Marx-Engels Correspondence 1864
Source: MECW Volume 42, p. 6;
First published: in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Stuttgart, 1913.
The crisis and its innumerable vexations must be my excuse for not writing to you earlier. Never in my whole life have I had such a glut of Jewish chicanery as now, and you can just imagine how much correspondence that entails.
Later this week, I shall go and see Borchardt to complete the business of Lupus’ legacy, which is now about to be concluded.
My travels took me as far as Sonderburg; I did not go to Copenhagen, in part because I had neither the time nor a passport, and in part because Bille, the editor of the Dagbladet, had just arrived in Lübeck when I was in Kiel, and so I had no contact in Copenhagen at all, never having seen any of the other papers anywhere.
Schleswig is a curious country — the cast coast very pretty and prosperous, the west coast also prosperous, heath and moors in the middle. All the bays extremely beautiful. The people are decidedly one of the biggest and heaviest of all the human races on Earth, especially the Frisians on the west coast. One only needs to travel across the country to be convinced that the main stock of the English comes from Schleswig. You know the Dutch Frisians, in particular those colossal Frisian women with their delicate white and fresh red complexions (which also predominate in Schleswig). They are the ancestral types of the northern English, and in particular those colossal women, who are also found here in England, all are of decidedly Frisian type. There is no doubt in my mind that the ‘Jutes’ (Anglo-Saxon eotena cyn), who migrated to England with the Angles and Saxons, were Frisians, and that the Danish migration to Jutland, as to Schleswig, dates only from the 7th or 8th century. The present Jutland dialect is proof enough of this.
These fellows are great fanatics and, for that reason, really took my fancy. You must have read something by that extraordinary ‘Dr K. J. Clement of North Friesland’. The man is typical of the whole race. These fellows are in deadly earnest about their struggle against the Danes, which is their whole purpose in life, and the Schleswig-Holstein theory is not an end but a means for them. They regard themselves as a physically and morally superior race to the Danes, and indeed they are. Bismarck was really kidding himself when he thought he could get the measure of such people by his own methods. We have held out against the Danes for fifteen years and became consolidated on our territory, and are we supposed to let these Prussian bureaucrats get us down? — that’s what these fellows were saying.
The situation regarding language and nationality is most bizarre. In Flensburg, where the Danes claim that the whole of the northern part is Danish, especially by the harbour, all the children, who were playing down by the harbour there in droves, spoke Low German. On the other hand, north of Flensburg the language of the people is Danish — i.e. the Low Danish dialect, of which I hardly understood a word. The peasants in the tavern at Sundewitt, however, spoke Danish, Low German and High German by turns, and neither there nor in Sonderburg, where I always addressed the people in Danish, was I answered in any language but German. At all events, Germanisation has encroached considerably on North Schleswig, and it would be very difficult to make it entirely Danish again, certainly more difficult than German. I would rather it was more Danish, for one day something will surely have to be given up to the Scandinavians here, for decency’s sake.
I have recently been doing some work on the philology and archaeology of the Frisians, Angles, Jutes and Scandinavians, and here, too, I have come to the conclusion that the Danes are no more than a nation of advocates, who will knowingly and brazenly lie, even in matters of scholarship, if it is in their interest. Mr Worsaae on the Danes etc. in England to wit. By way of contrast, next time you come here I will show you a book, which is in the main very good, by the lunatic Clement from North Friesland about Schleswig and the migration to England in the 6th to 8th centuries. The fellow is certainly knowledgeable, despite his eccentricity. But he does appear to be a prodigious drinker.
To my surprise, the Prussians in Schleswig created a very good impression, particularly the Westphalians, who looked like giants at the side of the Austrians, but admittedly much more ponderous. The whole army went around entirely unshaven, with their buttons undone and generally bearing themselves in a most unsoldier-like fashion, so that the natty Austrians acted almost like Prussians here. Amongst the officers of the Prussian artillery and engineers I encountered several very agreeable fellows, who told me all kinds of interesting things, but the infantry and cavalry maintained a most dignified reticence and enjoyed a thoroughly bad reputation with the population. There was a notable lack of enthusiasm for Prince Frederick Charles’ conduct of the war, and no one at all, not even those who had been decorated, had a good word to say about the distribution of rewards. The non-commissioned officers behaved well towards the older soldiers, and indeed generally when in company; on the other hand, I did see one of the Brandenburg sappers drilling recruits in Sonderburg, a real old infamous Prussian. It was, by the way, remarkable to observe the different tone that prevailed in the 3rd and 7th army corps in this respect. Your March Tribe, as Georg Jung has it, submit to being kicked around and trampled on, whereas with the Westphalians (amongst whom there is a very strong admixture of Rhinelanders from the right bank) the non-commissioned officers mostly associate with their men d'égal ŕ-égal.
What do you think of the commercial crisis? I think it is all over, i.e. the worst is. It is a pity these things do not come to a proper head.
Can you explain: Rüm Hart, klar Kimmang?
Give my kindest regards to your wife and the girls.