In the Case of Brentano vs Marx

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Regarding Alleged Faslifications of Quotation

The Story and Documents

Preface[edit source]

In my Preface to the fourth edition of the first volume of Marx's Capital found myself obliged to return to a polemic against Marx, initiated by Anonymous in the Berlin Concordia in 1872, and taken up again by Mr. Sedley Taylor of Cambridge in The Times in 1883. Anonymous, revealed by Mr. Taylor as Mr. Lujo Brentano, had accused Marx of falsifying a quotation. The short report on the affair which I gave in my Preface (it is printed amongst the attached Documents, No.12), certainly was not intended to be pleasant to Mr. Brentano; nothing was more natural than that he should answer me. And this took place in a pamphlet: Meine Polemik mit Karl Marx. Zugleich em Beitrag zur Frage des Fortschritts der Arbeiterkiasse und seiner Ursachen. Von Lujo Brentano, Berlin, Walther & Apolant, 1890.

This pamphlet gives us too much and too little. Too much, because it "also" gives us at length Mr. Brentano's views on "the advance of the working class and its causes". These views have absolutely nothing to do with the point at issue. I remark only this: Mr. Brentano's constantly repeated declaration that labour protection legislation and trade association organisations are fitted to improve the condition of the working class is by no means his own discovery. From the Condition of the Working Class in England and The Poverty of Philosophy to Capital and down to my most recent writings, Marx and I have said this a hundred times, though with very sharp reservations. Firstly, the favourable effects of the resisting trade associations are confined to periods of average and brisk business; in periods of stagnation and crisis they regularly fail; Mr. Brentano's claim that they "are capable of paralysing the fateful effects of the reserve army" is ridiculous boasting. And secondly — ignoring other less important reservations -- neither the protection legislation nor the resistance of the trade associations removes the main thing which needs abolishing: Capitalist relations, which constantly reproduce the contradiction between the Capitalist class and the class of wage labourers. The mass of wage labourers remain condemned to life-long wage labour; the gap between them and the Capitalists becomes ever deeper and wider the more modern large-scale industry takes over all branches of production. But since Mr. Brentano would gladly convert wage-slaves into contented wage-slaves, he must hugely exaggerate the advantageous effects of labour protection, the resistance of trade associations, social piecemeal legislation, etc.; and as we are able to confront these exaggerations with the simple facts -- hence his fury.

The pamphlet in question gives too little, since it gives, of the documents in the polemic, only the items exchanged between Mr. Brentano and Marx, and not those which have appeared since with regard to this question. So in order to place the reader in a position to form an overall judgement, I give, in the appendix: 1. the incriminated passages from the Inaugural Address of the General Council of the International and from Capital; 2. the polemic between Mr. Brentano and Marx; 3. that between Mr. Sedley Taylor and Eleanor Marx; 4. my Preface to the 4th edition of Capital and Mr. Brentano's reply to it; and 5. passages relevant to Gladstone's letters to Mr. Brentano. It goes without saying that I thereby omit all those passages of Brentano's argument which do not touch upon the question of falsification of quotation, but only constitute his "contribution to the advance", etc.

I[edit source]

In No. 10 of the Berlin Concordia, March 7, 1872, there was a fierce anonymous attack upon Marx as the author of the Inaugural Address of the General Council of the International in 1864. In this Address, it was stated, Marx had falsified a quotation from the budget speech made by Gladstone, at that time English Chancellor of the Exchequer, on April 16, 1863.

The passage from the Inaugural Address is printed in the appendix, Documents, No. 1. The article from the Concordia also there, document No. 3. In the latter, the charge is formulated as follows:

"What is the relationship between this speech and the quotation by Marx? Gladstone first makes the point that there has undoubtedly been a colossal increase in the income of the country. This is proved for him by the income tax. But income tax takes notice only of incomes of 150 pounds sterling and over. Persons with lower incomes pay no income tax in England. The fact that Gladstone mentions this so that his yardstick can be properly appreciated is utilited by Marx to have Gladstone say: 'This intoxicating augmentation of wealth and power is entirely confined to classes of property.' Yet this sentence is nowhere to be found in Gladstone's speech. It says quite the opposite. Marx has added the sentence lyingly. both in form and in content!"

This is the charge and, let it be noted, the only charge, that Anonymous, who has now admitted he is called Lujo Brentano, makes against Marx.

No. 10 of the Concordia was sent to Marx from Germany in May 1872. The copy still in my possession today bears the inscription "Organ of the German Manufacturers' Association". Marx, who had never heard of this sheet, assumed the author to be a scribbling manufacturer, and dealt with him accordingly.

Marx demonstrated in his reply in the Volksstaat (Documents, No.4) that the sentence had not only been quoted in the Same way by Professor Beesly in 1870 in The Fortnightly Review, but also before the publication of the Inaugural Address in [H. Roy,] The Theory of the Exchanges, London, 1864; and finally that the report in The Times on April 17, 1863 also contained the sentence, in form and in content, as he had quoted it:

"The augmentation I have described" (namely as "this intoxicating augmentation of wealth and power") "is an augmentation entirely confined to classes of property."

If this passage, a passage which is certainly compromising in the mouth of an English Chancellor of the Exchequer, is not to be found in Hansard, this is simply because Mr. Gladstone was clever enough to get rid of it, in accordance with traditional English parliamentary practice.

In any case, proof was given here that the sentence allegedly lyingly added is to be found verbatim in The Times of April 17, 1863 in its report of the speech delivered by Mr. Gladstone the evening before. And The Times was a Gladstonian organ at that time.

And what is the reply now from Mr. "Modesty" Brentano? (Concordia, July 4, 1872, Documents, No. 5.)

With an impertinence he would never have dared under his own name, he repeats the charge that Marx lyingly added the sentence: this charge, he adds, is

"serious, and combined with the convincing evidence provided, absolutely devastating".

The evidence was nothing but the passage in Hansard in which the sentence is missing. It could thus at the most be "devastating" for this selfsame ill-fated sentence, which appeared in The Times and not in Hansard.

But this victorious crowing was only intended to help negotiate this same unpleasant fact that the "lyingly added" sentence had been confirmed as authentic by the Times report. And with the feeling that this evidence for the prosecution was pretty "convincing", and that it would become "absolutely devastating" in time, our anonymous would-be professor now zealously attacks the quotation in Beesly and in The Theory of the Exchanges, causes a big stir, claims that Beesly quoted from the Inaugural Address and Marx from The Theory of the Exchanges, etc. All these are minor points. Even if they are true, they prove nothing on the question as to whether Gladstone spoke the sentence or Marx invented it. But by their very nature they could not be settled with absolute finality, either by Mr. Brentano at that time, or by me today. On the other hand, they serve to divert attention from the main point, namely from the fatal Times report.

Before venturing to deal with this, Anonymous flexes his muscles by using various items of strong language, such as "frivolity bordering upon the criminal", "this lying quotation", etc.; and then he lays in with gusto as follows:

"But here we come, to he sure, to Marx's third line of defence, and this far exceeds, in its impudent mendacity, anything which came before. Marx actually does not shrink from citing The Times of April 17, 1863 as proof of the correctness of his quotation. The Times of April 17, 1863, p.7, page" (should be column) "5, line 17 et seq., reports, however, the speech as follows:

And here follows the Times report, which runs:

"The augmentation I have described" (namely as "this intoxicating augmentation of wealth and power") "and the figures of which are founded, I think, upon accurate returns, is entirely confined to classes of property."

And now we can only stare wide-eyed at the "impudent mendacity" of Marx, who still dares to claim that the Times report contained the sentence: This intoxicating augmentation, etc., is entirely confined to classes of property! The Inaugural Address states:


The Times states:


And now that Mr. Brentano has pointed out in The Times, with his own index finger, the sentence which Marx allegedly lyingly added because it was missing in Hansard, and has thus taken upon himself Marx's alleged impudent mendacity, he declares triumphantly that

"both reports" (Times and Hansard) "fully coincide materially. The report in The Times just gives, formally more contracted, what the shorthand report by Hansard gives verbatim. Yet despite the fact that the Times report contains the direct opposite of that notorious passage in the Inaugural Address, and the fact that according to the Times report, too, Mr. Gladstone said he believed this intoxicating augmentation of wealth and power not to be confined to classes in easy circumstances Marx has the impudence to write in the Volksstaat of June 1: 'So, on April 16, 1863, Mr. Gladstone declared both in form and in content in the House of Commons, as reported in his own organ, The Times, on April 17, 1863, that this intoxicating augmentation of wealth and power is entirely confined to the classes possessed of property.'"

Si duo faciunt idem, non est idem. When two do the same, it is not the same. When Marx has Gladstone say: This intoxicating augmentation of wealth and power is entirely confined to classes of property, this is "lyingly added", a notorious passage", "completely forged". When the Times report has Gladstone say:

"This augmentation I have described as an intoxicating augmentation of wealth and power is entirely confined to classes of property,"

then this is only "formally more contracted" than the Hansard report, in which this sentence is missing, and the "direct opposite of that" (exactly the Same) "notorious passage in the Inaugural Address". And when Marx then quotes the Times report in confirmation of this passage, Mr. Brentano states:

"...and finally he has the impudence to base himself on newspaper reports which directly contradict him".

This really does demand great "impudence". However, Marx has his on his face, and nowhere else. [Play on words: "Stirn" means forehead and impudence.-- MECW Ed.] With the aid of "impudence" which may easily be distinguished from that of Marx, Anonymous, alias Lujo Brentano, then manages to have Gladstone say that

he "believes this intoxicating augmentation of wealth and power not to be confined to classes in easy circumstances".

Actually, according to The Times and Hansard, Gladstone says he would look with pain and apprehension upon this intoxicating augmentation of wealth and power if he believed it was confined to the classes in easy circumstances, and he adds, according to The Times, that it is, however, "confined to classes of property".

"Indeed," the righteously indignant Anonymous finally exclaims, "to describe these practices we know only one word, a word with which Marx is very familiar (see Capital, p. 257): they are simply 'nefarious'."

Whose practices, Mr. Lujo Brentano?

II[edit source]

Marx's reply (Der Volksstaat, August 7, 1872, Documents, No. 6) is good-natured enough to deal with all the stir created by Mr. Brentano about Professor Beesly, The Theory of the Exchanges, etc.; we leave this aside as being of secondary importance. In conclusion, however, it produces another two facts which are absolutely decisive for the main issue. The "lyingly added" passage is to be found, besides in the Times report, in the reports of two other London morning papers of April 17, 1863. According to The Morning Star, Gladstone stated:

"This augmentation" -- which had just been described as an intoxicating augmentation of wealth and power -- "is an augmentation entirely confined to the classes possessed of property."

According to The Morning Advertiser:

"The augmentation stated" -- an intoxicating augmentation of wealth and power -- "is an augmentation entirely confined to the classes possessed of property."

For any other opponent, these proofs would be "absolutely devastating". Not, however, for the anonymous Brentano. His reply (Concordia, August 22, 1872, Documents, No. 7), which betrays undiminished impudence, was never seen by Marx, since numbers of Concordia later than that dated July 11 were not sent to him. I myself first read this reply in Brentano's reprint (Meine Polemik, etc., 1890), and must therefore take note of it here, for better or for worse.

"The dogged mendacity with which he" (Marx) "clings to the distorted quotation ... is astonishing even for someone for whom no means are too base for his subversive plans."

The quotation remains "forged", and the Times report "shows the exact opposite, since The Times and Hansard fully coincide". The confidence of this declaration is, however, simply child's play compared to the "impudence" with which Mr. Brentano suddenly gives us the following information:

"Marx's second method of obscuring the Times report was simply to suppress, in his German translation, the relative clause which showed that Gladstone had only said that the augmentation of wealth, which was shown by the income tax returns, was confined to the classes of property, since the working classes were not subject to income tax, and that thus nothing about the increase in the prosperity of the working classes could be learned from the income tax returns; not, however, that the working classes in reality had been excluded from the extraordinary augmentation of national wealth."

Thus when The Times says that the oft-mentioned augmentation is confined to the classes of property, then it says the opposite of the "lyingly added" sentence, which says the same. As regards the "simply suppressed relative clause", we shall not allow Mr. Brentano to get away with that, if he will bear with us for a moment. And now he has happily survived the first great leap, it is easier for him to assert that black is white, and white black. Now that he has managed to deal with The Times, The Morning Star and The Morning Advertiser will give him little trouble.

"For these papers, even as he" (Marx) "quotes them, speak for us. After Gladstone has said, according to both papers, that he does not believe" (which, as we know, Mr. Brentano claims) "this intoxicating augmentation of wealth and power is confined to the classes which find themselves in pleasant circumstances, he continued: 'This great increase of wealth takes no cognizance at all of the condition of the labouring population. The augmentation which I have described is an augmentation entirely confined to the classes possessed of property.' The context and the use of the expression 'take cognizance' show clearly that this increase and the augmentation of the increase cited, and the citing," (sic!) "are intended to indicate those discernible in the income tax returns."

The Jesuit who originated the saying Si duo faciunt idem, non est idem was a bungler compared to the anonymous Brentano. When The Times, The Morning Star and The Morning Advertiser declare unanimously that the sentence which Brentano claims Marx had "lyingly added" was actually uttered by Gladstone, then these papers speak unanimously "for" Mr. Brentano. And when Marx quotes this sentence verbatim, this is a "lying quotation", "impudent mendacity , complete forgery", "a lie", etc. And if Marx cannot appreciate this, that passes the understanding of our Anonymous, alias Lujo Brentano, and he finds it "simply nefarious".

But let us deal with the alleged "lying addition" once and for all by quoting the reports on our passage in all London morning papers on April 17, 1863.

We have already had The Times, The Morning Star and The Morning Advertiser.

Daily Telegraph:

"I may say for one, that I should look almost with apprehension and alarm on this intoxicating augmentation of wealth and power if it were my belief that it was confined to the masses who are in easy circumstances. This question to wealth takes no cognizance at all of the condition of the labouring population. The augmentation stated is an augmentation entirely confined to the classes possessed of property."

Morning Herald:

"I may say that I for one would look with fear and apprehension at this intoxicating increase of wealth if I were of opinion that it is confined to the classes in easy circumstances. This great increase of wealth which I have described, and which is founded on accurate returns is confined entirely to the augmentation of Capital, and takes no account of the poorer classes."

Morning Post:

"I may say, I for One, would look with fear and apprehension when I consider this great increase of wealth if I believed that its benefits were confined to the classes in easy circumstances. This augmentation of wealth which I have described, and which is founded on accurate returns is confined entirely to the augmentation of Capital, and takes no account of the augmentation of wealth of the poorer classes."

Daily News:

"I may say that I for one would look with fear and apprehension when I consider this great increase of wealth if I believed that its benefits were confined to the classes in easy circumstances. This augmentation of wealth which I have described, and which is founded upon accurate returns, is confined entirely to the augmentation of Capital, and takes no account of the augmentation of wealth of the poorer classes."


"I may say that I for one would look with fear and apprehension at this intoxicating increase of wealth if I were of the opinion that it was confined to the classes in easy circumstances. This great increase of wealth which I have described, and which is founded on the accurate returns is confined entirely to the augmentation of Capital, and takes no account of the poorer classes."

The eight newspapers cited here were, as far as I know, the only morning papers published in London at that time. Their testimony is "convincing". Four of them -- The Times, The Morning Star, The Morning Advertiser, Daily Telegraph -- give the sentence in exactly the form which Marx had "lyingly added". The augmentation described earlier as an intoxicating augmentation of wealth and power "is entirely confined to classes of property". The four others -- Morning Herald, Morning Post, Daily News and Standard -- give it in an "only formally more contracted" version, by which it is further reinforced; this augmentation "is confined entirely to the augmentation of Capital".

The eight newspapers cited all have their separate complete staff of parliamentary reporters. They are thus the same number of witnesses, fully independent of one another. In addition they are in their totality impartial, since they adhere to the most diverse party tendencies. And both of the two versions of the irrepressible sentence are vouched for by Tories and Whigs and radicals. According to four of them, Gladstone said: entirely confined to classes of property. According to four others he said: entirely confined to the augmentation of Capital. Eight irreproachable witnesses thus testify that Gladstone really uttered the sentence. The only question is whether this was in the milder version used by Marx, or in the stronger version given in four of the reports.

Against them all, in isolated grandeur stands -- Hansard. But Hansard is not irreproachable like the morning papers. Hansard's reports are subject to censorship, the censorship of the speakers themselves. And precisely for this reason "it is the custom to quote according to Hansard.

Eight non-suspect witnesses against one suspect witness! But what does that worry our victory-confident Anonymous? Precisely because the reports of the eight morning papers put "that notorious passage" in Gladstone's mouth, precisely because of this, they "speak for" our Anonymous, precisely by this they prove even more that Marx "lyingly added" it.

Indeed, nothing actually exceeds the "impudence" of the anonymous Brentano.

III[edit source]

In reality, however, the ostentatious impudence we had to admire in Mr. Brentano, is nothing but a tactical manoeuvre. He has discovered that the attack on the "lyingly added" sentence has failed, and that he must seek a defensive position. He has found it; all that has to be done now is to retreat to this new position.

Already in his first reply to Marx (Documents, No. 5) Mr. Brentano hints at his intention, though bashfully as yet. The fatal Times report compels him to do so. This report, it is true, contains the "notorious", the "lyingly added" passage, but that is actually beside the point. For since it "fully coincides materially" with Hansard, it says "the direct opposite of that notorious passage", although it contains it word for word. Thus it is no longer a question of the wording of the "notorious passage", but of its meaning. It is no longer a question of denying the passage's existence, but of claiming that it means the opposite of what it says.

And Marx having declared in his second reply that lack of time forces him to end, once and for all, his pleasurable exchange of opinions with his anonymous opponent, the latter can venture to deal with even greater confidence with this subject, which is not exactly proper at that. This he does in his rejoinder, reproduced here as No. 7 of the documents.

Here he claims that Marx attempts to obscure the Times report, which materially fully coincides with Hansard, and this is in three ways. Firstly by an incorrect translation of CLASSES WHO ARE IN EASY CIRCUMSTANCES. I leave aside this point as absolutely irrelevant. It is generally known that Marx had a command of the English language quite different from that of Mr. Brentano. But exactly what Mr. Gladstone thought when he used this expression-and whether he thought anything-it is quite impossible to say today, 27 years later, even for himself.

The second point is that Marx "simply suppressed" a certain "relative clause" in the Times report. The passage in question is previously cited at length in section II, p. 7. By suppressing this relative clause, Marx is supposed to have suppressed for his readers the fact that the augmentation of wealth, as shown by the income tax returns, is confined to classes which possess property, since the labouring classes do not fall under the income tax, and thus nothing may be learned from the returns about the increase in prosperity amongst the workers; this does not mean, however, that in reality the labouring classes remain excluded from the extraordinary augmentation of national wealth.

The sentence in the Times report runs, in Mr. Brentano's own translation:

"The augmentation I have described, and the figures of which are based, I think, upon accurate returns, is entirely confined to classes of property."

The relative clause which Marx so maliciously "suppressed" consists of the words: "and the figures of which are based, I think, upon accurate returns". By the persistent, since twice repeated, suppression of these highly important words, so the story goes, Marx wished to conceal from his readers that the said augmentation was an augmentation solely of the income subject to income tax, in other words the income of the "classes which possess property".

Does his moral indignation at the fact that he had run aground with "mendacity" make Mr. Brentano blind? Or does he think that he can make all sorts of allegations, since Marx will no longer reply in any case? The fact is that the incriminated sentence begins, according to Marx, both in the Inaugural Address and in Capitol, with the words: "From 1842 to 1852 THE TAXABLE INCOME of the country increased by 6 per cent... In the eight years from 1853 to 1861, it has ..." etc.

Does Mr. Brentano know another "taxable income" in England apart from that subject to income tax? And has the highly important "relative clause" anything at all to add to this clear declaration that only income subject to income tax is under discussion? Or does he believe, as it almost appears, that people "forge" Gladstone's budget speeches, make "lying additions" or "suppress" something in them if they quote them without, Ă  la Brentano, also providing the reader with an essay on English income tax in which they "falsify" income tax into the bargain, as Marx proved (Documents, No. 6),b and as Mr. Brentano was forced to admit (Documents, No. 7). And when the "lyingly added" sentence simply says that the augmentation just mentioned by Mr. Gladstone was confined to classes of property, does it not say essentially the same, since only classes of property pay income tax? But of course, whilst Mr. Brentano creates a deafening hullabaloo at the front door about this sentence as a Marxian falsification and insolent mendacity, he himself allows it to slip in quietly through the back door.

Mr. Brentano knew very well that Marx quoted Mr. Gladstone as speaking about "taxable income" and no other. For in his first attack (Documents, No.3), he quotes the passage from the Inaugural Address, and even translated TAXABLE as "liable to tax"

If he now "suppresses" this in his rejoinder, and if from now on until his pamphlet of 1890 he protests again and again that Marx concealed, intentionally and maliciously, the fact that Gladstone was speaking here solely of those incomes liable to income tax -- should we now sling his own expressions back at him: "lying", "forgery", "impudent mendacity", "simply nefarious"?

To continue with the text:

"Thirdly and finally, Marx attempted to conceal the agreement between the Times report and the Hansard report by failing to quote those sentences in which, according to The Times too, Gladstone directly and explicitly testified to the elevation of the British working class."

In his second reply to the anonymous Brentano, Marx had to prove that he had not "lyingly added" the "notorious" sentence, and in addition had to reject the insolent claim made by Anonymous: in relation to this point, the only point in question, the Times report and the Hansard report "fully coincided materially", although the former included the sentence in question verbatim, and the latter excluded it verbatim. For this, the only point at issue, it was absolutely irrelevant what Mr. Gladstone had to say about the elevation of the British working class. On the other hand the Inaugural Address -- and this is the document which Brentano accuses of falsifying a quotation -- states explicitly on p. 4, only a few lines before the "notorious" sentence, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Gladstone), during the millennium of free trade, told the House of Commons:

"The average condition of the British labourer has improved in a degree we know to be extraordinary and unexampled in the history of any country or any age."

And these are precisely the words which, according to Brentano, Marx maliciously suppressed.

In the whole polemic, from his first retort to Marx in 1872 (Documents, No.5) down to his introduction and appendix to Meine Polemik, etc., 1890, Mr. Brentano suppresses, with a sleight of hand which we must on no account describe as "insolent mendacity", the fact that Marx directly quoted in the Inaugural Address these Gladstonian declarations about the unparalleled improvement in the situation of the workers. And in this rejoinder, which, as already mentioned, remained unknown to Marx up to his death, and to me until the publication of the pamphlet Meine Polemik, etc., in 1890, in which the accusation about the lyingly added sentence was only apparently maintained, though in reality dropped, and the lyingly added sentence not only shamefacedly admitted as genuine Gladstonian property, but also as "speaking for us", i.e. for Brentano -- in this rejoinder a retreat is beaten to the new line of defence: Marx has distorted and twisted Gladstone's speech; Marx has Gladstone say that, it goes, the riches of the rich have grown enormously, but that the poor, the working population, have at the most become less poor. But in fact Gladstone said, in plain words, that the condition of the workers had improved to an unexampled degree.

This second line of defence was pierced by the irresistible fact that precisely in the incriminated document, in the Inaugural Address, these same Gladstonian words were quoted explicitly. And Mr. Brentano knew this. "But what does it matter? The readers" of the Concordia "cannot check up on him!"

Incidentally, regarding what Gladstone really said, on this we shall have a few short words to say in a little while.

In conclusion, Mr. Brentano, in the security, first of his anonymity, and second of Marx's declaration that he has no wish to bother with him further, indulges in the following private jollity:

"When Mr. Marx finally ends his article by breaking into abuse, we can assure him that his opponent could desire nothing more than the confession of his weakness which lies herein. Abuse is the weapon of those whose other means of defence have run out."

The reader can check for himself the extent to which Marx "breaks into abuse" in his rejoinder. As far as Mr. Brentano is concerned, we have already presented some choice bouquets from his attestations of politeness. The "lies", "impudent mendacity", "lying quotation", "simply nefarious", etc., heaped upon Marx's head by all means constitute an edifying "confession of weakness", and an unmistakeable sign that Mr. Brentano's "other means of defence have run out".

IV[edit source]

Here ends the first act of our song and dance. Mr. Brentano, mysterious though not yet a privy councillor, [Play on words: "geheimnisvoll" -- mysterious, "Geheimrat" -- privy councillor.-- Trans] had achieved what he could scarcely have hoped to achieve. Admittedly, things had gone badly enough for him regarding the sentence allegedly "lyingly added"; and in fact he had dropped this original charge. But he had sought out a new line of defence, and on this line -- he had had the last word, and with that you can, in the world of German professordom, claim you have stood your ground. And with this he could brag, at least amongst his own, that he had victoriously repelled Marx's onslaught, and slain Marx himself in the literary world. The luckless Marx, however, never heard a dying word about his slaughter in the Concordia; on the contrary, he had the "impudence" to live on for another eleven years, eleven years of mounting success for him, eleven years of uninterrupted growth in the numerical strength of his supporters in all countries, eleven years of constantly growing recognition of his merits.

Mr. Brentano and consorts wisely refrained from freeing the blinded Marx of his self-deception, or making it clear to him that he had actually been dead for a long time. But after he really did die in 1883, they could no longer contain themselves, their fingers itched too much. And now Mr. Sedley Taylor appeared on the scene, with a letter to The Times (Documents, No. 8).

He provoked things himself, if he or his friend Brentano, as it almost appears, had not actually concocted it with M. Émile de Laveleye [see É. de Laveleye, "To the Editor of The Times, Liège, November 16". The Times, No. 30987, November 26, 1883. -- MECW Ed]. In that stilted style which betrays a certain recognition of his dubious cause, he states that it appears to him

"extremely singular that it was reserved for Professor Brentano to expose, eight years later, the mala fides" of Marx.

And then begin the vainglorious phrases about the masterly conduct of the attack by the godlike Brentano, and the speedily ensuring deadly shifts of the notorious Marx, etc. What things were like in reality our readers have already seen. All that fell into deadly shifts was only Brentano's claim about the lying addition of the sentence in question. And finally in conclusion:

"On Brentano's showing, by a detailed comparison of texts, that the reports of The Times and of "Hansard" agreed in utterly excluding the meaning which craftily isolated quotation had put upon Mr. Gladstone's words, Marx withdrew from further controversy under the plea of want of time!"

The "detailed comparison of texts" is simply farcical. Anonymous Brentano quotes only Hansard. Marx supplies him with the Times report, which includes verbatim the controversial sentence missing in Hansard. Mr. Brentano now also quoted the Times report, and this three lines further than Marx quoted it. These three lines are supposed to show that The Times and Hansard fully agree, and thus that the sentence allegedly "lyingly added" by Marx is not in the Times report, although it stands there word for word; or at the very least, if it should stand there, that it then means the opposite of what it says in plain words. Mr. Taylor calls this daredevil operation a "detailed comparison of texts".

Further. It is simply not true that Marx then withdrew under the plea of want of time. And Mr. Sedley Taylor knew this, or it was his business to know it. We have seen that before this Marx delivered proof to the anonymous godlike Brentano that the reports in The Morning Star and The Morning Advertiser also contained the "lyingly added" sentence. Only after this did he declare that he could waste no more time on Anonymous.

The further polemic between Mr. Sedley Taylor and Eleanor Marx (Documents, Nos 9, 10 and 11) showed in the first place that he did not try for a moment to maintain the original charge about the lying addition of a sentence. He went so far as to claim that this was "of very subordinate importance." Once again the direct disavowal of a fact which he knew, or which it was his business to know.

In any case we take note of his admission that this charge does not hold water, and congratulate his friend Brentano on this.

So what is the charge now? Simply that of Mr. Brentano's second line of defence that Marx had wished to distort the sense of Gladstone's speech -- a new charge of which, as we have noted, Marx never knew anything. In any case, this brings us to a completely different field. What was concerned to begin with was a definite fact: did Marx lyingly add this sentence or not? It is now no longer denied that Marx victoriously rebuffed this charge. The new charge of distorted quotation, however, leads us into the field of subjective opinions, which necessarily vary. De gustibus non est disputandum. [There can be no argument about taste. -- MECW Ed.] One person may regard as unimportant -- intrinsically or for the purpose of quotation -- something which another person declares to be important and decisive. The conservative will [never] quote acceptably for the liberal, the liberal never for the conservative, the socialist never for one of them or both of them. The party man whose own comrade is quoted against him by an opponent regularly discovers that the essential passage, the passage determining the real sense, has been omitted in quotation. This is such an everyday occurrence, something permitting so many individual viewpoints, that nobody attaches the slightest significance to such charges. Had Mr. Brentano utilised his anonimity to level this charge, and this charge alone, against Marx, then Marx would scarcely have regarded it as worth the trouble of a single word in reply.

In order to accomplish this new twist with that elegance peculiar to him alone, Mr. Sedley Taylor finds it necessary to repudiate thrice his friend and comrade Brentano. He repudiates him first when he drops his originally sole charge of "lying addition", and even denies its existence as original and sole. He repudiates him further when he summarily discards the infallible Hansard, to quote exclusively from which is the "custom" of the ethical Brentano, [Play on words: "Sitte" -- custom, "sittlich" -- ethical.-- MECW Ed.] and uses instead the Times report, which the selfsame Brentano calls "necessarily bungling". Thirdly, he repudiates him, and his own first letter to The Times into the bargain, by seeking the "quotation in dispute" no longer in the Inaugural Address but in Capital And this for the simple reason that he had never laid his hand upon the Inaugural Address, to which he "had the hardihood" to refer in his letter to The Times!

Shortly after his controversy with Eleanor Marx he vainly sought this Address in the British Museum, and was introduced there to his opponent, whom he asked whether she could not obtain a copy for him. Whereupon, I sought out a copy amongst my papers, and Eleanor sent it to him. The "detailed comparison of texts" which this enabled him to make apparently convinced him that silence was the best reply.

And in fact it would be superfluous to add a single word to Eleanor Marx's retort (Documents, No. 11)

V[edit source]

Third act. My Preface to the fourth edition of the first volume of Marx's Capital, reprinted as far as necessary in Documents, No. 12, explains why I was forced to return to the bygone polemics of Messrs Brentano and Sedley Taylor. This Preface forced Mr. Brentano to make a reply: this was the pamphlet Meine Polemik mit Karl Marx usw. by Lujo Brentano, Berlin, 1890. Here he has reprinted his anonymous and now finally legitimated Concordia articles, and Marx's answers in the Volksstaat, accompanied by an introduction and two appendices, with which, for better or worse, we are obliged to deal.

Above all we note that here too there is no longer any mention of the "lyingly added" sentence. The sentence from the Inaugural Address is quoted right on the first page, and it is then claimed that Gladstone had "stated in direct opposition to Karl Marx's claim" that these figures referred only to those paying income tax (which Marx had Gladstone say too, since he explicitly limits these figures to taxable income) but that the condition of the working class had at the same time improved in unexampled fashion (which Marx also has Gladstone say, only nine lines before the challenged quotation). I would request the reader to compare for himself the Inaugural Address (Documents, No. 1) with Mr. Brentano's claim (Documents, No. 13) in order to see how Mr. Brentano either "lyingly adds", or fabricates in another manner, a contradiction where there is none at all. But since the charge about the lyingly added sentence has broken down ignominiously, Mr. Brentano, contrary to his better knowledge, must attempt to take in his readers by telling them Marx tried to suppress the fact that Gladstone had spoken here only of "taxable income", or the income of classes which possess property. And here Mr. Brentano does not even notice that his first accusation is thus turned into the opposite, in that the second is a slap in the face of the first.

Having happily accomplished this "forgery", he is moved to draw the attention of the Concordia to the "forgery" allegedly committed by Marx, and the Concordia then asks him to send it an article against Marx. What now follows is too delicious not to be given verbatim:

"The article was not signed by me; this was done, on the one hand, at the request of the editors in the interests of the reputation of their paper, and, on the other hand, I had all the less objection, since following earlier literary controversies pursued by Marx it was to be expected that this time too he would heap personal insults on his adversary, and for this reason it could only be amusing to leave him in the dark as to the identity of his adversary."

So the editors of the Concordia wished "in the interests of the reputation of their paper" that Mr. Brentano should keep his name quiet! What a reputation this implies for Mr. Brentano amongst his colleagues in his own party. We can well believe that this actually happened to him, but that he himself shouts it from the rooftops is a really pyramidal achievement on his part. However, this is something which he has to settle with himself and with the editors of the Concordia.

Since "it was to be expected that Marx would heap personal insults on his adversary", it could naturally "only be amusing to leave him in the dark as to the identity of his adversary". It was hitherto a mystery as to how you can heap personal insults upon a person you do not know. You can only get personal if you know something of the person in question. But Mr. Brentano, made anonymous in the interests of the paper's reputation, relieved his adversary of this trouble. He himself waded in with "insults", first with the "lyingly added" printed in bold type, and then with "impudent mendacity", "simply nefarious", etc. Mr. Brentano, the non-anonymous, obviously made a slip of the pen here. Mr. Brentano "on the other hand, had all the less objection" to the anonymity imposed upon himself, not so that the well-known Marx could "heap personal insults" upon the unknown Brentano, but so that the concealed Brentano could do this to the well-known Marx.

And this is supposed to "be amusing"! That's what actually transpired, but not because Mr. Brentano wanted it. Marx, as later his daughter, and now myself, have all tried to see the amusing aspect of this polemic. Such success as we have had, be it great or small, has been at the expense of Mr. Brentano. His articles have been anything but "amusing". The only contributions to amusement are the rapier-thrusts aimed by Marx at the shady side of his "left-in-the-dark person", which the man at the receiving end now wishes to laugh off belatedly as the "loutishness of his scurrilous polemics". The Junkers, the priests, the lawyers and other right and proper opponents of the incisive polemics of Voltaire, Beaumarchais and Paul Louis Courier objected to the "loutishness of their scurrilous polemics", which has not prevented these examples of "loutishness" from being regarded as models and masterpieces today. And we have had so much pleasure from these and similar "scurrilous polemics" that a hundred Brentanos should not succeed in dragging us down to the level of German university polemics, where there is nothing but the impotent rage of green envy, and the most desolate boredom.

However, Mr. Brentano once again regards his readers as so duped that he can lay it on thick again with a brazen face:

"When it was shown that The Times too ... carried this" (Gladstone's) "speech in a sense according with the shorthand report, he" (Marx) "acted, as the editors of the Concordia wrote, like the cuttlefish, which dims the water with a dark fluid, in order to make pursuit by its enemy more difficult, i.e. he tried as hard as he could to hide the subject of controversy by clinging to completely inconsequential secondary matters."

If the Times report, which contains the "lyingly added" sentence word for word, accords in sense with the "shorthand" report -- should be with Hansard -- which suppresses it word for word, and if Mr. Brentano once again boasts that he had demonstrated this, this can mean nothing other than the charge concerning the "lyingly added" sentence has been completely dropped -- though shamefacedly and quietly -- and Mr. Brentano, forced from the offensive onto the defensive, is retreating to his second line of defence. We simply note this; we believe that in sections III and IV we have thoroughly broken through the centre of this second line, and turned both flanks.

But then the genuine university polemicist appears. When Brentano, emboldened by the scent of victory, has thus driven his enemy into the corner, the foe acts like the cuttlefish, darkening the water and hiding the subject of controversy by focusing attention on completely inconsequential secondary matters.

The Jesuits say: Si fecisti, nega. If you have perpetrated something, deny it. The German university polemicist goes further and Says: If you have perpetrated a shady lawyer's trick, then lay it at your opponent's door. Scarcely has Marx quoted The Theory of the Exchanges and Professor Beesly, and this simply because they had quoted the disputed passage like he had, than Brentano the cuttlefish "clings" to them with all the suckers of his ten feet, and spreads such a torrent of his "dark fluid" all around that you must look hard and grasp firmly if you do not wish to lose from eye and hand the real "subject of controversy", namely the allegedly "lyingly added" sentence. In his rejoinder, exactly the same method. First he starts another squabble with Marx about the meaning of the expression CLASSES IN EASY CIRCUMSTANCES, a squabble which under the best of circumstances could produce nothing but that very "obscuration" which Mr. Brentano desires. And then dark fluid is again squirted in the matter of that renowned relative clause which Marx had maliciously suppressed, and which, as we have shown, could perfectly well be omitted, since the fact to which it indirectly alluded had already been stated quite clearly in an earlier sentence of the speech which had been quoted by Marx. And thirdly, our cuttlefish has enough dark sauce left over to obscure once again the subject of controversy, by claiming that Marx has again suppressed some sentences from The Times -- sentences which had absolutely nothing to do with the single point at issue between them at that time, the allegedly lyingly added sentence.

And the same waste of sepia in the present self-apologia. First, naturally, The Theory of the Exchanges must be the whipping boy.

Then, all of a sudden, we are confronted with the Lassallean "iron law of wages" with which, as everyone knows, Marx was as little connected as Mr. Brentano with the invention of gunpowder; Mr. Brentano must know that in the first volume of Capital Marx specifically denied all and every responsibility for any conclusions drawn by Lassalle, and that in the same book Marx describes the law of wages as a function of differing variables and very elastic, thus anything but iron. But when the ink-squirting has started there is no stopping it: the Halle congress, Liebknecht and Bebel, Gladstone's budget speech of 1843, the English trade unions, all manner of far-fetched things are resorted to so as, faced with an opponent who has gone over to the offensive, to cover by self-apologia the defensive line of Mr. Brentano and his lofty philanthropic principles, treated so scornfully by the wicked socialists. One gets the impression that a round dozen cuttlefish were helping him do the "hushing up" here.

And all of this because Mr. Brentano himself knows that he has hopelessly run aground with his claim about the "lyingly added" sentence, and has not got the courage to withdraw this claim openly and honourably. To use his own words:

"Had he" Brentano "simply admitted that he had been misled by this book", Hansard, " might have been surprised that he had relied upon such a source" as absolutely reliable "but the mistake would at least have been rectified. But for him there was no question of this."

Instead the ink was squirted in gallons for obscuring purposes, and if I have to be so discursive here, this is only because I must first dispose of all these far-fetched marginal questions, and disperse the obscuring ink in order to keep eye and hand on the real subject of the controversy. Meanwhile Mr. Brentano has another piece of information for us in petto [in store], which in fact "could only be amusing". He has, in fact, been so lamentably treated that he can find no peace and quiet until he has moaned to us about all his misfortune. First the Concordia suppresses his name in the interests of the reputation of the paper. Mr. Brentano is magnanimous enough to consent to this sacrifice in the interests of the good cause. Then Marx unleashes upon him the loutishness of his scurrilous polemics. This too he swallows. Only he wished to reply to this "with the verbatim publication of the entire polemic". But sadly

"editors often have their own judgement; the specialist journal which I regarded as suitable above all others refused to publish, on the grounds that the dispute lacked general interest".

Thus do the noble suffer in this sinful world; their best intentions founder on the baseness or indifference of man. And to compensate this unappreciated honest fellow for his undeserved misfortune, and since some time will probably pass before he rounds up an editor who has not "often his own judgement", we herewith present him the "the verbatim publication of the entire polemic".

VI[edit source]

In addition to the introductory self-apologia, Mr. Brentano's little pamphlet contains two appendices. The first contains extracts from The Theory of the Exchanges, intended to prove that this book was one of the main sources from which Marx concocted his Capital I shall not go into detail about this repeated waste of sepia. I only have to deal with the old charge from the Concordia. His whole life long Marx could not and would not please Mr. Brentano. Mr. Brentano thus certainly has a whole bottomless sack of complaints against Marx, and I would be an idiot to let myself in for this. There would be no end to pleasing him.

But it is naĂŻve that here, at the end of the quotations, "the reproduction of the teal budget speech" is demanded from Marx. So that is what Mr. Brentano understands by correct quotation. However, if the whole actual speech is always to be reproduced, then no speech has ever been quoted without "forgery".

In the second appendix Mr. Brentano has a go at me. In the fourth edition of Capital, volume one, I drew attention to The Morning Star in connection with the allegedly false quotation. Mr. Brentano utilises this to once again obscure completely, with spurts of sepia, the original point at issue, the passage in the Inaugural Address, and instead of this to hit out at the passage in Capital already quoted by Mr. S. Taylor. In order to prove that my source of reference was false, and that Marx could only have taken the "forged quotation" from The Theory of the Exchanges, Mr. Brentano prints in parallel columns the reports of The Times and The Morning Star and the quotation according to Capital This second appendix is printed here as document No. 14.

Mr. Brentano has The Morning Star begin its report with the words "I MUST SAY FOR ONE" etc. He thus claims that the preceding sentences on the growth of taxable income from 1842 to 1852, and from 1853 to 1861 are missing in The Morning Star; from which it naturally follows that Marx did not use The Morning Star but The Theory of the Exchanges.

"The readers" of his pamphlet "with whom he is concerned, cannot check up on him!" But other people can, and they discover that this passage is certainly to be found in The Morning Star. We reprint it here, next to the passage from Capital in English and German for the edification of Mr. Brentano and his readers.

"The Morning Star", April 17, 1863 "Capital", Vol. I, 1st ed., p. 639; 2nd ed., p. 678; 3rd., p. 671; 4th ed., p. 617, Note 103

"In ten years, from 1842 to 1852 the "From 1842 to 1852 the taxable taxable income of the country increased income of the country increased by by 6 per cent, as nearly as I can make 6 per cent... out -- a very considerable increase in ten years. But in eight years from 1853 to 1861 the income of the country ... In the 8 years from 1858 to 1861 ... again increased from the basis taken in it had increased from the basis taken in 1853 by 20 per cent. The fact is so 1853, 20 per cent! The fact is so astonishing as to be almost incred- astonishing as to be almost incredible."

In German translation:

The absence of this sentence in his quotation from The Morning Star is Mr. Brentano's main trump card in his claim that Marx quoted from The Theory of the Exchanges and not from The Morning Star. He confronts the claim that the quotation was taken from The Morning Star with the incriminating gap in the parallel column. And now the sentence is nevertheless to be found in The Morning Star, in fact exactly as in Marx, and the incriminating gap is Mr. Brentano's own invention. If that is not "suppression" and "forgery", into the bargain, then these words lack any sense.

But if Mr. Brentano "forges" at the beginning of the quotation, and if he now very carefully refrains from saying that Marx "lyingly added" a sentence in the middle of the same quotation, this in no way prevents him from insisting repeatedly that Marx suppressed the end of the quotation.

In Capital the quotation breaks off with the passage:

"Whether the extremes of poverty are less, I do not presume to say."

Now in the reports in The Times and The Morning Star the sentence does not end here; separated only by a comma, there follow the words:

"but the average condition of the British labourer, we have the happiness to know to be extraordinary" (in The Times: has improved during the last 20 years in a degree which we know to be extraordinary) "and which we may almost pronounce to be unexampled in the history of any country and of any age".

Thus Marx breaks off here in mid-sentence, "has Gladstone stop in mid-sentence", "making this sentence quite meaningless". And already in his rejoinder (Documents, No.7) Mr. Brentano calls this an "absolutely senseless version".

Gladstone's sentence: "Whether the extremes of poverty are less, I do not presume to say" is a quite definite statement, complete in itself. If it makes sense, it makes sense when taken in isolation. If it makes no sense, no addition however long, tacked on behind a "yet", can give it sense. If the sentence in Marx's quotation is "completely senseless", then this is not due to Marx who quoted it, but to Mr. Gladstone who uttered it.

To probe more deeply this important case, let us now turn to the only source which, according to Mr. Brentano, it is the "custom" to quote, let us turn to Hansard, pure of all original sin. According to Mr. Brentano's own translation, it says:

"I will not presume to determine whether the wide interval which separates the extremes of wealth and poverty is less or more wide than it has been in former times" -- full stop.

And only after this full stop does the new sentence begin:

"But if we look to the average condition of the British labourer", etc.

Thus if Marx likewise sets a full stop here, he does just as the virtuous Hansard does; and if Mr. Brentano makes this full stop a new crime on the part of Marx, and claims that Marx has Gladstone stop in the mid-sentence, then he has relied upon the "necessarily bungling newspaper reports", and he can only blame himself for the consequences. Thus the argument collapses that Marx has made the sentence completely senseless through his full stop; this comes not from him but from Mr. Gladstone, and let Mr. Brentano now correspond with him about the sense or nonsense of the sentence; we have nothing more to do with the matter.

For Mr. Brentano is anyway in correspondence with Mr. Gladstone. What he has written to the latter we do not learn, of course, and we only learn very little of what Mr. Gladstone has written to him. In any case, Mr. Brentano has published from Gladstone's letters two meagre little sentences (Documents, No.16) and in my reply (Documents, No. 17) I showed that "this arbitrary mosaic of sentences torn from their context" proves nothing at all in Mr. Brentano's favour whilst the fact that he indulges in this sort of ragged publication, instead of publishing the whole correspondence, speaks volumes against him.

But let us assume for a moment that these two little sentences only permitted the interpretation most favourable to Mr. Brentano. What then?

"You are completely correct, and Marx completely incorrect." "I undertook no changes of any sort." These are the alleged words -- for Mr. Gladstone does not usually write in German, as far as I know -- of the former minister.

Does this mean: I did not utter the "notorious" sentence, and that Marx "lyingly added" it? Certainly not. The eight London morning papers of April 17, 1863 would unanimously give the lie to such a claim. They prove beyond all doubt that this sentence was spoken. If Mr. Gladstone made no changes in the Hansard report -- although I am twelve years younger than him, I would not like to rely so implicitly on my memory in such trivialities which occurred 27 years ago -- then the omission of the sentence in Hansard says nothing in Mr. Brentano's favour, and a great deal against Hansard.

Aside from this one point about the "lyingly added" sentence, Mr. Gladstone's opinion is completely inconsequential here. For as soon as we disregard this point, we find ourselves exclusively in the field of inconsequential opinions, in which after years of strife each sticks to his guns. If Mr. Gladstone, should he happen to be quoted, prefers the quotation methods of Mr. Brentano, an admiring supporter, to those of Marx, a sharply critical opponent, then this is quite obvious, and his indisputable right. For us, however, and for the question as to whether Marx quoted in good or in bad faith, his opinion is not even worth as much as that of any old uninvolved third person. For here Mr. Gladstone is no longer a witness but an interested party.

VII[edit source]

In conclusion, let us go briefly into the question of what Mr. Gladstone said in that -- thanks to Mr. Brentano, now "notorious" -- passage of his budget speech of 1863, and what Marx quoted of what he said, or else what he "lyingly added" or "suppressed". In order to oblige Mr. Brentano as far as possible, let us take as our basis the immaculate Hansard, and in his own translation.

"In ten years from 1842 to 1852 inclusive, the taxable income of the country, as nearly as we can make out, increased by 6 per cent; hut in eight years, from 1853 to 1861, the income of the country again increased upon the basis taken by 20 per cent. That is a fact so singular and striking as to seem almost incredible."

Mr. Brentano himself has nothing against Marx's quotation of this sentence, apart from the fact that it is allegedly taken from The Theory of the Exchanges. But of Brentano's quotation it must be said here that it too is far removed from giving "the real budget speech". He excises Mr. Gladstone's following excursus on the causes of this astonishing augmentation without even indicating the omission with dots. -- Further:

"Such, Sir, is the state of the case as regards the general progress of accumulation; but, for one, I must say that I should look with some degree of pain, and with much apprehension, upon this extraordinary and almost intoxicating growth, if it were my belief that it is confined to the class of persons who may be described as in easy circumstances. The figures which I have quoted take little or no cognizance of the condition of those who do not pay income tax; or, in other words, sufficiently accurate for general truth, they do not take cognizance of the property of the labouring population, or of the increase of its income."

There now follows the sentence which according to Mr. Brentano was "lyingly added" by Marx, but which on the testimony of all eight morning papers of April 17 was certainly uttered by Mr. Gladstone:

"The augmentation I have described, and which is founded, I think, upon accurate returns, is an augmentation entirely confined to classes of property." (The Times, The Manning Star, The Manning Advertiser, Daily Telegraph.) ".. is entirely confined to the augmentation of Capital". (Manning Herald, Standard, The Daily News, Manning Post)

After the word "income", Hansard immediately continues with the words:

"Indirectly, indeed, the mere augmentation of Capital is of the utmost advantage to the labouring class, because that augmentation cheapens the commodity which in the whole business of production comes into direct competition with labour."

Although Hansard omits the "notorious" sentence, it says in substance just what the other papers say: it would be very embarrassing for the speaker if this intoxicating augmentation were confined to CLASSES IN EASY CIRCUMSTANCES, but although it pains him, this augmentation he has described is confined to people who do not belong to the working class and who are rich enough to pay income tax; yes, it is indeed a "mere augmentation of Capital"!

And here, finally, the secret of Mr. Brentano's fury stands revealed. He reads the sentence in the Inaugural Address, finds in it an embarrassing admission, obtains the Hansard version, fails to find the embarrassing sentence in it, and hurries to publish to the world: Marx lyingly added the sentence in form and in content! -- Marx shows him the sentence in The Times, The Morning Star, The Morning Advertiser. Now finally, for appearance's sake at least, Mr. Brentano must make a "detailed comparison of texts" and discovers -- what? That The Times, The Morning Star, The Morning Advertiser "fully coincide materially" with Hansard! Unfortunately he overlooks the fact that the "lyingly added" sentence must then fully coincide materially with Hansard, and that then in the end it must turn out that Hansard coincides materially with the Inaugural Address.

The whole hullabaloo therefore because Mr. Brentano had neglected to undertake the detailed textual comparison ascribed to him by Mr. Sedley Taylor, and because, in fact, he had himself not understood what Mr. Gladstone had said according to Hansard. Of course, this was not that easy, for although Mr. Brentano claims that this speech

"aroused the interest and admiration of the entire educated world ... notably through ... its clarity",

readers have been able to see for themselves that in the Hansard version it is presented in a particularly stilted, complicated and involved language, tying itself up in its own repetitions. In particular the sentence stating that the increase in Capital is of extraordinary advantage to the worker, because it cheapens the commodity which in the business of production comes into direct competition with labour, is sheer nonsense. If a commodity comes into Competition with labour, and this commodity (for example, machinery) is cheapened, then the first and immediate result is a fall in wages, and according to Mr. Gladstone this should be "of great benefit to the workers"! How philanthropic it was of some London morning papers, i. e. The Morning Star, in their "necessarily bungling" reports, to replace the above incomprehensible sentence by what Mr. Gladstone probably wanted to say, namely that an increase in Capital is of benefit to the workers because it cheapens the main articles of consumption!

When Mr. Gladstone said that he should look with some degree of pain and much apprehension at this intoxicating growth if he believed that it was confined to classes in easy circumstances -- whether Mr. Gladstone thought thereby of another growth of wealth than that of which he spoke, namely, in his opinion, of the greatly improved situation of the entire nation; whether he forgot at that moment that he was speaking of the increase in income of the classes that pay income tax and of no others: this we cannot know. Marx has been charged with forgery, and what is at issue is the text and the grammatical meaning of what Mr. Gladstone said, and not what he possibly wanted to say. Mr. Brentano does not know the latter either, and on this point Mr. Gladstone, 27 years later, is no longer a competent authority. And in no way does this concern us.

The abundantly clear meaning of the words is: taxable income has undergone an intoxicating augmentation. I should be very sorry if this augmentation just described were confined to classes of property, but it is confined to them, since the workers have no income liable to tax, and it is thus purely an increase in Capital! But the latter, too, is of advantage to the workers, because they, etc.

And now Marx:

"This intoxicating augmentation of wealth and power ... is entirely confined to classes of property."

Thus runs the sentence in the Inaugural Address, where it provided the occasion for this whole jolly controversy. But since Mr. Brentano has no longer dared to claim that Marx lyingly added it, since then the Inaugural Address has no longer been mentioned at all, and all attacks have been directed against the quotation of this passage in Capital There Marx adds the following sentence:

"but... but it must be of indirect benefit to the labouring population, because it cheapens the commodities of general consumption."

The "arbitrarily thrown-together mosaic of sentences torn from their context" in Marx thus states "materially", "only formally more contracted", exactly what the immaculate Hansard has Gladstone say. The only reproach which can be levelled at Marx is that he utilised The Morning Star and not Hansard, and thus, in the final sentence, placed words of sense in Mr. Gladstone's mouth, although he had spoken nonsense. Further, according to Hansard:

"But, besides this, a more direct and a larger benefit has, it may safely be asserted, been conferred upon the mass of the people [of the country]. It is a matter of profound and inestimable consolation to reflect, that while the rich have been growing richer, the poor have become less poor. I will not presume to determine whether the wide interval which separates the extremes of wealth and poverty is less or more wide than it has been in former times."

In Marx:

"...while the rich have been growing richer, the poor have been growing less poor. At any rate, whether the extremes of poverty are less, I do not presume to say."

Marx gives only the two rare positive statements which, in Hansard, swim in a whole tureen of phrases as trivial as they are unctuous. It can be stated with certainty that they lose nothing thereby, but rather gain. Finally the conclusion, according to Hansard:

"But if we look to the average condition of the British labourer, whether peasant, or miner, or operative, or artisan, we know from varied and indubitable evidence that during the last twenty years such an addition has been made to his means of subsistence as we may almost pronounce to be without example in the history of any country and of any age."

This sentence is quoted in the Inaugural Address a few lines above the "notorious" one just given. There we find:

"Such are the official statements published by order of Parliament in 1864, during the millennium of free trade, at a time when the Chancellor of the Exchequer told the House of Commons that:

'The average condition of the British labourer has improved in a degree we know to be extraordinary and unexampled in the history of any country or any age.'"

Thus everything essential is cited. But that this may be read in the Inaugural Address, original edition, p. 4, this fact is stubbornly concealed from his readers by Mr. Brentano; however, his readers cannot check upon him, for we cannot possibly present each of them with a copy of the Address, as we did Mr. Sedley Taylor.

Notabene: In his second reply (Documents, No. 6) Marx only had to defend the Inaugural Address, since up to then Mr. Brentano had not got the passage in Capital into his nagging range. And in his following rejoinder (Documents, No.7) Mr. Brentano's attack is still directed against the Inaugural Address and Marx's defence of this.

It is only after Marx's death that a new turn comes, and this not through Mr. Brentano but through his Cambridge shield-bearer. Only now is it discovered that in Capital Marx suppressed the resonant declarations made by Mr. Gladstone about the unexampled improvement in the condition of the British worker, and that this converted Mr. Gladstone's meaning into the contrary.

And here we have to say that Marx missed the opportunity for a brilliant burst of rhetoric. The whole section in the introduction to which this speech by Gladstone is quoted has the purpose of furnishing evidence that the condition of the great majority of the British working class was straitened and unworthy, just at the time of this intoxicating augmentation of wealth. What a magnificent contrast Gladstone's selfsame pompous words about the happy condition of the British working class, ~a condition] unexampled in the history of any country and any age, would have provided to this evidence of mass poverty, drawn from the official publications of Parliament itself!

But if Marx wished to refrain from such a rhetorical effect, he had no reason to quote these words of Gladstone's. Firstly, they are nothing hut the standard phrases which every British Chancellor of the Exchequer believes it to be his moral duty to repeat in good or even in tolerable business periods; they are thus meaningless. And secondly, Gladstone himself retracted them within a year; in his next budget speech of April 7, 1864, at a time of even greater industrial prosperity, he spoke of masses "on the border of pauperism", and of branches of business in which wages have not increased", and proclaimed -- according to Hansard:

"Again, and yet more at large, what is human life, but, in the great majority of cases, a struggle for existence?" *

  • And here some more from this speech, according to Hansard: the number of paupers had fallen to 840,000. "That amount, however, does not include persons who are dependent upon charitable establishments; or who are relieved by private almsgiving.... But, besides all those whom it comprises, think of those who arc on the borders of that region, think how many of the labouring classes are struggling manfully but with difficulty to maintain themselves in a position above the place of paupers." In the congregation of a clergyman in the East End of London, 12,000 out of 13,000 souls were always on the verge of actual want; a well-known philanthropist had declared that there were whole districts in the East End of London in which you cannot find an omnibus or a cab, in which there ii no street music, nor even a street beggar... The means to wage the struggle for existence were, however, somewhat better than previously (!) ... In many places wages had increased, but in many others they had not, etc. And this jeremiad came just one year after the pompous announcement of the "unexampled" improvement!

But Marx quotes this other budget speech of Gladstone's immediately after that of 1863, and if Mr. Gladstone himself, on April 7, 1864, declared that the unexampled blessings were non-existent, those blessings for the existence of which he had possessed "varied and indubitable evidence", then for Marx there was no longer the slightest shadow of a reason to quote these vivacious protestations, which were unfortunately ephemeral, even for Mr. Gladstone. He could content himself with the speaker's admissions that while the incomes of 150 pounds sterling and over had augmented intoxicatingly, the poor had in any case become less poor, and that the interval between extreme wealth and extreme poverty had scarcely been reduced.

We shall not comment on the fact that it is the habit of the official German economists to quote Marx in sentences torn from context. If he had created a hullabaloo in every such case, as Mr. Brentano has done here, he would never have been finished.

But now let us examine more closely the unexampled augmentation of the means of subsistence enjoyed at that time by the British labourer, peasant or miner, artisan or operative.

The peasant is in England and the greater part of Scotland only an agricultural day labourer. In 1861 there were a total of 1,098,261 such peasants, of whom 204,962 lived as farmhands on tenant farms. * From 1849 to 1859 his money wage had increased by 1 shilling, in a few cases by 2 shillings a week, but in the final analysis this was mostly only a nominal increase. His position in 1863, the really abject housing conditions under which he lived, are described by Dr. Hunter (Public Health, VII Report, 1864):

"The costs occasioned by the agricultural labourer are fixed at the lowest figure at which he can live."

  • The figures are taken partly from the census of 1861, partly from the report of the CHILDREN'S EMPLOYMENT COMMISSION. 1863-l867. [Census of England and Wales for the year 1861, London, 1863; Children's Employment Commission (1862), Report (I- VI) of the Commissioners, London, 1863. -- MECW Ed]

According to the same report, the food intake of a part of the day labourers' families (particularly in eight named counties) was below the absolute minimum necessary to avert starvation diseases. And Professor Thorold Rogers, a political supporter of Gladstone, declared in 1866 (A History of Agriculture and Prices) that the agricultural day labourer had once again become a serf, and, as he demonstrated at length, a poorly fed and poorly housed serf, much worse off than his ancestor at the time of Arthur Young (1770 to 1780), and incomparably worse than the day labourer in the 14th and 15th centuries. So Gladstone had no luck at all with the "peasants".

But how about the "miner"? On this we have the parliamentary report of 1866.a In 1861, 565,875 miners were working in the United Kingdom, 246,613 of them in coal mines. In the latter the wages of the men had risen slightly, and they mostly did an eight-hour shift, while the youngsters had to work 14 to 15 hours. Mine inspection was just a farce: there were 12 inspectors for 3,217 mines! The result was that the lives of the miners were sacrificed wholesale in largely avoidable explosions; the mine-owners compensated themselves in general for the small wage increases by wage deductions based on false weights and measures. In the ore mines, according to the report of the ROYAL COMMISSION of 1864, conditions were still worse.

But the "artisan"? Let us take the metalworkers, altogether 396,998. Of these, some 70,000 to 80,000 were machine fitters, and their situation was in fact good, thanks to the toughness of their old, strong and rich trade association. For the other metalworkers too, provided full physical strength and skill were called for, a certain improvement had taken place, as was natural with business having again become better since 1859 and 1860. In contrast, the situation of the women and children also employed (10,000 women and 30,000 under 18 in Birmingham and district alone) was miserable enough, and that of the nail makers (26,130) and chain makers miserable in the extreme.

In the textile industry, the 456,646 cotton Spinners and weavers, and with them 12,556 calico printers, are decisive. And they must have been very surprised to hear of this unexampled happiness-in April 1863, at the height of the cotton famine and the American Civil War, at the time (October 1862) when 60 per cent of the spindles and 58 per cent of the looms stood idle, and the remainder were only working 2-3 days a week; when over 50,000 cotton operatives, individually or with families, were supported by the Poor Law or the relief committee and (in March 1863) 135,625 were employed by the same committee at starvation wages on public works or in sewing schools! (Watts, The Facts of the Cotton Famine, 1866, p.21 1.) The other textile operatives, particularly in the wool and linen branches, were relatively prosperous; the lack of cotton increased their employment.

The reports of the CHILDREN'S EMPLOYMENT COMMISSION give us the best information on how things looked in a number of smaller branches of business: hosiery -- 120,000 workers, of whom only 4,000 were protected by the Factory Act, amongst the others many quite young children, colossally overworked; lace-making and dressing, mostly cottage industry -- of 150,000 workers only 10,000 protected by the Factory Act, colossal overworking of children and girls; straw-plaiting and straw-hat-making -- 40,000, almost all children, disgustingly slave-driven; finally the manufacture of clothing and shoes, employing 370,218 female workers for outerwear and millinery, 380,716 ditto for underwear and -- in England and Wales alone -- 573,380 male workers, including 273,223 shoemakers and 146,042 tailors, of whom between l/5 and 1/4 were under 20. Of these 1 1/4 million, a maximum of 30 per cent of the men were passably off, working for private customers. The rest were exposed, as in all the branches of business mentioned in this paragraph, to exploitation through middle men, factors, agents, SWEATERS as they are called in England, and this alone describes their lot: terrible overwork for a wretched wage.

Things were no better with the "unexampled" fortune of the workers in paper-making (100,000 workers, half women), pottery (29,000), hat-making (15,000 in England alone), the glass industry (15,000), book printing (35,000), artificial flower-making (11,000), etc., etc.

In short, the CHILDREN'S EMPLOYMENT COMMISSION demanded that no fewer than 1,400,000 women, young people and children should be placed under the protection of the Factory Act, in order to guard them from mostly ruinous overwork.

And finally the number of PAUPERS dependent upon poor relief from public funds in 1863: 1,079,382.

On this basis we may make an unofficial list of those workers unquestionably very badly off in 1863: agricultural day labourers in round figures 1,100,000; cotton operatives 469,000; seamstresses and milliners 751,000; tailors and shoemakers, after the deduction of 30%, 401,000; lace-makers 150,000; paper-makers 100,000; hosiery workers 120,000; smaller branches investigated by the CHILDRENS EMPLOYMENT COMMISSION 189,000; and finally PAUPERS 1,079,000. Together 4,549,000 workers, added to which, in some cases, their family members.

And 1863 was a good business year. The crisis of 1857 had been fully overcome, demand was rising rapidly, with the exception of the cotton industry nearly all branches of business were very busy. So where is the "unexampled" improvement to be found?

The factory legislation of the forties had decisively improved the lot of those workers subject to it. But in 1863 this benefited only the workers employed in wool, linen and silk, altogether about 270,000, while the cotton operatives were starving. For bleaching workers and dye workers, legal protection existed Only on paper. Further: in branches of work in which full male strength and sometimes dexterity are indispensable, the resistance of the workers, organised in trade associations, had forced through for themselves a share of the proceeds of the favourable business period, and it may be said that on the average for these branches of work, involving heavy male labour, the living standard of the workers had risen decisively, though it is still ridiculous to describe this improvement as "unexampled". But while the great mass of productive work has been transferred to machines operated by weaker men, by women and young workers, the politicians like to treat the strong men employed in heavy work as the only workers, and to judge the whole working class according to their standard.

Against the 4 1/2 million worse-off workers and PAUPERS detailed above, we have, as well-off, 270,000 textile workers in wool, linen and silk. Further we may assume that of the 376,000 metal workers one third were well-off, one third middling, and only the last third, including the workers under 18, the nail-makers, chain-smiths, and women, were badly off. We may classify the situation of the 566,000 miners as medium-good. The situation of the building craftsmen may be considered as good, apart from those in the cotton districts. Amongst the joiners, at most 1/3 were well-off, the great mass worked for blood-sucking SWEATERS. Amongst the railway employees there was already at that period colossal overworking, which has only brought about organised resistance in the last 20 years. In short, we may add together in total scarcely one million of whom we may say that their situation had improved in relation to the improvement in the business and the profits of the Capitalists; what remains over is in a middling situation, has a few, on the whole insignificant, benefits from the better business period, or consists of such a mixture of working people according to sex and age that the improvements for the men are offset by the overworking of the women and young workers.

And if this should not suffice, then one should consult the "Reports on PUBLIC HEALTH" which became necessary precisely because the "unexampled" improvement for the working class in the 20 years up to 1863 showed itself as typhus, cholera and other jolly epidemics, which finally spread from the working-class quarters to the genteel areas of the cities. Here the unexampled "augmentation of the means of subsistence" of the British worker is investigated with respect to housing and food, and it is found that in many cases his dwelling was simply a centre of infection, and his nourishment was on the borderline, or even beneath the border at which starvation diseases necessarily occur.

This was the real condition of the British working class at the beginning of 1863. This was the face of the "unexampled" improvement for the working class of which Mr. Gladstone boasted. And if Marx is to he blamed for anything, it is that he did Mr. Gladstone an unearned service by omitting his bragging statement.

Conclusion: Firstly, Marx "lyingly added" nothing.

Secondly, he "suppressed" nothing about which Mr. Gladstone might have a right to complain.

And thirdly, the octopus-like tenacity with which Mr. Brentano and his companions cling to this single quotation amongst the many thousands of quotations in Marx's writing proves that they know only too well "how Karl Marx quotes" -- namely correctly.