Marx-Engels Correspondence 1853
Source: MECW Volume 39, p. 363;
First published: in full in MEGA, 1929.
Your letter did, indeed, arrive too late. I condensed the stuff by cutting out unnecessary pathos, tidied it up a bit, and sent it to the amiable organ of the united ‘licensed victuallers’ on Monday. Not inserted. At the same time, however, this highly consistent paper published a short letter ‘From a Native Correspondent’ (presumably D. Urquhart) in its Monday issue, in which its own ‘Foreign Correspondent’ was quite plainly unmasked as a ‘Russian Agent’, while Bakunin himself was not exactly made out to be a saint. Probably The Morning Advertiser rejected my riposte because less confused than that of the ‘Native’. Now the thing is to come out in The People’s Paper.
It was through a mere lapsus linguae — out of long habit — that I mentioned Mr Dronke in my letter to you. I don’t believe that ‘little’ Blanqui’s words are of any consequence, or that we shall gain anything by an appendix.
The worthy little man has stirred up such a mighty pother that 1. Lupus has never said a word to me about his departure, although I had long since learnt of it through you; 2. that this same Lupus is always very guarded in his references to you; 3. that last night I was treated to a scene which was hardly creditable.
I was busy at work. Wife and children in the room. In comes Lupus with portentous tread — to take his leave at last, I supposed, for not once in my house had he let fall a word about his impending departure.
A year earlier I had borrowed a little Spanish grammar from him, by Franceson, maybe 120 pages. So far as I could recall, I had returned the trashy object 5 months before. Or else, Dronke had pinched it.
The old gentleman had already asked my wife and Lenchen about the thing on two previous occasions and had been told that they would look for it.
Last night, then — the fellow was snappish from the moment he came in — I told him in as soothing tones as possible that I couldn’t find the damned thing, that I had looked for it everywhere and believed I had returned it to him, etc., etc. ‘You've sold it!’ came the boorish, uncouth, insolent reply. (I'd wager a sovereign that nowhere in London could anyone get 2 farthings for the rubbish.) I, of course, jump to my feet, an altercation ensues, stubborn as a mule he persists in his nonsense, insults me ‘au sein de ma famille’. As you know, I'm willing to put up with a great deal from an old man in his dotage who has become venerable as a party tradition. However, there are limits. I believe the old fool was taken aback when at last I bared my teeth at him.
All this is the result of Dronke’s intrigues, too constant an indulgence in gin, and the evaporation of the cerebral juices. Perhaps the sea air will have a beneficial effect on his thinking organ. One may, perhaps, lay claim to the privilege of being an old blusterer, but one should not abuse it. My own lot is no bed of roses, nor can I in consequence regard his worldly worries as an excuse.
The hobby-horse presently being ridden by those wretched Russians, in both the Tribune and the London Advertiser (though differing in person and form), is that the Russian people is democratic through and through, whilst official Russia (Csar and bureaucracy) is exclusively German, likewise the aristocracy. So Germany must be fought in Russia, not Russia in Germany.
You know more about Russia than I do, — and if you can find time to challenge this nonsense (it’s just the same as when the Teutonic jackasses blamed the French for the despotism of Frederick II, etc., as if backward thralls haven’t always needed civilised thralls to train them) you would greatly oblige me. In the Tribune, of course.
Write to me at greater length about the state of commerce — in English at once.
I have made a diplomatic reply to the enclosed letter from Klein, which I send to you for safe keeping. It is impossible to correspond from London. The factory workers should keep themselves entirely to themselves and not make contact with philistines or other handicraftsmen in Cologne, Düsseldorf, etc. If they wish to send someone over here once a year to get good advice, we should have no objection.