Marx-Engels Correspondence 1869
Source: MECW, Volume 43, p. 306;
First published: abridged in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Stuttgart, 1913 and in full in MEGA, Berlin, 1931.
Enclosed returned Wilhelm. In fact, it is amazing, what he says you must, must, must do. But always the same old story. When he gets involved in a squabble with Schweitzer, you must always be called in to help. This will happen again, too.
With regard to the Basle congress, I hope you have not minced words with him over the fact that only representatives of those who have really joined can be accepted. It would be vexing if he and Bebel had to be excluded on a technicality.
As far as my letter is concerned, his moans about ‘reproaches instead of money’ are the exact counterpart of Bismarck’s complaint: ‘Gentlemen, we ask for bread, and you give us stones’, when his taxes were rejected. The point that so ‘upset’ Mr Wilhelm was the question as to how he could tell me, in one and the same letter, that he did have the money to print the Peasant War, but at the same time had none for the sheet. Further, how is it that the sheet was already ‘guaranteed’ 1½ years ago, yet today it still doesn’t pay? On this point, Monsieur Wilhelm is completely silent and is morally indignant that I should remind him of the shares he promised at that time to send voluntarily and by return; naturally I shall not get them now either, since Wilhelm says I shall ‘naturally receive’ them. The shares were only mentioned in order to prompt Wilhelm to remark upon the status of the sheet; it is fairly clear to me that Wilhelm and his consorts have managed things so sloppily that the printer or some other creditor can take over the sheet, and turn them out as soon as it does pay. In this case, it might be very agreeable for Mr Wilhelm if he had a few shareholders sitting here, who could exercise their legal claims in his favour. If the idiot had given me a satisfactory answer (which, however, would scarcely have been possible), he would have got the money; but simply to send a demand, and this self-contradictory, and without excuse either for his earlier dawdling or a word on the condition of the sheet — I wouldn’t think of it. We don’t want Wilhelm to get into the habit of things like that.
The extent to which his shouts of victory are premature is shown by the 4 numbers of Social-Demokrat that you sent me today. Certainly Schweitzer is also a big liar, but, for the moment, he appears to have saved the mass of the rank and file. However, things with him are going quickly downhill and, if he had any other opponent than Wilhelm, the process would be speeded up greatly. But, of course, the sultry waffle Wilhelm is now having printed as his ‘speech’ will not help much. But Bebel is pressing Schweitzer hard, and cites some points that are very vexing to him, which would suggest the possibility that Schweitzer received his share of the Guelph funds surrendered to Stieber.
In any case, nothing can be done with Wilhelm until he has quite definitely separated his organisation from the People’s Party and placed himself, at most, in a loose cartel relationship with it. Charming, too, is his intention of putting the International on the title of his sheet, which would then, at one and the same time, be the organ of the People’s Party and of the International Working Men’s Association! The organ both of the German petty bourgeoisie and of the European Workers!
Another fine idea of Wilhelm’s is that concessions to the workers should neither be accepted nor extorted from the ‘present state’. He'll get a long way with the workers like this.
I can’t possibly prepare anything for you for Meissner in time. Until the accounts have been balanced, I have to go into town at least 2-3 times weekly, and probably even more often over the next few weeks, since I have to check the stuff carefully. My eye is much better, but still needs to be spared, since I don’t want to make it worse again. In addition, I must put a mass of other money matters, my private accounts, etc., once and for all in order, and this is occupying me a lot too. Also, and particularly in this special case, I would like to bear Meissner’s views first, since you say he is rather sensitive on such matters.
Tell Jenny I shall reply to her as soon as the beer in question puts in an appearance here, which so far is not the case.
Tussy [Eleanor Marx] says she will write tomorrow. She is now reading the Serbian folk songs in the German translation, and she appears to like them a lot; she has replaced me in giving piano lessons to Mary Ellen [Burns], to the latter’s great advantage. When the weather is good and I don’t have to go to town, we go for a walk for a few hours every morning, otherwise in the evening, weather permitting.
The pamphlet by Tridon was mainly of interest to me because of the second part, since I am not familiar with the newer material about the first revolution. The first part is, however, very confused, particularly about centralisation and decentralisation; it’s a good thing that the Renaissance has been adjourned for the time being; the people would have soon fallen foul of one another. It’s a comic idea that the dictatorship of Paris over France, which led to the downfall of the first revolution, could be accomplished without more ado today once again, and with a quite different result.
Bruce’s statement about Mold has indeed proved that previous ideas about the English laws in this connection were quite wrong, and that people take an entirely Prussian point of view. Useful, too, for the workers to know this.
I hope you will soon be able to give me better news about Laura’s health. In any case, to move lodgings is sensible.