Special pages :
Letter to the editor of The Times, March 5, 1851
|Written||5 March 1851|
First published: in K. Marx and F. Engels, Works, first Russ. ed., Vol. XXV, Moscow, 1934.
In your paper of to-day, I find a letter from M. Louis Blanc, referring to the Banquet des Egaux, held in London on the 24th of February, and to a certain toast sent thither by M. Blanqui, the prisoner in Belle-Île-en-mer. Allow me to make a few observations upon this letter.
At the banquet the name of Blanqui was inscribed in large characters on the wall, amongst the names of other heroes and martyrs of democracy. At that same meeting, a toast was brought forward to “the martyrs to calumny”: to Marat, Robespierre ... and — Blanqui! All the toasts and speeches brought forward on this occasion, had to be submitted to the committee of the organisers of that beautiful and imposing manifestation as early as the 15th of February. M. Blanc was a member of that committee, he must, therefore, have approved beforehand of this toast to M. Blanqui. How can M. Blanc now make M. Blanqui again “a martyr to calumny” by calling him
“one of those unhappy beings, who in their rage attempt violence against renown, and who would lose the best of causes if it were possible to lose them"?
M. Blanc states the toast not to be sent by the prisoners of Belle Île, but to be the exclusive work of M. Blanqui. Of course, M. Blanqui is to be presumed the author of toasts and documents put forward under his name. But the toast in question, as is well known in France, was adopted and published by the Société des amis de l'Egalité which society comprises those prisoners of Belle Île, who hold with M. Blanqui; for this gentleman has his friends amongst the prisoners quite as well as M. Barbès, the protector of M. Louis Blanc.
As to the “imposing and beautiful manifestation” and the “union of more than a thousand individuals belonging to different nations”, it should not be forgotten that this touching scene was, as far as M. Blanc was concerned, nothing but a “fraternal” demonstration against M. Ledru-Rollin, in order to take vengeance — as he, M. Blanc, has publicly stated-for having been excluded from the Central European Democratic Committee of Messrs. Ledru-Rollin, Mazzini and others.
As respects the “renown” of M. Louis Blanc, it would be more prudent for him not to touch upon that delicate subject, until this “renown” had recovered from the terrible blows which M. Proudhon, some time ago, inflicted upon it.
M. Blanc, it seems, would shelter himself from the attacks of M. Blanqui by blazoning forth his capacity of exile and proscribed. And are not the sons of Louis Philippe exiles too? And has M. Blanc restrained the violence of his attack against that same M. Proudhon, who was, not an exile living comfortably at 87 Piccadilly — an abode certainly far from being fit for Ovidian Tristia to be written in, but who was a prisoner in the hands of the law?
M. Blanc seems to reproach M. Blanqui with having given publicity to his toast in “counter-revolutionary journals”. M. Blanc knows well enough that since May 1850 a “revolutionary” press exists no longer in France. And pray, M. Louis Blanc, you who address yourself with all your “civilities” to the Editor of The Times, since when is The Times; in your eyes, a democratic, socialist and revolutionary paper?
In order, however, to enable the public to judge of that extraordinary document which so excites the indignation of M. Blanc, and which even now forms the general theme of the French press, I submit to you a translation in full and hope that it will be not without interest to the English public.
I am, Sir, your most ob-t servant