Letter to Friedrich Engels, April 15, 1869

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Author(s) Karl Marx
Written 15 April 1869

Source: Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 43, p. 262;
First published: abridged in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Stuttgart, 1913 and in full in MEGA, Berlin, 1931.

To Engels in Manchester

London, 15 April 1869[edit source]

Dear Fred,

Jennychen arrived safely on Wednesday. During the return journey they had such fog at sea that the ship had a hair’s-breadth escape from running aground.

From Wilhelm the enclosed note. You will see, d'abord his first answer to my query about the ‘knavish tricks’ of which he accuses Schweitzer. ‘Political’ amongst this — only two enclosed electioneering things. You must send them back to me, for Wilhelm asks for them back, and they appear to constitute his entire political ‘evidence for the prosecution’.

Lafargue has sent me his French translation of the Communist Manifesto for us to revise. I am sending you the manuscript by post today. For the moment, the business is not urgent. I certainly do not want Lafargue to burn his fingers prematurely. However, if the stuff is eventually to be published in France, certain parts, such as those on German or ‘True’ Socialism, should be reduced to a few lines, since they are of no interest there.

To get back to the negotiations with Wilhelm. I write to him about the conditions on which you are ready to give him the Peasant War. He writes to you that Eccarius (who knew nothing about the matter) had informed him you would send him the stuff, and that he would not fulfil the conditions you laid down. He further writes to me that he has owed Eccarius 30 thaler for 2 quarters, and that I should advance it, since he would, ‘on his word of honour’, repay it at an — unspecified — date. I certainly feel no inclination towards this transaction, since I have already loaned somewhat more than this sum to my friend Dupont.

Ludlow is Barrister at Law, a leading contributor to the Spectator, a co-operator, devout, a determined enemy of the Comtists. He resigned publicly from our Commonwealth because Beesly, Harrison, etc., were contributors. He had sent me a few of his little pamphlets at an earlier date, and is a friend of Jones Lloyd or Lloyd Jones, or whatever the tailor’s name is. A few days ago, after I had seen the relevant issue of the Fortnightly, I sent him my last available copy of Capital. (Note of receipt enclosure No. I.) I naturally knew he read German. At the same time, I sent him a letter in which I made a few jokes about his article, in which he first stated that Lassalle disseminated my principles in Germany and then that I disseminated Lassalle’s principles in England. (Reply in No. 2.) I hope by this means still to achieve a review of my book in an English paper. Ludlow is, ditto, a great admirer of Ricardo, something exceptional today, after Mill mucked everything up.

I discovered by accident today that we had two Neveu de Rameau in our house, and so am sending you one. This unsurpassed masterpiece will once again give you a treat.

Referring to it, Old Hegel said: ‘The mocking laughter at existence, at the confusion of the whole and at itself, is the disintegrated consciousness, aware of itself and expressing itself, and is, at the same time, the last audible echo of all this confusion.... It is the self-disintegrating nature of all relations and their conscious disintegration... In this aspect of the return to self, the vanity of all things is the self’s own vanity, or the self is itself vanity ... but as the indignant consciousness it is aware of its own disintegration and, by that knowledge, has immediately transcended it... Every part of this world either gets its mind [sein Geist] expressed here or is spoken of intellectually [mit Geist] and declared for what it is — The honest consciousness’ (the role Diderot allots himself in the dialogue) ‘takes each element as a permanent entity and does not realise, in its uneducated thoughtlessness, that it is doing just the opposite. But the disintegrated consciousness is the consciousness of reversal and indeed of absolute reversal; its dominating elements is the concept, which draws together thoughts that, to the honest consciousness, lie so wide apart; hence the brilliance [geistreich] of its language. Thus, the content of the mind’s speech of and about itself consists in the reversal of all conceptions and realities; the universal deception of oneself and others and the shamelessness of declaring this deception is, therefore, precisely the greatest truth... To the quiet consciousness, which in its honest way goes on singing the melody of the True and the Good in even tones, i.e., on a monotone, this speech appears as “a farrago of wisdom and madness”, etc. (a passage from Diderot follows).

More amusing than Hegel’s commentary is that by Mr Jules Janin, which you will find in the form of an excerpt in the postscript to the little volume. This ‘cardinal de la mer’ deplores the absence in Diderot’s Rameau of the moral point, and consequently sets things in order by discovering that Rameau’s entire absurdity arises from his resentment at not being a ‘born gentilhomme’. The Kotzebue-like muck he has heaped upon this cornerstone is being melodramatically presented in London.

From Diderot to Jules Janin must be what the physiologists call a regressive metamorphosis. French intellect before the French Revolution and under Louis Philippe!

I shall ask Collet about the source of Brunnow’s maxim. I would not be at all surprised if it were to be found in the English Blue Book, in an English legation letter from Athens. I found similar things from Brunnow in a 1839 Blue Book about the Syrian-Egyptian affairs.

Eichhoff always sends me the Schweitzer in great masses. So he must be coming soon.

Mr Thornton has written a thick book about capital and labour. I haven’t seen it yet, only extracts in The Daily News, to the effect that capital, as a force separate from labour, will fade away in the distant future.

Take care with your eye.


K. M.