Letter to Karl Marx, October 29, 1857

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Author(s) Friedrich Engels
Written 29 October 1857


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Source: Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 40, p. 195;
First published: abridged in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Stuttgart, 1913 and in full in Marx and Engels, Works, Moscow, 1929.
Keywords : Letter, Feudalism, Justice

To Marx in London

[St. Hélier,] Jersey, 29 October 1857 3 Edward Place[edit source]

Dear Marx,

I shall be returning to Manchester a week from today, but don’t yet know what route I shall take. Your letter induced me to question Heckscher again (I had, of course, already consulted him concerning my return) about the possibility of a fatal relapse. From his reply I can only conclude that he believes a relapse might be fatal only if the lungs were affected, and is willing to guarantee that this will not be so in my case. At all events, he doesn’t think Jersey is of much benefit to me any more; either the thing’s over, or I must go much further south, and should anyhow return to Manchester, if only as an experiment, since I can always go away again. Now I'm simply waiting for some money and then I'll be off. By that time the History of Cannon will be finished and I'd rather do the other things — with possibly a few small exceptions — in Manchester where my books are. I should like to have the D list soon, otherwise Mr Dana will steal a march on us. What else does the noble fellow have to say, or haven’t you heard from him?

So drastically has the iron acted on my blood that my pulse has begun racing madly and the blood is always rising to my head; it’s as though I'd been drinking — I feel quite fuddled and my excitation is such that I can’t sleep at night. So for the time being I've had to stop taking it again. When I go back onto it in Manchester I shall have to reduce the dose considerably.

The advancing season is having a most debilitating effect on Schramm. Needless to say, he can only go out very little now and seldom comes into the town and only at the cost of considerable effort. The old philistine sent to him by his brother is a very bawdy fellow, who knows all the Berlin gossip, but in other ways stupid and boring. However, he'll be able to pester Konrad’s worthy brother on Konrad’s behalf and this he has promised me to do. Schramm has had a door made in the wall between his bedroom and living-room which enables him to heat the former a bit and avoid going out into the hall in winter. This has put an end to the house-hunting. He'll hardly outlast the spring, poor devil.

Harney grows more stupid every day. Considering the nature of the feudal arrangements here, he should be able to make a deal of political capital out of them, but he doesn’t even begin to understand them and, moreover, ruins all the best points made by the little lawyer who supplies him with material and even complete articles. There is, by the way, much that is funny about this dead-and-alive feudal set-up, and the whole business is preposterous to a degree. A modern lawyer for Seigneur and St. Hélier shopkeepers for vassals — the masquerade is altogether grotesque. Just now the fellows are holding feudal courts of justice; the prévôt du Seigneur is a carver and gilder who doesn’t know a word of French and, although he’s the second personage here, hasn’t an inkling of what’s going on. The Seigneur threatens to confiscate the houses of his unruly vassals, who make up some 60-70 per cent of the total number, while the vassals — drapers and tallow-chandlers — threaten to meet force with force. Voilà the present state of affairs.

If you write to me on Monday, but in time for the mail, your letter will still find me here; whether I shall still be here on Thursday, I am not quite sure.

Warmest regards to your wife and children.

Your
F. E.

The Sepoys must have defended the enceinte of Delhi very badly; the real joke was the house-to-house fighting when, presumably, the native troops were sent in first. So the actual siege — what came afterwards could hardly be described as such — lasted from the 5th to the 14th, long enough for breaches to be made in the unprotected wall by heavy naval guns firing at a range of 300-400 yards. These were already in position by the 5th or 6th. The cannon on the walls do not appear to have been effectively manned, otherwise the English wouldn’t have been able to make so swift an approach.

The American crash is superb and not yet over by a long chalk. We still have to see the collapse of the better part of the import houses; so far only one here and there would appear to have crashed. The repercussion in England would seem to have begun with the Liverpool Borough Bank. Tant mieux. That means that, for the next 3 or 4 years, commerce will again be in a bad way. Nous avons maintenant de la chance.

I haven’t got a stamp in the house and it is now midnight.