THE LIFE AND WORK
FRIEDRICH ENGELS was born in Barmen, November 28,
1820, thus being two and a half years younger than Karl Marx.
He was the son of a wealthy manufacturer and was brought up
in a very conservative and orthodox religious atmosphere.
After finishing the Realschule* at Barmen, he went to the
Gymnasium t of Elberfeld, but a year before the final examination he
entered his father's business. It is interesting to note that the Rhine
province, the birthplace and home of Engels, was the most industrially
and politically developed district of Germany, owing to its geographical
position and to its wealth in coal and metals. Consequently, earlier than
elsewhere in Germany there had arisen a powerful capitalist industry,
a revolutionary bourgeoisie, the sworn enemy of the still existing
feudalism, and the necessary complement of the capitalist bourgeoisie,
a strong proletarian class. At the same time, Germany generally was
undergoing a revolution in philosophy, the highwater mark of which
was the Hegelian philosophy. Like Marx, and like the progressive
intellectual German youth of the time, Engels, too, was deeply influenced by this philosophic revival, and became an enthusiastic young
Hegelian. Although he showed himself to be a good business man
whilst working in mercantile houses, first in Barmen and then in
Bremen, yet his heart was never in it, and all his spare time and thoughts
were given over to the study of philosophy. In letters written to school
friends when he was about eighteen years old, he jokes about his vain
poetic efforts, criticises literature, but not a word of business affairs. In
these letters he also speaks feelingly of his religious doubts, and of his
yearning to get back again to the faith in the God of his childhood.
Finally, he broke through his religious fetters and embraced definitely
the Hegelian philosophy.
From October, 1841, to October, 1842, Engels served in the Guard
Artillery in Berlin, and, just as in his office he was a good business
man, so in barracks he became a very good soldier. He studied military
science, and subsequently this became one of his favourite studies, so
much so that, much later, on the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian
war, Engels wrote a series of articles for the Pall Mall Gazette, in which
# Realschule—a Secondary School in which special stress is laid on the classics.
t Gymnasium—a Secondary School where special stress is laid on the physical and