Letter to Friedrich Engels, March 14, 1868

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Author(s) Karl Marx
Written 14 March 1868


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Source: Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 42, p. 547;
First published: in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Bd. 4, Stuttgart, 1913.

To Engels in Manchester

[London,] 14 March 1868[edit source]

Dear Fred,

Since the beginning of the week I have had carbuncles on my right thigh (not yet quite extinct). Despite this — and the consequent difficult gait — I went to the Museum, since this continuous being cooped up and lying down at home (the business has now lasted, with some intervals of course, over 4 months) would drive me mad. For all that, I am convinced that the present blossoms are only the last after-effects. At the Museum — by the by — I studied, amongst other things, the latest writings about the Constitution of the German Mark, Villages, etc., by Old Maurer (the old Bavarian Privy Councillor, who already played a role as one of the regents of Greece, and was among the first to denounce the Russians, long before Urquhart). He demonstrates at length that private property in land only arose later, etc. The idiotic Westphalian squirearchical opinion (Möser, etc.) that the Germans settled each by himself, and only afterwards established villages, districts, etc., is completely refuted. It is interesting just now that the Russian manner of re-distributing land at certain intervals (in Germany originally annually) should have persisted in some parts of Germany up to the 18th century and even the 19th. The view I put forward that the Asiatic or Indian property forms everywhere mark the beginning in Europe receives new proof here (although Maurer knows nothing of it). But for the Russians there disappears the last trace of originality, even in this line. What remains to them is that they still maintain forms long abandoned by their neighbours. Old Maurer’s books (from 1854 and 1856, etc.) are written with real German erudition, but, at the same time, in the more homely and readable manner which sets the southern Germans apart from the northern Germans (Maurer is from Heidelberg, but this applies even more to the Bavarians and Tyroleans, such as Fallmerayer, Fraas, etc.). Here and there a hat is doffed deeply — re, non verbis [in fact, not words] — to Old Grimm (Rechtsalterthümer, etc.). Besides, I looked at the things by Fraas, etc., on agriculture.

By the by, you must send me back the Dühring, and, at the same time, the page proofs of my book [Capital]. You will have seen from Dühring what Carey’s great discovery is, namely, that in agriculture humanity proceeds from poorer to increasingly better soil. Partly because cultivation descends from the dry hills, etc., to the damp lowlands. But in particular because Mr Carey considers the most fertile soil marshes and so on, which first have to be converted into soil. And finally because the English colonisation in America began with that lousy New England which is Carey’s model country: Massachusetts in particular.

Thanks for your efforts with the damned book. I cannot find Eynern’s letter but suffit to write to Meissner that you sent it to me. I have received the same letter from Vienna, with a few modifications. I enclose the cuttings about Lassalle sent me by Fox. Apart from the arch-blackguard B. Becker, Reusche is in Vienna; this vagabond is there for Hatzfeldt money (as our J. Ph. Becker writes to Borkheim) — the enclosed Viennese Lassalle — creature article is by him — in order to glorify Izzy as the Son of God, and the beastly old girl as the Mother of God.

From Holland I have still not heard anything, and the wedding should be on April 8th (with difficulty despite Lafargue I have postponed the business that far). In addition, I have on the 17th (next Tuesday) to pay about £5 for water and gas (also last summons). As for the Dutch, it appears to me that I shall not squeeze anything out of them until I once again pounce upon them personally, without previous notice. But just now there can be no question of this.

Have you read about the scandal (Borkheim informed me of it) between Dühring and ‘Privy Councillor’ Wagener, with the former accusing the latter of pinching his manuscript or something or other about workers’ cooperation.

Salut.

Your
K. M.

From Maurer I have noted that the change in opinions about the history and development of ‘Germanic’ property, etc., proceeds from the Danes who are apparently tremendously active in all kinds of archaeology in every corner. But, although they thus give the impulse, something is always missing with them somewhere or else. They lack the proper critical instinct, and in particular the sense of proportion. I was extremely struck by the fact that Maurer, though often referring, for instance, to Africa, Mexico, etc., knows absolutely nothing about the Celts, and therefore ascribes the development of common ownership in France solely to the Germanic conquerors. ‘As though,’ Mr Bruno [Bauer] would say, ‘as though’ we did not possess a Celtic (Welsh) book of laws from the 11th century which is entirely communist, and ‘as though’ the French in recent years had not just excavated original settlements in Celtic form here and there. As though! But the matter is quite simple. Besides German and ancient Roman relations, Old Maurer has only studied oriental (Greek-Turkish!) ones.