Letters of Jenny Marx 1861

Jenny Marx To Engels
In Manchester

Source: MECW, Volume 41, p. 578;
First published: abridged in Marx and Engels, Works, Moscow, 1963 and in full in Marx/Engels, Werke, 1964.

[London, beginning of April 1861]

Dear Mr Engels,

I find it incomprehensible that Moor shouldn’t have written to you yet. I had thought you were quite au courant with the Marx family affairs, and even hoped I might learn further details from you, since this time my dear lord and master’s letters to me are quite exceptionally prone to the ‘lapidary style’. So far, I have had to content myself with the most sketchy outlines and the driest of facts; however, I do know a little more than you, and hence will hasten to pass on that modicum, the more so since it is, in the main, most satisfactory. To begin at the beginning. The uncle” has fallen in with all tile son’s proposals and, as soon as Karl arrives in Bommel, will settle the financial business. Now, as to the rumours in the papers, they are all wrong, as you no doubt supposed, nor has it ever remotely occurred to Karl that the family, might move to and settle down in Berlin. What he did propose to effect there, however, was his renaturalisation. I don’t quite understand this and don’t know why Karl should be in such a hurry to become a Royal Prussian ‘subject’ again. I'd rather have remained a ‘stray groschen’ (red Wolff’s late-lamented threepenny bit) a while longer. Negotiations over this have prolonged his stay in Berlin. The government wanted to settle the matter by according him Berlin citizenship with which Karl refused to be satisfied, and thus the whole business has dragged on from day to day. Today Karl writes to say that he doesn’t expect to hear for certain before the 12th and until then must continue to be bored stiff. Little Izzy still seems addicted to drivelling and the speculative notion. In other respects, he really, gave proof of the utmost friendship for Karl, whose inseparable companion he has been. Now, Moor would have proceeded straight from Berlin to Bommel, had he not received front his mother an invitation, which has left hint undecided whether or riot he should go to Trier. If he does go there, it means yet more delay before he conies home, and he could hardly be here before a fortnight IS out. Lassalle’s head seems to be filled with dreams of a great newspaper; he also maintains that he could contribute 20,000 talers to it. But what a risky venture for Karl — a daily paper, and on the countess’s own ground, too! I myself feel small longing for the fatherland, for ‘dear’, beloved, trusty Germany, that mater dolorosa of poets — and as for the girls! The idea of leaving the country of their precious Shakespeare appals them; they've become English to the marrow and cling like limpets to the soil of England. It’s a good thing your warrant has been withdrawn”; thus you're free to go, after all. I assume that Schily and Imandt will be in the same category as yourself. Yesterday I had news of the former through Rheinländer. For months the poor fellow has been so ill and miserable that he finds it difficult even to write and it costs hint a tremendous effort to drag himself from one place to another. His friends, it seems, had pretty well given hint tip and believed him to be consumptive. He now plus his faith on Morrison’s pills, that worst of all quack medicines. The extent of the havoc wrought by these poisonous pills may be gauged from the fact that he actually feels somewhat drawn to the National Association. (At its last meeting here, Hans Ibeles and Rudolf Schramm had a fearful set-to — Schramm launched a furious onslaught upon the reverend gentleman who, replying with priestly unction, was accorded the laurels by a good-for-nothing audience made up of clerks, Islington choristers, etc.) Rheinländer had also had a letter from Schily with news about la Moïse. Sauernheimer, the general, who had for many years been her lover, was getting married; to protect himself against Mrs Hess, who had threatened to create a public scandal in the church, he surrounded himself with a number of policemen. Mrs H. was not allowed into the church and had to content herself with parading in all her finery outside the church door. She is said to lead a very gay life and for a change, when things are bad, to do sewing for a German tailor. From time to time, she calls on Schily who can never forget having often seen her tipsy in Geneva. Besides this tragi-comical affair, he also relates that in Paris Mires is said to have advanced Eugénie vast sums for the Pope, and that ‘little Mathilde’, too, is in bad odour.

I was most interested to hear from you about the Lancashire strikes, since it’s impossible to get a clear idea of what’s going on from the newspapers. At any rate, inopportune though this opposition on the part of the English workers may be, and unedifying as are its results, it is a heartening manifestation by comparison with the Prussian workers’ movement and the social question in the shape it assumes over there — namely, Schulze-Delitzsch, cum the capital-loving Straubingers, their savings banks and distress funds!

As regards Lenchen’s health, it is improving steadily, if only very slowly. She is still very, very weak, but is already spending hours out of bed, and today she even walked up and down outside the house in the sunshine.

I am glad to hear that poor Lupus is back on his feet again. Please give him my warmest regards; similarly the girls ask me to send you their most cordial regards with this gossipy scrawl.

Let us hear from you again soon.

With warm regards,

Jenny Marx

Apropos. I really cannot resist depicting for you a little scene from life in London. A week ago last Wednesday, immediately after dinner, I saw a vast concourse outside our door; all the children of the neighbourhood had gathered round a man who was lying flat on his face outside our house. Never in my life have I seen anything like it. No Irishman, in the depths of degradation, could equal this skeleton. Moreover, the man, clad in filthy rags, appeared to be unusually tall. When I arrived on the scene, neighbours had already brought out food and spirits, but in vain. The man lay there motionless, and we thought he must be dead. I sent for a policeman. When the latter had arrived and taken a look at him, he at once addressed him as ‘You mean impostor! ‘ and dealt him a blow that sent his hat flying, after which he picked him up like a parcel and shook him. And who did I find staring straight at me with perplexed, despairing eyes? — the Laplander! You can imagine my horror. He went staggering off and I sent after him with some money which, however, he refused. He said to Marian: ‘No, please, I don’t need money’, and set it down on a stone, then called out to the policemanThat’s for your attention.’ Sad, is it not?