Marx-Engels Correspondence 1871
Source: Marx and Engels on Ireland, Progress Publishers, 1971;
Transcribed: by Andy Blunden.
I come now to the question of MacDonnell.
Before admitting him, the Council instituted a most searching inquiry as to his integrity, he, like all other Irish politicians, being much calumniated by his own countrymen.
The Council — after most incontrovertible evidence on his private character — chose him because the mass of the Irish workmen in England have more confidence in him than in any other person. He is a man quite superior to religious prejudices and as to his general views, it is absurd to say that he has any “bourgeois” predilections. He is a proletarian, by his circumstances of life and by his ideas.
If any accusation is to be brought forward against him, let it be done in exact terms, and not by vague insinuation.
My opinion is that the Irishmen, removed for a long time by imprisonment, are not competent judges. The best proof is their relations with The Irishman whose editor, Pigott, is a mere speculator, and whose manager, Murphy, is a ruffian. That paper — despite the exertions of the General Council for the Irish cause — has always intrigued against us. MacDonnell was constantly attacked in that paper by an Irishman (O'Donnell) connected with Campbell (an officer of the London Police) and a habitual drunkard who for a glass of gin will tell the first constable all the secrets he may have to dispose of.
After the nomination of MacDonnell, Murphy attacked and calumniated the International (not only MacDonnell) in The Irishman, and, at the same time, secretly, asked us to nominate him secretary for Ireland.
As to O'Donovan Rossa, I wonder that you quote him still as an authority after what you have written me about him. If any man was obliged, personally, to the International and the French Communards, it was he, and you have seen what thanks we have received at his hands.
Let the Irish members of the New York Committee not forget that to be useful to them, we want above all influence on the Irish in England, and that for that purpose there exists, as far as we have been able to ascertain, no better man than MacDonnell.