Letter to Friedrich Engels, February 25, 1865

From Marxists-en
Jump to navigation Jump to search

To Engels in Manchester

[London,] 25 February 1865[edit source]

Dear Fred,

I quite forgot — *you must excuse me — to send back Weydemeyer’s letter. I enclose it. Ditto a letter of Dr Kugelmann with enclosure of wiseacre Miquel’s letter. Ditto a prescription* from Kugelmann. Oddly enough the prescription arrived just after the disease had broken out afresh. (Nota bene, the passage in Kugelmann’s letter, saying I wrote that I wanted to defend Lassalle, referred to Blind’s attack. I have now told him (Kugelmann) the plain truth. Return the letters from Kugelmann and Miquel.) I have had the prescription made up and have already taken the powder, but I would still like Gumpert’s opinion of it. It’s a most troublesome business. Unlike last year, however, my faculties are not affected and (to the extent that sitting down for a long time is not physically troublesome) I am perfectly able to work. Incidentally, I have the feeling in every part of my cadaver that the stuff is about to burst out all over.

Strohn passed by here. He was still in Hamburg when your manuscript came in, in the nick of time to recommend to Meissner that he should accept it. Strohn was informed that a manuscript from Rüstow on the same topic was rejected. Apropos. Have you taken any steps yourself regarding your pamphlet in the newspapers, or am I to do it? On this occasion, Eccarius himself was responsible for the incomprehensible blunder. When his article arrived, I wrote to him at once (22 February) enquiring whether the thing had been falsified by Schweitzer? Quod non.

When I sent our statement to that jackass Wilhelm [Liebknecht] (23 February), I wrote this to him:

‘In the few brief excerpts, which Eccarius gives from my speech at the workers’ society, there are certain things that convey precisely the opposite of what I said. I have written to him about it, leaving it to him whether to correct it or not in the next piece he contributes, as it is not very important in the present circumstances.'

My letters to Eccarius and Liebknecht have been written so that, if Schweitzer (who from the private letter he had just previously received from me very well knew what he was about, of course) should try to use Eccarius’ blunder to defend himself, we could if necessary cut off this retraite. Meanwhile, I have told Eccarius privately not to make any bother about the whole filthy business until such time as Schweitzer’s own behaviour requires it. Eccarius was very unwell, and that is probably to blame for the nonsense. On the other hand, I imagine that Schweitzer, who already had Wilhelm’s resignation in his possession and was therefore prepared for a statement from us, was delighted to accept the report, 1. so as to show by means of the passage about Prussia what extravagant demands we were making of him, and 2. by means of the conclusion to the report that we did in fact share his views. The galantuomo [honourable man] is forgetting, by the way, that I have kept copies of my private letter to him.

I have informed Liebknecht that, if Schweitzer should turn it down, he should put the thing in the Berliner Reform and tell Schweitzer about this at the same time, and also that I have simultaneously sent the statement to two Rhineland papers, so that Schweitzer cannot procrastinate this time. I have in fact sent 2 copies to Siebel, instructing him to insert the thing in the Rheinische Zeitung and the Dusseldorfer Zeitung (the latter being the workers’ paper) two days after receipt of my letter, and to send us a report on any comments in the local press. So, this time there is nothing Schweitzer can do about it any more. I would not be surprised if the Lassalleans, especially in the Hamburg Nordstern, declared we had sold ourselves to the bourgeoisie. But never mind!

The ‘International Association’ has managed so to constitute the majority on the committee to set up the new Reform League that the whole leadership is in our hands. I have put the full details in a letter to E. Jones.

Such a conflict has broken out in Paris between our own representatives that we have sent Lubez to Paris to clarify matters and effect conciliation. His credentials state that Schily has been attached to him as an adjunct, and I have given Schily private instructions. We could have sold 20,000 cards in Paris, but since one group was accusing the other of having Plon-Plon behind them, etc., the distribution of cards has had to be suspended for the time being. Under this military despotism, people are naturally highly suspicious of each other (my impression is that this time both sides are doing each other an injustice), and they are not capable of sorting out their differences and reaching an understanding by meeting or through the press. A further factor is this: the workers seem to want to take things to the point of excluding any literary man, etc., which is absurd, as they need them in the press, but it is pardonable in view of the repeated treachery of the literary men. Conversely, the latter are suspicious of any workers’ movement, which displays hostility towards them.

(Apropos these ‘literary men’, I am reminded that the workers here (English) want to make me editor when The Bee-Hive is transformed, which is to happen in 3 months time, and have already informed me of this. However, I shall mull over the matter in all its multifarious aspects, before making a move in one direction or another.)

So, what we have in Paris is, on the one hand, Lefort (a literary man, well-to-do into the bargain, in other words ‘bourgeois’ but with an unsullied reputation, and, as far as La belle France is concerned, the real founder of our Association), and, on the other, Tolain, Fribourg, Limousin, etc., who are workers. Well, I shall let you know the outcome. At all events, Wolff, an acquaintance, who has just returned from Paris, tells me that there is growing interest in the ‘International Association’. The Debats has also intervened in the matter.

As far as the London unions, etc., are concerned, every day brings about new adhesion, so that by and by we are becoming a force to be reckoned with.

But that is where the difficulty begins as well. Already Mr Beales (the Registering Barrister of Middlesex, one of the most popular people in London at present, President of the Polish League, co-founder of the new Reform League, in fact the go-between between workingman and middle class, honest and well-meaning to boot) has got himself proposed as member for our Council. The opportunity arose because as a subcommittee together with him we were to prepare the Polish meeting (Marquis Townshend in the chair) for next Wednesday. This was most unfortunate for me. I could, of course, have prevented the matter by force, as all the Continentals would have voted with me. But I did not like any such division. So, by means of private letters to the principal English members, I have managed to persuade Beales’ proposer not to bring forward his motion again. The ‘official’ reason given was: 1. that Beales will stand for Marylebone at the next parliamentary elections and that our Association must by all means avoid appearing to serve the interests of any Parliamentary ambition; 2. that Beales and we ourselves can be of greater assistance to each other, if we sail our separate ships. Thus, the danger has been temporarily averted. Incidentally, other parliamentarians, such as Taylor, etc. (fellows, who have close links with Mazzini), had taken it into their heads to tell us that the time was not opportune for a Polish meeting. I answered through our Council that the working class has its own foreign policy, which is most certainly not determined by what the middle class considers opportune. They always considered it opportune to goad on the Poles at the beginning of a new outbreak, to betray them during its progress by their diplomacy, and to desert them when Russia had thrown them down. In fact, the chief purpose of the meeting is to raise money to support them. Are the poor émigrés (this time mostly workingmen and peasants and thus not in the least protected by Prince Zamoyski et Co.) to starve because it appears to the English middle class just now inopportune to mention even the name of Poland?

Cutting enclosed by Mr Blind from The Morning Star. Mazzini, who did tell Fontana that Blind was a liar, was absolutely furious that his Italian Workers’ Association here sent out the Italian version of my ‘Address’ into the world without the omissions Mr Mazzini had expressly demanded, e.g. the passages attacking the middle class.

K. M.

Apropos. Some port wine and claret would do me a world of good under present circumstances.