Marx-Engels Correspondence 1863

Engels To Marx
In London

Source: MECW, Volume 41, p. 476;
First published: abridged in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Stuttgart, 1913 and in full in MEGA, Berlin, 1930.

Manchester, 11 June 1863

Dear Moor,

Herewith 5 Bank of England note R/X 46271, 31 Jan. 1862, Manchester. 5 “ — “ — “ S/R 92394, 14 Oct. 1862, London, with which the butcher will, I hope, be placated. Since I cannot post the letter myself, it would be best if you would acknowledge its receipt.

I was very worried by your long silence but have meanwhile heard you were unwell and hope that that is now over. How is little Jenny’s cough?

Latterly, things would not seem to have been going so well in Poland. The movement in Lithuania and Little Russia is evidently weak, nor do the insurgents in Poland seem to be making any headway. The leaders are all either killed in action or captured and shot, which would seem to show that they have to expose themselves a great deal in order to egg on their men. Qualitatively the insurgents are no longer what they were in March and April, the best chaps having been expended. However, these Poles are always unknown quantities, and affairs might take a turn for the better, although the odds against it are worsening. If they hold out, they might yet become part of a general European movement which would be the saving of them; on the other hand, should things go wrong, it will be all up with Poland for the next 10 years, for an insurrection like this exhausts a people’s fighting potential for many years to come.

I should say that the chances of there being a European movement were good because the ordinary citizen has once more rid himself of all fear of the communists and might even, if need be, go into action with them. The French elections prove this no less plainly than do the goings-on in Prussia since the last elections. However, I scarcely think that a movement of this kind would originate in France. The election results in Paris were altogether too bourgeois; wherever the workers put up candidates of their own, they lost, nor for that matter did they have the power to force the bourgeoisie to put up radicals. Besides, Bonaparte knows how to keep large cities in check.

In Prussia they would still be chattering away if the good Bismarck hadn’t put a stop to it. Whatever turn things may take there, peaceful constitutional progress is now at an end and your philistine must get ready for the fray. And that’s enough to be going on with. Little though I esteem the valour of our old friends the democrats, it is, nevertheless, here more than anywhere else, I should say, that combustible material is accumulating and, since it is scarcely possible that the Hohenzollerns will fail to perpetrate the worst blunders in foreign policy, it might well happen that, with half the troops deployed at the Polish frontier and the other half on the Rhine, Berlin would be left free and a coup would result. It would be a poor enough outlook for Germany and Europe were Berlin to find itself in the van of the movement.

What surprises me most is that a peasants’ movement should not have arisen in Greater Russia. In this instance, the Polish uprising would seem to have had a positively unfavourable effect.

In America things are in a pretty pickle. Fighting Joe’s rodomontade has made him look a frightful ass, Rosecrans slumbers and Grant alone is performing well. His move on Vicksburg from the south-west to the north-east, his isolation of the relief army, his repulse of the same, then the rapid advance on Vicksburg and even the energetic if fruitless assaults, are all first-class. I do not believe it will be possible to muster enough relief troops on time. On the other hand, we have so often seen American generals suddenly perform well for a couple of weeks and then revert to the most dreadful bungling, that it’s quite impossible to tell what their future moves will be.

I was already familiar with Lassalle’s poem (genitivus objectivus) from a pamphlet Siebel sent me and which you presumably have as well. Very jolly. The chap’s now operating purely in the service of Bismarck and, one of these days, when Monsieur B. tires of him, he might well find himself under lock and key, making the acquaintance of Prussian common law, which he always seems to confuse with the Code. It’s nice, by the way, that, after the stand he took in Vogtibus, he should now find himself under the aegis, not only of the Augsburger, but also of the Kreuz-Zeitung.

I am now reading Kinglake and am becoming more convinced than ever that somewhere in every Englishman’s brain a board is nailed up beyond which nothing penetrates.

F. E.