Marx-Engels Correspondence 1886

Engels to Florence Kelley Wischnewetzky

Source: Science and Society Volume II, Number 3, 1938;
Translated and Edited: by Leonard E. Mins.

London, February 3, 1886.

My dear Mrs. Wischnewetzky:

Today I forwarded to you, registered, the first portion of the Ms. up to your page 70, inclusive. I am sorry I could not possibly send it sooner. But I had a job on my hand which must be finished before I could start with your Ms. Now I shall go on swimmingly; as I proceed I find we get better acquainted with each other, you with my peculiar old-fashioned German, I with your American. And indeed, I learn a good deal at it. Never before did the difference between British and American English strike me so vividly as in this experimentum in proprio corpore vili. What a splendid future must there be in store for a language which gets enriched and developed on two sides of an ocean, and which may expect further additions from Australia and India!

I do not know whether this portion of the Ms. will arrive in time to reach Miss Foster before her sailing, but I hope you will not be put to any particular inconvenience through my delay, which was indeed unavoidable. I cannot be grateful enough to all the friends who wish to translate both Marx’s and my writings into the various civilized languages and who show their confidence in me by asking me to look over their translations. And I am willing enough to do it, but for me as well as for others the day has but 24 hours, and so I cannot possibly always arrange to please everybody and to chime in with all arrangements made.

If I am not too often interrupted in the evenings, I hope to be able to send you the remainder of the Ms. and possibly also the introduction in a fortnight. This latter may be printed either as a preface or as an appendix. As to the length of it I am utterly incapable of giving you any idea. I shall try to make it as short as possible, especially as it will be useless for me to try to combat arguments of the American press with which I am not even superficially acquainted. Of course, if American workingmen will not read their own states’ Labor Reports, but trust to politicians' extracts, nobody can help them. But it strikes me that the present chronic depression, which seems endless so far, will tell its tale in America as well as in England. America will smash up England’s industrial monopoly — whatever there is left of it — but America cannot herself succeed to that monopoly. And unless one country has the monopoly of the markets of the world, at least in the decisive branches of trade, the conditions — relatively favorable — which existed here in England from 1848 to 1870 cannot anywhere be reproduced, and even in America the condition of the working class must gradually sink lower and lower. For if there are three countries (say England, America and Germany) competing on comparatively equal terms for the possession of the Weltmarkt, there is no chance but chronic overproduction, one of the three being capable of supplying the whole quantity required. That is the reason why I am watching the development of the present crisis with greater interest than ever and why I believe it will mark an epoch in the mental and political history of the American and English working classes — the very two whose assistance is as absolutely necessary as it is desirable.

Yours very truly,
F. Engels