Marx-Engels Correspondence 1864
Source: MECW Volume 42, p. 11;
First published: in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Stuttgart, 1913.
I was very pleased to hear from you again.
All well here. Myself included, since your departure from here until the day before yesterday, when yet another carbuncle appeared below my right breast. If the thing does not clear up quickly and others appear, I intend to use Gumpert’s arsenic remedy this time.
I would translate your runic rüm hart, etc. as Dutch-Frisian for open heart, clear horizon. But I fear that there may be a quite different explanation, so I give up the riddle.
You must send all the enclosed papers back to me as soon as read. I still need them. So that I do not forget any of the things I wanted to tell you, I am going to number them.
1. Lassalle and Countess Hatzfeldt.
The lengthy document is a copy of a circular that Herwegh’s wife (honi soit qui mal y pense), Emma, sent to Berlin immediately after the catastrophe, so that extracts from it could be put in the newspapers. You will see from it how cleverly Emma manages to put herself and her spineless Georg in the limelight at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end of the report; how the account evades two important points, firstly Rüstow’s meeting with Donniges and daughter, when the latter must have renounced Lassalle before the scene recounted by Emma took place. Secondly: how the duel came about. Lassalle wrote the insulting letter. But then something happened which is not reported and which led directly to the duel.
The suppression of two such important and crucial points makes one sceptical of the accuracy of the account.
The Hatzfeldt letter. On her arrival in Berlin I got Liebknecht to take her a brief letter of condolence from myself. Liebknecht wrote to me that she was complaining ‘I left Lassalle in the lurch’, as if I could have done the man any greater service than by keeping my mouth shut and letting him do as he liked. (In his last speech before the Düsseldorf assizes, he played the part of Marquis Posa with handsome William as Philipp II, whom he was trying to persuade to suspend the present constitution, proclaim universal direct suffrage and ally himself with the proletariat.) You can see what is behind her letter and what she wants of me. I wrote a very amicable but diplomatically discouraging letter in reply. The latterday Redeemer! That personage and the sycophants, who surround her, are mad.
Apropos. A couple of numbers of E. Jones’ Notes to the People (1851, 1852) happened to fall into my hands again; as far as the economic articles are concerned, the main points in them had been written directly under my guidance and partly even in direct collaboration with myself. Well! What do I find in them? That at that time we conducted the same polemic — only better — against the co-operative movement, since it claimed, in its present narrow-minded form, to be the last word, as Lassalle conducted against Schulze-Delitzsch in Germany 10-12 years later.
In his last will and testament Lassalle has ‘installed’ Bernhard Becker, the unfortunate fellow, who was Juch’s editor on the Hermann for a while, as his successor in the office of President of the General Association of German Workers — in his ‘last will and testament’ (like a ruling prince). The Association’s congress meets in Düsseldorf this month, 16 and strong opposition to this ‘decree’ by last will and testament is expected.
Also enclosed, letter from a worker in Solingen, Klings, in fact the clandestine leader of the Rhineland workers (former member of the League). This letter is not to be returned but filed.
2. Workingmen’s International Association
Some time ago, London workers sent an address to workers in Paris about Poland and called upon them to act jointly in the matter.
For their part, the Parisians sent over a deputation headed by a worker named Tolain, who was the real workers’ candidate in the last elections in Paris, a thoroughly nice fellow. (His compagnons were quite nice lads, too.) A public meeting in St Martin’s Hall was called, for 28 September 1864, by Odger (shoemaker, President of the local Council of All London Trades’ Unions and, in particular, also of the Trades’ Unions Suffrage Agitation Society, is which is connected with Bright) and Cremer, a mason and secretary of the Mason’s Union. (These two had arranged the big Trade-Union meeting on North America chaired by Bright in St James’s Hall, ditto the Garibaldi manifestations.) A certain Le Lubez was sent to ask me if I would participate pour les ouvriers allemands [for the German workers], and, in particular, whether I was willing to provide a German worker to speak at the meeting, etc. I provided them with Eccarius, who put on a splendid performance, and I was also present myself in a non-speaking capacity on the platform. I knew that on this occasion ‘people who really count’ were appearing, both from London and from Paris, and I therefore decided to waive my usual standing rule to decline any such invitations.
(Le Lubez is a young Frenchman, i.e. in his thirties; however, he grew up in Jersey and London, speaks capital English and is a very good intermediary between the French and English workers.) (Music teacher and leçons of French.)
At the meeting, which was chock-full (for there is now evidently a revival of the working-classes taking place), Major Wolff (Thurn-Taxis, Garibaldi’s adjutant) represented the London Italian Workingmen’s Society. It was resolved to found a ‘Workingmen’s International Association’, whose General Council is to have its seat in London and is to ‘Intermediate’ between the workers’ Societies in Germany, Italy, France, and England. Ditto that a General Workingmen’s Congress was to be convened in Belgium in 1865. A Provisional Committee was set up at the meeting, with Odger, Cremer and many others, some of them former Chartists, former Owenites, etc., representing England, Major Wolff, Fontana, and other Italians representing Italy, Le Lubez, etc. for France, Eccarius and myself for Germany. The committee was empowered to co-opt as many people as it chose.
So far so good. I attended the first meeting of the committee. A Sub-Committee (including myself) was set up to draft a declaration des principes and provisional rules. Indisposition prevented me from attending the meeting of the Sub-Committee and the subsequent meeting of the full committee.
At these two meetings, which I did not attend, — that of the Sub-Committee and the subsequent one of the full committee — the following occurred:
Major Wolff had submitted the regulations (statutes) of the Italian Workers’ Associations (which possess a central organisation, but, as emerged later, are essentially associated Benefit Societies) to be used by the new Association. I saw the stuff later. It was evidently a concoction of Mazzini’s, and that tells you in advance in what spirit and phraseology the real question, the labour question, was dealt with. As well as how the nationalities question intruded into it.
What is more, an old Owenite, Weston — now a manufacturer himself, a very amiable and worthy man — had drawn up a programme full of extreme confusion and of indescribable breadth.
The subsequent full committee meeting instructed the Sub-Committee to remodel Weston’s programme, ditto Wolff’s regulations. Wolff himself left to attend the congress of the Italian Workingmen’s Associations in Naples and persuade them to join the central association in London.
A further meeting of the Sub-Committee, which again I did not attend, as I was informed of their rendezvous too late. At this meeting, ‘une déclaration des principes’ and a revised version of Wolff’s rules were presented by Le Lubez and accepted by the Sub-Committee for submission to the full committee. The full committee met on 18 October. Eccarius wrote to me that it was a case of periculum in mora [danger in delay], so I went along and was really shocked when I heard the worthy Le Lubez read out a fearfully cliché-ridden, badly written and totally unpolished preamble pretending to be a declaration of principles, with Mazzini showing through the whole thing from beneath a crust of the most insubstantial scraps of French socialism. What is more, the Italian rules had by and large been adopted, whose aim, apart from all their other faults, was really something quite impossible, a sort of central government of the European working classes (with Mazzini in the background, of course). I remonstrated mildly, and, after prolonged debate. Eccarius proposed that the Sub-Committee should subject the thing to further ‘editing’. However, the sentiments expressed in Lubez’ declaration were carried.
Two days later, on 20 October, Cremer representing England, Fontana (Italy) and Le Lubez met at my house. (Weston was unable to be present.) I had not previously had the papers (Wolff’s and Le Lubez) in my hands, so could not prepare anything; but I was absolutely determined that not one single line of the stuff should be allowed to stand if I could help it. To gain time, I proposed that before we ‘edited’ the preamble, we ought to ‘discuss’ the Rules. This was done. It was 1 o'clock in the morning before the first of the 40 Rules was adopted. Cremer said (and that was my whole aim): we have nothing to put before the committee that is to meet on 25 October. We must postpone it until 1 November. But the Sub-Committee can meet on 27 October and attempt to reach a definite conclusion. This was agreed and the ‘papers’ were ‘bequeathed’ to me for my perusal.
I could see it was impossible to make anything out of the stuff. In order to justify the extremely peculiar way in which I intended to edit the sentiments that had already been ‘carried’, I wrote an Address to the Working Classes (which was not in the original plan; a sort of review of the adventures of the working classes since 1845); on the pretext that all the necessary facts were contained in this ‘Address’ and that we ought not to repeat the same things three times over, I altered the whole preamble, threw out the declaration des principes and finally replaced the 40 Rules by 10. Insofar as International politics is mentioned in the ‘Address’, I refer to countries and not to nationalities, and denounce Russia, not the minores gentium [smaller nations]. The Sub-Committee adopted all my proposals. I was, however, obliged to insert two sentences about ‘duty’ and ‘right’, and ditto about ‘Truth, Morality and Justice’ in the preamble to the rules, but these are so placed that they can do no harm.
At the meeting of the General Committee my ‘Address’, etc., was adopted with great enthusiasm (unanimously). The debate on the form of publication, etc., is to take place next Tuesday. Le Lubez has a copy of the ‘Address’ for translation into French and Fontana one for translation into Italian. (For a start there is a weekly called Bee-Hive, edited by Trade Unionist Potter, a sort of Moniteur.) I am to translate the stuff into German myself.
It was very difficult to frame the thing so that our view should appear in a form that would make it acceptable to the present outlook of the workers’ movement. In a couple of weeks, the same people will be having meetings on the franchise with Bright and Cobden. It will take time before the revival of the movement allows the old boldness of language to be used. We must be fortiter in re, suaviter in modo [strong in deed, mild in manner]. You will get the stuff as soon as it is printed.
3. Bakunin sends his regards. He left today for Italy where he is living (Florence). I saw him yesterday for the first time in 16 years. I must say I liked him very much, more so than previously. With regard to the Polish movement, he said the Russian government had needed the movement to keep Russia itself quiet, but had not counted on anything like an 18-month struggle. They had thus provoked the affair in Poland. Poland had been defeated by two things, the influence of Bonaparte and, secondly, the hesitation of the Polish aristocracy in openly and unambiguously proclaiming peasant socialism from the outset. From now on — after the collapse of the Polish affair — he (Bakunin) will only involve himself in the socialist movement.
On the whole, he is one of the few people whom after 16 years I find to have moved forwards and not backwards. I also discussed Urquhart’s denunciations with him. (Apropos: the International Association will probably lead to a rupture between myself and these friends!) He inquired a great deal after yourself and Lupus. When I told him of the latter’s death, he said straightaway that the movement had suffered an irreplaceable loss.
4. Crisis. By no means burnt out on the Continent yet (esp. France). Incidentally, what the crises have lost in intensity, they have now gained in frequency.