Letter to Laura Lafargue, December 13, 1883

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To Laura Lafargue in Paris

London, December 13, 1883[edit source]

My dear Laura,

I did not intend to write to you until I should be able to inform you that I was 'up and doing' again. To-day it is eight weeks that I went to bed for good (or rather bad) and although I feel considerably better, and keep in bed more for safety’s sake than anything else, I am still far from able to use my legs as I ought to. These poor ‘lower extremities’ to use the language of respectability, are woefully shrunk, and what is quite as bad, have left scarcely anything ‘behind them’. The worst is I am quite at ease only when laid flat on my back and writing has to be done in a constrained position and soon becomes a torture, so this must excuse my short and unfrequent letters.

Paul’s article in Progress[1] I read with much pleasure, it hits more than one nail on the head. Let us hope the Blé will come out soon after the period of étrennes [New Year gifts], and be followed soon by that novel[2] which I am most anxious to see. Paul in Balzac’s slippers, it will be good! By the by I have been reading scarcely anything but Balzac while laid up, and enjoyed the grand old fellow thoroughly. There is the history of France from 1815 to 1848, far more than in all the Vaulabelles, Capefigues, Louis Blancs et tutti quanti[3]. And what boldness! What a revolutionary dialectic in his poetical justice!

But alas, we always drop back from the blooming field of romance into the dreary sick-bed of reality. This bids fair to be a poor Christmas! In the best of cases I may be allowed to spend it on the first floor, with order to go to my bedroom when one ought to begin to enjoy oneself! And no tipple, or at all events wine to be taken by the spoonful, as medicine! Well it can’t be helped.

Percy is now partner of ‘Garman and Rosher, Chartered Accountants’ Walbrook House, E. C. Hope he will prosper. His father has at last forked out the needful and set him up though with the sourest face and in the unpleasantest way possible.

Tussy has got neuralgia again, she will call here to-night, but only after this letter has gone. The Jutas (he, she[4], and Willa) arrived here last week, so Tussy will have plenty on her hands.

Kapital, 3rd edition[5] now fully printed, will be issued very soon; as soon as we get copies we shall send you one.

Pumps and Percy were in Manchester last week, say Jollymeier is not quite well yet. When we are all on our legs again, we must have a continuation of last summer’s sprees, and you must then bring Paul too, unless he is clever enough to get himself locked up again. In the meantime mille saluts to him and to you too from

Your affectionate

F. Engels

  1. P. Lafargue, 'Socialism and Darwinism', Progress, Vol. 2, December 1883, pp. 343-49.
  2. The novel which Lafargue was trying to write was entitled Jugement de Paris.
  3. all the rest
  4. Johann Carl and Louise
  5. the third German edition of Volume I of Capital