Marx-Engels Correspondence 1888

Engels to Sorge

Source: Science and Society Volume II, Number 3, 1938;
Translated and Edited: by Leonard E. Mins.

Boston, August 3l, 1888.

Dear Sorge: Received the newspaper the day before yesterday and your letters today. Thanks! But I am sorry that your throat is not in shape yet, and, it seems, has even taken over my cough. If our visit has made us well and you sick, it is a very unpleasant business.

Yesterday we were in Concord, visiting the reformatory and the town. We liked both of them very much. A prison in which the prisoners read novels and scientific books, establish clubs, assemble and discuss without warders present, eat meat and fish twice daily with bread ad libitum, with ice-water in every workroom and fresh running water in every cell, the cells decorated with pictures, etc., where the inmates, dressed like ordinary workers, look one straight in the eye without the hangdog look of the usual criminal prisoner – that isn’t to be seen in all Europe; for that the Europeans, as I told the superintendent, are not bold enough. And he answered in true American fashion, “Well, we try to make it pay, and it does pay.” I gained great respect for the Americans there.

Concord is exceedingly beautiful, graceful, as one wouldn’t have expected after New York and even after Boston; it’s a splendid hamlet to be buried in, but not alive! In four weeks there I should perish or go crazy.

My nephew, Willie Burns, is a splendid fellow, clever, energetic, in the movement body and soul. He is getting along well; he works on the Boston and Providence R.R. (now the Old Colony), earns $12.00 a week, and has a nice wife (brought along from Manchester) and three children. He wouldn’t go back to England for any money; he is exactly the youngster for a country like America.

Rosenberg’s resignation and the strange debate on the Sozialist in the Volkszeitung seem to be symptoms of collapse.

We hear but little and seldom of Europe here, merely through the New York World and Herald.

Today Aveling will have finished all his work in America. The rest of the time is his own. Whether we'll go to Chicago is still uncertain; we have plenty of time for the rest of the program.

Cordial greetings to your wife and to you from all of us, and especially from your

F. Engels