Letter to Karl Marx, February 17, 1870

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Author(s) Friedrich Engels
Written 17 February 1870

First published abridged in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Bd. 4, Stuttgart, 1913 and in full in MEGA, Abt. III, Bd. 4, Berlin, 1931

Extract published in Marx and Engels on Ireland, Progress Publishers, 1971;

Published in Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 43
Keywords : Letter, Law, Debate, Ireland

To Marx in London

Manchester, February 17, 1870[edit source]

Dear Moor,

I have written the necessary to Wilhelm. I’m now eager to hear how he will extricate himself.

For a long time I have seen nothing more ridiculous than Flourens’ letter about his heroic deeds in Belleville, where he ‘had possession of a whole faubourg for 3 hours’. The start is wonderful, where he calls on the people to follow him, but only 100 go along, and these soon melt away to 60, and then these evaporate, until he, finally alone ‘with one lad’, is beaten in the theatre.

The story about Bright is very odd. He has had one such attack already, and had to go to the country for 2 years fishing.

The story about the Russians changed into Poles is absolutely Irish. I must have Flerovsky; unfortunately, I won’t, for the time being, have any time to plough through it.

Hins returned—enclosed. The letter is obviously only written for you.

Yesterday I was at a fine blow-out, twelve of us, nothing but Tories, merchants, manufacturers, calico-printers, etc. The fellows all agreed that:



3. England would be a republic in 25 years, and even earlier unless the Prince of Wales,” makes himself very popular.

It’s amusing how people gain insight as soon as their party is OUT OF OFFICE, and how quickly they lose it as soon as they are IN. Apropos. You probably know that, in LADY Mordaunt’s DIVORCE TRIAL, the ‘SOME OTHER PERSON’ with whom she had a CRIMINAL CONNECTION is the Prince of Wales.

And thus the mountain Gladstone has successfully given birth to his Irish mouse. I really don’t know what the Tories could have against this Bill, which is so indulgent with the Irish landlords and finally places their interests in the tested hands of the Irish lawyers. Nevertheless, even this slight restriction of the eviction right will put an end to excessive emigration and the conversion of arable land into pastures. But it is very amusing if the brave Gladstone thinks he has settled the Irish question by means of this new prospect of endless lawsuits.

Is it possible to get a copy of the Bill? It would be important for me to follow the debates on the individual clauses.

You in London can have no idea of the way the telegraph has broken down since it was taken over by the Government. Only the first third of Gladstone’s speech was published in yesterday’s papers here, and even this was pure nonsense![1] The LATEST TELEGRAMS are all 24 hours later than before, so that, if you want to know something, you have to wait for the London newspapers to arrive. A telegram from here to Nottingham, handed in on Thursday, arrived Monday.

You know that, for the past 3-4 years, there has been a big squabble between Prussian and Austrian historians about the Peace of Basle, because Sybel claimed that Prussia was forced to conclude it because it had been betrayed by Austria in Poland.[2] Now Sybel once again has a long story about it, from the Austrian archives, in his Historische Zeitschrift.[3] Every line proves how Russia set Prussia and Austria at each other’s throats and, at the same time, drew them into the 1792 war against France, exploited, cheated and dominated both; but stupid Sybel notices nothing of this; instead searches in this whole filthy murk of cheating, treaty-breaking and infamy, in which they were all equally involved, for only one thing: proof that Austria was even more rascally than Prussia. Never have there been such blockheads. His wrath is not directed against Russia, no, solely against Austria, and he explains Russian policy, which is displayed here quite openly and clear as day, with childish motives, such as annoyance at Austrian double-dealing.

From Flerovsky’s account it apparently emerges that Russian power is bound to collapse very shortly. Urquhart will, of course, say that the Russians had the book written in order to throw dust in the eyes of the world.

To Tussy my best thanks for the Prussian Minister of Public Worship, sent me as a VALENTINE.


F. E.

  1. Gladstone's speech in the House of Commons on 15 February 1870 was published in The Times, 16 February and in Manchester Daily Examiner and Times, 17 February 1870.
  2. H. Sybel, Oestreich und Deutschland im Revolutionskrieg. Ergänzungsheft zur Geschichte der Revolutionszeit 1789 bis 1795.
  3. H. Sybel, 'Polens Untergang und der Revolutionskrieg', Historische Zeitschrift, Vol. 23, Munich, 1870, pp. 66-154.