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Marx-Engels Correspondence 1866

Marx To Engels
In Manchester

Source: MECW Volume 42, p. 258;
First published: in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Stuttgart, 1913.

Margate, 6 April 1866
5 Lansell’s Place

Dear Fred,

I have been greatly restored here, and not the smallest sign of a return of the atrocious carbuncles. The spot where the last and most malignant one was still feels a little tender. Perhaps it healed too quickly and an atom of pus is still lurking beneath the healed skin. However, if that were so, the warm sea bathes and the rough towel that I dry myself with would no doubt have dissipated the foul matter; and indeed in the last two days this vestige of the wound seems to be disappearing altogether. The only drawback is a recurrence here of rheumatic pains in my right shoulder, which is seriously disturbing my sleep. I have now been here for nearly 4 weeks and have lived for my health’s sake alone. It is time to put a stop to that soon.

Our letters crossed, so that you have answered mine. You do not mention the possibility of Italy creating a diversion for Prussia’s benefit.

There can be no shadow of doubt that Russia is behind the Prussians, although she is allowing Mr Bonaparte to act as arbiter on the stage. One must not lose sight of the fact (to use a Hegelian turn of phrase) that the Danubian mine was sprung at the very moment that Bismarck made his démarche.

Even granted, which is probable, that the Prussian curs withdraw with their tails between their legs, it remains clear, and must become clear even to the German philistines, that unless there is a revolution in Germany, the Hohenzollern and Habsburg curs will throw our country back for another 50-100 years by civil (dynastic) war.

I must tell you frankly that the ‘International’ is in a sorry state, particularly since the impatience of the French has led to the congress being fixed for the end of May.

The fact is this, that the English leaders in London, now that we have given them a platform (to which must be added the inability of any Englishman to do two things at once), are very cool within our movement proper. My absence for almost 3 months has done untold harm. What is to be done? In France, Belgium, Switzerland (and here and there in Germany, and even sporadically in America) the Association has made great and sustained progress. In England, the reform movement, which we brought into being, has almost killed us. That would be of no consequence, if the Geneva Congress had not been announced for the end of May, and if the Parisians, for whom this movement is the sole possibility, had not, through their own paper Le Congrès, made it almost impossible to prorogue the congress. The English would soon see the rottenness of the Reform Movement, as it now is. After my return the threat of flirtation with the Potter-clique, etc., would soon put everything back on the right lines. But there is no time. For the English even the failure of the congress is a trifle. But for us? A fiasco of European dimensions!! I really do see scarcely a way out. The English have neglected to do anything which might give the congress any kind of respectable form. Que faire! Do you think I should go to Paris to put to the people there how impossible the congress now is? Answer soon. The only possible way out I can see is by agreement with the Parisians. On the other hand, I know that their position itself is at stake if the congress does not take place. Que faire! Mr Vésinier has challenged our Parisians. They are to go to Belgium to shoot it out with him. L'imbécile. As to Orsini, I knew that there was nothing you could do. But I could not refuse him the introduction to you.

K. M.