Letter to Friedrich Engels, November 18, 1869

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To Engels in Manchester

[London,] 18 November 1869[edit source]

Dear Fred,

I am sending you today a parcel by bookpost, containing 1. the volume of Irish pamphlets (especially Ensor of some value) 2. Social-Demokrat and Volksstaat, 3. 3 copies for you, Moore and Schorlemmer of the Report on the Basle Congress. I don’t know if I have already sent it. In this case, the copies can be given to other people.

I'll look after your commissions.

The Bee-Hive completely suppressed the report (by Eccarius) on the latest session [of the General Council], on the pretext that it had received it too late. The real reason was that:

1. it did not wish to announce that the General Council would open a discussion on the Irish question at its next meeting;

2. in the report, unfavourable references were made to it (i.e., to Mr Potter), about the Land and Labour League. The fact is that Mr Potter failed glaringly as a candidate for the Committee of the League.

Last Tuesday I opened the discussion on point 1: the attitude of the British Ministry to the Irish Amnesty Question. I spoke for about an hour and a quarter, much cheered, and then proposed the following resolutions on point No. 1:

  • Resolved,

that in his reply to the Irish demands for the release of the imprisoned Irish patriots — a reply contained in his letter to Mr O’Shea etc. etc. — Mr Gladstone deliberately insults the Irish Nation;

that he clogs political amnesty with conditions alike degrading to the victims of misgovernment and the people they belong to;

that having, in the teeth of his responsible position, publicly and enthusiastically cheered on the American slaveholders’ Rebellion, he now steps in to preach to the Irish people the doctrine of passive obedience; that his whole proceedings with reference to the Irish Amnesty question are the true and genuine offspring of that ‘policy of conquest’, by the fiery denunciation of which Mr Gladstone ousted his Tory rivals from office;

that the General Council of the ‘International Working Men’s Association’ express their admiration of the spirited, firm and high-souled manner in which the Irish people carry on their Amnesty movement;

that these resolutions be communicated to all branches of, and working men’s bodies connected with, the ‘International Working Men’s Association’ in Europe and America.*

Harris (an O'Brien-man) declared to second. But the President (Lucraft) pointed to the clock (we may only stay until 11); Hence, adjourned until next Tuesday. However, Lucraft, Weston, Hales etc., in fact the whole Council, tentatively declared their agreement in informal way.

Milner, another O'Brienite, declared that the language of the resolutions was too weak (i.e., not declamatory enough); furthermore he demands that everything I said in support of the case should be included in the resolutions. (A fine kettle of fish!)

Since the debate will continue on Tuesday, now the time for you to tell, rather to write, me anything you might wish to amend or add to the resolutions. In the latter case, if you, for example, wish to add a paragraph about the amnesties all over Europe, Italy for example, write it at once in resolution form.

Incident of last Council’s sitting. Mr Holyoake — be every man his own Cromwell — appears and, after leaving, has himself proposed by Weston. Tentatively declared that he should first take out a card as a member of the International Working Men’s Association, otherwise he cannot even be proposed. His aim is simply to make himself important — and to figure as a delegate at the next General Congress. The debate on his admission will be stormy, since he has many friends among us and, as an offended intriguant, could play some nasty tricks on us. What are your ideas about the tactics to be followed?

Enclosed — screed from Liebknecht, who has also complained bitterly in his letter to Borkheim that we do not support him, either morally or materially. Return the 2nd enclosed letter from Wilhelm, which is addressed to Borkheim.

A branch establishment of the International founded in Dundee, ditto — new branch in Boston. (New England.)

Carbunculosa not yet quite vanquished.


K. M.

Apropos L. Blanc: When Reclus was here he also visited L. Blanc and told me after the visit: the little fellow is filling his trousers at the mere thought of having to return to France. He feels devilish well here as the ‘Petit grand homme’ removed from danger, and he has — as he frankly told Reclus, lost absolutely all confidence in the French.