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Marx-Engels Correspondence 1852

Engels To Marx
In London

Source: MECW Volume 39, p. 102;
First published: in full in MEGA, 1929.

Manchester, 7 May 1852

Dear Marx,

I return Cluss’ letter herewith. In this connection it has occurred to me that now that Mr Dana is in touch with B. Bauer and Simon of Trier and is, at the same time, restricting your space on account of the presidential election, it would certainly not be out of place to give Mr Dana a taste of Yankee medicine. Cluss and a number of others should write to Mr Dana from various quarters inquiring why it is that these incomparable articles should appear so rarely and irregularly and expressing the hope that the fault does not lie with the editorial board which, rather, might be expected to correct this situation and find it possible to publish articles by K. M. more frequently, etc., etc. Weydemeyer could very easily organise this; the only reason we need to give him is that Dana wants to restrict your space and hence a demonstration of this kind is called for if we are to continue to have access to this organ. A Barnum, Barnum et demi. If you agree, I can put this to Weydemeyer per the next steamer.

The circular sent out by the convention to the sections is exquisite. I'll be hanged if the St Petersburg, Warsaw, Berlin, Rome, etc., sections are situated more than 4 miles from Charing Cross. This carbonari-like, self-important, bustling, order-of-the-dayish attitude again betrays how mistaken these gentlemen are as to their ostensibly organised forces. To propose a coup just now is a bętise [stupidity] and a dirty trick. But truly, ‘something has got to happen, something has got to be done’. It would be desirable for the supposed leaders of the thing to be all of them captured and shot; but needless to say the great men will make sure this doesn’t happen and the heroic Willich will stay quietly in London so long as there is still money in the cash-box, credit at Schärttner’s and free coats and boots ad libitum at the ‘tailor’s and shoemaker’s’. That is what Mr Willich means by supplies for the army!

As for the matter of the character-sketches [The Great Men of the Exile], so far so good. The thing can be ready in a month’s time. But mind you find someone reliable to make a fair copy, so that it goes out in a completely unknown hand. When you come up, bring the Americana, the complete run of the N. Rh. Z. and the necessary manuscript documents. My old man arrives tomorrow and is unlikely to be able to stay here for longer than 8-10 days.

I've at last received my stuff on military science from Germany. So far I have been able to read only little of it. At this stage, I should say that Mr Gustav von Hoffstetter, of wide renown, is not exactly a Napoleon but rather a thoroughly reliable commander of a battalion or so in a minor engagement. But I haven’t yet finished reading his thing. Not unpleasing, on the other hand, is a booklet on new fortifications in general by Küntzel, a Prussian captain of engineers — both better history and more materialist than anything I have so far read in militaribus.

Now as for Mr Willisen, be it said here that the victory at Idstedt was won, not by the Danes over the Schleswig-Holsteiners, but rather by the usual tactics of common sense over Hegelian speculation. Willisen’s book should really be called the philosophy of great wars. This in itself would indicate that it contains more philosophising than military science, that the most self-evident things are construed a priori with the most profound and exhaustive thoroughness and that, sandwiched between these, are the most methodical discourses on simplicity and multiplicity and such-like opposites. What can one say about military science which begins with the concept of art en général then goes on to demonstrate that the art of cookery is also an art, expatiates on the relationship of art to science and finally subsumes all the rules, relationships, potentialities, etc., etc., of the art of war under the one, absolute axiom: the stronger always overcomes the weaker. Every now and again there are some nice aperçus [insights] and some useful reductions to basic principles; it would indeed be bad if there were not. As to its practical application, I haven’t yet got to that, but it doesn’t say much for Willisen that every one of Napoleon’s greatest victories was achieved in defiance of Willisen’s elementary rules, a result that your orthodox Hegelian can, of course, readily explain away without the least violence being done to those rules.

I see that Görgey’s memoirs have just come out — but since they cost 6 talers, I doubt that I can buy them just now. With these, the material on the military aspect of the Hungarian war may be regarded as complete for the time being. At any rate, I shall do something on the Hungarian war, and possibly on all the wars of 1848/49. As soon as I am clear in my mind about earlier military history, I shall look round for a publisher onto whom I can then shift most of the expenditure on sources.

You will have received the 30/- sent you last Saturday.

F. E.