Letter to Friedrich Engels, November 24, 1851

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To Engels in Manchester

[London,] 24 November 1851[edit source]

Dear Frederick,

You must understand that, if I have not written to you before, it is because my household is all at sixes and sevens.

You will remember that in his last letter Pieper wrote that the contract for my anti-Proudhon was about to be concluded. From his letter, enclosed herewith, you will see that there is no further mention of this manuscript. This is typical of the way in which I have been kept on tenterhooks by our dear henchmen these six months past. On the other hand, Ebner has written to say that Löwenthal is willing to try out one volume but didn’t mention whether I am to start with the ‘history of economy’. If so, it would mean upsetting my whole scheme. Ebner further said that Löwenthal could only pay ‘a little’. This I am prepared to accept, provided he publishes what I want published first. But if he forces me to ruin my whole scheme, he will have to pay me as though I were directly commissioned by him. However, I shall for the time being let Ebner do as he thinks fit. He has informed me that he won’t conclude anything without my consent. Qu'en penses-tu?

I am glad that our people in Cologne [Communist League members under arrest and investigation] are at last to appear before the assizes and indeed, or so I was assured yesterday by SchĂŒller, the DĂŒsseldorf publisher, will do so this very December when there are to be extraordinary assizes.

Apropos, don’t forget to let me have the New York Schnellpost back by return. Bamberger is pressing me, and it’s the only way of extracting from him the subsequent numbers which are said to contain all manner of curious things.

I know that you yourself are now feeling the pinch and that my sudden descent, my razzia, on Manchester has made things even tighter for you, at least so far as this month is concerned. Nevertheless, I must ask you whether, in an emergency, you could lay your hands on another ÂŁ2. For before leaving London I borrowed ÂŁ2 and at the same time stated in writing that I'd repay it before December. At all events I would ask you to write by return to let me know whether or not this is possible.

Eccarius’ brother [Johann Friedrich] has arrived here. He and all the other Straubingers arrested in Hamburg have been set free and given their marching orders. That Haupt originally had no treacherous intentions is apparent from the following: BĂŒrgers’ letter to him fell into the hands of his old man, who taxed him with it and proposed to hand it over to the police. This he prevented, tore the thing up and later took the pieces to Eccarius, etc., first to reassemble and read them, and then to burn them in their presence. This fact is important. It is pressure from his family that has ruined the unfortunate fellow.

A few days ago at the library I read Mr Proudhon’s lucubrations on GratuitĂ© du crĂ©dit against Bastiat. In terms of charlatanism, poltroonery, bluster and ineffectuality it exceeds anything this man has done before. Exempli gratia, the French believe that on average they are paying 5-6 per cent interest. They are paying 160 per cent. Comment donc? Well, like this. Interest on mortgage, unsecured, state, etc., debts amounts to 1,600 millions. Now in France there is only 1 thousand million of capital in existence, i.e. gold and silver. Hence, q.e.d. A further example: When the Banque de France was set up, its capital amounted to 90 millions. At that time it was legally empowered to take 5 per cent on this sum. It is now operating (deposits, etc., included) on a capital of 450-460 millions, of which 3/4 belong not to it, but to the public. If the bank, therefore, (90:450 = 1:5) takes only 1 per cent instead of 5, it will be making a legitimate profit. And because the Banque de France could, in an emergency (2), content itself (i.e. the stockholders) with 1 per cent, the interest rate for France can therefore be reduced to 1 per cent. And 1 per cent, c'est la presque gratuitĂ© du crĂ©dit [it’s almost free credit].

And you should see how the fellow flaunts his dialectique hégelienne vis-à-vis Bastiat.

I have been through your critique again here. It’s a pity qu'il ny a pas moyen [that there’s no way] of getting it printed. If my own twaddle were added to it, we could bring it out under both our names, provided this didn’t upset your firm in any way.

As you know, Kossuth left on the 20th, but what you don’t know is that he was accompanied by Lola Montez and caballero Göhringer. I

Schramm, with an officious obstinacy wholly sans pareil [without parallel] is endeavouring to attach himself to me again. Il n'y parviendra pas [he won’t succeed].

How goes it with K. Schnapper’s ‘tippling jaunts'?

K. M.