Letter to Karl Marx, November 9, 1869

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Author(s) Friedrich Engels
Written 9 November 1869

Source: Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 43, p. 369;
First published: abridged in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Stuttgart, 1913 and in full in MEGA, Berlin, 1931.

To Marx in London

Manchester, 9 November 1869[edit source]

Dear Moor,

That is quite a bit of impudence with the Vaudeville about the Régence I would scarcely have expected the Empire to put up with something like this. But we see what can be done with pluck, though of course, our Guidos and Wilhelms will not take this as their example.

The Réforme, just like Réveil and Rappel, is rather weak, though a certain amount of declamation can be excused at the moment. The fellows are confused, however. Among them, particularly Raspail. The idea of selecting a provisional government at this very date is as good as a joke against Bonaparte, but otherwise, naturally, nonsense. Bonaparte is supposed to be ill again; things appear to be drawing to an end for him physically, too.

Schweitzer’s turnabout immediately to adopt the Basle decision on landed property and to behave as though he and Lassalle had always preached this, is extraordinarily bare-faced, but very ingenious vis-à-vis the simple souls à la Wilhelm. But what should they do when confronted by this blackguard, who has enough brains always to behave correctly as far as theory is concerned, and who knows that they are completely at a loss as soon as a theoretical point comes up. Incidentally, I did not see the Volksstaat here.

I did not expect Monsieur Carey to be such an amusing bit of reading. I find his cock-and-bull stories of natural sciences read very well and provide plenty of occasions for laughter. I would not have dared consider the man so stupid and uninformed. For instance, he has disintegrated carbon, and it consists of carbonic acid and cinders! Ditto, water disintegrates into vapour. Geology proves that plants and even ferns were in existence long before any animal! The disintegration of metals is a mere trifle for him — in voltaic batteries the tin and copper of which they consist are disintegrated! And a hundred other things. Ditto, his historical fables. The fellow imagines that, in South Lancashire, among other places the Forest of Rossendale (a dense industrial district), the rental is so high only because the ground here is extremely productive of corn! I am making you a whole pile of marginal notes, etc., and as soon as I have read the rent theory I shall write my opinion of it and return the book to you. He naturally explains the origin of rent with just such a nonsensical cut-throat theory as Ricardo, and also his idea of how it took place is as absurd as the way all economists imagine such things. Yet this does not affect the theory of rent itself. What Carey means by the ‘best land’ can be seen from the fact that, according to him, even today in the Northern States it is only profitable in exceptional cases to cultivate the so-called best land!

Post closing. Best greetings to all.

F. E.

Vaudeville to be returned tomorrow.