Marx-Engels Correspondence 1861

Marx To Engels
In Manchester

Source: MECW Volume 41, p. 332;
First published: in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Stuttgart, 1913.

[London,] 9 December 1861

Dear Engels,

From my pertinacious silence you may discern with what reluctance I write to you at all. Considering the great efforts — greater, even, than you can manage — that you make on my behalf, I need hardly say how much I detest perpetually boring you with my lamentations.

The last money you sent me, plus a borrowed pound, went to pay the school bill — so that there shouldn’t be twice the amount owing in January. The butcher and épicier made me give them I.O.U.s, one for £10, the other for £12, due on 9 January. Although I didn’t know with what I should pay them, I couldn’t risk being sued lest I bring the whole house tumbling about my ears. I owe the landlord £15, and shall owe him £21 in January. Ditto the green grocer, the baker, the news agent, the milkman, and the rest of the rabble whom I had placated with payments on account after my return from Manchester, lastly the tallyman, since the onset of winter meant buying indispensable items of winter clothing, which therefore had to be got on tick.

The amount I can expect at the end of the month is £30 at most, since those scoundrels from the Presse are not printing some of my articles. I have, of course, first to accustom myself to keeping within the ‘bounds of German reason’. (Incidentally, though, they are making quite a splash in their paper with my contributions.)

What I have to pay (including interest at the pawn-shop, etc.) amounts to £100. It is remarkable how, despite an occasional helping-hand, the loss of all income combined with debts that are never quite paid off invariably brings the same old muck to the surface again.

Today I have written to Dronke because he still owes me some money. But just gently nudging his memory, not urging; I made so bold as to tell him that if he could make me an advance, you would guarantee its repayment.

Once I'm out of this mess, New York and Vienna will allow me at least to jog along again.

My wife was in a dangerous nervous condition, and for a few days Dr Allen was most alarmed. He knows, or rather suspects, where the shoe pinches, but is too tactful to say anything untoward. The poor woman is still very out of sorts, but so resilient is she by nature that, as soon as things take a turn for the better, I feel sure she will be all right again.

There isn’t going to be war with America, as I have said from the very beginning in the Presse, and I am only sorry I didn’t have the means to exploit the boneheadedness of a Stock Exchange dominated during this silly season by Reuter and The Times.

I agree with your strictures on Izzy (who writes from Florence to say he ‘has had a very interesting meeting’ with Garibaldi, etc.). The 2nd volume is more interesting, if only by reason of the Latin quotations. Ideologism permeates everything, and the dialectical method is wrongly applied. Hegel never described as dialectics the subsumption of vast numbers of cases under a general principle.

My writing [of the second instalment of Critique of Political Economy] is progressing, but slowly. Circumstances being what they were, there was, indeed, little possibility of bringing such theoretical matters to a rapid close. However, the thing is assuming a much more popular form, and the method is much less in evidence than in Part I.


K. M.