Marx-Engels Correspondence 1850

Marx To Eduard von Müller-Tellering
In London

Source: MECW Volume 38, p. 229;
First published: in Marx and Engels Works, First Russian Edition, 1934.

On 3 March 1850, the court of honour, presided by Willich, expelled Tellering from the London German Workers’ Educational Society. Tellering wrote a letter of protest, slandering Engels. This letter of Marx was in reply to Müller-Tellering.

[Rough copy]

London, 12 March 1850

For the letter you wrote yesterday to the Workers’ Society, I would send you a challenge, were you still capable of giving satisfaction after your disgraceful calumnies against Engels and after the well-founded sentence of expulsion pronounced by the Workers’ Society executive committee. I await you on a different field to strip you of the hypocritical mask of revolutionary fanaticism behind which you have so far skilfully contrived to hide your petty interests, your envy, your unassuaged vanity and your angry discontent over the world’s lack of appreciation for your great genius — a lack of appreciation that began with your failure to pass your examination.

Had you reflected a little, you would have been obliged to assume that if, as a witness, I was compelled to report a fact detrimental to yourself, I for my part would do everything in my power to avoid a scandal which must doubly compromise me: in the eyes of the Workers’ Society, to which you were recommended by me, and in the eyes of the public, for whom you exist only in as much as you were a contributor to my newspaper.

Your letters to me, and they are available for publication, prove that you did all you could to foist upon me the role of ‘democratic Dalai Lama and incumbent of the future’. What proof have you that I ever accepted that absurd role? The only thing you could reproach me with is that I did not immediately break with you or denounce you to the others after the Klapka affair, on the compromising nature of which I forthwith bluntly expressed my views to you in the presence of witnesses. I admit my weakness. Only Becker’s statement that, 4 weeks prior to the appearance of your glib pamphlet attacking the Westdeutsche Zeitung, you again offered to collaborate on that paper, a statement supported by the testimony of Freiligrath and Hagen, only your wholly unsubstantiated calumnies against Engels convinced me that what I had regarded as an isolated instance of precipitancy was the connecting link of an entire system. It was, by the way, wise of you not after all to appear yesterday at the final appointment which Willich had yet again arranged for you at your request. You knew what was to be expected from a confrontation with me.

K. Marx