Marx-Engels Correspondence 1863

Marx To Jenny Marx [wife]
In London

Source: MECW, Volume 41, p. 498;
First published: abridged in Die Neue Zeit, Stuttgart, 1897-98 and in full in Marx and Engels, Works, Moscow, 1963.

Trier, 15 December 1863,
Gasthof von Venedig

Dear sweet darling Jenny,

I arrived here exactly a week ago today. Tomorrow I am going to Frankfurt to see Aunt Esther (NB: the lady, who was in Trier, was formerly in Algiers, and lives with my aunt, is also my father’s sister, also an aunt, is called Babette, familiarly ‘Bäbchen’, is rich). From Frankfurt I shall go to Bommel, as I wrote my uncle yesterday, probably to his dismay.

If I have been so long in writing to you, this was certainly not out of forgetfulness. Quite the reverse. I have made a daily pilgrimage to the old Westphalen home (in the Neustrasse), which interested me more than any Roman antiquities because it reminded me of the happiest days of lily youth arid had harboured my greatest treasure. Moreover, every day and on every side I am asked about the quondam ‘most beautiful girl in Trier’ and the ‘queen of the ball’. It’s damned pleasant for a man, when his wife lives on like this as all ‘enchanted princess’ in the imagination of a whole town.

The reason I didn’t write was that every day I hoped to have something definite to say, but up to this moment don’t yet know of anything definite. For this is how matters stand. On my arrival I naturally found everything under seal save for such furniture as was in daily use. My mother, with her usual mania for assuming ‘supreme command’, had told Conradi not to bother about anything; she had so arranged matters that Uncle would see to ‘everything’. What she gave Conradi was a notarial copy of a sort of will, which contained nothing but the following terms: 1. She left all the furniture and linen to Emilie with the exception of the gold- and silverware; 2. To her son Carl she leaves the 1, 100 talers, etc.; 3. To Sophie, father’s portrait. That’s all there is to the will. (NB: Sophie has 1,000 talers a year, for the most part given her by the Philipses. So, after all, you see, my relations are decent ‘folk’.)

Apart from this scrap of paper, my mother had lodged another (now invalid) legally attested will. This was of an earlier date and was nullified by the more recent will. It had been drawn up before Emilie’s marriage. In it she had made Emilie the beneficiary of everything of which she was entitled to dispose. In addition, she had appointed Uncle Martin and Uncle Philips her executors. She — or rather her bibulous notary Zell (deceased) — forgot to repeat this clause relating to executors in the scrap of paper which now alone is valid and which I have described above, so that if Uncle is the executor, it is only thanks to our bonne grace. (For which I, of course, have my own ‘reasons’.) As yet, I know nothing about the actual value of the estate, because all the papers are in the sealed cupboard. The seals have not yet been removed because of the time-consuming formalities that have to be gone through before the Dutch powers of attorney (for Juta and Sophie) can arrive here. So far as I am concerned this will take too long. I am therefore giving Conradi power of attorney. Besides, there’s nothing left here in Trier (Grünberg was sold long ago) except 5 casks of 1858 wine, which my mother refused to sell at the right moment, and some gold- and silverware. This will be shared out equally among the heirs. The real assets, however, are all in Uncle’s hands.

My mother died at 4 in the afternoon of 30 November, on the very day and at the very hour of her marriage. She had predicted that she would die at that time.

Today I am attending to the things for Mr Demuth and Lieschen. I shall write to you at greater length from Frankfurt or Bommel. Greetings and much love to everyone. Above all and in particular, please give the Chinese Successor [Eleanor] a thousand kisses on my behalf.


(I hope to be able to send you some money in my next letter.)