Eleanor Marx 1884
Source: Today, February 1884, pp. 149-158;
CopyLeft: this text is free of copyright restrictions;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.
The appearance of To-day — “which at last gives Socialism an organ in England” — has been most cordially welcomed by the Socialist press of the Continent. In addition to these public utterances I have received numbers of letters, from one or two of which I quote, as they may interest English readers. My dear and honored old friend, P. Lavroff, wishes us “all success” and “long life.” August Bebel writes: “I accept the flattering invitation to contribute to To-day, but I am bound to add that I cannot say positively when I shall be able to send in my first contribution, as, just now, I am overwhelmed with work. I am exceedingly glad that, from all appearances, the Socialist movement is beginning to take serious proportions in England. With this much is gained for the whole movement. With England, the victory is certain — the course of events will become irresistible.” Liebknecht writes to me in the same sense; and from Austria and France I have had most kindly letters, all wishing To-day “ long life “ and “beaucoup d'abonnés.”
The great meeting held by Mr. George in St. James’s Hall on January 9th is, it seems to me, chiefly remarkable for two facts; that every utterance of Mr. George’s that could be construed into going further than his own theories, and touching upon Socialist principles, was enthusiastically applauded; and that Michael Davitt received a real ovation. That this Fenian, this rebel, this “felon,” and “ticket-of-leave-man,” met with such a reception from an English audience is assuredly worth recording. Till the Irish and English people understand they are fighting the same enemy there is no hope for either.
As to Mr. George, his lecture was an exposé of his views as stated in “Progress and Poverty,” with a good deal of God Almighty thrown in. It is hardly necessary to say in To-day that Socialists fully recognise the immense importance of this great land question, and are grateful to Mr. George for the good work he is doing. But to represent the land question as anything more than a part of the whole Socialist programme is most mischievous, for it is simply playing into the hands of the capitalists. When Mr. George points out the importance of the land question we are entirely with him, but when he says that nationalizing the land (were such a thing possible under our present conditions of production) solves all social problems, we are forced to protest. I must, for my own part, also protest against Mr. George’s continued references to God. I am sure Mr. George is quite sincere in his belief that God is a sort of supernatural King Lear, with chiefly Gonerils, Regans, and Cornwalls for children, and Mr. George to play Cordelia. But, no doubt those landlords who say an Almighty God would never have let them enjoy their land so long had they been wrong, are sincere too, and logical to boot. It was almost grotesque to hear Mr. George’s vivid description of the horrible miseries of the people, and his references in the same breath to a “beneficent and Almighty father.” Mr. George is doing good work in waging war against the land thieves, but let him confine himself to work for the “Himmelreich auf erden”:-
“Den Himmel aber lassen wir
Den Engeln und den Spatzen,”
There is so much to record concerning this Socialist movement in England that I rather hesitate to take up these columns for speaking of a personal matter. As, however, I have no other means of refuting a very serious charge brought against my father, I hope the readers of To-day will forgive my touching on the matter here. On the 29th of last November a letter from Mr. Sedley Taylor appeared in the Times, which repeated the old calumny that my father had knowingly misquoted a passage from one of Mr. Gladstone’s speeches to suit his own purpose.
There has never been a better calumniated man than my father, but his calumniators were, as a rule, too contemptible to be worth answering. In this particular case my father did answer his anonymous accuser, because the alleged misquotation appeared in the inaugural address of the International Workingmen’s Association.
On reading Mr. Taylor’s letter, which is only a rechauffé of the old story, I at once wrote to the Times. So often had I read in English papers of the “fairness” of the English press that I never doubted my answer would be given the same publicity as that accorded to Mr. Taylor’s accusation. Days passed, and my letter did not appear. Still impressed with the idea that even the Times might be honest in a personal matter, I again wrote to the editor. With no result. Then I addressed myself to the Daily News, which I had so far found very fair. But apparently a dead lion may be kicked with impunity by living professors, and the Liberal Daily News could not stretch its liberality to the length of publishing my letter. I therefore publish both Mr. Taylor’s letter and my own reply:
To THE EDITOR OF THE “TIMES.”
Sir, — I ask leave to point out in the Times that the origin of the misleading quotation from Mr. Gladstone’s Budget speech of April 16, 1863, which so eminent a publicist as Professor Emile de Laveleye has been led to reproduce through reliance on German sources, and with respect to which he inserts a correction in the Times of this day, is to be found as far back as 1864 in an address issued by the council of the famous International Working Men’s Association.
What appears extremely singular is that it was reserved for Professor Brentano (then of the University of Breslau, now of that of Strasburg) to expose, eight years later in a German newspaper, the bad faith which had manifestly dictated the citation made from Mr. Gladstone’s speech in the address. Herr Karl Marx, who as the acknowledged author of the address attempted to defend the citation, had the hardihood, in the deadly shifts to which Brentano’s masterly conduct of the attack speedily reduced him, to assert that Mr. Gladstone had ‘manipulated’ (zurechtgestumpert) the. report of his speech in the Times of April 17, 1863, before it appeared in ‘Hansard,’ in order ‘to obliterate’ (wegzupfuschen) a passage which was certainly compromising for an English Chancellor of the Exchequer.’ On Bretano’s showing, by a detailed comparison of texts, that the reports of the Times and of ‘ Hansard ‘ agreed in utterly excluding the meaning which craftily-isolated quotation had put upon Mr. Gladstone’s words, Marx withdrew from further controversy under the plea of ‘want of time!’
The whole of the Brentano-Marx correspondence is eminently worthy of being unearthed from the files of newspapers under which it lies buried, and republished in an English form, as it throws upon the latter disputant’s standard of literary honesty a light which can be ill spared at a time when his principal work is presented to us as nothing less than a fresh gospel of social renovation,
I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
Trinity College, Cambridge, November 26th.
To THE EDITOR OF THE “ TIMES.”
Sir, — In the Times of November 29th Mr, Sedley Taylor refers to a certain quotation of a speech by Mr. Gladstone, ‘to be found as far back as 1864, in an address issued by the council of the famous International Working Men’s Association.’ He continues: (I here quote Mr. Taylor’s letter from “What appears” to “want of time,”)
The facts are briefly these, The quotation referred to consists of a. few sentences from Mr. Gladstone’s Budget speech of April 16th, 1863. After describing the immense increase of wealth that took place in this country between 1853 and 1861 Mr. Gladstone is made to say: ‘This intoxicating augmentation of wealth and power is entirely confined to classes of property,’ An anonymous writer, who turns out to be Professor Brentano, published in a German paper, Concordia, of the 7th March, 1872 a reply in which it was stated: ‘This sentence does not exist in Mr. Gladstone’s speech, Marx has added it lyingly, both as to form and contents’ (formel und materiel hinzugelogen).
This was the only point at issue between my father and his anonymous opponent.
In his replies in the Leipzig Volkstaat, June 1st and August 7th, 1872, Dr, Marx quotes the reports of Mr, Gladstone’s speech as follows;. “The Times, April 17th — The augmentation I have described, and which is founded, I think, on accurate returns, is an augmentation entirely confined to classes of property. Morning Star, 17th April-This augmentation is an augmentation confined entirely to the classes possessed of property, Morning Advertiser, April 17th — The augmentation stated is altogether limited to classes possessed of property.”
The anonymous Brentano, in the ‘deadly shifts to which his own masterly conduct of the attack had reduced him,’ now took refuge under the assertion usual in such circumstances, that if the quotation was not a forgery it was, at all events, ‘misleading,’ in ‘bad faith,’ ‘craftily isolated,’ and so forth. I am afraid you would not allow me space to reply to this accusation of Herr Brentano, repeated now, after eleven years, by Mr., Taylor, Perhaps it will not be required as Mr. Taylor says; ‘The whole of this Brentano-Marx correspondence is eminently worthy of being unearthed from the file of newspapers in which it lies buried and republished in an English form.’ I quite agree with this. The memory of my father could only gain by it, As to the discrepancies between the newspaper’ reports of the speech in question and the report in ‘Hansard ‘ I must leave this to be settled by those most interested in it.
Out of thousands and thousands of quotations to be found in my father’s writings this is the only one the correctness of which has ever been disputed, The fact that this single and not very lucky instance is brought up again and again by the professorial economists is very characteristic. In the words of Mr Taylor, ‘it throws upon the latter disputant’s (Dr. Marx), standard of literary honesty a light which can ill be spared at a time when his principal work is presented to us as nothing less than a fresh gospel of social renovation.’
I am, Sir, yours faithfully,
London, November 30, 1883.
Having spoken of the bourgeois press which, after giving publicity to a libel on a dead man refuses to insert the reply, I must also refer to a paper that pretends to represent the working class. In the Labour Standard of Dec. 8th appeared an article, a leader (I emphasize the word leader, because some of Mr. Shipton’s friends have tried to make Continental workmen believe the article in question was a mere “unofficial” contribution from an outsider), positively begging Sir William Harcourt to hang O'Donnell. Said the trades-union oracle; “We most earnestly hope the Home Secretary will listen to none of those appeals for mercy which are certain now to flow in; that, upon the contrary, he will insist upon justice"! To appeal to our virtuous Home Secretary not to show mercy is worthy of Mr. W. S. Gilbert at his wildest.
I hope the readers of To-day will not forget that on the morning of Monday, February 25th, George William Foote will be released from Holloway Gaol. All who admire Mr. Foote for his courage and devotion, all who are grateful to him for what he has suffered in the cause of freedom of speech and of the press, should be outside Holloway Gaol on the 25th to give him a hearty welcome.
The apparent calm of Holy Russia has been rudely disturbed by the execution of Sudeikin. Not that such an act was unexpected. The Nihilist Executive Committee distinctly said, after the death of Alexander II., that they would wait a certain time before taking any fresh measures, in order to give the Czar a chance. Even the reactionary press of Europe was astounded at the modest demands of the Nihilist Committee. To these demands Alexander III. replied by fresh persecutions, and since the trembling despot will not make peace, it must be war.
A Russian friend writes me concerning Sudeikin; “Details of the act you will, for the present, find in the bourgeois press. All our friends, whether innocent or guilty, whether Nihilists or not, are jealously watched; hundreds are being daily arrested, so that to send letters, save in a roundabout way, is impossible. Soon, no doubt, an official account (i.e., in one of the “secret” papers of the Nihilists) will be published. As soon as it is, or as I have any sort of news, I will let you know.”
Meantime, all who are interested in the Russian movement, and can read Russian, should get “Westnik Narodni Woli,” Lavroff and Tichomiroff’s new periodical. It is a large volume (400 8vo pages), and is full of most interesting matter. It contains, besides the “programme” of the Review by its .editors, articles on the “Mission of Socialism,” by Lavroff; “Two Years of the Life of One Escaped from Siberia,” by Debagori-Mokriewitsch; “The Bankruptcy of Bourgeois Science,” by Tichomiroff; “The Financial Crisis,” by Rjäsanoff; and an exhaustive account of the revolutionary movement, its martyrs, literature, and so forth, by Tichomiroff, who is especially qualified to deal with this subject.
One of the French Socialist leaders, in spite of the heavy work entailed by “la propagande,” sends me some very interesting notes, which I cannot do better than translate:
“French workingmen had seen in the Republic the Eldorado that was to ameliorate their condition, They have been sorely disappointed. They have had to go on doing the same hard labour for the same meagre wages, and they are beginning to ask themselves if in overturning Napoleon, and in raising to power all the large and small Gambettas, they had not been merely fooling themselves. For some time discontent with the Republican Government has grown greater and greater, and the men in power while trying to appease the people are only displeasing the bourgeoisie. M. Waldeck Rousseau — the real successor of Gambetta — for M. Ferry is only a man the opportunists uphold till it suits them to kick him out — has just like Bismarck manufactured a “State Socialism” that is to satisfy the workers without injuring the masters. His State Socialism is confined to the developing of the “Chambres Syndicales,” the equivalents. of your Trades’ Unions, with this difference, that certain “Chambres Syndicales” — as for instance those of the masons, carpenters, &c. — would do the works undertaken by the State and by the Municipalities. But the employers at once made M. Ferry, M. Rousseau, and other Gambettists understand that this would be creating dangerous rivals to themselves in all the great public works.
“The Socialism of M. Waldeck Rousseau has received a further defeat in the mining departments of the North, The workmen, acting on the advice contained in the Minister’s speeches, wanted to organize Miners’ Trades’ Unions, but the directors of the mining companies of Augin, and of Denain have put a stop to any such attempt at organisation. They have dismissed every one of the workmen belonging to the Union. The other workmen made common cause with the latter, and proposed a general strike to force the company working the mines to modify its despotic orders and to take back the dismissed miners. The government was about to be placed in a very awkward position. Had it been, I do not say intelligent, but even a little careful of its dignity, it would have defended the miners. It is true that in every great miners’ strike in France, not a single government has remained impartial. Each one has enthusiastically lent its police, its gendarmes, its soldiers, and its magistrates in order to put down the strikes, to shoot some of the miners, and to arrest and condemn others to months or years of imprisonment. For the moment the situation has been saved by a certain Roudet, who has mediated between the government, the companies and the miners, and whose conduct is very suspicious. But matters are becoming every day more critical. The working men demand some rights under this Republic which they have made and which they are ready to defend, while the government is only seeking to place the riches and the forces of the State at the disposal of the capitalists.”
One of the great misfortunes of France has been the indifference of the provinces to all the great revolutionary movements. It is therefore of the utmost interest to note that at this moment the provinces are ahead of Paris in the great Socialist work. In many provincial towns groups of the “parti ouvrier” have been constituted. A friend writes “Guesde, immediately after his release from prison, together with Bazin, and the Citoyenne Paule Minke, went on a large propagandist tour in the south and west of France. At Bordeaux, Albi, Carcassonne, Montpelier, Perpignan, Nismes, Cette, Lovère, and Narbonne they have been lecturing, and numerous groups have been founded.” Darboy, too, though only just released from prison, has at once taken up his propagandist work.
The Socialist press is increasing. Besides the very excellent Defense des Travailleurs, [following 4 lines corrupted in British Library. — ERC]
"The French Working Men’s Party,” writes Paul Lafargue, “follows in this the German Social Democrats, who, before Bismarck suppressed the Socialist press possessed some thirty or forty journals.”
At Paris the Cercle de la Bibliotheque Socialiste is to begin this month (January) a series of lectures “for the propaganda of the communistic theories of Karl Marx.” The first lecture will be by Lafargue, on “The Economic Materialism of Karl Marx, and of the Action on Men and Societies of the Economic Condition in which they are placed.”
In the last number of To-day I spoke of the memorial stone which is to be erected to the memory of Ch. Delescluze. The committee have very properly decided to erect a monument, not to Charles Delescluze alone, but to him and the Communistic combatants who lie buried near him.
January 6th was the anniversary of the death of Blanqui. The people of France have not forgotten the forty years of imprisonment, under every form of Government, that Blanqui endured for their cause, and Pere Lachaise was visited by thousands. The modest little stone erected to his memory was covered with wreaths and flowers.
We have to record a whole series of successful Socialist candidatures in the municipal elections. In Berlin two more Socialists have been elected (the total number being now five). At Esslingen the Working Men’s party gained three out of six seats; at Heppens and at Besigheim Socialists achieved a victory, while in the other towns where elections took place they were defeated by insignificant majorities. These victories have made Bismarck anxious for the Reichstag election next year, and, as a first measure, “secret voting” is to be abolished. In other words, workmen who vote for Socialists will be dismissed by their employers, and subjected to fresh persecution [corruption here — ERC] If this last chance of speaking out is taken from the people, why so much the worse for Bismarck and the class he represents.
Last month I tried to give English people — Irish people are accustomed to this sort of thing — some idea how German working men are persecuted. Let me supplement this with an account of the proceedings at the funeral of a Socialist at Frankfort.
Rudolf Doll, one of our most energetic workers, died of consumption last December. “On the morning of the 10th,” writes the Sozial Democrat,” one saw masses of people approaching the house where Doll had died, but there was also the police busy “prohibiting” the red ribbon attached to some of the crowns . In order to avoid difficulties, two large crowns, one sent by the ‘Socialist Working Men’s Party of Germany,’ and the other from the ‘Frankfort Socialists,’ were tied with black ribbon .. When the mourning coach appeared the cross-bearer stepped forward in order to open the procession, but he was asked to bear his own cross — home, which, after some demur, he did.
“Although a week-day, at least 1,500 friends had come . and in the churchyard the police had to object to many more red ribbons.
“After the coffin had been lowered into the grave a chorus of male voices sang a most touching song, with which the Cemetery Commissary tried to interfere, by attempting to fill up the grave while the chorus was proceeding. Then our friend Frohme (one of the members of the Reichstag) advanced to the grave, and said; ‘In the name of the Social Democrats of Germany I lay this crown upon the grave’ — when Police Commissary Meier stepped forth and threatened to ‘disperse the meeting.’ ‘You have made a demonstration,’ he cried. “No; you are provoking us,” answered the crowd. When suddenly all were silenced — even the Police Commissary keeping quiet with shamefaced mien — the young wife of one of our friends, surrounded by numbers of women, mounted upon the little mound by the grave, and, in a clear and penetrating voice cried, while placing a large wreath tied with red ribbon on the grave, ‘ I dedicate this in the name of Germany’s Socialist women and girls.’ It was. a thrilling sight. On the one side Doll’s bride, bowed down with grief, and supported by old friends; on the right side of the grave the representatives of the State, and opposite to them the group of women, full of earnestness, dignity, and enthusiasm. Surrounding these the masses of people, while from the background of leafless trees, half hidden in the fog, arose the threatening memorial stone to the ‘fallen of ‘48.’ — a picture worthy a great painter . But this was too much for the Commissary. ‘The meeting is dissolved,’ he yelled — no one stirred. ‘We will each throw in some earth,’ said Frohme, and, despite all the efforts to prevent it, this was done. Now Frohme advised the people to disperse; advice quietly followed. The Commissary then tried to explain to Frohme. ‘If you had not used the word Social Democracy,’ he said, ‘I should not have interfered, but that is forbidden!'”
As another example of the joys of German citizens, I may say that Liebknecht, during the serious illness of three of his children, was unable to be with them and his poor wife, as, he has been, under the ‘ Socialist Law,’ expelled from Leipzig, and can live no nearer that town than Borsdorf.
On the 9th of last September 176 delegates, representing 250 trades-unions, met at Zurich, to consider the condition of the workmen of Switzerland. The committee, in an address to the “Working Men of all Countries,” report that the chief resolutions come to were for international action in demanding Factory Acts. After energetically protesting against the action of certain English trades-unions on this question, the address ends with the good old cry, “Proletarians of all countries unite!”