Letter to Friedrich Engels, December 18, 1857

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Author(s) Karl Marx
Written 18 December 1857


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Source: Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 40, p. 224;
First published: in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Stuttgart, 1913.

To Engels in Manchester

[London,] 18 December 1857[edit source]

Dear Frederick,

Just a few lines written in great haste. I've just received a 3rd and final warning from the rotten rate collector to the effect that, if I haven’t paid by Monday, they'll put a broker in the house on Monday afternoon. If possible, therefore, send me a few pounds before Monday. Financial pressure is now even greater than is usually the case with me because, for about 3 weeks, I have had to pay for everything in cash and anything like credit has ceased, while at the same time 2/3 of all the money I receive immediately goes to meet floating debts. Moreover, there is only a very little coming in, since I have hitherto been unable to send the Tribune more than one article. So far as to private matters.

I am working enormously, as a rule until 4 o'clock in the morning. I am engaged on a twofold task: 1. Elaborating the outlines of political economy [Marx had begun work on The Grundrisse — “Outline” — in October 1857 and completed it in May 1858]. (For the benefit of the public it is absolutely essential to go into the matter au fond [thoroughly], as it is for my own, individually, to get rid of this nightmare.)

2. The present crisis. Apart from the articles for the Tribune, all I do is keep records of it, which, however, takes up a considerable amount of time. I think that, somewhere about the spring, we ought to do a pamphlet together about the affair as a reminder to the German public that we are still there as always, and always the same. I have started 3 large record books — England, Germany, France. All the material on the American affair is available in the Tribune, and can be collated subsequently. By the by, I should be glad if you would send me the Guardian if possible, every day. It not only doubles the work but also disrupts it if I have to deal with a week or so’s arrears all at once.

In France, and specially at Havre, the fun (commercial) will probably be started by the ‘Germans’, whom one cannot altogether help taking into account now. Moreover — apart from the general round of the bankrupt State — trade itself would seem to be exceptionally rotten in Marseilles and Bordeaux, everywhere, that is, where infiltration and intervention by foreign elements has stung the beastly crapauds out of their lousy, mean penny-pinching and timidity. Au fond, only in such an immobile country was a Crédit mobilier both possible and inevitable. The more you become acquainted with the Messiahs of nations, the less you like him.

Write to me whenever you have the time, for later on you're sure to forget all the ‘chronique scandaleuse’ of the crisis which is so invaluable to us. I make excerpts from your letters and enter them in the principal record books.

Salut. Kind regards to Lupus. Pieper has the satisfaction of knowing that his ex-principal Saalfeld, with whose wife he had such a tremendous row, has gone to the wall.

Your
K. M.