Marx-Engels Correspondence 1877
Source: MECW, Volume 45, p. 193-4 (translated from the French).
London, 23 January 1877
41 Maitland Park Road, N. W.
On receiving your kind letter of 15 December, I wrote to our friend [Carl] Hirsch about my obligations, stipulated in the contract, to Mr Lachâtre, the publisher of Capital, which do not admit of my agreeing to your project without his authorisation. I then wrote to the latter, and from day to day vainly awaited his reply. Finally, a few days ago, I sent him a registered letter, the first having doubtless been intercepted – an everyday occurrence in the Prusso-German Empire. Pending Mr Lachâtre’s reply, I should further point out that, even should he give his consent, Mr A. Quêst would be quite capable of ordering the confiscation of every ‘summary’ of Capital. Since Mr Lachâtre had been convicted in absentia of ‘communard’ acts and was living abroad as a refugee, the judicial administration of Lachâtre’s booksellers was placed by the Broglie ministry in the hands of Mr Quêst who belongs to the dregs of the conservative party and who has done everything in his power first to hold up the printing of my book and then to prevent its distribution. He would be just the man to lay a trick on you, despite the authorisation from Mr Lachâtre, vis-à-vis whom I am myself bound by a private contract but who, vis-à-vis Mr Quêst, is entirely powerless, since this sequestrator is his legal trustee.
Under the circumstances I think that the best thing would be to put off for the moment ‘a summary’ of Capital, and in the meantime bring out a short review of Économistes) and Mr Laveleye (in the Revue des deux Mondes) have given the French public utterly false notions of Capital. Such a course had also been agreed at the outset by Mr Hirsch and myself.
Please accept my best thanks for your book which you were kind enough to send me and which is distinguished by great stylistic verve and a sound basis.
I trust the incident that has put us in touch with one another will be the starting point of a sustained correspondence.