Letter to Friedrich Engels, February 27, 1861

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Author(s) Karl Marx
Written 27 February 1861


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Source: Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 41, p. 264;
First published: in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Stuttgart, 1913.

To Engels in Manchester

[London,] 27 February 1861[edit source]

Dear Engels,

I am leaving tomorrow on a passport made out not to me, however, but to Bühring, [Bühring — formerly represented the Faucher proletariat, his Free-Trade proletarians — has real inventive genius, but is not a business man, hence invariably swindled while others exploit his inventions — note by Marx]. valid for Holland. This created a vast amount of trouble, as did raising enough money for me to get away at all. Have paid quite small sums on account to the most pressing creditors; in the case of others (e.g. grocer), I invoked the American crisis and obtained a respite, but only on condition that my wife paid weekly during my absence. In addition, she has to pay £2 18/- in rates next week.

Nota bene. I presume you got a letter from my wife (about a week ago) in which she thanked you for the wine? She is a little worried lest it should have fallen into the wrong hands. The children, too, are greatly obliged to you for the wine. They would seem to have inherited their father’s fondness for the bottle.

I shall probably go to Berlin as well — without a passport — to look into the matter of a weekly (Apropos — in Berlin William I is called Handsome William), and survey the dungheap generally.

In the last number of the Hermann, that swine Blind published a letter Mazzini had written him. The importunate slimy creature clearly succeeded in convincing Mazzini that he represents the German émigrés. He uses the said Hermann as a receptacle for his filthy twaddle — patriotic — on the subject of Schleswig-Holstein, and also makes the latter an occasion for writing letters under his own name to the Globe, etc. Through Bronner — with him and Schaible he constitutes the ‘Association for Freedom and Unity’ — he extorted so much money from a Bradford merchant that he was able to start a rotten little rag in Hamburg — the Nordstern — so as to throw his weight about in the North, while in the South, through Schaible’s agency, he courts notoriety as ‘Blind, mail of iron’ in the columns of the Stuttgart Beobachter (a kind of South German Volkszeitung). The purpose of all this business on the part of the wretched creature is, on the one hand, to shout down the disgrace inflicted on him in Herr Vogt and, on the other, to become Hecker secondus. Le pauvre hère.

The Cologne people have done my library proud. The whole of Fourier stolen, ditto Goethe, ditto Herder, ditto Voltaire and, what to me is ghastliest of all, the Economistes du 18 siecle (brand-new, cost me some 500 fr.) and many volumes of classical Greek writers, litany, single volumes of other works. If I go to Cologne, I'll have something to say about it to that National Association man Bürgers. Hegel’s Phenomenology and Logic ditto.

During the past fortnight there’s been such a lot of confounded running around to do — real ingenuity was needed to prevent a complete break-up of the household — that I have read no newspapers whatsoever, not even the Tribune on the American crisis. However, for recreation in the evenings I have been reading Appian’s Civil Wars of Rome in the original Greek. A most valuable book. The fellow comes of Egyptian stock. Schlosser says he is ‘soulless’, probably because he probes the material basis of the said civil wars. Spartacus emerges as the most capital fellow in the whole history of antiquity. A great general (no Garibaldi he), of noble character, a real representative of the proletariat of ancient times. Pompey a real shit; acquired spurious fame only by misappropriating, as Sulla’s ‘young man’, etc., Lucullus’s victories (over Mithridates), then Sertorius’s (Spain), etc. As a general, was the Roman Odilon Barrot. As soon as he was brought face to face with Caesar and had to show what stuff he was made of — a mere louse. Caesar perpetrated the most stupendous military blunders, deliberately crazy ones, to discountenance the philistine opposing him. Any ordinary Roman general — Crassus, say — would have annihilated him six times over during the battle in Epirus. But anything could be done with Pompey. In Love’s Labour’s Lost, Shakespeare would seem to have had some inkling of what Pompey was really like.

Salut.

Your
K. M.

I shall write to you from Holland. You will know without my telling you how grateful I am for the outstanding proofs of friendship you have given me.