Letters of Marx and Engels, 1846

Engels To Marx
In Brussels

Source: MECW Volume 38 p. 44;
Written: 27 July 1846;
First published: in MEGA, Abt. III, Bd. 1, 1929.

Ostend, 27 July 1846
11, rue St. Thomas

Dear Marx,

I've been out on several occasions hunting for lodgings for you, but I haven’t found anything much. Either too large or too small. Seldom two habitable rooms together, the bedrooms for the most part wretchedly cramped. Enfin yesterday I discovered 2 lodgings au choix [for your choosing]: 1. two large rooms, first and second floor respectively; each with bed, for 95 fr. a month, 30 fr. extra for the third bed, breakfast 1/2 fr. a day per head or stomach. 2. a small house belonging to the same propriétaire, one living-room downstairs, upstairs two communicating bedrooms, one of them tolerably, large, and a closet, at 150 fr. a month. Breakfast même prix. Whoever takes the house will have a maid’s services included. The two rooms mentioned above are part of a restaurant, ‘au duc de Brabant’, rue du lait battu, so meals could be had there if required. But in this respect you'd be quite independent there. At all events you would do well, if you are considering one of these two lodgings, to put up at the ‘duc de Brabant’ it’s cheaper than an hotel and, should you not like the rooms, you can ask the woman there to show you the house, which is situated in the rue des soeurs blanches No. 5, and if that doesn’t suit you either, you will no doubt find another. By the way, as compared with last year, there’s been a fearsome rise in the cost of lodgings as of everything, or rather, ‘and the same for everything’. Fr. 5 will cover the cost of dinner for the whole of your family, beef-steak 1 fr., cutlets idem, wine 2-3 fr. Beer bad, cigars bad and expensive, you'd be well advised to bring a few 100 from Brussels, in which case you can assume that the following table of expenses is correct:

 Accommodationfr. 125 — fr. 150 
 Breakfastfr.  45 — fr.  45 (if you sometimes eat by the sea)
 Dinnerfr. 150 — fr. 175
 Supper, 2-3 beef-steaksfr.  60 — fr.  90 (people stuff themselves here)
(per month)Afternoon coffee on the beach, very necessary, 2 cupsfr.  18 — fr.  18 
 Laundering is very dear, at leastfr.  20 — fr.  30 (In addition bathing @ fr. 1.30 fr. 1.50 — Appr. 40 fr.)
   fr. 418 — fr. 508 

Besides this it would be desirable to have another 100 fr. for incidental expenses, for without it you can be very bored here. You needn’t stay here more than a month. Only those with broken backs, or who are complete and utter wrecks both inside and out, stay any longer. But you must so arrange the rent that, should you stay beyond the month, the additional period is paid à tant par jour, otherwise they will charge you for a full half month if you stay two days longer.

For the rest, life is very sluggish here. During the first few days a boring philistine from Barmen, la bête des bêtes [a monumental ass], was, with the exception of my family and imposed upon me by the same, my one and only companion. Yesterday Blank, whom you know, arrived from London and through him I at last made the acquaintance of a Frenchman qui a beaucoup d'esprit [who has a very lively mind] and who is an altogether excellent fellow, although he has spent 15 years in Elberfeld and speaks German par conséquent [as a result].

‘Finally I would touch on’ the Mrs Hess affair. It’s bad, but one cannot possibly let her suffer for the stupidities of the aforementioned Hess; I shall therefore try to smuggle her across the border if, that is, I get enough money from my old man for the journey to Paris, which is still not sure. Send the enclosed scribble to the beloved man of God [Moses Hess] in Cologne, to cheer him up. So the woman is in Brussels already?

Great men there are none here. They don’t arrive till August. No one has yet divulged the identity of the great Germans who are due to arrive. For the time being, therefore, I must content myself with the Prussian Bank project.[63] It’s farcical that the gents should imagine they're going to make a lot of money out of it. A few of these big bankers, who want to become ‘major stockholders’ and conclude their secret agreements with the bureaucrats, e.g. to the effect that their shares are not redeemable, that they are introduced by stealth onto the main board, etc., may perhaps allow themselves to be persuaded. But no one else. Delightful that neither the subscribers nor the amounts subscribed are to be made known. This means that they're expecting damned little money and are seeking, in true bureaucratic fashion, to cover themselves to some extent in case of failure.

Write soon and let me know whether you're coming and when.[64]



Yesterday these visions were to be seen in the sea by male and female spectators alike.