Frederick Engels in La Réforme

The Anniversary of the Polish Revolution of 1830 [193]

Written: on November 30, 1847;
First published: in La Réforme, December 5, 1847.

Dear Citizen!

I arrived yesterday evening just in time to attend the public meeting called to celebrate the anniversary of the Polish revolution of 1830.

I have been present at many similar celebrations but I have never seen such general enthusiasm, such perfect and cordial agreement between men of all nations.

The chairmanship was given to Mr. Arnott, an English workman.

The first speech was by Mr. Ernest Jones, editor of The Northern Star, who, while speaking against the behaviour of the Polish aristocracy during the insurrection of 1830, gave much praise to the efforts made by Poland to escape from the yoke of her oppressors. His brilliant and powerful speech was loudly applauded.

After him, M. Michelot gave a speech in French.

Mr. Schapper from Germany followed him. He told the meeting that the Brussels Democratic Association had delegated to London Mr. Marx, German democrat and one of its vice-presidents, to establish relations of correspondence between the Brussels society and the London society of Fraternal Democrats, [194] and also to prepare for a democratic congress of the different European nations.

Mr. Marx was received with prolonged applause, when he came forward to address the assembly.

In a speech in German, translated by Mr. Schapper, Mr. Marx declared that England would give the signal for the deliverance of Poland. Poland, he said, would be free only when the civilised nations of Western Europe had won democracy. Now, of all the democracies of Europe, the strongest and most numerous was that of England, organised throughout the whole country. It was in England that the antagonism between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie was most developed, that the decisive struggle between these two classes became more and more inevitable. It was therefore in England that in all probability the fight would begin which would end with the universal triumph of democracy and which would also break the Polish yoke. The success of other European democrats depended on the victory of the English Chartists; therefore Poland would be saved by England.

Mr. Harney, chief editor of The Northern Star, followed by thanking the democrats of Brussels for having immediately approached the democrats of London, taking no account of the advances made to them by the bourgeoisie of the London International League,[195] a society founded by the free traders in order to exploit foreign democrats in the interests of free trade and to compete with the society of Fraternal Democrats which was almost exclusively composed of workers.

Mr. Engels, from Paris, a German democrat, then declared that Germany had a special interest in the freedom of Poland because the German governments exercised their despotism over a part of Poland. German democracy ought to have at heart the ending of this tyranny which shamed Germany.

Mr. Tedesco, from Liège, in a vigorous speech, thanked the Polish fighters of 1830 for having loudly proclaimed the principle of insurrection. His speech, translated by Mr. Schapper, was warmly applauded.

After some remarks by Mr. Charles Keen, Colonel Oborski replied for Poland.

Mr. Wilson, an English workman who by his vigorous opposition recently almost brought about the break-up of a meeting of the International League, was the last to address the assembly.

On the proposal of Messrs Harney and Engels, three cheers were given for the three great European democratic newspapers: the Réforme, The Northern Star, and the Deutsche-Brüsseler-Zeitung; on the proposal of Mr. Schapper, three groans were given for the three anti-democratic papers: the Journal des Débats, The Times and the Augsburg Zeitung.

The meeting ended with the singing of the Marseillaise, in which everybody joined, standing and with hats off.