Karl Marx in The Sun 1871

Letter to the Editor of The Sun, Charles Dana

Source: The Sun, September 9, 1871;
Transcribed: for marxists.org by Tony Brown.

Brighton, August 25, 1871

My dear Sir:

In the first instance I must beg you to excuse my prolonged silence. I should have answered your letter long ago if I had not been quite overburdened with work, so much so that my health broke down, and my doctor found it necessary to banish me for a few months to this sea-bathing place, with the strict injunction to do nothing.

I shall comply with your wish after my return to London when a favorable occasion occurs for rushing into print.

I have sent a declaration to The New York Herald in which I decline all and every responsibility for the trash and positive falsehoods with which its correspondent burdens me. I do not know whether the Herald has printed it.

The number of the Communal refugees arriving in London is on the increase, while our means of supporting them is daily on the decrease, so that many find themselves in a very deplorable state. We shall make an appeal for assistance to the Americans.

To give you an inkling of the state of things that under the République Thiers prevails in France, I will tell you what has happened to my own daughters.

My second daughter, Laura, is married to Monsieur Lafargue, a medical man. They left Paris a few days before the commencement of the first siege for Bordeaux, where Lafargue’s father lived. The latter, having fallen very ill, wanted to see his son, who attended him. indeed was at his sick bed until the time of his death. Lafargue and my daughter then continued to stay at Bordeaux, where the former possesses a house. During the time of the Commune, Lafargue acted as Secretary to the Bordeaux branches of the International, and was also sent as a delegate to Paris, where he stayed six days to make himself acquainted with the state of things there. During all the time he was not molested by the Bordeaux police. Toward the middle of May my two unmarried daughters set out for Bordeaux, and thence together with the family Lafargue to Bagneres de Luchon, in the Pyrenees, near the Spanish frontier. ... There the eldest daughter, who had suffered from a severe attack of pleurisy, took the mineral waters and underwent regular medical treatment. Lafargue and his wife had to attend to a dying baby, and my youngest daughter amused herself as much in the charming environs of Luchon as the family afflictions permitted. Luchon is a place of resort for patients and for the beau monde, and above all places the least fitted for political intrigue. My daughter Madame Lafargue had, moreover, the misfortune to lose her child, and shortly after its burial — in the second week of August — who should appear at the dwelling place? The illustrious Kératry, well known by the infamies he committed during the Mexican war, and the equivocal part he played during the Franco-Prussian war, first as Prefect of Police at Paris, and later as a soi-disant General in Brittany, and now Prefect of the Haute-Garonne, and M. Delpech, Procureur General of Toulouse — both these worthies being accompanied by gendarmes.

Lafargue had received a hint the evening before, and had crossed the Spanish frontier. having provided himself with a Spanish passport at Bordeaux.

Although the son of French parents, he was born in Cuba, and is therefore a Spaniard. A domiciliary visit was made at the dwelling place of my daughters, and they themselves were subjected to a severe cross examination by the two mighty representatives of the République Thiers. They were charged with carrying on an insurrectional correspondence. That correspondence consisted simply in letters to their mother, the contents of which were of course not flattering to the French Government, and in copies of some London newspapers! For about a week their house was watched by gendarmes. They had to promise to leave France, where their presence was too dangerous, as soon as they could make the preparations necessary for their departure, and in the mean time they were to consider themselves as people placed under the haute surveillance of the police. Kératry and Delpech had flattered themselves with the hope of finding them unprovided with passports, but fortunately they were possessed of regular English passports. Otherwise they would have had to share the infamous treatment of the sister of Delescluze and other French ladies as innocent as themselves. They have not yet returned, and are probably waiting for news from Lafargue.

Meanwhile the Paris papers told the most incredible lies; the Gaulois, for instance, transforming my three daughters into three brothers of mine, well known and dangerous agents of the International Propaganda, though I have no brothers. At the same time that La France, a Paris organ of Thiers, gave a most varnished tale of the events at Luchon, and asserted that Monsieur Lafargue might quietly return to France without incurring any danger, the French Government requested the Spanish Government to arrest Lafargue as a member of the Paris Commune! to which he had never belonged, and to which, as a resident of Bordeaux, he could not belong. Lafargue was in fact arrested, and under the escort of gendarmes marched to Barbastro, where he had to take his night quarters in the town prison, thence to Huesca, whence the Governor, on telegraphic order from the Spanish Minister of the Interior, had to forward him to Madrid. According to The Daily News of the 24th August, he has at last been set free.

The whole proceedings at Luchon and in the papers were nothing but shabby attempts of Mr. Thiers & Co. to revenge themselves upon me as the author of the address of the General Council of the International on the Civil War. Between their revenge and my daughters stood the English passport, and Mr. Thiers is as cowardly in his relations to foreign powers as he is unscrupulous in regard to his disarmed countrymen.

As to Cluseret, I do not think that he was a traitor, but certainly he undertook to play a part for which he lacked the mettle, and thus he did great harm to the Commune. I know nothing as to his whereabouts. And now addio!

Your old friend,

Karl Marx