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Letter to Karl Marx, February 17, 1863
|Written||17 February 1863|
First published: abridged in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Stuttgart, 1913 and in full in MEGA, Berlin, 1930.
To Marx in London
Manchester, 17 February 1863[edit source]
You must excuse my long silence. I was in a very forlorn state, and it was high time I extricated myself from it. I tried Slavonic languages but the loneliness was unbearable. I had to force myself to seek distraction. That helped, and I am now my old self again.
The Poles are really splendid fellows. If they manage to hold out until 15 March, there'll be a general conflagration in Russia. At first, I was devilish afraid the business might go wrong. But now there would seem to be almost more chance of victory than of defeat. Nor should it be forgotten that the younger members of the Polish emigration have a military literature of their own in which all matters are discussed with special reference to Polish conditions, or that, in that literature, the idea of guerrilla warfare in Poland plays a leading role and is discussed in great detail. Oddly enough, the only two leaders to have been named so far are Frankowski, a Warsaw Jew, and Langiewicz, a Prussian lieutenant. The Russian messieurs, in view of their ineptitude, are bound to suffer appallingly as a result of guerrilla warfare.
Have you seen that Bakunin and Mieroslawski are dubbing one another liars, and are at loggerheads over the Russo-Polish frontiers? I have ordered the Kolokol, from which I shall presumably find out more about it. — Incidentally, I shall have to do some hard swotting before I can work my way through it again.
The Prussians are behaving infamously as always. Monsieur Bismarck knows that it will be a matter of life and death for him if there’s revolution in Poland and Russia. Not that there’s any hurry over Prussian intervention. So long as it’s not necessary, the Russians won’t permit it, and when it does become necessary, the Prussians will take care not to go.
If things go wrong in Poland, then we shall probably face a year or two of acute reaction, for in that case the Pravoslavnyiyi Tsar would again become head of a Holy Alliance, which last would again cause Monsieur Bonaparte to be looked on as a great liberal and champion of nations by the stupid crapauds. Apropos, how funny it is to see the entire English bourgeoisie pitching into Boustrapa, now that Kinglake has made public a small, improperly digested and improperly heard fragment of the same tittle-tattle about him and his lot as we've been telling them for ten years without their believing us. Revelations about the court in Paris are again becoming quite the rage and, in the Guardian, Mr Tom Taylor is portentously dishing up all that stuff re la Solms, Bonaparte, Wyse, the Jecker affair, etc., that we've long known far more about. There’s only one thing of interest, namely that Jecker had already supplied money for the Strasbourg or the Boulogne conspiracy — which, Taylor doesn’t know. This, then, accounts for the connection.
Things don’t look too good in Yankeeland. Indeed, by a stroke of irony not uncommon in world history, the Democrats have, in the eyes of the philistines, now become the war party while the bankrupt poetaster Ch. Mackay is once more thoroughly discredited. I also hear from Private sources in New York that the North is continuing to arm at a quite unprecedented rate. But, on the other hand, signs of moral prostration are daily more in evidence and the inability to win grows daily greater. Where is the party whose victory and avènement would be synonymous with prosecuting the war à outrance and with every available means? The people have been cheated, more’s the pity, and it’s lucky that peace is a physical impossibility or they'd have concluded it long since, if only so that they could again devote themselves to the almighty Dollar.
A Confederate major who took part in the fighting at Richmond as a member of Lee’s staff, recently told me that, according to documents which Lee himself showed him, the rebels had no fewer than 40,000 stragglers at the end of this battle! In particular, he spoke with great respect of the Federals’ western regiments, but is in other ways a jackass.