Letters of Jenny Marx 1852

Jenny Marx To Adolf Cluss
In Washington

Source: MECW Volume 39, p. 576;
First published: abridged in Marx and Engels, Works, 1934 and in full in: Marx and Engels, Works, 1962.

London, 15 October 1852

Dear Mr Cluss,

Today my husband has appointed me his deputy and I therefore hasten to assume the duties of a secrétaire intime. For my husband is under such pressure from without and within that he has had to traipse round all day on home business and now, just gone 5, has not yet returned to dispose, more especially, of the affair Brüningk v. Cluss. Do nothing, absolutely nothing about this matter until the next steamer. Imandt had meant to send a statement today proving that Willich and Kinkel had made insulting remarks about Mrs Brüningk. At the same time he will lay the blame for all the tittle-tattle at the door of that old buffoon, Ruge, presently knight-errant and champion of princely innocence, and will do so all the more easily as the rumour indeed arose and began to spread at the very moment when the old jackass declared Kinkel to be — witness his close friend Gross — an agent of the Prince of Prussia at the same time revealing that Kinkel’s release had been the prince’s doing, but that Mrs Brüningk had also played a leading role in the affair and had put up the money for it. In Germany, these rumours were both current at once and (if Dronke’s memory is to be trusted, though he cannot say for certain) it is said that in the self-same article Ruge spoke of the suspect circles frequented here by Gottfried. Well, this stupid affair is nothing but a conspiracy to avenge themselves on Marx-Cluss by imputing to them vile, anonymous gossip and slander — an art in which these curs have long since been practising with the greatest virtuosity. No sooner had the old Pomeranian [Ruge] broken a lance for the princess than he paid a personal call on the great lady. No doubt Heinzen, too, still hopes to supplement his Whiggish source by striking and exploiting a princely seam over here for his Janus. But how ridiculous, the way in which the rabble suddenly raises a hue and cry in two continents when, for so long, it has heaped scurrility upon scurrility, tittle-tattle upon tittle-tattle, calumny upon calumny. And withal there is really nothing to the article which, at least, reveals in moderate, discreet, indeed veiled terms, what has been said bluntly and openly by her own guests. The revolting thing about it is that one would sooner keep this scum at a healthy distance than be forced to grapple with them, and over so paltry a matter to boot. My husband himself had intended to send you today an article written in his own name about how your article came to be published in the Wecker. But Imandt thought it absolutely essential that my husband, against whom the whole thing has been cooked up, should be left out of it, which is why he wanted to write the statement himself. Unfortunately it has not yet arrived! But you should do nothing about the matter until you receive further instructions. Meyen was saying today that Dronke, Willich and Kinkel had stated on their word of honour that they had never said anything defamatory about the woman. So the fellows had already been subjected to a cross-examination. As you see, here too, the thing is being conducted as a matter of the utmost importance. By the by, from his own viewpoint Schnauffer’s reply is excellent, witty and apt and, in truth, the two philosophers ought not to make so much fuss merely because a high-born lady is ill-used. Did anyone ask any questions when Ruge spread the most scurrilous, defamatory and socially ruinous rumours and things about my husband, and this at a time when my husband’s lips were sealed by party considerations and out of regard for his friends in Germany.

Did anyone bother whether all this grieved me almost to death, when my child [Heinrich Guido] died, having imbibed at my breast torment, grief and care? — oh! and all the other sufferings — yet I was not called princess when I was born — but wherefore all this foolish commotion? We shall extricate ourselves somehow and prove the others responsible. But you must wait, at any rate, just one more posting-day.

The Brumaires have not yet arrived. My husband will send you by the next post the 2 People’s Papers containing your articles.

My brother Edgar has at last written to his mother. Thanks to your kind efforts my letter reached him safely. Once again, may I say how grateful I am.

One more thing. Keep Jacobus Huzel on a fairly short rein so that he doesn’t kick over the traces. There should be no chit-chat with the vermin since their line now is to implicate us and thus erase the memory of their past infamies. Some diplomacy is required in dealing with this bunch of purely objective, principled, honourable, worthy washerwomen.

You have, I suppose, been following the Cologne trial in the Kölnische. Today we received an account of Becker’s interrogation. Since there was nothing against him, it had been agreed to leave Becker out of the thing altogether, and this will explain to you the manner of his defence, which will be eagerly seized upon by the democrats in order to claim Becker as one of their own and declare him the true hero — free, independent man of the people that he is and no blind follower of a secret society’s cut-and-dried doctrine — , precisely because he is the weakest of all and has the greatest amount of democratic blood in his veins. Should that loud-mouthed Heinzen make use of this case to build up Becker, you can at once point out that the defence had been agreed upon beforehand and that, shortly before his arrest, Becker had insistently begged my husband to attack with him in his review all the official democrats — Ruge, Heinzen, Kinkel, Willich, etc., etc. — and hold them up to ridicule. That he also wanted to have Willich’s imbecile letters published. Further that, on his release, the democratic gentlemen could expect to fare no better, etc., etc. I am writing in something of a rush.

I must catch the post.

Farewell and warm regards,
Jenny Marx

Write again soon. Your letters invariably give us the greatest pleasure. My husband is always saying that if we had a few more chaps like Cluss, we might yet get something done. In the meantime, don’t do too much. Best let dog eat dog, otherwise they might band together to combat the ‘common enemy’, the wicked, infamous blight — Marx and his clique.