Marx-Engels Correspondence 1858

Marx To Engels
In Manchester

Source: MECW Volume 40, p. 272;
First published: in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Stuttgart, 1913.

[London,] 22 February 1858

Dear Engels,

Herewith a letter from Lassalle, interesting on account of the bit about Rudolf Schramm. What the chap says about my ‘logic’ amounts to nothing more than a refusal to understand me. All I did was simplement inform him that I hadn’t written to him because matters had come to a point at which a verbal explanation was necessary if written intercourse were to continue. In fact I had done this ticklish passage in a very diplomatical style.

In my reply I asked him, of course, to look round for a publisher in Berlin. It is my intention to bring the thing out by instalments, having neither the time nor the means to complete the whole of it at leisure. This initial form may be detrimental to the form. Better for distribution, at any rate. Also makes it easier to find a publisher.

As for the lousy Yankees nothing, of course, could have given me greater pleasure than to write and tell Messrs Dana and Appleton to — . But the state of affairs is simply this:

I had overdrawn £20 on Appleton. According to my reckoning, the amount overdrawn was at most £5. However I had no alternative, since some accounts which were due at the end of December had to be paid. Well. For the time being Mr Dana has now credited the à compte of the Tribune with £20 — a sum which I was to draw on the Tribune exactly tomorrow — in this way virtually cutting off all my resources until the manuscript sent to Appleton has paid off the damned thing. So until then I am in a deadlock. As soon as this chap Appleton has been paid in kind, thus enabling me to dip into the Tribune’s treasure-chest again, I am all for dropping him altogether — more especially if the Vienna Presse accedes to my suggestion of a weekly article on finance. At all events I am of the opinion that even the menace to stop supply would bring round Dana and Appleton, and induce them to offer a better payment. But this move can only be made when the present deadlock has been resolved. By my reckoning some 30 or 32 columns will still remain to be sent if the swine have taken ‘Bolivar’. Until then I shall be quite literally in the air. Moreover, the rascals know that they now have me in their power. Hence, none of the stuff that now remains to be done should be condensed more than is absolutely necessary to avoid making it insipid.

As far as ‘Bülow’ and ‘Beresford’ are concerned, I can write the biographies, but the military part should be written entirely by you, in English, in order that these articles should not stand out from the rest. Besides, mere indications are of no use to me in this case since following them up would, after all, involve research — an impossibility just now. As soon as you have finished with B, you must get to work on ‘Cavalry’, since this will pay off the debt.

Such, my boy, is the situation. Fortunately events in the outside world offer a good deal of solace just now. Otherwise, in private I think I lead the most troubled life that can be imagined. Never mind! What could be more asinine for people of wide aspirations than to get married at all, thus letting themselves in for the petites misères de la vie domestique et privée.

What will the good Guardian say now? The revenge of Milner Gibson and Bright is indeed classic. Between ourselves, I think that Pam had his ‘raysons’ for dissolving his own ministry and that all the apparent blunders which led to this result were calculated ones so far as he was concerned.

From a paper which recently appeared in the Moniteur it transpires that, if compared with 1855 and ‘56, the stored up commodities in the French Customs entrepôts are enormous, while the Economist’s correspondent declares outright that Bonaparte caused the Bank to make advances on the same and thus enabled their holders to return them. But with the approach of spring they will inevitably be thrown on the market, and then, there is no doubt, there will be a crash in France, answered by crashes in Belgium, Holland, Rhenish Prussia, etc.

In Italy the economic situation is truly frightful. Side by side with industrial crisis, agricultural distress. (This last, according to the conclusions of an agricultural congress in France, very bad there too. The congress declared that they could not go on with 17 frs. the hectolitre of wheat.)

Taken all in all, the crisis has been burrowing away like the good old mole* it is.


K. M.

* In a Shakespearian reference first used in The Eighteenth Brumaire, Marx’s mole is the revolution, which disappears underground for a while, and then re-appears unexpectedly somewhere else.