Letter to Friedrich Engels, April 14, 1870

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To Engels in Manchester

[London,] 14 April 1870[edit source]

Dear Fred,

Enclosed, Wilhelm returned. From the attached letter from Borkheim, you will see what ill-mannered things Wilhelm says about me. I don’t like such churlish sentimentality, and since Wilhelm is a born Darmstadt man and so has not, at least, the excuse that he is a born Westphalian, I have sent him a rather blunt reply.

In your article he has intentionally overlooked the fact that the People’s Party and the ‘National Liberals’ are treated as the two poles of the same narrow-mindedness.

On Tuesday I was at the Central Council for the first time once again, and took the opportunity to muster Pfänder, who had entered as a member once more (re-elected), but had not yet presented himself. He informed me that he had been called a week before to Schapper, who is very dangerously ill. Schapper wanted to see me; Pfänder did not inform me of this, because I could not walk well as a result of the business on my thigh. But I would have driven there if he had notified me. On the same evening (Tuesday), Lessner reported that Schapper was in articulo mortis. I hope it is not as bad as that.

While I am on medical matters, just this: I regard the latest outbreak simply as after effects, which arrive with some regularity, and then disappear as the warm weather proceeds. I believe, therefore, that I am finished with it for this year. As always, however, the arrival of warmer weather has produced the liver complaint (or whatever it is), and for this I am gulping Gumpert’s medicine. Kugelmann claims that the only way to put me properly on my feet is to take the cure at Karlsbad at the end of the summer. The whole thing derives from poor nourishment, this from poor digestion, and this is connected with the fact that my liver doesn’t function properly. I would, therefore, ask you to question Gumpert about this. But it would be better if you said that the Karlsbad proposal came from my English doctor, for the very name Kugelmann might induce him not to judge the case objectively, contrary to his inclination and conscience. I feel that, in fact, some sort of decisive preventive measures must be taken, since one gets a year older every year, and this sort of infirmity is not helpful, either for one self or for ones outside effectiveness.

Did you know that Meyen had died?

The copies of Zukunft give, I must say, a fine picture of the Prussian-Liberal present. But the Future will convert itself into the Present. As Future the paper is really bankrupt. In its new form, it comes under the sway of Sonnemann in Frankfort (with Weiss, as previously, as editor en chef). It should represent, purely politically, the People’s Party in Berlin. Quelle imbécilité! By abandoning its flirtation with the ‘social question’, it will completely lose its little bit of influence and circulation among the workers, and it will certainly not win over the Prussian, and especially Berlin bourgeois by a stronger South German coloration.

I enclose for you 2 Vienna workers’ papers and 1 Égalité, and request the return of all three after reading.

In the Volskswille the ‘structure’ is ‘fine’ which the little Jew Leo Frankel (Schweitzer’s Paris correspondent, I don’t know whether still?) constructs from my explanation of the components of value. Par exemple: (labour power + wage labour — wage = independent worker)

From the Égalité you will gather that, at the Congress of the Suisse Romande in La Chaux-de-Fonds, it came to open warfare between the Bakuninists led by Guillaume (the brute calls himself professór, is editor of Progrès in Locle, Bakunin’s personal paper), and the Conseil Romand (Geneva). The presentation is very confused. On Tuesday evening Jung informed us of the official report of the Geneva Council, written by the Russian Utine, who holds the function of secretary of the Romance Congress. The anti-Bakuninists, 2,000 persons, were outflanked and thereby forced to secessio, by the Bakuninists, consisting of 600 persons, who, however, per fas et nefas, [by fair means or foul] including forged mandates, made sure of a larger number of delegates. There were stormy declarations about Bakunin’s activities, which were exposed by Utine, among others. The Council Romand now demands, on the basis of the resolution of the last (Basle) Congress, that the Central Council decide. We have replied: all facts, with the minutes of the meetings, must be sent here. Ditto, we have commissioned Jung to write to Guillaume, so that he may, ditto, submit his vouchers.

Recently also we had to rule on a dispute in Lyons. And finally, in Basle, one clique (under State Attorney Bruhin) has laid charges with us against the other (more proletarian one). We have, however, referred the latter case, as completely local, to J. Ph. Becker as arbitrator.

In Paris Lafargue got to know a very learned Russian lady (a friend of his friend Jaclard, an excellent young man). She told him: Flerovsky — although his book passed censorship at the time of the Liberal Fit — has been, if you please, banished to Siberia for the same. The translation of my book has been confiscated and prohibited before being published.

You will receive, this week or at the beginning of next: Landlord and Tenant Right in Ireland. Reports by Poor Law Inspectors. 1870, ditto Agricultural Holdings in Ireland. Returns. 1870.

The Reports of the Poor Law Inspectors are interesting. Like their Reports on Agricultural Wages, which are already in your hands, they show that the conflict between labourers on the one hand, farmers and Tenants on the other, began after the Famine. As regards the Reports on Wages — assuming the present figures on wages are correct, and that is probable, considering other sources — the former wage rates are either quoted too low, or those in the earlier Parliamentary Returns, which I'll look out for you in my Parliamentary papers, were too high. On the whole, however, what I stated in the section on Ireland is confirmed: that the rise in wages has been more than outweighed by that in food prices, and that, with the exception of the autumn period, etc., the Relative surplus of labourers is properly established despite emigration. Also important in the Landlord and Tenant Right Reports is the fact that the development of machinery has turned a, mass of handloom weavers into paupers.

You would oblige me if you would tell me, quite shortly, about the bogs, peats etc., of Ireland. In all the Blue Books I have read, the bog is sometimes situated on the mountain, that is on the mountain slope, but also sometimes on the plain. What is the situation? What do the Irish understand by Townlands?

It is clear from the two reports of the Poor Law Commissioners that

1. since the famine the clearing of the estates of labourers has begun as in England (not to be confused with the suppression of the 40s. Freeholders after 1829).

2. that the encumbered estates proceedings have put a mass of small usurers in the place of the turned out prodigal landlords (the charge of landlords 1/6 according to the same reports).

I would appreciate it if you and Moore could send me a few £s for Dupont. His wife is in hospital with consumption. He himself has been turned out of his old trade. The excuse: his political opinions; the real cause: he made all the inventions, which his manufacturer appropriated. For this reason, he has been persona ingrata or a long time for him (he thinks he has sucked him completely dry). But the Manufacturer has cut his own throat, so far as Dupont has made a quite new invention, which solves a problem that has existed for a long time in piano manufacture. I have already given Dupont a few £s; since, together with his 3 small girls, he had been condemned to just dry bread. It’s only a matter of helping for a few weeks until he finds a new position. Who can write the story of workingmen evicted because of inventions!

And, in addition, the poor devil is also being harassed by the jealousy of the Paris people, and the slanders of the French Branch, who naturally immediately cornered Flourens.


K. M.

Apropos. Stirling [J. H. Stirling, The Secret of Hegel: Being the Hegelian System in Origin, Principle, Form, and Matter] (Edinburgh), the translator of Hegel’s Logic, and heading the British subscription for the Hegel monument — has written a small pamphlet against Huxley and his protoplasm. As a Scotsman, the fellow has naturally adopted Hegel’s false religion and Idealistic mysticism (so induced Carlyle to declare publicly his conversion to Hegelianism). But his knowledge of Hegel’s dialectic allows him to demonstrate Huxley’s weaknesses — where he indulges in philosophising. His business in the same pamphlet against Darwin comes to the same as what the Berliner Blutschulze Hegelian of the old school) said some years ago at the natural scientists’ meeting in Hanover.