Letter to Lion Philips, March 29, 1864
|Written||29 March 1864|
First published: in the original German, in International Review of Social History, Assen, 1956.
To Lion Philips in Aachen
London, [29 March 1864] 1 Modena Villas, Maitland Park, Haverstock Hill, N.W.[edit source]
I presume all of you are already or still in Aachen, and am therefore sending this letter there. Had you decided to wait for the fine weather, you'd have had to stay at Bommel until now. Here, at any rate, March has been quite abominable, apart from one or two fine days — cold, wet, and changing from one moment to the next. This may be one reason why I haven’t so far rid myself of those confounded brutes, my furuncles. I curse them, but under my breath.
Little Eleanor has had a rather bad cough for the past two days, which is what is preventing her from writing to you. However. she asks me to send you many salutations and, *in regard to the Danish Question, begs me to tell you, that ‘she don’t care for such stuff’, and that ‘she considers one of the parties to the quarrel as bad as the other, and perhaps worse’*.
The difficulty about understanding Prussia’s policy is due solely to people’s delusion in crediting it with serious and far-sighted aims and projects. The Mormon Bible, for instance, is similarly most difficult to understand, precisely because there isn’t an iota of sense in it. What Prussia was primarily aiming at was to make the army popular, an aim which the Schleswig-Holstein campaigns were already having to subserve in 1848. Secondly, she was intent on closing the territory against German volunteer forces, democrats and the small states. Finally, Prussia and Austria, by exerting pressure from without, were to enable the Danish king, who is hand in glove with them to compel the Danes to make certain concessions at home and abroad. Austria could not, of course, leave Prussia to play this role on her own, and, at the same time, seize on the opportunity to effect a closer alliance with her against other peripeties.
The conference meets in London on 12th April. The very most it will do is resolve that Schleswig and Holstein be bound to Denmark in a personal union — maybe less, certainly not more. How little in earnest the whole affair is, despite powder, shot and blood-letting, will be apparent to you if only from the fact that, up till this moment, neither Prussia nor Austria has declared war on Denmark, nor Denmark on Prussia and Austria. There is no better way of throwing dust in people’s eyes than to set armies marching, horses stamping, and cannon thundering.
Despite all that, serious conflicts may be imminent once again, Bonaparte finds himself virtually compelled to set his troupiers up in business as ‘freedom’ exporters because of the great disaffection which is riot only prevalent in Paris, but provokingly rearing its head in the elections. And this time, the way has been paved for him by those dogs of Prussians.
Garibaldi’s trip to England and the great ovations he will receive from all sides here are, or at least are meant to be, merely the prelude to a new rising against Austria. As an ally of the Prussians in Holstein and Schleswig and an ally of the Russians by virtue of the state of siege in Galicia, Austria has made things very easy for her enemies. What with the present conditions in Poland, Hungary, and Italy, the popular sentiment in Germany and the total change in England’s position, a new Holy Alliance would enable even Napoleon le Petit to play the great one. At this moment, the best thing would be for peace to continue, for any kind of war would delay the outbreak of revolution in France.
May God damn me if there be anything more stupid than this political chessboard!
There were two other things I had actually meant to write to you about — Roman division and darkness in outer space. But as the light is failing, my paper is running out and it’s almost time for the last post, I must conclude for the time being by sending my kindest regards to the whole family. Ditto to Karl and his wife, not forgetting Jean.
Your affectionate nephew,