Letter to Ludwig Kugelmann, October 15, 1867

From Marxists-en
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Dear Kugelmann

You must not write to Borkheim. Besides it would be useless, since the work has already been announced in the publishers’ circular and Schabelitz has already brought it out.[1] Moreover, Borkheim himself is now in Bordeaux. Such a letter from you would have no other effect but to make Borkheim my enemy.

Ce qui est fait, est fait[2] – never mind! As I was in a state of great excitement from working at night, I exaggerated the malignity of the événement[3] at first. In fact je suis puni par ou j'ai peché![4] Actually the idea of the scandal which our friend would make among the respectable philistines at Geneva amused me au premier abord.[5] It is true I did not foresee the publishersfruits. Moreover, I should have realised that in working out his plan Borkheim would naturally overstep the prudent limits I suggested in my letter. The only policy to be pursued now is to be silent, so long as our enemies do not speak, and once they speak and want to make me responsible, to make bad jokes about their being compelled to ascribe Borkheim’s pranks to me in order not to have to answer my book. Further, in that event Borkheim must be dealt with benevolently, for after all, apart from his literary vanity, he is capable and well meaning, and good as an homme d'action,[6] as long as he does not get the devil in him.

You will have received Engels’ recipe by now. I am in correspondence with Liebknecht and Becker.[7]

By ‘success of the book’ I mean nothing but its rapid sale, because of the effect that would have in England.

The Courier Français (the daily paper which arouses the most attention in Paris now) and the Liberté in Brussels have published a French translation of my introduction, together with complimentary preambles.

A certain Natzmer in New York has offered himself as English translator. Quod non.[8]

Liebknecht’s speech in Berlin gives me great pleasure. I sent him some instructions from here.

Poor Becker’s position is so bad that he is on the point of giving up his entire political and literary activity. How one regrets not being able to help in such circumstances!

Greetings to your dear wife and my little friend, for whose portrait I still have to thank you.


  1. A reference to Sigismund Borkheim’s pamphlet, My Pearl Before the Geneva Congress. At the International Peace and Liberty Conference in Geneva (9-12 September) organised by petty-bourgeois pacifists and supporters of free trade, which was attended also by Kugelmann, Borkheim attempted to deliver a speech calling for war on tsarist Russia. The noisy peace advocates prevented him from finishing his speech which he decided to publish as a pamphlet. Sigismund Borkheim (1825-1885) – German merchant and publicist who took an active part in the 1848 Revolution. Fled to Switzerland and later settled in London, where in the 1860s he became a close friend of Marx and Engels – Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute.
  2. What is done, is done – Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute.
  3. Event – Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute.
  4. I am punished by my own sin – Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute.
  5. At first blush – Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute.
  6. Man of action – Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute.
  7. Johann Phillip Becker (1800-1886) – Member of the First International and an active supporter of Marx in the latter’s struggle against Bakunin. Editor of Der Vorbote, the German organ of the First International, published in Geneva – Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute.
  8. Nothing doing – Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute.