Marx-Engels Correspondence 1862

Marx To Engels
In Manchester

Source: MECW Volume 41, p. 380;
First published: in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Stuttgart, 1913.

[London,] 18 June 1862

Dear Engels,

The idea of pouring out my misère to you again sickens me, but que faire? Every day my wife says she wishes she and the children were safely in their graves, and I really cannot blame her, for the humiliations, torments and alarums that one has to go through in such a situation are indeed indescribable. As you know, the £50 went on debts, more than half of which remain to be paid. The £2 on gas. The wretched money from Vienna won’t arrive till the end of July, and then there'll be damned little of it, since the swine aren’t even printing 1 article a week now. To that must be added the fresh expenditure since the beginning of May. I won’t say anything about what, in London, is the truly parlous situation of being without a centime for 7 weeks — since for us it is a chronically recurring state of affairs. But from your own experience, you will at any rate know that, all the time, there are current expenses that have to be paid in cash. This has been done by putting back in pawn the stuff that had been redeemed at the end of April. But that source was exhausted weeks ago, so much so that, a week ago, my wife attempted to sell some books of mine ‘in vain’. I feel all the more sorry for the unfortunate children in that all this is happening during the Exhibition Season, when their friends are having fun, whereas they themselves live in dread lest someone should come and see them and realise what a mess they are in.

For the rest, I myself, by the by, am working away hard and, strange to say, my grey matter is functioning better in the midst of the surrounding misère than it has done for years. I am expanding this volume [second instalment of Critique of Political Economy], since those German scoundrels estimate the value of a book in terms of its cubic capacity. Incidentally, another thing I have at last been able to sort out is the shitty rent business (which, however, I shall not so much as allude to in this part). I had long harboured misgivings as to the absolute correctness of Ricardo’s theory, and have at length got to the bottom of the swindle. Again, since we last saw each other, I've hit on one or two pleasing and surprising novelties in connection with what’s already going into this volume.

I'm amused that Darwin, at whom I've been taking another look, should say that he also applies the ‘Malthusian’ theory to plants and animals, as though in Mr Malthus’s case the whole thing didn’t lie in its not being applied to plants and animals, but only — with its geometric progression — to humans as against plants and animals. It is remarkable how Darwin rediscovers, among the beasts and plants, the society of England with its division of labour, competition, opening up of new markets, ‘inventions’ and Malthusian ‘struggle for existence’. It is Hobbes’ bellum omnium contra omnes and is reminiscent of Hegel’s Phenomenology, in which civil society figures as an ‘intellectual animal kingdom’, whereas, in Darwin, the animal kingdom figures as civil society.

Buckle has played a trick on Ruge by dying. In his imagination, Ruge had envisaged another library to be written by Buckle and ‘transposed’ into German by Ruge. Poor Ruge! And poor Buckle who, this very day, is traduced by a ‘friend’ in a testimonium pietatis in The Times.

Have you and Lupus received the 2 Julian Schmidts I sent off?

Apropos. If it could be done very briefly, without making undue demands on you, I should like to have a sample of Italian book-keeping (with explanations). It would help to throw light on Dr Quesnay’s Tableau Économique.

No one comes to see me, and I'm glad of it, for I don’t give a... for the sort we have here. A fine crew!


K. M.

I've heard from Lassalle. He may come over here in July. In the late autumn he will make a start on the initial draft of his ‘Political Economy’, which, however, is going to take him a ‘long time’. He’s in for a surprise.