Letter from Jenny Marx to Karl

in Paris

Written: [Trier, between August 11 and 18, 1844]
Source: Marx Engels Collected Works Vol 1, pg 581-584.
Publisher: International Publishers (1975)
First Published: First published in Marx/Engels, Werke, Ergänzungsband, Teil 1, Berlin, 1968
Translated: Clemens Dutt
Transcribed: S. Ryan
HTML Markup: S. Ryan

My dearest, unique Karl,

You cannot believe, darling of my heart, how very happy you make me by your letters, and how your last pastoral letter, you high priest and bishop of my heart, has once again restored soothing calm and peace to your poor lamb. It is certainly wrong and silly to torture oneself with all sorts of cares and glimpses of dark distant perspectives. I am very well aware of that myself in those self-tormenting moments -- but although the spirit is willing, the flesh is weak, and so it is always only with your help that I am able to exorcise those demons. Your latest news truly brought me such real and tangible solace that it would be quite wrong to start brooding again. I expect now that it is going to happen as in a game of cards, and I hope that some external circumstance will determine the time of my return home. Perhaps Edgar's arrival or some similar [external] occasion. I touch on this painful [point] very unwillingly, and it is only in Edgar's presence that I shall return to this matter for a decision. In any case I shall be coming before the winter, how could I indeed resist such dear, heart-warming friendliness as that which shines on me from your lines. And then in the background are dark feelings of anxiety and fear, the real menace of unfaithfulness, the seductions and attractions of a capital city -- all those are powers and forces whose effect on me is more powerful than anything else. How I am looking forward after such a long time to rest comfortably and happily once more close to your heart, in your arms. What a lot I shall have to chatter with you about, and what trouble you will have to bring me again à la hauteur des principes for in partitioned Germany it is not easy to remain au courant.

How glad you will be to see the little creature. I am convinced that you will not be able to recognise our child, unless her little eyes and black crest of hair reveal the secret to you. Everything else is really quite different now, only the resemblance to you becomes ever more obvious. During the last few days she has begun to eat a little broth made from the herbs which I have brought with me, and she relishes it greatly. In the bath she splashes with her little hands so much that the whole room is flooded, and then she dips her tiny finger in the water and afterwards licks it hastily. Her little thumb, which she has always kept bent and then made to peep out between her fingers, has become so unusually supple and flexible owing to this habit, that one cannot help being astonished by it. She can become a little piano player -- I believe she can do magic tricks with her little thumb. When she cries, we quickly draw her attention to the flowers in the wall-paper, and then she becomes quiet as a mouse and gazes so long that tears come into her eyes. We must not talk to her for too long because it makes her over-exert herself. She wants to imitate every sound and answer it, and the fact that her forehead swells and reddens is a sign of excessive strain. Incidentally, she is the acme of cheerfulness. Every kind of look you give her makes her laugh. You ought to see what a darling little creature I shall bring with me. When she hears anyone speaking she at once looks in that direction and goes on looking until something fresh happens. You can't have any idea of the liveliness of the child. For whole nights through her little eyes refuse to close in sleep, and if one looks at her she laughs out loud. She is happiest when she sees a light or the fire. By that means one can allay her heaviest storm. Karl dear, how long will our little doll play a solo part? I fear, I fear, that when her papa and mama are together once again, and live in common ownership, the performance will soon become a duet. Or should we set about it in the good Parisian style? Usually one finds the greatest number of children where the means are smallest. Recently a poor man with ten children asked for relief from Chief Burgomaster Gortz. When he was reproached for having produced so many children, his only reply was to say: there is a parish fðte once a year even in the tiniest and most insignificant village. Then he was given assistance, and no doubt he will be celebrating the eleventh parish fðte.

We have not seen your relatives for a long time. First the great illustrious visit and now the important arrangements for the marriage, so that one's presence is inopportune, one does not receive any calls and is oneself modest enough not to visit them again. The marriage is on August 28. On Sunday the banns were called for the first time. In spite of all the magnificence, Jettchen's health becomes worse every day, her cough and hoarseness are increasing. She can hardly walk any longer. She goes about like a ghost, but married she must be. It is generally regarded as terrible and unscrupulous. Rocholl, however, is said to be in favour of it in order to secure something for his nephew. I don't know whether that can turn out well. If at least they were going to live in a town -- but in a miserable village, and in winter at that. I can't imagine how your relatives can be cheerful and happy about it. If fate did not somewhat dampen their spirits, there could be no escape from their haughtiness. And the boasting about grand parties and brooches, ear-rings and shawls! I cannot understand your mother. She herself has told us that she thinks Jettchen is consumptive, and yet she lets her marry. But Jettchen is said to want it very strongly. I am curious to know how it will all turn out.

In Trier there is already such a stir and bustle as I have never seen. There is activity everywhere. All the shops have been newly smartened up, everyone is arranging rooms for lodging. We, too, have got a room ready. The whole of Coblenz is coming here and the cream of society is joining in the procession. All the hotels are already full up. 210 new pubs have been established, as well as circuses, theatres, menageries, dioramas, international theatres, in short, everything one could think of is already announcing its presence. The entire palace square is covered with tents. Entire wooden houses have been erected outside the gates. Trier marches on Sunday. Everyone has to join a procession and then come the villages. Every day some 16,000 people. Frau Stein has already sold 400 talers' worth of tiny copies of the sacred linen cloth, made out of old strips of ribbon. Rosaries, worth from six pfennigs to one hundred talers, are displayed at every house. I, too, have bought a little medallion for my little one, and yesterday she herself obtained a small rosary. You cannot imagine the bustling activity that is going on here. Next week half Luxemburg is coming; cousin Michel has also announced his arrival. All the people seem to be mad. What is one to think about it? Is it a good sign of the times that everything has to go to extremes, or are we still a long way from our goal?

Where you are, too, all hell is being let loose. Will things be patched up once more? And tell me, what did the blockhead [note: Ruge] say about your article? Has he given tit for tat, replied or kept silent? Jung really is an exceptionally noble characher. What a good thing it is that you are now a little bit in funds again. Only always bear in mind, when the purse is full, how quickly it becomes empty again, and how difficult it is to fill it. You dear good Karl, darling of my heart. How I love you, how my heart yearns for you. I should like so very much that Edgar could still see his charming niece. If only he became an uncle barrister -- then I could earlier talk to Mother about my departure. Our little doll is just eating her soup. Just think, she does not want to lie down at all any more, she wants to sit upright all the time. She is then better able to look around her. Tell me, dear heart, for some time past I have noticed that you no longer mention Guerrier. Has anything happened in connection with the worthy cousin? And is there no news of the divine Georga?

I am very eager to know what the Pomeranian is going to do now. Will he keep silent or will he make a row? It is peculiar that from Cologne there never comes anything unpleasant, but always the best. After all, how loyal our friends are, how solicitous, tactful and considerate. Even if it is painful to have to ask for money, in relation to these people it surely ceases to be at all unpleasant and onerous. I can hardly go on writing, the baby keeps distracting my attention with her delicious chuckles and attempts at speech. You cannot have any idea of the beauty of her forehead, the transparency of her skin and the wonderful delicacy of her tiny hands.

Dear good heart of my heart. Do write to me again quite soon. I am so very happy when I see your handwriting. You dear, good. sweet, little wild boar. You dear father of my little doll.

Adieu, heart of my heart.