Letters of Jenny Marx

Jenny Von Westphalen to Karl Marx
In Cologne

Written: [Kreuznach, March 1843];
Source: Marx Engels Collected Works Vol 1, pg 728-730;
Publisher: International Publishers (1975);
First Published: Marx/Engels, Gesamtausgabe, Abt. 1, Hb. 2, 1929;
Translated: Clemens Dutt;
Transcribed: S. Ryan;
HTML Markup: S. Ryan.

Although at the last conference of the two great powers nothing was stipulated on a certain point, nor any treaty concluded on the obligation of initiating a correspondence, and consequently no external means of compulsion exist, nevertheless the little scribe with the pretty curls feels inwardly compelled to open the ball, and indeed with feelings of the deepest, sincerest love and gratitude towards you, my dear, good and only sweetheart. I think you had never been more lovable and sweet and charming, and yet every time after you had gone I was in a state of delight and would always have liked to have you back again to tell you once more how much, how wholly, I love you. But still, the last occasion was your victorious departure; I do not know at all how dear you were to me in the depths of my heart when I no longer saw you in the flesh and only the true image of you in all angelic mildness and goodness, sublimity of love and brilliance of mind was so vividly present to my mind. If you were here now, my dearest Karl, what a great capacity for happiness you would find in your brave little woman. And should you come out with ever so bad a leaning, and ever such wicked intentions, I would not resort to any reactionary measures. I would patiently bow my head and surrender it to the wicked knave. "What", how? -- Light, what, how light. Do you still remember our twilight conversations, our guessing games, our hours of slumber? Heart's beloved, how good, how loving, how considerate, how joyful you were!

How brilliant, how triumphant. I see you before me, how my heart longs for your constant presence, how it quivers for you with delight and enchantment, how anxiously it follows you on all the paths you take. To Pabschritier, to Merten in Gold, to Papa Ruge, to Pansa, everywhere I accompany you, I precede you and I follow you. If only I could level and make smooth all your paths, and sweep away everything that might be an obstacle to you. But then it does not fall to our lot that we also should be allowed to interfere actively in the workings of fate. We have been condemned to passivity by the fall of man, by Madame Eve's sin; our lot lies in waiting, hoping, enduring, suffering. At the most we are entrusted with knitting stockings, with needles, keys, and everything beyond that is evil; only when it is a question of deciding where the Deutsche Jahrbucher is to be printed does a feminine veto intervene and invisibly play something of a small main role. This evening I had a tiny little idea about Strasbourg. Would not a return to the homeland be forbidden you if you were to betray Germany to France in this way, and would it not be possible also that the liberal sovereign power would tell you definitely: "Emigrate then, or rather stay away if you do not like it in my states." But all that, as I have said, is only an idea, and our old friend Ruge will certainly know what has to be done, especially when a private little chick lurks like this in the background, and comes out with a separate petition. Let the matter rest, therefore, in Father Abraham's bosom.

This morning, when I was putting things in order, returning the draughtsmen to their proper place, collecting the cigar butts, sweeping up the ash, and trying to destroy the "Althauschen" [?], I came across the enclosed page. You have dismembered our friend Ludwig and left a crucial page here. If you are already past it in your reading, there is no hurry; but for the worthy bookbinder, in case it is to be bound, it is urgently needed. The whole work would be spoilt. You have certainly scattered some more pages. It would be a nuisance and a pity. Do look after the loose pages.

Now I must tell you about the distress and misfortune I had immediately after you went away. I saw at once that you had not paid any attention to your dear nose and left it at the mercy of wind and weather and air, and all the vicissitudes of fate, without taking a helpful handkerchief with you. That, in the first place, gave me grave concern. In the second place, the barber dropped in. I thought of putting it to great advantage and with rare amiability I asked him how much the Herr Doctor owed him. The answer was 7 1/2, silver groschen. I quickly did the sum in my head and 21/2 groschen were saved. I had no small change and I therefore gave him 8 silver groschen in good faith that he would give me change. But what did the scoundrel do? He thanked me, pocketed the whole sum, my six pfennigs were gone and I could whistle for them. I was still on the point of reproving him, but either he did not understand my glance of distress or Mother" tried to soothe me -- in short, the six pfennigs were gone as all good things go. That was a disappointment!

Now I come to a matter of dress. I went out this morning and I saw many new pieces of lace at Wolf's shop. If you cannot get them cheap or get someone else to choose them, then I ask you, sweetheart, to leave the matter in my hands. In general, sweetheart, I would really prefer at present that you did not buy anything and saved your money for the journey. You see, sweetheart, I shall then be with you and we shall be buying together, and if someone cheats us, then at least it will happen in company. So, sweetheart, don't buy anything now. That applies also to the wreath of flowers. I am afraid you would have to pay too much, and to look for it together would indeed be very nice. If you won't give up the flowers, let them be rose-coloured. That goes best with my green dress. But I would prefer you to drop the whole business. Surely, sweetheart, that would be better. You can do that only when you are my dear lawful, church-wed husband. And one thing more: before I forget. Look for my last letter. I should be annoyed if it got into anyone else's hands. Its tendency is not exactly well-meaning, and its intentions are unfathomably malevolent. Were you barked at as a deserter when you jumped in? Or did they temper justice with mercy? Has Oppenheim come back and is Claessen still in a bit of a rage? I shall send Laffarge on as soon as I can. Have you already delivered the letter of bad news to E[...]? Are the passport people willing? Dearest sweetheart, those are incidental questions, now I come to the heart of the matter. Did you behave well on the steamer, or was there again a Madame Hermann on board? You bad boy. I am going to drive it out of you. Always on the steamboats. I shall have an interdiction imposed immediately on wanderings of this kind in the contrat social, in our marriage papers, and such enormities will be severely punished. I shall have all the cases specified and punishment imposed for them, and I shall make a second marriage law similar to the penal code. I shall show you alright. Yesterday evening I was dead tired again, but all the same I ate an egg. Food shares, therefore, are not doing so badly and are going up like the Dusseldorf shares. When you come, it is to be hoped they will be at par, and the state guarantees the interest. However, adieu now. Parting is painful. It pains the heart. Good-bye, my one and only beloved, black sweet, little hubby. "What", how! Ah! you knavish face. Talatta, talatta, good-bye, write soon, talatta, talatta.