Letter to Friedrich Engels, June 24, 1865

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To Engels in Manchester

[London,] 24 June 1865[edit source]

Dear Fred,

You must excuse my long silence. The whole time I have been suffering throughout from bilious nausea (probably on account of the heat), had all kinds of other troubles as well, and apart from that I have used the time, when fit to write, for official work on my book. [Capital] You know how, when one is in such a condition, one is always resolving to send letters but never manages to.

Not much new to report. The valiant Nordstern did not appear since my last despatch to you, probably for lack of money. I received it again today, and it does not mention the interval at all. As you will see, the rag is nothing but a dungheap of loutism. In their denunciation of B. Becker, these fellows are now declaring everyone a ‘traitor’ who dares to lay a finger on even one syllable of the truth as revealed by Lassalle. Meanwhile, Mr B. Becker has provisionally ceded his chairmanship to that lout Fritzsche (of Leipzig) and set up his residence in Berlin in order to do business with Mr Bismarck directly.

A pretty shambles Baron Izzy’s whole movement has degenerated into! But the fellow obviously had the right instinct for how to make himself Saviour of the German louts! Meanwhile, the ‘unfaithful one’ is living in blissful happiness as a boyar lady with her Wallachian in Bucharest.

I have had no letters from Liebknecht for some while. But that is no doubt because for a long time, while my correspondence was suspended, I did not answer the notes that used to come in almost daily from him, none of them having anything to say, and each successive one invariably confirming the nullity of its precursor.

In respect of the ‘International Association’, I will just mention the following here:

The Italian gentlemen have come back and indicated to us last Tuesday that they have yet once again nominated Major Wolff as their delegate. Mr Mazzini appears to have convinced himself that he may need us, whereas we care not a farthing for him.

A Yankee by the name of Leon Lewis (in Paris at the moment) has become the American secretary. In my opinion, he is worthless, although he has plenty of money and even more ambition. The fellow imagined that by founding a paper, The Commoner, he could revolutionise England in 24 hours or in 6 months at the very least. He offered this paper-to-be to us as our organ, but found that we are setting very business-like and by no means enthusiastic conditions, and so he has ‘temporarily’ left for France with his wife, who is also a great politician, I suspect to see if he can apply his ‘lever’ there with any more success.

I should like your advice on the following point:

I read a paper (which would perhaps cover two printed sheets) at the Central Council about the question raised by Mr Weston as to the effect of a general rise of wages, etc. The first part of it is a reply to Weston’s nonsense; the second a theoretical exposition, insofar as it was appropriate for the occasion.

Now they want to have it printed. On the one hand, that could perhaps be useful to me, since they are in contact with J. St. Mill, Professor Beesly, Harrison, etc. On the other hand, I have my doubts:

1. to have ‘Mr Weston’ as adversary is not exactly ‘vairy-flettering';

2. the second part of the paper contains, in an extraordinarily condensed but relatively popular form, many new ideas which are anticipated from my book, whilst at the same time it does, of necessity, have to skate over a lot of problems. The question is, whether it is advisable to anticipate things of that kind in such a way? I think you can decide on this better than I can because you can look at the matter with more detachment from a distance.

I also had a lot of trouble to put off the Congress announced for this year, in the face of pressure from Schily, J. Ph. Becker, and some of the Paris Committee. I did, however, succeed — and that was decisive — in persuading the Council here that in view of the electoral agitation, etc., there should only be a preliminary (private) conference in London this year, to which the Central Foreign Committees would each send one delegate (not the affiliated societies but their administrative committees). I am certain that the Brussels Congress would come to nought. The time was not yet ripe for it.

Our Eccarius has become one of the main London electoral agitators and would have accepted the invitation to agitate in the country (on £2 per week), if this were not the height of the tailoring season. He has a peculiarly dry, humorous manner of speaking which particularly appeals to the English.

Edgar is already much recovered. An odd fish for whom fodder and fancy clothes really are the only things of account; as egotistical as a dog or a cat, but a kind-natured one. His brain has also begun to display certain activity.

Johnson’s policy likes me not. A ludicrous affectation of severity towards individuals; hitherto excessively vacillating and weak when it comes down to it. The reaction has already set in in America and will soon be much fortified if the present lackadaisical attitude is not ended immediately.

What do you say to the debates in the Prussian Chamber? At any rate, the revelations about the judicial system, etc., following in rapid succession were splendid. Ditto the obvious blow which the National Association Great-Prussia men received, as was shown particularly in the Polish debates.

Ad vocem Poland, I was most interested to read the work by Elias Regnault (the same who wrote the ‘histoire des principautés danubiennes'), ‘La Question Européenne, faussement nommée La Question Polonaise’. I see from it that Lapinski’s dogma that the Great Russians are not Slavs has been advocated on linguistic, historical and ethnographical grounds in all seriousness by Monsieur Duchinski (from Kiev, Professor in Paris); he maintains that the real Muscovites, i.e., inhabitants of the former Grand Duchy of Moscow, were for the most part Mongols or Finns, etc., as was the case in the parts of Russia situated further east and in its south-eastern parts. I see from it at all events that the affair has seriously worried the St Petersburg cabinet (since it would put an end to Panslavism in no uncertain manner). All Russian scholars were called on to give responses and refutations, and these in the event turned out to be terribly weak. The purity of the Great Russian dialect and its connection with Church Slavonic appear to lend more support to the Polish than to the Muscovite view in this debate. During the last Polish insurrection Duchinski was awarded a prize by the National Government for his ‘discoveries’. It has ditto been shown geologically and hydrographically that a great ‘Asiatic’ difference occurs east of the Dnieper, compared with what lies to the west of it, and that (as Murchison has already maintained) the Urals by no means constitute a dividing line. Result as obtained by Duchinski: Russia is a name usurped by the Muscovites. They are not Slavs; they do not belong to the Indo-Germanic race at all, they are des intrus [intruders], who must be chased back across the Dnieper, etc. Panslavism in the Russian sense is a cabinet invention, etc.

I wish that Duchinski were right and at all events that this view would prevail among the Slavs. On the other hand, he states that some of the peoples in Turkey, such as Bulgars, e.g., who had previously been regarded as Slavs, are non-Slav.


K. M.

Philistine Freiligrath descended on us with wife and daughter 2 weeks ago! He now has his immediate superior Reinach on his back who is here ‘to investigate’ and is giving him a proper roasting.