Letter to Florence Kelley Wischnewetzky, February 22, 1888

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To Florence Kelly-Wischnewetzky in New York

London, 22 February 1888

122 Regent's Park Road, N. W.

Dear Mrs Wischnewetzky,

I have duly received your letters [of] 21 December and 8 January and return LovelPs letter with thanks.

I am astonished at Grönlund’s proceedings, I was rather glad he did not call on me here. From all I hear he is full of vanity and self-conceit, to a degree unattainable even to a German, to be reached only by a Scandinavian, but also so naif in it as only a Scandinavian can be—in a German it would be offensive. Es muss auch solche Käuze geben.[1] In America not less than in England all these self-announced grands hommes[2] will find their own level as soon as the masses begin to stir— and will then find themselves shifted to that level of their own with a velocity that will astonish them. We have had all that in Germany and France, and in the International too.

I have since heard from poor old Sorge, in a way that fully confirms all you say. I fully expected from the beginning that he would not be able to live in that solitude and wilderness. I hope his return to Hoboken may prove a success.

I sent you a No. of Bradlaugh’s National Reformer with an article No. 1 on my book.[3] Copies were sent to: National Reformer, Weekly Dispatch, Reynold’s Newspaper, Club Journal, Our Corner (Mrs Besant), To-day (H. Bland), Christian Socialist, Pall Mall Gazette. I have requested friends to look at these papers and magazines and let me know if anything appears, when you shall have it.

Reeves has also sent for the 1,000 pamphlets[4], whether that is merely a ruse to keep competition out, remains to be seen. The thing seems to sell exceedingly well.

Justice had a copy of the book from you, the Commonweal did not require one as I sent one to Morris personally.

Justice brought out again the old American translation of the Communist Manifesto. This set Reeves inquiring about an authorised translation. I had one by S. Moore, and Sam happened to be here. So we revised it and sold it to Reeves; he got the proofs last week and as soon as it is out you shall have a copy. Sam Moore is the best translator I know but not in a position to do work without getting something for it.

I do not quite understand your remark about the book being sold here 1 shilling dearer. $1.25 is equal as far as I know to 5s. and that is the selling price here.

Mrs Campbell has not yet called on me so far.

Your remarks about my books being boycotted by the official German Socialists of New York are quite correct, but I am used to that sort of thing, and so the efforts of these gentry amuse me. Better so than to have to undergo their patronage. With them the movement is a business, and ‘business is business’. This kind of thing won’t last very long, their efforts to boss the American movement as they have done with the German-American one, must fail miserably. The masses will set all that right when once they move.

Here things go slowly but well. The various little organisations have found their level and are willing to co-operate without bickerings. The police brutalities in Trafalgar Square have done wonders in helping to widen the gap between the working men Radicals and the Middle Class Liberals and Radicals, the latter have behaved cowardly in and out of Parliament. The Law and Liberty League—a body gaining ground every day—is the first organisation in which Socialist delegates, as such, sit aside of Radical delegates. The stupidity of the present Tory government is appalling — if old Disraeli was alive, he would box their ears right and left. But this stupidity helps on matters wonderfully. Home Rule for Ireland and for London is now the cry here; the latter a thing which the Liberals fear even more than the Tories do. The working class element is getting more and more exasperated, through the stupid Tory provocations, is getting daily more. conscious of its strength at the ballot-box, and more penetrated by the socialist leaven. The American example has opened their eyes, and if next autumn there was to be a repetition, in any large American town, of the New York election campaign of 1886, the effect here would be instantaneous. The two great Anglo-Saxon nations are sure to set up competition in Socialism, as well as in other matters, and then it will be a race with ever accelerated velocity.

Can you get me the American Customs’ Tariff and the list of internal taxes upon American industrial and other products? And if possible some information as to how the latter are balanced by the former with regard to cost of production? That is, for instance, if the inland duty on cigars is 20%, an import duty of 20% would balance it as far as foreign competition is concerned. That is what I should like to have some information about, before I write my preface to the ‘Free Trade’.[5]

Reciprocating your kind wishes I remain

Yours very truly,

F. Engels

  1. There must be such odd characters too
  2. great men
  3. The Condition of the Working-Class in England
  4. F. Engels, The Labor Movement in America
  5. F. Engels, 'Protection and Free Trade. Preface to the Pamphlet: Karl Marx, Speech on the Question of Free Trade'