Marx-Engels Correspondence 1851
Source: MECW Volume 38, p. 322;
First published: slightly abridged in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, 1913.
While you busy yourself with military history, I am conducting a little campaign in which I am likely to be vanquished by and by, and from which neither Napoleon nor even Willich — the communist Cromwell — would have been able to extricate themselves.
You should know that I had to pay £31/10 shillings to old Bamberger on 23 March, and £10 to the Jew, Stiebel, on the sixteenth, all on current bills. I first got Jenny to ask my mother-in-law outright. The answer to this was that Mr Edgar [von Westphalen] had been sent back to Mexico with the remainder of Jenny’s money, and I couldn’t extract a single centime.
Then I wrote to my mother, threatening to draw bills on her and, in case of non-payment, to go to Prussia and get myself locked up. I had really intended to take the latter course if such should be the case, but this device ceased to be feasible from the moment the jackasses began to fill the press with their jeremiads about the workers deserting me, my declining popularity and the like. As it was, the thing would have looked like a piece of political histrionics, a more or less deliberate imitation of Jesus Christ-Kinkel. The time-limit I set my mater was 20 March.
On 10 March she wrote and told me they intended to write to our relations; on 18 March she wrote to say the relations had not written which was intended to mean the matter was concluded. I at once replied, saying that I stood by my first letter.
On 16 March, with Pieper’s help, I paid Stiebel his £10. On 23 March, after I had made a number of fruitless moves, the bill for old Bamberger was inevitably protested. I had a frightful scene with the old man who, moreover, was frightfully abusive about me to the worthy Seiler. Through his banker in Trier the idiot had asked for information about me from the banker, Lautz. This fellow, my mater’s banker and my personal enemy, naturally wrote and told him the most absurd things about me and, on top of that, thoroughly stirred up my mater against me.
As regards old [Simon] Bamberger, I had no alternative but to make out two bills for him, one on him in London to run for 4 weeks from 24 March, the other, payable in Trier in 3 weeks, on my mater in order to cover the first. I at once advised my mater of this. Today, at the same time as your letter, one arrived from my mater in which, full of moral indignation, she addresses me in the most insolent terms, declaring positivement that she will protest any bill I draw on her.
So when 21 April comes round I shall have to expect the very worst from a thoroughly incensed old Simon Bamberger.
At the same time my wife was brought to bed on 28 March. [Jenny Marx gave birth to a daughter Franziska on that day] Though the confinement was an easy one, she is now very ill in bed, the causes being domestic rather than physical. And thereby I have verbalement not a farthing in the house, so that tradesmen’s bills — butcher’s, baker’s and so forth — keep mounting up.
In 7 or 8 days’ time, I shall have a copy of the will from Scotland. If anything’s to be made of it, little [Louis] Bamberger is the one to do so, if only in his own interest. But I can’t rely on it.
You will admit that this is a pretty kettle of fish and that I am up to my neck in petty-bourgeois muck. And at the same time one is also said to have exploited the workers! and to aspire to dictatorship! Quelle horreur!
Mais ce n'est pas tout. [but that’s not all] The manufacturer who, in Brussels, loaned me money from Trier, is dunning me for it because his iron-works are doing badly. Tant pis pour lui. [so much the worse for him] I can’t do as he asks.
But finally, to give the matter a tragicomic turn, there is in addition a mystère which I will now reveal to you en très peu de mots [in a very few word]. However, I've just been interrupted and must go and help nurse my wife. The rest, then, in which you also figure, in my next.
Apropos, how do merchants, manufacturers, etc., account for the portion of their income which they themselves consume? Is this money too fetched from the banker or how is it arranged? I'd be glad to have your answer to this.