Marx-Engels Correspondence 1863
Source: MECW, Volume 41, p. 470;
First published: abridged in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Stuttgart, 1913 and in full in MEGA, Berlin, 1930.
It is hard to say what is to be done about Lassalle; apres tout, I'd have assumed it to be beneath the great Izzy’s dignity to reply to such petty Meyenian tittle-tattle with the heavy artillery of a formal démenti. Let the chap clear up his own messes; if he’s any good, he needs no testimonials from you, and why should you compromise yourself, now that you've told him that he can’t go hand in hand with us, or we hand in hand with him? Anyhow, what arrant stupidity to involve himself in the affairs of the Schulze-Delitzsch louts and try to form a party for himself out of that, of all things, on the basis of our earlier works. The very endeavour of S-D. and other such rabble in these bourgeois times to raise the outlook of the louts to the bourgeois level must needs be welcome to us, for otherwise we'd have to deal with this business during the revolution, and in Germany, where the small state system so greatly complicates matters, we might be confronted with this piddling stuff as something new and practical. That is now disposed of and we now have our opponents where we want them; the lout has achieved self-consciousness and thus finds himself in the ranks of the petty-bourgeois democrats. But to regard these fellows as representatives of the proletariat — it took Izzy to do that.
Lupus and I were greatly amused by the funny tale about student Blind. Lupus has had another severe attack of gout, aggravated by the obstinate way he insists on going out and giving lessons when not yet fully recovered, and only sending for the doctor when it’s far too late and he’s used up all his medicine. But it’s no use remonstrating; ‘I’m going!'
Latterly I've been reading Russian history in reverse, i.e., first Catherine and the partition of Poland, then Peter I. I must say that one would have to be an oaf to work up any enthusiasm for the Poles of 1772. After all, in most parts of Europe at that time the aristocracy was caving in with decency if not esprit, even though its general maxim may have been that materialism consists in what one eats, drinks, fucks, wins at gaming or is paid in return for one’s knavery; but no aristocracy save the Polish adopted so stupid a method as selling itself to the Russians. In other respects, the general venality of the gentils-hommes all over Europe presents a very jolly spectacle. Another thing that greatly interested me was the matter of Monsieur Patkul. This fellow was in fact the founding father of Russian diplomacy generally, and already possessed all its wiles in nuce. If you haven’t been able to procure his reports to the Russian government, published in Berlin in 1795, we'll try and get ourselves a copy by advertising in the Buchhandlerbörsenblatt. How small, by the way, were the contributions made by his successors! Always the same turns of speech, always the same approach, whatever the country. A necessary ingredient, come to that, is the objectivity of your Livonians, whose interests, far from being national, are at most local and private. A Russian would never be capable of such things.
Another very pretty affair is the coup d'état Catherine II brought off against Peter III. It was here Boustrapa learnt his most important lessons; the Russian commonness served him as a model down to the very last detail. It’s ridiculous the way all such dirty dealings are invariably repeated in every particular.
I have no port at present nor is anything good in that line to be had on the spur of the moment. However, I'll look out for some, and meanwhile go down into the cellar to fetch up some hock and some claret (the former for the healthy, the latter for the invalids). For which reason I shall now close this letter, enclosing a few stamps for little Tussy.
There are duplicates of some of the stamps. Over here these may be used for swaps. I can supply large quantities of Italian, Swiss, Norwegian and certain German ones.