Marx-Engels Correspondence 1886

Engels To Laura Lafargue
In Paris

Source: MECW Volume 47;
First published: in Marx and Engels, Works, Second Russian Edition, Vol. 36, Moscow, 1964.

London, 28 April 1886

My dear Laura,

The English translation of Capital is awful work. First they [Samuel Moore and Edward Aveling] translate. Then I revise and enter suggestions in pencil. Then it goes back to them. Then conference for settlement of doubtful points. Then I have to go through the whole again, to see that everything is made ready for the press, stylistically and technically, and all the quotations, which Tussy has looked up in the English originals, fitted in properly. So far I have finished 300 pages of the German, and shall soon have about 100 more. But then there is another hitch. Edward has missed translating some 50 pages of his share, and these I hope to get by the end of the week. As soon as I have got these, I shall stir up Kegan Paul’s drowsiness. The wily Scot who still fancies that we do not know our favourable position in the market, plays a waiting game, but will find himself awfully mistaken one fine morning. It is we that can afford to wait, and we intend to wait until we are quite ready to begin to print, say in a week. And as we have a written offer from another firm, we can stick to our terms.

This must serve as an excuse for my last short letter and the delay that has taken place since. The fact is we must begin to print by middle of May so as to be ready to publish by end of September. And that we can, though it will keep me hard at work till far into June at least.

Your billet-doux to Bismarck is making great stir in Germany. Bebel writes:

‘Laura and Eleanor Marx’s statement is excellent. The greater part of the German press have published notices about it but understandably take care not to reprint it. Otto [Bismarck] will be furious, for he is sensitive to such attacks.’

The effect of the new departure in France is plainly visible in the debate on the Socialist Law in Berlin. Library [Wilhelm Liebknecht’s] would hardly have ventured to come out so strongly again in his best old manner, had it not been that events in Paris and Decazeville had stirred him up again a bit. This competition is invaluable for our people in Germany. The split and dissensions in Paris gave the philistine section amongst them a pretext for looking down, de haul en bas, upon the French, as if they, themselves, had not wallowed for years in splits, quarrels and dissensions; and they began to talk as if they, the German kleinbürgerliche section of the party, were the leaders of the universal movement. That precious bit of chauvinism has now been effectually knocked on the head. Unfortunately the Socialist Law has this one effect that it excludes pretty effectually the circulation of such papers as the Socialiste and Cri du Peuple, and that the daily, current information about France has to be taken from the vile bourgeois papers. I have sent on the Crisis and Intransigeants you sent me, to Bebel and Liebknecht but that does not go much further and may not always reach them.

It strikes me as very curious that I see nothing of the Villefranche judgment being appealed against. As far as I know there is a double appeal 1) on account of the alleged incompetency of the court, 2) against the judgment as such; and then a final pourvoi en cassation on both these issues. It seems to me well worth while to go in for that, if only to expose the infamy of the courts and keep the thing before the public.

I scarcely dare hope that Roche will get in next Sunday. Not having read any Cris for about a week, I do not know what other candidates besides Gaulier are in the field. But anyhow the poll will show a great progress and be enough to frighten the Radicals still more.

Here all is muddle. Bax and Morris are getting deeper and deeper into the hands of a few anarchist phraseurs, and write nonsense with increasing intensity. The turning of The Commonweal into a ‘weekly’ — absurd in every respect — has given Edward a chance of getting out of his responsibility for this now incalculable organ. Bax à la recherché, by means of half-digested Hegelian dialectic, of extreme and paradox propositions, and Morris going head foremost, bull fashion, against ‘parliamentarism’, will have to learn by experience what sort of people their anarchist friends are. It would be ridiculous to expect the working class to take the slightest notice of these various vagaries of what is by courtesy called English Socialism, and it is very fortunate that it is so: These gentlemen have quite enough to do to set their own brains in order.

Schorlemmer who is here, and Nim have taken little Lily to the Zoo, Pumps is going to Manchester for a few days. In our evening chats we talk a good deal of your promised coming over to London. When is that to be? Schorlemmer says you had mentioned something about Paul coming over at the same time. That would be all the better. Anyhow it is getting time that these good intentions set about developing into more or less tangible plans and projects, the season for execution is not too long in this blessed climate.

Did you see in last Sozialdemokrat the affair about Kalle and the Wezbergemeinschaft? That fellow was nicely caught. He is a great light among the National Liberals and has large chemical (dye-stuff) works at Wiesbaden.

Love from Schorlemmer and Nim and yours affectionately,
F. Engels

Paul I hope will excuse if I do not write to him as often as I should like.