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Marx-Engels Correspondence 1866

Marx To Francois Lafargue
In Bordeaux

Source: MECW Volume 42, p. 334;
First published: in the language of the original, French, in Annali, Milano, 1958;
Translated from the French.

London, 12 November 1866

My dear Mr Lafargue,

I hope our friend il amoroso [Paul Lafargue] has apologised to you on my behalf for my inexcusable silence. On the one hand, I have been plagued by constantly recurring illness, on the other, I have been so taken up by a very lengthy work [Capital] that I have neglected my correspondence with my closest friends. If I did not count you among that category, I should never have dared so to offend against propriety.

My sincere thanks for the wine. Being myself from a winegrowing region, and former owner of a vineyard, I know a good wine when I come across one. I even incline somewhat to old Luther’s view that a man who does not love wine will never be good for anything. (There are exceptions to every rule.) But one cannot, for example, deny that the political movement in England has been spurred on by the commercial treaty with France and the import of French wines. That is one of the good things that Louis Bonaparte was capable of doing, whereas poor Louis Philippe was so intimidated by the manufacturers in the North that he did not dare enter into commercial treaties with England. It is only to be regretted that regimes such as the Napoleonic one, which are founded on the weariness and impotence of the two antagonistic classes of society, buy some material progress at the expense of general demoralisation. Fortunately, the mass of working men cannot be demoralised. Manual labour is the great antidote for all the ills of society.

You will have been just as delighted by the defeat of President Johnson in the latest elections as I was. The workers in the North have at last fully understood that white labour will never be emancipated so long as black labour is still stigmatised.

On Saturday evening Citizen Dupont brought me a letter addressed to Paul by the secretary of the College of Surgeons. He required some papers which were neither in the possession of my daughter [Laura] (except for his baccalauréat diploma) nor of the person who has charge of your son’s effects. You will therefore have to send us these documents at once.

Please be so good as to tell your son that he will greatly oblige me by desisting from propaganda in Paris. This is a dangerous time. The best thing he can do in Paris is to use his time to profit by his association with Dr Moilin. It will do him no harm to spare his polemical strength. The more he holds himself in check, the better he will be as a fighter when the right moment comes.

My daughter asks me to request you to be so kind as to send with Paul some photograms of Madame Lafargue and of yourself.

All my family joins me in greetings to the Lafargue family.

Yours ever
Karl Marx