Letter to Friedrich Engels, July 7, 1866

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Author(s) Karl Marx
Written 7 July 1866


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Source: Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 42, p 289;.
First published: in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Stuttgart, 1913.

To Engels in Manchester

[London,] 7 July 1866[edit source]

Dear Fred,

D'abord my heartfelt thanks for the Californian consignment. Yet, I was unable to pay the landlord, who is again owed for two quarters. I had to allow priority to part-payments to the fellows who are dunning me every hour of the day.

As regards my state of health, first of all, I have had my nose properly to the grindstone again over the past two weeks, and hope that by the end of August, if I preserve this degree of health, I shall have finished the first volume [of Capital], which I am having published by itself. It is true that I am obliged to continue with Gumpert’s liver-medicine every day, as I would otherwise be laid low at once. Question: is the arsenic (put aside for many weeks now) compatible with it? I am asking because for 4 days now another carbuncle has been appearing above my right collar-bone. I owe more to the Bordeaux than to any medicine. I am incidentally only working in the day-time, as a sporadic attempt to work at night (once or twice) immediately had very unfortunate consequences.

Before passing to general matters, can you translate ‘put stretches upon the mule’ into German for me, and tell me what ‘picks’ in weaving are called in German? What is a ‘flyer’ on the mule?

The workers’ demonstrations in London are fabulous compared with anything seen in England since 1849, and they are solely the work of the ‘International’ Mr Lucraft, f.i., the captain in Trafalgar Square, is one of our Council. This shows the difference between acting behind the scenes whilst retiring in public, and the democrats’ habit of puffing themselves up in public and doing nothing.

The Commonwealth is about to expire. Fox is leaving it next week. Apropos. Stumpf has written to me from Mainz that among the workers the demand for your book ‘The Condition etc.’ is growing daily and that you must certainly bring out the second edition, if only for party reasons. At the same time, his personal experiences lead him to believe that immediately after the war ‘the labour question’ in Germany will come noticeably to the fore.

Freiligrath has put out a melancholy-lyrical little turd on the fratricidal war, which his daughter Kate has englished in today’s Athenaeum.

Beside a great Prussian defeat, which perhaps (oh but those Berliners!) might have led to a revolution, there could have been no better outcome than their stupendous victory. Thiers had been so successful in denouncing Bonaparte’s policy of helping to ‘make’ Prussia (for beside the English, your Frenchman in fact really hates only the Prussians), that Boustrapa had to amend the constitution he had imposed on the French and ‘abolish’ discussion of the address par ordre du Moniteur. (I am enclosing J. Favre’s speech on Mexico and Glais-Bizoin’s bad witticisms for you, so that you can see what Boustrapa’s position was before the outbreak of war). Mr Bonaparte was counting on victory and defeat swinging back and forth between Prussians and Austrians, so that eventually he would be able to step in between the exhausted combatants like Jupiter Scapin. The Prussians’ success really puts his regime in France in dire peril (it is his second great miscalculation since the American Civil War) if he does not manage to dictate the terms of peace. On the other hand, the same success (we are not back in 1815 now) makes it impossible, almost impossible, for the Prussian dynasty to accept terms other than those which Austria must reject, not to mention the fact that handsome William, alias Alexander the Great, cannot possibly cede German territory to France. The Prussians’ decision will depend on the ‘nephew’ in St Petersburg. It is impossible to say what he will do, as that would require one to be in possession of the material in the Russian State Chancellory. But I, for my part, cannot understand how the Russians, who are furthermore offended that the Austrians refused their help, can permit Austria to get her breath back and miss this favourable moment for their Turco-Danubian manoeuvres. Mr Victor Emmanuel is also in a pretty pickle. Venice now belongs to Bonaparte. If he accepts it from him as a present, that will be the end for his dynasty. On the other hand, what can he do against France, and where can he now attack Austria?

But what do you say to our Foxikins; who dashed breathlessly into our house the day before yesterday, exclaiming: ‘Bonaparte has saved Germany!’ This view is shared by Beesly, Harrison, etc., and the whole Comteist clique. Write to me soon, as pen and ink have to serve in place of oral communication in this eventful period.

My best compliments to Mrs Lizzy.

Little Jenny would like to know how your ‘Africans’ are doing?

Salut.

Your
K.M.

Naturally, Bonaparte does not want war now, until he has introduced the needle-gun or an equivalent. A Yankee has offered the war ministry here a rifle which, so I am assured by a refugee Prussian officer (Wilke), is as superior to the needle-gun as the latter is to ‘Old Bess’, by virtue of its extreme simplicity of design, non-susceptibility to heating, reduced need for cleaning, and cheapness. Is there any sphere in which our theory that the organisation of labour is determined by the means of production is more dazzlingly vindicated than in the industry for human slaughter? It really would be worth your while to write something on the subject (I have not the necessary knowledge for it) which I would include as an appendix to my book [Capital] under your name. Give the matter some thought. If you do it, however, it must be done pour le premier volume, in which I am dealing ex professo with this topic. You will appreciate what great pleasure it would give me if you were also to appear in my principal work (previously I have only produced trifles) as a direct collaborator, and not just in quotation!

I am studying Comte on the side just now, as the English and French are making such a fuss of the fellow. What seduces them about him is his encyclopaedic quality, la synthèse. But that is pitiful when compared with Hegel (although Comte is superior to him as a mathematician and physicist by profession, i.e., superior in the detail, though even here Hegel is infinitely greater as a whole). And this shitty positivism came out in 1832!