Letters of Marx and Engels 1847

Marx To Georg Herwegh [155a]
In Paris

Source: MECW Volume 38, p. 119;
Written: 8 August 1847;
First published in: 1848. Briefe von und an Georg Herwegh, Munich, 1896;

Brussels, 8 August 1847

Dear Herwegh,

I hasten to acknowledge receipt of your letter. I learn no more from it than I already knew in advance, namely that the whole thing was the most miserable piece of tattle. All I wanted was a few lines from you in order to show Engels in black and white the nature of German petty bourgeois gossip in Paris. I assure you that, since I moved from Paris, and despite all the precautions I have taken to make myself unfindable and inaccessible, these old women have continued to pursue me with trifles of this kind. Only by being excessively rude can one free oneself of these fools.

I am only sorry to have disturbed you with such stuff in your retreat. — It’s typical of these old women to want to hush up and sugar over any genuine party struggle while mistaking for revolutionary activity the German habit of gossiping and making trouble. Les malheureux. [the wretches] Here in Brussels we don’t suffer from that misère at least.

The Prussian Embassy here has been vigilantly shadowing and observing Bornstedt in order to catch him out in some transgression or other. At last they've succeeded. They denounced him and brought down 3 actions on his head: 1) fiscal, for contravening the stamp law, 2) political, for saying in his paper that Louis Philippe ought to be killed, 3) an action for calumniating a Belgian grandee, Mr Osy, whom Bornstedt had accused, and rightly so, of profiteering on corn.

None of the 3 actions is of any consequence here, and they will almost certainly result in making the Prussian Embassy, already little esteemed, appear ridiculous. What have Louis Philippe, Osy and the Belgian stamp law to do with them?

The examining magistrate himself declared that all these actions were pour le roi de Prusse. [for the King of Prussia, i. e. for nothing] The Brüsseler-Zeitung, on the other hand, which, despite its many failings, does have some merit and might well have improved,[156] particularly now that Bornstedt has expressed his readiness to help us in every way, is threatened with a sudden pecuniary disaster. How have the noble Teutons behaved in this affair? The booksellers have cheated Bornstedt because he couldn’t prosecute them. The opposition of all shades, instead of lifting a finger to help, whether in the literary or financial sense, found it more convenient to take exception to the name of Bornstedt. And will such people ever be short of excuses for doing nothing? Now it’s the man who’s no good, now the wife, now the policy, now the style, now the format — or even the distribution is more or less risky, etc., etc. These gentry want things presented to them on a platter. If there’s only one opposition paper which is immune from censorship, which is a thorn in the flesh of the government, and whose editor, by the very logic of the enterprise, shows himself complaisant towards all that is progressive, is not this above all an opportunity to be exploited? And, if the paper is inadequate, to make it adequate? But no, our Germans always have 1,000 wise sayings up their sleeve to show why they must let an opportunity slip. An opportunity to do something is to them only a source of embarrassment.

My manuscripts, too, are faring in much the same way as the Brüsseler-Zeitung, and on top of that the jackasses keep writing to me day after day, asking why I'm not having anything published, and even reproach me for having written French in preference to nothing at all. One will long have to atone for having been born a Teuton.

Farewell. Warm regards to your wife and yourself from my wife and me.

In Paris you'll find an additional list of errata for my French scrawl [The Poverty of Philosophy]. Without it some passages are unintelligible.

As soon as you have an hour to spare and nothing better to do, write to your


[Postscript from Jenny Marx to Emma and Georg Herwegh]
I take advantage of this little space to send you, dear Mrs Herwegh, and your dear husband my hearty greetings. How are you and your two youngsters? They came a little en retard compared to my three. We only need a girl to make three couples. My girls are wonderful, but the boy, the boy!! Un petit monstre. Our best greetings, remember sometimes
Jenny Marx