Letters of Jenny Marx 1853

Jenny Marx To Adolf Cluss
In Washington

Source: MECW Volume 39, p. 579;
First published: in Voprosy istorii KPSS, 1962
Text according to: letter from Cluss to Weydemeyer of 28 March 1853;

London, 10 March [1853]

For weeks my dear Karl has been indisposed and, during the past few days, has again been suffering from his old liver complaint which almost developed into hepatitis, a disease I find all the more frightening for its being hereditary in his family and the cause of his father’s death. Today he is better again, is getting his Tribune article into shape, and has asked me to write to you. I must at once plunge into a circumstantial tale of woe which almost equals the bad luck of Weydemeyer and Cluss. Please don’t be angry with me if I dilate. On 6 December, at the same time as your manuscript copy of the Revelations, my husband sent another one to Schabelitz’s son in Basle. Schabelitz was delighted to receive it, wrote saying it was a masterpiece, that it ought to be across the border within a fortnight and that he would run off 2,000 copies, sell them at 15 silver groschen a piece and, after deducting the printing costs (low in Switzerland), share the profits with my husband. We would be justified in counting on at least 30 sterling — with no risk of disappointment. Moreover he intended to send 40 copies to London immediately. For 4 weeks we hear nothing. My husband writes. Answer: the printing was held up by the compositors’ Christmas junketing; he intends to be across the border in a fortnight at the latest and to send us 40 copies. All we hear, and this through a third party, is that the smuggling operation has run into unexpected difficulties and that he has had to smuggle across the 1,800 copies in small parcels over a period of 14 days, but that everything will be across by about the beginning of February, when he will charge one of his own clerks with forwarding the pamphlet and distributing it to the booksellers and will send him there, but that he, however, will send us a specimen copy at once. Good. We wait expectantly for 4 weeks. Then my husband writes to inquire, believing that the pamphlets have long since reached the furthest corners of Germany and that all he need now do is draw a bill on him. Then, yesterday, the following letter arrived.

‘Dear Marx, I have just heard that the whole consignment of Revelations, amounting to 2,000 copies, which had been lying in a village on the other side of the border for the past 6 weeks, was intercepted yesterday while being conveyed elsewhere. What will happen now, I do not know; first of all, a complaint lodged by the Baden government with the Federal Council, then, no doubt, my arrest or at least commitment for trial, etc. In either case, a terrific shindy! This briefly for your information; further communications, should I be prevented from making them myself, will reach you through a 3rd party. When writing to me, use the address: A modiste in Basle, etc.’

That’s all; what do you think of it? He leaves 2,000 copies, i.e. the entire edition, lying in a village for 6 weeks, and then writes to tell us that they have been confiscated. Not a word about the copies for London, nothing about those for Switzerland, etc. Have the things been printed, did the Prussian police buy them for a hefty sum, or God knows what? Suffice it to say that this is the 2nd pamphlet to have been entirely suppressed. Mr Stieber, who has become Chief of Police in Berlin and announced a magnum opus on conspiracies, etc., and Mr Willich, owner and administrator of the American funds come out of the affair sain et sauf; the Cologne trial has been utterly obliterated, the party is still not quite cleansed of all taint, and the government is triumphant! At this moment the pamphlet would have had the most tremendous effect. The hearts of the German police would have quaked and trembled at this thunderbolt falling among them. If we had the means, we would have it printed again au moment in Altona in order to enrage the government, but that is impossible. All that can be done now is for you to bring it out as a feuilleton in some paper or other. Could not the type then be used to produce a pamphlet which you could at once send over here? Since printing in Europe has become almost impossible but is now entirely a matter of honour for the party, you should at least have it printed tout prix [at all costs] as a feuilleton. The publication of the pamphlet is now a necessity as against all our enemies, and will, more than anything else, further the interests of the Cologne people and sway public opinion in their favour. Interest in them must be reawakened. Becker’s attempted escape failed only because of lack of interest and outside help. Above all, proof of the pamphlet’s existence must be given and this can only be done by its being printed, even if only as a feuilleton on the other side of the ocean.

You can imagine what effect this news had on my husband’s state of health, etc.

Jenny Marx