Letter to August Bebel, June 20, 1892

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Author(s) Friedrich Engels
Written 20 June 1892

First published in: Marx and Engels, Works, First Russian Edition, Vol. XXIX, Moscow, 1946

Extract: Marx Engels on Britain, Progress Publishers 1953;

Published in Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 49
Collection(s): Marx Engels on Britain

To Bebel in Berlin

London, June 20, 1892[edit source]

Dear August,

Herewith the Judenflinten[1] under sealed cover, for if sent by book post they might well be confiscated.

Schorlemmer is still so-so. I found him weak, apathetic, his faculties slightly clouded, but not otherwise in pain. Gumpert writes to say that the lung tumour is growing slowly but surely, with (due to pressure on the big arteries which should carry back the blood from the upper part of the body to the heart) a concomitant disturbance of cerebral activity; also apathy and loss of memory. He is still taking sufficient nourishment, however, so that, barring accidents, things might go on as they are for some little while.

The fact that Warken is still holding his own in the Saar ought not to surprise you in view of the fact that Schröder is able to hold his own in the Ruhr. I wrote a line or two to Siegel telling him what Bunte had said to you about his flight. Siegel sent that letter to Schröder along with a wholly guileless letter of his own saying that Bunte had been caught embezzling money, and Schröder gave me both of them — Siegel’s and my own — to read. Whether it’s true about Bunte I don’t know. At all events you can see that Schröder is still firmly in the saddle. In the case of so young a movement as that of the miners, one ought always to consider carefully whether it wouldn’t be better to give untried johnnies like Schröder and Warken enough rope to hang themselves, or at any rate enough to provide us with definite, tangible evidence against them. And there’s really nothing new in that, for wherever the movement arises anew the first leaders to push their way to the fore are more often than not place-seekers and blackguards.

Bax is now editor of Justice and will remain so until the end of July; and it is now a decent paper; yesterday it gave a decent mention to Aveling’s speeches in Aberdeen, while internecine strife (i. e. indirectly Hyndman himself) was condemned. Indeed, yesterday Bax came hurrying round here in order to get his pat on the back, as the Witch, with her keen nose for such things, had prophesied the moment she set eyes on the paper. What Hyndman actually has in view is not yet very clear to me. Most likely he realises that he’s been compromised by his previous policy and that a change of front is called for. His paper is running at a loss, his SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC FEDERATION isn’t getting anything like its share in the general growth of the movement over here — a share which would entitle it to take over the leadership; nor is it succeeding in its rivalry with the FABIANS —on the contrary, it has been left in the lurch, and will continue to be so left, by its foreign allies Brousse and Gilles. In short, he might well deem it advisable to turn elsewhere and seek a rapprochement with us. That would be very far from pleasant for, as I have told anybody who was prepared to listen, I would far sooner have Hyndman for an enemy (when he is virtually powerless) than for a friend (when one has to keep a constant and very time-consuming watch on him). Another thing that may have impelled him to adopt this course is the total loss of any electoral prospects in Chelsea from which he proposed to oust Sir Charles Dilke but where Quelch, the test candidate put forward by Hyndman in the COUNTY COUNCIL elections, polled only 153 votes, since which time he has abandoned all hope. At all events Hyndman will find it difficult in August to resume the old attitude so publicly disavowed by Bax in the self-same paper, nor could or should he do so if he wishes to compete successfully with the FABIANS. Well, we shall see.

Electioneering is already in full swing here and money in plenty is being offered by Tories and Liberal Unionists to equip working-class candidates financially for them to draw votes away from the Liberals. Champion, one of the Tories’ chief agents in this respect, has offered Aveling the means of running against Labouchere in Northampton, but Aveling of course declined. Tremendous excitement prevails among the leaders of the workers on account of these money baits. These good fellows, who believe they can snap up something, are having a hard time trying to convince their consciences that perhaps there really is an honest way of accepting Tory money without having to blush — with most of them the blushing being naturally due to their fear that in the end it may do them more harm than good. One who knows how deeply parliamentary corruption has penetrated political life here can only feel surprised that people still retain this minimum sense of shame.

True, the Horlacherliesl[2] is closely related to the Witch; nevertheless, I still prefer the latter. Greatly though Anzengruber may on occasion idealise his Austrian peasant, and uncommonly restricted though the background may be against which his excellent dramas take place, nevertheless one is painfully aware of the separation of that splendid race from the rest of Germany and of the necessity for reunification which, however, only we are capable of bringing about.

Well, I wish I could drop Mrs Julie[3], honorary bookkeeper, a couple of lines to thank her for her last letters which have, alas, not yet had an answer, but I am up to my eyes in work. I have two more long and somewhat ticklish letters to write after which I intend at long last to get down to Volume III . Hence I have got to put on one side all the correspondence that merely gives me pleasure and devote myself solely to business matters. So be my advocate with your wife and don’t let her be too angry with me. I shall make vp for it, if possible before I come to Berlin, but otherwise when I get there; I look forward so much to meeting her and know in advance that we shall get on very well. So warm regards to her and yourself from both of us.

Your old


  1. This refers to the anti-Semitic pamphlet by Hermann Ahlwardt, Neue Enthüllungen. Judenflinten, Dresden, 1892, an ‘exposé’ of underhand dealings allegedly engaged in by the Isidor Löwe firm in supplying arms to the German army. The pamphlet was confiscated under a court ruling. Bebel had sent a copy of the pamphlet to Engels.
  2. A personage from Ludvig Anzcngruber's comedy G'wissenswurm
  3. Julie Bebel