Letter from Jenny Marx to Karl

in Brussels

Written: after August 24, 1845, Trier;
Source: Marx Engels Collected Works Vol 38, pg 526;
Publisher: International Publishers (1975);
First Published: MEGA-2 Abt III, Bd I, Berlin, 1975;
Translated: Peter and Betty Ross;
Transcribed: S. Ryan;
HTML Markup: S. Ryan.

Although our letters may have crossed on this occasion, my beloved Karl, I nevertheless look on yours as furnishing a reply to my last letter, since it in fact anticipates and answers in advance all the questions concerning which my mind was unsettled and in doubt.

Only one big vital question, the one of the tailor's and dressmaker's bills, still awaits a favourable solution, which I hope will soon be forthcoming. You, sweetheart, weigh up every circumstance with such loving concern that when I read your dear letter I felt quite comforted. But my heart is still irresolute in the matter of leaving or staying or at any rate of fixing a definite date and, if I am to be honest, it inclines more and more toward staying. If only could draw out each day to twice its length, if only I could attach leaden wings to the hours that they might not hasten by so fast—oh, if only you knew what bliss it is for my mother, our living together, what unending happiness and joy of life she derives from the contemplation of the lovely child, and what consoling elation from my presence! And am I to deprive her of all this with one cold word, am I to take all this away, leaving her with nothing but the forlorn loneliness of long, dreary winter days, anxious worry concerning my life and Edgar's future, nothing save gentle, kindly memories? She herself urges me with rare courage to depart but, having one day secretly fixed the date, I vacillate again on the morrow and grant myself one day more—and then another and still another. And yet my days here are already numbered and it will soon behove me to eke out the time, for it is drawing inexorably closer. Besides, I feel altogether too much at ease here in little Germany! Though to say so in the face of you arch anti-Germans calls for a deal of courage, does it not? But that courage I have and, for all that and all that, one can live quite happily in this old land of sinners. At all events it was in glorious France and Belgium that I first made acquaintance with the pettiest and meanest of conditions. People are petty here, infinitely so, life as a whole is a pocket edition, but there heroes are not giants either, nor is the individual one jot better off. For men it may be different, but for a woman, whose destiny it is to have children, to sew, to cook and to mend, I commend miserable Germany. There, it still does one credit to have a child, the needle and the kitchen spoon still lend one a modicum of grace and, on top of that, and by way of reward for the days spent washing, sewing and child-minding, one has the comfort of knowing in one's heart of hearts that one has done one's duty. But now that old-fashioned things such as duty, honour and the like no longer mean anything, now that we are so advanced as to consider even old watchwords such as these outmoded, now that we actually feel in ourselves an urge towards sentiments of positively Stirnerian egoism, we no longer feel any inclination for the lowlier duties of life. We, too, want to enjoy ourselves, to do things and to experience the happiness of mankind in our own persons. But for me, what really turns the scales in favour of Germany is my having seen, me Hercule, that prince of men, the model man—let no one say a word against a Germany in which men such as these stand up on their little legs and turn somersaults. But now joking apart.

I shall probably be leaving after the middle of September. Weydemeyer may accompany me as far as Cologne; Schleicher is also going to Brussels and told me yesterday that he might manage to be there at the right moment for me. Fiddlesticks, stout Sir, nothing will come of it. We shall probably have to stick to Breyer. The little house should do. In winter one does not need much room anyhow. My mother thought it might be best if we were to lodge Edgar elsewhere throughout that period, perhaps in the bois sauvage. Anyhow that would be cheapest. Then, having concluded my important business on the upper floor, I shall remove downstairs again. Then you could sleep in what is now your study and pitch your tent in the salon immense—that would present no difficulty. The children's noise downstairs would then be completely shut off, you would not be disturbed upstairs, I could join you when things were quiet and the living-room could, after all, always be kept reasonably tidy. The two rooms on the second floor would be of little or no use to us. At all events we must instal a good, warm stove and appurtenances in the living-room at the earliest opportunity. That again is Breyer's business, for one doesn't let out unheatable rooms. It would be as well to tackle Master Braggart in really good time, otherwise it will be the same as in the case of the kitchen table of hallowed memory. After that I shall see to everything else. Such preparations as could be made here, have been made. It would be wonderful for me if you could come and meet me. It is too far to Verviers and there wouldn't be any point. Maybe as far as Liège. Do make inquiries about an inn there at which we could meet. Wilhelm the Pacific, anti-pauper and metal-hard, strongly advised me against making the trip from here to Cologne in one day. It's simply that I detest the idea of spending the night at Coblenz. Nor should I like to spend a whole day at Cologne, but shall travel on to Air. Then on to Liège the following day. However, I shall have to break the train journeys often for the joggling might well have unpleasant consequences. But I shall let you know more definitely about the journey itself later. What a colony of paupers there is going to be in Brussels! Has Engels come back alone or a deux? Hess has written and told Weydemeyer he intends to marry. Is Bourgeois living in Cologne, or does he have to be in Elberfeld on account of the Spiegel? I should also like to ask Daniels to come and see me, but how? Little Jenny is sitting beside me and is also writing to her papa about whom she constantly talks. She is too sweet for words. Mrs Worbs gave her such a lovely little blue frock. Everyone is quite besotted with the child who has become the talk of the town, so that every day people come to see her. Her favourite is the chimney sweep, by whom she insists on being picked up. Tell Edgar that the woollen stockings are in the big box on the right in the attic, not immediately beneath the window. He will probably find them if he rummages about a bit amongst the children's clothes. If only the great catastrophe did not take place at the very time when you are finishing off your book, the publication of which I anxiously await. More about this and one or two personal rencontres with your mother when we meet. Such things are better talked of than written about. Goodbye, sweetheart. Give my love to Edgar and the others, and cherish fond thoughts of mother and daughter. Write again soon. I am so happy when you write.