Marx-Engels Correspondence 1879
Source: MECW Volume 45, p. 428;
First published: in the language of the original (English) and in German, in Neues Deutschland, Berlin 19 April 1970.
My dear Friend,
I am very sorry indeed to learn that you have been ill and are not yet completely restored to health. I hope your legs will soon be all right again so as to allow you to stir about-I know how you will miss your usual exercise.
We are all pretty well here so far, our patients and half-patients seem to come round gradually.
The man in The P.M.G. [Pall Mall Gazette] does indeed to some extent divine that there are breakers ahead, but as a true Philistine, he seems unable to distinguish appearances from reality. No doubt the crash in Russia is impending and may break out any time. And no doubt, the collapse of Russian despotism must re-act with immense force upon Germany and Austria. But whether an immediate outbreak there be probable or whether it even have chances of success, is more than I pretend to know. The man is quite right, too, in saying that the system of drilling the whole male population, as is now the rule all over the continent, will end in revolutionising these monster armies from within. But this is a process requiring some little time, and as far as Germany goes, it is only lately showing itself. This constant penetration of fresh revolutionary elements into the army, noticed with every new yearly batch of recruits, has been the principal motive for introducing the [Anti-]Socialist laws. And how little this Socialist Law, with all its terrorism, has effected, has again been shown last Thursday. At the last election in 1878, at Magdeburg, our candidate [Wilhelm Bracke] only got 1/3 of the votes given; now there was a fresh election there, and he very near got the full half of the votes, and stands a chance of passing at the second ballot. The joke of the thing is, that this candidate of ours is a natural son of old William, the emperor, by an actress, Miss Viereck, who was the old fellow’s mistress.
Anyhow, the outbreak in Russia must hasten the movement in Central and Western Europe. The governments of Vienna and Berlin will lose heart when they have no longer that unfailing mainstay of all reaction — the absolute Russian government. And the moral effect of a revolutionary successful movement in Russia upon the masses in Central Europe must be immense.
The worst would be, to us, if Russia, to avoid revolution, launched into foreign war. But so long as they have not the French Alliance, they scarcely venture.
Anyhow, by next spring this Russian crisis, which we think here is the most important one since 1848, must come to a head either one way or another, and I hope you will recover your full strength so as to envoy the stirring times which are, it appears, still in store for you.
Very faithfully yours