Letters of Marx and Engels, 1849
Source: MECW Volume 38, p. 202;
Written: 25 July 1849;
First published: in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, 1913.
Dear Mrs Marx,
You as well as Marx will be wondering why you have not heard from me for so long. Here are the reasons. On the same day as I wrote to Marx (from Kaiserslautern) there came news that the Prussians had occupied Homburg, thereby cutting off communications with Paris. So I couldn’t send the letter off and went to join Willich. In Kaiserslautern I had completely disassociated myself from the so-called revolution; but when the Prussians arrived, I couldn’t resist the urge to take part in the war. Willich being the only officer who was any good, I joined him and became his adjutant. I was in four engagements, two of them fairly important, particularly the one at Rastatt, and discovered that the much-vaunted bravery under fire is quite the most ordinary quality one can possess. The whistle of bullets is really quite a trivial matter and though, throughout the campaign, great deal of cowardice was in evidence, I did not see as many as a dozen men whose conduct was cowardly in battle. But all the more ‘brave stupidity’. In short, I came through the whole thing unscathed, and as it turns out, it was as well that one member of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung was present, since the entire pack of democratic blackguards were in Baden and the Palatinate, and are now bragging about the heroic deeds they never performed. It would have been said again that the gentlemen of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung were too cowardly to fight. But of all the democratic gentry, the only ones to fight were myself and Kinkel. The latter joined our corps as a musketeer and did pretty well; in the first engagement in which he took part, his head was grazed by a bullet and he was taken prisoner.
Having covered the withdrawal of the Baden army, our corps entered Switzerland 24 hours later than everyone else, and yesterday we arrived here in Vevey. During the campaign and the march through Switzerland it was quite impossible for me to write so much as a line. But now I hasten to send some news, and write to you with all the more dispatch for having heard — somewhere in Baden — that Marx had been arrested in Paris. Since we never received any newspapers, we learnt nothing. Whether or not it is true, I have never been able to find out. You can imagine the state of anxiety I am in as a result, and I beg you most urgently to set my mind at rest and to put an end to my doubts about Marx’s fate. Since I have had no confirmation of this rumour of Marx’s arrest, I still hope it is false. But that Dronke and Schapper are in jug, I can hardly doubt. Enough — if Marx is still at liberty send him this letter with the request that he write to me immediately. If he should not feel safe in Paris, he will be completely safe here in the Vaud Canton. The government describes itself as red and supporter of permanent revolution. In Geneva likewise. Schily from Trier is there; he held a command in the Mainz corps.
If I get any money from home, I shall probably go to Lausanne or Geneva and see what I can do. Our column, which fought well, bores me and there isn’t anything to do here. In battle, Willich is brave, cool-headed and adroit, and able to appreciate a situation quickly and accurately, but when not in battle he is a more or less tedious ideologist and a true socialist. Most of the people in the corps whom one can talk to have been sent elsewhere.
If only I could be sure that Marx is at liberty! I have often thought that, in the midst of the Prussian bullets, my post was much less dangerous than that of others in Germany and especially Marx’s in Paris. So dispel my uncertainty soon.
Tout a vous
Address: F. Engels, refugiť allemand, Vevey, Suisse (If possible under cover as far as Thionville or Metz.)