Marx-Engels Correspondence 1855

Marx To Engels
In Manchester

Source: MECW Volume 39, p. 562;
First published: abridged in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, 1913 and in full in: Marx and Engels, Works, 1929.

[London,] 14 December 1855, 28 Dean Street, Soho

Dear Frederic,

This confinement to my room is beginning to weigh on me. Not one breath of fresh air yet. Meanwhile, another 1,000 Germans sent off yesterday. Jones supposed to be coming today, at last.

The day before yesterday evening I had a visit, you'll never guess from whom. Edgar Bauer — whom I hadn’t seen for about a year — came to see me, and with him — Bruno. He’s already been here a fortnight and intends to remain about 6 months ‘in order to prove his assumptions’ which he can hardly fail to do, considering the way he’s begun. The man has aged visibly, his forehead has broadened and the impression he now gives is more or less that of a pedantic old professor. For the present he is lodging with Edgar in a hovel somewhere about the far end of Highgate and there he squats, amidst the most profound petty-bourgeois misère, seeing and hearing nothing. This he takes to be London and believes that, apart from the privileged 30,000, all the English live like Edgar Bauer. Hence his hatred and ‘contempt’ for the country is enormous. In his view, it’s like living in ‘Treuenbrietzen’. To anyone coming from ‘Berlin’, London is a veritable ‘prison’. On the same occasion it also transpired that his present ideal is the ‘East Frisian’, ‘Altenburgian’ and partly ‘Westphalian peasant,’ those true noblemen. He is, moreover, convinced that these clodhoppers cannot be wished away and will be the rocks upon which the modern, egalitarian fiddle-faddle, bemoaned by this man of the ‘dissolution’, will come to grief. It was most curious to hear the ‘Criticism’, make the confession that, in the final analysis, Berthold Auerbach is its true cornerstone. He holds that, save for a few ‘purely commercial towns’, the towns of Germany are in decline, but that ‘the country’ is prospering fabulously. He knew not a thing about the rise of industry, but quietly bemoaned the fact that nothing is now being done in Germany save ‘improvements’.

The ‘English language’ is ‘wretched’, completely romanicised. For his consolation I proceeded to tell him that the Dutch and the Danes say the same of the German language and claim that the only fellows to have remained truly untainted by Romance are the ‘Icelanders’.

The old boy has devoted much time to languages. He speaks Polish and declares in consequence the Polish language to be ‘the most beautiful of all’. His linguistic studies seem to have been highly uncritical. He considers Dobrovskı, for instance, to be a far more important man than Grimm, and calls him the father of comparative linguistics. Moreover, he has let the Poles in Berlin persuade him that old Lelewel has refuted Grimm’s Geschichte der deutschen Sprache in a recent paper.

Apropos. He also told me that a fat volume (of German provenance) had appeared in Germany attacking Grimm’s dictionary. The whole volume consists of howlers G[rimm] is shown to have perpetrated.

Despite all his efforts to adopt a humorous attitude, his gloom and despondency over the ‘present’ kept obtruding. In Germany — horrible indeed! — nothing is now read or bought save miserable compilations in the field of the natural sciences. When you come, we shall have great fun with the old boy.

Köppen has been working for years on a book on Buddhism. Rutenberg is the publisher of the Staats-Anzeiger. Mr Bergenroth, who used to drift about America (North and South) as commissioner (trade), has returned sans argent but with an illness.

I am still waiting for the 2nd edition of The Times or Morning Post. The news may make it necessary to couch the thing on Kars in somewhat more hypothetical terms. However, this would only require quite minor alterations (a few words in the conditional). I, for my part, believe that Kars has fallen.

Today there is a not uninteresting article in the Herald — or so my wife tells me — about Bonaparte’s misgivings as to the true intentions of Viscount Palmerston. That Pam is in very bad odour at court you may see from the Times article against Prince Albert. At the same time, again the old manoeuvre of presenting Prince Albert as an encumbrance to the ‘Ministry’.


K. M.