of Friedrich Engels 15
state here that the correspondence between Marx and Engels fills
four fair-sized volumes. In these letters they discuss their economic
and philosophical theories, the books they are reading and writing at
the time, all the leading European events of the time, such as the commercial crises of 1857, the Crimean War, the French war against
Austria, the war between the Northern and Southern States of
America, and so on and so forth.
They also discuss the working-class movements and their leaders in
Europe and America. They are keenly interested and exchange their
views on all the discoveries of science, both practical and theoretical. In
one letter Engels describes a discovery in electricity made by himself,
and in a letter dated May 3,1873, Engels communicates to Marx and
Schorlemmer some reflections of his own in physical science.
Schorlemmer, an eminent chemist and professor of chemistry at that
time in Manchester, was an intimate friend of theirs, and, judging by
his remarks at the end of the various paragraphs of Engels' letter,
thought highly of the points made by Engels.
To deal adequately with this correspondence would require quite a
book to itself. We shall, therefore, make no attempt to discuss it, only
taking such extracts from it as will serve to illustrate Engels' life and
Engels' family very much wanted him to take up commerce as a
career, and, of course, to enter his father's business, but every fibre in
young Friedrich's soul protested against such a fate. His ambitions
lay in a quite different direction. Thus, in March, 1845, he writes to
Marx: "I am leading now a veritable dog's life. On account of the
affairs with the meetings, and the slovenliness of several of the
Communists here, with whom I, of course, associate, all the old religious fanaticism of my old governor (his father) has been reawakened, and his ire has been increased still more by the declaration of my intention to give up definitely the office bench. Further,
since my open appearance as a Communist"—(they had had some
meetings at Barmen at which Friedrich had spoken)—"he has
developed in addition a passionate bourgeois fanaticism.
"Now, just consider my position. As I am going away in about
fourteen days or so, I cannot very well kick up a row. I let everything
pass by without protest. They are not accustomed to this, and so their
spirits rise. ... If it were not for my mother, who really possesses a
very fine personality, only cannot stand up against my father, and
whom I really love, I would not dream for a moment of making the
slightest concession to my fanatical and despotic governor. But my
LOther is in any case ill every now and again, and almost every time
she is worried, especially about me, she gets an eight-days' headache.
It is unbearable. I must get away, and hardly know how to hold out the
few weeks I still have to remain here. Still, they will pass."
In 1845 Engels gave up mercantile life, left Barmen and went to