Marx-Engels Correspondence 1859

Marx To Ferdinand Lassalle
In Berlin

Source: MECW Volume 40, p. 497;
First published: F. Lassalle. Nachgelassene Briefe und Schriften, Stuttgart-Berlin, 1922.

London, [not before 2 October 1859]
9 Grafton Terrace, Maitland Park, Haverstock Hill

Dear Lassalle,

It is very good of you to be the first to take up the pen again, and this in a matter touching my interests, despite the fact that appearances speak against me.

As for my silence, let me say briefly:

First, I didn’t get either of your letters until weeks after their despatch, namely on my return to London from a journey to Scotland via Manchester, made for business reasons. Meanwhile events had moved so fast that they had, as it were, removed the point of our debate. For the point in question did not relate — nor, between you and me, could it have related — to the nationalities issue, but rather to the most suitable policy to be pursued by the German revolutionaries towards their own governments and other countries. Now I would nevertheless have sent a reply, if a belated one, had there not been fresh grounds for delay. In one of your letters you asked for evidence relating to Vogt. That evidence was in the hands of Karl Blind. The ‘worthy democrat’, however, though privately inclined to play at moral indignation as well as stir up scandal, resisted all expostulations to come out. Consequently I broke with him. (He even denied authorship of Zur Warnung, the anonymous pamphlet published in London and reproduced in the Augsburger. However, I have succeeded in obtaining documentary evidence against him (Blind) in this matter, to which I shall revert ‘at the right time and the right place’.) This provided a fresh occasion for prolonging my silence. And, since ‘the evil deed is accursed in that it must constantly engender evil’ my silence itself became an obstacle to my breaking it. On top of that — and I beg you not to regard this simply as a figure of speech — there was a whole series of domestic complications, as yet by no means eliminated, which in fact robbed me of all desire to write. So much for my silence, which, however, and despite all appearances to the contrary, was in no way motivated by ill-will.

Now as to Duncker, on my return to London I found a letter from him which apparently rendered it impossible for me to make any further direct approach to the man regarding the sequel. On the other hand, not having written to you for so long, I couldn’t possibly start off by suddenly writing to you about my own concerns. So I let the matter drop, on the tacit assumption that, if I hadn’t heard from Duncker by a certain date, I should have to approach another publisher.

However, one of your earlier letters led me to suppose that Duncker had undertaken to publish 2 instalments, or rather the first section ('Capital in General') in its entirety. But on the other hand the first instalments was much more compendious than had been originally planned, nor, for that matter, did I want him to be a ‘publisher malgré lui[against his will]. However, since the first 2 instalments form a whole, it would be desirable for them at least to appear under the same imprint.

I shall now be obliged to remodel the thing completely, as the manuscript for this second instalment is already a year old ; and, since my circumstances do not permit me to devote much time to the matter just now, I hardly think I shall be able to finish it before the end of December. That, however, would be at the very outside.

I am busy with an English rendering of the first instalment and this, too, has been disrupted by a bad domestic spell. At any rate I am assured of a better reception in England than in Germany where, so far as I am aware, nobody inquires after the thing or gives a straw for it. All I want is to place the whole of this first section, at least, before the German public. Should the latter continue to pay no heed to the work, I intend to put all subsequent sections straight into English and no longer concern myself with the German philistines.

Vale faveque.
K. M.