Marx-Engels Correspondence 1863

Marx To Engels
In Manchester

Source: MECW, Volume 41, p. 461;
First published: abridged in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Stuttgart, 1913 and in full in MEGA, Berlin, 1930.

[London,] 24 March 1863

Dear Frederick,

You must know that for the past few weeks eye trouble has almost entirely prevented me from reading or writing. Hence the need to make up for lost time by some hard slogging. Hinc my silence.

Dronke has sent me £50.

The enclosed letter from Dr Kugelmann, which kindly return, will show you what muddle-headed fellows these German ‘party members’ are. My work on economics ‘isn’t opportune’ and yet I am expected, for the sake of the cause, to carry on with the whole business after this volume has appeared, merely for the theoretical satisfaction of a few high-minded souls. What I am expected to live on while engaged in my ‘inopportune works’ is not, of course, a question these gentry worry their heads about for one moment.

The Langiewicz affair is disgusting. But I am hoping that it won’t put paid to the business yet, even temporarily. Meanwhile, I am deferring the work on Poland so as to be able to see events when they have reached a rather more advanced stage.

Politically, the view I have reached is this: that Vincke and Bismarck do, in fact, accurately represent the principle of the Prussian State; that the ‘State’ of Prussia (a very different creature from Germany) cannot exist either without Russia as she is, or with an independent Poland. The whole history of Prussia leads one to this conclusion which was drawn long since by Messrs Hollenzollern (Frederick II included). This princely consciousness is infinitely superior to the limited mentality of the subject that marks your Prussian liberal. Since, therefore, the existence of Poland is necessary to Germany and completely incompatible with the State of Prussia, the State of Prussia must he erased from the map. Or the Polish question simply provides further occasion for proving that it is impossible to prosecute German interests so long as the Hollenzollerns’ own state continues to exist. Down with Russian hegemony over Germany means just the same as away with mischief, with the old sodomite’s brood.

What strikes me as very significant about the latest turn of events in America is the fact that they are again proposing to hand out letters of marque. Quoad England, this will put an entirely different complexion on the matter and may, under favourable circumstances, lead to war with England, so that self-satisfied John Bull will find not only his cotton but also his corn withdrawn from under his nose. At the beginning of the Civil War Seward had, off his own bat, had the presumption to accept the resolutions of the 1856 Congress of Paris as provisionally valid for America, too. (This came to light with the publication of the despatches concerning the Trent affair.) In Washington, Congress and Lincoln, enraged at the outfitting of Southern pirates in Liverpool, etc., have now put an end to the lark. This has greatly alarmed the Stock Exchange here, though the faithful hounds of the press are obeying orders, of course, and not mentioning the affair in the papers.

You will doubtless have noted with satisfaction how Pam, the old scoundrel, is playing precisely the same game as in 1830/31 (I have compared his speeches) and likewise getting The Times to play it. This time the progress of the affair is so far good. Louis Bonaparte is about to find himself in the soup (when this happened to the luckless Louis Philippe in 1831 the whole of Europe suffered) and in a very ugly dilemma with his own army. Mexico... and those genuflections before the Tsar in the Moniteur (into which Boustrapa was pushed by Pam) might well cost him his neck. So great was his alarm that he ordered the publication of the despatches demonstrating that his good will had been thwarted by Pam alone. (Although his case was identical, the luckless Louis Philippe went so far as to allow the impudent Pam to claim in Parliament that *'if it were not for the perfidy of the French and the intervention of Prussia, Poland would still exist'*.) He believes that he will thereby influence public opinion in England, as though the latter were not satisfied with Pam’s sop to the effect that Bonaparte wanted to reach the Rhine! And as though Pam did not manufacture three-quarters of this public opinion himself! The wretched Plon-Plon hadn’t the courage to say that Pam was working for Russia; rather, he maintains that wicked Russia is seeking to foment discord between France and England! Here once again I recognise the very image of my homme du Bas Empire, the wretched fellow who never dares stage his coups d'état au delà des frontières without the permission of Europe’s Supreme Authority. Had the wretched fellow the courage to tell the unvarnished truth about Pam (or simply threaten to do so), he could saunter up to the Rhine undisturbed. But now he has bound himself hand and foot, thus delivering himself completely into Pam’s power, as did Louis Philippe before him. Much good may it do him.

The goings-on in Staleybridge and Ashton are very cheering. So the double chins and pot-bellies have at last ceased to ‘respect’ the prolitaires. Edmund Potter makes a great fool of himself today in The Times which, faced with the unpopularity it now enjoys in such large measure, pounces upon that ass in order to catch a ha'pennyworth of popularity.


K. M.