Marx-Engels Correspondence 1881

Engels to Marx
In Argenteuil

First Published: Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels and K. Marx, Bd. 1, Stuttgart, 1913;
Translated: Peter and Betty Ross;
Transcribed: Ken Campbell;
HTML Markup: S. Ryan.

Bridlington Quay, Yorkshire
11 August 1881
1 Sea View

Dear Moor,

Your registered letter arrived yesterday evening but it, too, was open, this time completely. I enclose the envelope for you to see; it just wasn't stuck down.

I've this moment sent Tussy a cheque for 50, registered. If you want all or part of the remaining 20 (over and above the 30 you spoke about) sent to Paris, Tussy can arrange things more quickly than if payment was made by a cheque on London posted straight to you over there. She can easily get hold of a money order in Paris.

As regards the French elections I am entirely of your opinion. This Chamber won't continue sitting much longer anyway; once the scrutin de liste has come through, it will soon be dissolved again.

Yesterday morning I informed Mr Shipton that he wouldn't be getting any more leading articles from me. Kautsky had sent me an insipid thing on international factory legislation in a poor translation which I corrected and sent to Shipton. [1] Yesterday the proof and a letter arrived from Shipton who thought 2 of the passages ‘too strong’, having, what's more, misconstrued one of them; he asked me whether I would be prepared to tone them down. I did so and replied as follows:

What did he mean by submitting me the request for amendments on Tuesday – i.e. Wednesday up here – when my reply couldn't have reached London until Thursday, after the paper had come out.

If he thought this too strong, how much more so my own far stronger articles? Accordingly it would be better for us both if I gave up.

My time no longer permitted me to write a leading article regularly each week and I had already planned to inform him of this after the trade union congress (September). [2] Under the circumstances, however, it would no doubt improve his position vis-a-vis that congress were I to give up then and there.

He damned well ought to have shown me the Max Hirsch article before it was printed.[3] I couldn't remain on the staff of a paper which lends itself to writing up these German Trade Unions, comparable only to those very worst English ones which allow themselves to be led by men sold to, or at least paid by the middle class. Apart from that I wished him the best of luck, etc. He will get my letter this morning.

I didn't tell him the most vital reason of all, namely, the total ineffectiveness of my articles so far as the rest of the paper and its readers are concerned. Any effect there may be takes the form of an invisible response on the part of unavowed apostles of free trade. The paper remains the same old omnium-gatherum of probable and improbable crotchets; in matters of politics it is [more or less], but if anything more Gladstonian. The response, which once showed signs of awakening in one or 2 nos., has died away again. The British working man just doesn't want to advance; he has got to be galvanised by events, the loss of industrial monopoly. En attendant, habeat sibi. ["In the meantime let him do as he likes."]

We have been here for a fortnight now, weather changeable, mostly cold and often threatening, but not very often actually wet. We shall stay at least another week, perhaps a fortnight, but certainly no longer.

Since I've been here I have been taking The Daily News instead of the Standard. It is even more stupid, if that's possible. Preaches antivivisectionism! Also as deficient in news as the Standard.

Hirsch may suffer for his pleasure jaunt. But he can't help being what he is.

Best wishes to everyone.

F. E.

From the MECW

1. The reference is to Karl Kautsky's article "International Labour Laws" published anonymously in The Labour Standard, No. 15, 13 August 1881.

2. The fourteenth annual British trades union congress took place in London on 12-17 September 1881.

3. The Labour Standard, No. 14, 6 August 1881, anonymously printed the article by Johann Georg Eccarius "A German Opinion of English Trade Unionism." Eccarius regarded highly the German trade unions founded in 1868 by Max Hirsch and Franz Duncker (the so-called Hirsch-Duncker trade unions).