Marx-Engels Correspondence 1869

Engels To Marx
In London

Source: MECW, Volume 43, p. 245;
First published: abridged in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Stuttgart, 1913 and in full in MEGA, Berlin, 1931.

Manchester, 21 March 1869

Dear Moor,

Lizzie [Burns]’s case was pleurisy, which, however, took a remarkably quick course — not till last Tuesday was the exudation on the right lung evident, and by this morning it had already vanished completely. She is getting up again today for the first time. Through a remarkable piece of divination, I diagnosed pleurisy for Gumpert on Sunday, he examined her, found nothing, declared it was bronchitis (which was also present), in addition to catarrh in the lungs, and it was naturally rather annoying for him when the pleurisy declared itself after all. I naturally do not claim that it was present when he could not find it.

Poor Löhrchen [Laura] must have had a hard time of it. Ten weeks in childbed is no joke, and it is good that it is over. When they get there Tussy and Jenny must give her and Lafargue too my hearty greetings.

The explanation about Castille was very useful to me. The wisdom of Solomon Beesly returned herewith. It is the greatest nonsense. In time, this Comtism will confirm an even stronger version of that remark made by that man from Bonn about the Hegelians: they do not need to know about anything in order to write about everything.

In Germany the conversion of the natural forces, for instance, heat into mechanical energy, etc., has given rise to a very absurd theory, which incidentally follows with a certain inevitability from Laplace’s old hypothesis, but is now displayed, as it were, with mathematical proofs: that the world is becoming steadily colder, that the temperature in the universe is levelling down and that, in the end, a moment will come when all life will be impossible and the entire world will consist of frozen spheres rotating round one another. I am simply waiting for the moment when the clerics seize upon this theory as the last word in materialism. It is impossible to imagine anything more stupid. Since, according to this theory, in the existing world, more heat must always be converted into other energy than can be obtained by converting other energy into heat, so the original hot state, out of which things have cooled, is obviously inexplicable, even contradictory, and thus presumes a god. Newton’s first impulse is thus converted into a first heating. Nevertheless, the theory is regarded as the finest and highest perfection of materialism; these gentlemen prefer to construct a world that begins in nonsense and ends in nonsense, instead of regarding these nonsensical consequences as proof that what they call natural law is, to date, only half-known to them. But this theory is all the dreadful rage in Germany.

I've not yet seen the Zukunft.

Tomorrow I shall send you stamps for one pound for the E. Jones demonstration.

Best greetings.

F. E.