Marx-Engels Correspondence 1854

Engels To Marx
In London

Source: MECW, Volume 39, p. 434;
First published: abridged in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, 1913 and in full in: Marx and Engels, Works, 1929.

Manchester, 20 April 1854

Dear Marx,

It’s all off with The Daily News and, in fact, I have grounds for assuming that, by his indiscretion, Monsieur Pieper has played me a dirty trick which I shall not forget in a hurry. Everything was all right, only the fee to be settled, my article already set up in print — I have the proof copy in my pocket. As long ago as a week last Wednesday, I wrote to the fellows saying I would accept their usual terms, and today the answer finally arrives saying that the articles are too professional, that, much as they would like to, they cannot use them and concluding very politely with an offer of two guineas for my trouble and the good advice that I should approach a military paper. Needless to say, I shall accept neither. I can think of only one explanation for this strange behaviour: Pieper who, to judge by a foolish letter he wrote me a week ago, knew about the thing, must have been talking big about it and thus, by the well-known telegraphic medium of emigre gossip, the story came to the ears of Kinkel or some other wretched German blighter acquainted with The Daily News and then, of course, nothing was easier than to represent Engels, the military man, as no more than a former one-year volunteer, a communist and a clerk by trade, thus putting a stop to everything. The politeness of the refusal was not for my benefit, of course, but Watts’s. The way the letter is written does not preclude my applying again, but only to be relegated to the penny-a-liners.

I should be greatly obliged if you could find out who let the cat out of the bag; needless to say, Mr Schimmelpfennig’s eulogies are a poor set-off for this échec [failure].

On top of that, the shillyshallying of the Daily News chaps has meant that in the meantime some of my sources here have become known through the German press — the Moltke, which I have found enormously helpful, is now scarcely any good to me at all and in a fortnight all the rest will have gone the same way, and I wouldn’t dream of risking another £5 on the thing on speculation.

I feel very much inclined to finish the articles on Russian military power and send them to The Times. If they published them, what an ass The Daily News would look! But a second échec would have its drawbacks, for then I should look a complete ass. That’s why it’s so damnable my not being in London, when everything would be perfectly simple. What do you think? Write at once and let me know.

About the other things in a day or two. I can’t let you have the article on the Russian bulletin before the next sailing; it needs to be closely studied and compared with the map, otherwise one risks making an ass of oneself here as well.

If only you could screw more money out of the Tribune, I'd turn my back on the whole, rotten English press, where blackguardly German interlopers persuade stupid editors to reject the best articles, and I'd send you one or two Tribune articles every week.

But to wear our fingers to the bone writing for £200, c'est trop fort.

Write at once and tell me what you think of this rotten business; the whole affair has put me terribly out of temper. Of all the band there’s nobody we can rely on except each other.

Steffen and Dronke were here at Easter; I didn’t at all care for Dronke who has acquired a revolting habit of bragging like a commis-voyageur. The fellow’s becoming a regular loafer.

F. E.