Marx-Engels Correspondence 1863

Marx To Engels
In Manchester

Source: MECW, Volume 41, p. 466;
First published: abridged in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Stuttgart, 1913 and in full in MEGA, Berlin, 1930.

London, 9 April 1863

Dear Frederick,

Little Tussy was delighted with the letter and its contents and cannot be dissuaded from replying in ‘person’.

I have known all about Mieroslawski’s Plonplonism for years now through J. Ph. Becker and Schily. Anyway, I had deduced it even earlier from a book he published during the last Russo-Turkish war. One of the things the magnanimous fellow proposed therein was the partition of Germany into 2 countries. But I've never heard anything of the kind in connection with Koscielski. As for M.’s ludicrous vanity and boundless credulity the minute his vanity is tickled, Becker sent me a highly comical account of it from Italy in 1860.

Izzy has already brought out 2 more pamphlets about his trial; luckily he has not sent them to me. On the other hand, the day before yesterday I received his open reply to the central working men’s committee for the Leipzig working men’s (read louts') congress. He gives himself all the airs of a future working men’s dictator — self-importantly dispensing the phrases he has borrowed from us. He solves the wages v. capital problem ‘with delightful ease’ (verbotenus). The workers, that is, are to agitate for general suffrage, after which they are to send people like himself into the Chamber of Deputies, armed ‘with the naked sword of science’. Next they organise workers’ factories, for which the state advances the capital and, by and by, these institutions spread throughout the country. This, at any rate, is surprisingly new! Let me quote a sentence for you:

‘If, today, a German labour movement is already discussing the question as to whether the association should be conceived in the light of his’ (Schulze-Delitzsch’s) ‘ideas or of mine, the merit is largely his; and that is where his true merit lies — a merit which cannot be esteemed too highly.... The cordiality with which I acknowledge that merit should not prevent us, etc.'

Ça ira!

At the very time when Palmerston was in Glasgow, another great man announced his coming, the student Karl Blind. Prior to his arrival, he sent an item to the Glasgow North British Mail under the heading ‘M. Karl Blind’, beneath which the paper had inserted the ominous word ‘communicated’.

This remarkable communique — written by himself, like all the items about him circulating in the press, and inserted in the paper by that jackass McAdam — opens with the following unique introduction:

*‘At the present moment when a patriot exile is about to visit Glasgow, for the purpose of bringing under public notice the merits of the Polish question, it is fitting that a few remarks should be made upon his political career, and more especially so from the unfortunate fact that he is comparatively unknown in Scotland. German by birth and German by exile, Mr Karl Blind’s efforts have not come so prominently and so persistently before Europe as to have gained for him universal admiration from the liberating party, or universal execration from the oppressing party. He has hitherto stood in that middle way, where he has the honour of being both beloved and hated; but in these two contending ranks which have rendered to him their tribute after its kind the whole of Europe is not ranged, Mr Karl Blind having the satisfaction of knowing there is a third section of his friends who are simply indifferent. He therefore comes before the Scottish public with perhaps less prejudice against him than has been the case with most of the distinguished exiles who preceded him’.*

There follows a short biographical note on the great unknown in which Scotland and ‘the third section’ of mankind are informed that the said ‘Mr Karl Blind’ is a native of Baden, and was originally, like Kossuth and Mazzini, trained to the law. That the ‘Badish Revolution’ was the result of his propagandism that the ‘governments of Baden and the Palatinate’ had sent him to Paris in June ‘in the capacity of diplomatic envoy’, etc., and that he acts ‘in that spirit of cooperation which so distinguishes the more celebrated exiles?

Isn’t that ‘naice’?

My wife has now been confined to bed for a fortnight and has gone almost completely deaf, heaven knows why. Little Jenny has had another attack of diphtheria of some sort. If you could send me some wine for both of them (Allen wants little Jenny to have port), I'd be most grateful.

Here in London a parson (as distinct from the atheists who preach in John Street) has been giving deistic sermons for the public, in which he makes Voltairian fun of the Bible. (My wife and children went to hear him twice and thought highly of him as a humorist).

I attended a trade unions meeting chaired by Bright. He had very much the air of an Independent and, whenever he said ‘in the United States no kings, no bishops’, there was a burst of applause. The working men themselves spoke very well indeed, without a trace of bourgeois rhetoric or the faintest attempt to conceal their opposition to the capitalists (who, by the by, were also attacked by papa Bright).

How soon the English workers will throw off what seems to be a bourgeois contagion remains to be seen. So far as the main theses in your book [Condition of the Working Class in England] are concerned, by the by, they have been corroborated down to the very last detail by developments subsequent to 1844. For I have again been comparing the book with the notes I made on the ensuing period. Only your small-minded German philistine who measures world history by the ell and by what he happens to think are ‘interesting news items’, could regard 20 years as more than a day where major developments of this kind are concerned, though these may be again succeeded by days into which 20 years are compressed.

Re-reading your work has made me unhappily aware of the changes wrought by age. With what zest and passion, what boldness of vision and absence of all learned or scientific reservations, the subject is still attacked in these pages! And then, the very illusion that, tomorrow or the day after, the result will actually spring to life as history lends the whole thing a warmth, vitality, and humour with which the later ‘grey on grey’ contrasts damned unfavourably.


K. M.