Marx-Engels Correspondence 1865
Source: MECW Volume 42, p. 206;
First published: in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Stuttgart, 1913.
Please forgive me for not thanking you on behalf of the family for the Christmas present until today, and indeed for not writing at all for so long. I have been so very bothered all that time over and have wasted so much time dashing this way and that, transactions right and left to satisfy A, and thereby falling into the clutches of B, etc., that my work has been chiefly confined to the night, and the good intention to deal with correspondence the next day comes to grief every day.
With regard to the International Association and all that that entails, it has consequently been weighing down on me like an incubus, and I would be glad to be able to get rid of it. But that is impossible, least of all at the present time. On the one hand, sundry bourgeois — Mr. Hughes, M.P., at their head — have conceived the idea of turning The Workman’s Advocate into a proper funded paper, and as one of the Directors I must watch the transactions, to prevent foul play. On the other hand, the Reform League, one of the organisations we founded, has had a triumphant success at the St Martin’s Hall meeting, the largest and most purely working-class meeting that has taken place since I have been living in London. The people from our Committee were at the head of it and put forward our ideas. If I resigned tomorrow, the bourgeois element, which looks at us with displeasure in the wings (foreign infidels), would have the upper hand. With the complete failure of the workers’ movement in Germany, the workers’ elements in Switzerland have grouped themselves all the more around the sections of the International Association there. In the middle of this month first number of the Journal de l'Association Internationale des Travailleurs. Section de la Suisse Romande appeared in Geneva, and a German organ will shortly appear under the editorship of Becker, which has a chance on account of the Nordstern’s demise and the discrediting of the Social-Demokrat. (Old Becker is desperate for articles and has asked me to write urgently to you about it, as pro nunc he has no contributors.) Finally, in France the Association is making great progress, in the absence of any other centres of movement. So, if I were to resign in these circumstances, I should be doing very serious damage to the cause; but, on the other hand, since I have so little time just now, it is no trifle for me: about 3 meetings in the West End or the City, every week first a session of the International Council, then of the Standing-Committee, then of the Directors or Shareholders of The Workman’s Advocate! And in addition all manner of writing to do.
I have had a few lines from Liebknecht. He is living at 2 Gerichtsweg, Leipzig, to be addressed as J. Miller, Esq. [Liebknecht] Things seem to be going badly with him as usual, but he seems to have some prospect of getting a position as a lexicographer, as well as of being granted civic rights in Leipzig, and becoming one of Beust’s subjects.
Dr Kugelmann has also written to me. Justus Möser’s successor, the present mayor of Osnabruck, Mr Miquel, has now openly turned renegade; for the moment with bourgeois leanings, but ‘already’ veering in the aristocratic direction. A certain Wedekind, formerly consul somewhere, rolling in money and an enthusiastic National-Association member, has rewarded him for his merits by making him his son-in-law. Kugelmann has seen ‘gentle Heinrich’ in Cologne. He is now cosily installed as editor of the Rheinische Zeitung. He complained that I had not visited him in Cologne and was treating him as a ‘turncoat’, etc. He claimed always to have ‘kept faith with the “cause"’ and only to be working with the bourgeoisie against the aristocracy now ‘to promote the evolution and clarification of the class contradictions’ (which in a speech in Cologne scarcely a year ago he declared non-existent), etc.
Bonaparte appears to me shakier than ever. The business with the students is symptomatic of ominous signs of conflict in the army itself, but above all the Mexico affair and that original sin of the Lower Empire, debts! Nor has the fellow managed to pull off a single coup in the past year. Indeed things have reached such a pass with him that Bismarck figures as a rival to him!
Palmerston’s death has obviously been a blow here. If he were still alive, Governor Eyre would have been awarded the ordre pour le mérite!
Freiligrath is also ending the year with tremendous bad luck. Jew Reinach has closed down the business here, with a great brouhaha, coming to London expressly for the purpose. Freiligrath, who owed the bank money anyway, suffered the further misfortune that 3 days before the arrival of the mighty Reinach one of his clerks absconded with £150. But still the old boy has got powerful protection to fall back upon. His Plonplonist friends in Paris (e.g. ex-Colonel Kiss, who married the daughter of the former French minister Thouvenel, a millionaire, and is now at the head of an enormous company) will find a new position for him soon enough.
Happy New Year! To Mrs Lizzy, too.