Marx-Engels Correspondence 1851

Engels To Marx
In London

Manchester, 23 September 1851

Source: MECW Volume 38, p. 458-462.

Dear Marx,

At last I think I've reached the point at which, after so many deplorable interruptions, I can settle down to regular work again. Article No. 3 for America will be finished by this evening and dispatched to you forthwith, and then I will at once get down to the Proudhon.

I have heard nothing more about Kinkel’s tour. The split among the Italians is wonderful. It’s excellent that that astute visionary, Mazzini, should at last find himself thwarted by material interests, and in his own country to boot. One advantage of the Italian revolution has been that there, too, it has swept the most isolated classes into the movement, and that a new party, more radical than the old Mazzinian emigration, is now being formed, and is gradually displacing Mr Mazzini . Newspaper reports would also seem to indicate that il Mazzinismo is failing into disrepute even among people who are neither constitutionally nor reactionarily minded, and that what remains of the freedom of the press in Piedmont is being used by them for attacks on Mazzini, the portée of which the government fails to grasp. In other respects the Italian revolution far outdoes the German in poverty of ideas and wealth of hot air. It is fortunate that a country which, instead of proletarians, has virtually nothing but lazzaroni, should at least possess métayers. The other reasons given by the Italian dissidents are delightful too, and, finally, it is really splendid that the only, émigrés to have remained united, at least in public, should now be at each other’s throats.

The little man’s [Ernst Dronke] report pleased me greatly. Pompous tittle-tattle, a duel, a bit of money to be collected in Hamburg, Piedmontese plans – dodge, dodge and dodge again. There are two things one can never understand about the little fellow, firstly what he’s up to, and secondly what he lives on. I return the letter herewith, send me the answer and I shall forward it to him post free. I have noted his own address – much good Schuster’s would be, now that his house has been searched.

It was only to be expected that the precious Schramm ‘ should be one of the first to fall into the clutches of the Parisian police. He must have been vociferating in cafes and been nabbed for it. But since he has no connection with the Willich-Schapper conspiracy, you'll no doubt have him back in London again by now."’ The excerpts from the Willich document... in the Kölnische Zeitung are much nicer than lit the French papers, the original German text being given, and the great all – rounder’s vigorous arguments emerge here quite unadulterated. E. g. where he says that, in the next revolution, ‘the League’ and the ‘fourth estate’ (not, of course, to be confused with the bogus article from the Marx – Engels factory, placed on the market under the label ‘proletariat’) ‘are to bring the historical developments of the economic question to a conclusive conclusion'!! The poor translation by the French police has altogether spoilt this incomparable document. The age-old idées fixes of this crazy martial clod, the hoary fatuities about social revolution stemming from the village commune, the cunningly calculated little schemes, which, as long ago as last November, were to have stood the world on its head through the agency of the Rhenish Landwehr, none of this really comes through. But the most infuriating thing about it is that this poor translation almost completely spoils one’s pleasure in observing how the ideas We instilled have gradually, after 12 months of independent cerebration within this misshapen skull, been finally converted into pompous nonsense. In the translation the provenance is everywhere discernible, but precisely, the accretion of underived craziness, the distortion, is not in evidence. And are we to be deprived of the pleasure of at last being able to read in the vernacular a piece of unalloyed Willich which has assuredly been long chewed over by the noble man? One sees nothing but the most appalling dearth of ideas and the attempt to conceal the same beneath an immense heap of revolutionary admonition as brought forth of a gloomy evening in the inglenook by Mr Willich and Mr Barthelemy. Unsurpassed, too, the financial measures: first you make paper money, n'importe combien [no matter how much] second you confiscate, third you requisition. Then the social ones, which are equally simple: 1) you organise, tellement quellement,[clean sweep] 2) you guzzle, guzzle a great deal, until you get to 3) when there’s nothing left to guzzle, which is fortunate, for you then reach the point at which, 4) you start all over again, since the most radical tabula rasa consists in leaving not a crumb on the table, by which time the hour will have come for the Word of the prophet Willich to be fulfilled: ‘We must march into Germany, as into a waste land that we are to colonise and render fertile’. From the beginning the fellow’s one idea has been to conquer the communist Canaan from without, exterminating the original inhabitants, with the help of ‘5,000 men’, hand-picked from the ‘people of the Lord’. Moses and Joshua rolled into one; alas, during their exile in Egypt the Children of Israel had already dispersed in all directions.

One must hope the Australian gold business won’t interfere with the trade crisis. At any rate it has momentarily created a new, largely fictitious market, sending wool sky-high, since the flocks are being neglected. Otherwise it’s a splendid thing. In six months’ time the circumnavigation of the world by steam will be fully under way and our predictions concerning the supremacy of the Pacific Ocean will be fulfilled even more quickly than we could have anticipated. When this happens the British will be thrown out and the united states of deported murderers, burglars, rapists and pickpockets will startle the world by demonstrating what wonders can be performed by a state consisting of undisguised rascals. They will beat California hollow. But whereas in California rascals are still lynched, in Australia they'll lynch the honnętes gens [honest folk], and Carlyle will see his aristocracy of rogues established in all its glory.

The numerous asseverations in the press to the effect that, notwithstanding the recent bankruptcies and the depression prevailing in Liverpool and elsewhere, the country’s trade has never been healthier, are most suspect. What is certain is that East India is overstocked and that for months past sales there have been made at a loss. 1 am not clear about where the mass of stuff manufactured in Manchester and district is going; a great deal, a very, great deal, of speculation must be involved, for as soon as cotton had reached its lowest point in July, and the spinners began to lay in a stock of raw material, all the spinners and weavers were immediately given long-term contracts by the local commission houses, which were very, far from having orders for all the goods they were ordering from manufacturers. In the case of the East Indian houses, the old cash advance system is obviously in full swing again; this has already come to light In a few cases, and in others there will sooner or later be a fine old crash. As the manufacturers here are working at full stretch, and productive power, particularly within a 5-20 mile radius of Manchester, has increased by at least 30 per cent since 1847 (in Lancashire it was 30,000 in 1842, 40,000 in 1845; now certainly 55,000-60,000 horsepower), this brisk activity has only to continue until March or April and we shall have such overproduction as will warm the cockles of your heart.

The following information, prepared by the Liverpool Cotton Brokers Corporation, may not have come to your notice in so detailed a form. First 1 should explain that delivery to the ports of each year’s cotton crop is completed by 1 September of the following year, so that the cotton year runs from one 1 September to the next. Hence it follows that what is here described e. g. as the 1851 crop was grown in the summer of 1850, harvested in the autumn of 1850 and conveyed to the ports between September ‘50 and September ‘5 1. The crop now ripening which, by the way, will be poorer as the result of drought and storms, and will amount to about 21/2 millions, would thus figure as that of 1852.

 Cotton crop
in the year:
domestic consumption:
18462,110,537balesnot given

The Americans, therefore, have consumed between 1/5 and 1/4 of their entire crop themselves. I have not yet any information concerning exports and imports of other types of cotton besides those from the United States. Exports from the US to Britain amounted to about 55-60 per cent of the crop, to France, 1/8. But both countries in their turn export fairly heavily, Britain to France, Germany and Russia, France to Switzerland.

At the present moment the Russians are no longer taking so much as a pound of twist from Britain, very few finished cotton goods, a great deal of raw cotton – 2,000 – 3,000 bales per week and, despite the reduction in duty on yarn from 7d to 5d a pound, new spinning mills are going up daily. Nicholas seems at last to be growing apprehensive about this industry and wants to reduce the duty even further. But since all his rich nobility and all the bourgeoisie have an interest in this business, the affair might become serious should he insist on it.

F. E.