Marx-Engels Correspondence 1871

Marx to Edward Beesly
In London

Written: June 12, 1871;
Source: Marx and Engels Correspondence;
Publisher: International Publishers (1968);
First Published: Gestamtausgabe;
Translated: Donna Torr;
Transcribed: Sally Ryan in 1999;
HTML Markup: Sally Ryan.

London, June 12, 1871

Lafargue, his family and my daughter are in the Pyrenees, but on the French side of the Spanish frontier. As Lafargue was born in Cuba he was able to get a Spanish passport. I wish, however, that he would definitely settle on the Spanish side, as he played a leading role in Bordeaux.

Despite my admiration for your article in the Beehive, I am almost sorry to see your name in that paper. (And, by the way, you will allow me to observe that as a Party man I have a thoroughly hostile attitude towards Comte's philosophy, while as a scientific man I have a very poor opinion of it, but I regard you as the only Comtist, either in England or France, who deals with historical turning-points (crises) not as a sectarian but as an historian in the best sense of the word.)

The Beehive calls itself a workers' paper but it is really the organ of the renegades, sold to Sam Morley and Co. During the last Franco-Prussian war the General Council of the International was obliged to sever all connection with this paper and publicly to declare that it was a sham workers' paper. The big London papers, however, with the exception of the London local paper, The Eastern Post, refused to print this declaration. In such circumstances your co-operation with the Beehive is a further sacrifice you are making to the good cause.

A woman friend of mine will be going to Paris in three or four days. I am giving her the proper passes for some members of the Commune, who are still living hidden in Paris. If you or one of your friends have any commissions there please write to me.

What comforts me is the nonsense which the Petite Presse publishes every day about my writings and my relations to the Commune; this is sent me each day from Paris. It shows that the Versailles police is very hard put to to get hold of genuine documents. My relations with the Commune were maintained through a German merchant who travels between Paris and London all the year round. Everything was settled verbally with the exception of two matters:

First, through the same intermediary, I sent the members of the Commune a letter in answer to a question from them as to how they could handle certain securities on the London Exchange.

Second, on May 11, ten days before the catastrophe, I sent them by the same method all the details of the secret agreement come to between Bismarck and Favre in Frankfort.

I had this information from Bismarck's right hand--a man who had formerly (from 1848-53) belonged to the secret society of which I was the leader. This man knows that I have still got all the reports which he sent me from and about Germany. He is dependent on my discretion. Hence his continual efforts to prove his good intentions towards me. It was the same man who gave me the warning I told you about that Bismarck had decided to have me arrested if I visited Dr. Kugelmann in Hanover again this year.

If only the Commune had listened to my warnings! I advised its members to fortify the northern side of the heights of Montmartre, the Prussian side, and they still had time to do this; I told them beforehand that they would otherwise be caught in a trap; I denounced Pyat, Grousset and Vesinier to them; I demanded that they should at once send to London all the documents compromising the members of the National Defence, so that by this means the savagery of the enemies of the Commune could to some extent be held in check--thus the plan of the Versailles people would have been brought to nothing.

If these documents had been discovered by the Versailles people they would not have published forged ones.

The address of the International [The Civil War in France, 1871] will not be published before Wednesday. I will then at once send you a copy. Material for four to five sheets has been compressed into two. Hence arose numerous corrections, revisions and misprints. Hence also the delay.