Letter to Johann Philipp Becker, January 29, 1866

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To Johann Philipp Becker in Geneva

[London, 29 January 1866][edit source]

My dear Mr Becker,

For the past week my husband has again been laid low with his former dangerous and exceedingly painful complaint. The affliction is all the more distressing for him this time since it further interrupts him in the copying out of his book [Capital] that he has just begun. I think that this new eruption is simply and solely due to overwork and long hours without sleep at night. He is very sorry not to be able to attend the meetings of the ‘International’, since the very existence of The Workman’s Advocate is at stake right now; until now it has had the greatest difficulties to contend with and fonds are now being offered by philistines and parson s. The attempt must now be made to get a hold on the money without making any concessions in point of principle to the ‘money-lenders’. The Reform question, which is of such immediate practical concern to the English, is also making great demands on the resources, the time and the interest of the workers and is greatly distracting them from other matters. Karl and I were most taken by your Vorbote. Both its language and its serious approach are manly indeed! I am enclosing Lessner’s letter about it. The agent to whom I entrusted the Manifestos has written to say that he has managed to prevent them from falling into the hands of the French police and that he can now send them off to Geneva. However, they cannot be stamped, so I must ask you to write and say what outlay they committed you to. The money can then be sent you together with that for the subscriptions for the Vorbote.

With respect to religion, a great movement is currently developing in stuffy old England. The top men in science, Huxley (Darwin’s disciple) at the head, with Tyndall, Sir Charles Lyell, Bowring, Carpenter, etc., give very enlightened, truly freethinking and bold lectures for the people in St. Martin’s Hall (of glorious waltzing memory), and, what is more, on Sunday evenings, exactly at the time when the lambs are usually grazing on the Lord’s pastures; the hall has been full to bursting and the people’s enthusiasm so great that, on the first evening, when I went there with the girls, 2,000 could not get into the room, which was crammed full. The clerics let this dreadful thing happen three times. — Yesterday evening the assembly was informed that no more lectures could be held until the court case brought by the clerics against the ‘Sunday Evenings for the People’ had been decided. The gathering emphatically expressed its indignation and more than £100 were immediately collected for fighting the case. How stupid of the clerics to interfere in such a matter. To the annoyance of this band, the evenings even closed with music. Choruses from Händel, Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelsohn and Gounod were sung and received enthusiastically by the English, who had, until now, only been allowed to bawl out the hymn Jesus, Jesus, meek and mild or take themselves off to the gin palace.

Karl, who is in great pain today, and my girls send you their warmest greetings, the little one [Eleanor] in particular, asking me to convey very best wishes to ‘dear Becker’. And I extend my hand to you from afar.

Jenny Marx