Letter to Friedrich Engels, July 5, 1870

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Author(s) Karl Marx
Written 5 July 1870

First published abridged in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Bd. 4, Stuttgart, 1913 and in full in MEGA, Abt. Ill, Bd. 4, Berlin, 1931

Extract published in Marx Engels on Literature and Art, Progress Publishers, 1976;

Published in Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 43

To Engels in Manchester

London, July 5, 1870[edit source]


You must excuse the interruption in our correspondence since my return to London. THERE WAS so MUCH INTERNATIONAL AND OTHER BUSINESS PRESSING UPON ME.

Dupont, whose one child (BABY) is, for the time being, staying with his brother-in-law, the second with Serraillier, the third with him—all small girls—has in the meantime received two OFFERS as sort of MANAGER or chief OVERLOOKER (in wind-music-instrument factories), one in Paris, the other in Manchester. I advised against No. I, since there he would not only soon be arrested, but also become completely absorbed IN QUARRELS with the various cliques. I strongly advised, on the other hand, No. II, despite his aversion to it. He has, therefore, accepted the offer of J. Higham, 131 Strangeways, Manchester (BRASS MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS).

The difficulty is that he will have to take one child, No. II, with him immediately, and will have the two others follow him in a few weeks, so he needs a little house in Manchester, and some sort of reliable female person to look after the children and for DOMESTIC MANAGEMENT. His income for a start will be £3 WEEKLY. Could LIZZY do something directly or indirectly on this matter?

Dupont is politically a character, but privatim enormously weak. D’abord he can stand very little liquor without getting very EXCITED. SECONDLY he is easily dominated and exploited by his company.

He will perhaps go to Manchester in the course of this week. In any case, I shall write in advance about his day of arrival.

From the enclosed letter from Meissner you will see how things are there. I had a pressing letter from Kugelmann, who will be leaving for Karlsbad[1] on 12 August, and is waiting for my declaration before renting accommodation, to which I replied with Meissner’s letter. I reminded him that Meissner had spoken in his presence of certain prospects for a second edition,d and payment for the Easter Fair; and I added that, UNDER PRESENT CIRCUMSTANCES, I could not say either when I would go to Karlsbad, or whether I would go at all. HENCE his enclosed letter. I have not yet replied, since we are still awaiting an answer from Dublin concerning O’Donovan Rossa’s photograph.

Lafargue had notified me that a young Russian, Lopatin, would bring a letter of introduction from him. Lopatin called on Saturday; I invited him for Sunday (he was with us from 10 O’CLOCK until 12 at night), and he returned on Monday to Brighton, where he is living.

He is still very young, was two years in the lock-up, after this 8 months fortress confinement in the Caucasus, from which he escaped. He is the son of an impoverished nobleman, and had to earn his living at the University of St Petersburg by private tutoring. Today is living very meagrely from translations for Russia. Lives in Brighton, since there he can bathe in the sea 2-3 times a day, gratis, at a certain distance from the official bathing beach. A very wide-awake critical brain, cheerful character, stoical, like a Russian peasant who simply accepts what he gets. Weak point: Poland. Here he talks just like an Englishman—SAY AN ENGLISH CHARTIST OF THE OLD SCHOOL—does about Ireland.

He told me the whole story about Nechayev[2] (23 years) is an abominable lie. Nechayev has never been in a Russian prison; the Russian Government never undertook an assassinat against him, etc.

The story is this. Nechayev (one of Bakunin’s few agents in Russia) belonged to a secret society. Another young man, X[3], rich and enthusiastic, supported this society with money via Nechayev. ONE FINE MORNING X tells Nechayev that he will not give another kopeck, since he does not know what is being done with the money. Whereupon, Mr Nechayev suggested to his secret society (perhaps because he could not account for the money) that X be murdered, since he might change his views at a future date, and could become a traitor. He really did murder him. He is thus sought by the government simply as a murderer vulgaris.

In Geneva, Lopatin d’abord took Nechayev personally to task (about his lies), and he excused himself with the sensational political usefulness for the so-called cause. Lopatin then told the story to Bakunin, who told him that as a ‘bon vieillard’ he had believed it all. Bakunin then challenged Lopatin to repeat the story in the presence of Nechayev. Lopatin immediately went with Bakunin to Nechayev where the scene was repeated. Nechayev remained silent. All the time Lopatin was in Geneva, Nechayev remained very unobtrusive, no longer saying a word. Scarcely had Lopatin left for Paris, and the whole buffoonery started again. Shortly after this, Lopatin received an insulting letter from Bakunin about the affair. He replied in even more insulting terms. Result: Bakunin wrote a Pater-peccavi[4] letter (in Lopatin’s possession here), but—il est un bon vieillard crédule![5] (En passant: Lopatin says that whole sentences written by Borkheim are completely unintelligible and make complete nonsense in Russian, not only grammatically wrong but ‘nothing at all’! And that fool Borkheim has, in the meantime, as he told me before my meeting with Lopatin, sent his bungling work through our friend Eichhoff in Berlin to a German there—who is used by the Berlin police as a Russian interpreter—in order to obtain from him a certificate that he can write Russian. The talent of our Gaudissart for unconscious comedy is really UNRIVALLED!)

Chernyshevsky, I learnt from Lopatin, was sentenced in 1864 to eight years’ travaux forcés[6] in the Siberian mines; so he has another two years to serve. The first court was decent enough to declare that there was absolutely nothing against him and that the alleged secret conspiratorial letters were obvious forgeries (which, indeed, they were). But, by order of the Tsar, the Senate overruled this judgment and sent the cunning man, who is “so skilful,” as the sentence puts it, “that he keeps his works in a legally invulnerable form and yet openly pours out poison in them,” to Siberia. Voilà la justice russe.[7]

Flerovsky is in a better position. He is simply in administrative exile in some miserable little place between Moscow and St. Petersburg.

You suspected rightly that Flerovsky is a pseudonym. But Lopatin says that the name, although not originally Russian, occurs quite frequently amongst Russian clerics (namely MONKS, who think it is the Russian translation of Fleury, and who are just as keen on sweet-scented names as are the German Jews). Lopatin was originally a naturalist by professional training. He has also been concerned in commercial business, and it would be a good thing if one could find something for him in this line.g I shall speak about it with Borkheim and Pohl. About Paris, etc., very soon.



Apropos. Jennychen would like to know whether she should not rather name you as t h e author of the note.[8]

And—she is very obstinate—she will not allow me to change a few words in the manuscript without your special permission!


[Postscript by Marx’s daughter Jenny]

5 July 1870

Dear Engels,

Thank you very much for your letter and the most interesting notes. I only hope Mr Rissé would interlard them with the Judenkirschen[9] of which he seems to have a plentiful stock on hand. For O‘Donovan Rossa’s portrait I have written to Pigott. In case a good photograph is not to be had, of course, I can as you say, send Kugelmann the print which appeared in The Irishman.

With many thanks, I remain

Affectionately yours


  1. Karlovy Vary
  2. Marx writes the name in russian characters
  3. Ivan Ivanov
  4. Father, I have sinned
  5. he is a credulous good old man
  6. forced labour
  7. Such is Russian justice
  8. F. Engels, Notes for the Preface to a Collection of Irish Songs.
  9. Jewish wit