Letter to Friedrich Engels, July 12, 1861

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Author(s) Karl Marx
Written 12 July 1861


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Source: Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 41, p. 309;
First published: in MEGA, Berlin, 1930.
Keywords : Letter, Germany, Election

To Engels in Manchester

[London,] 12 July 1861[edit source]

Dear Engels,

Your last letter together with enclosure, or rather the enclosure minus letter, most gratefully received.

The grand tragi-comedy of Gottfried Kinkel has come to a worthy end, and poor Gottfried has been knocked on the head.

To put the grand goings-on into a nutshell, what actually happened was this: On 15 June, Gottfried and Co., as I have already related, had, off their own bat, held a special meeting, at which they passed resolutions agreeable to themselves. On 18 June, Heintzmann took the chair at an extraordinary meeting, whose agenda did not include the great point at issue, since they were still awaiting a reply from Coburg.

The crucial meeting finally took place on 6 July, an answer having meanwhile arrived from the oracle at Coburg. Both parties were there in force, including the 35 members of the Association of German Men bought by Gottfried for cash. However, before the day of the meeting there had already been a considerable amount of agitation. For instance, the Association of German Men had been harangued by Heinztmann et cie and told about Gottfried’s machinations. The chairman of that association, a ship agent by the name of Schmidt (a Hanoverian), went over to the ‘patriotic’ side, of course,

Heintzmann — by the by — has, of course, a twofold interest in view: on the one hand, to appear pleasing to the Prussian government, on the other, perhaps to obtain hac via from that government some important trustive office connected with the forthcoming industrial exhibition. From what I hear, the fellow has performed the office of chairman after the true heavy-handed fashion of your Royal Prussian Elberfeld prosecutor. Not that this isn’t the right way to handle the melodramatic Gottfried.

Well then, after the meeting (on 6 July) had been declared open, Heintzmann called for the reading of the minutes of 1 and 18 June. Neither Kinkel nor Zerffi dared so much as suggest that their minutes of the 15th should be read. Thus, they admit the illegality of the meeting secretly organised by themselves. Next, Heintzmann read out the letter from Coburg. The oracle over there had written as follows: While expulsion from the National Association could, of course, only be effected by the senate at Coburg, expulsion from the comite (as in Zerffi’s case) was a local matter and hence must be decided In London.

Now, it so happened that the election of new officials to the London National Association was in general due to take place on 6 July. Hence, when Schmidt moved that they proceed with the agenda and allow the elections to decide the case, his motion was carried.

Gottfried made a very long speech and generally conducted himself in a melodramatically excited manner. The few hairs he still possesses stood on end. He was by turns acrimonious and threatening and even, at times, had recourse to irony, a field that is quite foreign to him. Throughout his speech, the utmost disorder reigned. Hissing. Notably, too, reiterated shouts of ‘Gottfried’, which he always regards as a grievous outrage. But oddest of all, it seems, was the manner in which, during the succeeding debate, even though he no longer had the floor, Gottfried kept leaping to his feet in order to interrupt, whereupon Heintzmann, raising a menacing arm, caused him by a mere gesture. to subside into his seat.

At the elections Gottfried and his whole gang were thoroughly trounced. Heintzmann was elected chairman by 133 votes to Gottfried’s 5. So, even the fellows he had suborned voted for the most part against him. No sooner had these results been proclaimed than he apparently adopted a most ‘dignified’ pose, a synthesis of the ‘dying gladiator’ and ‘Christ crucified’. Has Gottfried deserved this of ‘his beloved Germany’?

In the meantime, however, that creature Blind — who, as a ‘republican’, does not, of course, belong to the National Association had succeeded by dint of obsequiousness, sharp practice, and intrigues of all kinds in having himself loudly acclaimed as the courageous and patriotic champion of Schleswig-Holstein at both the National Association meetings of 15 and 18 June.

So much for this war between mice and frogs. You will have seen that even the Kladderadatsch contained a joke or two at the expense of the noble poet.

Salut.

Your
K. M.