Letter to Friedrich Engels, June 22, 1867
To Engels in Manchester
[London,] 22 June 1867[edit source]
Herewith 4 more sheets [of the first volume of Capital] enclosed for you which reached me yesterday. The fellows have left a number of misprints that I corrected perfectly legibly. One error we corrected in ourselves was ‘Childrens’ Employment Commission’, Childrens’. For Children is nominative pluralis, genitive mark is ‘. I saw it at once when I had another look at the Blue Books myself.
King has written to say that the Fenians are not yet out. They are postponing it for as long as possible and as near to the close of the session as possible.
I hope you are satisfied with the 4 sheets. That you have been satisfied with it so far is more important to me than anything the rest of the world may say of it. At all events, I hope the bourgeoisie will remember my carbuncles until their dying day. Here is a fresh sample of what swine they are! You know that the Children’s Employment Commission has been at work for 5 years now. When its first report appeared in 1863, the industries it exposed were at once ‘called to order’. At the beginning of this session the Tory ministry introduced a bill per Walpole, the Weeping Willow, accepting all the Commission’s proposals, though on a very reduced scale. The fellows who were to be called to order, among them the big metal manufacturers, and especially the vampires of ‘domestic industry’, maintained a cowardly silence. Now they are presenting a petition to Parliament and demanding — a New Enquiry! The old one, they say, was biassed! They are counting on the Reform Bill taking up the public’s entire attention, so that the thing would be cosily and privately smuggled through, at the very time that the trade unions are having a rough passage. The worst things about the reports are the fellows’ own statements. They are well aware that a new enquiry means one thing only, and that is precisely ‘what we bourgeois want’ — a new 5-year lease for exploitation. Fortunately, my position in the ‘International’ enables me to frustrate those curs’ little game. It is a matter of the utmost importance. What is at stake is the abolition of torture for 1 1/2 million people, not including the adult male working men!
With regard to the development of the form of value, I have both followed and not followed your advice, thus striking a dialectical attitude in this matter, too. That is to say, 1. I have written an appendix in which I set out the same subject again as simply and as much in the manner of a school text-book as possible, and 2. I have divided each successive proposition into paras. etc., each with its own heading, as you advised. In the Preface I then tell the ‘non-dialectical’ reader to skip page x-y and instead read the appendix. It is not only the philistines that I have in mind here, but young people, etc., who are thirsting for knowledge. Anyway, the issue is crucial for the whole book. The economists have hitherto overlooked the very simple fact that the equation 20 yards of linen= 1 coat is but the primitive form of 20 yards of linen = £2, and thus that the simplest form of a commodity, in which its value is not yet expressed in its relation to all other commodities but only as something differentiated from its own natural form, embodies the whole secret of the money form and thereby, in nuce [in embryo], of all bourgeois forms of the product of labour. In my first presentation [Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy] (Duncker), I avoided the difficulty of the development by not actually analysing the way value is expressed until it appears as its developed form, as expressed in money.
You are quite right about Hofmann. Incidentally, you will see from the conclusion to my Chapter III, where I outline the transformation of the master of a trade into a capitalist — as a result of purely quantitative changes — that in the text there I quote Hegel’s discovery of the law of the transformation of a merely quantitative change into a qualitative one as being attested by history and natural science alike [See Capital, Chapter XI]. In the note to the text (I was as it happened attending Hofmann’s lectures at that time) I mention the molecular theory, but not Hofmann, who has discovered nothing in the matter except contributing general direction; instead I do mention Laurent, Gerhardt and Wurtz, the latter being the real man. Your letter struck a faint chord in my memory, and I therefore looked up my manuscript.
Printing has proceeded slowly in the last two weeks (only 4 sheets), probably on account of Whitsun. But Mr O. Wigand will have to make up for this lost time. Apropos. Your book [Condition of the Working-Class in England] is still available. The Workers’ Association has ordered and been sent 2 new copies from O. Wigand. (2nd impression 1848.)
Now for private matters.
My children are obliged to invite some other girls for dancing on 2 July, as they have been unable to invite anyone for the whole of this year, to respond to invitations, and are therefore about to lose caste. So, hard-pressed though I am at the moment, I had to agree to it and am counting on you for the wine (claret and Rhenish), i.e. on your supplying me with it in the course of next week.
Secondly, as ‘misfortunes’ never come singly, Lina has announced her arrival for next week. My wife will then have to return to her the £5 which she owes her, and you will understand that after fending off the first wave of creditors, I cannot afford that.
I am in fact exceedingly vexed with the people who have promised me money but have not sent word (so far, at least). They have a personal interest in me. That I do know. They also know that I cannot continue my work unless I have a modicum of peace and quiet. And yet they have sent no word!
Our ‘noble’ poet Freiligrath really is going to collect a tidy sum. For they say that going begging to the rich Germans in South America and — China! and the West Indies! is most lucrative, as these fellows regard it as national duty! Meanwhile, the Freiligraths are continuing to live in relatively grand style, constantly entertaining and constantly visiting. That is one reason why the German merchants in London are so unforthcoming. Fat as he is, he is said (so I am told by my wife, who called on them) to look very nerve-wracked and unwell and depressed. But Ida is positively blooming and has never been in better spirits in her life.
Kindest regards to Mrs Lizzy.
Honoris causa you must procure Madame Gumpert’s photogramm for me.