Marx-Engels Correspondence 1861

Marx To Engels
In Manchester

Source: MECW Volume 41, p. 314;
First published: in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Stuttgart, 1913.

[London,] 20 July 1861

Dear Engels,

I do not believe that you can apply to the Prussian Embassy in London for a ‘certificate of good conduct’ without presenting the fellows with a document most compromising to yourself.

Neither under Prussian nor international law is the Prussian Embassy a supervisory body obliged to issue testimonia as to the conduct of foreigners or Prussians. Only insofar as it issues passports does it have to consider whether someone’s reputation, either as a result of a court decision or by rumor publicus, is that of a criminal. As for the rest, it is supposed to know nothing about private individuals. What it does know, it knows per abusum as a moucharderie institution. Thus, a certificate of good conduct from that quarter would be tantamount to a certificate of good conduct from the illegal (and hence officially non-existent) secret political police, sub auspiciis of Alberts, the Embassy clerk. But you cannot recognise such an authority, and the chief of police in Barmen would be very hard put to it, were you to ask him to indicate the paragraph in the Prussian statute book according to which the Prussian Embassy in London possesses such attributes.

The same cannot be said of the Prussian consul in Manchester. Consuls are commercial, not political representatives of their state. Hence they are supposed to know the businessmen of their locality and, in particular, those of their own nationality. Hence the consul would be able to give a certificate to the effect that X. X. has lived in Manchester for 10 years as a respectable businessman and is known to be such. The Prussian government has no right whatever to demand any other kind of testimonial and would be too cautious to do so officially. But the former it can demand, because your request for renaturalisation has put you on the same footing as foreigners of whom suchlike testimonials, etc., may be required when they apply for naturalisation in Prussia.

The Prussian government has no more right to demand any sort of testimonial concerning your political conduct than, say, a confession of political faith executed by you yourself.

I have heard nothing more either from Vienna or from Dana, although the latter sends me the Tribune every week.

Brockhaus will not definitely make up his mind until I have sent him the manuscript. [a second instalment to Critique of Political Economy] This is a far from pleasant condition since he will submit the manuscript to the judgment of his idiots of literary advisers over there. Come to that, I'm not progressing as fast as I should like, owing to much domestic trouble.

Have you read any of Lassalle’s book? Have you sent the book to my cousin? This last is of importance to me, since I am sorely in need of that youth’s bons offices.

Lassalle and the countess are at a spa near Frankfurt am Main.

I was called upon by an emissary from the Poles, who at the same time brought me a whole bundle of J. Ph. Becker’s letters, sent by Schily, which I haven’t yet read. Hasn’t paid me a second visit, probably because he didn’t like the home-truths I told him about the poor outlook for any kind of conspiracy in Prussia just now. You shall have the Becker letters as soon as I've read them; ditto a letter from Lassalle to me, as soon as I have answered it. Heard anything from Lupus?


K. M.