Letter to Karl Marx, January 7, 1858

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Author(s) Friedrich Engels
Written 7 January 1858


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Source: Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 40, p. 241;
First published: abridged in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Stuttgart, 1913, and in full in: Marx and Engels, Works, Moscow, 1929.

To Marx in London

Manchester, 7 January 1858[edit source]

Dear Moor,

Herewith the beginning of C [for the American Cyclopedia]. I shall try and do a few more articles tomorrow evening. It seems to me that there are only 2 articles for which material will be difficult to obtain — perhaps impossible in sufficient quantity — namely, caps (percussion) and ‘camp’ (Roman, Hebrew, Greek). The excerpts I made from Rüstow about Caesar’s camp amount to very little for, though I had ordered my own copy of Rüstow, the bookseller supplied an altogether different book. In the case of percussion caps, what I chiefly need is the story of the discovery of potassium tetrachlorate and its explosive qualities, likewise the dates when percussion firearms were introduced into the various armies. These two things would be useful to have. If you could manage to go to the British Museum and rout out something on this for me I could soon have these articles ready also, otherwise they'll hang fire since the libraries I use up here have no information on the subject.

If, by the way, Monsieur Dana can’t be bothered to reply when we send him our lists, he has only himself to blame. He could have sent a list for D long ago. Now I shall make one out myself. At all events the chap seems to be taking the whole business very lightly; I only hope he’s sent you some money for it, otherwise it’s high time to start kicking up a fuss.

Charley is in Holland and will be going to Switzerland. Luckily the shortage of orders makes it possible for me to leave most of the tasks connected with the year’s end to the office boys, so that I'm not unduly burdened with work. That’s one good job.

I enclose today’s Guardian from which you will see that there is still a lot of short time here. Next week it may ease again somewhat. At present I am sending you only those Guardians in which there’s something of commercial interest.

I am reading, inter alia, Clausewitz’s Vom Kriege. An odd way of philosophising, but per se very good. On the question as to whether one should speak of the art or the science of war, he says that, more than anything else, war resembles commerce. Combat is to war what cash payment is to commerce; however seldom it need happen in reality, everything is directed towards it and ultimately it is bound to occur and proves decisive.

Many regards to your wife and little ones.

Your
F. E.