Marx-Engels Correspondence 1868

Engels To Marx
In London

Source: MECW, Volume 43, p. 163;
First published: in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Bd. 4, Stuttgart, 1913.

Manchester, 18 November 1868

Dear Moor,

What do you say about the elections in the factory districts? The proletariat has once again made an awful fool of itself. Manchester and Salford return 3 Tories against 2 Liberals, including the milk-and-water Bazley, Bolton, Preston, Blackburn, etc., almost all Tories. In Ashton it looks as if Milner Gibson has gone to the wall. Ernest Jones nowhere, despite the cheering. Everywhere the proletariat are the rag, tag and bobtail of the official parties, and if any party has gained strength from the new voters, it is the Tories. The small towns, the half rotten boroughs are the salvation of bourgeois Liberalism, and roles will be reversed: the Tories will favour more members for the big towns and the Liberals will favour unequal representation.

Here the electors have increased from 24,000 to not quite 48,000, and the Tories have increased their voters from 6,000 to 14-15,000. The Liberals have let slip a lot, and M. Henry did a lot of harm, but it cannot be denied that the increase in working-class votes has brought the Tories more than their simple percentage, and has improved their relative position. On the whole this is a good thing. As things look now, Gladstone should have a narrow majority and will be compelled to change the Reform Bill to stop the rolling stone; with a large majority, he would have let things take their course, as usual.

But it remains an appalling display of weakness by the English proletariat. The parson has shown unexpected power, and also the cringing before respectability. Not a single working-class candidate had a ghost of a chance, but mylord Tom Noddy or any parvenu snob could have the workers’ votes with pleasure.

The howls of the Liberal bourgeois would amuse me very much were it not for this accompanying experience. To cheer myself up properly, yesterday I made Borchardt’s son-in-law, who had dutifully drudged for the Liberals, as drunk as a lord.

F. E.