Marx-Engels Correspondence 1886

Engels To Laura Lafargue
In Paris

Source: MECW Volume 47;
First published: in the original English, in F. Engels, P. et L. Lafargue, Correspondance, t. I, Paris, 1956.

London, 13 September 1886

My dear Laura,

Here we are again in London — it’s the same thing over and over again, jobs of all sorts. The last week I had to revise a German extract of the Kapital by Kautsky, and it wanted revising very much. Two other mss. are in my desk and have been there for more than six months. Hope to clear them off this week. Fortunately for me, proof-sheets [of the English translation of the first volume of Capital] have been few and far between, else it would have been but a poor holiday for me. Anyhow I shall now cut this sort of work completely, else I should never get to my chief work.

Tussy and Edward’s ship the City of Chicago arrived in New York on the 10th, and Liebknecht’s, the Servia, must be there by this time too, as she sailed 4th September. They will have a severe job to go through with travelling and speechifying. Liebknecht was four days with us at Eastbourne, he is quite fat and carries a deal of weight in front of himself, no doubt the Yankees will take some of that out of him. Otherwise he was very jolly and confident as usual: ‘alles geht famos’.

I wrote to you that I had a postcard from Schorlemmer about 18th August from the Lake of Como, since then I have not heard from him. Anyhow he is now soon due in Paris whence he has sworn to bring you, and if possible Paul too, over to London. I sincerely trust that he will succeed, Nim is already busying her mind with the few necessary arrangements which indeed will not require great exertions. Paul’s trial will not I hope prevent him from coming over, the old shop where he likes to buy drawers at 1/6d. a pair is still there if that is an inducement. And if he cannot get off, surely you are bound to take a holiday too and see your old friends in London once more. You know what Meyer said: ‘wenn sie im Zimmer kommt, ist es als wenn die Sonne aufginge[when she comes into the room, it is as if the sun rises] — so do let the sun rise once more over London!

Nim has had her photograph taken in Eastbourne, it was very good and is paid for, this is perhaps the reason why the copies are not yet sent.

Please thank Paul for his letter on the wine manufacture — it not only confirmed, but also completed what I had heard from other sources. It is very satisfactory to know that in these latter days of capitalist production the phylloxera has smashed up the Château Laffite, Lagrange and other grands crus, as we that know how to appreciate them, do not get them, and the Jews and parvenus that get them, do not know [how] to appreciate them. Having thus no longer a mission to fulfil, they may as well go to smash, our successors will soon restore them when they are wanted for grand popular holidays.

What Mohr said in the Circular to the International in 1870, that the annexation of Alsace, etc., had made Russia l’arbitre de l’Europe, is now at last becoming evident. Bismarck has had to cave in completely, and the will of Russia has to be done. The dream of the German Empire, the guardian of European peace, without whose leave not a cannon-shot can be fired, is dispelled, and the German philistine finds he is as much the slave of the Czar as when Prussia was ‘der fünfte Rad am europäischen Wagen’. And now he falls foul of Bismarck who after all does only what he is compelled to do. The rage is great in Germany, not only among the philistines, but also in the army. Liebknecht says since 1866 there has not been such an outcry against an act of the government. But there it will not stop. If the Balkan drama enters its second act, a war between Russia and Austria will break out and then vogue la galère — all Europe may burst out in flames. I should be rather sorry — no doubt it would be the last war, and no doubt this as anything else must turn out ultimately to our advantage. But it may after all delay our victory and the other road is safer. For that however there is scarcely another road than a revolution in Russia, and as long as Alexander follows the lead of the Pan-slavists, that is a very unlikely event. In fact, the decisive argument of Giers with Bismarck was this: we are between Pan-slavists and Nihilists, if we keep the peace they will unite and the palace revolution will be a fait accompli — so we must go on towards Constantinople, and this will be less harmful to you, Bismarck and William, than a Russian revolution. This winter will decide matters, so I am bound to get the 3rd volume ready by next spring.

Had several visits from Bax and one from Morris lately — Bax sees the impasse he has got himself into, and would get out if he could do so without a direct recantation, and no doubt will find some way or other. Morris is a settled sentimental socialist, he would be easily managed if one saw him regularly a couple of times a week, but who has the time to do it, and if you drop him for a month, he is sure to lose himself again. And is he worth all that trouble even if one had the time? In the meantime Hyndman fortifies his position more and more, because he has a definite programme and a definite line of political action, to both of which Morris seems to object, his ideal is a debating club uniting all shades. In all this confusion I expect the principal help from the English Kapital. 23 sheets are printed and revised, but there is something wrong with the printer, I do not receive any fresh proofs and cannot get any information as Sonnenschein is away for his holiday and nobody can or will tell where the hitch lies.

Splendid weather to-day — hope it will last while you come.

Yours affectionately,
F. Engels