Marx-Engels Correspondence 1870

Marx to Engels
In Manchester


Written: August 17, 1870;
Source: Marx and Engels Correspondence, International Publishers (1968);
Additional text from Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Correspondence, Progress Publishers (1975);
First Published: Gestamtausgabe;
Transcribed: Sally Ryan in 1999;
HTML Markup: Sally Ryan.

[Ramsgate,] 17 August 1870

Dear Fred!

My best thanks (ditto from Mrs Marx for the letter to her) for the pains you took under such aggravating circumstances. Your letter tallies completely with the plan of the answer which I have already worked out in my mind. ...

I have not slept a wink the fourth night running because of the rheumatism, and all that time fantastic ideas about Paris, etc, occur to me. I shall have Gumpert’s sleeping potion prepared for me this evening. ...

...In such an important matter--it is not a question of Wilhelm [Liebknecht] but of instructions as to the line of the German workers--I did not want to act without first referring to you.

Wilhelm infers his agreement with me:

(1) From the Address of the International, which he has of course first translated into Wilhelm's own language.

(2) From the circumstance that I approved the declaration made by Bebel and himself in the Reichstag. That was a "moment" when Prinzipienreiterei [stickler for principle] was an act of courage, but from this it by no means follows that the moment is still continuing, much less that the attitude of the German proletariat to a war which has become national is expressed in Wilhelm's antipathy to Prussia. It would be just as if we, because at a suitable moment we had raised our voices against the "Bonapartist" liberation of Italy, were to wish to redress the relative independence which Italy received as a result of that war.

The lust for Alsace and Lorraine seems to predominate in two circles, the Prussian camarilla and the South German beer-patriots. It would be the greatest misfortune which could befall Europe and above all Germany. You will have seen that most of the Russian newspapers are already talking of the necessity of European diplomatic intervention in order to maintain the balance of power in Europe.

Kugelmann confuses a defensive war with defensive military operations. So if a fellow falls upon me in the street I may only parry his blow, but not knock him down, because then I should turn into an aggressor! The want of dialectic comes out in every word these people utter....

With the death knell of the Second Empire, that will end as it began, by a parody, I hit off my Bonaparte after all! Can one imagine a finer parody of Napoleon's 1814 campaign? I believe we two are the only people who grasped the whole mediocrity of Boustrapa from the beginning, regarded him as a mere showman and never allowed ourselves to be misled by momentary successes. ...

By the way, the bourgeois Peace Society [1] has sent the General Council of the International 20 for printing the Manifesto in the French and German languages.



1. The League of Peace and Freedom – a bourgeois pacifist organisation formed by petty-bourgeois republicans and liberals in Switzerland in 1867. Bakunin took part in the work of the League in 1867 and 1868. At first the League attempted to use the workers’ movement to achieve its aims. Its assertion that it was possible to prevent wars by creating ‘The United States of Europe’ spread false illusions among the masses and diverted the proletariat from the class struggle – Progress Publishers.