Letters of Marx and Engels 1842

Letter from Marx to Arnold Ruge

in Dresden

Written: Trier, July 9 [1842];
Source: Marx Engels Collected Works Vol 1, pg 398-391;
Publisher: International Publishers (1975);
First Published: Documente des Socialismus, Bd I, 1902;
Translated: Clemens Dutt;
Transcribed: S. Ryan.

Dear Friend,

If events had not apologised for me, I would have abandoned any attempt at an excuse. It stands to reason that I regard it as an honour to contribute to the Anekdota and only unpleasant extraneous circumstances prevented me from sending you my articles.

From April to the present day I have been able to work for a total of perhaps only four weeks at most, and that not without interruption. I had to spend six weeks in Trier in connection with another death. The rest of the time was split up and poisoned by the most unpleasant family controversies. My family laid obstacles in my way, which, despite the prosperity of the family, put me for the moment in very serious straits. I cannot possibly burden you with the story of these private scandals; it is truly fortunate that scandals of a public nature make it impossible for a man of character to be irritated over private ones. During this time I was writing for the Rheinische Zeitung, to which I should long ago have sent my articles, etc., etc. I would have informed you long before about these intermezzos, had I not hoped from day to day to be able to complete my work. In a few day's time I am going to Bonn and shall not touch a thing until I have finished the contributions for the Anekdota. Of course, in this state of affairs I was not able to elaborate in particular the article "On Art and Religion" as thoroughly as the subject requires.

Incidentally, do not imagine that we on the Rhine live in a political Eldorado. The most unswerving persistence is required to push through a newspaper like the Rheinische Zeitung. My second article on the Provincial Assembly, dealing with the question of clerical discords, was deleted by the censor. I showed in this article how the defenders of the state adopted a clerical standpoint, and the defenders of the church a state standpoint. This incident is all the more unpleasant for the Rheinische Zeitung because the stupid Cologne Catholics fell into the trap, and defence of the Archbishop would have attracted subscribers. Incidentally, you can hardly imagine how contemptible are oppressors and at the same time how stupidly they dealt with the orthodox blockhead. But the matter has had a successful ending: before the entire world, Prussia has kissed the Pope's mule, and our government automatons walk the streets without blushing. The Rheinische Zeitung has now put in an appeal about the article. In general, the fight for the Rheinische Zeitung is beginning. In the Kölnische Zeitung, the author of the leading articles, Hermes, – ex-editor of the former political Hannoverzeitung, has taken the side of Christianity against the philosophical newspapers in Königsberg and Cologne. If the censor does not again play some trick, a reply from me will be published in the next Supplement. The religious party is the most dangerous in the Rhine area. The opposition has of late become too accustomed to opposing within the church.

Do you know any details about the so called "Free"? The article in the Kölnische Zeitung was, to say the least, undiplomatic. It is one thing to declare for emancipation--that is honest; it is another thing to start off by shouting it out as propaganda; that sounds like bragging and irritates the philistine. And then, reflect on who are these "Free", a man like Meyen, etc. But, at any rate, if there is a suitable city for such ventures, it is Berlin.

I shall probably be drawn into a prolonged polemic with the Cologne Hermes. No matter how ignorant, shallow and trivial the man is, thanks precisely to these qualities he is the mouthpiece of philistinism and I intend not to let him go on chattering. Mediocrity should no longer enjoy the privilege of immunity. Hermes will also try to saddle me with "The Free", about whom, unfortunately, I do not know the slightest thing for sure. It is fortunate that Bauer is in Berlin. He, at least, will not allow any "stupidities" to be committed, and the only thing that disquiets me in this affair (if it is true and not merely a deliberate newspaper fabrication), is the probability that the insipidity of the Berliners will make their good cause ridiculous and that in a serious matter they will not be able to avoid various "stupidities". Anyone who has spent as much time among these people as I have will find that this anxiety is not without foundation.

How are you getting on with your Jahrbücher?

As you are at the centre of philosophical and theological news, I should like nothing better than to learn something from you about the present situation. True, the movement of the hour-hand is visible here, but not that of the minute-hand.

Old Marheineke seems to have considered it necessary to provide the whole world with documentary proof of the complete impotence of the old Hegelianism. His vote is a disgraceful vote.

Will the Saxons in this Assembly not denounce the censorship? Fine constitutionalism! Hoping to hear from you soon,



Rutenberg is a weight on my conscience. I brought him on to the editorial board of the Rheinische Zeitung, but he is absolutely incapable. Sooner or later he will be shown the door.

What do you advise if the article on the Archbishop is not stamped for publication by the high police censorship? It must appear in print because of 1) our Provincial Assembly, 2) the government, 3) the Christian state. Should I, perhaps, send it to Hoffmann and Campe? It does not seem to me suitable for the Anekdota.