Marx-Engels Correspondence 1867
Source: MECW Volume 42, p. 362;
First published: abridged in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels and K. Marx, Stuttgart, 1913 and in full in MEGA, Berlin, 1930.
I have received both your letters, the second yesterday afternoon, and would have replied to your first long before, if I had known where to. Firstly, business. I am sending £10 to your wife, who wrote to me this morning, and likewise the other £10 to Wheeler at the beginning of next month. This will give you some peace of mind in that regard, and, from what you write, the future also looks rosier at last. I always had the feeling that that damn book [Capital], which you have been carrying for so long, was at the bottom of all your misfortune, and you would and could never extricate yourself until you had got it off your back. Forever resisting completion, it was driving you physically, mentally and financially into the ground, and I can very well understand that, having shaken off that nightmare, you now feel quite a new man, especially as, once you have got back into it again, the world doesn’t seem so gloomy a place as it did before. Especially when you have such a capital publisher as Meissner appears to be. Incidentally, a quick printing will only be possible, I fear, if you can remain in the vicinity throughout, i.e., on the continent; Holland would also be near enough for the purpose. I do not believe the Leipzig proof-readers will have enough learning for your approach. Meissner also got Wigand to print my pamphlet, and the things those wretches corrected into it! I am convinced that the book will create a real stir from the moment it appears, but it will be very necessary to help the enthusiasm of the scientifically-inclined burghers and officials on to its feet and not to despise petty stratagems. There is much that can be done to that end from Hanover after publication, and you could also enlist to advantage the support of amicus Siebel, who is at the moment en route back from Madeira via England, in the best of spirits, as he says. This will he necessary vis-a-vis the vulgar scribbling fraternity, of whose deep-seated hatred for us we have proof enough. Furthermore, thick, scholarly works are always slow to make their mark without such assistance, but with it they act like ‘wildfire’ — confer Heraclitus the Dark, etc. On this occasion, however, we must be all the more assiduous in ensuring this is done, as money is also at stake. Meissner will then be happy to take the collected essays, which would mean more money and further literary success. The pieces from the Neue Rheinische Zeitung, the ‘18th Brumaire’, etc., will make an enormous impression on the philistines just now, and once we have gained a little more ground on that basis, all manner of other lucrative possibilities will soon present themselves, too. I am exceedingly gratified by this whole turn of events, firstly, for its own sake, secondly, for your sake in particular and your wife’s, and, thirdly, because it really is time things looked up. In 2 years my contract with that swine Gottfried expires, and the way things are going here, neither of us will really be wishing to extend it; it is even not impossible that our ways may part even earlier. If that should be so, I shall have to leave commerce entirely, for to start up a business of my own at this late stage would mean 5-6 years of the most fearful drudgery with nothing worth speaking of to show for it, and then another 5-6 years of drudgery to reap the benefits of the first 5 years. But that would be the end of me. There is nothing I long for so much as for release from this vile commerce, which is completely demoralising me with all the time it is wasting. For as long as I am in it, I am good for nothing else, especially since I have become principal it has been much aggravated on account of the greater responsibility. If it were not for the increased remuneration, I really would rather be a clerk again. At all events, in a few years my life as a businessman will come to an end, and then my income will be very, very much reduced, and the question of what we can do then has always been in my mind. However, if things go as they are now beginning to, we shall be able to make provision for that all right, too, even if no revolution intervenes and puts an end to all financial schemes. If that does not happen, I have a plan up my sleeve to have a fling for my deliverance and write a light-hearted book entitled: Woes and Joys of the English Bourgeoisie.
I cannot go along with Meissner’s suggestion. A few sheets could be quickly knocked together, but something longer, 6 à 10 sheets, would require more work and be too late for the war now brewing. One really cannot just knock together rubbish in the manner of Vogt’s Studien. Furthermore, the stuff would be looked upon more or less as a party manifesto, and for that we would have to discuss the matter first. However, I have had an anti-Russian piece in mind for some time, and, if events provide me with an excuse, I shall start on it without more ado and write to Meissner. The only thing I am still in two minds about is whether I should make the ‘nationality principle’ or the ‘Eastern Question’ the chief theme.
I had expected that Bismarck would come knocking at your door, although not his haste. It is characteristic of the fellow’s mentality and outlook that he judges everybody by his own standards. The bourgeoisie may well admire the great men of today, it sees itself reflected in them. All the qualities to which Bonaparte and Bismarck owe their successes are the qualities of businessman: the pursuit of a specific purpose by a policy of wait-and-see and experimentation, until they hit the right moment, the diplomacy of always leaving the back door open, negotiating and haggling, swallowing insults if it is in one’s interest, the attitude of ‘ne soyons pas larrons’ [let us not be robbers], in short, the businessman in all things. In his own way, Gottfried Ermen is as great a statesman as Bismarck, and, if one follows the tricks of these great men, one is constantly reminded of the Manchester Exchange. Bismarck thinks, if I only continue knocking at Marx’s door, I am bound to hit upon the right moment eventually, and then we shall do a deal together after all. Gottfried Ermen to a tee.
I would not have expected the Prussians to be so hated there. But how do you reconcile that with the election results? Those jackasses from the National Association did get half their men through, and in Electoral Hesse all but one.
Vogt has got a life-size portrait of himself in the Gartenlaube. He has become a proper porker in the last few years, and looks fine.
In the Demokratische Studien which recently came my way, Simon of Trier has quite naively copied out whole pages from Po and Rhine, without suspecting from what poisoned source he was drawing! Similarly, in ‘Preussen in Waffen’, the lieutenant who writes the military articles in Unsere Zeit has borrowed at length from my pamphlet, likewise without giving his sources, of course.
Rüstow will stop at nothing to become a Prussian general, as though that could be as easily done as with Garibaldi. In his abysmal and slipshod book on the war, he grovels in optima forma before William the Conqueror and the Prince. That’s why he is moving to Berlin.
I saw Ernest Jones the other day, he has had enquiries from 4 places about standing for election under the new Bill — from Manchester as well. Has not a good word to say for the workers here and backs the Prussians at any odds against the French. I hope this wretched war passes over, I cannot see that any good can come of it. A French revolution saddled in advance with the obligation to go a-conquering would be very nasty; it almost seems as though Bonaparte would be satisfied with the tiniest tit-bit, but whether the Lord of Hosts will permit handsome William to grant him even that tit-bit, time alone will show.
My kindest regards to Dr Kugelmann, although we are not acquainted, and my thanks to him for The Holy Family.