Letters of Frederick Engels

To Levin Schücking
In Münster

Source: MECW Volume 2, p. 496
Written: 2 July 1840
First published: in Wissenschaftliche Zeitschrift der Friedrich Schiller-Universität, Jena, jg. 5, Heft 4-5, 1955-56

My dear Friend,

Your kind lines of the 22nd of last month reached me unfortunately only on the 26th, which was very disagreeable to me since the previous evening, asked by a local bookseller of whom I made inquiries about reasonable publishers, I had written to Hammerich in Altona and offered him the publication of the Shelley. So I received his reply only today, which was a rejection, since he says he is overwhelmed with publishing work.

As concerns G. C. A. Meyer senior, I am of the opinion that we should let him go in any case. Firstly, the fellow and his factory workers (Brinckmeier, Bärmann and Co.) are too common; secondly, Püttmann would never consent to write for his publishing house; thirdly, Meyer pays terribly low fees, and fourthly, we would get involved in a horrible mass of demand notes and other vexations to rake in the fees. I am at the moment myself having to send him demand notes for the fee for my articles in the Mitternachtzeitung, [Modern Literary Life. 1. Karl Gutzkow as Dramatist. II. Modern Polemics] which he does not want to fork out; and although in this case there is the middleman Brinckmeier between us, I could on no account make the offer. I am unfortunately still without a reply from Püttmann and hence cannot take any energetic steps. Moreover, Meyer will already have distributed everything to his subordinates and will not be able to let us have anything from Shelley. These publishers are used to having the pens in their service absolutely at their disposal, and which of us would put up with that?

I think the best is to give Püttmann, who in this respect is probably the most experienced among us, unrestricted authority to enter into a contract; he will no doubt carry the matter through to the satisfaction of us all and at all events with greater ease than I could. Moreover, he has already offered Queen Mab to W. Engelmann, who would be the right publisher for us. And one thing is of great importance here: you, like me, have so far written only for journals; Püttmann, on the other hand, has already had one work printed and another announced. [234] The infamous publishers pay attention to this kind of thing.

When your letter arrived, Schünemann had just started on a journey from which he is not yet back. I shall make him accept Coleridge, at any rate [235]; in a champagne fog at the Gutenberg festival, which was celebrated here with splendour, I drank brotherhood with him, by which he felt much honoured. If you have the manuscript so far ready, please send it to me.

The spiteful abuse of the Hallische Jahrbücher is in No. 97 or 98 of the Telegraph, which reaches us by post and therefore much earlier than it can you. I have again sent Gutzkow something and am curious to see how he receives it after the article in the Mitternachtzeitung (“Moderne Polemik” ).[236]

From Barmen I have just received a letter which incomprehensibly contains nothing about Püttmann. If you agree to Püttmann looking after the publishing side, I shall write to him immediately I hear from you and pass everything on to him. Also, please tell me how matters stand with the fee from the Rheinisches Jahrbuch; in a few days I shall send something to Freiligrath. In this case I don’t care so much about the money, but I would like to know in advance how I stand.

Your translation of Shelley and Coleridge in Pfizer’s Blätter [zur Kunde der Literatur des Auslands] I have read with pleasure [237]; today I shall finish Shelley’s Sensitive Plant and shall send it also to him. This splendid poem is written in a spirit which is still more akin than Byron to Droste’s works. These continue to give me great pleasure and I thank you for them once more.

With the assurance of my sincere respect I commend myself to your kind remembrance.

Bremen, 2/7.40
Yours most truly,
Fr. Engels