Letters of Jenny Marx 1863

Jenny Marx To Berta Markheim
In Fulda

Source: MECW, Volume 41, p. 581
First published: (in Italian) in Movimento operaio, No. 2, March-April 1955.

London, 6 July [1863]

My dear Mrs Markheim,

On Saturday, just as we were about to sit down at table, I received a letter addressed in an unfamiliar hand. Being more used to getting disagreeable letters than cheerful ones, I resolved to put aside this strange luncheon guest. But the children said ‘open it, there may be something nice inside’, and how pleasantly, surprised I was, how moved and grateful when I found it was an indirect token of your existence and your affection, and that you had again been thinking of me with love, loyalty and sympathy, without so much as a reminder on my part.

I am certain that it will be some sort of satisfaction to you to learn that your unexpected contribution has helped us — indeed made it possible — to send little Jenny to a seaside resort, a course which, in the doctor’s opinion, has, alas, again become a sad necessity. The poor child is again suffering from a most obstinate cough, which has failed to respond either to medicines or to the warm summer weather but which will, I trust, be banished by sea air and bathing.'

The other two are cheerful and well. Laura now accompanies her Papa on many of his visits to the British Museum, to which end she has been given a ticket. The little one [Eleanor] has just moved out of the ‘spelling’ stage into that of ‘reading with obstacles’ — not exactly a race. Grimm’s fairy tales are a great delight to her and Snow-White, Sleeping Beauty, King Thrushbeard and Brother Merry are now the heroes of her childish fantasies.

My dear Karl had a great deal of trouble with his liver this spring. However, despite all the setbacks, his book [Capital] is now making gigantic strides towards completion. It would have been finished sooner, had he kept to his original plan of limiting it to 20 or 30 sheets. But since the Germans really believe only in ‘fat’ books, and the far more subtle concentration and elimination of all that is superfluous counts for nothing in the eyes of those worthies, Karl has added a lot more historical material, and it is as a volume of 50 sheets that it will fall, like a bomb, on German soil!. Alas for our German soil! Abroad, one feels almost ashamed of being a German — and as for the honour of being ‘Prussian’. Could anything be more pitiful than the spectacle presented by Prussia? It is difficult to say which is the more deplorable, the king, the ministers, the camarilla — or the servile populace and, above all, the miserable, cowardly, toadying, silent press! One often feels tempted to turn away in disgust from all politics, and indeed I wish we could observe the scene purely as ‘amateurs'; but for us, unfortunately, it always remains a vital question.

Karl hopes to go to Germany in September. Perhaps he will see Dr. K. then, too, and will be in your vicinity as well. Do, please, let me have some direct news from you before long. With most heartfelt and grateful good wishes from us all and, especially, from

Jenny Marx