Marx-Engels Correspondence 1861

Engels To Marx
In London

Source: MECW, Volume 41, p. 330;
First published: in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Stuttgart, 1913.

[Manchester, 2 December 1861]

I/Z 07595, Newcastle on Tyne, 14 August 1860

Dear Moor,

The above is the number of the enclosed fiver, which could not go off till today, as the first of December fell on a Sunday. Once again, I didn’t register it.

During the past few days I have at last read some of the Lassalle. His stuff about retroaction may be quite plausible, but doesn’t hold water, as is apparent, e.g., in the case of divorce legislation, of which it might also be said, and has in fact been said by many a Berlin philistine: ‘If I'd known how difficult it was to get divorced, I should never have got married. By the way, it’s grossly superstitious of the fellow to go on believing in the ‘idea of law’, absolute law. His objections to Hegel’s philosophy of law are for the most part perfectly justified, but he hasn’t yet really got into his stride with his new philosophy of mind; even from the philosophical standpoint he should have progressed sufficiently to regard the process alone, not just its momentary result, as the absolute, in which case no other idea of law could follow than precisely the historical process itself. The style’s nice, too. ‘The hand-wringing despair of the contradictions’, etc., and then the introduction. Pure Ephraim Artful. I dare say I shan’t get very much further, unless I find it might come in useful as a course in Roman law, in which case I shall read the whole thing. How, by the way, one could think it worthwhile to send so simple and, au fond, insignificant an idea chasing right through the Corpus juris, applying it to every single point — as though it would gain weight in the process — is quite beyond my comprehension. But even nicer is the assumption that this wild goose chase, conducted in and around the ‘plenitude of the concrete’, is the proof of his pudding and he must therefore remain infallible ever after.

In Berlin things will now begin to hum. The new little Chamber’s half-hearted ‘Progress’ democracy will prove too red for handsome William, after all, and by March they'll already find themselves in a state of mild chronic crisis. I am curious to see what happens. If only the chaps in the Chamber aren’t too timid, they will yet succeed in toppling the handsome one, but I don’t trust that democratic breed.

I hope your wife is feeling better. Cordial regards to her and the girls.

F. E.