Letter to Adolf Cluss, October 30, 1852

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Author(s) Jenny von Westphalen
Written 30 October 1852


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Source: Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 39, p. 579;
First published: considerably abridged in Die Neue Zeit, 1906-07 and in full in: Marx and Engels, Works, 1962.
Collection(s): Die Neue Zeit

To Adolf Cluss in Washington

[London, 30 October 1852][edit source]

Dear Mr Cluss,

You will have been following the monster trial of the communists in the Kölnische Zeitung. During the sitting of 23 October the whole thing took such a splendid and interesting turn, and one so favourable to the accused, that we are beginning to regain some of our confidence. As you can imagine, the ‘Marx party’ is busy day and night and is having to throw itself into the work body and soul. This overloading with work also accounts for my again appearing before you as deputy reporter. Mr Willich’s close friend, Mr Dietz, now also in America, has contrived to have all the documents, letters, minutes, etc., etc. of Willich’s clique stolen from him. They were produced by the prosecution as evidence of the party’s dangerous activities. In order to establish a link between these and the accused, they now proceeded to think up a spurious connection between my husband and the notorious spy Cherval. Thus my husband became the bridge, the spurious link, between the theoreticians of Cologne and the men of action, incendiaries and robbers, in London. Stieber and the prosecution expected wonders of this coup. It burst like a bubble. New effects had to be conjured up, hence the tissue of lies at the sitting of 23 October. Everything adduced by the police is untrue. They steal, forge, break into desks, perjure themselves, bear false witness and, withal, claim this licence vis-à-vis communists, who are hors [del la société] [outsiders]! This and the way in which the police, at their most rascally, are usurping all the functions of the prosecution, pushing Saedt into the background, and submitting unattested scraps of paper, mere rumours, reports and hearsay, as real legally proven facts, as evidence, is truly hair-raising. We here had to supply all proofs of the forgery. Hence my husband had to work all day and late into the night. Affidavits had to be obtained from the publicans, and the handwriting of the alleged minute-takers, Liebknecht and Rings, officially authenticated to provide proof of forgery on the part of the police. Then every one of these things had to be copied out 6-8 times and dispatched by the most divers routes to Cologne, via Frankfurt, Paris, etc., since all letters to my husband as well as all letters from here to Cologne are opened and detained. The whole thing has now become a struggle between the police on one side and my husband on the other — they blame him for everything, the entire revolution and even the conduct of the trial. Finally Stieber has now declared my husband to be an Austrian spy. In return, my husband looked out a glorious letter, written to him by Stieber in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung days, which is really damning. We likewise discovered a letter from Becker in which he makes fun of Willich’s imbecilities and his ‘military conspiracies’. Out of hatred for Becker, Willich gave directions here in London to the witness Lieutenant Hentze, from whom up till now he has been receiving alms. In short, things are about to happen which would seem unbelievable if one wasn’t experiencing them oneself. All this business with the police is distracting the public, and hence the jury, from the actual prosecution of the communists, while bourgeois hatred of the dreadful incendiaries is paralysed by the horror inspired by the villainy of the police, — so much so that we can now even believe in our friends’ acquittal. The struggle against official power, armed as this is with money and every kind of weapon, is not, of course, without interest and will be all the more glorious should we emerge the victors. For on their side there is money, power and everything else, whereas we were often at a loss where to get the paper on which to write our letters, etc., etc.

The enclosed statement was issued today by Freiligrath, Marx, Engels and Wolff. We are sending it to the Tribune today. You could publish it as well.

Excuse me for such a confused letter but I, too, have had some part in the intrigue and have done so much copying that my fingers are afire. Hence the muddle. Your essay in the Turn-Zeitung has been much applauded here. My husband thought it first-rate and the style, in particular, exceptionally brilliant. There are others who prefer you in a less theoretical vein and would like you always to remain the same old humorous, light-hearted Cluss.

We have just received from Weerth and Engels whole parcels full of commercial addresses and pseudo-commercial letters so that we can send off the documents, letters, etc..

Another load of tremendous scandal has just arrived with the Kölnische. Two further packages are being dispatched at once to commercial addresses. A complete office has now been set up in our house. Two or three people are writing, others running errands, others scraping pennies together so that the writers may continue to exist and prove the old world of officialdom guilty of the most outrageous scandal. And in between whiles my 3 merry children [Jenny, Laura and Edgar] sing and whistle, often to be harshly told off by their papa. What a bustle! Farewell, dear Mr Cluss, and write again soon to your friends.

By permission of the higher authorities,
Jenny Marx