Marx-Engels Correspondence 1853

Marx To Adolf Cluss
In Washington

Source: MECW Volume 39, p. 390;
First published: in Marx and Engels, Works, 1981.

London, 18 October 1853, 28 Dean Street, Soho

Dear Cluss,

You really did too much in going to the trouble of copying out the Chinese thing. At those expenses I would certainly not have had the impertinence to ask you for the article. Dana copied my stuff almost word for word, watering down this and that and, with rare tact, deleting anything of an audacious nature. Never mind. It is a business of his. Not of mine. In one of my Indian articles he also amended the bit where I speak of cholera as ‘The Indian’s Revenge upon the Western world’ to ‘India’s Ravages’ which is nonsense. En passant Freiligrath solicited that ‘revenge’ for a poem about cholera upon which he is still at work.

Again, in another of my articles on India, dealing with the princes there, he transmogrified ‘The skeleton of etiquette’ into ‘The seclusion (pitiful!) of etiquette’. Never mind! Provided he pays.

My wife has also compromised me by putting Rinaldo for Ruggiero and Alcide for Alcine in the first article on Palmerston. These are ‘les petites misères’ of an écrivain whose own handwriting is illegible. But it’s a bitter pill for a man who knows his Ariosto from A to Z in the original. Divino Ariosto!

It’s a big jump from Ariosto to Klein, or rather a long fall, and a casus obliquus at that. Papa Klein wrote to me — not a word, of course, about his upsets and rows — asking for recommendations to you and Weydemeyer. In my reply (Pieper has not written him a single line quant à vous) I did not, of course, in any way suggest that Weydemeyer was unfriendly to me. How could anyone suppose me capable of such stupidity and baseness? Mr Klein would have had to conclude from my harmless remark about Cluss being ‘our party’s most talented and energetic representative in America’, that I was denying all talent and energy to Weydemeyer. However, such sophisticated word-juggling is beyond the reach of Klein’s intellect. Hence all his remark amounts to is a piece of nonsense invented in order to give vent to his annoyance. Notwithstanding all this, you are right, Sir, in having written to Mr Snug.

Klein really does wield some influence over the Solingen workers, and they are the best in the Rhine province. I, pour ma part, have never, either drunk or sober, expressed the view that the workers are fit only for cannon-fodder, although the louts, among whom little Klein is evidently coming to rank himself, are, to my mind, barely fit even for that. It would be as well to treat little Klein with your accustomed discretion as a tool that may perhaps (?), in time of action, be of use to us.

Have forwarded the letter to Pieper. There’s nothing doing with the Gradaus for it doesn’t pay, and Pieper is too badly off to write gratis.

As regards the Reform, I shall see what I can get the others to do. The only one from whom any real support can be expected is Engels. Red Wolff is married and a retailer of household words for Prutz, Gutzkow and Cotta, not worth a farthing to us just now. Lupus no longer writes; he’s so obstinate that he cannot be made to forget the unfortunate business of Weydemeyer’s Revolution. Dronke, presently a clerk in Bradford, idle as a grisette. Weerth, travelling about South and North America on business for nearly a year now. Engels really has too much work, but being a veritable walking encyclopaedia, he’s capable, drunk or sober, of working at any hour of the day or night, is a fast writer and devilish quick in the uptake, so he at least can be expected to do something in this respect.

I was greatly tickled by Heinzen’s heroic deed. Should you people give the fellow another dressing down, concentrate on his crass ignorance, and the pains the wretched man is at to appropriate his opponents’ catch-words when they're already stale and fit for nothing. Delectable, the chap’s aspirations to dignity, and then his scraps! Serves him right!

Rent, In the Misère I cite an example of how in England, land which, at a certain stage of science, was regarded as barren, is, at a more advanced stage, considered fertile. I can adduce as a general fact that, throughout the middle ages, esp. in Germany, heavy clay soil was cultivated by preference as being naturally more fertile. In the past 4-5 decades, however, owing to the introduction of potatoes, sheep-farming and the resulting manuring, etc., light sandy soil has taken pride of place, esp. since it involves no expenses of drainage, etc., and on the other hand its deficiencies can easily be made good by means of chemical fertilisers. From this, then, it may be seen how relative ‘fertility’ is, even ‘natural’ fertility, and at the same time how ill-informed Mr Carey is, even from the point of view of history, when he expresses the opinion that the most barren land is always the first to be brought under cultivation. What leads him to that conclusion? The fact that tropical swamps are damned fertile but reclaimable only by civilisation. A tropical swamp, however, is productive not so much of herbs as of weeds. Civilisation clearly originates in those regions where wheat grows wild, as was the case in part of Asia Minor, etc. Such land is rightly described as naturally fertile by historians — and not land yielding poisonous vegetation and requiring more strenuous cultivation if it is to become fertile for human beings. Fertility is not, after all, absolute but merely a relation of the land to human requirements.

Ricardo’s law only holds good within bourgeois society. Hence it is where the relationship of the bourgeois to the land is purely that of a bourgeois, and every peasant, — or feudal — or patriarchal, relationship is cast aside that the law applies in its purest form, hence above all in the mining of precious metals, and in colonies where commercial crops, e.g. sugar, coffee, etc., are grown. More about this another time. In both instances the exploitation of the land is regarded and pursued by the bourgeois de prime a'bord as a purely commercial concern.

Though I'm not afraid of those curs of Russians in so far as Europe is concerned — they are going to put us Germans in queer street. Between the Kaimuks and the crapauds [i.e., French philistines] we are in a cleft stick.

Herewith copy of The People’s Paper.

Vale faveque,

K. M.