Letter to Nikolai Danielson, January 5, 1888

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Author(s) Friedrich Engels
Written 5 January 1888


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Source: Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 48, pp 135-137;
First published: in Russian, in the magazine Minuvshiye gody, No. 2, St Petersburg, 1908;.
Collection(s): Minuvshiye gody

To Nikolai Danielson in St Petersburg

Dear Sir,

I have removed and my new address is: Mrs Rosher, Cottesloe, Burton Road, Kilburn, London N. W. There is no number, Cottesloe being the name of the house.

I have at once ordered from my bookseller here the work of Dr Keussler. Even if the first volumes are based on imperfect materials I have seen enough of the work of your Zemstvos to know that the resume of them must contain immensely valuable material and, being written in German, prove a perfect revelation to Occidentals. I shall take good care that these materials are made use of.

I am afraid your land-bank for the nobility will have about the same effect as the Prussian land-banks have had. There the nobility took up loans under pretext of improving their estates, but really spent most of the money in keeping up their habitual style of living, in gambling, trips to Berlin and the provincial chefs-lieux etc. For the nobility considered it their first duty standesgemass zu leben, and the first duty of the state seemed to them to enable them to do so. And so, in spite of all banks, of all the enormous direct and indirect money-presents made to them by the state, the Prussian nobles are over head and ears indebted to the Jews, and no raising of the import duties on agricultural produce will save them. And I remember one well-known half-German Russian, attached illegitimately to the Russian nobility, finding these Prussian nobles still too stingy. When, on arriving from one shore to another, he saw them at home he exclaimed: why these people try to save money while with us a man would be considered the meanest of the mean unless he spent half as much again as his income! If this be really the principle of the Russian nobility, then I wish them joy of their banks.

The peasants’ bank too seems similar to the Prussian peasants’ banks, and it is almost inconceivable how difficult it is for some people to see that all fresh sources of credit opened up to landed proprietors (small or large) must result in enslaving them to the victorious capitalist.

My eyes still require des ménagements, but anyhow I hope in a short time, say next month, to be able to resume my work on the 3rd volume; unfortunately I cannot as yet make any promises as to the time of finishing it.

The English translation has sold and is selling very well, indeed surprisingly well for a book of that size and class; the publisher is enchanted with his speculation. The critics are on the other hand very, very much below the average low level. Only one good article in the Athenaeum ; the rest either merely give extracts from the preface or, if trying to tackle the book itself, are unutterably poor. The fashionable theory just now here is that of Stanley Jevons according to which value is determined by utility, i.e. Tauschwert-Gebrauchswert and on the other hand by the limit of supply (i.e. the cost of production), which is merely a confused and circuitous way of saying that value is determined by supply and demand. Vulgar Economy everywhere! The second great literary organ here, the Academy, has not yet spoken.

The sale of the German edition of I and II volumes goes on very well. There are a great many articles written about the book and its theories, an extract, or rather independent reproduction in: Karl Marx’s Ökonomische Lehren von K. Kautsky, not bad, though not always quite correct, I will send it you. Then a miserable apostate Jew Georg Adler, Privatdozent in Breslau, has written a big book, the title of which I forget, to prove Marx wrong, but it is simply a scurrilous and ridiculous pamphlet by which the author wants to call attention – the attention of the ministry and bourgeoisie – on himself and his importance. I have asked all my friends not to notice it. Indeed if any miserable impotent fellow wants to faire de la réclame for himself, he attacks our author.

Friends in Paris have doubted the accuracy of your very sad news about Mr Mutual. Could you give me in some way or other any particulars of this event?’

I enclose a little thing published some years ago.

Yours sincerely,
P. W Rosher