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O'Connor's Funeral

Karl Marx

London, September 11. Yesterday afternoon the funeral of O'Connor, the late Chartist leader, took place. A procession of 20,000 people, practically all of them from the working class, moved from Finsbury Square and Smithfield to Notting Hill, from where the coffin was taken to Kensal Green Cemetery (one of the most magnificent burial-grounds in London).

Four-horse hearses, decorated with enormous plumes in the English fashion, took their place at the head of the procession. Hard on their heels followed flag-bearers and standard-bearers. In letters of white the black flags bore the inscription "He lived and died for us"[a]. A gigantic red flag magnificently displayed the inscription "Alliance des peuples". A red liberty cap was swaying at the top of the main standard[361]. When the service in the beautiful, cloistered cemetery chapel was over, William Jones made a funeral oration at the grave of the deceased. The singing of a hymn concluded the ceremony. All the requirements for a great demonstration were at hand, but the finishing touch was missing because Ernest Jones was prevented from appearing and speaking by the fatal illness of his wife. As the procession moved back into the city at about half past five in the afternoon it had the ironic satisfaction of meeting five detachments of constables marching out, and greeted them each in turn with a "too late"[b]. Since O'Connor died as a pauper in the true sense of the word, the burial expenses were met by the working class of London.

Written on September 11, 1855
First published in the Neue Oder-Zeitung, No. 430, September 15, 1855
Marked with the sign x
Published in English for the first time in MECW.


[a] Marx quotes the English text of the inscription and gives the German translation in brackets.—Ed.

[b] Marx uses the English words and gives the German translation in brackets.—Ed.

[361] The Red Cap was the headgear of the ancient Phrygians. During the French Revolution it was adopted by the Jacobins and came to symbolise freedom.

Source: Marx and Engels Collected Works, Volume 14 (p.524), Progress Publishers, Moscow 1980
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