Marx-Engels Correspondence 1861

Marx To Ferdinand Lassalle
In Berlin

Source: MECW, Volume 41, p. 293;
First published: in F. Lassalle. Nachgelassene Briefe und Schriften, Stuttgart, 1922.

[London,] 11 June 1861

Dear Lassalle,

Perhaps you would be so kind as to pass on the enclosed letter to the countess.

Many thanks for your book [Das System der erworbenen Rechte], which arrived here a day or two since (I immediately sent the other copies to their respective destinations in Manchester). I began at the end, namely with the Pelasgian affair, and then went back to the law of succession at the beginning, having now progressed as far as p. 215. It is an important work in every respect. However, I cannot send you a criticism, assessment, etc., until I have read right through the whole thing. Merely en passant, then: In India, adoption is the prevailing form. English law has taken a course diametrically opposed to that of French law. Complete testamentary freedom (whereby no Englishman or Yankee is compelled to leave his family a farthing) dates back to the bourgeois revolution of 1688 and evolved in the same measure as ‘bourgeois’ property developed in England. Thus, it would seem after all that, aside from its specifically Roman origins, etc., complete testamentary freedom, indeed the making of wills generally, is a delusion, Which, in bourgeois society too, must have roots of its own, independent of mythology, etc.

I have, alas, had a letter from Germany saying that the 10 cannot be remitted to you before the end of this month. Until then, I must trust to your diplomatic finesse. As you know, I was disagreeably surprised by the fact that my uncle, who honoured the bills I currently owed, put off giving me the additional amount I asked for until some months later. All the same, I couldn’t help laughing at such a typically Dutch turn of events.

Whether or not I am accorded Prussian nationality there might still be some question of myself and family travelling to Berlin on my passport as a ‘foreigner’, and spending the winter there.


K. M.