Marx-Engels Correspondence 1851
Source: MECW Volume 38, p. 383;
First published: in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, 1913.
I have put off writing from day to day so as to send you complete the documents communicated below. But as they won’t be complete for several days, I am writing today so as not to keep you waiting any longer for an answer.
D'abord. From your letter it would seem that, during your old man’s visit to Manchester, you did not hear that a second document had appeared in the Kölnische Zeitung under the heading ‘Der Bund der Kommunisten’. This was the piece we wrote jointly, ‘Ansprache an den Bund’ — au fond, nothing less than a plan of campaign against democracy. From one point of view its publication was desirable, unlike Bürgers’ document, of which the form was absurd, plus ou moin, and the content not very reassuring. On the other hand, certain passages will make the present prisoners’ position more difficult.
From Louis Schulz in Cologne I have heard that Bürgers writes most dolefully from Dresden. On the other hand it is generally believed in Cologne that Daniels will be released, since there is nothing against him, and all the wailers in the Holy City have reacted in his favour. Naturally they consider him to be incapable of such ‘foolery’.
Miquel has written from Göttingen. Has been subjected to several house searches. Nothing was found. Wasn’t locked up. Five new emissaries — gentlemen — have left Göttingen for Berlin, etc. The persecution of the Jews has, of course, stimulated both zeal and interest.
The funniest thing is that that fatuous sheet, the Augsburg Allgemeine Zeitung, attributes paternity of our document to Messrs Mazzini and Ruge, beats its breast over and over again and can find no better way of expressing its shock at the enormity than by crying at intervals, ‘Madness! Madness! Madness!'
The Trier’sche Zeitung — i.e. K. Grün — has, of course, climbed onto its high horse and used the first document to prove the material, and the second, the ‘intellectual’ impotence of the party. Needless to say, neither the stock phrases of the friends of light nor the most extreme ‘anarchist’ catch-words are wanting. Everything to be done from above! Police state! All dissenters literally to be proscribed and expelled. Mon Dieu! That really is the limit.
Now for the local storms — which customarily take place in a tea-cup.
First. Father Willich has bolted from the barracks — the demise of which, it seems, has been decided — and has become deeply involved in squabbles with most of his bodyguard.
Second. The great Fickler has arrived here. A few days before he came to England he was in Strassburg with Lupus. Liebknecht has long been an intimate of his. Both, therefore, went to see him on 5 July. He chatted away most affably, spoke of the need for reconciling the parties, etc. Then they were joined by the great A. Goegg. He called Willich a ‘mere fantasist’, Schapper a ‘disgusting character’ — having several times heard the fellows blustering in the Windmill, he had disassociated himself from them and hadn’t darkened their door again. Fickler and Goegg inveighed with exceptional vigour against the great Kinkel, who here plays the role of happy parvenu, thus bringing down on his head the ire of the other great men. Ruge, on the other hand, was regarded as a kind of lumen.
Fickler asked for my address and Lupus and Liebknecht departed, duped by the worthies and their striving for ‘concord’.
A few days later Freiligrath sent me the following letter which he had received:
4 Brunswick Place, North Brighton,
4 July 1851
We are planning a kind of club or society which does away with the privacy of such organisations and excludes no-one from the revolutionary social democratic party save him who desires to be exclusive or is debarred by his own character and antecedents.
Fickler, Goegg, Sigel, Ronge and Ruge are promoting the affair and I have undertaken to inform you, and to invite you if, as I suppose, you are interested, to a meeting to be held for this purpose on 14 July (Monday week) at 11 in the morning at Fickler’s lodgings, 26 York Buildings, which form part of New Road at the lower end of Baker Street. We have invited about 24 people whom we know to be reliable and to have remained true. At present we know of no more.
I would have liked to talk to you. If the plan comes off, this will be possible in any case. Even if you are not going to remain in London, you still ought to come.
With regards and a handshake.
Freiligrath has made the great mistake of not sending off his answer until yesterday, 12 July, so that Ruge won’t even get it before leaving Brighton for London. Freiligrath was altogether too lackadaisical over the matter. Mais enfin chacun a sa manière d'agir [but after all, everyone has their own way of doing things]. Lupus, to whom I communicated the letter, immediately wrote to Fickler:
10 July 1851
On the 5th of this month Liebknecht and I came to visit you. From the manner in which you addressed us, I could not possibly have inferred that only the previous day the following letter had been sent to Freiligrath. (The above letter follows.)
If, on the 5th of this month, I had so much as remotely suspected that such a connection existed between yourself and A. Ruge, that fatuous, insolent, rapscallion, I would certainly not have set foot inside your lodgings.
Since I perceive from the above, however, that you consort with a person ‘who is debarred by his own character and antecedents’ (e.g. by his own cowardly flight from Berlin, etc.) from any truly revolutionary party, and who has already been sent to Coventry by the whole communist party in Germany, I would hereby inform you that I neither will nor can have anything to do with people who move so intimately within the orbit of an individual such as Ruge.
3 Broad Street, Golden Square
P.S. You can make whatever use you like of this note. I for my part shall bring it to the notice of my comrades in the party.
To this Lupus received the following answer:
London, 11 July 1851
Dear Citizen Wolff,
So feeble indeed are my powers of prescience that they never remotely led me to fear the loss of your goodwill and of your company, should I associate with that ‘rapscallion’ Ruge. — More, I was not even aware of being subject in this respect to the tutelage of one section of the party and to police rule by the men of the future. It is to this want of percipience as also to what I have learned in twenty years of political activity, namely that there is not one political party able to avoid co-operating with rapscallions — that I owe my resolve to offer my hand to any qualified man desirous of treading the same revolutionary path as myself; — whether he goes no more than half way to the goal I have set myself; — whether he accompanies me all the way there, or whether he continues beyond it.
Anathemas, whether political or religious, are anachronisms, even if emanating from Emperor or Pope; — how infinitely more ridiculous do they appear when hurled by the kinglets and popelets of a party which, to judge by public avowals, is as inconsistent as your own, and which today transforms into ‘rapscallions’ those in its own midst to whom only yesterday it accorded almost divine honours!
In the course of my life I have encountered disproportionately more ‘rapscallions’ than upright people, and have been disproportionately less deceived by the former than by the latter. I therefore waste no time in drawing distinctions of this kind, but rather look for those qualities which may he put to use in the most diverse ways.
Should you desire, therefore, together with Marx and Liebknecht — whom I would beg you to inform — to take part in the said ‘meeting’, I hereby invite you to it, only pointing out that it will be no more than a preliminary discussion and that the chief disadvantage for you, as for half the company in general, will probably be the absence of accommodation for the grosser portions of the anatomy — a fact which, however, should contribute materially to expediting the proceedings.
With warm regards
The most comical thing about the whole business is and will remain the unending efforts of Ruge and his clique to thrust themselves on the public by constantly changing the combination. If it doesn’t work as ABCDEF, it will assuredly do so as FEDCBA. Just try calculating how many variations and permutations of this kind are possible. Has there ever been a more impotent, ludicrously pretentious clique of barren jackasses?
Apropos, have received the 5 pounds. They arrived like a deus ex machina [a crane from which gods were suspended in ancient theatres, meaning an event which arrives in the nick of time to resolve difficulties], for circumstances are “‘orrible”, and it’s hard to see how to extricate oneself. Write direct to Klose (6 Upper Rupert Street, near Princes Street, Soho), since the jackass will otherwise think that the letter he addressed to you, the one about the £10, remember? hasn’t reached you.