Marx-Engels Correspondence 1858
Source: MECW Volume 40, p. 343;
First published: abridged in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Stuttgart, 1913, and in full in: Marx and Engels, Works, Moscow, 1929.
No doubt you will be writing about the Canning despatch tomorrow. The thing is out of my latitude altogether. I have not read the newspapers at all regularly of late and have had a great deal to do, since Ermen has been over there for the past fortnight and I am having to cope with the whole shop on my own. Business here is tremendously good; for the past 6 weeks the spinners have been making 1d à 1 1/4d more per pound on coarse and medium counts than for the past 3 years and — quite unprecedented this — the local market in yarn rose 1d before the Liverpool chaps were able to get another 1/4d for cotton. During the past 10-12 days the rise has slowed down somewhat, but all the spinners are booked up well ahead and demand is still quite strong enough to sustain prices. If it goes on like this much longer there'll be movements for increased wages. In France, too, the cotton spinners have for sometime been earning more than in recent years (this is positive; — I have it from a cotton agent who was over there himself); how things look in other branches of commerce there I can’t say exactly, but the state of the Bourse suggests a considerable improvement. All this looks damned rosy and the devil only knows how long it will last unless there is substantial overproduction with India and China in view. Trade must be absolutely splendid in India just now; the last Bombay mail but one advised sales — over a 14-day period — of 320,000 pieces of cotton cloth, and the last one a further 100,000. The chaps have already sold the whole lot forward, knowing only that it had been purchased in Manchester and not yet even shipped. Judging by the way the local philistines are talking and also by the state of the market, it seems to me that India and China will provide an immediate excuse for overproduction and, if we have a good winter, it may confidently be expected that kite-flying and the unbridled granting of credit will again go ahead merrily in the spring.
The Jones business is most distasteful. He held a meeting here and the speech he made was entirely in the spirit of the new alliance. After that affair one might almost believe that the English proletarian movement in its old traditional Chartist form must perish utterly before it can evolve in a new and viable form. And yet it is not possible to foresee what the new form will look like. It seems to me, by the way, that there is in fact a connection between Jones’ new move, seen in conjunction with previous more or less successful attempts at such an alliance, and the fact that the English proletariat is actually becoming more and more bourgeois, so that the ultimate aim of this most bourgeois of all nations would appear to be the possession, alongside the bourgeoisie, of a bourgeois aristocracy and a bourgeois proletariat. In the case of a nation which exploits the entire world this is, of course, justified to some extent. Only a couple of thoroughly bad years might help here, but after the discoveries of gold these are no longer so easy to engineer. For the rest it is a complete mystery to me how the massive overproduction which caused the crisis has been absorbed; never before has such heavy flooding drained away so rapidly.
Reynolds will become a prominent personage thanks to Jones’ manoeuvre; he is the only ‘educated’ man (vulgo ‘scholar') who still poses as the representative of the proletariat — au fond he is as bourgeois as Monsieur Jones has now become, though in a different way. For him this is a Godsend. Be sure to send me the cuttings from his paper you promised me.
There is still something wrong with Lupus’ leg; he still can’t walk fast without suffering for it, though he is walking passably well again.
The little German poetaster whose account of his adventures with Kinkel and Freiligrath appeared last summer in the Augsburger is called Isaak Levi, alias Julius Rodenberg, a schoolfellow of Gumpert’s.
If at all possible I shall come up for Christmas. It’s splendid to hear that you will be arranging money matters with your mater. I hope this has meanwhile been done or is at least cut and dried. I am writing to Freiligrath today about the bill.
Warm regards to your wife and the girls.
Has the manuscript gone off?