Marx-Engels Correspondence 1860

Marx To Engels
In Manchester

[London, after 11 January 1860]

Source: MECW, Volume 41, p. 3;
First published: abridged in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, 1913 and in full in: Marx and Engels Works, Moscow, 1929.

Dear Marx,
Today I am sending you, under separate cover, a copy of the supplement to No. 349 of last year’s Kölnische Zeitung.
The Wilhelm Joseph Reiff mentioned therein as having a warrant out against him for “immoral conduct” is, so I am told, none other than the Reiff who appeared at the trial of the Communists in Cologne and who is presently over here and living off the party.
Now I have written to Reiff today (care of Liebknecht, not knowing how else to get in touch with him), informing him that I can no longer take any interest in him — that I forbid him to continue to use me as a reference — and that I will not tolerate his visits!
Thus, for my part, I have acted as I thought fit. What attitude the party will wish to adopt towards this dirty business is its own affair. You are now in possession of the facts!
F. Freiligrath

I had never received the said ‘Reiff’ at my house because the fellow was suspect, and more than suspect, on account of his conduct at the communist trial, whereas the ‘fat rhymester’[Freiligrath] had taken him under his protection and saddled Liebknecht with him. Since then, the fellow has been living off Liebknecht, the Laplander [Anders], Lessner, Schröder, etc., and other poor devils, besides having the hat passed round at the Workers’ Society, etc.

The above letter from Freiligrath is all the news of the Teuton that I have had since the great retreat.[i.e. Freiligrath’s refusal to side with Marx against Vogt] And what an absurd letter it is. How grotesque the grandeur behind which there lurks the mentality of a cringing cur. F. seems to think that prose can be put to rights with the help of exclamation marks. ‘The party’ is to ‘adopt an attitude’. Towards what? — Towards Wilhelm Joseph Reiff’s ‘immoral conduct’ — or ‘this dirty business’, as Beta’s friend describes it. What an imposition. By the way, I might mention en passant that the ‘Association of German Men’, founded by an equivocal compositor called Zinn has nominated Prince Albert, Gottfried Kinkel, K. Blind and F. Freiligrath as its ‘honorary freemen’. The Cheruscan has, of course, accepted the charter.

Next Monday I have to pay a £1 instalment at the Marylebone County-Court. At the same time I have received from the Westminster County-Court (on behalf of a baker) the enclosed scrap of paper, which you must return to me. What I foresaw is coming to pass. No sooner has one philistine found his way to the County-Court than he is followed by another. If things go on like this, I really don’t know how I can keep my head above water. What is so disastrous about these constant interruptions is that I simply cannot get on with my work.

The review in the Darmstadt Militär-Zeitung is most welcome. Your recent pamphlet [Po and Rhine] has assured you a position as a military critic in Germany. As soon as you get the opportunity, you must publish something under your own name adding beneath it ‘Author of Po and Rhine’. Our rascally enemies shall see by and by that we're able simply to impress the public without first seeking permission from it or its Betas.


In my view, the most momentous thing happening in the world today is the slave movement — on the one hand, in America, started by the death of Brown*, and in Russia, on the other. You will have read that the aristocracy in Russia literally threw themselves into constitutional agitation and that two or three members of leading families have already found their way to Siberia. At the same time, Alexander has displeased the peasants, for the recent manifesto declares outright that, with emancipation, ‘the Communistic principle’ must be abandoned. Thus, a ‘social’ movement has been started both in the West and in the East. Together with the impending downbreak in Central Europe, this promises great things.

I have just seen in the Tribune that there’s been another slave revolt in Missouri which was put down, needless to say. But the signal has now been given. Should the affair grow serious by and by, what will become of Manchester?

Leonard Horner has resigned his post. His last brief report is replete with bitter irony. Could you possibly find out whether the Manchester mill-owners had a hand in his resignation?

It appears from the ‘Factory Inspectors’ Reports’ (of ‘1855'-'1859 first six months') that, since 1850, industry in England has made miraculous progress. The state of health of the workers (adults) has improved since your Condition of the Working-Class (which I have re-read at the Museum), whereas that of the children (mortality) has deteriorated.


K. M.

BROWN, JOHN (1800-59). American revolutionary, opponent of slavery. Leader of partisan troops in the partisan war against the slave owners in Kansas, 1854-55. He tried to form an army of runaway slaves. On October 16, 1859, he took the arsenal at Harper's Ferry by a daring attack and wanted to arm the slaves in the neighbourhood. On October 18, 1859, government troops recaptured the arsenal from him. He was executed on December 2, 1859.