Marx-Engels Correspondence 1856
Source: MECW Volume 40, p. 70;
First published: abridged in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Stuttgart, 1913.
First, I must acknowledge with thanks receipt of the money. I would have done so yesterday had we not been in a veritable hurly-burly with our removal. It remains doubtful, moreover, whether we shall be out of here before Monday since, even with your money and what the pawnshop has yielded, we still haven’t quite got the requisite amount. The present crisis on the European stock exchanges has come at an awkward time for us personally.
No news apart from what you may already know, namely that Stirner has died. A letter has also reached London, or so Freiligrath tells me, from his ‘ex-sweetheart’ in Australia, in which she says that she has married again but has at the same time turned religious and, by harping on the ‘better life to come’, has contrived to drive her novum hominem into the ‘madhouse’. This last is meant verbatim.
Well, I went to souper with the Putnam’s man. Besides myself, the only people present were Freiligrath and an old Yankee. The Putnam’s man was a quiet, genial soul, the other Yankee a jaunty, witty chap. Putnam wants us if possible, after the Bazancourt to revert to the ‘ships against walls’ question, as being of special interest to Americans in connection with the recent war. Then again, something on floating batteries and gunboats; light or heavy guns, etc. All this seems to be with an eye to an American war, at a closer or more distant time, against England. Besides these militaribus I am then to write on Heine. In short, we can now engage in regular intercourse with this very ‘good’ house.
Considering the rent, the house I have taken is very nice and could hardly have been let so cheaply were not the immediate neighbourhood, roads, etc., somewhat unfinished. When you come up to London you'll find a complete home.
What do you think of the aspect of the money market? There is no doubt that the increases in the discount rate on the Continent are partly associated with the appreciation of silver against gold due to the Californian and Australian gold (the Belgian Bank is now giving only 19 frs. 40 c. — silver — for one napoléon d'or) and hence bullion dealers everywhere where gold and silver are the legal standard are withdrawing the latter from the banks. But whatever the reason for the increases in the discount rate, these are at least precipitating the downfall of the vast speculative transactions and, more specifically, of the grand pawningshop at Paris. I don’t believe that the great monetary crisis will outlast the winter of 1857. Those stupid asses, the Britishers, imagine that this time all ‘is sound’ over here, as opposed to the Continent. Apart from the intimate connection between the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street and the Paris concern, the asses overlook the fact that a large part of English capital is tied up in continental credits and that their ‘sound’ overtrading (exports this year are expected to reach £110 million) is based on the Continent’s ‘unsound’ speculation, just as their civilisational propaganda of 1854-56 was on the coup d'état of 1851. This time, however, as opposed to earlier crises, France has discovered the form in which speculation could be and has been propagated throughout the whole of Europe. In contrast to the Gallic raffinement of St. Simonism, stockjobbery and imperialism, your English speculator at home appears to have reverted to the primitive form of simple and unmitigated fraud. Witness Strahan, Paul and Bates, the Tipperary Bank of Sadleir memory, the great City frauds of Davidson, Cole and Co., now the Royal British Bank and, finally, the Crystal Palace affairs (4,000 bogus shares put into circulation). The Britishers abroad speculate under continental colours, those at home revert to fraude simple, and that’s what the chaps call a ‘sound state of commerce’.
This time, by the by, the thing has assumed European dimensions such as have never been seen before, and I don’t suppose we'll be able to spend much longer here merely as spectators. The very fact that I've at last got round to setting up house again and sending for my books — seems to me to prove that the ‘mobilisation’ of our persons is at hand.