Marx-Engels Correspondence 1868
Source: MECW, Volume 43, p. 42;
First published: in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx Stuttgart, 1913.
Immediately after my return to London — our trip was marvellous — I found whole bundles of dunning and threatening letters. The people had been turned away with the excuse that I was ‘travelling’. But one might think the electric telegraph had announced my return to these fellows. Si licet parva componere magnis [if one may compare the small with the great], Old Niebuhr (the father of the historian) relates with what speed the facts of the Silesian War travelled from Europe to Asia in no time simply through the telegraphy of people’s tongues. And among creditors this form of natural telegraphy appears to work even more efficiently. Among the bills there are various ones that can scarcely be delayed for one week; the worst, however, is the enclosed scrawl payable on Tuesday, for, if the gas supply is publicly cut off, things will get quite out of control.
Last Tuesday there was a meeting of the International. In the meantime, papers have come into my hands which have made unavoidable a rescinding of the resolutions as to the Congress. D'abord, the declaration by Minister of Justice Bara that the Congress is not permitted to take place in Brussels. Secondly, a printed manifesto of the Committees of Brussels and Verviers in which they throw down the gauntlet to the Minister. Thirdly, letters from De Paepe and Vandenhouten that we would ruin the Association in Belgium by transferring the Congress. This would be interpreted as a concession to the government, etc.
I do not even mention the lousy intrigues of Vésinier, who is now here, and also Pyat, etc. Naturally they have been spreading the rumour that we are working at the dictation of Bonaparte.
They believed that a big scandal was to be expected at this last meeting and therefore sent guests to us. They were very désappointés when I withdrew my Resolutions after reading and referring to the documents, etc. I put the matter thus: The law against the foreigners was in no way a special threat against the International. It was general. The International would, however, have made a concession to the Belgian government if, under such legislation, it had selected Brussels as its meeting place. Now the matter was the other way round. Now that the Belgian government had directly threatened and provoked us we would be making a concession to it if we moved the Congress away from Brussels, etc. At the same time, I made a few very contemptuous jokes about the heroic tone adopted by those who attacked my resolutions (Odger, etc.) before they knew the changed state of circumstances. The only danger that could have been incurred, was that of cheap martyrdom and ridicule. Mrs Law shouted ‘Hear, hear’ for me several times, and showed her support by drumming on the table. Anyhow I managed things so that the laughter turned against Odger, etc., and that the rescinding of the resolutions did not appear as a victory on their part.
The heat is very nasty for me. I shall have Gumpert’s medicine made up for me, since I have ‘puked’ (as Mrs Blind would say) for several consecutive days, despite exemplary abstention from food and drink.