Letter to Friedrich Engels, March 16, 1868

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To Engels in Manchester

London, March 16, 1868[edit source]


Enclosed a letter to Kugelmann from a young Bielefeld manufacturer.[1] I am particularly amused by his idea that I myself must have formerly been a sewing-machine EMPLOYING MANUFACTURER. If people only knew how little I know of all that stuff.

The question is also unavoidable: what now? The fellows all want recipes for miracle cures, and do not see the fairly graspable cure by fire and iron already plainly indicated.

It is strange how Dollfus (Alsace) has won such false renommé. This HUMBUC, who ranks far beneath such Englishmen as Briggs, etc., has drafted his contracts with his workers, contracts that could only be entered into by a degenerate rabble, in such a way that they do in fact become his colony of serfs, and in fact he treats them well ‘as serfs’, and exploits them as neatly as anybody else. And on this account the brute recently introduced in the Corps législatif the nasty paragraph of the Press Law about the ‘vie privée qui doit être murée’.[2][3] For here and there light had been thrown on his philanthropic juggling.

The present way in which the English treat political prisoners in Ireland, and also suspects, or even those sentenced to ordinary prison terms (like Pigott of The Irishman and Sullivan of the News)[4] is really worse than anything happening on the Continent except in Russia. What dogs!



K. M.

  1. Gustav Meyer
  2. private life which should be surrounded by walls
  3. A reference to Article 11 of the French law on the press a draft of which was submitted to the Corps législatif by a group of deputies, Jean Dollfus included, on 11 February 1868. It was passed on 6 March 1868 and read as follows: 'Any publication in a periodical that may concern a fact of private life shall be an offence which shall be punished with a fine of 500 francs.'
  4. Richard Pigott, the publisher of The Irishman and Alexander Sullivan, the owner of the Irish bourgeois radical Weekly News appearing in Dublin from 1858, received prison sentences in 1867 and 1868 respectively for publishing articles in defence of the Fenians.