Marx-Engels Correspondence 1881

Marx to [daughter] Jenny Longuet
In Argenteuil


Source: Marx and Engels Correspondence;
Publisher: International Publishers (1968);
First Published: Gestamtausgabe;
Translated: Donna Torr;
Transcribed: Sally Ryan in 1999;
HTML Markup: Sally Ryan.

[London,] April 11, 1881

It is dull since you went away – without you and Johnny and Harra! and Mr. “Tea.” I often run to the window when I hear children’s voices that sound like our children’s voices, forgetting for the moment that the little chaps are across the Channel.

One comfort is that you have good living-quarters, suitable for the children; otherwise everything seems rather worse than in London – except of course the climate, the beneficial effect of which, on asthma too, you will by and by discover.

I have got another new doctor for mother, recommended to me by Professor Lankester – Dr. Donkin; he seems a bright and intelligent man but for mother’s trouble one man really seems to me as good, and perhaps better, than another man. However, the change of medical advisers is a distraction for her and for the first period – which does not as a rule last long – she is full of praise for the new Æsculapius. Longuet’s eyeglasses turned up directly after you left, they were in fact reposing in your bedroom. Hirsch has been selected to bring them across, but this gossipmonger seems unable to tear himself away from London at a time when there is a lot to pry out. The “great” Most affair alone is an inexhaustible spring of fresh (if by no means joyously sparkling) water for this Hirsch. He is threatening now not to leave until April 18. And then he has found a companion in Kautsky – at whom he scowled so darkly; Engels too has taken a much milder view of this Kauz since he has proved himself a very talented drinker. When this charmer first appeared at my place – I mean little Kauz – the first question which escaped me was: are you like your mother? Not in the very least, he assured me, and I silently congratulated his mother. He is a mediocrity with a small-minded outlook, superwise (only 26), very conceited, industrious in a certain sort of way, he busies himself a lot with statistics but does not read anything very clever out of them, belongs by nature to the tribe of the philistines but is otherwise a decent fellow in his own way. I turn him over to friend Engels as much as possible.

The day before yesterday the Dogberry Club was here; yesterday, in addition to the two Maitland girls – and for a moment Lankester and Dr. Donkin – an invasion from Hyndman and spouse, who both have too much staying power. I don’t dislike the wife, for she has a brusque, unconventional and decided way of thinking and speaking, but it is funny to see how admiringly her eyes fasten upon the lips of her self-satisfied garrulous husband. Mother was so tired (it was nearly 10.30 p.m.) that she withdrew. But she was amused by some byplay. For Tussy has discovered a new Wunderkind among the Dogberries, a certain Radford; this youth is already a barrister at law, but despises the jus [law] and is working in the same line as Waldhorn. He looks well, a cross between Irving and the late Lassalle (though he has nothing in common with the cynically oily, obtrusive, ducal manners of the latter) an intelligent and somewhat promising boy. Well this is the point of the story – Dolly Maitland pays fearful court to him so that mother and Tussy are signalling to each other all through supper. Finally Mr. Maitland arrived as well, fairly sober, and also had a wordy duel with his instructive table companion – Hyndman – about Gladstone, in whom the spiritualist Maitland believes. I – rather annoyed by a bad throat – felt glad when the whole lot vanished. It is a strange thing that one cannot well live altogether without company, and that when you get it, you try hard to rid yourself of itself.

Hartmann is working hard as a common workman in Woolwich; the difficulty of talking to him in any language at all increases. The Russian refugees in Geneva are demanding that he should repudiate Rochefort, and publicly. This he will not and cannot do, and it is also impossible, if only on account of the exaggerated letter which the Petersburg Committee wrote to Rochefort and which he on his side published in the Intransigeant. The Genevans have in fact long been trying to persuade Europe that it is really they who direct the movement in Russia; now when this lie, spread by themselves, is seized upon by Bismarck and Co. and becomes dangerous to them, they declare the opposite and vainly attempt to convince the world of their innocence. Actually they are mere doctrinaires, confused anarchist socialists, and their influence upon the Russian “theatre of war” is zero.

Have you been following the trial of the assassins in Petersburg? They are sterling people through and through, sans pose melodramatique [no melodramatic pose], simple, businesslike, heroic. Shouting and doing are irreconcilable opposites. The Petersburg Executive Committee, which acts so energetically, issues manifestos of refined “moderation.” It is far removed from the schoolboy way in which Most and other childish whimperers preach tyrannicide as a “theory” and “panacea” (that was done by such innocent Englishmen as Disraeli, [Waiter] Savage Lander, Macaulay and Stanfield the friend of Mazzini); on the contrary they try to teach Europe that their modus operandi [method of action] is a specifically Russian and historically inevitable method about which there is no more reason to moralise – for or against – than there is about the earthquake in Chios.

This affair was the occasion of a fine row in the House of Commons. (You know that to please Bismarck and Gortchakov these miserable Gladstonians have embarked on an attack upon the freedom of the press in England, in the person of the wretched Most, an attack in which they are scarcely likely to succeed.) Lord Churchill (a cheeky Tory youngster of the Marlborough family) questioned Sir Charles Dilke and Brassey, both understrappers in the Cabinet, regarding financial subsidies to the Freiheit. These were flatly denied and Churchill was obliged to name his authority. He then named the inevitable Mr. Maltman Barry! I am enclosing you a cutting about this affair from the Weekly Despatch (Dilke’s paper, edited by the “philosophical Radical,” Ashton Dilke, brother of the great “Dilke”) and a statement by Maltman Barry in the Daily News. Dilke is obviously lying; a miserable creature, this swaggerer who has nominated himself as the future “President of the British Republic” and who, for fear of losing his job, allows Bismarck to dictate to him which papers he is to favour with £1 and which not. If it were only known as well that immediately after Hartmann’s arrival in London Ashton Dilke invited him to a luncheon! But Hartmann refused; he would not allow himself to be “exhibited.”

About the Comtist renegade Maxse, by the way. Justice does him far too much honour and handles him with kid gloves. To this strange clique – of English Liberals and their even worse sub-species the so-called Radicals – it really seems a crime that, contrary to all tradition and in breach of agreement, Justice fails to treat these shams and humbugs in the traditional manner and to maintain the legend about them current in the Continental liberal press! When one considers the utterly shameless way in which the London press attacks the Socialist Party in every European country and how difficult it is, supposing one ever regards it as worth the trouble, to answer a word, to get even a few lines of reply into that press – then it is really going rather far to recognise the principle that if a Parisian paper entangles itself in a criticism of the “great” Gladstone, that arch hypocrite and casuist of an antiquated school, it is then obliged to put whole columns at the disposal of Herr Maxse and his prose in order that he may repay Gladstone in kind for the advancement received from him.

Assuming that the policy of Gladstone (the Coercion and Arms Acts man) with regard to Ireland were as correct as it is false, would this be a reason for talking about the “generosity” or “magnanimity” of this man? As if there were any question of this sort of thing between England and Ireland! It should really be explained to Maxse that Pecksniffian phrases of this kind have the rights of citizenship in London but not in Paris!

Let Longuet read Parnell’s speech in Cork in to-day’s Times; there he will find the heart of what there is to be said about Gladstone’s new Land Act; and here it should not be overlooked that by his shameful preliminary measures (including the annulment of freedom of speech for members of the House of Commons) Gladstone prepared the conditions under which the evictions in Ireland are now proceeding on a mass scale, while the Act is mere shadow boxing, since the Lords – who get everything they want from Gladstone and no longer need to tremble at the Land League – will doubtless either reject it or else castrate it so much that the Irish themselves will eventually vote against it.