“In 1845 Feargus O’Connor made a tour in Belgium and come home full of a desire to emulate the Flemish methods of small intensive farming, which he held up for admiration to those who wished to participate in his Land Scheme. Were England cultivated like Flanders and Brabant, it would, he declared, be able to maintain a population of three hundred millions (1).  But O’Connor did not simply go to Belgium to study its agriculture. At Brussels he had treaty with a band of German democratic communists then in exile in the Belgian capital. This body welcomed him with a congratulatory address, signed among others by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (2). These men, young and little known at the time, had just begun that long association which was to be of such significance in the later history of socialistic theory and practice. Engels had already become during his earlier residence in England the chief link that bound to English Chartism the extremists of the German revolt against the social order. Friedrich Engels (1820-1895), the son of a well-to-do cotton-spinner at Barmen, was brought to Manchester in 1842 in the interests of a branch of his father’s firm, established in the cotton area of south-east Lancashire. His residence in this country between 1842 and 1844 bore as its chief fruit an elaborate study of the condition of the English working classes at that period, which was first published in 1845 (3). It also resulted in Engels being brought into relation with English Chartists and Socialists, from whom he learnt a more concrete method of dealing with economic problems than had prevailed among his German teachers. He wrote for the ‘Northern Star’ and became friendly with O’Connor and Jones. On leaving England for Paris, Engels began there his intimacy with Karl Marx (1818-1883), a young doctor from Trier, whose Jewish origin and Radical views made an academical career impossible for him in Prussia. Marx was now, under Engels’s guidance, sitting at the feet of the French social reformers. He gladly widened his reading to include the pioneers of English socialism and profited much by it, learning,for instance, from Hodgskin some of the characteristic doctrine which he set forth to the world twenty years later in ‘Das Kapital’. Expelled from Paris at the request of the Prussian Government, Engels and Marx next took up their quarters at Brussels where O’Connor found them. At Brussels they were free to think and write as they chose, while awaiting the upheaval which they foresaw to be imminent in their native country. When even orthodox Radicalism denied Marx a hearing, he was sure of publicity for his views in the friendly pages of the ‘Northern Star’. Thus, when he was forbidden to denounce Free Trade in a conference at Brussels, O’Connor printed his written speech for him in that organ (4). A “League of the Just”, reorganised by Marx and Engels as a “League of Communists”, took up under their guidance an open educational propaganda. With branches in London, Paris, and Brussels, it became a powerful body” [Mark Hovell, a cura di T.F. Tout, The Chartist Movement, 1963] [(1) ‘Northern Star’, September 20, 1845 (…); (2) ‘Northern Star’, July 25, 1847; (3) F. Engels, ‘Die Lage der arbeitenden Klassen in England (Leipzig, 1845), translated by F.K. Wischnewetzky as ‘The Condition of the Working Classes in England in 1844’ (London, 1892); (4) Northern Star, October 9, 1847. The conference was on September 17-19]