock, it is, at least, not yet in evidence. Moreover, we now know what role stupidity plays in revolutions, and how they are exploited by blackguards. Incidentally, the ‘Prussian’ enthusiasts for the ‘Italian’ and ‘Hungarian’ nationalities are already finding themselves in a fix. The ‘Prussians’ are not going to deny their Russian sympathies. This time, let us hope, the lava will flow from East to West and not in the opposite direction, so that we shall be spared the ‘honour’ of the French initiative. Apart from that, the adventure in Mexico is providing a truly classical epilogue to the farce of the Lower Empire.

The ‘Herzenian’ soldiers appear to be setting about things in the traditional manner. However, there’s little to be deduced therefrom, either in respect of the masses in Russia, or even the bulk of the Russian Army. We know what was done by the ‘intelligent bayonets’ of the French, not to mention our own Rhineland ruffians in Berlin in 1848. But at present you should watch The Bell, for Herzen et cie. now have the chance to demonstrate their revolutionary integrity, — in so far as it is compatible with Slav predilections.

The Urquhartites will probably say that the Polish insurrection was stirred up by the St. Petersburg cabinet as a ‘diversion’ from Urquhart’s intended invasion of the Caucasus

In the United States things are going damned slowly. I hope that J. Hooker will extricate himself.

Well, make sure you first let me know what you're doing with yourself in Manchester now. It must be a damned lonely place for you. I know from my own experience how the region round Soho Square still sends a shiver down my spine if I happen to be anywhere near there.

Salut.

Your
K. M.