Marx-Engels Correspondence 1873

Marx to Thomas Allsop [752]
In Penzance

Source: MECW Volume 44, p. 550;
First published: in the original English, and in Japanese, in Keizai gakuronshu, Tokyo, 1969.

[London,] 23 December 1873, 1 Maitland Park Road, N.W.

My dear and honoured friend,

I felt very anxious about your protracted silence, Mr Leblanc being unable to inform me of your whereabouts and your doings. I am sorry to see from your letter that my apprehensions were not quite unfounded, but the mild climate of Penzance and your robust constitution will, I hope fervently so, soon rid you of the cough which, by the by, sways it now all over the country. It is, in the current phrase, quite a seasonable nuisance.

My youngest daughter and myself have for three weeks stayed at Harrogate whither our medical adviser had sent us. The quiet life, breezy air, mineral waters and pleasant walks of the place have gone far to restore the health of the two patients. When we arrived, the season had already gone, so that we occupied our hotel ‘in single blessedness’, being only disturbed and somewhat amused during the last days of our sojourn by the dropping in of a Church of England parson, a worldly wise old man, with no smack of cant about him, of fluent and trivial talk, with conventional varnish of manners and caring indeed for nothing save his belly. He was the true model of a modern Christian, using that word itself only with respect to the dishes our hotel-keeper provided and saying for instance: this is no Christian mutton chop, if that same chop happened to lack some virtue or other. The man had overrun most countries of Europe and was in himself a recording office of all the merits and demerits of its several hotels, always hunting in vain for that paragon of mankind — a perfect man-cook. At the same time he never tired of bitter sarcasms against the overstrained pretensions and the extravagant living of the miners of the black country, being himself an incumbent at Durham. This man gave me and Eleanor constant occasion to think and speak of you, because a more striking contrast could hardly be fancied — you, so to say an anticipation of what the men of the new society will be, and he, the parson, a stereotyped mould of what the men of the old society have contrived to become.

I send you to-day three further parts of the Capital which, on the whole, are less abstract than the preceding ones. If they contribute to enliven your hours of seclusion, I shall feel most happy. In general, I must say that my views commence to spread amongst the workmen of the Continent and that there the upper classes and the official representatives of political economy make much noise about them and feel rather annoyed at them.

In poor Spain things might still right themselves if French reaction gets not the upper hand. With all their shortcomings there is mettle in the Spaniards. The downbreak of the Spanish working class rising — which was unripe and senseless — will prove useful if its leaders have been taught by dearly bought experience to emancipate themselves from high-flown but hollow French phraseology and to apply themselves to the study of the real conditions of the movement. We have some excellent men at Madrid and Valencia. At Lisbon we have a nucleus of really superior workers.

In the United States our propaganda has been much accelerated by the crisis. It has acted as our recruiting officer.

In Germany we are pretty sure to send at the coming elections at least a dozen intelligent and energetic workmen to parliament. The sudden and mighty industrial development in that country is our best agent. Bismarck and the middle class intend striking a blow at the proletarian press, the ‘respectable’ press confessing its inability to cope with it, but the old king is rapidly sinking and his successor cannot dare inaugurate his regime by unpopular measures.

In Russia, what with the social disorganisation consequent upon the emancipation of the serfs and the awful growth of financial disease, what with the popular discontent at the loss of the Russian prestige through the Prussian achievements and the hesitations of a weak home-policy making half-concessions to-day to compensate them by ultra-reactionary measures to-morrow, the elements of a general convulsion are accumulating.

Thus, my dear friend, the world is moving with all that. What are the feeble efforts of upper class France at a moment where the foundations of the very stronghold of European reaction, of Russia, are shaking?

With my and Mrs Marx's kind regards to Mrs Allsop and our best wishes for the coming year, I remain, my dear and honoured friend,

Yours most sincerely,
Karl Marx

Engels sends you his compliments and will immediately write to you.