Marx-Engels Correspondence 1863
Source: MECW, Volume 41, p. 464;
First published: abridged in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Stuttgart, 1913 and in full in MEGA, Berlin, 1930.
I have been meaning to write to you for the past six days and have been continually prevented from doing so. Especially by the worthy Eichhoff. The poor devil allowed himself to be so thoroughly cheated in Liverpool by Prussian lieutenants on the run and commercial swindlers that he has become responsible for about £100’s worth of debts over and above the capital that was thrown down the drain, not by him, but by his partner. He'd come here, he said, to stay for some time and would accept any post that was offered him; he was making a great mystery of what he was doing here, etc. However, it soon became apparent that, instead of looking round for posts, he was engaging in all kinds of mysterious agency transactions and it’s now plain to me that he is conducting a blockade-running business to the Confederate states on behalf of little Dronke, who is very deeply involved in this line. Hence all the secrecy, though the greenness of our friend is such (it is really beyond all bounds) that the secret keeps leaking out all the time. Enfin, the chap has little to do just now, and I'm often saddled with him in the afternoons. Since he refuses to be straightforward with me, I can’t, of course, do anything much to help him, save in cases where he actually asks my advice.
I fear the Polish business is going wrong. Langiewicz’s defeat would already seem to have made its mark in the Kingdom. The Lithuanian movement is by far the most important because 1. it extends beyond the borders of Congress Poland ... and 2. because the peasants here play a greater part and the thing, if one looks towards Kurland, becomes unmistakably agrarian but unless this movement makes good progress and revives that in the Kingdom, I don’t imagine the prospects are very considerable. Langiewicz’s conduct seems to me as very dubious. Which party first broke the contract of alliance — which was absolutely essential to the success of the uprising — it will be difficult to establish. But it would be interesting to know how much truth there is in the rumours that link Mieroslawski, on the one hand, and Koscielski, on the other, with Plon-Plon. If I'm not mistaken, Branicki has long since been a Plonplonist.
The worthy Kugelmann certainly seems to have the most wonderfully magnanimous plans for you. That men of genius must also eat, drink and be housed and even pay for these things, is much too prosaic a notion for these honest Germans, and to suspect them of so much as harbouring it would be virtually tantamount to an insult. I should like to find out who the know-all was who confided to him that I have disowned my book. You will doubtless enlighten the good man on this score. As to the new edition (which, according to the same premises, would certainly be anything but opportune), this is not a suitable moment in any case, now that the English proletariat’s revolutionary energy has all but completely evaporated and the English proletarian has declared himself in full agreement with the dominancy of the bourgeoisie.
I have read the new things by Lyell and Huxley, both very interesting and pretty good. Lyell has some rhetoric but also some fine witty remarks, e.g. where, having vainly quoted all the naturalists in an attempt to establish the qualitative difference between men and apes, he finally quotes the Archbishop of Canterbury as asserting that man differs from beasts by virtue of religion. Apropos, just now the old faith here is being well and truly sniped at, and from all sides. It will soon be found necessary to concoct a platitudinous system of rationalism for the protection of religion. Owen got someone to reply to Huxley in The Edinburgh Review: the answer conceded all the essential facts of the case and took issue only with the phraseology.
Little Dronke evidently thought there was something tremendously heroic in his intention to raise £250 with his banker on my acceptance and actually pay the expenses and interest, amounting to less than £15, himself. My refusal, when confronted with such heroism, to undertake to provide the £250 within a year — you're the best judge of why I couldn’t do so — struck him as mesquin in the extreme. I assure you that, but for you, I would have kicked the little blackguard in the arse. I was so annoyed that I got tight and while still in a state of tightness wrote you a furious letter on the subject, which doubtless contained some pretty splendid stuff, for I have absolutely no recollection of what I wrote. I merely mention the matter now, so that you can view it in its proper context.